Which One to Read?

I have this big stack of books hanging onto the top of my To Be Read pile, which means they’ve landed on the nightstand. They all have bookmarks in them, meaning I’ve read at least a few pages, sometimes a lot more than that. I stacked them up in no particular order and took a picture (click it to see it bigger). So,

Which book should I finish – and review – next? Vote for as many as you like, I’ll tally it all up next Tuesday and publish the result.

  • what to readWordslingers  – Will Murray (non-fiction)
  • Black Mask Stories – Otto Penzler (mystery short stories)
  • Blood Red Sun – Stephen Mertz (WWII novel)
  • The Case of the Gilded Lily – Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason novel)
  • The Lighter Side of Keith Laumer (SF short stories)
  • Murder in Canton – Robert van Gulik (mystery novel)
  • “I” is for Innocent – Sue Grafton (mystery novel)
  • Complete Father Brown Stories – G.K. Chesterton (mystery short stories)
  • The Four Just Men – Edgar Wallace (mystery novel)
  • Drum Beat, Dominique – Stephen Marlowe (Chester Drum mystery-spy novel)
  • The Uncomplaining Corpses – Bret Halliday (Mike Shayne mystery novel)
  • Odyssey – Keith Laumer (SF short stories)
  • Songs for the Open Road (poetry collection)
  • The Gift of Rain – Tan Twan Ing (fiction novel)
  • On A Red Station Drifting – Annette De Bodard (SF novellette)
  • Death in a Cold Climate – Robert Barnard (mystery novel)
  • The Planet Pirates – McCaffrey, Moon, Nye (3 related SF novellas)
  • FINISHED  Out of the Blackout – Robert Barnard (mystery novel)
  • FINISHED  An Army at Dawn – Rick Atkinson (non-fiction about WWII in North Africa) – library book.
  • Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey (not pictured) – (SF novel)

Help me out here. Which would you read, and which one I should read?

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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33 Responses to Which One to Read?

  1. macavityabc says:

    I’d probably start with some of the Laumer shorts and some from the Penzler book. I read the Marlowe book nearly 50 years ago. I remember that I liked it, so maybe you should finish that one. Or the Mertz book.

  2. Redhead says:

    If you’ve read Leviathan Wakes by Corey, you should totally read Caliban’s War next. I love that whole series.

    can I vote for more than one book?

  3. My vote would be for On a Red Station Drifting, but I’ll throw in with Caliban’s War as well.

  4. Walker Martin says:

    I’d go with the Otto Penzler BLACK MASK collection. I even collect the magazine because I found the stories to be so interesting.

  5. Richard says:

    Red, sure, vote for all you like, or list several in order…

  6. Jeff says:

    If it was me I would read Caliban’s War because I literally just started reading it this past weekend. I really enjoyed the first book in the series and have had two friends tell me the seconds just as good as the first. Plus the weather has gotten colder so I’m in a Scifi mood.

    But I know you love mystery more than Scifi so I think you should read the Brett Halliday novel. I’ve never read any of his books but I’ve seen them around forever so there must be something to them that tons of people love plus they usually have cool covers. I was thinking of picking the Father Brown books but it’s just so big. I feel bad suggesting you read that chunkster although I have many good things about those stories.

    No matter what it looks like you have a great stack of novels. I hope you knock them all out this winter.

  7. toppersbooks says:

    I vote for The Gift of Rain but only because it’s been raining quite a bit lately and I’m hoping the drought might finally end. 🙂

  8. I think “The Case of the Gilded Lily” by Erle Stanley Gardner would be easier to finish reading. The title tells me that I’ve read this novel.

  9. I’d probably start with Wordslingers, says the man who doesn’t even own a copy.

  10. Jerry House says:

    WORDSLINGERS gets my vote, too, followed by BLACKMASK. I’d recommend BLACKMASK for you, with the Marlowe, the Laumers, and CALIBAN’S WAR not far behind. The Gardner and the Halliday are quick reads, the Chesterton is best taken in small doses, and the Wallace is something everyone should read for its historic value but is pretty well dated.

  11. Black Mask, I think. I often do this too, have a number of books with bookmarks in them because I’ve read the introduction, or the first story

  12. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I’d go with the Penzler Black Mask book too, because I already read it and know it was good. If you want a short, fast read (even for a sels-proclaimed slow reader) go with the Gardner.

    But then, the Mertz does have an interesting premise….

  13. Patti Abbott says:

    I would read the Barnard book. I have always loved his novels. Next the Penzler. The rest are sort of out of my sphere of knowledge., Grafton is very good but I think I stopped at about H is for Homicide.

  14. Richard says:

    Walker, your selection doesn’t surprise me. Thanks for the suggestion. If I’m not mistaken you have the complete run of BM, don’t you?

  15. Richard says:

    Patti, That’s where I’d stopped with Grafton too, which is why I started “I” but only got about 30 pages in. I did just finish one Barnard novel, so may read something else before going back to him.

  16. Richard says:

    Everyone – thanks for coming by to give your “votes”. Two big fat books are in the lead (Cliban’s War and Black Mask) which I understand but they’ll take the longest to finish. I’m already about halfway through the Black Mask, only about 20 pages into Cliban’s War.

  17. Richard says:

    Carl, you picked the shortest book, thank you.

  18. Fence says:

    I’ve only read On a Red Station, Drifting. It was great, and also, short. So I’d vote for that one. If it were my stack I’d have to go with Caliban’s War because I read the first in that series a while back.

  19. Richard says:

    Fence, you came! Thank you. Cliban’s War is a strong front runner at this point, but I like your idea of Red Station, and it is short.

  20. I’d read a short story a day out of the BLACK MASK anthology while you devote major time to On a Red Station. I’ve read them both and really enjoyed them.

  21. Fence says:

    I did 🙂 Just home from work (time differences and all)

  22. Evan Lewis says:

    Though Steve Mertz and I started corresponding about 30 years ago, I met him for the first time last week, and recently read two of his Executioner novels. So I’d go with Blood Red Sun. Followed by Wordslingers.

  23. Rose D. says:

    I admit I’m not sure what many of these books are like, but what I’d say is read THE GIFT OF RAIN, which I have heard is just fabulous! Then I’d say the poetry book, because it looks thin and I bet you’d get through it quickly. I don’t know how much poetry you read, I love poetry because it’s romantic and so am I, but a few poems a day and it would be good for your soul. After that, read something full of action, maybe the Halliday. Enjoy! 🙂

  24. Jan Nelson says:

    Grafton, Halliday, Gardner, in that order. Then go for the SF, probably Caliban’s War.

  25. Richard says:

    Keep the votes coming, folks!

  26. John says:

    Well, no one has suggested Chesterton so I will. He’s an all time favorite of mine. And I’d say jump right to The Incredulity of Father Brown and read only those stories, then set it aside and return to the rest later. Reading the entire book would soon show up the formulaic quality of his Father Brown stories.

    Of the Barnard books in your photo I have read DEATH IN A COLD CLIMATE and enjoyed it. The Norway setting, the academic satrie, and the detective were unusual enough for me to keep me engaged. Of course I read it ages ago when it first came out and Barnard was my favorite of the modern writers back then. But I stopped reading his books around the time OUT OF THE BLACKOUT was released in the mid 1980s. That’s the last one I remember reading.

  27. Richard says:

    John, yours is the first call for the Chesterton, and with many suggestions for some of the other books it probably will be pretty far down the list in choosing what to read next. I do like your suggestion on reading just one part of it. I started at the beginning, so far having read the first 5 stories of The Innocence of Father Brown. I read three back-to-back, and realized I couldn’t do that for the entire 800 pages, so I picked it up twice more and read one story each time. That was mid Summer and it’s been sitting since.

    Am I to draw any conclusion from the fact that Out of the Blackout was the last Barnard book you read? Did you stop because you didn’t like it, or it was weaker then the previous books? I finished it recently and thought it not as good as I remembered Barnard from reading a book or two decades back.

  28. Art Scott says:

    I can’t speak to the SF titles, but the Chesterton collection is the only book here that is indisputably a Cornerstone book in any survey of mystery fiction. I’ve read the stories several times, and recently checked back to read “The Wrong Shape” again to soothe my anger after having stumbled on a grotesque alleged adaptation of same which aired as part of the truly vile BBC series now airing on PBS.

  29. Richard says:

    Art, I have no disagreement with what you say regarding the Chesterton, but there’s no way anyone could or should read 800 pages of Chesterton shorts straight through. So it will remain a book I pick up and read one or two stories at a time in. You probably saw John’s suggestion that I jump right to The Incredulity of Father Brown stories and read those. That I may do, but again, not straight through. I think I’m going to have to rejoin the one short story a day bandwagon and just rotate through a number of collections that seem to have jammed up in my TBR area.

    As for the BBC series, I wasn’t even aware of it.

  30. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I liked OUT OF THE BLACKOUT a lot, so there is that.

  31. Richard says:

    Jeff, for me it was a struggle. It seemed that nothing much happened in the first 3/4 of the book. I’ll probably read another Barnard for FFB.

  32. Cap'n Bob says:

    You could use Frank Denton’s method. Read a book for a few minutes, switch to another for a few minutes, then another, and so on. I like the idea of Mertz, Gardner, and Halliday. Rather than read the s/s collections in a big batch, space them out. One or two a day until you’re through.

  33. Richard says:

    Bob, that’s a good idea. I know Frank reads one kind of book in the morning or earl day, another in the afternoon and yet another in the evening. I’m not sure I’m that good. Thanks for the ideas on what to tackle, and about the ss books. They sure are taking a long time.

    Wow, you’re up early.

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