- Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
- Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
- Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
- Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
- Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
- Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
- Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
- Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
- Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
- Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
- Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
- Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
- Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
- Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
- Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
- Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
- Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
- Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
- Le Guin, Ursula — Tehanu
- Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
- Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
- Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
- Card, Orson Scott — Ender's Game
- Clarke, Arthur C. — Childhood's End
- Grahame, Kenneth — The Wind in the Willows
- Dahl, Roald — James and the Giant Peach
- Lewis, C.S. — Out of the Silent Planet
- Lewis, C.S. — Perelandra
- Milne, A.A. — Winnie-the-Pooh
- Card, Orson Scott — Speaker for the Dead
- Bester, Alfred — The Stars My Destination
- Greene, Graham — The Power and the Glory
- Gaiman, Neil — Neverwhere
- Ballard, J.G. — The Drowned World
It shouldn't take me three times as long to plow through a 170-page book as it did a 370-page book. That's a reflection of both how lucid Gaiman's writing is and how impenetrable Ballard's is. Ballard seems to be one of these authors who is incapable of expressing a thought without numerous dashes, commas, colons, semicolons, and parentheses interrupting his sentences, so that by the time you reach the conclusion of the thought you have to look back to see what it was.
Maybe the denseness of his prose was intentional. The story tries very much to be a futuristic Heart of Darkness in a world reverting to a primordial state after fluctuations in solar radiation have caused temperatures to sky rocket and sea levels to rise, making earth between the polar regions mostly uninhabitable. Ballard even gives us a Marlow character (Kerans) who is making both a physical and psychological journey from the civilized to the primitive and a Kurtz character (Strangman) with his mythical persona exploiting the land and people around him. Conrad's prose was purposefully dense to evoke an atmosphere of languor which is an essential aspect of his novella; Ballard's prose simply made his story nigh unreadable.
I found a lot of Ballard's ideas interesting early on. It's worth noting that some of his thoughts on biology (specifically on memory imprinted at the subcellular level) foreshadowed later discoveries in genomics; however, most of his science feels extremely dated, the "Achilles' heel" of hard science fiction.
I have another Ballard book on my shelf, and I'm debating now whether I really want to read it. I bought Crash quite a while ago in anticipation of the movie, not realizing that it was only the 1996, not the 2004, movie that is based on this book. I still haven't seen either movie, but I feel no rush to read the book so I can watch the movie.
BTW, my sister commented to me last week, "I hear you're reading a bunch of kids books in order to read your goal of 50 books this year?" I want to address that, lest anyone actually believe that's the case. I have read a few children's books because I have been interested in reading them for some time. While The Wind in the Willows, the Cooper Dark is Rising books, and the Lloyd Alexander are children's books, they are of considerable enough length that they are only slightly faster reads than your average adult novel. Yes, James and the Giant Peach and Winnie-the-Pooh are extremely fast reads written for an even younger audience, but I've been wanting to rediscover Dahl and Milne for quite some time. Anyway, currently I am four books ahead of pace; unless I decide to read Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver this year instead of next, I should finish well over 50 books, which makes the idea that I'm reading something only for the sake of reaching my goal patently absurd.