I'm in-between reviews right now, so I thought I'd take a moment and just give a shout-out to a blog I just found, The Hugo Endurance Project. While the Hugo Award does not only highlight literary achievement, the winners are a pretty great place to start when looking for quality writing and concepts.
Jeremy, who runs the site, made it his goal to read 64 Hugo winners in 64 weeks. He's also prepping for a marathon at the same time, which is also cool. I like layers of meaning to the idea of "endurance."
I haven't explored Jeremy's archives exhaustively yet, but I can say a few things:
1. Jeremy's a smart dude. He doesn't let enthusiasm blind him to weaknesses in even his favorite stories. And he has a well-thought out and multi-part grading system that makes for interesting comparisons between books. I have some minor reservations about the system, but I'm sure a lot of my readers have reservations about my system as well. That's okay. And if you happen to like my meticulous (over-the-top?) breakdown of strengths and weaknesses in a book, you'll find plenty to intrigue you in what Jeremy does.
2. I don't agree with all of Jeremy's reviews (I felt Larry Niven's Ringworld, for instance, was a real let-down, but Jeremy scores it pretty high). But this just means I look forward to having some intelligent arguments with him as he continues his project.
3. Reading a book per week is gonna be a seriously grueling effort, when you've got stuff like C.J. Cherryh's Cyteen or Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to get through. It's interesting to read about the difficulties Jeremy has as he tries to pack in the pages, and what it does to his reading experience.Basically, what Jeremy's doing is what I thought I might try to do when I first started my blog, but then I kind of chickened out and just started reading books semi-haphazardly, and without a rigorous deadline. But a thoughtful and thorough look at Hugo winners is exactly up my alley, and I look forward to seeing how the project goes.