Reccomend me where to start my lunchtime reading
September 7, 2012 2:50 AM   Subscribe

I have never been a reader. I want to be. Recommend where I can start; online at lunchtimes at work. Bonus points for shorter stories (at first).

So I have always read lots of stuff on the internet (thanks to Metafilter for the help), but never really got heavily involved with fiction writers. I would like to, some things out there are awesome - and I would love more experience as I intend give writing a go at some point in the distant future too.

I think I like fantasy, scifi, comedy. I dont think I am a big fan of very historical things, heavy fictions, serious stuff, books with thousands of names.

I think I like adventure and creativity and inspiration and wonder and laughs.

My limited reading, so far includes things like: neil gaiman, hithchikers guide, his dark materials, kafkas metamorphoses, 1001 arabian nights, 1984, discworld, Roald Dahl, David Gemmels Legend, some philosophy books, graphic novels, and pretty much everything I can get my hands on (article wise) on the internet.


What should I start reading?
What is a good site to be spoon fed things to read other than metafilter?
posted by Cogentesque to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (27 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Give Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man a shot.
posted by zizzle at 3:15 AM on September 7, 2012

Ted Chiang's The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate. Short. Online. Won all sorts of prizes, but great fun too.
posted by caek at 3:17 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

DailyLit takes larger stories and breaks them into small chunks that can be delivered via email each day at a time of your choosing.
posted by Telpethoron at 4:20 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Hunger Games trilogy. Hear me out - the chapters are short so you feel a sense of achievement but they lead well into the next so you keep going. It's arguably fantasy/sci-fi. My father in law loves sci-fi and he tore through The Hunger Games. Then again, so did everyone in my family :-)
posted by kat518 at 4:26 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I said that I "dont like heavy fictions" - I meant to say "I don't like heavy NON fictions" (see: A brief history into Napoleons Life and Times / A Discourse into the life of a Victorian wash maid / Titanic: The truth - kind of thing)

There seems like some fantastic advice already here, thanks Zizzle, Caek, Telpethoron, Kat518

Remember Kat though, that although the hunger games appears to fulfill the lists, how do I easily read it on the computer, online, at lunchtimes?
posted by Cogentesque at 4:38 AM on September 7, 2012

If the "online" requirement is for convenience, have you considered an e-Reader? A Kindle would let you carry thousands of books (or newspaper articles!) in a few ounces, for less than $100.

As for books, definitely second the Ted Chiang reference.

Blindsight is a fantastic sci-fi novel by Peter Watts, and its full text is available for free online.

The Shadow Unit is sort of an urban fantasy police procedural series (think X-Files) that is also available for free online. The writing is touch and go at times (I think the characterization is a little hamfisted) but overall an enjoyable read.

Arts and Letters Daily posts three pieces of long-form writing every day, one review, one article and one opinion piece.

And if you're okay with dead trees, I strongly recommend Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan and Chalion series. They're sci-fi and fantasy, respectively, with great comedic moments. The full texts (about a dozen books' worth) used to be online, but was removed at the publisher's request. I'm sure you could find a mirror somewhere, but paper copies are cheap on eBay etc.
posted by d. z. wang at 4:42 AM on September 7, 2012

If you liked the 1001 Nights, you might enjoy Jorge Luis Borges. He never wrote a novel, and I don't think he ever wrote anything as long, either. He still wrote a lot. Check out his Selected Essays and Collected Fictions. His poetry is good, too.

You like your work short and episodic, so go read the Alice in Wonderland books. They're full of puns, parodies, and perverse logic. You'll like them.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:29 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check - hundreds (thousands?) of articles. Although non-fiction heavily outweighs fiction, you won't find many "heavy, serious books/articles with a thousand names". You can browse/search by category (FYI-including science and tech) or by author or list the most popular and most recent.

It appears that the overwhelming majority of their material is free. However, some articles link to an original source that requires a fee a to access. Byliner also has a section of originals for sale (typically $2-$3).

BTW - I use my netbook for reading online and downloaded material - literally hours at a time/entire books. It's not always ideal, but the minor issues aren't enough to justify buying/hauling around another device that will also likely come with some issues.
posted by she's not there at 5:42 AM on September 7, 2012

You don't even need a Kindle in order to download and use the online PC Kindle reader app. The app is free, you just have to pay for the books, but then you'll be able to read online.

And if you like comedy, then I HIGHLY recommend Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Quite probably the funniest book I've ever read. Like, I was that weird dude laughing out loud while reading on the subway funny.
posted by Grither at 5:52 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've had this particular issue of Subterranean Press bookmarked for exactly the purpose you describe (lunchtime, at work, fiction). There are quite a few promising pieces in that issue, though I actually haven't made it into any of them... yet.

Also, though The New Yorker is often behind a paywall, you can sometimes find stuff free online from them. Try searching the domain name with filetype pdf. Or just peruse their table of contents, and then look up titles/authors that look appealing to find their work in other places. Or use your public library e-access (for New Yorker or other electronic journal access).
posted by gubenuj at 6:48 AM on September 7, 2012

Pick up a couple of Kindle edition volumes of The Year's Best Science Fiction.
posted by deanc at 6:52 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Terry Pratchett. And you can also read on the toilet at home, millions do!
posted by meepmeow at 7:05 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could also consider longform articles on (formerly, etc - these are basically curated collections of longer pieces from The New Yorker, Rolling Stones, Verge etc. Most of them are unique themes, non-fiction (but not the types you mentioned) and brilliantly written.
posted by theobserver at 7:06 AM on September 7, 2012

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain is really funny and has adventure, fantasy and science-fiction elements. And I'm pretty sure it's in the public domain so you should be able to read it online.

I would also recommend Welcome to the Monkey House, a book of short stories by Kurt Vonnegut, though I don't know about finding it online. You could probably get it on a Kindle, etc. if you really don't want to hold a book up, or turn the pages or whatever it is that you don't want to do. It is possible to eat lunch while reading a book, though.
posted by désoeuvrée at 7:20 AM on September 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks Desouevree

I know it is possible to read a book at lunchtimes, and have done in the past - I figure though that I'm 26 and have not read enough - "A whole book!" it always seems to big a task to work through. But as my question states, I read online articles and short stories ALL the time, so I might be able to trick myself into reading more by using the computer screen / online media as a spring board before getting into books properly :)

Thank you so much for your help!
posted by Cogentesque at 7:28 AM on September 7, 2012

Your public library has floor-to-ceiling shelves of genre short story books -- science fiction, western, adventure, detective, etc. The librarian will be able to make many suggestions.

The Atlantic, which is free online, has many interesting non-fiction stories.

Project Gutenberg has more stories than you can read in a lifetime.

A Google search for online literature returns many pages of resources.

A Google search on great short stories returns many more pages.

Long Reads has mostly non-fiction, but each piece is well written and, despite the title, not too long (about 20 pages).

When you get a little more ambitious, Herman Melville wrote two masterpieces: Bartleby the Scrivener (25 pages) and Billy Budd (50 pages).
posted by KRS at 7:35 AM on September 7, 2012

For Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Baen has a lot of free books - generally the first book or two in a series to hook you in!
posted by MrBear at 8:03 AM on September 7, 2012

Great approach OP -I wanted to restart reading fiction a few months ago and took the same approach (short stories for a while, then I moved onwards).

Since you also list scifi, I'd recommend perusing short stories with Hugo awards for best short story. You can look at the list and google author name and/or title to see if it comes up online for free.

I sometimes have a hard time with attention (or need to work at the same time), so I also googled audio for the same author and title.

Anywho, that brought me to finding both the text version online and an audio version (or podcast) that you can download for 3 of the recent Hugo award scif stories. They were well done (more than other stuff I hear on this particular podcast):

Movement, 2012 by Nancy Fulda

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu I also noticed while doing the original search that many of Ken Liu's short stories (with links) were on this webpage.

The Homecoming by Mike Resnick

Also, the podcast Escape Pod similarly did readings for many of the Hugo award sci fi stories in previous years too (you may try looking for the Hugo tag).

This was enough to pull me back in, now I'm working on some of the Hugo award novels and novelas.
posted by Wolfster at 8:09 AM on September 7, 2012

I read the Hunger Games from e-book files on the web. (I actually think they were free .pdfs.) (Don't freak out at me, I buy tons of books in all kinds of legit ways.)

Whatever you want to read just google the title and "free e-book."
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:10 AM on September 7, 2012 has all sorts of short fiction (of the sci-fi/fantasy sort) as well as book excerpts. Maybe you'll find an excerpt that intrigues you enough to read the whole book?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:21 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

As recently featured on the blue: Recommended Reading, by Electric Literature--a weekly short story chosen by a contemporary author. Can be read online or downloaded to an e-reader.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 10:04 AM on September 7, 2012

Fine Structure is collection of short science fiction stories.
posted by zinon at 10:13 AM on September 7, 2012

I find reading a book to be different than reading an article or web site. I can not read a book on a computer, it’s a different frame of mind for me. You might want to see if this is the case with you and has anything to do with your lack of reading. Also, reading a real book or ereader will give you a break from the computer, or "work".
posted by bongo_x at 11:03 AM on September 7, 2012

The MeFi Ted Chiang Post had links to most of his stories. My personal favorites are Story of Your Life and Hell is the Absence of God.

You might also want to look into Asimov's or Analog, which are two of the few remaining sci-fi short story magazines in print.

Most of Bujold's Vorkosikan books are offline, but The Mountains of Mourning (which is a greate short story) is online.
posted by Hactar at 1:47 PM on September 7, 2012

The Intergalactic Medicine Show is a short-story online magazine that deals specifically in science fiction and fantasy. It has different authors each issue, so if you don't like a story, it's a good bet the next one will be completely different.

Orson Scott Card used to be involved quite a bit, but I don't think he's hands-on anymore. Every once in a while one of his short stories shows up in the magazine.

It costs money, btw, but not very much.
posted by tacodave at 2:25 PM on September 7, 2012

Mr. Kat518 obtained digital versions of the 2nd and 3rd Hunger Games books which I read on my Android phone. Though when it's really good, it's hard to put the phone down and get back to work :-)
posted by kat518 at 8:20 PM on September 7, 2012

Oh! You might also like Brian Evenson. He's weird even as he's short. Give it a try.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:59 PM on September 7, 2012

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