it’s adventure time!

by tastesalittlestrange

I saw this post by HiLobrow editor Joshua Glenn and was inspired. I want to go out and find not all, but many of the 200 books on his list, and read them this summer. I love the idea of reading adventure novels published in the article’s time-frame (early 1800s-mid1900s), and have read a fair few and loved them, but this is also a kind of experiment. Does this stuff hold up? Just how offensive does it get? Am I in love with the idea of old adventure novels, but they’re actually just unreadable? Will all of my pulpy fantasies come true? Will I be weirdly aroused 75% of the time?


While I had some pedantic issues with the list (mainly, what is the criteria used by this list to define an adventure novel? It’s a question Glenn obviously didn’t ignore, but still makes me wonder how books like Brave New World made it on there), I found myself absolutely enthralled with it. It hit all of the right notes: most of the choices I had read I agreed with wholeheartedly, there were a ton of titles on the list I’d been meaning to read for ages (everything ever by H. Rider Haggard, for example), and also a ton I’d never heard of but sounded awesome. I made an alphabetized excel spreadsheet that very night, color coded by how much I was into it. The classic, scientific measure for deciding what to read.

The other motivation for this project that I should mention, other than I feel like summer time is the perfect time to be reading this stuff (I’m picturing riding my bike to the beach with a trashy adventure novel sticking out of the back pocket of my cutoffs), is that I’ve been in kind of a reading rut for a while now. I get a lot of advanced reader’s copies from my job, stuff I feel an obligation to read because it will keep me up with What’s Going On In Book Publishing Right Now, which I’m supposed ta. And unfortunately, I’m not yet the kind of person who responds very productively to feeling obligated or supposed ta. Thus, the piles of unread guilt-ARCs covering every surface of my apartment, death-glaring me whenever I go to read anything else. So, I feel reading a bunch of 200-page, fast paced stories could be what I need to get going again.

I’ll be tracking these titles down with the help of some local used bookstores (the amazing & beautiful Landmark Books, whose owner  Paul Stebleton has been enlisted to help me find some of the more obscure stuff, as well as Traverse City mainstay The Bookie Joint) and if I absolutely have to order something, it will be through one of these places or my own book store. Using certain online retailers would take every last drop of fun out of this project.