The Best Reading Experience of My Life

I am in the midst of the best reading experience of my life.

Remember back in the day, when Dickens released his novels one chapter at a time on a velum scroll in the town proper (at least part of that sentence is historically accurate)? Remember what that did to you as you stood there in your billy jacket and curly wig, your stockings and your corsets?

You hung onto every word, and when he finished, you wanted more. But you had to wait for more. Which was partially good, because you had things to do–butter to churn and jackets to billy and sewage to dump into the Thames. Meanwhile your anticipation grew for the next segment in Dickens’ tale. All week long it grew and grew, building up inside of you until you couldn’t hold it any longer and you finally felt the sweet release of Dickens?

You know what I’m talking about.

Human DivisionThere’s a new Dickens in town, and his name is John Scalzi. I discovered Scalzi’s breakout novel, Old Man’s War, back in 2011. It was my second favorite book that year.  I hope you read it. If you didn’t, go read it. It’s on Amazon for $8. You could get it on Kindle and have it in bed with you within seconds, just as Dickens intended.

Scalzi wrote a few follow-ups to Old Man’s War that I didn’t read because I thought they would tarnish the near-perfect experience of the first book (such flawed logic. I will read them), but fortunately it was just enough to prepare me for his latest series. The one this post refers to. The greatest reading experience of my life.

You see, last year Scalzi wrote a series of connected stories set in the world of Old Man’s War. It’s called The Human Division. Each story is self contained, but there is a common thread between them. I could compare it to the HBO show The Wire. Or maybe Newsroom. Each episode stands alone, but each one adds to the experience of the one before it.

So Scalzi wrote the whole series last year, and this year his publisher is releasing each story as a Kindle single ($0.99) every week on Monday at midnight. When he first announced this, I thought I’d read one or two episodes and then wait for the whole thing to be released as a complete book, which will happen when the series ends. That’s the format I’m used to, after all. You buy a book as a whole, not chapters of a book once a week.

Boy was I wrong.

Really, the comparison to an HBO series works perfectly. They’re usually short runs–8 to 12 episodes–and every week you get super excited about that episode. Think about how excited you get during Game of Thrones. That’s the type of excitement I’m talking about. The excitement builds because you can’t have what you want–the next episode–right away.

Also, as I mentioned in the Dickens analogy, I don’t always have as much time to read as I’d like. But one awesome chapter a week? I can definitely manage that. (I read more than that, but it’s a nice minimum threshold.) It’s a single brownie instead of the whole pan. The whole pan is going to get stale before you can finish it. But one brownie at a time, served to you fresh with a cold glass of milk? That’s the good stuff.

I’ve fascinated by this publication model Scalzi has dredged from the annals of history. I don’t think it’ll work for everyone–after all, Scalzi is immensely talented and rather famous–but I’m intrigued. Very intrigued.

If you’d like to join me in the best reading experience of my life, it’s not too late. Just read Old Man’s War and then catch up on The Human Division for the final few episodes. It’s worth it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, episode #9 is awaiting me in bed.

4 thoughts on “The Best Reading Experience of My Life”

      • Just finished Old Man’s War–amazing. Never in a million years did I think I’d find myself in the science fiction section of the bookstore…dammit Scalzi and his sexy, sciency writing.

  1. I’m so glad you liked it! At this point you might wait until you can buy the Human Division as one big pack (I think you’ll save a few dollars rather than buying the singles), but it’s a great addition. I’m reading the sequel to Old Man’s War (The Ghost Brigades) right now–it’s not quite as good as OMW, but still entertaining.


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