Have you ever read a book that made you go: "Huh, that's cool, I'd like to know more about that." Maybe it's skydiving, maybe it's an ancient language, maybe it's just walking through the gawddang wilderness for months like in Lord of the Rings. Books are supposed to whisk you away to other worlds, to drop you into the drama and action, so of course in this imaginary world you could picture yourself doing different or interesting things.
Here are a few of those things I wanted to try:
(Credit for the list idea goes to The Broke and the Bookish blog)
10. Sword smithing
The Complete Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen
Now, this is a fantasy novel so I'm sure the depiction of smithing is way off. And the blacksmiths involved all end up suffering terrible, grim fates. And I know I couldn't actually forge a sword with god-like power. But damn, I still want to forge my own sword. You could also add Highlander 3 as an inspiration to bend melted metal into sharp shapes.
9. Apocalypse Prepping
The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
Brooks is so logical and matter-of-fact about the whole thing, OF COURSE I should go out and stockpile weapons and food. It's not a matter of "IF" the zombies will rise, but "WHEN."
8. Visit England
Pillars of the Earth / World Without End by Ken Follett
I almost said "build a cathedral," but I would be content with just visiting them. I would be pretty happy to see just about any part of Europe, really. History in North America is great and all, but I want to see buildings that are a thousand years old. I imagine building a castle or cathedral would be really hard, anyway.
7. Brush up on my art history
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I took a few art history courses in university, but I wish I could take more time and explore it more, particularly visiting some museums or even overseas (see item 8 above) to see first hand all the stuff we were talking about in those gawdawful boring lectures. I guess I could also see them in The Da Vinci Code movie, but I don't think I could look at Tom Hanks' terrible haircut for two hours.
Bookbinding Materials and Techniques, 1700-1920 by Margaret Lock
This one's cheating a bit because I already wanted to learn more about bookbinding, that's the reason I read the book. I've always been fascinated with how books are made and have tried my hand a few times, but I've never had access to the full array of tools and equipment to do it properly. To be honest, I would probably just end up hurting myself, but I still gotta give it a go, you know?
5. Write a quasi-historical epic of Newfoundland
As Near to Heaven by Sea: A History of Newfoundland and Labrador by Kevin Major
Newfoundlanders are far more proud of their history than most Canadians. It's no surprise that when this series of provincial histories was released in the early 2000s, the Newfoundland edition sold 3-5 times as many copies as any other in the series, despite being one of the smallest provinces. I think there's definitely a place for a big fictional epic; I'm just torn on whether it should lean more to the historical side or the fantastic.
4. Punch Robert Jordan in the Balls
Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
Not to speak ill of the dead, but to be fair Jordan was still alive when I read this book. I got through six volumes of the Wheel of Time and just had to give up. It's a cool world with lots of great ideas, but the books are just waaaaaay too long. Nothing happens for the first 400-500 pages of each book (besides summarizing the previous book). I blame the Wheel of Time (and Christopher Paolini) for my distaste of traditional fantasy fiction these days.
3. Write a better zombie RPG
Dead Reign RPG by Kevin Siembeida
There are lots of great zombie-themed RPGs out there, but Dead Reign was the first I bought, and I was hugely disappointed by cavernous gulf between the great premise of the idea and the godsmackingly-terrible execution of it. I had to completely rewrite the rules to make something playable out of it, not realizing at the time there were lots of other options available.
2. Become a professional wrestler
A Lion's Tale: Around the World in Spandex by Chris Jericho
I kinda always wanted to be a professional wrestler, but next to everyone else's books, which are usually about drug abuse and failed marriages and suicide attempts, Jericho's first memoir makes wrestling seem like a joy. His stories are so fun and hilarious, it makes professional wrestling seem like a GREAT idea.
1. Learn more about Canadian History
Hell Comes to Hogtown by C.D. Gallant-King
Yes, this is a cheap plug for my own book. Yes, I think you should buy it and read it right away. And no, it doesn't really have anything to do with Canadian history. I did, however, have to look up a number of minor things as I was writing it to check some facts, and I found numerous stories I would love to know more about, and maybe even fictionalize some day.
(Also, you should totally pick this one up.)