Another year, another post about my year in reading. Rather than create a singular reading list, I’ve opted to break down my reading into three quarters and present my thoughts in short. I hope to change my habits where reading is considered for 2016 in order to reflect my needs as a reader to cope with my poor memory for plot and character names and those as a writer to better understand what in particular about a certain book works or not.
Until then, behold my master reading list.
“The Female Factory” by Angela Slatter & Lisa L. Hannett | Slatter and Hannett both have a sharp eye when it comes to short fiction. Working together, they play into each other’s skills and strengths to create a unified voice for this slim volume of disquieting stories about bodies and souls, and the curios alchemy technology can work on both.
“Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen | I had fond memories when I read Austen in high school and sought to recreate the magic. The Wordsworth edition made it nigh impossible to do so (never buy Wordsworth Classic!), but once Mr. Darcy rolled over in the main plotline, even this horrible edition couldn’t hinder my enjoyment. However, I can’t believe Jane Bennet is so annoyingly virtuous. Any more polish and shine to her halo and I’ll get radiation sickness.
“Ship of Magic” by Robin Hobb | I didn’t expect much when my book club picked this one (if you know me, you know I dislike ships), but Hobb knows how to tell a good story and I’m now invested in magic, talking ships and the families who own them. I didn’t expect to get back to epic fantasy. Also, #KillKyle – fucking asshole.
“The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman” by Angela Carter | I’ve never been so stimulated by a novel before and in its scope, this book is a real tour of the imagination – uncompromising, ruthless and sexually charged in an outrageous way. I also talk about it at Weird Fiction Review.
“Tales of Neveryon” by Samuel Delany | At long last, I introduced myself to Delany who has been the personal literary hero to a great many friends I love and respect. All the hype did not disappoint and I greatly enjoyed the first volume in this series, which deconstructed sword & sorcery tropes with ease and at a calm pace.
“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy | Family drama is my catnip and Roy made sure I ached for all characters in real, meaningful ways. The way she wreaths past and present with such precision so you’re allowed just enough to understand what’s going on and then reveals the whole scope of this family’s tragedy is something I haven’t experienced before.
“Rumbullion and Other Liminal Libations” by Molly Tanzer | I talk at greater lengths about Tanzer’s collection at SF Signal. A quote – “[…] it showcases Tanzer’s range and proves she can confidently write anything she pleases. This isn’t just a limited edition collection. It is a work of art and it belongs on your shelf. Your personal library will thank you.”
“The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” by Philip K. Dick | I made this joke at my book club’s meeting and I’ll make it again. Dick just doesn’t agree with me. Interesting concepts, but ultimately stilted execution of the most boring proportions.
“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami | At times tedious, pointless and all over the place for its own good. At others, compelling, insightful and genius. I don’t think I’ve had the same perfect balance of conflicting emotions about a book. At the end though, it was quite the worthwhile experience.
“The Exquisite Corpse” by Poppy Z. Brite | Brite has written a twisted love story that CSI: New Orleans should run, but would never have the balls to. Equal parts thrilling erotica and the most disgusting thing I’ve ever read, it’s a book that makes you question your morality at times.
“Teatro Grottesco” by Thomas Ligotti | Controversial opinion, but Ligotti didn’t do anything to spook or unnerve. This particular collection was not a very impressive introduction to his work and I couldn’t reach the end. I’m all for the spotlight to fall onto writers who seek out the unusual (and there are ideas and visuals Ligotti presents that I have not seen anywhere), but I’ve a substantial disconnect from his vision and style I can’t overcome.
“Solaris” by Stanislaw Lem | Celebrated science fiction I actually enjoyed. Lem has written a pretty solid, occasionally disconcerting novel that got a great discussion going at the book club’s meeting, which only heightened my own enjoyment of the book. I’ll forever carry the image of this red, sentient ocean in my mind.