I’m a story hummingbird. A gigantic, six-foot-five hummingbird, flitting around sipping from three or four different books at a time, listening to audiobooks and podcasts as I drive, getting all those words caught in my beard.
That’s why this isn’t ever ever EVER going to be one book on a list.
I’m reading: Black Light by Elizabeth Hand. Hand’s Cass Neary novels (Generation Loss, Available Dark, and Hard Light) are among the best books I’ve read this year so far, and so I absolutely had to take a chance on her older works. She’s absolutely one of the best writers I’ve encountered. (Thanks Paul Tremblay for steering me her way!)
The Passage by Justin Cronin. This book, man. I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve tried getting through it no less than half-a-dozen times, and I haven’t been able to … YET! I bought the book in hardcover when it first came out, then I bought it on Audible, but I kept tripping over it and getting hung up when it jumps in time. But, thanks to Michael David Wilson at THIS IS HORROR and his conversation with Stephen Graham Jones, I’ve learned of a little button on the Audible app that lets you speed up the narrative. Instead of slogging through slow narration, I’m now listening to things at 1.25x or 1.5x speed, which helps immensely. At first it sounds chipmunk-y, but you soon get used to it. I’m hoping to finally find out what happens when I get to the end (because, FULL CONFESSION TIME, I’ve already bought the 2nd in the series, I just haven’t read it yet)
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock. Woof. This is a sipper for me. Pollock’s the kind of writer who can kick your ass in a sentence and put you in traction by the end of the paragraph. I can’t live too long in the worlds he creates because they’re just too much for me, but I LOVE his writing.
Now, for my favorites: Short fiction!
The hummingbird analogy goes double for short stories. I’m reading online at Nightmare Magazine and Apex and Lightspeed, but I’ve also got a Kindle full of collections and anthologies waiting to leap into my brain. The ones I’m into right this moment are:
Sourdough and other stories by Angela Slatter. These are so fucking good it gives me shivers.
Children of Lovecraft, edited by (the amazing) Ellen Datlow. I’m half-done with this one, and it’s got a great number of my favorites working right now.
Eternal Frankenstein, edited by (the also amazing) Ross E. Lockhart. This one’s another great line-up of authors and I’m giddy about what’s to come.
Finally, non-fiction. I’m not really into non-fiction, but when I start one I generally slog away until I finish it. Sometimes I get on a tear (like last week’s reading of Thrill Me by Benjamin Percy) and sometimes I read a few pages and digest the work, trying to absorb it. That’s how I am this week with:
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer. This book kicks some serious ass. It’s like a college course with guest lecturers and bizarre slide-show presentations. I’m loving every page of it.
If I was a better blogger, I’d put links, but I don’t have time. Maybe, sometime in the future, I’ll be procrastinating on a project and I’ll come do it retroactively. Until now, I’m sure you can probably just open another tab in your browser and Google anything you’re interested in. I BELIEVE IN YOU!