At the moment, I don’t read nearly as much as I should. I need to rectify that, and you might say a starting point is not to write blogs when I could be reading. You might even be right.
However, I’m going to excuse myself this exercise in procrastination, as I think it’s also good to talk about reading. I don’t get to share the excitement of talking to others who’ve read the same books as I have often enough. Certainly not as much as I might get to have that conversation about TV shows.
Let’s fix that, eh? Here’s my contribution – feel free to add to the discussion in the comments, in your own blogs and elsewhere.
Books I’ve read (and loved) in the past year(-ish)
- The Shattered Sea series by Joe Abercrombie – Joe Abercrombie may well be my favourite author at the moment. All the brutal political realism of George RR Martin, but with a good dollop of dark humour on top. His First Law series is a must read and it’s an outrage that more people I know haven’t read it to be honest. The Shattered Sea series is aimed at the Young Adult market, where First Law was undoubtedly in the Adult bracket, but that doesn’t diminish it at all. The first book is good and Yarvi a compelling protagonist, but books two and three are amazing and you really root for Thorn and Brand. Weird footnote: Joe Abercrombie is brilliant at writing terrible sex (as opposed to terrible at wring good sex).
- Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – Gaiman is the author of The Sandman and co-author of Good Omens so, to be honest, not liking his work isn’t an option. Neverwhere, American Gods and Anansi Boys are also recommended. Norse Mythology is one you can easily devour on a train journey from Cardiff to Liverpool (as I did) and it’s the book that captures both the awe that true myth inspires and the inherent farce of the whole thing. You can imagine the Vikings would approve, quaffing their horns of mead (did Vikings quaff? One for the history buffs) whilst absorbing every word.
- Clariel and Goldenhand by Garth Nix – Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series is a long time favourite, and these latest entries are more than worthy. Clariel is all the more powerful once you realise who she is, in relation to the earlier books, and I can’t say more because that spoil it but it’s a genuine, expertly done tragedy. Goldenhand? Again, spoilers, but you’ll need tissues. What is it with books about necromancy giving me the feels?
- The Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence – Mark Lawrence is another fantasy writer who does well with cynical realism and dark humour. You’ll love Jorg, but you’ll also know you really shouldn’t cause he’s an arse, and that’s key to what makes his journey so gripping.
- Conversations With The Pixie by Dee Nicholls – Yes, Dee is my wife, so I’m biased. But this deserves an entry. It’s not Fantasy or SF, not the kind of thing I usually read at all, but I took a couple of hours to go from cover to cover. The life of an autistic woman who learns to accept herself through conversations with her imaginary friend, it’s genuinely heartwarming and worth a look. Even if, like me, you prefer black-hearted tales of mystical bloodshed.
Books on my reading list
- La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, Book One) by Philip Pullman – I’m about halfway through this. I absolutely loved His Dark Materials, and so far the follow up is similarly compelling. As mentioned, I’m not reading as much as I should, but I’m getting through it.
- Successor’s Promise (Millenium’s Rule Book Three) by Trudi Canavan – I’m a massive Trudi Canavan fan. The Black Magician and Age of Five trilogies are both sublime, and both with their own unique takes on how magic works. Millenium’s Rule offers another variation, with magic as a finite resource and a web of interconnected worlds. I ate up book one and two and was gutted at the time to realise book three was a year away, so it’s ready to go on my Kindle after La Belle Sauvage.
- The Damned (Darkest Hand Book One) by Tarn Richardson – honestly, I know nothing about the author, but it’s werewolves during World War One. What’s not to love?
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin – Her passing away has motivated me to add this back to my list. Disgracefully, I’ve not read nearly enough of her work, and that needs rectifying.
- The Eternal Champion cycle by Michael Moorcock – yes, you read that right, the whole damn cycle. Michael Moorcock is far more compelling for me than Tolkein or Lewis (and I’m in full agreement with his essay on their work). He’s written books beyond count about the Eternal Champion, reincarnated endlessly to maintain the balance between order and chaos in struggles across the universe. I’ve read a chunk of the Elric of Melnibonè stories, a load of the Chronicles of Corum and at least two about Dorian Hawkmoon. Not to mention a Von Bek here and an Erekose there. But dammit, I will get around to them all. Excepting maybe the trippier Jerry Cornelius stuff you need to be on LSD to understand.
Drop your own lists in the comments, or stick a link there if you do it in a blog. I’m curious to see what others are reading and enjoying.