A Good Year for Good Reads (Aren’t they all?)

Happy New Years to all.

It’s January 4th and the first working day for many in the good old République d’Irlande so, naturally, I’m thinking about “goals” and specifically for this post, reading goals…

Normally, I use Goodreads to track my books however I find it invigorates a rat race of ‘HOW MANY BOOKS CAN I CRAM INTO MY EYES!!’ rather than cultivate an ongoing love affair with reading.

And that’s really how I feel about reading. I love it. It relaxes me by taking me outside of myself. And, as a writer, I try to read words in the manner Terry Pratchett suggests – like a carpenter eyeing up trees.

Having a goal of 100 books, for a slow reader like myself, completely demotivates me and takes the fun out of reading. So how to read a lot and read meaningfully?

This year I decided alongside an arbitrary goal of 12 books on my Goodreads, to have a couple of supplementary goals. These are:

  • Read the full work* of a chosen author (*or as much as I can. read: slow reader)
  • Read a short story every day

Now I’m terrible with reading every day. Some days I only read for ten minutes and others for hours. So I imagine this will be more of a A Story For Every Day rather than a story a day, if that makes sense. Basically, by the year’s end I should have 365 stories read.

This is a practice very much inspired by Matt Bell; his reading habits and monthly newsletter were really big inspirations and sources of light to me in 2020.

The author I’ve chosen to read all of is Brian Evenson. He’s a writer I’ve really admired and tried to emulate ever since I read Fugue State while hitchhiking around New Zealand several years ago. He’s dark and horrific while also being really funny and tender. I love his work.

Last year I even attended a short class he did on opening sentences and afterwards he even critiqued one of my stories and turned me onto the writing of Anthony Michael Hurley (The Loney was a firm favourite from last year).

Evenson does have quite a few books, though, and I’m debating whether I should include his work as B.K. Evenson. Since one of the works is co-written with Rob Zombie, I’m leaning towards a strong yes.

Hope you have a great year of reading ahead whatever your ‘goal’ is.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021?

forever too many books to read

This year–like every year–reading has been a fantastic source of respite from the neverending parade of bad news and tragedy unfolding around us.

Recently I finished THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION–a detective novel by Michael Chabon set in alternative history where Jewish people settled in Sitka, Alaska post WW2–and it was one of the best reads I’ve had all year.

At the moment, I’m flying through THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones.

SGJ is probably my favourite writer of all time and someone I look up to immensely. Needless to say, I think this book is stunningly good. It’s seemingly so simple but yet so complicated and deep and powerful.

SGJ also has another novella coming out next month–NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS–which, naturally, I have preordered.

However, after looking over my Reading Log the other day, I decided that for the next half of 2020 I’d like to try and read more female voices.

Whether via marketing or algorithms or personal biases I end up reading about 50% or more cis-male authors and I’d just like to change that up a touch.

So, with that in mind, here are some titles I hope to read before the end of the year in no particular order.

Fiction
Toni Morrison – Beloved
Angela Carter – The Magic Toyshop
Zadie Smith – Swing Time
Octavia Butler – Kindred
Hilary Mantel – Fludd
Ursula K. Le Guin – The Dispossessed
Tasmyn Muir – Gideon the Ninth
Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Sarah Read – The Bone Weaver’s Orchard

Non-Fiction
Carmen Maria Machado – Dream House
Rebecca Solnit – A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Camile Paglia – Break, Burn, Blow
Lisa Kröger – Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction

I’m forever making reading lists but this one is composed of people I’ve largely never read before. (Caveats-Zadie Smith was an obsession for most of uni and I read Left Hand of Darkness by LeGuin but I think at the time I didn’t get it, maybe.)

Have you read any books off this list? Anything you could recommend?

Book Trailers are Cool

Like I said over on Twitter earlier, I really enjoy that book trailers are becoming more of a thing.

A couple of years ago I saw Juliet Escoria post one for some book and thought it was a really avant garde move, and that – if I ever had the chance – I’d do it, too, one day.

This wasn’t the one I remember seeing but the one that popped up by hopping on YouTube for a second. And also that date (in the thumbnail) is my birthday of the first year I started writing… Weird?

Anyways…

They’re becoming more of a thing lately – or maybe I’m only just noticing now – which is great news. Book marketing needed to figure out a way to hurdle over that gap of, ya know, making people read.

Working in marketing, I know all too well that people don’t like reading anything online except bold headlines. Their eyes prefer jumping in Z’s and T’s.

I first noticed the trailers for Josh Malerman’s books, which makes sense really ’cause of how big he is and how theatrical even his book readings are.

Couldn’t find the cool little short trailer he has for Malorie now but it’s cool. Got all these trees and trippy lighting. Nifty.

And here’s two I saw this morning from Stephen Graham Jones and Todd Keisling.

The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones

Devil’s Creek – Todd Keisling

If you know any cool book trailers, let me know. I’m hoping they just get bigger and better.

Arterial Bloom Review

“Arterial Bloom injects the ‘literary’ piece into the horror genre with works that excel in well-crafted surprises, powerful senses of place and character, and works that stand out from the crowd. Contributors to this anthology are diverse in their approaches, plot development, and themes, and so under the general ‘horror’ umbrella there is no unifying purpose other than to gather works that are truly exceptional.”

http://donovansliteraryservices.com/april-2020-issue.html?fbclid=IwAR0E0a3NGli8zKQaenuKV3m9xfSMrgmSyPN6rmhZokNxHl3xcziZHOlNp3M#abb

The Fire of Fiction

So this is a little celebratory post* for myself because…

Just hit 10,000 words on my current WIP which I shall name – OPERATION MEZZANINE.

It is named for the Massive Attack album which I first listened to on the day I began writing this draft (March 19th). And also my girlfriend’s cluttered mezzanine where I hope to one day craft an office space… if she’ll let me.

During this whole quarantine period it’s been nice to have something to work on that’s long and can distract me for long periods of time. Plus I’m always thinking about it in the back of my mind.

This is my third? or maybe fourth? first novel draft I’ve written. The others were very bad and very unworthy of being read. And that’s okay. But I’m feeling good about this one.

Even if it doesn’t go anywhere I’m making it as weird and personal as I can which should be a lesson I’ll try to keep putting into practice Post-Quarantine.

(*I told myself I’d post on here at least once a week last month but so far I’ve been negligent, however, I have lots of *actual* fiction writing done. Which is a good trade off. )