Category Archives: reading

New additions to Recommended Reading

It’s been a while since I updated the Recommended Reading section of this website. The last addition to the short stories list, I believe, was Priya Sharma’s ‘The Absent Shade’ back in January 2015. Since then, I’ve read 64 short stories in 2015 and 24 in 2016 (to date). From those 88 stories, here are those I unequivocally recommend (in the order I read them):

SHORT STORIES/NOVELETTES

Men Wearing Makeup by Ralph Robert Moore – Black Static #46 (May-Jun 2015)
All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck by Kate Jonez – Black Static #47 (Jul-Aug 2015)
A Case Study in Natural Selection and How it Applies to Love by Eric J. Guignard – Black Static #47 (Jul-Aug 2015)
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver  –  What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (collection, 1981)
Morality by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
I Have Heard the Mermaids Sing by Ray Cluley  –  Probably Monsters (collection 2015)
At Night, When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley  –  Probably Monsters (collection 2015)
Obits by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
Summer Thunder by Stephen King  –  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (collection, 2015)
Ishq by Usman T. Malik  –  Black Static #43 (Nov-Dec 2014)
Dirt Land by Ralph Robert Moore  –  Black Static #49 (Nov-Dec 2015)

Other additions:

NOVELS

Point Hollow by Rio Youers (2015)
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick (2014)

NON FICTION:

On Writing by Charles Bukowski (2015)
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (2013)
Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas by Matthew O’Brien (2007)

2015 – What I Read (and Loved)

Okay, so I only read 16 books (fiction/non-fiction) and 64 short stories in 2015. It isn’t a lot, I know, but for what it is worth here is a list of the titles I particularly enjoyed and do not hesitate to recommend. In no particular order:

BOOKS

  • On Writing – Charles Bukowski (2015)*
  • Point Hollow – Rio Youers (2015)

* This is perhaps one for fans, rather than a starting point for readers interested in Bukowski’s work.

SHORT STORIES

  • The Absent Shade – Priya Sharma (Black Static #44)
  • Men Wearing Makeup – Ralph Robert Moore (Black Static #46)
  • All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck – Kate Jonez (Black Static #47)
  • A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love – Eric J. Guignard (Black Static #47)
  • What We Talk about When We Talk about Love – Raymond Carver (collection of the same name)
  • Morality – Stephen King (collection: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)*
  • I Have Heard the Mermaids Sing – Ray Cluley (collection: Probably Monsters)*

* I am still  currently reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams and Probably Monsters.

How I Spent My Summer…in Derry

It

There will be no short story list for August.  I’ve read a few, but not enough to warrant posting on here. Instead, I’ve been rereading the classic horror novel, “It” by Stephen King. It’s been twenty years since I first read this 900+ page tale about childhood and monsters, and although I went into this, my second reading, with some enthusiasm I did not expect to be as blown away as I have been. I’m loving every page. Even those sections I remember being weak, such as the dark, historical interludes about Derry and some of the adult-POV stuff have been riveting this time around. I didn’t expect that at all.  And even if the ending disappoints this time as much as it did in the Nineties (I’m 200 pages from it at the time of posting) I will be catapulting this novel back into my top 5 or even top 3 favourite King novels regardless.  Now, to find time to revisit “The Stand”…

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me

Over on Facebook this has been doing the rounds for a while.  Since my FB page is private, I thought I’d post my list publically, here.  Here are the ten books that have stayed with me for whatever reason.  They may not be the best books written by those authors but they had an effect and influence on me at the time of reading.  They are ALL worth checking out, however.  I have to say, it was hard to whittle the list down to just ten, and there are many authors who I greatly respect missing from it (Bradbury and Bukowski to name just two) but these are the individual books that really jumped out and grabbed me.  Here goes:

1) “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R Tolkien (Tolkien was a god to me in my early teens, and this trilogy set me on the path to writing).

2) “Misery” by Stephen King (My first King novel. He’s written better but you never forget your first).

3) “The Long Walk” by Richard Bachman (Simply because it’s a brilliant novel).

4) “Watership Down” by Richard Adams (Easily dismissed as The Lord of the Rings with rabbits. It shouldn’t really work as well as it does, but this is a masterpiece).

5) “The Girl Next Door” by Jack Ketchum (This novel destroyed me. I cried. You don’t forget that).

6) “October Sky” by Homer H. Hickam (Autobiographical novel – part of a trilogy, in fact. Wonderful story, rich characters, passion on every page. I instantly became a fan).

7) “The Dice Man” by Luke Rhinehart (I’d never read anything like it before, and I haven’t since. Mindblowing).

8) “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Suskind (A dark classic. The writing is breathtaking.)

9) “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (This true story of survival is a brilliant, humbling read. Film version due to be released this year).

10) “Westlake Soul” by Rio Youers (Brave, ambitious, written with confidence and heart. A thing of beauty).

Short fiction: June – July

Here is a list of the short fiction I read in June and July.  Ratings are out of 5 stars.  4 stars and above means the story qualifies for my Recommended Reading list.  The latest batch of stories can be found in the following publications:

Rear Window – Cornell Woolrich
Realms:  The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine
Black Static #40
Dear Life – Alice Munro
Black Static #41
Nightmare Magazine

SHORT FICTION
Dead on Her Feet – Cornell Woolrich (***)
Waltz – Cornell Woolrich (***)
The Ape’s Wife – Caitlin Kiernan (**)
Lost Soul – M.P. Ericson (***1/2)
Ravello Steps – Chris Barnham (***)
The Book That Squealed – Cornell Woolrich (***)
Reclamation Yard – Paul Meloy (***1/2)
Corrie – Alice Munro (****)
The Hutch – Ray Cluley (***1/2)
Ghosts Play in Boys’ Pajamas – Ralph Robert Moore (****)
The Driveway – Leah Thomas (***1/2)
None So Empty – Tim Waggoner (**1/2)
Caul – Vajra Chandrasekera (**1/2)
Equilibrium – Carole Johnstone (****)
The Spider Sweeper – Thersa Matsuura (***1/2)
Sunbleached – Nathan Ballingrud (****)

Short fiction: May

Here’s a list of the short fiction I read in May.  Ratings are out of 5 stars.  4 stars and above means the story qualifies for my Recommended Reading list.  This month’s stories can be found in the following publications:

The Lost District and other stories – Joel Lane
Rear Window – Cornell Woolrich
Realms:  The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine (note:  these stories can be found online)
Black Static #40
Dear Life – Alice Munro

SHORT FICTION
Reservoir – Joel Lane (****)
An Unknown Past – Joel Lane (***)
You Could Have It All – Joel Lane (***)
You’ll Never See Me Again – Cornell Woolrich (***1/2)
Qubit Conflicts – Jetse De Vries (***)
The Oracle Spoke – Holly Phillips (**)
Moon Over Yodok – David Charlton (***)
I’ll Gnaw Your Bones, the Manticore Said – Cat Rambo (****)
Transtexting Pose – Darren Speegle (**)
The Taste of Wheat – Ekaterina Sedia (***1/2)
Golden Avery – Sarah Read (***)
World of Trevor – Stephen Hargadon (***)
The Hanged Man – Steve Rasnic Tem (***)
The Beacon – Darja Malcolm-Clarke (***1/2)
Pride – Alice Munro (**1/2)
The Screaming Laugh – Cornell Woolrich (***)
The Crone at the Meadow Gate – Tim Casson (****)

Short fiction: March – April

Due to a lack of time in recent months (moving house, job hunting, etc.) I’ve not been able to read as much as I would like.  So, I’ve decided to put March and April together for this, my latest short fiction reading update.  The stories can be found in the following magazines or books:

Black Static #39
Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine
The Lost District and other stories – Joel Lane
Dear Life – Alice Munro

SHORT FICTION
Kebab Bob – Ralph Robert Moore
The Brack – Vajra Chandrasekera
Hot Feet – Tyler Keevil
The Toyol – Joel Arnold
House Party Blues – Suzanne Palmer
Clockmaker’s Requiem – Barth Anderson
Something in the Mermaid Way – Carrie Laben
The Third Bear – Jeff Vandermeer
The Night That Wins – Joel Lane
Haven – Alice Munro
Against My Ruins – Joel Lane
The Only Game – Joel Lane
The First Female President – Michael De Kler
There’s No Light Between Floors – Paul G. Tremblay
Contract Bridge – Joel Lane
Beyond the River – Joel Lane
The Plans They Made – Joel Lane
The Drowned – Joel Lane

The stories that made it onto my Recommended Reading list are in bold.