What I’m Reading..What’re You Reading?

Jeff VanderMeer • January 22nd, 2008 @ 6:03 pm • Book Reviews

Currently, I’m reading the following. Most of it falls into pretty traditional genre categories. I’m just on a tear of this kind of stuff.

Jeff

The Adventures of Little Lou by Lucy Swan (a beautifully designed book–John Coulthart–from Savoy; it’s a bit punkish, a bit Lord Horror-ish)

Lankhmar Vols 1 – 3 by Fritz Leiber (reissues from Dark Horse of the Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser stories)

Inside Straight: Wild Cards edited by George RR Martin (the series of superhero novels written by Martin’s troupe of collaborators)

Hunter’s Run by George RR Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham (action-packed SF)

The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (heroic fantasy, gritty–I kinda sped through the first one and then had to read the second quickly, too, and I want to be more leisurely and savor the really cool stuff about both)

Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi (short stories; really finding this intriguing)

Truancy by Isamu Fukui (very cool coming-of-age SF novel)

Carlucci by Richard Paul Russo (the three collected near-future SF detective novels; I really am loving these, just like I loved his Ship of Fools)

SO, that’s me, what about YOU?

60 Responses to “What I’m Reading..What’re You Reading?”

  1. Corey Redekop says:

    Currently reading:

    THE CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL – Paul Malmont – loving it.

    CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN – well, you know who- looking forward to it.

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Need a comfy pillow? Another coffee, sir? Just let me know. (And, if you don’t like City, well, the Predator novel will be a pretty brutal antidote…)

    JV

  3. GlenH says:

    Is Pump 6 an advance copy? I thought it wasn’t published untill Feb (and I’m dying to get my hands on it).

  4. Andrew Cooper says:

    Currently reading “The Aeneid” by Vergil. I’ve gotten into these old Latin epics. I just read “The Golden Ass” by Lucius Apuleius and that was one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Yeah, it’s an advance copy. Very cool.
    JV

  6. Cheryl says:

    Currently reading your blog, Jeff.

    I’ve just finished Spaceman Blues (brief comment here). Now starting on some Elizabeth Bear at long last. Hopefully getting to the new Mark Budz before Matter arrives.

    So glad you are enjoying the Carluccis. I love ‘em.

  7. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Yeah–I wouldn’t have picked them up if we hadn’t met Russo in France. Really interesting guy, so we immediately went out and got all of his stuff.

    JV

  8. SMD says:

    I’m currently reading The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller, and I have several others on the list, but the titles are escaping me at the moment.

  9. Dave Larsen says:

    World War Z by Max Brooks. It’s a lot “smarter” than I expected of a zombie novel. Someone told me the other day its movie rights have been sold – now there’s a movie I can look forward to!

    Monsters from Dark Horse, a nice graphic anthology.

    I’ve just given up on Donaldson’s Fatal Revenant. That makes me unhappy, I really want to like it! I’ll give it another chance in the summer – maybe.

    Jeff, you and Ann are the only other people I’ve met who also liked Ship of Fools and the Carlucci books. That makes me feel better!

    And for what it’s worth – this is not a recommendation necessarily – I went to see Cloverfield this weekend. Fuck! When the movie stopped the whole theater just sat there, shell shocked I guess, until the lights came up. Then we all just kind of shook it off and came back to our actual lives. Zowie. I’m going back Thursday.

    Dave

  10. Larry says:

    I just finished re-reading David Keck’s first book and then the ARC for his second. My opinion of the work improved a bit, to where I think I’m beginning to see part of what he’s attempting to do with the narrative structure and the characters. I’ll write up my thoughts on this later in the week.

    Re-read J.G. Ballard’s The Best Short Stories of J.G. Ballard and found myself thinking a bit between many of those pre-1978 stories.

    Read Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye and I liked it more than I did Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Bukowski has an interesting style, something that makes me want to re-read the book to savor it more.

    John Crowley’s Little, Big was better on a re-read.

    Thinking about reading Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet next, as I’ve had it for 3 years now and haven’t really tried to read past the first chapter.

  11. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Russo has interesting use of space in his novels, and I don’t mean outer space. They seem to move at a leisurely pace, but, as with Ship of Fools, they can be really tense. I love this effect.
    JV

  12. Jessica Reisman says:

    Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union; rocks!

  13. Rob Davies says:

    I just started Iain M. Banks’ MATTER and I’m finishing up Grant Morrison’s DOOM PATROL run with the PLANET LOVE trade.

  14. JesseFord says:

    Bel Canto, by Ann Patchet. I’m reading it very slowly, mostly because I’ve been lazy. Every few pages I find myself slightly amazed at how much I like this novel; as if the author keeps pulling out magic tricks in front of me.

    The Book Of Other People. A short story collection of authors writing stories based around…um, other people. It’s almost a who’s who of my favorite authors, excepting Michael Chabon, Kelly Link, M. John Harrison, and Mr. Vandermeer himself. I’ve only read a few of the stories, and the only I really like so far is the one by Miranda July.

    I just received The Surgeons Tale by Cat Rambo and some other guy. I expect to be opening it up in the next day or two.

  15. Nathan Ballingrud says:

    Servants of the Map by Andrea Barrett
    The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford
    The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick
    And, oddly enough, the first volume in the Dark Horse Lankhmar reprints. I’ve never read them before, believe it or not.

  16. Matthew Cody says:

    Book lists! I love ‘em!

    Fiction: Re-reading an oldie but goodie – The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper and waiting to dig into Baltimore: the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. But I might start The Lies of Locke Lamora first. They’re both withing arms’ reach of my bed so we’ll see.

    Non-fiction: American Creation by Joseph Ellis. Loves me the Founding Fathers.

  17. Andy Wolverton says:

    Too many at one time, as usual:

    Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad

    20th Century Ghosts – Joe Hill

    Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq – Thomas Ricks

    Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA – Tim Weiner

    Plus while working at the library tonight I picked up Stephen King’s new novel Duma Key and Ellen Datlow’s anthology Inferno.

  18. Jennifer Jackson says:

    Among various work-related submissions….

    Glasshouse by Charles Stross
    Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
    Fingerprints: The Origin of Crime Detection by Colin Beavan

  19. philip says:

    house of leaves. and it’s your f**king fault.

  20. Joshua Byrnes says:

    Finishing up second run through Crooked Little Vein – Warren Ellis
    Terminal and Dark Hollow – Brian Keene
    Blankety Blank – D. Harlan Wilson
    Angel Dust Apocalypse – Jeremy Robert Johnson

  21. Anne S says:

    Currently reading “Ludmila’s Broken English” by DBC Pierre – crazy story.

    Have the Yiddish Policeman’s Union on the TBR pile, so it’s next.

  22. David de Beer says:

    The Dreaming Place – Charles de Lint

    Prime Codex – a selection of shorts from writers belonging to the Codex group, like Jim Hines, Mary Robinette Kowal, Geoffrey Girard, etc.

    The lost Decade and other stories – Scott Fitzgerald; the first time I’ve read Fitzgerald, strangely enough.

    Various short fiction magazines.

    and I’m going trough a How to Write bookphase, currently finishing up on Donald Maass’ How to write the breakout novel, and then it’s on to John Garnder, The art of fiction.

    way too many blogs and online journals.

    too many comics as well

  23. Lawrence says:

    I’m reading Michael Swanwick’s Iron Dragon’s Daughter and M. John Harrison’s Viroconium these days, both for the first time (no rereads, I’m not that old). My reading has been in a hiatus lately, so I hope I can revive and rekindle the spirit with some of these “classics”.
    With regard to the titles you listed, Jeff, you seem to like them all! Is this just ‘coincidentally’ or do you refrain from posting more critical comments on the web? The aforementioned Joe Abercrombie once said that he refrained from commenting on other people’s book, because it is a “bit close to the bone”. Do you share this sentiment? I’m not criticizing you for anything, I;m just curious what your view on this is.

  24. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Nathan–hope you like the Lanky. Tell me you’ve read Vance’s Dying Earth, though?

    Jennifer–nice to see a comment from you here! (I keep hearing great things about you from people)

    Lawrence–If you’ve read my SciFi Weekly reviews, you’ll note I don’t refrain from it at all. For example, an upcoming review of Blue War by Jeffrey Thomas, whose work I usually like. In the context of my blog, I’m not as likely to just because I’d rather spend my time pimping things I like. That said, there’s a really horrible mystery novel I’ll be blogging about next month to warn people off, because it’s truly disgusting. And, I haven’t finished everything I wrote about above, so some of it may turn out to be disappointing.

    My overall view is this: We only have a healthy, vibrant genre if the people involved in it are willing to engage books honestly.

    Jeff

  25. Transfiguring Roar says:

    Secret Life: I’m reading it one story at a time, and savoring it.

    The Titus Groan novels: So beautifully written.

    And the Viriconium stories: Unlike anything I’ve ever read.

    I’ve also got a very big stack of books waiting for me, China Mieville’s Bas-Lag novels, R. Scott Bakker’s the Prince of Nothing trilogy, Catherynne M. Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales (vol. 1 and vol. 2), K.J. Bishop’s The Etched City, and I think that’s it.

    If only I didn’t work full time, I’d gobble ‘em up.

  26. Nathan Ballingrud says:

    “Tell me you’ve read Vance’s Dying Earth, though?”

    Um, I could TELL you that, but …

  27. Andrew Cooper says:

    I can’t wait to hear about the horrible mystery novel!

  28. Paul Jessup says:

    Some random books on philosophy, just finished Naussicaa manga (which rocked!) and reading some collections of horror short stories from the 70’s. I’m finding that Robert Aikman is one of my favorite authors, and he was very misunderstood.

  29. AnnV says:

    In addition to reading a LOT of short fiction for various projects (BAF, IHG, etc), I am also reading:
    – The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian
    – The Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
    – The Shadow Year by Jeff Ford
    – The Faith Between Us by Peter Bebergel and Scott Korb
    – Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky
    – Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Bookclub book – yes sometimes we DO read books)
    And looking forward to getting the new Stephen King, Duma Key

  30. Linda Lindsey says:

    Mostly far too much LiveJournal. But, I have “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson, “Shelter” by Chaz Brenchley and “Worlds of Wonder” by David Gerrold dog eared and laying about, so I guess they count.

  31. kellys says:

    Recently finished: Bret Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park, Fritz Leiber’s Our Lady of Darkness, Michael Bishop’s One Winter in Eden, and am about to finish Gary Braunbeck’s Mr. Hands. I can honestly recommend them all, specifically Lunar Park, which is a wonderfully creepy, autobiographical horror novel.

  32. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    So glad you liked Lunar Park!
    JV

  33. Jesse B says:

    Finishing Arthur Conan Doyle’s The White Company and starting William Beckford’s Vathek, as I’ve been too swamped of late to go at more than one novel at a time.

    Jones and Pennick’s History of Pagan Europe and Tatar’s Annotated Borthers Grimm are in a regular orbit, and a re-read of Ekirch’s frustrating but still excellent At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past.

    Oh, to Lawrence and Transfiguring Roar– If you ever fancy a more visual tour of Viriconium I found Ian Miller’s adaptation of Harrison’s Luck in the Head to be astounding…but I’ve heard tell some people loathe it, so there you are.

  34. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    I LOVE the Miller adaptation. Gorgeous and unsettling.
    JV

  35. SE Martin says:

    Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen … bought on a whim but I’m really enjoying it–some of the holocaust story line reminds me of Life and Fate; thankfully it hasn’t sparked the nightmares L&F did.

  36. Terry Weyna says:

    Ellen Datlow’s Inferno (just finished the Laird Barron story, which is fabulous)

    Elizabeth Bear’s New Amsterdam (just started, no opinion yet)

    Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita for the reading group at Readerville (great website)

    Just finished Janette Turner Hospital’s Orpheus Lost, which was about so many things that it ultimately failed to coalesce; Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey, which I liked so much that I was very annoyed when it simply ended in the middle of the story (and I can’t tell when the next volume is supposed to come out); and Down River by John Hart, which has just been nominated for an Edgar Award and deserves the nomination — very fine literary mystery.

  37. Jesse B says:

    I meant to add Neil Jordan’s novel Shade, as I finished it earlier this week. I’ve had a long-standing fondness for his films and he did not dissapoint with this, the first novel I’ve read by him. Those familiar with his films (The Crying Game, The Butcher Boy, The Company of Wolves etc.) will have an inkling what they’re in for. I’m always a bit trepedatious when an artist in one medium moves into another–particularly when they’re going from film to fiction, a transition from, as I perceive it, the most collaberative of artistries to the most individualistic.

    Yet Jordan’s turn of phrase and meticuously well-developed characters combined with amply-researched history proved a good deal of melancholy fun and not nearly as sentimental as the premise might imply. He also followed the cardinal rule of writing about supernatural archetypes (bring SOMETHING novel to the legend!) by adding what to this reader was a very tidy and interesting twist on a ghost story; as someone pointed out weeks ago on this blog, though, having a ghost does not a horror story make, and Shade is more tragedy than gothic thriller.

    Terry Weyna–If you liked M & M, Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog is a quick and fun read.

  38. Bob Lock says:

    Just finished:
    Paul J McAuely’s Cowboy Angels (Interesting)
    Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies (Not a bad sequel although there is a feeling that it is a ‘filler’ before the third of the trilogy answers all the questions)
    Peter F Hamilton’s The Dreaming Void (A nice thick book which ticks all the boxes for a hard sf fan, I’m looking forward to the sequel)

    Now reading:
    Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name Of The Wind (So far so good, although he does mention the title phrase a little too often and I’m only on page 100 of about 600. I’m enjoying it however, but the news that the sequel is delayed is a pity)

  39. John Coulthart says:

    Jesse B: Neil Jordan was actually a published writer before he made a film. I have an original short fiction collection from the Seventies which includes one of his pieces among others by William Burroughs and Mike Moorcock. It was his friendship with John Boorman that got him started in films, as I recall.

  40. Samuel Tinianow says:

    Previously: FREE LIVE FREE by Gene Wolfe

    Currently: THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF RANGERGIRL by Tim Pratt

    Next: PIRATE FREEDOM by Gene Wolfe and THE SIGN OF THE UNICORN by Roger Zelazny

    I don’t normally read only SF, but I’m at a point where escapism serves me well.

  41. Transfiguring Roar says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Jesse B. I’ll hunt it down.

    I also recently finished Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Library comics. They were pretty damn good, I thought.

  42. Horia Ursu says:

    I’m about to finish Dan Simmons’ Terror (you’re to blame!) and I love it. It’s a huge book. And not just in dimensions. Next on my list, Scott Lynch. And then George R. R. Martin’s Dreamsongs. And I have just made an offer to Richard Paul Russo’s agent for the Carlucci novels. :) Loved them since I found Destroying Angel in a used books shop in Bucharest (1997? 1998?).

  43. J M McDermott says:

    “Trial of Flowers” by Jay Lake
    “Against the Day” by Thomas Pynchon
    “Selected Poems” by Ann Sexton
    “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino
    “The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet” edited by Gavin J Grant and Kelly Link

  44. Jesse B says:

    John Coulthart: Good to know! I stumbled onto Shade while in a used book store and since it had been published in 2004 and Jordan only had a few other titles listed in the “also by” at the front I jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Granted, said conclusion made me approach the book a little differently than I would have had I known he started in fiction; odd how, much as I strive to avoid it, my preconceptions of artists filter my reading of their work. That said, I like his (novel) writing style every much as his screenwriting and direction–might you recall the title of the anthology you mentioned? That sounds like a splendid place to start (assuming I can find a copy floating on the vast seas of the internet), and it’s been a while since I actually sought out an older anthology.

  45. ChrisTopher says:

    I am reading “Again, Dangerous Visions” edited by Mr. Ellison. I found an original hardback copy of it in an antique store the other day for 4 dollars. Woo-hoo.

    Also, reading “The Knight” by Gene Wolfe as well as, “Blood Engines” by T.A. Pratt, Tim’s Doppelganger.

  46. J. T. Glover says:

    Scar Night, by Alan Campbell. Evocative, gritty urban fantasy. I’m not as well versed in urban fantasy as I’d like, so I don’t know which authors he’s read (Mieville?), but it has more than a touch of the feel of D&D’s Planescape gaming milieu, which is both a plus and a minus.

    Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, by Haruki Murakami. A collection of short stories spanning some years. Of particular interest is “The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes,” an allegory about his reception by the Japanese literary establishment. Creepy and effective.

    20th Century Ghosts, by Joe Hill. The stories have all been good thus far. “My Father’s Mask” really grabbed me, both for its qualities as a story and for the fact that it was written by, well, his father’s son.

    Just finished Mortal Love, by Elizabeth Hand. Amazing, vivid writing that left me feeling as if I’d spent days in a fugue after I finished it.

  47. Mike says:

    I’m reading lots of early Jack Vance novels like The Flesh Mask/Take My Face and Strange People, Queer Notions. Neither of these are like any other Vance I’ve read. The more I read from this period in the 50s, the more I wonder how The Dying Earth stories were so comparatively mature. Can’t wait for the Tales book.

  48. Robert Devereux says:

    I just finished Catherynne Valente’s “In the Cities of Coin and Spice.” It’s always nice to see another book with musical accompaniment.

    I’m working through “Mountain Weather” by Jeff Renner. It’s guide for outdoors people to predict weather. I’m also working on “I Am America, and So Can You” and the newest Weird Tales that I got yesterday.

  49. MattD says:

    Currently reading:

    Last Dragon by J.M. McDermott. For review in the next few weeks; I’ve avoided reading your post on the book but can’t help but be encouraged by its title. So far it’s reminding me (stylistically) a bit of early Michael Cisco and Catherynne Valente.
    Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine by George Taber. Clearer and better written than these pop-history books often are, if at the expense of some comprehensiveness.
    Icelander by Dustin Long. An Icelandic, post-modern mystery novel. (Hopefully not the one you’ll be blogging about!)

  50. brendan connell says:

    Andrew—If you like the classics, try Polybius. His book, though very long (10 volumes or so as far as I can remember) is probably among the best of the old stuff. It is history, but reads better than just about any fiction, with Hannibal and lots of other interesting figures.

    Currently I am reading The Bells of Bruges by Rodenbach, a new Deadus issue, which is very good.

  51. falkman says:

    Jeffrey Thomas – MonstroCity (really, REALLY enjoyed the Punktown collection)
    Jonathan Lethem – just got ‘Fortress of Solitude’ and Motherless Brooklyn (i’ve only read ‘Gun with occasional Music’ but liked it)
    Jonathan Safran Foer – Everything Is Illuminated (everyone and their brothers already read it and well i’m curious if it can live up to the hype)

  52. Daniel Ausema says:

    Just finished In the Cities of Coin and Spice, which was great, and I’ve been recommending it all over the place, and John Irving’s The Water Method Man, which, well, wasn’t and I won’t.

    Now I’m reading Crowley’s Little, Big, Lint by Aylett, Sporty Spec from Raven Electrick Ink, and Wind Follower by McDonnell. Oh, and an e-ARC of Pump Six for review (I’m not a fan of e-ARCs, but…). And far too many on my once-I’m-done-with-these-books pile to mention.

  53. John Coulthart says:

    Jesse B: the book in question was New Writing & Writers #16, a John Calder publication from 1979 which I imagine is rather difficult to find now. Burroughs’ piece was Cobblestone Gardens, which has been collected elsewhere, same with Moorcock’s contribution, The Kassandra Peninsula. Neil Jordan’s piece wasn’t very distinguished, as I recall, but the company certainly was.

  54. Billy Cryer says:

    Today finished ‘Rocannon’s World,’ and ‘The Deep’ (latter by John Crowley). Now alternating between ‘The Blue Flower,’ (Penelope Fitzgerald) ‘The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye’ by A.S. Byatt, and poems by Tennyson. ‘Rocannon’s World’ is still pressed against my mind; Le Guin’s subtle imagery always startles me–it’s so…pristine? I can’t find the word (I’m thinking of the lyrical beauty of the prologue in ‘The Tombs of Atuan,’ which I spied even in ‘The Left Hand of Darkness.’

    Bathroon reading: ‘Le Morte d’Arthur.’ Each chapter is short and succint–perfect for bathroom visits. But I thought Merlin was ensorceled into a tree by Vivian, and Malory says he’s shoved under a rock by Nimue? Perhaps this stuff should be canonized so there won’t be all this confusion.

  55. GlenH says:

    @Billy Cryer: I’ve read both versions too – personally I prefer the rock.

    I’ve just finished Chris Lawson’s excellent and all too short collection “Written in Blood”. Thoughtful topical (sf) stories and equally topical essays – worth the trouble to get hold of.

  56. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Rock for me, too.

  57. Alexander New says:

    V. by Thomas Pynchon. It’s certainly something

  58. Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo says:

    Recently enjoyed: “Nedut” by J.Pekka Mäkelä and “Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta” by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, two Finnish novels I had long wanted to read and now liked a lot. And because somebody wanted to borrow the Marianne trilogy by Sheri S. Tepper, I just had to reread it quickly for the nth time.

    Currently reading: Homer’s Iliad (slowly, savouring hexameter in Finnish), “Lint” by Steve Aylett and some hunting magazines I hoarded when translating Dunsany… and Astrid Lindgren for the kids. Do dictionaries count if you just go on reading them after forgetting what you were supposed to look for in the first place?

    Waiting, on top of the pile: “Secret Life” by Jeff, “Was” by Geoff Ryman (reread), “Titus Groan” by Mervyn Peake (reread), “V for Vendetta” (Finnish translation) and a MS of something Secret written by a friend of mine, also in Finnish…

  59. Donnie B. says:

    I recently finished Nights at the Circus by Carter. I am currently reading Baron in the Trees by Calvino and I just received Arc d’ X in the mail. Thanks for posting your recommended reading list Jeff! All of these writers are incredibly unique and interesting. That’s all!

  60. Bianca Gascoigne says:

    Love this video but would like to have seen Bertie in it too. Perhaps they’ve got a sequel showing Bertie and Big Brother 9winner Rachel Rice walking down the road together arm in arm. They are both very sweet characters so would go well together :-)

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