If you like sci-fi/speculative fictions with some horror elements I would absolutely recommend The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, really fascinating reads about a land where earthquakes have basically reshaped society.
A Sand County Alamanac is a fantastic read, probably one of my favorite books ever. It embeds you so deeply in such a specific time and place, one that I grew up in. It’s a series of vignettes about the natural world in and around a cabin in Sand county, Wisconsin. Aldo Leopold alternates between being witty in the way that all nerds are about their passion, and being in awe of the grace and beauty that the natural world provides.
If you’re at all interested in sustainability, nature, or conservation, I recommend you give it a read.
Only one acorn in a thousand ever grew large enough to fight rabbits; the rest were drowned at birth in the prairie sea. It is a warming thought that this one wasn’t, and thus lived to garner eighty years of June sun. It is this sunlight that is now being released, through the intervention of my axe and saw, to warm my shack and my spirit through eighty gusts of blizzard. And with each gust a wisp of smoke from my chimney bears witness, to whomsoever it may concern, that the sun did not shine in vain.
I’m reading Fifth Season (book 1) right now and loving it! There’s some really interesting allegory about race and class going on. Can’t wait to finish it.
Scott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char is probably my favorite book of the last decade.
I’d recommend Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle if it looked like we were ever actually going to get the third book.
Two books I read last year that I know will be all-time favourites for me:
Perdido Street Station by China Miélville. Exceptional world-building and a cast of diverse characters living their lives in spite of oppressive and near-inescapable institutions. I have not read the rest of the series, but I’m currently reading his stand-alone novel Railsea that is literally just Moby Dick with trains hunting giant moles through an apocalyptic wasteland.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. Another story of individuals fighting back against evil imperial forces. It’s taken a lot of self-control to not go out to buy the sequel instead of getting through the rest of my reading list.
Yes, I’m a sucker for leftist fantasy. Gotta get to N. K. Jemisin ASAP.
Oooh can you expand on what you liked about The Traitor? I just stumbled upon it in a Wiki hole and put it on my reading list.
Well big picture, it’s about a woman whose home is colonized by a foreign empire. She grows up seeing her culture gradually stripped away and atrocities committed on her people for going against the values of the empire. The colonizers set up schools to reeducate their subjects and recognize her as valuable to their weird political bureaucracy. Meanwhile she’s seeing all the harm they’re doing to her people and decides to work her way up and destroy the empire from within. Most of The Traitor is focused on her first assignment to suppress the revolt of another colonized nation.
TL;DR: There’s amazing world-building, political intrigue, and musings on the inner workings of authoritarian colonial powers and their impacts on the people they oppress from the perspective of the oppressed people. Also, I’m just super interested in the logistics of rebellions.
I am Legend!
Hey, do you like zombie movies, games, literature? Well, you wouldn’t have it if not for Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. George A. Romero, often considered the ‘father’ of the modern zombie, is quoted in saying that, “I had written a short story, which I basically had ripped off from a Richard Matheson novel called I Am Legend.”
I love this book. I haven’t read it in years, but it’s the only novel I can remember picking up and then not putting down until I was finished. That’s pretty easy to do, seeing as how I think it tops around 100 pages, but for me that’s a triumph. The ending is probably my favorite thing about it.
Sounds fascinating, I’m in.
I’m a history nerd; they sound amazing. Goldwater’s failed presidential run has fascinated me since I watched a Wonder Years episode on it as a young child. Deep into Theodore Sorenson’s JFK bio.
So I’m finding that over the last few years, I’ve become sort of immune to written horror. (Horror games and movies still have the potential to scare the shit out of me, but for some reason novels just haven’t really gotten me lately.) Can anyone recommend their favorite terrifying books from the past decade or so? I’ve done a lot of the classics (Shirley Jackson, etc) and lot of the King, Straub, etc. stuff from the 90s - early 00s.
I always hear House of Leaves is a really spooky book.
Oh, yes, one of my favorites! Probably should’ve mentioned it, too, ha. But thank you!
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay is one of my favorite horror novels I’ve read in years. I don’t remember it being hugely Scary, but I think it’s one of the smartest possession stories I’ve ever read/seen. It has some great tense moments and an ending that really shook me.
Also, if you haven’t checked out Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, you totally should. His stuff reads like Stephen King at his prime, but less problematic. His novel, NOS4A2, is great, and his book of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, has some of my favorite stuff of his. The Fireman is probably my favorite of his novels, but it’s less horror and more of a slow burn/pressure cooker kind of story.
Thanks! I’ve read the Tremblay novel, and Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts, but not NOS4A2 yet, so I’ll check that out.
I don’t think Novels are a horror writing’s best form. Short stories are where it is at. This is a great anthology of a lot of classic horror short stories.
Classic, unfortunately, means that there’s some problematic stuff in here (Lovecraft), but there’s also some real greats (The Yellow Wallpaper). Still, it’s what I usually recommend to people who want some actually scary horror reading.
Love Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story for sure. I’ll look into this, although I fear I’ve probably seen a lot of these based on the author list (I’m a lit major so anything considered “canon” in this collection has probably already come across my desk).
I agree that horror novels can be pretty tough to pull off. Which is why when I find one that really gets me it’s so satisfying!
Ah, yes, then you’ll have seen almost all of these, for sure. Here’s the ToC for the curious (from LocusMag.com):
- 1 · Introduction · David G. Hartwell · in
- 13 · The Swords · Robert Aickman · nv The Fifth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories , ed. Robert Aickman, Fontana, 1969
- 35 · The Roaches · Thomas M. Disch · ss Escapade Oct ’65
- 44 · Bright Segment · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Caviar , Ballantine, 1955
- 64 · Dread · Clive Barker · nv Clive Barker’s Books of Blood v2, Sphere, 1984
- 94 · The Fall of the House of Usher · Edgar Allan Poe · ss Burton’s Gentlemen’s Magazine Sep, 1839
- 109 · The Monkey · Stephen King · nv Gallery Nov ’80
- 139 · Within the Walls of Tyre · Michael Bishop · nv Weirdbook #13 ’78
- 161 · The Rats in the Walls · H. P. Lovecraft · ss Weird Tales Mar ’24
- 176 · Schalken the Painter · Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu · nv Ghost Stories and Tales of Mystery , James McGlashan, 1851; revised from an earlier story in Dublin University Magazine May ’39.
- 192 · The Yellow Wallpaper · Charlotte Perkins Gilman · ss New England Magazine Jan, 1892
- 205 · A Rose for Emily · William Faulkner · ss The Forum Apr ’30
- 213 · How Love Came to Professor Guildea [“The Man Who Was Beloved”] · Robert S. Hichens · na Pearson’s Magazine Oct, 1897
- 248 · Born of Man and Woman · Richard Matheson · vi F&SF Sum ’50
- 251 · My Dear Emily · Joanna Russ · nv F&SF Jul ’62
- 268 · You Can Go Now · Dennis Etchison · ss Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine Sep ’80
- 278 · The Rocking-Horse Winner · D. H. Lawrence · ss The Ghost-Book , ed. Cynthia Asquith, London: Hutchinson, 1926
- 290 · Three Days · Tanith Lee · nv Shadows #7, ed. Charles L. Grant, Doubleday, 1984
- 314 · Good Country People · Flannery O’Connor · ss Harper’s Bazaar Jun ’55
- 330 · Mackintosh Willy · Ramsey Campbell · ss Shadows #2, ed. Charles L. Grant, Doubleday, 1979
- 343 · The Jolly Corner · Henry James · nv The English Review Dec ’08
Having read The Scar, Iron Council and The Monster I really recommend them to you. The Scar has a really good premise that I think has a satisfying ending and same with Iron Council except that has the added bonus of being probably the most explicitly socialist of all of Mieville’s fiction that I’ve read.
I definitely don’t think The Monster hits as hard as The Traitor but it’s set up for what should be a really interesting conclusion.
I’m a History postgraduate so I feel obligated to share some of the books on History that I’ve absolutely adored. The two that come to mine are The Black Jacobins by CLR James which is a politically charged documenting of the Haitian Rebellion which reads as one of the most inspiring, and tragic, revolutions in human history. The second is China Mieville’s October which is definitely the most readable narrative of the Russian Revolution that has the flair and big interesting words and phrases that Mieville loves to throw in.