I Am Currently Reading…

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Skein and Bone by V. H. Leslie

Skein and BoneI’m not generally a horror reader. Nothing against the genre, other things just appeal more. But I met V. H Leslie at Fantasycon last year, went to her book launch and drank the free booze. Inspired by the book’s lovely cover, how pleasant the author was, and a sizable booze buzz, I bought a copy and got it signed.

I’ve heard this described as being British style horror, whatever that means. The stories I’ve read so far start out like ordinary slices of modern life, only for unsettling and unspeakable things to creep in around the edges. I’m enjoying this trip outside my usual comfort zone.

The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories by David Tallerman

MoonlightSpeaking of both horror collections and drunkenness, I’m also reading the latest collection from my convention bar buddy David Tallerman. I’m only one story in, a well-told traditional ghost tale with a Victorian setting.

One thing I’ve realised reading these two collections is that horror doesn’t affect me the way I expect it to. My emotional reaction to the idea of horror is affected by my upbringing, which left me with the sense of the horror genre as something truly terrible in its cruelty and menace. More often it seems to be about unsettling experiences in a dark yet grounded corner of fantasy. I’ve got another horror collection waiting on my kindle, and will be interested to see if this experience continues.

The Oxford History of the British Army, edited by David Chandler

armyI’m reading a lot of military history at the moment, to provide ideas for my writing for War History Online. This is a decent overview of the British military, broken down into chapters on different periods by historians of those eras, including my old dissertation supervisor. The best chapters bring out the character of their times through the character of key people in them, showing how aspects of story-telling apply as much to good non-fiction writing as fiction.

Reading an overview like this has made me aware again of where the gaps are in my historical knowledge. Despite six years studying history at university, I know very little about the 18th century aside from the French Revolution. Yet that’s the era of such key British figures as Marlborough and Walpole, and events like the Act ofUnion and the American Revolution. However much you know, there’s always more to learn.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

sagaSaga is one of the most critically acclaimed comics of the past few years, yet I’ve never really got into it. I read the first volume a while back and enjoyed it, but didn’t feel like it lived up to the hype. Now a friend is lending me the first five volumes, and I’m giving it another go.

This comic has so much that I love – fantasy, science fiction, big ideas, beautiful art, the undermining of traditional roles. I’m really hoping it’ll grab me more this time.

How About You?

What are you reading, dear readers? Have you read any of these, and what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.