Reading books in 2023

The Grace Year - Kim Liggett
Really enjoyed this and zoomed through it. A nice mix of Handmaid’s Tale and Sherri S Tepper’s The Gate To Women’s Country. plus it’s still 99p on the Kindle store.

The Raptures - Jan Carson
I loved her previous book, and was hoping for a bit more magical realism antics in Northern Ireland, but it didn’t grip me as much this time unfortunately.

The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
My first Toni Morrison book, and probably not going to be my last. I didn’t fully love it, but still quite powerful at times.

The This - Adam Roberts
Probably one for the sci-fi thread instead, a futuristic social media company and hiveminds and philosophy and various other things. He’s sometimes a bit hit and miss, but mostly more hits so far, of which this was one.

Just finished Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and loved it. Happy as I posted in here 30% through and was really getting into it. Reminds me in some ways of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. By which I mean it’s ‘about’ a specific art (comics/games) and follows a core group of people and how their work interleaves with the real life things out there.

It was funny, happy, sad and I love stories that span years/decades and properly take you on a bit of a journey.


Not loving ‘Dead Souls’, which I picked up for £1 largely because of the Joy Division link. It could just be the translation.

Quite glad I now know about Gogol’s biography though. Stranger than fiction

Finally finished the new Bret Easton Ellis yesterday. I enjoy his novels but The Shards is like three times the length of anything he’s done before and jeez did I feel it.

I don’t need to know a complete list of every road you drove down to get from Buckley high school to the galleria along with every song you heard on the trip, Bret. And I don’t need to have that list repeated every time it happens.

The book needed a better editor. It was released as a podcast first and I reckon that might be fun and fit the heft of the prose more.


Gutted you don’t like it, big fan of Gogol. I think his short stories are better though, The Overcoat and Diary of a Madman especially.

Get Rich or Lie Trying: Ambition and Deceit in the Influencer Economy by Symeon Brown.

I’m surprised this hasn’t had a bit more buzz - it’s great and feels very fresh. The title is self-explanatory but it’s a non-fiction, apocalyptic look at how influencers operate, including how they link up with fast-fashion companies, crypto traders, dishonest plastic surgeons, and plenty of other dodgy stuff. Not to mention the hideous actions of some individuals themselves, and how some use movements like BLM to make personal gain. Very easy to recommend but has made me despair about a lot of things.


This one is great.

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Interesting idea but not delivered well in my opinion.


hmm …


Been struggling to read as much as I usually do lately but managed to finish two this week.

The Best Catholics in the World: The Irish, the Church and the End of a Special Relationship by Derek Scally
A slightly messy book about a very messy subject. Scally’s approach is a bit ‘why can’t we all just get along’ sometimes, especially in the early going. The comparisons between Catholic Ireland and fascist regimes kinda lost me a bit even as I agreed with the basic argument about taking responsibility of history, but his writing is easier to get along with when he acknowledges his experiences as an expatriate and his complicated relationship with his home since leaving (related quite a bit to this, naturally). He’s also not willing to back away when some of his church-enmeshed interviewees minimise the shit that occurred under their watch.

I don’t really have deeper thoughts rn as it’s a lot of very harrowing/infuriating shit to take in, even/especially the stuff I already knew, but it’s good to have that provocation as I think it’s what I wanted from reading more into Ireland as much as nursing my homesickness. Took me a while to get through it as even now seeing the seedy underbelly of the strange atmosphere of my religious upbringing can hit very close to home.

What stood out was the chapter about the late author and activist Paddy Doyle, whose memoir I’ve added to my reading list.
(happy st patrick’s day!!!)

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Vampires are class, lads. I saw the Will Smith movie when it came out with a friend who had read this and he was not happy. Finally understand why now. Also wasn’t surprised to see an essay by Stephen King at the end, I could see a lot that he clearly took notes from! Nice pulpy fun to help me get through the harrowing parts of the previous book.

I’ve started The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis now.


King’s non-fiction book on horror (Danse Macabre) is really good (or it seemed 25ish years ago when I read it). He goes really into the themes of early famous works, and key books like The Incredible Shrinking Man etc. I am Legend might be one of them too to be honest.

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I’ve been pacing through it and for a while it felt like the scenes in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood where Brad Pitt just drives around - loved the vibes and imagining myself in my Wayfarers driving around to Ultravox.

Just realised I’m only half way through and now completely agree with you that it just needs to crack on.


I realised I haven’t posted in this thread for a while. Here are a few I finished recently (IE since the end of January)

Ottessa Mosfegh - Eileen Read this because I was reading the reviews from Sundance of the movie adaptation. Very curious to see how this works as a film as so much is internalised. I really like Thomasin McKenzie and based on her performance in Leave No Trace, I reckon she might be able to pull it off. Felt a bit like this was a book of two halves - one a character study that was all kinds of delighfully weird, and then kind of plot-heavy in the second half. Quite liked it though, and although Patricia Highsmith is kind on an obvious comparison, it’s also one I don’t mind because I love Highsmith. This book also kind of has a twist (or not, it depends on how you interpret it) that will absolutely suck in a movie adaptation if they decided to reveal it.

Bret Easton Ellis - The Shards I mean, you know what you’re going to get from a BEE novel and as someone above posted, this is super long. I’m not sure if it was unnecessarily long, I kind of like it when Bret Easton Ellis pads out chapters with unnecessary stuff, like the lists of names at the beginning of each chapter Glamorama and this book he is just dropping names of songs and artists playing on literally every strero that appears in the book, so you get a song title pretty much every third page. Made the experience kind of fun, as I just loaded up the youtube video each time and it was a nice soundtrack. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this has a similar plot elements to The Secret History as Ellis and Donna Tartt either went to the same college or something like that. This is basically a mashup of all of his previous books in the form of a doorstop / Airport novel crime thriller.

Stanley Tucci - Taste Read this purely because I love Stanley Tucci, not because I have any interest in food. Liked it for that reason. Kind of skipped over the recipes, some of which are like, to serve 10 to 12 people. Sometimes famous write books because they’re famous and whatever, but I like his writing style - somehow balancing pretentious with humble, and he’s absolutely not afraid to take the piss out of himself and his primary work as an actor.

Stephen King - The Shining Read this is amy ongoing “Kubrick films are better than the books they are based on” theory, which I realise has already fallen not even at the first hurdle, but before I even started because Nabokov’s Lolita is way better than Kubrick’s film. But whatever. I thought, based on King’s reaction and what most people have told me, that this was going to be so different from the film that they would be incomparable. Not so! The basics are all there - family go to look after a hotel out of season, and madness ensues. Totally get why Kubrick ommitted some of the more wacky things and and added things. Yeah, the film is better, but the book is not so different or inferior as I expected.

Dizz Tate - Brutes The blurb for this book screams “The Virgin Suicides meets The Florida Project” which sounds a bit trite but it got me to read the book, and it’s not exacfly inaccurate. The Virgin Suicides comparison comes from the fact that it’s mosty told in the first person plural, IE “we” and it’s about a group of kids (8th graders from what I remember) who hang around in this Florida suburb and a girl goes missing. This is not a long book (just over 200 pages) and I think I probably would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have to read it in 30 minute bursts spread out over two weeks

Ted Chiang - Stories of Your Life and Others - Widely acclaimed collection of sci-fi short stories.The title story (‘Story of Your Life’) is the one that the film Arrival is based on. This ended up being my favourite story of the collection, but I liked almost all of these. I’m not an avid sci-fi reader, but I like it in short story form. I particularly liked ‘Understand’, which is one of those ‘what if someone took a pill or an injection and got super intelligent’ things like Limitless or Lucy, but much smarter and literary so the character doesn’t learn how to do kung-fu or whatever to beat up goons, but has to evade detection.


It’s not even that i don’t like it, it’s very well written. But I don’t feel like I’m really connecting with the satire because 19th century Russia is not something I know very much about!

Torrence is a completely different character in the film though. Obviously King’s own alcoholism led him to object to the film twisting the semi-autobiographical version of him into a pure monster.

I don’t think King had a problem with the other changes although, like me, he might have objected to Kubrick giving us the tired racist trope of killing the black guy, which he had avoided.

That said, it’s obviously about the only real surprise available to Kubrick to use that book readers wouldn’t expect.

Edit: for me this is a good example of the film and the book being equally great, partly because there is a divergence which suits the medium of film, but the central essence of the work is still there. Under the Skin is like that for me as well.

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Love this collection, it basically got me into short stories as a thing

His next collection Exhalation is grand too


I loved this.

Probably one of the best things I read last year.

I love the one about angels.


On the short stories front have started Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan. Only read the first part, Birds Fell From the Sky and Each One Spoke in Your Voice is a real standout story.

Searching that story led me to this good thread of horror suggestions

Yeah I’m not sure there’s a better short fiction writer around than Chiang. Every single story has an excellent idea that he delves into just enough to explore the themes without over cooking things


I love short stories and horror ones especially, putting this on my ever growing t-r list, thanks :slightly_smiling_face:

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