Climbing Mount Tsundoku: On Acquiring More Books Than It’s Possible to Read

pile of books

One of my little projects last year was something I modestly called “Twenty Core [Subgenre] Speculative Fiction Works Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves.” Reading is a huge part of my life. Thanks to my freakish cognitive architecture, I read quickly, and thanks to the fact I am as gregarious as a stylite, I have the time to read prodigiously. Putting together the core lists was an amusing application of my resources and yet in amongst all the lists, readers found Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works It May Surprise You To Learn I Have Not Yet Read Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves.

It’s worse than that list may at first appear. Not only have I not read any of the books on the list, despite the fact that I’ve owned copies of a number of the books in question since their ...

[Spooky Ghost Noises]: Collected Ghost Stories by M. R. James

How have I missed M.R. James? I love ghost stories, I grew up reading horror, but somehow I’d never even read James’ most famous story, “Whistle and I’ll Come To You, My Lad”. But part of my original plan for TBR Stack was to work my way through the teetering towers of tomes that have made my apartment increasingly unlivable awesome, and I finally got to James! I’m not going in any particular order for this column (that way lies madness) but since I’d just read Colin Winnette’s brand new ghost book, The Job of the Wasp, I figured I’d keep the trend going. Luckily among my many stacks of books is the the 1992 Wordsworth Classics edition of James’ Collected Ghost Stories—a collection I greatly enjoyed.

We all agree that telling ghost stories at Christmas is one of the greatest holiday traditions of all ...

White Knight: Anna Kavan’s Ice

Anna Kavan’s Ice is off like a shot from the first sentence, “I was lost, it was already dusk, I had been driving for hours and was practically out of petrol.” This haunting novel was one of Anna Cavan’s last works, after an early career writing in a more realistic vein, and a mid-career exploration of insanity and power through experimental fiction. Ice was described as “The Avengers meets Kafka” and I think that sums it up quite nicely—it’s a terrifying work of speculative fiction that could be post-apocalyptic from one angle, and allegorical from another.

We are in an unnamed country, traveling down and icy road in the dark. We soon learn that our narrator (he will never have a name) is searching for a girl he once “loved” (she also remains unnamed) who is now married to an overbearing, possibly abusive man. The girl is ...