2014: A Reading Odyssey – Part 1

packed libraryIn 2014 I read 42 books, fiction and non-fiction, some of genre interest, some not. I also read around short stories, some of those in anthologies, more in Interzone, Black Static and other magazines, print or online. Additionally I read countless interviews, articles, magazine features, news reports and social media posts. And that’s to say nothing about all the manuscripts I worked on in my day job. So for this and my next post on Amazing Stories I will be providing a short recap of my 2014 in books. Where I reviewed a book for Amazing Stories I have provided a link to that review, and in one case to a related interview. So here, in chronological order, with brief comments, are the first 21 books I read in 2014.

The Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafón: A very disappointing third visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

Christopher Nolan: A Labyrinth of Linkages – David Bordwell: As the title implies, a very interactive ebook examination of the films of Christopher Nolan (not including Interstellar). Serious film writing at its best. You can buy a copy here direct from the author for $1.99.

Shantarum – Gregory David Roberts: An epic novel which reads like an autobiography, and thus while utterly fascinating and hugely compelling, doesn’t quite work as either.

Naomi’s Room – Jonathan Aycliffe: A very dark, classic modern ghost story.

The Silence of Ghosts – Jonathan Aycliffe: A very flawed but interesting modern ghost story.

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle – Chris Hedges: A revealing look behind the curtain at the modern American Dream.

The Shelter – James Everington: A strong novella under the influence of Stephen King.
The Other Room – James Everington: An excellent collection of strange and weird fiction by an up and coming writer. Click here for my interview with James Everington.

The Perils and Dangers of This Night – Stephen Gregory: Good Gothic thriller set in a closed English boarding school on Christmas in the 1960s.

House of Small Shadows – Adam Nevill: The best new horror novel I read all year.

Europe in Autumn – Dave Hutchinson: For 95% of the page count, an imaginative, highly detailed, satirical near future SF set in a highly Balkanized Europe. Vital stuff. But then it sets up a sequel without delivering a satisfactory ending to the existing story. I get really frustrated by books which are sold as complete novels with no indication on the cover that they are actually part of, or the beginning of, a series.

The Moon King – Neil Williamson: A fantastic fantasy debut.

Noir, ed Ian Whates: A very strong collection of dark new SF, fantasy and horror.

La Femme, ed Ian Whates: Twin volume to the above, and just as strong.

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill: Terrific modern ghost story. Surely it needs no introduction.

Carrie – Stephen King: Re-read for the third or fourth time. King at his best is simply brilliant.

Extreme Metaphors – J.G. Ballard: Another labyrinth of linkages; an extensive collection of interviews with one of the 20th century’s finest writers, inside and outside the genre.

Hairy London – Stephen Palmer: A head trip if ever there was one. The madcap British author at his most eccentrically inventive.

Beyond the Rift – Peter Watts: A strong collection of dark science fiction stories conceived by a powerful imagination and argued with rigor.

Apartment 16 – Adam Nevill: The titular apartment might be in the middle of London, but I think I’d feel safer spending the night at the Overlook Hotel. Relentlessly gripping horror from Britain’s answer to Stephen King.

Dreamside – Graham Joyce: The first novel by the much missed British novelist who died in 2014. Far from his best, but packed with great ideas. Joyce left a fine legacy of outstanding dark fantasy fiction.


Next time I’ll conclude my look back at my reading in 2014.

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