Sunday, December 22, 2013

Killer Reads in 2013

I haven't kept track of what books I read this year. Sometimes I write them down in a journal. Maybe I should use Goodreads for keeping track of what I read. Anyway, like many of my fellow authors I would like to post about what books stood out that I read in 2013. There's no rhyme and little reason as to why I like a book other than it had that mental umami effect. If I can't put the book down, that's what I call a killer book. That's it. I don't look for some deeper meaning. I don't try to figure out what the book was a metaphor of. I just want to be taken away. I read to escape. I want to visit someone else's world and wade in it for a while, feel what they feel. And I tend to dig the dark side of the spectrum. So here it goes:

I'll start out with my favorite read of the year, Bad Chili by Joe R. Lansdale. I have been told by too many people that I need to read Lansdale. I'd read a few short stories and enjoyed each of them. I spotted a nice hardcover of Bad Chili at a thrift store maybe a year ago. My question now is: Why the hell did I wait so long to read this book?

I bought the Subterranean Press re-issue of his debut novel Act of Love a while back. I'm now reading that and enjoying every bit of it. It reads like a debut novel, particularly after reading Bad Chili, which is such a tight, seamless tale that really showcases how tuned Lansdale's talent as an author has become over the years. Looks like I have an extensive back catalogue to get through.

Muerte con Carne by Shane McKenzie was another standout story for me this year. I've been a fan of Shane since reading Infinity House and Muerte cemented that for me. I really need to catch up. This guy is about as prolific as they come and 2014 looks even more jam-packed with new releases than '13.

There's always a lot of interest in the Lovecraft mythos. Maybe too much, but, as with zombies and vampires, I will dip my toes into that type of horror tale from time to time, particularly when I know how good the author is. The Return by David A. Riley is a dark, depressing tale of Lovecraftian mystery and plenty of horror. If you haven't read David A. Riley then you need to pick up one of his 2013 releases and rectify that. He's been publishing short stories professionally for decades and I'm glad he has finally given us such a fantastic novel.

I know Joe Hill's NOS4A2 was all the rage this year, but I'm hoping maybe to get that one for Christmas. I did read his novel Heart-Shaped Box and thoroughly enjoyed it. A shame he is often compared with his father, for his writing is a force to be reckoned with that stands alone quite well. I'm a fan of rock 'n' roll and heavy metal, so the idea of a protagonist who is an aging rock star appealed to me. Good stuff!

And finally I would also like to acknowledge a collection of horror stories that was right up my alley. The Crossroads by K. Trap Jones is a collection of narrative horror that relies heavily on atmosphere and dread, though Trap doesn't hesitate from the macabre and disturbing. This was an exceptional collection considering how many of the stories I liked. Really none of them were bad, I just didn't like a few of them as much as so many others. That's a feat considering how many single author collections are littered with sub par stories.

So there you have it. Just a sampling of what I read this year. I always hope to read more books each year. In 2014 I think I'll better track my reading. And I think I'll read more mysteries and thrillers, maybe some sci-fi. Maybe not. Certainly more Lansdale.


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