Well howdy-ho neighborino! How have you been? Is that a new hat? But most importantly, what have you been reading?!
Against all odds, I am still plugging away at my “short story a day” challenge. I’ve read over 80 stories since April, from over 50 different authors. Maybe I’m not managing it every day, but I’ve adapted a bit to try and get the most of it.
I’ve started to plot my week ahead in terms of what I’m going to read. I feel like if I have to pick a story to read when I get home from work, I’m most likely not going to do it, because that somehow feels like double the effort. So Weekend Tracey, who inevitably has more energy that Weekday Tracey, has picked up the task of planning the week’s reading. And I think we can all agree that Weekend Tracey is generally better at life, etc, and is therefore better equipped for this task.
I’m relaxing my rule on not reading the same author in one month. Mainly because I’ve got some great collections from the library and I’m trying to read as much as I can before I’m forced to give them back. A recent example of this includes All The Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva. The first story in this collection, The World By Night, was just magical, so I’m squeezing another story in before I have to return the book in four days.
Another example is Figures Unseen by Steve Rasnic Tem. Again, the first story, City Fishing, hooked me in (see what I did there?), with its unsettling atmosphere and enchanting prose. So I’ll be picking that collection up again more than once before it’s due back.
Of course, the solution to this is to just buy these books, but that would be too easy. I did, however, purchase ZZ Packer’s 2003 collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere for next to nothing (thank you Thriftbooks), after hearing it recommended on the Backlisted Podcast. The first story, Brownies, was absolutely incredible. You should get this book.
I have also been heavily enjoying Kelly Link’s thus-far flawless collection, Get in Trouble. The Summer People and Two Houses are mind-blowingly good. I read Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life (on which the fantastic movie Arrival is based), and wept like a leaky radiator. If you have never seen the movie or read the story, you need to treat yo’self to at least one of these wonders asap.
I’ve also read a couple of stories from Chesya Burke’s collection, Let’s Play White, and am very much looking forward to reading the rest. Carmen Maria Machado’s much-touted, and soon to become an anthology TV show, Her Body and Other Parties, started strongly with The Husband Stitch, and I can’t wait to read more.
Other favourites so far are Ken Liu (The Paper Menagerie is another gorgeous tear-jerker), Alexander Weinstein (Children of the New World), the greatly missed Graham Joyce (Black Dust), and it’s been fun revisiting Richard Matheson (Prey is absolutely bonkers), Daphne du Maurier (any short story by her is untouchable), Shirley Jackson (obviously), and many others.
However, I have got to the point where I’ve read so many that I’ve had to leave myself little plot prompts on my spreadsheet so I can remember what they are. But the best ones are unforgettable.
As always, recommendations are appreciated. One of my local libraries is having a book sale this weekend, so no doubt I’ll come away with some yellowing, paperback treasures.