Reading Lists: Rachel Rosenfelt, James Moran, Jason Howard

May 16th, 2013 | guest informant

Rachel Rosenfelt, editor, The New Inquiry

I’m planning to read Brad Gooch’s Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor alongside her collected short stories.

I’m also planning on Woman Hating by Andrea Dworkin, and Albertine Sarrazin’s Astragal.

James Moran, screenwriter (Doctor Who, Cockneys vs Zombies)

I always feel guilty when asked what I’m reading, as for the past 4 years or so, I’ve had something I quite wankily call Reader’s Block – I can’t seem to read prose fiction anymore. I always used to read, a lot, several books a week, but lately I’m completely unable to concentrate on them. I’m fine with non-fiction, also comics, TV shows, movies, magazines, etc. Just not prose fiction. After half a page, my attention wanders, I start picking it apart, seeing the construction of the fake story, and my brain says "I don’t give a shit, this isn’t real, who cares?" It’s really, really annoying and upsetting, because I’ve got a stack of books that I know I’ll never read. I think it’s a visual thing – if there are visuals to focus on (TV, comics, movies) I can let myself be swept up in a story. But bare text, it has to be something real or I wander off. I’ve heard the same thing from a lot of other writers who work primarily in TV or film, so it must be an occupational hazard. Or information overload. I don’t know. But I get very guilty and defensive about it. It feels wrong, like I’m an incomplete person, and a fraud (as usual). On the bright side, I’m discovering a whole world of non-fiction which, for some reason, I had avoided for most of my life. Anyway. Currently in my (all non-fiction) pile:

Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements. I’m in the middle of this right now, it’s loads of fantastic stories and trivia about the elements. It’s fascinating, surprising, and genuinely magical – the best popular science books fill you with a sense of wonder while educating you, and this is no different. And now I badly want my own collection of elements, in a wooden display case, so I can touch them and smell them and lick them. Except the ones that would kill me, of course.

Them: Adventures with Extremists, and Lost at Sea, both by Jon Ronson. I’m very late to the Jon Ronson party (what an odd but brilliant party *that* would be), and just finished my first one, The Psychopath Test, so I grabbed these immediately afterwards. The topics are almost beside the point, I just enjoy going along for the ride with him and meeting lots of people who are really, really, really mad.

Confessions of a Conjuror, by Derren Brown. I really enjoyed his first book, Tricks of the Mind, and am sure this will be more of the same. He’s passionate about what he does, the history of it, debunking those who prey on the vulnerable, and rambling on about nonsense. He’s a lot of fun, and great at what he does.

Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima, by Stephen Walker. Interviews with witnesses, flight crew, scientists, and victims, about the events leading up to (and directly after) the dropping of Little Boy. I’ve had this for a few years, and keep putting it off, given the subject matter, but am determined to read it soon. Maybe.

 

Jason Howard, comics artist, Super Dinosaur, Scatterlands (back next week)

Do audiobooks count? I tend to listen to a lot of audiobooks while I work. Lately it’s been mostly sci-fi and fantasy fiction.

Currently in the middle of Down These Strange Streets, an anthology of short urban fantasy stories edited by George R.R. Martin.

Next on the list are-

- Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks. I enjoyed The Way of Shadows quite a bit, looking forward to this sequel.

- The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Another sequel book, this time to The Name of the Wind.

- Acaia by David Anthony Durham. Don’t know much about this one, saw it recommended online, liked the premise and added it my list to read.