Help Damien Pick His Holiday Reads

Its a tough life being a writer. Take poor old William Gibson. I read all of Gibson’s books obsessively in my mid-teens. I’ve traveled great distances to see him speak. I’ve even twice been compared to him in pseudo psychometric testing. But when I was less than gripped by his new novel ‘Spook Country’ I put it down and haven’t been back since. Thats the nature of fans. One minute you are the total centre of attention, the next you are just another unread tome of a bookshelf somewhere.

I will come back to ‘Spook Country’ when time allows. I am so busy with work, new freelance projects and my own writing at the moment that my reading has fallen behind, at least of books.

I have however found a new taste for short fiction in recent months. This began with a spate of excellent stories read in online magazines including Serendipity, Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld among others. I really believe e-publishing has come into its own in the last few years. E-books may still be emerging but for short fiction online outlets are now as strong if not stronger than their cousins in print. I’ve also been thrown into new realms of reading through The Fix. Their reviews are so good they have lead me to take out subscriptions for at least one more publication in addition to the four I already get.

Another revelation in the last few weeks have been audiobook’s. Realising I had less and less ‘quality time’ for full novels I decided to try out audiobooks as a way of squeezing reading into times and places it might not otherwise fit. I’ve become instantly converted, and currently have stories by Garth Nix, George R R Martin and Ursula K LeGuin loaded on to my Ipod. I think audio will become an increasingly vibrant area iver the next few years as its so well adapted for the internet and peoples bust, commuting lifestyles.

I am determined to get bakc to reading entire books though. I have a wonderful holiday to Egypt booked December, so between excursions to The Valley of the Kings I intend to get in some good quality reading time. The only problem is what to take with me. How about you well read lot help me out with some suggestions?

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Help Damien Pick His Holiday Reads

  1. Would ‘The Mummy’ by Anne Rice be too obvious? Yes, of course it would, and, furthermore, not having read it, or anything else by the author, I have no business recommending it.

    If, as I assume, literary quality is high among your criteria, another book I haven’t read, John Crowley’s ‘Aegypt’ might be a better bet, assuming you can find it (oddly enough, in view of your penultimate paragraph, It appears to be currently available only as an audiobook, albeit read – in unabridged form – by the author himself). To be fair, I don’t think it has much, if anything, to do with Egypt, but then, that was a criterion assumed by me rather than stipulated by you.

    As a compromise, you could take the Dave Eggers collection I’ve mentioned if you like – only the first story is set in Egypt – as long as you promise not to get sand in it, or let it be eaten by a camel.

    I can’t remember which Lucius Shepard collection contains ‘All the Perfumes of Araby’ (which, believe it or not, is set in Egypt) but it’s about time you read him, so get any of them.


  2. And how could I have forgotten the late lamented Norman Mailer’s ‘Ancient Evenings’? (Which I’ve actually read, furthermore).

    Well, clearly my memory is almost as fallible as the flawed judgement which prompted me to respond to your plea.



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