October Redux: spooky season

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

October has been hard work as I struggled to shake my lingering cough and have wrestled with ongoing ambiguity and workload challenges at work. By mid-October, there was at least the promise that things will improve eventually – and then it was time for some Spooktastic Reads, which always puts a smile on my face (although I’ve taken a back seat this year to stay focused on meatspace).

Reading Round-up

I thought I’d read more than I had this month, although in retrospect I’m not sure when I thought I had time to read! Maybe it was just that my favourite read this month – The Immortality Thief by Taran Hunt – was so entertaining: an action-packed thriller of navigating a long-abandoned spaceship full of genetically-engineered horrors against the clock, with plenty of atmosphere (the children oh shit) and a well-timed enemies-to-allies-to-friends arc that I adored.

Speaking of atmosphere, This Dreaming Isle is a great anthology of unnerving short stories rooted in British culture, folklore and geography. The Cocktail Party In Kensington Gets Out Of Town (Robert Shearman) and Ramsay Campbell’s The Devil In The Details are excellently crafted nightmares, but Land Of Many Seasons (Tim Lebbon), The Stone Dead (Alison Moore) and Domestic Magic (Kirsty Logan) were also (less-scarring) favourites.

I wrapped up re-reading The Obelisk Gate whilst painting the garden fence (this summer October weather, huh) and galloping through the latest Dan Mackmain adventure. The Green Man’s Gift by Juliet McKenna is reliably diverting as Dan clashes with the fair folk of the hollow hills of Wales and is caught between the joy of having allies and the terror of putting them in harm’s way.

Additional Reviews

This month has been about catching up with reviews of previous months’ reads. I had aspirations of banking some reviews for SciFiMonth too but that would have involved getting ahead of my reading, which was a pipe dream – so, um, don’t expect a lot of reviews from me next month!

Stacking the shelves

October was my month for realising I hadn’t actually bought books I thought I’d bought already, and making up for it with glee. Yes, this is what happens when I get excited about upcoming titles and talk about them a lot – I forget to actually grab a copy because I must have already done that right, I’ve been thinking about them so much. Thanks, brain.

…and then Orbit did the whole half-price paperback thing and I grabbed physical copies of a bunch of books I had eARCs for but adored anyway (well done those books) and some other books I’ve been meaning to read. It was an expensive Friday, even at half price. Worth it tho.

Reading statistics

My primary goal – always – is to read diversely and to love every book. This year, I plan to focus on reading what I already own and flip the percentages of reading recent acquisitions vs off the shelf (so I am making very careful decisions about what books to buy and ARCs to request).

Books completed: 64 | DNFs: 7*

  • 8 off the shelf (i.e. not acquired in 2022)
  • 31 ARCs
  • 16 bite-size (excl. short stories)
  • 12 audio reads

* I only track DNFs where I made significant in-roads into the book – rapid bounces don’t count. Percentages are calculated across both completed reads and declared DNFs.

I track my author mix to keep me honest and I share it for those who are curious. This year, I’m also tracking publishers to see how many books are from small presses / independents (I may try to distinguish between the two, as Bloomsbury operate on a very different scale to, say, Rebellion – let alone Louise Walters Books! As my reading will be dominated by what’s on my shelf, this will set a handy benchmark for what may become a target in 2023…

Authors: 25 male (35%) / 33 female (46%) / 9 trans, enby or genderqueer (13%) + 5 collaborations (7%)

  • Authors of colour: 23 (32%)
  • LGBTQIA authors: 18 (25%)
  • Non-US / UK based authors: 9 (13%)
  • Small press / independent: 28 (39%)

I was planning to do a big catch up on where I’ve got to with my challenges this month, but as I’m dashing this post off over breakfast before rushing to work that will have to wait until I have time to actually look (as any progress will be entirely accidental, ahem). Guess this will wait until the end of the year now for a random surprise to myself!

What’s coming up?

SciFiMonth starts tomorrow to bring you 30 days of SFnal geekery for the tenth year in a row. The crew is gathering to tempt you and to delight in one of our favourite genres. It’s a fun, casual month of sharing the joy so why not sign up to join the crew and come be a part of it? We’ve even got an amazing birthday giveaway for anyone who joins us and posts before November 5th – see the SciFiMonth sign up page for full details.!

How was your October?