Starving — err, I mean feeding — my book addiction

Getting this ArtsSA grant has been fantastic for my writing — it has given me the means to take several precious months off work to write The Familiar. But no one ever said that writing was a lucrative business, and being a “writer on a grant” reminds me of my really frugal scholarship days… (Which, let’s be honest, I haven’t quite shaken despite a billion hours of teaching at university level. But I digress.)

My point is that I am a book addict without the means to feed her addiction. And yes, library-lovers, I could borrow books — and I do. But there is something pathalogical inside me that simply covets new books. Paperback, hardcover, graphic, YA, children’s picture books — I want them all, and I want to keep them.

So I’ve decided to pretend that I’ve bought lots of books, and I’m going to share my purchases with you here. (And it doesn’t matter that some of these titles haven’t yet been released. This is imaginary book buying, people. I’ll make up the rules as I go.) Here are a few of the ones I’m most excited about:

Nightingale Songs by Simon Strantzas

Simon Strantzas, master of the subtle and the bizarre, returns with a dozen strange tales and eerie mysteries. From the shores of a remote oil-stained sound to deep within the familiar heart of suburbia, these are the songs of broken people who cannot find a way to fix themselves, who must search the dark for salvation. Like a siren, the nightingale sings them onward to face their end. But it sings for you too. A requiem in your honor. Because, for you, it is already too late.

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.


Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince.  In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings:

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “The last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea.  Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

Sea Hearts (aka The Brides of Rollrock Island) by Margo Lanagan

Rollrock island is a lonely rock of gulls and waves, blunt fishermen and their homely wives. Life is hard for the families who must wring a poor living from the stormy seas. But Rollrock is also a place of magic – the scary, salty-real sort of magic that changes lives forever. Down on the windswept beach, where the seals lie in herds, the outcast sea witch Misskaella casts her spells – and brings forth girls from the sea – girls with long, pale limbs and faces of haunting innocence and loveliness – the most enchantingly lovely girls the fishermen of Rollrock have ever seen.

After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh

The apocalypse was yesterday. These stories are today.

Following up on her first collection, Story Prize finalist Maureen F. McHugh explores the catastrophes, small and large, of twenty-first century life—and what follows after. What happens after the bird flu pandemic? Are our computers smarter than we are? What does the global economy mean for two young girls in China? Are we really who we say we are? And how will we survive the coming zombie apocalypse?


Available Dark by Elizabeth Hand

In this brilliant sequel to Hand’s acclaimed literary thriller Generation Loss (2007), Cassandra Neary, “a burned out, aging punk with a dead gaze,” who subsists largely on alcohol and speed, confronts darkness nearly beyond her comprehension. Wanted by police for questioning about a death in Maine, she welcomes the opportunity to leave the states to evaluate some photos in Helsinki for a collector. A cult figure for her earlier photography book Dead Girls, Cass is stunned by five photos of fresh corpses, posed to represent Finnish folktale figures, taken by a renowned former fashion photographer known for the flashes of light in his work. But when she goes on to Iceland, on the track of the lover of her teens, Quinn O’Boyle, death seems to follow her, as she learns of the murders of those she associated with in Finland. Cass, like this book’s readers, sinks deeper and deeper into the darkness of the unforgiving Nordic winter and the surrounding events, with their throbbing undercurrent of metal music and encroaching atmosphere of old Norse religions. A flash of incandescence counters final threats of death, and the all encompassing darkness is leavened by a glimmer of hope. Stunning.

Oh there are just too many! I’ll leave it at that for now, and no doubt I’ll splurge on another imaginary shopping trip sometime soon… (The imaginary versions of these books were all excellent, btw. So just think how great the real ones will be!)



    1. I just took the plunge and quit my jobs. I worked on contracts at the university — three of them! One expired, and I resigned from the other two… So either I’ll have to get another grant before the end of the year, or sort out a new job before my current funding runs out…

  1. Very nice selection! But I cannot say that I watch Dark Regions books with pleasure. They have quite a few interesting titles, but a bit too expensive for me.
    I have to say that I love to own books too. I like to think of myself as a collector, although I constantly need to improve that collection 🙂

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