I should say that not all these books are ones I have to read. The medium-sized pile at the back are ones I’ve already read, but that I’ve run out of space for on any of my book shelves – which is starting to become a real problem in our house. The books at the front on the left are ones I’m currently working on in one form or another. I’m on of those people who usually has several books on the go at once, generally a mix of fiction and non-fiction books, just so that I always have something to read no matter what sort of mood I’m in at any given time. The pile on the right are ones that I’ve still to start, or that I’ve already read and that I’m planning on reading again at some point in the near future.
If you look a the titles, you’ll see that these book are a fairly eclectic bunch. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of zombie books there, like World War Z, Flu and Charlie Higson’s The Enemy, as well as some other post-apocalyptic fiction, such as The Earth Abides (for something which is meant to be a classic, this is one book I’m struggling to finish). Being Scottish, it’s also unsurprising that there are books by various famous Scottish writers, like Iain Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre (who, if you’re not familiar with him, is a kind of Scottish Carl Hiaasen). There’s also a few Ray Bradbury books in there simply because I’m trying to fill in a few gaps in my reading knowledge of what are considered classic works of fiction within their genres.
A bit more unexpected, perhaps, are the books like Antifragile, SuperFreakonimics and The Undercover Economist. These reflect my interest in what’s going on in the world at the moment and how most of us are effectively being screwed by the top 1% who then try to tell us that times are tough, that we’re all in it together, and that we all need to tighten our belts, while all the time they get richer. The sharp-eyed amongst you will also notice a book called Thinking In Numbers, which is there because of my love of recreational mathematics (this will be of no surprise to those of you who are familiar with my Maths With Zombies posts).
Then there are the biographies and travel books. The two most interesting here (from my point of view at any rate) are Fatal Passage, which is the story of John Rae, a Scotsman who explored much of northern Canada and who discovered the fabled North West Passage while trying to find out what happened to the Franklin Expedition, and Amateurs In Eden, which tells the story of the Durrell family’s life in Greece in the run up to the outbreak of the second world war. This is unlikely to mean anything to many people out there, but this was a small English family which produced not one, but two, amazingly talented writers: Gerald Durrell, the noted naturalist and author of one of the iconic books of my childhood (My Family And Other Animals), and his brother Lawrence Durrell, who I have to admit I’ve never actually read.
Finally, there’s Jon Ronson’s Lost At Sea, which is a collection of his columns and essays about the weirder side of modern life. For anyone wanting to learn about how to write these types of article, I’d heartily recommend reading Jon Ronson’s work (I’d also say if you ever get the chance to hear him speak, grab it with both hands as he’s thoroughly entertaining to listen to). You might not think you’re familiar with his work, but if you’ve ever seen the rather brilliant film The Men Who Stare At Goats, he was the one played by Ewan MacGregor (since he was the investigative reporter who wrote the original book on which it was based).
Anyway, I’m not too sure what sorts of insight this little tour of the pile of books on top of my bedside cabinet gives into my life, other than the fact that I’m a bit of a book fan (which is only to be expected of a writer), that I have a pretty eclectic taste in reading materials and that, at the moment, I run the risk of death by paperbacks each and every time I venture into my bed. But then again, I could think of worse ways to go!
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.