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Friday Reads: Bank Holiday Edition!

Happy Friday Gollancz Blog readers and welcome back to our weekly #FridayReads wherein a member of Team Gollancz shares with you a book we can’t stop talking about. Whether it’s an upcoming new release, an old favourite or a hot genre title this is the place for to find your perfect weekend reading selection. This week we’ve asked Team Gollancz to share which books we’ll be reading over the Bank Holiday weekend.


Simon:  This weekend I will still be reading The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. It’s only 30,000 words long but I’m reading it in penny packets so I can fit it round reading for work and because I don’t want it to end. It’s an extraordinary, almost visionary, account of the Cairngorm mountains as written by an English teacher during the 1940s. Actually forget the ‘almost’, it IS visionary. Profoundly so. It lay buried in her drawer for 30 years before being pulled out, dusted off, and sent to a publisher. The book breaks down her experiences of walking, sometimes in company, often alone, for hours, sometimes days at a time, around, across and over this sometimes deeply inhospitable but always stunning bit of the world. Broken down into meditations on light, air, water, stone, plants, birds and animals, this is nothing less than a prose poem (no! come back!). The descriptions in here sparkle and they make you look at the world you thought you knew with new eyes. Subtly informed by Buddhist philosophy this brilliant woman turns a fascinated and loving eye and mind on the natural world around her and makes it sing. If only most fantasy worlds could be made as genuinely full of wonder as she makes this high, broad plateau of rock, bog, tarns, lochs and heath.

The excellent Robert Macfarlane (author of Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places) rhapsodises about this book in his lengthy, informed and passionate introduction to the new Canongate edition and he is absolutely right to. Huge respect to them for rescuing this book from the grave of ‘out-of-print’.

Gillian: This weekend I’m reading . . . Flood, by Stephen Baxter. Well with all this rain it seems rather appropriate! For the past two weeks I’ve been walking past ever-growing puddles, past blocked gutters, and avoiding being splashed by passing cars, and it’s made me think about flooding on a personal level. The inconvenience of having wet shoes and feet, of arriving in the office completely soaked, or the frustration of finding your way blocked by a mere three inches of water. Worse: once it has started, there’s something unstoppable about it. When water’s rising outside our homes, and that puddle is rapidly becoming a pond, we’re helpless to stop it . . . and that’s a feeling which Flood taps into, brilliantly.

It’s an ecological disaster novel with characters right at the heart of it, from the wonderful Stephen Baxter. A gripping and entertaining read, it’s also perfectly topical . . . and best of all, it’s a great reason to stay warm and dry and inside!

Darren: Oh, the crushing weight of indecision!  A long weekend approaches and I have no idea what I’m going to read. I finished my last book on the train this morning, and my To-Be-Read pile is so extensive as to be rendered almost useless as a guide. Should I catch up with Adam RobertsBSFA Award-nominated By Light Alone? Or Ken MacLeod’s well-received new opus Intrusion? Prompted (and very, very saddened) by the recent passing of the great Nick Webb, I’m minded to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the fourth or fifth time (can’t remember exactly – too many Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters). And speaking of Nick, I’ve got the fourth Matthew Swift novel The Minority Council by his daughter, Catherine, to read. But if I’m going to revisit something, then George R.R. Martin’s epic ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series must also be a prime candidate. And I’ve been meaning to read the first of Kay Kenyon’s ‘The Entire and the Rose’ series for a while, too. And Al ReynoldsBlue Remembered Earth, which I meant to start months ago. <sigh>

I find myself, depending on frame of mind, time of day, and blood-alcohol level prevailing powers of concentration, swinging wildly from epic fantasy to comic SF by way of serious near-future science fiction. Hang on, the new SFX is out today, isn’t it?  Maybe I’ll read that and leave the ‘next book’ decision for tomorrow . . .

Marcus: This weekend I’ll mostly be reading (by which I mean editing) the new Philip Mann novel The Disestablishment of Paradise, which we publish next year. But in my spare time, I’m going to get started on Redemption Ark, the second book set in the Revelation Space universe, by Alastair Reynolds. I haven’t read it yet, obviously, but I finished Revelation Space last week, and am itching to get started on the next in the series. It’s shocking that I‘ve never read any Reynolds before, I know, but everyone has gaps in their library, and I’m trying to fill mine as quickly as I can! This won’t be a surprise to most of you, but Revelation Space was a stonkingly good read, full of mystery and tight plotting and decent characters and brilliant, brilliant tech. When I reached the end, I had a sudden realisation that I was about to read all of Al’s work over the next few months. I’m told that they get better. If that’s true, I’m in for a treat.

Jen: On my train ride home I’ll finish reading the new Rick Riordan novel The Serpent’s Shadow (by now you all should know how much I love my YA books). I love Rick Riordan’s fun and fast paced books (for kids) about Egyptian mythology. If you like Egyptian mythology and you’ve got kids, this is the perfect book for you or them! Start with The Red Pyramid! Over the long weekend I’m planning to read Some Kind of Fairy Tale. I loved The Silent Land so much that I’ve been holding onto my proof and waiting to read it. I know it is going to be amazing and break my heart just a little bit. That’s ok. I am happy to have my heart broken by Graham Joyce.

Jon: I’m off on holiday next week, so my Friday reads is a more of a vacation read, but it will be the brilliant Gillian Flynn’s new novel Gone Girl. Yes, it’s an Orion title but that’s not why I am pushing it here. I’ve loved both Gillian’s previous novels which were about the best thrillers I’ve ever read. She writes with an addictive flair, has a knack for creating the most twisted, warped individuals you could ever want to meet and plunges them into plots so labyrinthine you feel compelled to keep going in the hope of escaping into fresh, clean air and away from the darkness and evil that clings to you in those dark, constricting passageways of her stories. She has buried deep past the white picket fence of small town America and unearthed the dark human hearts of killers, psychopaths and the morally bankrupt and you’ll love her for it. I can’t wait to see what she’s got in store for me in Gone Girl because even in the sweltering Gran Canaria sun, I know Gillian Flynn will still manage to chill me to the bone.