What We’re Reading This Holiday Season

We all have it—the book you bought ages ago, that you’ve been meaning to read forever. But for some reason, you haven’t gotten around to it. Either you haven’t been in quite the right mood, or you know you’re going to need a real stretch of uninterrupted reading time. Now that the holidays are almost here, you know exactly what you’re going to do with your free time: sit down and finally read that book.

For our last newsletter of 2014, we thought we’d share our list with you. So here are a selection of Tor staffers talking about the books they’ll be reading over the holidays:
Wizard of Earthsea
Mordicai Knode, Sales Coordinator: Last year I finally filled a massive gap in my reading: Ursula K. Le Guin. I read The Dispossessed early in December and it, frankly, stunned me with just how amazing it was. I spent the rest of the month and into the next reading every one of her “Hainish Cycle” of science-fiction books. All treasures. This vacation I’m going to flip the coin to the other side and read her fantasy. Wizard of Earthsea and the rest, that’s my binge reading plan for the holidays. I’m very excited about it.

Becky Yeager, Advertising and Promotions Coordinator: I can’t wait to read Saga: Volume 4 by Brian Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. I spend months dodging spoilers because I prefer to read the collected volumes rather than suffering through the single issues. (Those who can endure cliffhanger after cliffhanger are braver souls than I.)

Ancillary Justice
Cassie Ammerman, Digital Marketing Manager: I’m almost ashamed to admit this, because I’ve recommended this book to a few people. I start reading it multiple times, but I never actually finished it. I’ve always had a good excuse—I forgot to pack it for my trip to Europe; I had to put it down to read a book for work; I wasn’t in the mood for science fiction right then (okay, so that’s not really a good excuse, but it’s an excuse). So, this holiday season, I’m going to sit down and read Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. I’m going to finish it this time, and then I’m going to pick up Ancillary Sword and read that too!

Patty Garcia, Director of Publicity: I received an ARC and a finished copy of Martian by Andy Weir and it’s still on the top of my to-read pile. I am definitely going to dig in over the break. And like Cassie, I also hope to get my mitts on Ancillary Justice. Can’t. Wait.

EnchantressMelissa Ann Singer, Senior Editor: I had the great good fortune to be raised by parents who read science fiction and fantasy and comics…and the further good fortune that the children’s librarian at my local public library loved SF/F and was on a mission to fill the children’s department (and the teen department, which she basically created around 1970) with a wide range of science fiction and fantasy. Through her, I discovered Lloyd Alexander and John Christopher and Ursula K. Le Guin and Suzette Haden Elgin and many more. A few weeks ago, at a used book sale, my heart skipped a beat at the sight of a copy of Enchantress From the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl, with cover art by the Dillons. This was not the edition I read (which had a white cover, iirc), but I can’t have been more than 10 or 11 years old the first time I read that book, and seeing it in a box—where it was the only SF/F title—gave me a pang. So I bought it (for a whole dollar), and it’s sitting on my coffee table at home. While I read it several times in my early teens, I haven’t read it since, and part of me is afraid that it won’t have the magic I remember. But I’m going to read it again anyway, hoping to recapture the sense of wonder I felt back then, when I was a fairly newly-minted SF/F fan and had so much to discover.

Leah Withers, Publicist: I’ll be reading Tolkien’s The Silmarillion because there’s nothing like cold snowy days to curl up and dig into orc wars and elf legends!

It Happened on WashingtonStuart J. Miller, Senior Sales & Publisher Administration Manager: For the last several months I’ve been on a reading fixation consisting of books about New York City local history. Awaiting my attention for this holiday season is this wonderful book published by Johns Hopkins University Press titled It Happened on Washington Square by Emily Kies Folpe. It is a narrative history of the last 125 years of events in Greenwich Village in the vicinity of Washington Square Park. It covers art, literature, social history and government.

When I’m done with that…or perhaps before reading that, I plan to jump into another New York centric book about the conception and ultimate building of the gorgeous new High Line Pedestrian Walkway and mall in lower Manhattan. This book, entitled High Line: The Inside Story of New York’s Park in the Sky by Joshua David, is stuffed with photos and memorabilia about the famous Hy Line elevated railroad that delivered goods and produce to a growing New York from the 1930s right up until 1980 when the rail line was completely abandoned. The whole line was scheduled to be demolished within several years from then, but was saved by a group of preservationists. I’ve got my engineer’s cap all ready to don when I read this!

Whitney Ross, Editor: I absolutely loved Illona Andrew’s short story “Of Swine and Roses,” and am thrilled that there is a new book set in that world. I’ll definitely be reading Burn for Me over Thanksgiving—if I can wait that long! Others on my list include Kelley Armstrong’s newest Cainsville novel, Visions, Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller novella The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and finally reading The Lies of Locke Lamora. I’ve heard such good things!

web_brown-m-luttrell-psalter-facsimilePatrick Nielsen Hayden, Executive Editor: The Luttrell Psalter is a medieval illuminated manuscript created between 1320 and 1345 by an unknown group of scribes and artists under the sponsorship of Sir Geoffrey Luttrell of Lincolnshire (1276-1345). Its over 300 leaves have survived to the modern era in a state of excellent preservation, and it’s one of the prize manuscripts on display at the British Library. It’s of particular interest to modern people because its pages are replete not only with images of everyday fourteenth-century rural life—animals, daily work, festivals, and so forth—but also with fantastic monsters and beasts, many of them extravagant and even downright comical. At times the Psalter’s sensibility seems impossibly modern, like a brilliant graphic novel that just happens to have been set down on vellum nearly seven hundred years ago. To see what I mean, just type “Luttrell Psalter” into Google Images, and prepare to be amazed. So anyway, the book I’m looking forward to finishing is Mirror in Parchment: The Luttrell Psalter and the Making of Medieval England by Michael Camille, a chewy, detailed study of the Psalter that sets its imagery into the context of the gentry and feudal life of its day. With, naturally, hundreds of illustrations.

Miriam Weinberg, Assistant Editor: While I love being an editor, I do long for the days of uninhibited reading, where I could be the first to devour new novels, instead of looking at beloved acquired ARCs/hardcovers languishing wherever I stashed them. So, for this holiday season, I plan to dive back into my pile and gorge myself (you don’t even know if I’m referring to pies or books, now). For the post-Christmas week, I’m hoping to finally read The Paying Guests (I love Sarah Waters and I delight in reading thick gothics/historical literary fiction while it snows outside), and I’ll probably pack City of Stairs or Dreams of Gods and Monsters, and load my e-reader with submissions! I’m also hoping to read The Laughing Monsters, Ways of Going Home, and Lila, all latest releases from non-SFF authors to whom I’m partial.

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4 thoughts on “What We’re Reading This Holiday Season

  1. I’m with Mordacai and Cassie – those are two books I totally need to get to. An old friend just poked around on my goodreads last night going “what you haven’t read Wizard of Earthsea yet!?” and Ancillary Justice definitely needs to get read because a copy of it has been staring at me for months from my nightstand. I blame the first trimester pregnancy reading funk I was in for that one =P

    1. Fixed! Thanks for pointing it out. That’s what I get for writing about Elizabeth Haydon right before working on this post! -CA

  2. I’m excited for Mordicai! Earthsea has a special place in my heart. *I* have to admit I don’t remember being that into The Hainish Cycle when I was introduced to them in my late teens/early 20s. Might be time to try again.

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