Too many books in the freezer

I was contemplating making a “best reads of 2020 so far” post, since I’m ahead of schedule on my Goodreads Challenge. However, I looked back through my ratings and found most of them are 4 or 5 stars, so “best reads of” would basically be “almost everything I’ve read in.”

I had a long dry spell last year where I couldn’t get invested in anything—books, TV shows, games, podcasts that were not just My Favorite Murder all day every day.

Now, I feel like I can’t read fast enough. There are so many books to tear through and only so many hours in the day and days in the week…and only so much emotional bandwidth to contribute. Books, good books, can be exhausting, in the best way.

Books in the Freezer

Books in the Freezer podcastImage belongs to Books in the Freezer

I fully blame this recent shift on the podcast Books in the Freezer. I binge-listened and ended up adding so many books to my TBR, I had to make another, smaller TBR to prioritize them.

Yes, I mentioned this podcast before, but I’m doing it again. It’s important.

Books in the Freezer bills themselves as “A bi-weekly book podcast dedicated to the deliciously disturbing world of horror fiction.” The podcast title is a funny reference to a Friends episode, one that I’ll let the hosts explain for themselves (go listen to their first episode to get the story).

You could Google it, but come on, just go listen.

Not only did this podcast introduce me to books to read, and remind me of books I’ve meant to read, it rekindled my love of reading. I was feeling burned out as both a writer and a reader, and to be excited about horror again? That’s a gift worth more than…what’s a big number? Worth more than my student loans.

So if you need a little bit of inspiration, this is where I’ll point you. Make sure there’s plenty of room in your freezer.

Highlights from the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot

If you haven’t heard, the Horror Writers Association (HWA) has released the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot.

What it is

An annual award for superior achievement in horror writing, named after Bram Stoker. Categories are as follows:

  • Superior Achievement in a Novel
  • Superior Achievement in a First Novel
  • Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
  • Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
  • Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
  • Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
  • Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
  • Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
  • Superior Achievement in an Anthology
  • Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
  • Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction
  • Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

What I’ve read

Last year, I didn’t read much, so the award is a reminder of all of the wonderful horror fiction, nonfiction, and poetry I’ve missed out on (I did see a number of the TV shows and movies that were nominated for Superior Achievement in a Screenplay, so there’s that). In fact, the only item on the whole ballot I read in 2019 is this one:

The Luminous Dead

From Goodreads:
A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.
My rating: ★★★★★

What I’m looking forward to

Everything else

Here’s the thing. It’s shameful that I’ve only read one of these works. 2019 was a good writing year for me but a bad reading year, and that’s my own failing.

Every writer on the ballot and every piece of work they’ve written has accomplished something remarkable within the horror genre. I listed above only some writers I was already familiar with in one form or another, whose name I would pick out on a shelf, whose work I’m already committing myself to read. But this ballot? It’s another resource to introduce me to writers whose works I haven’t read, whose style I don’t know.

I almost didn’t write about the ballot, because I’ve read so few of the works this time around. But I am always, always excited to talk about and share books with other readers. And if you’re a reader, this ballot is a great place to start as you put together your plans for the year. This is good stuff.

“Look at the preliminary ballot for the Stokers and tell me horror hasn’t entered a new Golden Age.”

Gabino Iglesias

Lists like this, and like Tor Nightfire’s All the Horror Books We’re Excited About in 2020, make me so happy to be a horror fan. If you’ve already read something, please link to your review or share your thoughts with me! And did you read something that came out in 2019 that isn’t on the ballot but you think it should be? Let me know. I want to hear recommendations.

Horror books 2020

Completed Goodreads challenges

Last year, I almost didn’t hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal. The reason: podcasts. I got so hooked on podcasts (My Favorite Murder being the primary culprit) that I didn’t listen to audiobooks. Most of my reading is done over audio (other folks with ADHD—I love audiobooks because they allow me to multitask, which I need to do! Anyone else find this?)

Then I discovered Books in the Freezer, which bills itself as “A podcast discussing the deliciously disturbing world of horror fiction.” This not only reminded me that I do, in fact, love reading horror, but it made me realize there’s a lot more to the genre that I haven’t explored. So I sat down and made myself a 2020 TBR. I focused on horror novels coming out this year, horror novels by women, horror collections and anthologies (I really don’t read enough short stories) and horror novels that I’ve been meaning to get to for far too long.

In the end, I had a list of 84 books and novellas (I figure these even out, because a really long book still only counts as one). Now, my goal is 52 books, so that still gives me room to pick and choose based on what I feel like. I used Milanote to organize it:

Milanote book log screenshot

Side note: Milanote // Milanote is fantastic for making to-do lists, organizing projects, and tracking goals. They have a number of templates available to give you ideas. You can also make your own. I use it for tracking TTRPGs I’m running, novels I’m planning, short stories I’m submitting, video game characters I’m leveling (ESO, mainly), household projects (including my Konmari goals for this year), plus I’ve used it to collaborate with other members of the indie company I’m in.

Conveniently, one of the books at the top of my list, The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), was also a group read in Ladies of Horror Fiction. It’s the perfect book for a group read, because I immediately wanted to talk about it.

I’ve also been organizing a few buddy reads this year. On that note, if you want to take a closer look at my TBR, I have a view-only link to my Milanote board.

What are you looking forward to reading this year?