Throughout the year, I’ll dig deeper into the prompts of The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge 2022. I’ll talk about the music, the prompt and recommend about 5 books I think would go well with it. The prompt of the week: The Stories We Tell Ourselves.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves happens to be the only prompt that is not a song title. It is the 5th album of an American rock band, Nothing More, and the second released through a label. And the album that finally made me fall in love with them with songs like Go To War, Just Say When, Who We Are, Fade In/Fade Out. That album is just great as it is. I was lucky to see these guys a couple of years ago here in Budapest as a warm up band, and damn, they totally blew my mind! I just wish they would hurry up and release their next album.
Listen to the album
Listen to the Song
I cheated a bit, because this prompt is an album, but I decided to put Go To War here as I chose this song for the Spotify playlist I put together for the challenge. As this was the first song I heard from The Stories We Tell Ourselves, it seemed only fitting. Plus, it’s awesome.
Do we censor? Do we flow?
Are we drunk on the chemicals?
Every feeling in my bones
Tells me to lash out and tell you to fuck off
You’ve got my heart and I’ve got your soul
But are we better off alone?
With every battle we lose a little more
Remember everything that we’d die for
You are everything that I’d die for
I always loved this album title, there is something to it that just grabs my imagination, I guess. I can’t quite explain, but it speaks to me, you know?
I think this prompt can be about a lot of things – an anthology, a collection of some kind, a book that features storytelling or stories, a book with a character who tends to, well, to tell stories to themselves.
Storytellers by Bj∅rn Larssen
Storytelling is the central part of Bj∅rn Larssen‘s debut historical fiction novel and therefore it’s a good fit. I also sneaked this album title into my review of it, so it would be foolish not to include this book for The Stories We Tell Ourselves prompt, really.
Storytellers is about personal demons, about the rougher side of life which isn’t improved by the Icelandic weather. It’s about people, about choices and the lies (stories) we tell ourselves.
In March 1920 Icelandic days are short and cold, but the nights are long. For most, on those nights, funny, sad, and dramatic stories are told around the fire. But there is nothing dramatic about Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith who barely manages to make ends meet. He knows nobody will remember his existence – they already don’t. All he wants is peace, the company of his animals, and a steady supply of his medication. Sometimes he wonders what it would feel like to have a story of his own. He’s about to find out.
Sigurd – a man with a plan, a broken ankle, and shocking amounts of money – won’t talk about himself, but is happy to tell a story that just might get Gunnar killed. The blacksmith’s other “friends” are just as eager to write him into stories of their own – from Brynhildur who wants to fix Gunnar, then marry him, his doctor who is on the precipice of calling for an intervention, The Conservative Women of Iceland who want to rehabilitate Gunnar’s “heathen ways” – even that wicked elf has plans for the blacksmith.
As his defenses begin to crumble, Gunnar decides that perhaps his life is due for a change – on his own terms. But can he avoid the endings others have in mind for him, and forge his own?
Short Changed by Josh Erikson
I’m currently reading – well, listening to be precise – Josh Erikson‘s story collection, Short Changed and I consider it using it for my own card. It’s not about storytelling but it’s a collection of short stories and scenes connecting to the first three books in the Ethereal Earth series. Fair warning, though: you only want to read this book if you are already familiar with the series, as there are spoilers. But if you are already read the books, then I would recommend jumping on this one! Plus, did I tell you yet Josh narrates all of his own audiobooks? And he does it really well, too! Talk about the stories we tell ourselves, ha!
How does a con man survive with no one around to fool but himself?
Who does a Knight battle when the demons in the dark begin to pale next to his own?
And what, exactly, does a minotaur do when he finally gets a vacation day?
These are stories from the world of Ethereal Earth, a place where legends and myths hide among us in plain sight, and occasionally just need to get some laundry done. Here you’ll find scenes that didn’t have a place in the main series, with new events that fall between the first three books to expand the lore and give fresh insight into some of your favorite characters—all with the same snarky and sinister mix you know and love. And maybe a few secrets too, if that’s your kind of thing.
Short Changed is the first story collection in the Ethereal Earth series, an ongoing tale of adventure and excitement and intrigue…and a group of people who didn’t ask for any of it.
Lost Lore Anthology
Oh boy, it’s been so long since I’ve read this most excellent anthology, which you can get for free, by the way. It was released just a few short months before I launched the blog and I remember this being basically the only book I’ve read in February as I was contemplating stepping away from reading – instead I started a blog the next month… Anyway. If you’d like to get a taste of 15 awesome indie author’s work, look no further! I guarantee you won’t regret it.
With an introduction by Mark Lawrence, author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister.
Hidden pasts. Secrets untold. Legends half-remembered. Fifteen fantasy writers gather to bring fifteen tales to life, each one a unique glimpse into a wholly original world.
On the Emerald Road, a dead Sage triggers a brutal trial beneath the forest floor. There, a young man must fight–and kill–both friends and enemies to become the next wielder of the fabled Emerald Blade.
In Midgard, a priestess of humble birth forges a strange bond with an ancient being as she searches for justice in a land that often rewards cruelty, betrayal, and bloodshed.
And in the Yarnsworld, the Magpie King teaches two brothers a dangerous lesson about the power of stories. Sticks and stones may indeed break bones…but they cannot hurt the Bramble Man.
In worlds ravaged by flood, fire, and frost, mere mortals strive to make their own legends amidst demons and deities a like. And in lands racked with human strife–where evil endures and no one is ever safe–scarred heroes fight forces even darker than their own personal demons.
Why do they fight?
Some seek to better the world, or themselves. Others are out to right old wrongs. But whatever their goal–reward, redemption, or just respite–the truth will out eventually. For no story is ever truly lost so long as there exists one to tell it.
And They Were Never Heard From Again by Benedict Patrick
When it comes to storytelling, I simply can’t pass up the opportunity to go into fangirling mode and shill about the Yarnsworld series by Benedict Patrick. The whole series showcases the importance of stories, highlighting this fact by including folktales between the chapters. Most of the Yarnsworld books can be read as stand alones so you can start almost anywhere. And there are audiobooks too, now! For this prompt specifically I picked And They Were Never Heard From Again, a short story which is available for free if you sign up for Benedict’s newsletter. This story shows the best the power of stories and gives us a better understanding of how the Yarnsworld works. You can’t wish for a better entry into this series.
The woods are not safe.
Especially at night.
Felton takes his younger brother for a walk through the Magpie King’s forest, hoping to change his life for the better.
Things do not go as planned.
And They Were Never Heard From Again is set in Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld, and is the perfect introduction to the world readers are calling a ‘delightfully weird, dark fairytale’.
Grab your copy today, and discover new reasons to be afraid of the dark.
Knee-Deep in Grit by Adrian Collins (editor)
If you are in the mood of reading some grimdark stories, you can’t go wrong with Grimdark Magazine’s anthology, Knee-Deep in Grit. I most certainly was amazed by how wide the paletter is and how many type of stories can fit into the genre. Some of them really blew my mind and some made me want to keep an eye on authors I didn’t hear about before. Definitely well worth your money!
Get knee-deep in grit with twenty-five grimdark sci-fi and fantasy short stories from the shadowy vaults of Grimdark Magazine. The top names in dark speculative fiction and the genre’s brightest newcomers bring you stories of war, betrayal, violence, and greed, as anti-heroes and adversaries fight to the bittersweet end.
For the first time, the first two years of fiction from Grimdark Magazine are printed on dead trees and bound together like captive slaves to be read or reread and proudly placed among your favourite tomes on your bookshelf.