In case the heading doesn't give it away, what I'm reading is zombies.
Not only zombies. It's the greater genre of post-apocalypse that I'm reading, but zombies are my weakness. I've been through a bunch of books lately. So many I'd struggle to list off most of them. My most recently completed zombie apocalypse book was "The Horde Rises" by T.W. Gallier. It's book one in a three-part series, and I really enjoyed it.
(Side note: there are other ones, many of which I picked up for free on Amazon, which have not been pleasing to me at all. Some of them rife with utter rule-breaking annoyances, like using ALL CAPS in prose, and even parentheses within speech... and not just using parentheses, but using them to direct a comment to the reader, while still having those words contained within the speech.)
So as I say, zombies have been pushing my buttons for a few years now, and lately more than ever. I've put some thought into why that might be, and haven't really come up with anything concrete.
I suppose it's the idea of a body still moving and craving, even after death. The way they're portrayed as mindless beasts holds a fascination for me... imagining an existence where everything that makes a person human is taken away, without the relief of death. Or at least, not any kind of lasting relief.
Probably my favorite zombie book of all time is The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell. I read it a few years back and found it achingly wonderful. Poignant and dark, but with an edge of hope running through it, too.
An honorable mention must go to The Road by Cormac McCarthy, as well. Though not zombies, it's very much post-apocalypse, and in the end, the zombies are very rarely the story when it comes to zombie fiction. They're more often a plot device than anything else. A force to reveal the nature of the human characters. So in The Road, many of the humans end up acting much as they would in a zombie apocalypse story.
I've come to realize one of the elements which makes any kind of post-apocalypse situation seem both attractive and compelling is the disenfranchisement so many of us feel with modern living. We're a society of specialists who rely on other specialists for the myriad things we never learned to do, or have since forgotten.
Post apocalypse breaks all that down. It pulls us down to the most visceral level of our abilities. Essentially, we all become stone age people. Pretty words or skillful book covers won't make a zombie stop biting my leg. The ability to wield a chunk of found wood has a much better chance.
I actually think in some ways zombie apocalypse stories touch on the same voyeuristic and self-serving parts of the human psyche as invisible man stories do. When we picture ourselves becoming invisible, one of the first ideas that seems to occur is to go hide in the changing rooms of your preferred gender for ogling. Or maybe heading into the bank and making off with stuff because you can't be seen.
Same thing in a post-apocalyptic world, really. Order has evaporated. Rules might as well never have existed. If Mikey Muscles wants to satisfy his greeds and hungers, well he's the biggest, strongest guy around... who's gonna stop him?
I'm also doing all this reading for a greater purpose. I intend to spread my wings and start publishing zombie apocalypse fiction, too. I have a bunch of stories under way, though they'll be under a different pen name. No sense in having people pick up a Willsin book only to find the characters eating brains instead of pussy...