Scary Times Call for Thrilling Books
(and please VOTE!)
Well, we had long ago planned a post for yesterday that dealt with scary books for Halloween (with a small shout out to voting). However, the tragic shooting in Pittsburgh on Saturday, and the pipe bombs sent last week, had us rethinking this a bit yesterday as we went to post. It feels as if entertainment from fake scary things may reduce the actual scary things occurring last week. So, we delayed a bit.
After some reflection, we are plunging ahead with some great recommendations of books for those of you needing some diversions through thrillers, mysteries, and some self-induced scares. We plunge ahead with a few caveats: 1) we know these books in no way reduce these tragedies, 2) our thoughts, best wishes, and some political actions are with Pittsburgh and the staff in all the offices who received scary mail last week, 3) anyone needing more contemplative reading may get some help from one of our previous posts - But the News, which we posted after the tragic events in Charlottesville in August 2017, and 4) an obvious statement this violence needs to end.
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (2018) - The newest instalment of Mr. Galbraith's Cormoran Strike Detective series, has everything you loved from the first three - Mr. Strike's complex life and personality, the moxy and romantic challenges of his smart once-sidekick and now-business partner Robin, and London. Fans of JK Rowling (aka Galbraith) will be thrilled as the page turning prose of Harry Potter continues in this series. Pick it up, dive in, and let its great quantity of well-paced pages entertain you for a bit. ~ Lisa Christie
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems (2009). In honor of our scarily-themed Book Jam post, I pulled this complete collection of Edgar Allen Poe's short poems and stories off the shelf (mind you, it's heavy!). It is perhaps a must have for the robust home library - and if it's not in yours, it is at least a title that a book lover should revisit at the time of year when a chill is in the air and the spirits return for a visit. My fingers immediately flipped to "The Tell Tale Heart," a story about murder, guilt and madness that I was eager to reread. It had made a big impression on me as a sensitive 8th grader, when I was new to this author's macabre sensibility. And, nearly 40 years later, it did not disappoint. It is just as disturbing, the narrator's strange voice compelling me to hold the book at a slight distance, as if this could protect me from him. I love now, with a different perspective, to think not of Mr. Poe just as scary but also in his 19th century studio, brilliantly carving out a new American genre, writing about ravens, black cats, and sinister houses of Usher. It is completely worth a second - or first visit. ~ Lisa Cadow
The Haunting of Hill House (and well almost anything) by Shirley Jackson (1959) - Described as the greatest haunted house story of all times, Ms. Jackson's novel of four seekers who visit a scary called Hill House and encounter what initially appears to just be unexplained phenomenon, but progresses to pure terror. Ms. Jackson truly was a master of turning the ordinary into the chilling. As Stephen King praised, "[One of] the only two great novels of the supernatural in the last hundred years." We love the fact Ms. Jackson was also a Vermonter. Enjoy! ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
The So Blue Marble by Dorothy B. Hughes (1940 and 2018) - This slim book offers probably the spookiest opening chapter of any book I've read in awhile. The every day matter of factness of the words contrasting the actions of the people just creeped me out. The rest of this short mystery swept me into the lives of the rich and famous in post WWI NYC. And while a bit campy, I enjoyed my time with them. If you are in the mood for a bit of NYC glamour, and/or some time travel back to the 1940s, pick this up. Or as the New York Times Book Review stated, ''You will have to read [The So Blue Marble] for yourself, and if you wake up in the night screaming with terror, don't say we didn't warn you.'' NOTE: We found this novel through the Passport to Crime and British Library Crime Classics reprints in a window display at the Norwich Bookstore. If you like this one, you can find many many more like it in these collections. ~ Lisa Christie
The Turn of the Screw and other ghost stories by Henry James (1898) - In this classic horror tale, a nanny becomes convinced her charges are being stalked by the supernatural. It remains in print over 100 years later for a reason. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
The entire Stephen King canon - The Shining, It, The Body (assorted years) - Basically, just about anything Mr. King writes is guaranteed to scare you. And, if you are in the mood for a superb memoir, Mr. King's On Writing remains one of our favorites. It truly changed the way we viewed his prose. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie
And, as a reminder to EVERYONE to PLEASE VOTE NEXT WEEK, we close with a review from our friend and bookseller Carin Pratt - Fear, which offers a look at our current political climate which has truly become the scariest part of the news. And on that note, we again send prayers and wishes and probably most importantly a promise to be agents of hope, love, and change, to all those affected by Saturday's bombing of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the mail bombs from last week.
Fear by Bob Woodward (2018) - If you read the Washington Post and/or the New York Times you may not find many surprises in this meticulously reported account of Trump in the White House. But in the aggregate, this portrayal of a dysfunctional, chaotic White House and a president whose attention span is non-existent, whose knowledge of policy, economics and foreign policy (i.e Why DO we have NATO?) is sparse, to say the least, and whose judgment and morals, well, let's not go there -- is devastating and scary. Fear indeed. - Reviewed by Carin Pratt
PS -- SO, once again, PLEASE VOTE -- no matter your preference, we really hope you all just VOTE. And finally click here for some political inspiration from our home state to help us all survive these scary times. We promise you will love this clip, and we hope you enjoy some humorous words from Al Yankovic.