Tag Archives: books

Starting my Halloween reading

Last year I wrote an post on great Halloween reads. Tonight I gleefully started my first Halloween book for 2013.

Drew recently gave me Stephen King’s latest, Doctor Sleep, which is a sequel to The Shining. My grand plan is to reread The Shining in preparation for reading Doctor Sleep, and then, if I have any time left after that before November 1st, I’ll reread Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House which is one of the freakiest stories ever.

halloween

I don’t know what it is that I freaking love about Halloween. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia: I have all these memories of singing Halloween songs, writing stories about ghosts, stamping pumpkins all over a piece of paper…and that’s just elementary school. I don’t really care about dressing up in a costume myself, but I want to browse every Spirit superstore and look at costume pieces. I love Halloween episodes of TV sitcoms.

I love haunted houses, and scary movies. I love fake spiderwebs and other domestic decorations. I love creepy statues that jump into life when you walk by them. I love crunchy leaves on the sidewalk and brisk winds (not necessarily Halloween-specific).

As a bonus, the bookmark I found in The Shining when I opened it up is a ticket to Nightmare Haunted House! The memories, they are flooding in.

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Filed under Awesome, Books, Holidays, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment

Anne of the Island

Green Gables typography 2 color edit 3

I’m still reading…but honestly a little bit ready to get through Anne’s House of Dreams so I can get back into “real” reading.

In the meantime, I’m still having fun with this typography thing. Although I might be delving too deeply into various background patterns. It’s starting to look like something that might be found on a Geocities website circa 2001, with glittery rain falling and roses waving back and forth. I’ll scale it back for the next one.

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Filed under Being a girl, Books, Love, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Typography, Writing

Typography: Anne of the Island 1

I read Anne of Green Gables in middle school, but I never got around to reading any of the sequels. About two years ago, I found sequels 2 through 5 at a used bookstore for $2 each, so I bought them, but then just stashed them on the shelf. (It wasn’t the first time.) Apparently there is at least one more that I should track down.

So I’m currently reading my way through the first 5 books (I did start at the beginning with Green Gables), which is just delightful. Gilbert Blythe, I’m pleased to report, is just as much of a hottie as certain of my friends have always maintained. Anne and Gilbert getting together, although obvious from the beginning, is a welcome payoff in Anne of the Island (#3).

This quote came from a letter Anne’s mother wrote to her husband, about Anne as a baby. (Obviously I changed the pronouns.) (The font is called Dark Roast; the arrangement is mine.)
Green Gables typography color edit

From that same book, there’s another quote, longer and more complex, which I’m hoping to tackle next.

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Filed under Baby, Being a girl, Books, Love, Sentiment, Typography

For Narnia

I recently finished reading the Narnia Chronicles. Confession: I often imply to people that I have read these books before, “when I was younger.” False. I think at some point my dad started reading them to me, but I don’t think we made it past The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And I’m pretty sure we skipped The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, because I complained that I had seen the movie so many times.

It’s not like I didn’t like the movie. But you know how it is when you’re a kid and you have those movies that you’ve seen so many times you know every single inflection of dialogue, and you don’t remember not knowing them.

Which means we read Prince Caspian and Dawn Treader.

While implying to people, “I read those when I was younger,” I also implied, “I don’t really care for them.” But it’s not like I could explain why.

And now, I’m ashamed. Because as I started reading (and then devouring) them, I have come to the realization that I either didn’t ever read these books, or I fell asleep as soon as my dad started reading, or I was just flat out not paying attention. I don’t remember a single thing – which I assumed I would: distantly, from 20+ years ago. I don’t remember these characters or themes or conflict.

And I found them really compelling and interesting, not only for everything they symbolize but also for the actual stories themselves. They’re fun to read, they’re super quick but they’re not fluffy. I actually really like the Christian symbolism in the book. And as soon as I finished reading, I jumped over to the internet to read Neil Gaiman’s story, “The Problem of Susan.”

The books belong to Drew – he has had this particular box set since he was 10 years old, and it’s moved with us several times over the past years. But I’ve always just stuck it on the top shelf with his historical biographies and ignored it.

Then, for my book club, a friend picked The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – and as a companion, a book called The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, by Laura Miller. Miller talks about more than just LWW and it made me really curious about them. At the same time, I wished that my book club had just elected to read the entirety of the Narnia Chronicles, since it’s only about 1500 pages total. We’ve tackled worse.

So I decided that I would read them all on my own – partly so I could hold my own in conversation with four other people who, I’m sure, have all read the Chronicles multiple times. And partly because I wasn’t in love with Miller’s book, and I wanted to supplement this month’s book choice.

So now I’m a little obsessed. I tore through the books. And yet, hearing from others how their experiences changed between reading the Chronicles as a kid, and reading them as an adult, maybe I’m glad I’m just getting around to them now. There’s nothing for them to live up to, and I can’t be let down by any childhood heroes. And I can fully enjoy the religion of the books without feeling like I got tricked into it.

At least now I get why my dad wanted to read them to me. Because they are awesome. I will totally read them to my kid some day.

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Filed under Books, Children, Memoir, Nonfiction, Parents

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

So I made this “25 books in 2013” resolution for myself. What with book club, audiobooks (yes, I’m counting them), and keeping a list of what I should read next on GoodReads, things are going pretty well so far.

I’m currently reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Have you heard of this book? Has someone told you to read it? If so, and if you haven’t, then now is the time. Put down whatever lame book you’re reading and immediately start reading Gone Girl.

This is the first book I’ve read in awhile that I’ve found really, truly engrossing. I can’t put this book down. I started reading it 2 days ago and I’ve been devouring it, but my reading hours are limited these days, meaning I end up staying up way too late reading. Then I wake up exhausted (at 2:30…at 3:30…at 5:30…) but still not quite regretting my decision. I can understand when people say they got through this book in one sitting. (I used to sit around on the weekends, when Drew worked at The Lion King, and I would just read all day. I would sleep in and then literally sit around reading. All. Day. Long.)

Anyway. I had regular friends tell me to read this book, I had work friends tell me, Sarah and Vinnie told me, and I just kept going, “Yeah yeah.” Then someone finally loaned it to me and I finally picked it up and the rest is history. Every night when I reluctantly close the book I just keep thinking, “What is happening?! What’s going to happen?!” I am a little sad that I’m going to finish it soon. But also I’m thrilled because OMG WHAT’S HAPPENING?!

It’s funny, I’ve actually had one of Gillian Flynn’s other books saved in my Amazon cart forever. A couple years ago I went through Amazon, clicking from one recommendation to another, and dumping anything that looked interesting into my cart. Then I stuck everything into “save for later,” and I mostly ignore it. But Flynn’s Sharp Objects is near the top of that list, so I see it every time I check out with my other products, and I keep thinking I should check it out. And now? I 100% will. (I almost bought it yesterday, but then I bought myself an external hard drive instead.)

ANYWAY. If the storyline, the suspense, and the writing weren’t enough to keep me enraptured, here’s the one little thing that pushed me over the edge into adoring Gillian Flynn. Without giving anything away, this is a paraphrased line from the book:

She waited in the car and watched her husband and me exchange papers. (And yes, that is the correct wording: her husband and me.)

I LOVE YOU GILLIAN FLYNN. I love you and I love that you said that. (PS: It’s said in a diary entry type chapter, so it’s the character’s interjection, not technically the writer’s, so it’s acceptable.)

Okay. I seriously have to finish this book tonight.

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Things I Read That Make Me LOL

You know that one person in the room who will read something on their computer or their phone, and then laugh out loud in a really fake way, and you know they want you to say, “What’s so funny” so they can tell you about it?

That person drives me crazy and I usually just ignore them. Very deliberately. As obviously as possible.

But, I have found myself reading things and laughing out loud. And I always tell Drew that I’m not doing it so he’ll ask me – I really just find it that funny. I don’t laugh at loud at everything. Like, I love 30 Rock, and I think it’s really funny, but I wouldn’t say I laugh out loud at it all the time. Laughing out loud at a movie, TV show, or written material is pretty special. (Not to be confused with lol-ing, which I do all the time without irony.)

So, I thought I would share this list of blogs and books that have made me legitimately laugh out loud.

  • 50 Shades of Grey blog recaps. My friend Jasmine turned me on to this and I read every single post in like a week. They are hysterical. Also, I now feel like I really know the stories of both 50 Shades of Grey and 50 Shades Darker, and now I definitely don’t have to read them. Bonus: sometimes I did read selections out loud to Drew and he laughed too, so you know it’s funny. (I am eagerly awaiting her blog recaps of 50 Shades Freed.)
  • Yoonanimous. This is just a personal blog, which I found when it was Freshly Pressed on WordPress maybe a year ago? She somehow manages to frequently update about things that I find relevant and also hilarious. I secretly consider her a role model. She writes the kind of blog I want to have: a blog that is super fun to read. On the Drew meter, he has also laughed at excerpts I’ve read out loud. I guess that’s like my highest commendation here.
  • The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs. Actually I just find AJ Jacobs really funny. But I love this book out of all his books. He just has a way with words. Also, I like his stories about his wife, and how she puts up with his shenanigans. (I’m not sure I’ve ever read Drew any bits from this. I think the funny parts might require more background. It can’t be taken out of context as much as the blogs above.)
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. I wanted to include this one because not only did I find it lol-funny, but Drew actually read parts of it in bed and giggled his way through it. In fact, I tweeted at Mindy Kaling, thanking her for that experience, and she responded! One of my top twitter moments.
  • And last but certainly not least, is a variety of terrible Harry Potter fan fiction, which I unfortunately cannot link to because there’s just so much floating around out there. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, fan fiction is when people write their own stories based in another author’s world and often using their characters. Fun fact: in high school, even before I knew what “fan fiction” was, I wrote Phantom of the Opera fan fiction. Yay!) At the end of college, I got hooked on this blog that collected the worst Harry Potter fan fictions and made fun of them. It was great. I have fond memories of living in Brooklyn and reading Drew pieces of these godawful stories, and the two of us just cracking up. I don’t know if we could ever recapture that.

That’s the thing about those really good belly-laughs when everything starts to hurt and you can’t breathe and you just smeared your mascara all over. You can’t always predict them and you can’t usually make them happen again on command. So you have to really appreciate them in the moment.

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Filed under Awesome, Books, Humor, Nonfiction, Writing

5 reads for Halloween time

If you’re looking for a good chilling read for Halloween, then look no further. (Everyone likes to read – or reread – scary stuff this time of year, right?) I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite scary books, all of which I would heartily recommend. (Also all of which I would heartily recommend you read when you’re not home alone.)

1. The Shining by Stephen King

This is actually not my favorite Stephen King book – possibly not even in my top 5 Stephen King books. But this time of year it’s perfect. It’s got all the old familiar horror aspects to it, plus it’s written during my favorite part of King’s career. The Shining is so well-crafted that multiple parts of it have become well known in pop culture, for which I’m sure we should be thanking Stanley Kubrick and the 1980 film adaptation of the book. (The movie, by the way, is also great although definitely took some liberties with the source material.)

2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I read this book for the first time in 6th grade, and I still remember how much it freaked me out. There’s one particular scene, with some seaweed…I won’t say anymore, but man. I had some paranoid nights when I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

You know how much I admire and respect and adore Agatha Christie, and she was incredibly prolific, but I think that when it comes to spooky and creepy, this book stands out from her other work. I’m not even sure what I can say about it without spoiling it. So I’ll just say…we passed this thing around in 6th grade. Even boys read it. And we all found it deliciously thrilling. And if a classroom full of 6th graders approve, you know it must be great.

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker

This is more fun than scary. I read this for Halloween a couple years ago, and I was surprised by how much I loved it. I expected it to be harder, with more flowery language – more like Frankenstein. But it was actually a pretty quick read, I had no trouble following any part of it, and I enjoyed the entire thing. I never got nightmares or anything from it, but it was a fun little October activity. I do like all aspects of Halloween – from the scary stuff to the silly stuff to the sentimental stuff (Hocus Pocus on TV every night, anyone?)

4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Step aside, The Lottery. No, just kidding. While I find Shirley Jackson’s short stories to be some of the best (and most inspiring) writing I’ve ever read, The Haunting of Hill House has seriously stuck with me. This was one of those random library grabs, and then I ended up taking it up to my parents’ house one weekend when I was house sitting for them. Now, I’m skittish spending the night alone at my parents’ house anyway. I have done it maybe 3 times ever, and it just terrifies me. Something about how dark it is outside, how close the trees come to the house on all sides, providing plenty of cover for murderers, and how so many of the windows don’t have blinds you can tightly close to that the aforementioned murderers don’t know exactly where you are.

I couldn’t believe I was so dumb as to take no other reading material but The Haunting of Hill House, and I just sucked it up and curled up under the oldest, most familiar comforter I could find, with both cats on top of me, and waited out the night. (I think I got like 3 hours of sleep.) So good.

5. Rosemary’s Baby (or really anything) by Ira Levin

I picked Rosemary’s Baby because it’s been on my mind, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with Ira Levin. Here’s a list of his novels (we’ll start there and leave the plays for later) so you can figure out which one to start with: A Kiss Before Dying, Rosemary’s Baby, This Perfect Day, The Stepford Wives, The Boys from Brazil, Sliver, Son of Rosemary. Yes, Son of Rosemary is a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby. The cover of it makes it look like a cheap paperback, but as it was actually written by Ira Levin, it’s still great writing and a fantastic story with a crazy unexpected twist. Do it. (But you’ll want to start with Rosemary’s Baby.)

Rosemary’s Baby has also become iconic in our culture. You probably know that the story involves devil worshipers, the antichrist, and that Mia Farrow cut her hair really short for the movie. (The movie, I will mention, was also really good according to me, and it followed the book really closely, but it’s still not the same.) If devil worshipers and the antichrist aren’t enough to pique your interest, then it also takes place in New York City, which is fun to read about. Also, stop complaining and just read it already because it is awesome.

Any of these great works of literature would be well-worth your Halloween time. It occurs to me now that for each of these books, there is at least one movie adaptation. That’s all well and good and I like scary movies, but please don’t judge any of these books based off of just the movie. They all have so much to offer and they’re waiting for you to read them…alone, in the dark…maybe on a particularly rainy night…

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