Tag Archives: reading

Sleep Talking 32: The Snake

I’m currently reading Augusten Burroughs’ A Wolf at the Table, which is a memoir about his father, and I know some people have had issues with the story because he starts with “memories” from when he’s a toddler, but you know what, I’m okay with that. But it’s a hard read, because all he wants is affection and love, and his mom has some problems with her mental health, and from what I can tell so far, his dad is insane and possibly dangerous. I keep telling Drew, “You have to be a loving father. You have to give him lots of attention.”

Anyway. I was reading last night, and then I turned off the light, and Drew said,

“Did that snake come to bed with you?”

I said, “What?!”

And he said, “The snake. On your shoulders.”

EXCUSE ME? Ew! And for the record, NO.

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Halloween Reads: 2014

How many times does it take to make a tradition? Three? Well in that case, welcome to my annual “What To Read for Halloween” post. (See 2013 and 2012 here.) Don’t be scared, but there may be some spoOoOoOoky rereads…

(That doesn’t really make sense.)

Happy October! This is the only time of year I get excited about reading a certain genre to match the time of year. (Well, I also like chick lit during the summer.)

Here’s what I’m reading for Halloween this year!

a kiss before dyingA Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin. I have raved about him before. He’s amazing. This book is great for rereads. So much fun. Ira Levin. ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

somethingwickedSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I haven’t read this one in a couple years but it’s PERFECT for Halloween, so I’m going for it.

 

 

haunting-hill-house-shirley-jacksonThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I was going to read this last year but spent the entire month getting through two epic Stephen King* books. I tried to make this year’s list a lot more manageable and I will put this one near the top of the list. Concise, creepy, and way better than the movie it spawned, The Haunting of Hill House has been known to keep me up at night in the past.

200px-DeathtrapPlayDeathtrap by Ira Levin. Speaking of manageable books, this one is actually a play. Nominated in 1978 for the Tony Award for Best Play, this play within a play has been done all over – and is actually being done this month at Center REPertory Company in Walnut Creek. Check it out!

 

GraveyardBook_01-1024X768The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It comes highly recommended, and I’ve loved the Gaiman stuff I’ve read before. With a name like “The Graveyard Book,” it should be ideal for Halloweentime. Plus, it was only like $6 for the paperback on Amazon. Sold.

You may have noticed…I don’t have any Stephen King on this list! Shocking, I know, but it’s okay. There’s always next year! (Or November.)

Happy Halloween!

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10 Books That Are Important To Me

This thing was going around on Facebook, and One Classy Dame tagged me to do it, but I felt like it deserved slightly more space and thought than just a Facebook status or note.

Then I forgot about it for a month.

But I remembered. And so I thought I would share with you 10 books that have been important in my life.

Dollanganger01_FlowersInTheAttic1. Flowers in the Attic by VC Andrews. I found a copy of this book in my grandma’s house when I was about 9 years old, and it set me on a course of trashy romance novels, from which I’ve never fully recovered. I’m sure I would have turned out to be an entirely different person, had I not discovered these types of books. I certainly wouldn’t have been the sixth-grader who took them to school so my friends could also read the trashy parts. (Yikes.)

2. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery / Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Two wonderful books, particularly for young girls, written by excellent female writers. I was deep in my VC Andrews phase when my parents got me a copy of each of these books for Christmas, and I remember being vaguely disappointed. (I’m really sorry, Mom and Dad!) But then I read the books, and I liked them. I reread both of these books in 2013 and they’re even better than I remembered.

3. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. The first time I’ve ever liked a book and a movie adaptation, as separate things. It happens rarely…but it happens.

4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Okay, this is kind of a long story but bear with me. When I was younger, we made a lot of movies. Not exactly home movies, because it wasn’t stuff like birthday parties and Christmas morning. We would make movies for class projects or just for fun. And I remember making some kind of movie, where I – as a middle schooler – was reading The Grapes of Wrath to my little brother, who was at that point maybe…10 years old? I have no idea what this was for. And we kept cutting away to show the clock ticking forward, and I’d be further in the book, and my brother would be more and more bored. And finally by the time I read the last lines, I think he was gone maybe? Or just asleep? I don’t remember. Anyway, at the time of making that movie, I tried to read The Grapes of Wrath, and I was SO BORED. Then, in my junior year of high school, we read it in my English class…and I loved it. I couldn’t understand why, just a few short years before, I hadn’t gotten into it. So, to me, this book is a solid representation of growing up and maturing.

5. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s held a spot on my favorite books list for the last, like, 15 years. Barbara Kingsolver offered me an eloquent way to express the feelings I was having about faith in high school. I printed out a quote from the book and had it stapled to my wall along with everything else in the world that I thought defined me. (The “it” in the first line is the Bible, by the way.)

photo (7)Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to not print in an artsy font.

6. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. My first exposure to nonfiction humor. Before that, I assumed “nonfiction” meant “history book” or “book on how to refinish a dresser.” David Sedaris, a gem in and of himself, opened up an entirely new world of reading to me.

7. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. The first time I ever cried while reading. You know what I’m talking about.

8. You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen. I don’t know anyone else who’s read this book, and I don’t remember how I found it, but I’m obsessed with it. The writing is incredible, it’s gorgeous to read, you just know she labored over crafting every sentence. Plus, the plot is enthralling. (I actually just discovered there’s a movie coming out this year, with Emmy Rossum and Hilary Swank, and yes I’ll totally watch it.)

9. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth MD. I read a bunch of parenting books when I was pregnant, to prepare myself, and then I read a bunch of books on dealing with an infant, when I had an infant. This was the first book that I got partway into…and just had to toss out the window. There was so much BS in it, and I figured I had two choices: I could either throw it all away, or I could go crazy trying to follow all these rules to have the perfect child. This book represents my revelation that you read some books, you talk to some people, you do what works for you. And everything will be all right.

10. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I know…it’s cheating. But these books (all seven of them) feel like family to me. Like, I know there are some minor plot holes. I know that some people have complaints about them. I know they’re totally overexposed. And I DON’T CARE. To me, they are perfect. I have all these memories: of reading The Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time and realizing this was something great; of sitting, waiting for the mail when the fifth book was coming out, and reading it all in a day; of Drew declaring his intention to read them all out loud to me once I was pregnant. (For the record, we are on the seventh book – it’s slower going now, but we’re still making progress.) These books are ingrained in my adolescent and adult life…and I’m proud of that.

HP collectionA set of hardcover for posterity; a set of paperback for actual reading; and some spares.

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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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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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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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