Creepy Classics

As someone whose reading preferences lean towards the light-hearted and uplifting, it’s rare that I read something dark. But over the years, I have read those wonderfully creepy tales by Poe, and I’ll never forgot how downright shocked I was when I read Dracula, having expected something far more demure and reserved from a Victorian novel. I added The Picture of Dorian Gray to my reading list a few years back, so I have ventured down the path of creepy reading, but it’s not somewhere I go very often.

To those who haven’t read Dracula, you need to read it. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read Edgar Allan Poe? Probably not, so I won’t recommend those (but just in case you haven’t – they’re short, so you don’t have to invest a lot of time, but they are thoroughly frightening and just right for this time of year). My suggestions for this post aren’t very quirky or unusual (being classics..), but they do fit nicely into the October/Hallowe’en theme. I still haven’t read Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I really should get around to those one day, because those would also fit this reading category, from what I’ve heard. Are there other creepy classics out there? Does anyone have any other recommendations? Oh, and check out my corresponding Bookstagram! (don’t forget: wmgirl01 on Instagram)
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Happy autumn, and happy reading!

Controversial Books

My sincere apologies for not writing much lately. Life has been far too busy and is starting to seriously impair my ability to write an engaging blog. Blogs are meant to be fun and not a source of stress, however, so I continue on and blog when I can, in the hopes that you all understand and don’t hold the infrequency of my posting against me.

Now that it’s well into September and school is in full swing, I wanted to do a post on controversial books. I’ve just begun reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and I still recall the uproar it caused when it was first published in 1988.
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Last year I read Native Son by Richard Wright, which has been ‘challenged’ repeatedly since it was published. The challengers are right – it does have very explicit sexual scenes and violence, but it is an incredible book. I still can’t believe it was written in 1940, with a searing social commentary on race relations in the United States that is still relevant today.
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I’m looking forward to the epic read that Satanic Verses promises to be, and I wonder what controversial books all of you have read. Did you enjoy it (or them)? Did you wish you hadn’t read it, or agree with those who challenged it – that it should not have been published? Or did you like it so much you wish it were required reading for everyone?

Murder in Japan

I can’t believe that 1) it’s September. What?? I know. It snuck up on me too; and 2) that I haven’t suggested any unusual, quirky reads since July 13. Fortunately, I have just finished reading a new book that fits nicely into that category, and thank goodness there are two more (so far) in the series! So, without further ado, let me introduce you to The Shinobi Mysteries, by Susan Spann:

The Claws of the Cat

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As you know, I don’t do book reviews (there are plenty of other sites out there that do that), but here’s a quick synopsis: It’s 16th-century Japan, and a violent murder must be solved within two days, or innocent people will die. A samurai and Portuguese priest team up to solve the crime, with lots of insight into samurai culture and historic Japan. I highly recommend it. And guess what? There are two more books that follow!

Blade of the Samurai and Flask of the Drunken Master:

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I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and can’t wait to start the second one. I know you’ll like them too!

A Post for the Little Ones

For my readers who have children, I thought I would do a quick post about some books that I loved as a child, and that still speak to kids today.

For ages 1-4: Meg & Mog series by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski
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The vibrant colors and rhyming words are perfect for engaging and entertaining very young readers.

For ages 3-7: Richard Scarry books. One of the my earliest memories is from his book, The Great Pie Robbery – a classic caper sure to captivate every reader!
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For readers of all ages: Bill Peet stories. My personal favorite? Big Bad Bruce. But every one of them is a delight from cover to cover, both for the heart-warming story and the illustrations.
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I hope you enjoy these books as much as the little readers in your life do!

Terror and Treachery

Recently, I read two non-fiction books that I heard about from friends. The first, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, was a page-turner. A vibrant, healthy, twenty-something woman suddenly becomes psychotic, and then, even worse, she loses her ability to speak properly and even to move. What makes this book so frightening is that what happened to the author could, in theory, happen to anyone. Susannah developed an autoimmune disease and was the 217th person in the world to ever be diagnosed with it. That was in 2009. The figure has quickly grown and continues to, as people become more aware of it.
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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding is an interesting tale about a young NSA employee who got disgusted with the carte-blanche information gathering that was going on unimpeded. He risked it all to expose the NSA’s shocking invasion of the world’s privacy.
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Books about Bookstores!

As a bibliophile, I enjoy reading books where a bookstore features prominently in the story. I love bookstores; I dream of spending my days in one. So when I find a book with characters whose lives are intimately connected with a bookstore, naturally I enjoy reading it a little more than the others.

Here is a short list of some books that might appeal to those other bibliophiles out there, and I do apologize for some repeats from my earlier posts.

1. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (1919)
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By now in the public domain and available through Print On Demand, this book is absolutely delightful. It features an atmospheric bookstore with a lovably eccentric owner; suspense and intrigue with just a touch of terrorism; romance, and a great many books.

2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (2012)
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This novel was immediately absorbing, and I enjoyed every page of it. The protagonist ends up working in a very unusual bookstore quite by chance, and it ends up changing his life. Plus, we get an interesting glimpse into the world of Google. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but the journey to get there was wonderfully imaginative.

3. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014)
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Published just last year, and having received many commendations, you’ve no doubt at least heard of this book, if not already read it yourself. It is indeed heart-warming, touching, poignant, as well as funny, uplifting and an endearing tale of love and new life. And of course, it’s set around (and in) a bookstore!

4. Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie (2014)
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If you are at all intrigued by the supernatural, and also love books, then THIS is a book you will enjoy. And who knows, your local bookstore may be in it! Full of eye-witness account of real hauntings in Canada, the United States and abroad, it is an interesting, educational and spooky read.

WWW Wednesdays

Well, here it is, Wednesday already. A couple of weeks ago, I tried participating in Should Be Reading‘s WWW Wednesdays event, and it was kind of fun. I missed last Wednesday, but I thought I might try it again today. The rules are, you share (1) What you are currently reading, (2) What you recently finished reading, and (3) What you plan to read next.

(1) I’m currently reading, The English Girl by Daniel Silva (2013). A spy thriller, and good so far, but I’ve barely started it.

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(2) I recently finished reading The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014). It was heart-warming, but also sad. A keeper, though. I love books about bookstores.

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(3) Next I think I will read The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller (2011). Set in post WW1 England, it’s also a thriller, and it was a Christmas gift from my father (thanks, Dad!).

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That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday installment. Feel free to comment with your own WWW Wednesday titles, or put a link to your WWW Wednesday post in the comments, or go straight to the source and comment at Should be Reading.