Category: For Readers! (Page 2 of 2)

Flavorwire’s 50 Scariest Books of All Time: The End of a Reading List

So it’s official:  I’ve finished Flavorwire’s 50 Scariest Books of All Time, from beginning to end.  It’s been about three years, although I didn’t start out focusing on this one; I’ve been working on several horror lists with MB Partlow and Shannon Lawrence. The Nightmare Magainze’s Top 100 is another, which is done, and up next is Shortlist’s 30 Scariest Books Ever Written.  Shannon’s original post tracking the project is here.  (She’s doing the best job of keeping track of things; also, we rarely agree on anything, which makes this even cooler.  MB and I tend to see things slightly more eye-to-eye, although I do differ with her strongly on atmosphere.)*

I’m tracking my end of things on Goodreads; my reviews are here.  If I had read the book and reviewed it on Goodreads already, I didn’t reread it, but if I’d read it before 2010 (my first year on GR), I reread it.

I liked most of the books on this list.  It might be easier to list the ones I didn’t like (there certainly were fewer of them).  I rated 22 of 50 as five-star.  But in the interests of “bah! forget that,” instead, here are my top ten, in no particular order:

  • The Turn of the Screw, Henry James.
  • The Woman in Black, Susan Hill.
  • The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty.
  • Let the Right One In, John Ajdvide Lindqvist.
  • The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson.
  • Lord of the Flies, William Golding.
  • The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum (which, I don’t know, isn’t really my favorite so much as the most legitimately horrific/scary)
  • 1984, George Orwell.
  • Piercing, Ryu Murakami.
  • Dawn, Octavia Butler.

I spent the most time with The Woman in Black, going fairly in depth to study it (and finding some Really Weird Stuff as I did), but I’m also working on The Turn of the Screw.  I don’t think those are necessarily the best books of the lot, but the ones whose plots and settings most appealed to me.

The one that’s most under-read from the list is, IMO, Daniel Auerbach’s Penpal, although I will grant you that it leans more literary than some readers will like, and it isn’t perfect.

What I liked more about this list than the Nightmare list?  Fewer eyerolls due to extreme sexism (not the curators, but the books themselves, which lean heavily 80s horror).  What I liked less about this list?  At first I was pleased that that the list drew from a broad spectrum across genres, with a lot of literary showings that don’t get listed as horror at first glance (for example, American Psycho or Blood Meridian).  But then…I got tired of it.  Some of the books seemed to have been picked just because they were the mostest that could be found, like The Painted Bird or The Wasp Factory, and I found myself dreading the last few books, going, “What fresh Hell will they drag me through, just because they can?”  The end of this list was far more exhausting to push through than the Nightmare list because of that, I think.

Next up for this project is the Shortlist 30 Scariest Books, or maybe the Kim Newman/Stephen Jones Top 100 Horror list.  But, being slightly burned out at this point, I’m going to finish up the Top 100 Crime Novels list first instead.

I do like me some lists.

Best Books Read, November

A selection of the best books I read in November, which, admittedly, still isn’t done yet but close enough:

  • Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nahisi Coates.  A series of essays, framed as a letter written to his son, on the poisonous Dream of a white America.  Just amazing.
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.  This is not a screed on what types of food are healthiest for the body.  This is a book on how industrial agriculture is affecting the planet (hint: it depends on oil, so we better start thinking about changing it).
  • The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum.  I can’t really recommend this.  It was a great book about everyday evil spiraling out of control, though.  A genuinely horrifying book.  I started out on audio with the author reading, but had to switch to text because I knew I wasn’t going to make it through every detail being slowly read out like that.
  • The Hour of the Star, by Clarice Lispector.  A really short, weird, meta book, very Kafka-esque.  I laughed all the way through it, but then that’s usually how Kafka takes me, too.

Runners up…I also read the complete Death Note saga (finally) but was massively disappointed about the ending, which should have occurred about 2/3 of the way through the series.  Meh.  In Cold Blood was good, but didn’t particularly hold me, and I had to skim a bit toward the end.  The Hot Zone was very dramatic, but I wished it had given more details.  Affinity was fun, but not up to the level of Fingersmith.  The Ruins was a one-trick pony but did that trick well.  I just didn’t care for the trick.

Nonfiction Books to Be a Better Citizen of the World/Universe

I asked on Facebook what nonfiction books they would recommend for becoming a better citizen of the world/universe.  It sounded like a fun thing to ask; I like to ask for recommendations.

Over a hundred and forty books later…

Please note that I am not a trained bibliographer and you’re lucky you’re not just getting a link to a rambling, cross-commented FB post!  Also, yes.  This list is completely biased–by me, by the people I know, by the people I know on Facebook.  Don’t like it?  Suggest some additions.  I’ll take ’em, unless they’re lame for one reason or another.

The list!

The I haven’t read these yet but I know I’m coming back to this post so I’ll put them here so I don’t forget sub-list:

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