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Fall Reading List

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I am a huge lover of all things fall: corn mazes, changing leaves, apple cider, sweaters, squash soup, plaid, vampy lips, sweatpants, scarves — to put it in the lingo the kids use these days, I’m “basic.” The girl sipping the venti Starbucks pumpkin spice latte in Barnes and Noble while wearing leggings and furry boots who almost ran you over to get to the horror section first? That was me, and I’m not even sorry.  But I will try to make it up to you with a new series I am so excited to bring you: books that are on my to-be-read (tbr) list. I’ve handpicked some novels I’m really interested in and plan on reading this fall (October and November)! I’ve included what I think are accurate representations of their genres, based on some research and also common sense, and also a limited description of what I know about each one.

Just to give a little more information, I read, on average, a little over a book a week, and have read 43 books this year so far (it’s October 2). I typically am reading three to four books at a time, so if I get tired of one I just switch to another. I could probably complete books faster if I just stuck to one at a time, but I don’t. So it goes.

 

Dystopia: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Related imageIf you are looking for a terrifying account of what the future could bring, this is the selection for you. I am currently halfway through this novel, and I just can’t stop myself from reading it (and rereading exceptionally well-written chapters). In an America that has been rebuilt after a civil war, women are no longer seen as equal to men. That’s all I will tell you, besides that it is truly worrying.

 

 

 

Fantasy/Horror: Insomnia by Stephen King

Image result for stock photo insomnia kingbookOn my quest to read each of Stephen King’s novels, I find that this is one I have left. It occurs in Derry, a town he has used as a setting in other books, and the topic is relatable to me: there are nights I only get two or three hours of sleep due to insomnia. I have learned that in this novel are fights over abortion and women being abused by their husbands. The last hint I have is that someone is being driven crazy, I believe. It doesn’t sound like it will be one of my favorites, but it does sound like an interesting book.

 

 

Horror: The Troop by Nick Cutter

Image result for stock photo the deep nick cutter bookThis guy was recommended to me by Stephen King. Ok, so that sounds a lot cooler than I really am. I saw on the cover of the novel that King said this book made him afraid, and I jumped at the chance to read it, too. I don’t know much about it — in fact, I know literally nothing else, other than it’s about some scouts, I think. But if it’s good enough to scare my favorite horror writer, it’s good enough for me!

 

 

 

YA: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Image result for stock photo the graveyard bookI’m about 15 pages into this short novel, and I think it’s clever, original, and just a little bit creepy as well. At this point, I would not hesitate to recommend it to my middle and high schoolers who are interested in a good scary story at this time of year. It starts with a family being killed (but it doesn’t go into detail or anything like that) except for the toddler, who manages to escape into a graveyard by his home. The ghosts of the cemetary take him under their wing and protect him from the murderer. That’s as far as I have gotten.

 

 

Satire/Thriller: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Image result for stock photo fight club bookI watched parts of this movie when I was in college (or maybe high school? could I be that old?), so I know that the first rule of fight club is that there is no fight club, or whatever. I also know the twist ending of the movie. I’m hoping that, despite spoiling it for myself, my memory is bad enough that I will still be able to enjoy reading the novel. If not, I’m sure I’ve read things that are worse and longer — this book clocks in at a light 218 pages.

 

 

Horror/Psychological Thriller: Rage by Stephen King

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As a teacher, nothing is more horrifying than an attack on a school. It is, unfortunately, a reality our country faces far too frequently. Potentially, such a tragedy could occur literally anywhere and have devastating results on the community impacted. I would never wish such evil on anyone. Stephen King himself is so disturbed that some school shootings were later linked to his novel that he does not want it to be published any longer. How appropriate for a reading list for scary book/Halloween season.

 

 

Psychological Thriller: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Image result for stock photo the butterfly gardenI purposely have avoided learning too much about what happens in this novel because I want to have suspense and fear come organically. I understand the basic premise: a sadist kidnaps and tortures people. However, whenever I am reading or watching reviews and this novel comes up, I skip it. I am so excited for this book, and truly think it will be one that keeps me up at night. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback about it, so fingers are crossed it’s a good, fast, scary, tormenting, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head read!

 

 

True Crime: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Image result for stock photo in cold blood

This nonfiction selection has been on my “read it soon” list for literally years — probably close to a decade. I’ve decided this is the year I can finally read it and move on with my life. Writing about an actual murder from multiple perspectives was unique for the time Capote was writing. As true crime is one of my favorite genres, I’m incredibly excited to read the one that started it all (according to Wikipedia).

 

 

I would love to know what you are planning to read this season! Peace and love.

 

 

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Fall Reading List: Stephen King

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Picture this: it’s a dark, chilly September evening, much like tonight. You are curled up on the couch in your comfy sweats and favorite long-sleeved tee, wrapped in a soft, cozy afghan. A cat is napping lazily beside you. An over-sized mug of tea sits steaming gently on the coffee table in front of you. The scent from a “twilight woods” candle wafts subtly about as the light from the flame flickers on the walls. The wind blows noisily outside, and a branch taps gently at your window.

What is missing from the perfect evening described above? The perfect book, which will make your heart race, your pupils dilate, the hair stand up at the back of your neck. Enter Stephen King.

I’ve been a fan of The Master of Horror since I was a little girl. And by “fan,” I mean hardcore, dedicated, the-only-thing-that-makes-my-life-complete-is-owning-every-King-novel-in-hardcover, nonviolent stalker. And by “little girl,” I mean from approximately seven, when I watched, for the first time, a movie based on a King book. It was certainly a mistake for my parents to allow a child to see an R-rated horror film, admittedly, yet one which began a lifelong obsession with “catching the fear” that few authors or even movie directors are able to provide.

Thus, from one professional fear-searcher to another, I bring you my choices for the top scariest Stephen King books. I’ve ordered these novels from “scary enough to make you jump” down to “sleeping in Mom’s bed tonight.”

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12. Pet Sematary: A magical place exists where you are able to bury your loved ones and they return to you. In what condition would you be willing to accept them when they come home? How high is the price you would pay for this ability? Would you sacrifice your reputation, your friends, your sanity? While there is a movie for this popular novel, I read the book in only a few days in college, because I couldn’t put it down. It was one of the first King novels I ever read, and  I remember being simultaneously sad and scared for the majority of the book.

11. Thinner: It seems like a dream come true when a morbidly obese man is told by an aging traveler that he will start to lose weight and it actually happens. (If only, am I right?) However, as is typical of curses placed on those who murder a gypsy’s wife and cover it up without punishment, life soon becomes quite unbearable and the rapidly shrinking man finds himself making difficult and dangerous choices in order to reverse his fate. I’ve read this book four times and have loved it each and every one.

10. Gerald’s Game: This novel could quite convincingly be placed under another author’s name in the bookstore, as it is drastically different from King’s typical style. It is fairly short and more verging on terrifying realism than supernatural terror. I read this in a weekend in college and am still deeply disturbed by it. An abusive husband dies after handcuffing his wife to a bed in a secluded cabin. Her subsequent time dealing with the aftermath of her situation is truly chilling. Furthermore, I loved catching the connections this novel has to others in the King universe.

9. The Tommyknockers: This is the King novel I read most recently, and also one which plays to my inner conspiracy-theorist. Imagine, if you will, your town is suddenly and irrevocably changed by an invasion we are all completely incapable of fighting off. “Late last night and the night before, Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at my door.”

8. Delores Claiborne: This monologue is, in effect, a confession by the title character of a murder she committed. While this stylistic choice is commonly reserved for poetry and short stories, it is an underused — though, in this case, highly effective — format for a novel. I found this realistic book to be an exceptionally quick read. It provides an incredibly satisfying tying up of loose ends in Claiborne’s life, as well as a very obvious (and intentional) link to several events described in Gerald’s Game.

7. Night Shift: So many of the short stories in this collection are genuinely disturbing. A few of my favorites are “Sometimes They Come Back,” “Quitters, Inc.,” and “Children of the Corn.” If a full-length King novel seems too much to commit to, try this one out and just read those three first — I promise you’ll want to devour the other stories in the book as fast as possible.

6. ‘Salem’s Lot: I was too scared to sleep in my room in the basement while reading this one summer during college. I remember vividly the anxiety I felt lying alone in the dark, and deciding instead to run up the stairs to sleep on the couch each night. My mom never laughed at this, but instead explained it was a novel by which she, too, had been frightened. The moral of this book is that strangers are dangerous — a valid life lesson, it seems.

5. Needful Things: Few books have left a mark on me the way this one did. I read this in a couple of days, despite its intimidating length. I still grapple with the deep issues raised by the reading. What am I willing to trade to get what I want? Who would I be willing to betray to fulfill my own dreams? Am I strong enough to avoid the temptations to which others would fall prey? Can we truly stand against evil?

4.The Stand: A devastating plague known as “Captain Trips” wipes out most of the world. Those remaining alive must rebuild society but are forced to choose which side to aid: Randall Flagg (a recurring character in King’s novels with a flair for both leadership and destruction) or Mother Abagail, who brought survivors together to begin building “the Free Zone.” This novel is most horrifying in the contemplation of a preventable mistake leading to an unstoppable apocalypse.

3. Misery: A fanatical follower with an untreated mental illness and questionable past captures and cripples the writer of her favorite book series. This story line is literally the biggest hurdle I face when penning my own novel. I just know that some snowy day I’ll crash my car and find myself at the mercy of Kathy Bates.

2. The Shining: The ultimate psychological meets supernatural horror story, this novel has been at the top of my “I must reread this before I die” list since I finished it the first time. Despite its immense size, this book was so engrossing that I finished it over a weekend home from college and actually slept in my mom’s bed because I was so afraid. Allow me to reiterate. I was a grown adult woman in my early twenties who slept in my mom’s bed while Dad was forced to sleep on the living room couch. Apparently, even as a college student, I needed my parents’ protection from a fictional character. Let that sink in.

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1.It: Of course the novel about a supernatural evil entity who takes the form of a murderous clown tops my list. This is the movie I was, for some inexplicable reason, allowed to watch before I’d even turned double-digits. As though that wasn’t bad enough, I had several unfortunate run-ins with a real-life clown that were highly unpleasant. While I may seem a bit biased, this book is hyped for a reason. It really is as good as people make it out to be. This novel is one of King’s longest, yet best written. I owe my phobia of circus freaks as well as my loathing of balloon popping to this story; you owe it to yourself to take the time to read it. Soon. Just make sure your spouse is cool with sleeping with the lights on for a while.

Peace and love.

Why I Am Transitioning to Veganism

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I recently decided to become vegan. There were lots of reasons, a few of which I would like to elaborate upon. I don’t wish to offend anyone. I only want to explain my viewpoint.
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I went vegan because in my heart I could not reconcile slaughtering and eating a turkey with adoring and obsessively doting on my cats. How are they different from each other, except how we as a society view these animals (one being food, the other being family)? Many cultures, whether due to tradition or religion or necessity, eat different types of animals than people eating a standard American diet. Some chow down on cats or dogs or grubs or monkeys; others would never dream of eating a cow or a pig as they consider them sacred or unclean.
It hurt my conscience to know that I ate tuna fish from a can yet owned betas and guppies and other types of fish in tanks over the years. I couldn’t justify eating crab after owning and caring for hermit crabs. I’m a very principled person, and I couldn’t stand my own hypocrisy any longer. Just because I love my pets, it doesn’t mean they are in any way more valuable in the world than the cats people eat overseas. All animals are sentient beings who desire to live — they only want what I do, what my cats do, what all of us do: a long, full life, filled with days of no pain and no fear, and a peaceful end.
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I “mother” my cats, making sure they aren’t scared or hurt; why should I pay someone else to kill any other animal, who wasn’t “lucky” enough to be born a human or a purebred, papered, expensive Saint Bernard puppy? Until I became vegan a month and a half ago, I was in an ethical dilemma centering on whether or not I truly loved animals. As silly as it sounds, I cried the day I hit a pheasant while driving to work last year, yet fried chicken was one of my favorite foods for a long time. They were both birds, so I should, theoretically, feel fine about killing both or neither, right? But it wasn’t like that. I felt awful about killing one, and intentionally bought and ate the other. In my head, it made perfect sense, until one day it just didn’t.
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Plants have every vitamin and mineral necessary for a healthy life, without the health risks associated with eating meat (including obesity, Mad Cow disease, and high cholesterol, with its higher rate of heart attacks and strokes). The exception, of course, is Vitamin B-12, but most people don’t get enough of that whether they eat meat or not. Eating a plant-based vegan diet has been scientifically and anecdotally proven to have positive benefits, mentally and physically, for those who follow it.
The decision, for me, amounted to this: eat meat/dairy/eggs, with my family history of stroke, cancer, and other scary stuff, just because it tastes good, or save countless innocent lives and reduce my own health risks in the future by eating a full, well-rounded diet of plants. The choice was easy. I’m no longer emotionally conflicted. As an added bonus, I sleep better knowing I am “the change I wish to see in the world.”
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Peace and love.