Through the mess of moving, I missed doing an October Reads post. So I’m just going to tack it onto my November Reads post. So this one will be extra long.

Just like in September, my book load was a lot smaller than usual in October and November. Between packing, moving, unpacking, new found Etsy popularity, and Jonas stealing all of my night-time hours for some extra shut-eye, I haven’t had as much time as usual to sink into pages.

October Reads

Planet of the Apes (1963) by Pierre Boulle
What you need to know: Interesting, but not exactly thought provoking.

After reading the book, I was surprised that it inspired such a giant franchise. I thought the premise and plot were interesting, but I HATED the writing style. I generally like science fiction that is futuristic and satirical, but I didn’t get as into this one as I though I would. I think I just really didn’t like the narrator’s character. He got on my nerves. And you readers out there know how that can ruin a book.

Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley

What you need to know: Frankenstein’s monster isn’t green. No one says “It’s alive”. Another classic that has nothing to do with the popular version.

But I really liked it. The ethical allegory presented in this novel is still very relevant today. We often pursue science and technology without thinking about possible consequences. Frankenstein tries to abandon and ignore his creation and the consequences are very serious. You could also get a good nature vs. nurture debate going about the monster’s character. I need a book club so I can discuss books with people. If only Jake was a reader.

P.S. The sub-title of Frankenstein is “The Modern Prometheus“. Prometheus is the Greek guy that was punished and got eaten by an eagle over and over again forever. Thinking of the novel as it relates to this myth makes it even more interesting.

Shadows (1992) by John Saul

What you need to know: I read this for the first time in the fourth grade. Don’t let your fourth grader read it.

John Saul is like Stephen King, but he generally only writes about horrible things happening to kids. Which is why I loved him when I was younger. I read adult books from a very young age, but the younger characters made it easy for me to relate. I went through a big horror phase early on. I’m over it now, except for in October :) The book is about kid geniuses at a boarding school. Suspicious suicides and fishy experiments make this book very spooky. It’s also an easy read. This definitely isn’t Saul’s best work, but I found it for 40 cents at a thrift store. Small price to pay for a bit of nostalgia.

The Road (2006) by Cormac McCarthy

What you need to know: I read this in one sitting. One of the very best novels I have ever read. Period.

I don’t want to give anything away. This is not only beautifully written, it is also the most deeply haunting thing I’ve ever read. This is the second book I’ve read by McCarthy (I read No Country for Old Men in June) and I’m throughly convinced that he’s one of the most brilliant contemporary writers. I liked this much more than No Country, however, because it was much easier to connect to the characters in The Road. I loved it so much that I tried to get Jake to watch the movie with me so that I could at least kind of talk to him about it. But he hates depressing movies and I had to pull a Phoebe’s Mom and turn it off during a happy part. He kept saying, “What is wrong with you? WHY would you think that I would like this?” When I said that it’s brilliant, he said, “Who cares if it’s brilliant? Those images are in my head now forever, you know!” I thought I should include that since I gave it such a strong recommendation. So you’ve been warned.

The Crucible (1953) by Arthur Miller

What you need to know: A play about the Salem witch trials.

I read this as part of assigned reading in school in both the sixth grade and tenth. Like Shadows above, this book was thrifted. I think I only like it if I think about it as an allegory for McCarthyism. It isn’t as much fun standing on its own.

The Shining (1977) by Stephen King

What you need to know: One of Stephen King’s scariest novels.

I finished this right before bed, so I had to start another book before I went to sleep so it wouldn’t be the last thing I was thinking about.

In Cold Blood (1966) by Truman Capote

What you need to know: This book is a big deal because it is the original true crime novel. Though parts of the novel’s authenticity have been questioned, the entire thing is based on extensive research by Copote into a real crime.

Which makes the format really interesting. At times it reads like a normal novel. Other times it reads more like a newspaper article. However, the novel is emotionally laden which gives it the characteristics of fiction. I think that the book is captivating, which is impressive given that the reader knows the “who done it” from the beginning.

Memnoch the Devil (1995) by Anne Rice

What you need to know: Awful.

I almost didn’t finish the book, which is saying something because I ALWAYS soldier through books even if I don’t like them. I have enjoyed every previous book in the Vampire Chronicles. I probably wouldn’t have finished this one if I hadn’t brought it along with me during my 3 hour blood glucose test. The beginning of the book is fine, but the majority of the book is a monologue by Memnoch on Creationism. It isn’t that Rice’s take on the creation of the heavens and the earth and the battle between God and the Devil isn’t interesting. If you gave me a summery of it, I’d love it. But it just goes on and on while absolutely nothing happens. Very little plot, very little characterization. Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed it as much if I hadn’t been reading it for three hours straight. I’m hoping the next one won’t be as awful.

The Bone Collector (1997) by Jeffery Deaver

What you need to know: Exciting and believable.

I haven’t read many crime novels, but I thought that watching these detectives figure out obscure crime scene clues was really exciting. This is the first novel in a series; I’m going to have to pick up more.

Jurassic Park (1990) by Michael Crichton

What you need to know: Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

I was obsessed with them as a child. I love love love this book. The characters are interesting, the commentary on the current state of technology is thought provoking, and there is just enough truth in Crichton’s science to make it believable for the average reader. Plus there are dinosaurs. Did I mention the dinosaurs?

December Reads

The Lost World (1995) by Michael Crichton

What you need to know: See “Jurassic Park”. I feel the same about the sequel.

The Green Mile (1996) by Stephen King

What you need to know: Depressing.

Not so much scary. It was good, but it mostly just made me sad.

The Man Who Loved Clowns (1992) by June Rae Wood

What you need to know: A book for young adults; designed to turn on the water works.

I read this in the first grade because it was that year’s William Allen White Award in Kansas (we live on the Missouri side of Kansas City now, but Jake & I both grew up on the Kansas side of Kansas City). I’m a life long nerd and I always made a point to read the award-winning books as a kid. When I found this while thrifting, I had to get it for the ever-building young-adult section of our home library. I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did as a kid; the writing style isn’t very sophisticated. But the story is heartfelt and teaches a lesson on tolerance.

Armageddon in Retrospect (2008) by Kurt Vonnegut

What you need to know: Awesome packed in awesome wrapped in a little more awesome.

If you are a long-time reader, you know that Vonnegut is my favorite writer. I try to spread out the books I read of his so that I’ll still have some new ones to read past the time I hit 25. It takes a lot of self control. This one is a volume of short stories published posthumously. They all relate to war in some way. They range from hilarious futuristic stories to serious social commentary born from Vonnegut’s time serving in WWII in Dresden.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1998) by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets(1999) by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) by J.K. Rowling

What you need to know: If you haven’t read all of the Harry Potter books by now, go out and get them immediately!

I wanted to re-read them all before the first part of the seventh film came out, but I couldn’t figure out which box they were packed in. I’m reading the other four in December.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are you reading now?