Currently, I’m re-reading 34 or so of my favorite books to figure out why I love them so. I’ve challenged myself to write personal essays on each of the favorites I’m re-reading, though I’m not sharing those essays here. Because obviously, I miss school. For October, I went with a spooky theme. I also picked a new-to-me spooky book, because I need new things to think about!
I didn’t read as many books as usual this month because most of my reading time was spent reading Harry Potter #1: Harry Potter A L’Ecole Des Sorciers, which is slow going for me. I mostly just read other things when I didn’t have enough brain power to concentrate on French.
Here are the books I read in October:
American Psycho (1991) by Bret Easton Ellis
Patrick Bateman, a wealthy and trend obsessed Wall Street businessman in the 1980s, is a madman and murderer hiding in plain sight.
This is one of the few books that disturbs me so much that I have to put it down and walk away for awhile. I included this in my favorites list because I used to be very interested in transgressive fiction, but now I need more substance. That said, this didn’t seem nearly as profound as it did when I read it years ago. Warning: there’s horrible imagery in here that I’ve never been quite able to get out of my head.
This time around reading the book I focused on Ellis’s pacing, which is the most impressive thing about the book. The hints of foul play are slow coming, and the beginning of the novel is filled with stream of consciousness descriptions of food at the hottest restaurants, what designers everyone is wearing, and rampant cocaine use. After Bateman’s madness is more apparent, Ellis’s graphic descriptions of his perverted and horrific actions are met with mundane narrations with just as much detail (such as a review of a Whitney Huston album). This both gives the reader a minute to breathe and highlights Bateman’s insanity.
This is also a great psychological teaser: Bateman is an unreliable narrator and it is difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is in his head.
The Lovely Bones (2002) by Alice Sebold
In the aftermath of the rape and murder of a young girl, Susie Salmon, The Lovely Bones focuses on the effect of loss on a family and community through the eyes of Susie’s spirit in her own personal version of heaven.
Though the description suggests otherwise, this is an uplifting novel full of hope. It is, in its own way, a coming of age story told through through the eyes of a girl whose chance to grow up has been ripped away from her. It explores the dynamics of family and suburban communities, and shows how tragedy can both rip people apart and bring them together. There are moments when the book boarders on incredulity, but for the most part it’s real, heartfelt, and told from an interesting perspective.
The Metamorphosis (1915) by Franz Kafka
Gregor Samsa falls wakes up one morning and, without explanation, finds himself transformed into a monstrous bug, changing his life and that of his family.
My version of this book, which is from my high school English class, has more pages of notes and explanations in the back than pages in the short novel. Which shows you how many possible interpretations there are for this text. That’s why I love it. The premise is confusing and has no explanation, so it’s fun to try to discern the metaphorical meaning behind the following events in story.
It occurs to me that practically everything I read in that high school English class is now on my favorites list, even if they didn’t make the top 30. Thanks for giving me a serious love of literature, Mr. Bufton.
I Am Legend (1954) by Richard Matheson
Living in a world as a lone man while the rest of humanity has turned into bloodthirsty nocturnal beasts, Robert Neville must survive and try to find hope.
I needed a new-to-me read this month, so I grabbed the first spooky book on my shelf that I hadn’t read yet. I wasn’t expecting to like this very much (thrift store find: 50 cents), but I did. Even though the masses in this book lean more towards vampires than zombies, I think that fans of the zombie craze will like the survivalist tactics and search for scientific and philosophical meaning after the end of civilization.
My edition also features several short stories by Matheson, and I didn’t like the majority of them. Mostly, they were unoriginal and predictable horror stories.
P.S. If you’ve seen the movie, know that it is VERY loosely based on the book.
A Storm of Swords (2000) by George R. R. Martin
A Storm of Swords is a fantasy epic centering on a struggle for power told from multiple points of view. It is the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, the first book of which is A Game of Thrones.
When I re-read A Game of Thrones a few months ago, I wasn’t planning on reading the whole series again, but that’s what is happening. This one is probably my favorite in the series because it is CRAZYSAUCE.
In case you are wondering and you’re into the television series, the third season covers the first half of the third book.
I also read some of, but didn’t finish, A Clockwork Orange, House of Leaves, and Harry Potter #1: Harry Potter A L’Ecole Des Sorciers in October.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What have you been reading lately?
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