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Thread: What are you currently reading?

  1. #16251
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Cody View Post
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    Just started Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.
    I came close to reading this after the hbo series, as I’ve read her other two...curious to hear your verdict on this one
    I'll let you know when I finish. I've been holding off on watching the show until I read it.
    It’s one of the most rated books (#4 or #5 I think) on my gigantic Goodreads to-read list. Apparently it’s extremely popular.
    I’ve always heard her books get progressively better with each. I read her last two but never the first since I liked gone girl so much better than Dark Places or whatever the 2nd was called. Then I got totally sucked in to the hbo show and now it’s on my list. A list that grows two entries every time I cross one off.

  2. #16252
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    Heather, I hope you enjoy Sharp Objects. I was really surprised at how much I liked it.

    Quote Originally Posted by webstar1000 View Post
    Has anyone read Origin by Dan Brown? Any good?
    I haven't gotten to it yet, but am looking forward to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by WeDealInLead View Post
    I've read everything by him. His books are hard to put down but don't really stay with you. Perfect summer reading or something you'd read in between some heavy lifting.
    Me too. You're right, perfect summer reading page-turners.

    Quote Originally Posted by biomieg View Post
    I liked his first couple of books but he lost me with Inferno. I felt it was poorly written, very 'clunky', a feeling I did not have with his first books. Like you guys, I do rember reading and enjoying Dan Brown books but I hardly have any idea anymore what they were about
    I didn't care for Inferno much either (though I think I remember liking it better than The Lost Symbol). Angels and Demons is my favorite.

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  3. #16253
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    So far I'm really enjoying Sharp Objects. I liked Gone Girl, but didn't care for Dark Places at all. I just looked up the release dates, and Sharp Objects is her first book? Also has anyone read The Grownup by her yet?
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  4. #16254
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    I read The Grownup and enjoyed it, but I think I remember not liking the ending. It's pretty short so you can read it in one sitting.

    Linus:
    "There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."

  5. #16255
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    Thanks Ricky
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    Last Saturday I finished Arthur Conan Doyle's Gothic Tales (for info about this, and several lengthy verbal and video digressions, see my earlier post: http://www.thedarktower.org/palaver/...=1#post1122806).

    ACD's tales are wordy, but given that this is genre material, nowhere near as dense as typical 19th century "classic" fare; the material is pretty direct and, as you might expect, ACD knows a bit about setting up a plot with moving pieces and executing it.

    While generally not what modern readers might consider "horror," it definitely fits the “gothic” label, full of tragedies, mysteries, violence, and other disturbance (indeed, much early horror is like this). Although this ground shares some characteristics with that covered by Poe, the writing is not similar to Poe's, although Doyle's The New Catacomb owes something to Poe's The Cask Of Amontillado. Interestingly, ACD's The Horror Of The Heights is like a forerunner of Lovecraft plot-wise, although the sentences swell with adventure and derring-do rather than drip with dread and despair as Lovecraft's do.

    Gothic Tales is part of my occasional and ongoing read of early (by which I mean 1700s through 1960s) horror/gothic writing, which (in 2015-16) included Frankenstein, Dracula, The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, The Picture Of Dorian Gray, and collections of Washington Irving, Poe, and Lovecraft, and which (I hope) will eventually include The Castle Of Otranto, The Monk (an illustrated edition of which features an introduction from King), works from M.R. James, Arthur Machen, Wilkie Collins, William Sloane, Shirley Jackson, Ray Russell, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and Clark Ashton Smith, and perhaps some things from Robert Aickman and Robert Chambers.
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  7. #16257
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    After Arthur Conan Doyle's Gothic Tales, I read (from last Saturday through this morning) John Bellairs' The House With A Clock In Its Walls. You are likely aware of the Jack Black/Cate Blanchett adaptation that just hit theaters.

    This is a book for pre-teens, which I reread in adulthood because it left a dent. My post from the movie trailer thread (posted when the trailer debuted) summed up what THWACIIW means to me:



    The House With A Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs was published in 1973, when I was four.

    I'd already had an attraction to books (I'd requested an atlas for Christmas when I was around 5), but this was the first piece of fiction that left an impression on me.

    Aimed at preteens (this is not Harry Potter-level), it was layered with spooky atmosphere and richly-detailed, relatable characters that perfectly entranced the young me, who was still too young to read the likes of King (I probably first read it when I was around 7).

    It permanently instilled in me the notion that, just maybe, odd things could very well be right around the corner, just out of sight, that the wispy fingers of the unreal could be reaching out at any moment. A lifelong interest in horror fiction, ghosts, UFOs, etc. was basically born because of this book, as well as the seeds of my own writing (it is Bellairs' spirit and atmosphere I've sought to capture, not King's).

    This book was also where I first encountered the art of Edward Gorey, whose work I also love to this day. His grainy renderings of almost-ordinary mirrors and windows, winding roads, sinister staircases and cavernous corridors were an absolute perfect fit for Bellairs' writing.

    Sometime after having read THWACIIW for the first time, but still while in elementary school, Bellairs was invited to speak at our school. What a phenomenal thrill! I only wish he'd made it... I don't recall the reason given (perhaps an illness, perhaps a publisher issue), but the visit was cancelled.

    As we tend to do with most good things from childhood, I set it aside for years and years; after the age of 10 or 12, I probably never read THWACIIW again until sometime in my 30s, and possibly not until my 40s (although I did at least have it on my bookcase). By the time I cared again, the internet existed and it was suddenly easy to learn everything about anything at a moment's notice. It turns out that Bellairs had moved to Haverhill, Massachusetts (maybe 20 minutes from me) the year before I was born, and (as far as I can tell) remained until his death, which had happened in 1991.

    Learning that he was already gone was a blow. I suspect we all harbor secret (or not secret) fantasies about meeting our heroes, but I really would've gotten a kick out of shaking his hand and telling him what this book meant to me. I've read much more King than Bellairs, and while meeting King would be great, I'd have much preferred to meet Bellairs.

    Bellairs wrote several other books for young people, all along the same lines as THWACIIW, and I've read almost all of them (House is my favorite, but damn close is The Treasure Of Alpheus Winterborn). I'd love to recommend them to you all, but I suspect that the magic (which still lives and breathes on every page, for me) just wouldn't be there for an adult who'd never read it as a child. But then, if you were up for it, The House With A Clock In Its Walls is a quick 180 pages - if you wanted to give it a try, I wouldn't protest very strongly at all.

    I hope this film succeeds; I hope it attracts attention to Bellairs' works and pulls new readers in; somewhere out there, there are young kids who could be lit up by this as I was and roam the roads of New Zebedee with Lewis as he plots midnight excursions and witnesses the mystery and mysteries of Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman...and Isaac Izard.

    I will add the text I sent to my daughter this morning after completing THWACIIW:

    Finished this morning.

    It's always sad when I finish it; rereading it is like revisiting childhood, because I enjoy it just as much now as then; it's simple, but it contains all the atmosphere and anticipation a good scary story needs (omegas carved on tombs, arcane symbols chalked on the ground, raising the dead, the end of the world, a sinister old couple, not to mention loads of cookies, donuts, cocoa, and cider, and the main character is a chubby kid - honestly, how can any other author compete with this?).

    When it ends (with Lewis, Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman sitting around a fire, eating cookies and drinking cocoa), I feel like "no no no don't go!" and then I am thrust back into the real world, a place where John Bellairs is no more and I am almost 50 (this text got depressing ☁️).

    I'm reading The Figure In The Shadows [NOTE: this is the sequel to THWACIIW] now, and although it is a fine, creepy follow-up and I'm still with Lewis & Co., it's not quite the same - there's only one House.
    The media monkeys and the junket junkies will invite you to their plastic pantomime...throw their invites away.

  8. #16258
    Gunslinger Apprentice Earl of Popkin will become famous soon enough Earl of Popkin will become famous soon enough Earl of Popkin's Avatar

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    John Bellairs started everything for me. He was friends with another writer and that writer’s daughter was in my grade, so we had like a whole Bellairs super section in our elementary library. I believe I loved Mummy, the Will & the Crypt more than anything for all of grade 4 and 5

    He was the first I read that wasn’t homework.
    He was the first I read that made me immediately want to read another of his works
    He was the first I read that made me want to own ALL of his works

  9. #16259
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    Bridging these two most recent reads (Gothic Tales and The House With A Clock In Its Walls) is a truly amazing coincidence: both books mention the murder of David Rizzio, personal secretary to Mary Queen of Scots, in 1566, in the Palace of Holyroodhouse (or simply Holyrood), the royal residence in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the presence of the Queen herself.

    One of the final entries in Gothic Tales is The Silver Mirror, which describes the murder: "...the murder of Rizzio by the Scottish nobles in the presence of Mary, which occurred in March 1566...Holyrood!"

    ...and early in The House With A Clock In Its Walls, Lewis (a bookish 10-year old boy), who'd found himself recently installed in a bedroom with "a tall glazed bookcase full of old books...", pulled down a book of John L. Stoddard's Lectures that "smelled like Old Spice talcum powder" and proceeded to read about "how the Scotch nobles had murdered poor Rizzio right in front of Mary, Queen of Scots...Stoddard was talking about the permanence of bloodstains and wondering whether or not the stain on the hall floor in Holyrood really was Rizzio's blood or not."

    Perhaps (as with many of my comments and observations) only of interest to me, but finding mentions of a 4 1/2 century-old murder across two books that differed so greatly really blew me away.

    Fun fact: ACD's father owned antique furniture originally belonging to Holyrood...
    The media monkeys and the junket junkies will invite you to their plastic pantomime...throw their invites away.

  10. #16260
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl of Popkin View Post
    John Bellairs started everything for me. He was friends with another writer and that writer’s daughter was in my grade, so we had like a whole Bellairs super section in our elementary library. I believe I loved Mummy, the Will & the Crypt more than anything for all of grade 4 and 5

    He was the first I read that wasn’t homework.
    He was the first I read that made me immediately want to read another of his works
    He was the first I read that made me want to own ALL of his works
    Thank God! There are two of us!
    The media monkeys and the junket junkies will invite you to their plastic pantomime...throw their invites away.

  11. #16261
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    I love Edward Gorey! Have you visited his house yet? They've turned it into a little museum. Definitely worth a stop if you're a fan.
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  12. #16262
    Gunslinger Apprentice Earl of Popkin will become famous soon enough Earl of Popkin will become famous soon enough Earl of Popkin's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by St. Troy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Earl of Popkin View Post
    John Bellairs started everything for me. He was friends with another writer and that writer’s daughter was in my grade, so we had like a whole Bellairs super section in our elementary library. I believe I loved Mummy, the Will & the Crypt more than anything for all of grade 4 and 5

    He was the first I read that wasn’t homework.
    He was the first I read that made me immediately want to read another of his works
    He was the first I read that made me want to own ALL of his works
    Thank God! There are two of us!
    All of his books in our library had my name written multiple times on those library card inserts that tracked who had them out. Over and over again

  13. #16263
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    Well, I’ll say this. These John Bellairs stories sound a hell of a lot more rewarding than whatever the hell you call this Cows book I just read. Man am I glad that’s over with.
    Looking for Mister Slaughter S/L #78

  14. #16264
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heather19 View Post
    I love Edward Gorey! Have you visited his house yet? They've turned it into a little museum. Definitely worth a stop if you're a fan.
    I haven't, but I've been meaning to for years.

    I used to live for his intro on Masterpiece Mystery.
    The media monkeys and the junket junkies will invite you to their plastic pantomime...throw their invites away.

  15. #16265
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Cody View Post
    Well, I’ll say this. These John Bellairs stories sound a hell of a lot more rewarding than whatever the hell you call this Cows book I just read. Man am I glad that’s over with.
    Apocalypse Cow?

  16. #16266
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsmcmullen92 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Father Cody View Post
    Well, I’ll say this. These John Bellairs stories sound a hell of a lot more rewarding than whatever the hell you call this Cows book I just read. Man am I glad that’s over with.
    Apocalypse Cow?
    No sir but that sounds interesting. The one I read is just “Cows” by Matthew Stokoe. I don’t recommend it unless you like over the top disturbing violence. It’s in the Splatterpunk genre I guess? A few times I questioned what I was doing with my life reading something like that.
    Looking for Mister Slaughter S/L #78

  17. #16267
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Cody View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmcmullen92 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Father Cody View Post
    Well, I’ll say this. These John Bellairs stories sound a hell of a lot more rewarding than whatever the hell you call this Cows book I just read. Man am I glad that’s over with.
    Apocalypse Cow?
    No sir but that sounds interesting. The one I read is just “Cows” by Matthew Stokoe. I don’t recommend it unless you like over the top disturbing violence. It’s in the Splatterpunk genre I guess? A few times I questioned what I was doing with my life reading something like that.
    Knowing what you don't like is also important. You can safely avoid that type of thing in the future.
    “It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”
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  18. #16268
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    Quote Originally Posted by Br!an View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Father Cody View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmcmullen92 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Father Cody View Post
    Well, I’ll say this. These John Bellairs stories sound a hell of a lot more rewarding than whatever the hell you call this Cows book I just read. Man am I glad that’s over with.
    Apocalypse Cow?
    No sir but that sounds interesting. The one I read is just “Cows” by Matthew Stokoe. I don’t recommend it unless you like over the top disturbing violence. It’s in the Splatterpunk genre I guess? A few times I questioned what I was doing with my life reading something like that.
    Knowing what you don't like is also important. You can safely avoid that type of thing in the future.
    Good point, very true. There’s a considerable market for this genre judging by the amount of praise it gets on a popular Facebook group about horror books. I had planned on reading “Hogg” after because it gets recommended a lot whenever “Cows” comes up, but I changed my mind, haha. I’m reading Legion by Blatty now.
    Looking for Mister Slaughter S/L #78

  19. #16269
    Gunslinger Apprentice Frondz will become famous soon enough

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    Quote Originally Posted by St. Troy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Earl of Popkin View Post
    John Bellairs started everything for me. He was friends with another writer and that writer’s daughter was in my grade, so we had like a whole Bellairs super section in our elementary library. I believe I loved Mummy, the Will & the Crypt more than anything for all of grade 4 and 5

    He was the first I read that wasn’t homework.
    He was the first I read that made me immediately want to read another of his works
    He was the first I read that made me want to own ALL of his works
    Thank God! There are two of us!
    Make that at least three! The Curse of the Blue Figurine was the first Bellairs I read, and I must've come at it a little too early in my impressionable childhood. I finished the book, but then instructed my mom to hide it away where I could never find it. After reading the book, just looking at the cover freaked me out enough to induce nightmares. I went back to his books a couple years later, and still reread them as an adult from time to time. They are very fun to collect as well, just due to the fact that many copies were sent to libraries, and his signature can be rather elusive.

  20. #16270
    Gunslinger Apprentice Earl of Popkin will become famous soon enough Earl of Popkin will become famous soon enough Earl of Popkin's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frondz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by St. Troy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Earl of Popkin View Post
    John Bellairs started everything for me. He was friends with another writer and that writer’s daughter was in my grade, so we had like a whole Bellairs super section in our elementary library. I believe I loved Mummy, the Will & the Crypt more than anything for all of grade 4 and 5

    He was the first I read that wasn’t homework.
    He was the first I read that made me immediately want to read another of his works
    He was the first I read that made me want to own ALL of his works
    Thank God! There are two of us!
    Make that at least three! The Curse of the Blue Figurine was the first Bellairs I read, and I must've come at it a little too early in my impressionable childhood. I finished the book, but then instructed my mom to hide it away where I could never find it. After reading the book, just looking at the cover freaked me out enough to induce nightmares. I went back to his books a couple years later, and still reread them as an adult from time to time. They are very fun to collect as well, just due to the fact that many copies were sent to libraries, and his signature can be rather elusive.
    We’re like the three witches from Macbeth, except no one has ever cared about what we had to say re Bellairs. At last we have finally found where we belong.

    I remember Curse of the Blue Figurine I think. Pretty sure I enjoyed that one too

  21. #16271
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    I finished Bellairs' The Figure In The Shadows and moved on to his The Letter, The Witch, And The Ring.
    The media monkeys and the junket junkies will invite you to their plastic pantomime...throw their invites away.

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