E is for (Books About) Evil #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

This is the last grim topic for a while. The next few days will be much more positive and uplifting!

Evil is one of those timeless topics, as we all like to see good triumph over evil. Good doesn’t always win in horror novels though. For many of us, there’s something exciting and interesting about exploring our darkest fears. After all, what’s worse than evil?

Pet Sematary, by Stephen King (horror): This book starts with a simple premise, a local graveyard, where if you bury something, it comes back (though not the same as before). Locals have used this for pets, to ease the transition for their children. But when the Creeds’ son dies, Louis buries him there and isn’t prepared for what returns. Horror, at its finest, takes a simple, familiar idea and makes it terrifying. This book is one of my favorite Stephen King books, and one of the few books that actually scared me sleepless. (I was a teenager at the time… but it still counts.)

House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski (horror): Johnny falls into possession of a book that claims to be an academic study of a documentary, The Navidson Record, though he can’t find any documentary by that name. The book draws him in, sending him spiraling further and further into an obsession. Both what happens to Johnny and what happens inside the house in The Navidson record are terrifying. It’s a fresh and awful spin on the haunted house trope.

A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay (horror): Merry’s older sister claims to be possessed by an evil demon, and no one is sure if that’s true or if she’s mentally ill. She does terrible things. The family is broke, and to fund her mental health treatment, they allow a documentary crew to come in and film her possession and exorcism. The ending of this book is unforgettable.

Hideaway, by Dean Koontz (science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, etc.): When Hatch Harrison dies and is revived, he becomes psychically connected to a serial killer who believes he’s doing Satan’s bidding. As the book goes on, it gets weirder and weirder, blending religion with science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There’s also a love story and the adoption of a sassy and interesting child. Koontz books are never just one thing.

What are your recommendations for books about evil?

How I Decide When to Abandon a Book

img_6558Readers can pretty much fall into two categories: those who will abandon a book, and those who won’t.

I’m not a terribly picky reader.  I like books my friends don’t.  In the last month, I’ve completed the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riorden and finally read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I’ve read a few books I loved (A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven), one I hated, new books, and rereads (There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake).

Even though I read about 90-100 books a year, I abandon only about 2 a year.  Even though I don’t do it often, when I do, I don’t feel the least bit bad about it.  I decide based on a few things.

  1.  The book doesn’t speak to me. Everyone’s tastes are different, and I’ve abandoned “good” books which simply didn’t interest me.  The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt was one of those.  My friends read it and liked it, it was reviewed well, and I could even tell it was an interesting book.  But for some reason, it didn’t speak to me, so I put it down. By this, I mean that I couldn’t relate, and I sometimes read paragraphs but didn’t remember what I’d just read.  When I find myself doing this with a book, I know it’s time to abandon.
  2. I keep finding reasons to put it down.  When I really like a book, it’s hard for me to do anything else until I’ve finished it.  I carry it around the house with me.  I stay up late reading it.  I’m late to appointments.  If I pull out of the driveway and have left it inside, I’ll go back in to retrieve it, just in case I have two minutes while waiting somewhere.  When I’m not into a book, it’s easy for me to become a responsible adult.
  3. I can’t figure out the point of the book.  I like plot.  I like to understand the point, the message, the happenings in the book.  If it’s just a random collection of stuff on the page, it loses my interest.  I’ve known way too many people who think they’re interesting (but aren’t) to spend time with a book that doesn’t go anywhere.
  4. It’s forgettable.  If I have trouble remembering what’s going on in the book when I pick it back up to read, that’s a good sign that it’s either not a good book, or just not a good fit for me.
  5. I hate the characters.  I’m fine with characters not being likable, but they should be interesting.  I love a good anti-hero, and I have no problem rooting for the bad guy.  I’m not a snob, and enjoy books that are widely hated (like Twilight).  But sometimes, I hate the characters, find them dull and boorish.  And then I know it’s time to go.  I stayed with the Casual Vacancy longer than I would have if it were any author other than JK Rowling, but after awhile, I couldn’t stand those characters one more moment, and I quit reading in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a paragraph.  And I never regretted it.

I read for entertainment, and if I’m not entertained, then I let go.

“One can never read too little of bad, or too much of good books: bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind.

In order to read what is good one must make it a condition never to read what is bad; for life is short, and both time and strength limited.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer