Friday, September 01, 2006

Autumn Reading Challenge


On the whole, I like to keep my reading list flexible. Required reading brings out the rebel in me, even when I’m the one dictating which reading is required. Thus I’ve not yet been tempted by any of the reading challenges that have circulated round the litblogosphere. Nor do I respond well to scary books. So you wouldn’t think that Carl V.’s R.I.P. Autumn Reading Challenge would be the one to finally lure me in. The challenge he’s set is to read at least five books that fit the “broad criteria of being scary, eerie, moody, dripping with atmosphere, gothic, unsettling, etc.” between now and Halloween.

But thanks to the Slaves of Golconda, I’ve got a head start on this one with The Island of Dr. Moreau. How much creepier does it get than an assortment of mutilated beast-men stalking our hero about an island on which he is trapped in the company of a mad scientist? And while reading it, I began to wonder about the extent to which H.G. Wells was influenced by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a classic that I haven’t yet read. Another in this vein that I’ve been meaning to read is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a copy of which I bought recently while exploring Robert Louis Stevenson’s Edinburgh haunts. Then there’s Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw in which my interest was piqued by one of Litlove’s recent posts. (Incidentally, I think Litlove is tied with Danielle for the title of litblogger whose posts most consistently increase my TBR pile to alarming heights.) And also Marghanita Laski’s The Victorian Chaise Longue, recommended by Emily and Iliana in comments on Litlove’s aforementioned post.

Other possibilities include Coraline by Neil Gaiman which, children’s book or no, sounds terrifying (see what Mrs. Book World had to say about it in a recent post); Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier which I’ve long been meaning to read; and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue which I’ve not yet read despite the fact that many assign it a key role in spawning the mystery genre that I love so well.

No doubt many other possibilities will capture my interest as I follow the progress of other participants in the challenge. I’m certainly open to any and all suggestions, especially of more gothic titles. For example, I’d love to know what’s on the reading list of the American Gothic class that BikeProf teaches.

I think that I can manage to read five titles from this myriad of possibilities before Halloween. So, Carl V., count me in. But I’m blaming you if I don’t get much sleep over the next two months with all this scary stuff occupying my imagination!

13 comments:

Danielle said...

Kate--I think we do have very similar reading tastes. Every book you mentioned is one I want to read, too! I have Coraline at home (also thanks to Mrs Bookworld), and my list pretty much matches the books you list. Now I guess I need to look up The Victoria Chaise Lounge--I bet I will be adding it to my book list!

Dorothy W. said...

I'd say that generally I don't go for scary reads either, but people's lists do sound so interesting! My plan is simply to read Dracula, but I might find myself adding some others that would qualify. I hope you enjoy Frankenstein! I love that book.

Sylvia said...

Love the graphic!

Nancy said...

Oooh, The Turn of the Screw is very creepy. Rebecca too.

Certainly there's lots of Poe to choose from, all delightfully sinister.

Also, you might try a Stephen King book... The Shining or Salem's Lot perhaps.

litlove said...

Kate I had to laugh - I start to spend money pretty much as soon as I click on to Danielle's site. Mind you, I'm still trying to track down Adele Wiseman's work thanks to your wonderful posts on it. I was so glad you liked what I wrote about hysteria by the way - I teach a course on it (it's lots of fun), so I know it quite well. But I was so pleased to receive your comment that I hugged it to myself and didn't respond properly at the time. I'm looking forward very much to hearing what you think of it.

Carl V. said...

I sure empathize with the effect of reading all of your book blogs on the wallet. You all should start charging for your recommendations, you'd be rich! I hate to say how many books I've purchased over the last few weeks since I've started visiting Danielle's site and branching out from there.

Rebecca is fantastic and since I saw a Border's review comparing The Thirteenth Tale to it (in addition to Danielle and others talking about it) I am sure to buy that when it comes out in a couple of weeks.

Very good list, glad you're resisting your rebellious nature and joining in. Fantastic list!

BikeProf said...

Hi Kate. Here's the reading from American Gothic:
Poe, “Hop-Frog,”
Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado,”
Poe, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,”
Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher,”
Hawthorne, “Alice Doane’s Appeal,”
Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown,”
Hawthorne, “Roger Malvin’s Burial,”
Melville, “The Bell-Tower,”
Alcott, Behind a Mask; or, a Woman’s Power
Jewett, “The Foreigner,”
Freeman, “Old Woman Magoun,”
Chopin, “Desirée’s Baby,”
James, The Turn of the Screw
Crane, “The Monster,”
Norris, “Lauth,”
Gilman, “The Giant Wisteria,”
Wharton, “The Eyes,”
Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily"
O’Connor, "Good Country People"
O'Connor, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"
O'Connor, "The Lame Shall Enter First"
Rice, Interview with the Vampire
King, The Shining
McCarthy, Outer Dark

Sorry for the long post. Most of the stories were in an anthology put out by Blackwell.

Razovsky said...

One of the most terrifying books I've read is A Prayer for the Dying, by Stewart O'Nan. Another is Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy. Both are from the past decade and are brilliant pieces of literature too.

Stu

bloglily said...

Uh-oh, darkness just fell and the fog's coming in... the only light's coming from my computer monitor. Time to turn on the lights and make sure there's nothing in the closet.

Kate, what a fine plan you have! Your site makes me want to devote myself entirely to reading!

melmoth said...

If you want realy hard-core Gothic from the 19th century try Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer and Matthew Lewis' The Monk

LK said...

Great list! Tell me how you like Murders in the Rue Morgue...I had problems with it...I almost went with Rebecca, but figured I'd seen Hitchcock's version too many times. I've got a book of DuMaurier short stories called The Breaking Point -- highly recommended, if you can find a copy. Especially a story I believe is called The Blue Lens.

Chrees said...

I just finished reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, which spoofs the gothic novel while including a touch of it. There is a good list of gothic novels within the book if you lean in that direction.

Kate S. said...

Thanks everyone for your suggestions! I'm a bit out of my depth in this particular subset of fiction, and I so appreciate getting a bit of expert advice.