The new year is around the corner, and the holidays are coming to an end. If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you have a few gift cards to spend. My post-holiday shopping list consists mainly of books, as well as some more warm clothes to get me through the rest of winter.
During my time interning for Dark Discoveries Magazine, I read a lot of dark, short stories. Aside from that experience, however, I haven’t read much in the horror genre. My father’s a pretty big Stephen King buff. When I visited him on Christmas, the shelves in his living room were filled with many of King’s books. I left with a stack of them, along with a few old collections of poetry.
- The Shining by Stephen King
Even if you haven’t heard of Stephen King or read The Shining, the title should sound familiar, as Jack Nicholson starred in the 1980 film version. Or maybe a friend screamed “Here’s Johnny” while pretending to chase you with an ax, and that’s all you know about the film/book. You had no idea why they kept calling themselves Johnny, because your parents wouldn’t let you watch a movie about a man who gets more than a tad stir crazy and, well, I won’t give it away. But now you know. You’re welcome.
- Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining and was just released earlier this year in September. The book follows a now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the young boy protagonist in the first novel) as he attempts to save a young twelve-year-old girl in a fight between good and evil. Judging by what i’ve heard from others, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to read The Shining before starting Doctor Sleep. Even if you’ve watched the movie, give the book a read. Movies often leave parts of the novel out, and in the case of a psychological thriller like The Shining some things are difficult to transfer to the big screen.
- Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez
Tim Z. Hernandez is an award-winning poet and author. His writing is beautiful. You can read an excerpt of Mañana Means Heaven here to check it out for yourself. A big draw to Hernandez’s book for me is that it features a little writer some of you may have heard of: Jack Kerouac. If you’ve read On The Road, you may remember the “Mexican girl” that Kerouac has an affair with in California. Her part in the novel only spans fifteen pages, but Hernandez spent years searching for Bea Franco, the real-life “Mexican girl” from Kerouac’s novel. Mañana Means Heaven is the result of that search and Hernandez’s conversations with the elderly Franco.
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
I can’t recall if i’ve written about my obsession with the film Jurassic Park before on the blog, but now it’s out there. I’ve watched this movie more times than I can count and have memorized more than a few quotes. My favorite?
Dr. Ian Malcom: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.
Dr. Ellie Satler: Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.
I’m not sure what that says about me. All of you psych majors out there can have fun with that one. Even though I love the film, I have been told by many fellow fans and readers that the book is actually better (gasp!). As with The Shining, Jurassic Park the novel does a better job at developing the characters and goes deep into things that the film barely brushes over. Chip Kidd, one of the best cover designers out there, designed the iconic cover of Jurassic Park. For that alone, the book makes a nice addition to that shelf of yours.
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
Okay. Now I full expect to do some eye rolling while reading this book(s). But the film is coming out in March and reviewers have said the book is entertaining at the very least. I don’t enjoy reading Young Adult books all the time, but everyone once in a while it’s a nice break from something more “literary.” Whatever that means. In case you haven’t seen the previews yet or read the book, Divergent is set in a dystopian Chicago where people, at the age of sixteen, are divided up into five separate factions representing different virtues (like honesty or bravery). There are secrets and fighting and romance. I suppose publishers hope the series will fill that mockingjay size hole in all of us, but, what can I say, I caved.
- The Diviners by Libba Bray
The first book I read of Libba Bray’s was A Great and Terrible Beauty. I was in high school, somewhere in between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. It was about a young girl named Gemma Doyle, who has a mysterious past, and encounters magic while attending boarding school. Aspects of the book were dark, and I felt that it was very original despite its magical elements. If you haven’t read it, you should add it to your to-read list. Earlier this year, Bray released The Diviners, which isn’t connected to the Gemma Doyle series, but also contains aspects of the supernatural. The book is about Evie O’Neill, who is shipped to New York City to live with her uncle, Will, who has an obsession with the occult. Evie has a secret power she keeps hidden from her uncle, but when a series of murders begins occurring, she realizes that she can help.
What books are you excited for? I’m always searching for more titles to add to my list.
A Book Lovers Guide to The Holidays – playbooks inc
Joy! Or…you know, not joy if you like to be by yourself and with a book. But don’t fret! There’s a way for you to be part of the festivities and still read.
Pro tip 1: When people ask what you want for the holidays, be sure you tell them books. Be specific, because if you just say you like horror novels and you mean H.P. Lovecraft, you’ll probably end up with a bunch of Stephen King. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’ll get nothing but books for the holidays, but chances are vastly increased that someone in your family will have listened to you and will get you a book. Now it’s not rude if you’re reading said gift-book during the holiday get together because it is you enjoying the gift that someone got you.
Pro tip 2: If you’re not from the kind of family that asks you what you want for the holidays, keep a list anyway. Start an Amazon or Borders wishlist. Post hints on Facebook. Bring up the books you want to your significant other or one parent so they can team up and get you the books you really want for the holidays. Again, this isn’t full proof, and you’ll still probably get an ugly sweater or two, but chances are you’ll end up with one book, at least, that you’ve hinted about and, again, spend the majority of your family gathering reading your gift-book.
Pro tip 3: Give the gift of books. This is not only a great way of sharing your love of reading with your family, but if everyone in your family is equipped with a book-gift and you just happen to have a book for yourself in the mix, your whole family can have some quiet time to read and appreciate their presents and you can sit back with the book you’ve self-selected and join in.
Pro tip 3.5: Really be sure to give the gift of books to the children in your family. Here I’m either going to sound practical or like a buzz kill: kids don’t need more toys and video games. They don’t need more plastic things that will wear and break with age or go out of fashion in a year or two. A book is timeless. A book can be enjoyed again and again, shared with friends and family, and passed down to children of their own someday (if they choose to procreate). And, a bonus, even if you’re not able to sneak away and read a book of your own, no one would frown on you reading the books you’ve gotten for the kids to the kids.
Pro tip 4: Pull a Jim from The Office:
“I don’t mean to brag, but on New Year’s Eve, I was home by 9.”
Chat everyone up. Eat a little bit of all of the food. Stay for one memorable event, and then bolt when no one is paying attention. This way, the family has fond memories of you being at the gathering and you have a book or two or three waiting for you at home that you’ll still have time to get to and read.