Lists of books intrigue me. I became a voracious reader in second grade, circa 1972, in the Granville Elementary School system, scolded more than once to put down the book I was reading during math lessons. This led to me being a library kid. I spent many an afternoon at the Granville Public Library reading away, visiting new worlds, learning about characters vastly different from my Midwest location’s populace. The Arabian Nights became a favorite escape. Soon, I was reading well beyond my years, saving up any spare change to buy my own paperback book at any of the local bookstores. I haunted the cellar bookstore in downtown Granville as well, and the staff new me well as I’d make my way down to the basement stacks of shiny new books. This bookstore no longer exists.
I don’t know how many books I’ve read in my short lifetime so far, but it’s in the thousands. We’re only given so much time, and a great reader will only read about 3,500 to 4,000 books, possibly more if the reader is a speed reader. I’m slow, devouring each word, phrasing, with studied happiness. I love to read thrillers of the suspense variety. If there’s a heavy psychological edge, like in Gone Girl, then I am happy as a pig in mud. While I do read outside the mystery genre, as time goes by like a river, and I’m stuck in the middle age, presently, I realize I don’t have time to diverge from what I love the most. I used to finish every book I started, but life’s too short for this anymore. If the story or characters don’t thrill me after 150 pages, I don’t continue to read. The book has to stick with me. The characters need to be fully formed, jump off the page, make me care about them, even if I don’t like them. One of my favorite books, Crime and Punishment, has a despicable murderer as the main character, but I love this book the most. It sticks in my head. I’ve read it four times in this short life.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky — just read it for pleasure
- The Shining by Stephen King — this novel by the prolific horror king is the best psychological story about a father falling under the spell of a terrifying power
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas — the first thriller, the behemoth story where all revenge tales stem from . . . it sticks like glue
- The Complete Stories by Raymond Carver (All of his books) — these tales of ordinary people gave me chills when I read them for the first time. I became spellbound, and learned so much about the writing craft. He, like King, tell tales of people in mundane settings who face striking moments, and these can turn on the tiniest of detail. Brilliant
- Pork and Others by Cris Freddi — if you haven’t read Pork, or Pork and Others, just know it’s the opposite of happy wonderful animal fables. These stories about animals living their lives in a dark wood will continue to entertain me . . . check out the eBook
There are so many other books and authors that I could pull out of my brain right now, many a lot more recent. I loved The Secret History, Shadowland, Ghost Story, The Auctioneer, Gone Girl, The Twenty-Seventh City, Haunted, The Lottery and Other Stories, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Silence of the Lambs, Dracula, Hyperion, The Complete Stories of Ray Bradbury, The books of Rachel Ingalls, The complete work of Shirley Jackson; she’s my touchstone author, one who conjures up so much with economic prose that is detailed and psychological.
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