If the beginning of the month started out slow for me, I've made up for it here at the end. Although I didn't quite manage to finish all the books I had wanted (isn't that always the case, though), I still managed to finish five in the last week. Don't be too impressed as they were all ongoing reads, several holdovers from previous months so just whittling the pile down a little. I'm a bit behind writing about them, too, so expect some follow up posts on those completed books soon.
Since it is Halloween (at least for a few more hours), a little run down of what I've been reading for the last couple of months. As usual I've thoroughly enjoyed my R.I.P. reading. I read two novels and am still working on one last book, and I've read some very good ghost stories. The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James was a nice atmospheric ghost story set in the 1920s with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. I'll be watching for St. James's new book which comes out in the spring. The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish is a YA novel was quite creepy. Don't be fooled by the YA label as I think older readers can easily appreciate it as well. I was actually surprised by just how scary (considering the intended audience) the story was.
I think I enjoyed all the ghost stories I read. Some were more chilling than others, most where just good stories with a healthy dose of autumnal atmosphere, which is more than satisfying during these chilly and increasingly short days. I'm not sure I can pick a favorite. Ray Bradbury is always a good choice and The Playground was dark and a little disturbing. I definitely want to read more M.R. James. And Rosemary Timperley was a new-to-me author and Harry has lingered in my mind even weeks later. I'm contemplating ordering The Big Book of Ghost Stories, edited by Otto Penzler, since there are so many intriguing-looking stories in it to explore. You can click on my RIP tag in case you're curious to see a rundown on all the ghost stories I've read this year.
I also listened to Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book on audio. I just finished earlier today as a matter of fact, so I got in a little Halloween listening--my way of celebrating the holiday. I have a hard time writing about audio books since I am a very visual reader and need something concrete to refer back on. It's another YA novel, which mattered not one whit since it was a great listening experience. I would happily listen to anything Neil Gaiman read as he is such a wonderful reader--the pacing, the voices, the characters--he gets it all right. The story is about Nobody Owens (otherwise known as Bod) who is raised in a graveyard when his family is murdered. The Man Jack isn't about to let Bod go, though on that fateful night of the murders, little Bod (baby though he was) somehow slipped through Jack's fingers. The story was suitably escapist, not terribly scary, but nicely done--even with it's bittersweet ending.
Now I am well into Peter Straub's Ghost Story, which is a slow burn sort of story. It starts out slowly. There is lots of scene setting and many hints at something terrible having happened decades earlier. Five men, known as the Chowder Society, gather weekly to tell ghost stories. But the scariest one is the real ghost that is haunting them all. And one by one something seems to be killing them. It's taken me a little time to get into the story, but I am now well and truly hooked. I hope to finish soon.
Before the month slips away, I have to share this list of the Top Ten Ghost Stories Ever with you. How many have you read? To attest how much I like the genre, I have very surprisingly read all of them!
1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
2. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
3. Whistle and I'll Come to You by M.R. James (serendipity since I just read this one!)
4. The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs (read this one in pre-blogging days and should give it a reread now)
5. The Shining by Stephen King (another read from years ago--at least twenty I'm afraid to say).
6. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
7. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
8. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
10. Casting the Runes by M.R. James
November will mostly be filled with German Literature, the Slaves next book Crewe Train, and my newest postal reading group book. I'll also be reading more for the Canadian Reading Challenge and whatever other assorted books that pique my curiosity and come my way!