Books of 2012: A Year in Review

2012-end-of-year-survey

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)ender

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (and I read a lot of good ones).

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Though it had many elements I was drawn to, it never quite gelled for me.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

Summer by Edith Wharton. I was just surprised by how much I enjoyed it, being a short romance with an often frustratingly willful main character.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?The_Scorpio_Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

Divergent by Veronica Roth. I recommended this one quite a bit as well, and I’m excited to see where Roth takes it in the third installment. I really enjoy the concept around which she has based her utopia.

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

David Levithan. I first found him through his collaboration with John Green (will grayson, will grayson) and then read his Every You, Every Me. His characters have such vivid, unique voice. Nina LaCour, author of The Disenchantments, another one with strong voice. My review of that novel is here. Catherine Knutsson, author of Shadows Cast by Stars. I loved everything about that book, and can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?9961796

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I don’t read a lot of romance in any genre, and I had reasons for avoiding Perkins’ other novel, but this was getting so many good reviews I gave it a shot. A sweet, fun read.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

The three books that kept me up reading through the night: Divergent by Veronica Roth, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and Duma Key by Stephen King.

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

Shadows Cast by Stars. It’s on my list to buy in hardcover.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

I hated the book but I still think the cover is lovely and alluring:

the_selection_book_cover

Well designed, Harper Teen.

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

Dink Meeker from Ender’s Game (not least because I see him as my personal reaction to the situation Ender finds himself in).

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I have not quite finished it yet, but I’ve been looking into a lot of philosophical theories in the past few years and its invigorating to come across one that closely mimics my own views. This book was given to me by the proprietor of a bookstore in South Dakota, when he spotted it in my pile he told me it was on the house!

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 

Aside from Ender’s Game, which people have been recommending to me for an age? Probably Grapes of Wrath (which I have not finished).

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 0619f_dumakey

“At one point during my interview with Mary Ire, she said
discovering in my middle age that I could paint with the best
of them must have been like having someone give me the
keys to a souped-up muscle car—a Roadrunner or a GTO. I
said yes, it was like that. At another point she said it must
have been like having someone give me the keys to a fully
furnished house. A mansion, really. I said yes, like that, too.
And if she had gone on? Said it must have been like
inheriting a million shares of Microsoft stock, or being
elected ruler for life of some oil-rich (and peaceful) emirate
in the mideast? I would have said yeah, sure, you bet. To
soothe her. Because those questions were about her. I
could see the longing look in her eyes when she asked
them. They were the eyes of a kid who knows the closest
she’s ever going to get to realizing her dream of the high
trapeze is sitting on the bleachers at the Saturday matinee
performance. She was a critic, and lots of critics who aren’t
called to do what they write about grow jealous and mean
and small in their disappointment. Mary wasn’t like that.
Mary still loved it all. She drank whiskey from a water-glass
and wanted to know what it was like when Tinker Bell flew
out of nowhere and tapped you on the shoulder and you
discovered that, even though you were on the wrinkle-neck
side of fifty, you had suddenly gained the ability to fly past
the face of the moon. So even though it wasn’t like having a
fast car or being handed the keys to a fully furnished house,
I told her it was. Because you can’t tell anyone what it’s like.
You can only talk around it until everyone’s exhausted and it’s time to go to sleep.
But Elizabeth had known what it was like.
It was in her drawings, then in her paintings.
It was like being given a tongue when you had been
mute.
And more. Better. It was like being given back your
memory, and a person’s memory is everything, really.
Memory is identity. It’s you.”

– Stephen King, Duma Key

 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Longest: Duma Key (though I am currently reading Anna Karenina, which is longer).

Shortest: Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller, or any of the picture books I read with K-3rd classes I subbed for this year.

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I feel that way about every book I read! It’s why I have a blog, that desire to discuss what I’ve read. It’s also why I appreciate each and every person who comments here on Ink so much 🙂

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).shadows cast by stars

Edgar Freemantle and Wireman in Duma Key. King can write male friendship like no other. The budding romance between Blue and Adam in The Raven Boys and the strained but loving sibling relationship between Cassandra and Paul in Shadows Cast by Stars were also up there.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

In the interest of not naming the same books over and over, I will go with The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s a promising start to her new series The Raven Cycle.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:audrey

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway. I knew nothing about it other than that I had read one good review, but I picked it up when I recognized the cover at the library and loved it.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012? 

Probably The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Sssh. We have different taste in books, but I always enjoy reading her thoughtful perspective. I won my copies of Life as We Knew It and Ender’s Game in a giveaway on her site!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? The_Maze_Runner_cover

Probably The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I like whenever I am able to pinpoint why I didn’t like something, rather than just saying “Hurr hurr, it sucked”.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

There were some strong reactions (including an entire opposing review) in my review of How I Paid for College: a Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater by Mark Acito. I appreciated the discourse.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?Katniss

I enjoyed Ginny Tonic’s discussion of Katniss Everdeen as a feminist role model on The Charlie Tonic Hour. I found it when she linked to my entry on the subject.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

My second NaNoWriMo and the Top Ten Tuesdays I wrote this year.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

Developing stronger relationships with other bloggers who write fiction in addition to their blogs. Their support has kept me motivated.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?Joan_Holloway

Top Ten Books I’d Like to See Made into Movies, by far. It gets at least a few hits each day thanks to the picture of Christina Hendricks (I now know what her name looks like in Arabic).

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

All of them, but especially the reviews. I love to hear people’s thoughts on books I have also read, even if we disagree.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Uhhh, uhhh…discovering that my local library will let me renew my books online?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I finished half of the ten books I chose for my Top Ten Tuesdays Summer Reading List, but I didn’t really set any reading goals. I play it by ear and try to alternate classics with popular contemporary fiction, and I did that again this year.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?Sweetly Cover

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce. I really enjoyed Sisters Red, and I only have lukewarm feelings toward the story of Red Riding Hood. Very excited to see what she did with one of my favorites.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

The second book of The Raven Cycle

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

Review more regularly. I read a lot of books and sometimes I am at a busy moment in my life or what I want to say about a book isn’t immediately clear to me on finishing. I’d like to get into the habit of writing a few posts when I have a few posts worth of reviews stored up and spacing them out rather than posting all at once, so that when I’m having a bit of a dry spell I don’t go months without a single review (I don’t think I’ve posted a review since my niece was here in October).

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Top Ten Tuesdays: The Thankful Edition

It’s almost Thanksgiving for those of us in the U.S., the day where we get together with family and eat too much food in gratitude for our good fortune. The ladies of The Broke and The Bookish have set forth a topic in the spirit of the upcoming holiday:

Top Ten Books I am Most Thankful For:

1. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

Most of my reading is fiction and I love a good novel like the breath of life, but there are a few books I keep on hand to get me through the minutiae of daily life and this is one. When we moved away from the oceanside and I needed to get that mildew smell out of everything we owned, I reached for Home Comforts. When  a family member stained a brand new piece of furniture (with blood). When we were too poor to buy brand-name cleaners but I wanted to keep my house sanitary. It’s a tremendous reference for anyone like me, raised a few generations removed from the ladies who received housekeeping knowledge with mother’s milk (and any man with a house to keep, too). Amusingly, I have the book because my mother received it as a gift and felt it was an insult to her housekeeping. Lucky me!

2. The Betty Crocker Cookbook

This is my baking Bible. I learned to bake cookies and lasagna from its pages, and when I moved into my first apartment my dad bought me my own copy (his came from my grandmother). I’ve adapted my Snickerdoodle recipe from the one in its pages (the cookies that caused one pregnant neighbor to call me after midnight in hopes that I might whip up a batch). I used it tonight to whip up a crust for a pecan pie. It’s not trendy, it’s a staple.

3. The Better Homes and Gardens Bridal Cookbook

This was a wedding gift from my mother-in-law, and I was skeptical. I knew how to cook, and I had my trusty Betty Crocker. What could this cookbook possibly have to offer? In the five years since, I have discovered that the answer is quite a lot. This is now my go-to cookbook for cooking (as opposed to baking). It has great reference material on the basics of food: cuts of meat, properties of different grains, ideas on stocking an efficient and compact kitchen. The recipes are tasty and earmarked with notes like “low-fat”, “quick”, or “best-loved”. My favorite part has to be the meals portioned for two. These recipes kept my husband and I fed in style with no leftovers spoiling in the fridge. We particularly like the meatball soup, and my husband once ate the provolone-stuffed meatballs raw while I was away on a trip.* They’re that good.

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I am thankful for all seven books of The Harry Potter series (even Chamber of Secrets) for many reasons. I have read them all a few times, some of them more than a few, and I know that I will read them again throughout my life and be just as excited and engaged as I was the first time. I know that I will share them with my children. I am thankful for the virtues championed throughout the series: courage, loyalty, perseverance. I am thankful that the narrative prizes love, friendship, and intelligence over sex, self-interest, and the YOLO mentality. I am thankful that (SPOILERS) good wins in the end. It might not be edgy, but it’s enduring.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

It is on so many of my lists, but I am specifically thankful for it because I have my absolute best conversations with students about this book. About why the presence of the word “nigger” in a book does not make it racist, can in fact make it anti-racist. About the significance of mockingbirds, Boo Radley, and the actions of Atticus Finch. I am thankful that more than a half-century on this book is still getting teenagers to think critically about morality and character and what type of person they want to be, even though the America of this book is so far removed from the one they know.   I am thankful that my husband replaced my third destroyed paperback copy with the fancy schmancy Barnes and Noble hardcover!

6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This book was my gateway into science fiction and fantasy literature, and for that I will be eternally thankful. I am also thankful that is presented a smart and physically unattractive heroine, who was somewhat difficult to get along with, and yet people still saw her value. She was still the heroine. I am very thankful to have had a book like that available to me in my childhood. Thankful that L’Engle didn’t talk down to her readers. A Wrinkle in Time is a dense read, though the volume is slim. I appreciated the challenge then and I appreciate it now.

7. On Writing by Stephen King

This business of me writing things that were not for classes and letting people read them only started a little over a year ago. The whole idea had me shaking in my shoes and dreading turning into some of the things I associated with “writers”. I’m thankful for a book that talked about the business and mechanics of writing without getting all purple about it. I am thankful that reading it has already improved my writing.

8. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis

This book is the kind that inspires me. It is the story of many intelligent and talented people who saw both a problem and an opportunity and, instead of complaining about it or protesting, crafted a brilliant solution. An enduring solution that continues to evolve and grow in order to serve its purpose. I am thankful for those people, and for the people who took the time to record their story for posterity.

9. American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig FergusonPhoto: Get out and vote today. For bonus inspiration, here is a picture of one of my proudest moments, the day I became a citizen. http://instagr.am/p/RsiWFmjcSE/

I am thankful to be an American. For all our troubles, America is a progressive nation: open-minded, offering freedom and opportunity. I am grateful to Craig Ferguson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the thousands of naturalized citizens every year who breath new life into the American Dream with their hope. The ones who don’t take our abundance, our cultural tolerance, and our freedoms for granted. This book is not only hilarious, but it is deeply patriotic in a way that reminds me how glad I am to be American.

10. Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator by Thomas S. Buechner

This enormous, heavy book was once my grandmother’s. She was moving and selling it at a garage sale, so I asked if I could have it. Many of my adolescent artistic efforts involved drawing studies of the gestures and poses on its pages, and I loved the image of idealized Americana it presented. America in our best moments, and America as we wish we were. I am thankful that Norman Rockwell existed, was so prolific, and stuck to his traditional style and subject matter when the ugly, abstract, and unpleasant came into fashion. I am thankful for this record of idealism.

So I’ve hit the major themes of Thanksgiving: tradition, food, virtues like gratitude. Thanksgiving is an American tradition, an originally American holiday, which is perhaps why my list skewed so traditional. The new and flashy is not always better than the tried and true, and I am thankful for the things that endure.

*I nearly had a heart attack when he told me. They’re half pork!

Top Ten Tuesdays: Desert Island Necessities

Nothing fancy this week, folks! I’ve got an early job subbing high school Biology tomorrow and I need to hit my word count for NaNoWriMo before bedtime. I won’t be linking but maybe I’ll throw in a picture or two. This weeks theme:

Top Ten Books I Would Want on a Desert Island

1. SAS Survival Guide 2nd Edition: for any climate, in any situation
A desert island doesn’t necessarily mean tropical, after all. Hopefully this handy guide, written by a former member of the British Special Air Service who went on to become a survival instructor, would keep me alive long enough to enjoy everything else on my list.

2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Because it’s super long and I haven’t read it, but also because as a former student of French language and culture I am fascinated by Russia’s attempts to imitate French culture during a period in which France was quite literally attacking Russia. Why do people do these things? I imagine it would be good mood reading for stormy days on the island.

3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Another long one. I’ve seen the Gerard Depardieu miniseries (well worth watching, it is to TCMC what the Firth miniseries is to Pride and Prejudice), but have not read the novel. I’d take it in French, because I would obviously have the time to work my way through.

4. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
I’ve read The Odyssey a few times, but I haven’t gotten to The Iliad yet (much less The Aeneid). Not only is it another long one, it seems appropriate for a desert island of the tropical variety.

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Actually tried to check this out of the library today, it’s been on my list for ages, but all the copies were gone. Probably because of the movies. Nothing like the suffering of others to make one feel fortunate, and the suffering of society’s maltreated might make one feel better about being a castaway. Like the Dumas, I’d take it in French.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
It’s my favorite, and I can read it over and over and love it just as much every time. Some might bring the bible for spiritual comfort, I’d bring Harper Lee.

7. The Best of Roald Dahl 
Honestly, if I read too many French and Russian novels I’d surely get depressed and off myself. Better bring some Dahl for a laugh now and then.

8. The Curiosities: A Collection of  Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff
Short stories are convenient when one wants a little fiction break between catching fish and building a lean-to.

9. Ender’s War (Ender’s Saga 1 & 2) by Orson Scott Card

I just read (and loved to pieces) Ender’s Game, so I’d like to have it for re-reads and continue with the series. After a long day facing the harsh realities of survival, what could be more escapist than space?

10. Boatbuilding: A Complete Handbook of Wooden Boat Construction by Howard Irving Chapelle and Jonathan Wilson
Eventually I would want to make my escape.

 

Look at that, I got all fancy after all. Art historical even. Do you agree with my list? Disagree? Think I’m a pretentious twit? Tell me how it oughta be done on the comments. 

 

Top Ten Tuesdays: All I Want for Christmas are MOAR BOOKZ!1!!11!

I bet you thought that you wouldn’t be getting any Top Ten Tuesday action from me this month. Ha! Joke’s on you, writing this lets me procrastinate re: my NaNoWriMo responsibilities while still feeling productive. The babes of The Broke and The Bookish did their list with a birthday theme, but as I am a summer baby and the yuletide fast approaches I’m going with Christmas!

Top Ten Books I Want for Christmas

1. Unwound by Jonathan Baine

I just read about this book and I very much want it. It is relevant to my interests: biology, dystopia, social unrest, children who do not strictly fit the societal standard. I’m so there.

2. A hardcover copy of Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson

Recently read this book and loved it down to the ground. I would like to permanently add it to my library, where it can sit between To Kill a Mockingbird and White Oleander at the end of the Harry Potter shelf. The cover on the hardbound version is so beautiful.

3. Timm Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet by Tim Gunn

One of my loves is for textiles and fashion, another is for history. In junior high the school library had a series of books about fashion through the decades/ages, starting with Elizabethan and going right up to the 80’s (it was the mid-90’s at the time). I checked out each and every book and basically memorized the contents. This seems like a grown-up version of those books, and you can’t go wrong with Tim Gunn.

4. Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel

World myth is another of my passions (I have a big heart, okay?) and having pretty much exhausted Greek and Roman myth short of learning a dead language and reading the classics in their original forms, and never really clicking with Norse myth, I’d like to learn more about Hinduism. This beautiful picture book illustrated by a Pixar animator would be a great introduction to one of the Hindu Epics. I also have books on Celtic, Welsh, Korean, Vietnamese, African, and Native American myth;  I think this would fit right in on my shelf.

5. The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Stephen Mitchell

I am trying to add more poetry to my diet of classics, and I’ve enjoyed several Rilke poems I’ve come across.

6. The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language

I have a French degree. I am learning Spanish. I read books about the origins of the English language and linguistics texts for fun. Sometimes I write books. I think it’s safe to say that I am a language nerd. I very much enjoyed Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, an overview of the development of American English, by the same author. I’d recommend it to folks who like that sort of thing.

7. No Strings Attached: The Inside Story of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop by Matt Bacon

It is still a cherished dream of mine to someday be a Muppeteer. I love these wacky puppet folks and everything they do.

8. Collected Folk Tales by Alan Garner

Because I think it’s clear by now that I like that kind of stuff.

9. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Preferably one of those nice classics versions that has a hard cover and pretty illustrations. I love the story but I’ve never read the original. No time like the present (Hehe. Get it, present? Oh whatever, printmakers and language nerds love puns.)

10. Hello, Jell-O! by Victoria Belanger

I like to cook, and Jell-O was a staple of my childhood. I also like silly, kitschy things so books like this (and the Hello, Cupcake! book I already own) are right up my alley. Plus, the pictures are so pretty that I can leave it out and my friends will flip through it when they come over. Then sometimes they want to make the the things. So we do.

Sometimes I think I’m pretty lame, then I look at a list like this and recognize myself as the awesome weirdo I truly am.

In case Santa, Daddy Warbucks, or a Sugar Daddy (or Momma, hey) who likes completely platonic relationships with happily married women is reading: what I want more than anything for Christmas is a small printing press I can use here in my apartment. Then I can print my own books with lead type I already own! Thus it is wished. I have also backed it up in other wishing formats, for good measure, so let’s see if it works!

Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Were they terrible? What is your Christmas wish?

Top Ten Tuesdays: Badass Babes in Literature

Same bat time, same bat place, same meme courtesy of The Broke and The Bookish. Hit it, ladies!

1. Katniss EverdeenThe Hunger Games
Because duh. Whatever her failings as a well-rounded individual, the girl’s a survivor with tremendous focus and skill. I’d pick her first for my dodgeball team.

2. Kino Makoto/Lita Kino/Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Moon

Manga may be pushing the limits of what is considered “literature”, but hey. Graphic novel. There is a reason every one of my avatars between the ages of eleven and thirteen featured this badass babe. She was funny, a great cook, a loyal friend, and she could call upon the powers of thunder and oak trees to kick monster ass.

3. Moreta, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern

Most of Pern’s Weyrwomen were pretty badass, but Moreta outshone them all. She was a crazy-good dancer and racing enthusiast who flew her dragon through time and all over the world to save the planet of Pern from a flu epidemic. Top that.

4.  The witches of Hogwarts, Harry Potter

Despite the fact that that sounds like some sort of smutty calendar hanging by Crabbe and/or Goyle’s bed, there were some seriously tough broads at Hogwarts (and numbered among the alumni). Off the top of my head: Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Molly Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, and Bellatrix Lestrange (crazy as a loon but undeniably tough).

5. Deryn “Dylan” Sharp, The Leviathan Trilogy

Deryn spends World War I disguised as a dude in order to pursue her most cherished dream: flying as an airman with the Royal Air Force. She not only keeps up with the boys, she blows most of them away with her superior aeronautic knowledge and tendency to engage in derring-do. She makes for such a dashing fella that she catches the eye of another of the novel’s badass babes.

6. Tris, The Divergent Trilogy

Halfway through reading Divergent, I knew that I would never be Dauntless. Tris, on the other hand, takes to the faction and its demands like a fish to water: jumping from trains, ziplining from skyscrapers, climbing carnival rides, getting the stuffing beaten out of her on a daily basis without a word of complaint. Truly Dauntless, and tough as nails.

7. Hazel Grace, The Fault in Our Stars

There are different kinds of toughness, and many ways to be a badass. Hazel’s miraculous survival is part of what makes her so tough, but the greater part is her fierce insistence on mitigating the damage done by the eventual end of her life, no matter what moments of happiness it may cost her. That is flinty determination. That is toughness.

8. Lisa, The Girl Who Owned a City

Well there is the fact that she owned a city. It might be more accurate to say she built it, and eventually has an efficiently run fortress filled with hundreds of kids. That is not an easy thing, folks, less easy still for a twelve-year-old. Lisa gathers a loyal following of kids due to her ability to solve social and survival problems with logical thought, her willingness to lead by example, and her bravery. This is not a cutesy story or an easy road for Our Heroine, she is shot and has back-room surgery performed on her by a fellow twelve-year-old before novel’s end!

9. Lola, House of Stairs
To explain why she was so tough would be to spoil the whole novel, so you will just have to take my word for it.

10. Dolores Claiborne, Dolores Claiborne

She did what needed to be done, and never expected a pat on the back or vindication. Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman’s got to hold on to.

Top Ten Tuesdays: All Hallow’s Read

Is there a name for the opposite of a scaredy cat? Whatever it is, that’s me! I love to get scared, watch scary movies, read scary books, and Halloween is easily my favorite holiday (cuz I also like to wear costumes and be weird). So when this week’s assignment came down from the ladies of The Broke and The Bookish, I knew it would be a piece of cake.

Top Ten Book to Rouse Your Halloween Spirit

1. The Scary Stories for Sleepovers series by various authors

As a kid, I loved this series because it was actually scary! The stories were well written, the illustrations were great, and things didn’t turn out all right in the end. Wishy-washy spooky stories with half-hearted scares and everyone waking up safe and sound in their own bed at the end are for wusses! I still remember a few of these stories so well, I’ve used them as ghost stories around the campfire.

2. The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series by Steven Schwartz Alvin

These stories weren’t as well-written as the ones in the first series I listed, and they tended to mix a few joke stories and silly spooky songs in, but the illustrations were downright terrifying! Just grotesque. When I would flip through the book looking for the story I would actually just peel back a corner of the page, to avoid accidentally seeing a haunting illustration. Once I paper-clipped two particularly disturbing pages together. Even so, I still read the stories and peeked at the freaky pictures. High grade spookage.

3. The Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine

Of course. This is a classic for anyone who was a kid in the nineties.  The Haunted Mask is a good one that happens to take place on Halloween. I was also a big fan of One Day at Horrorland, since it combined my love of scary stuff with my love of amusement parks. Quick, quality spooky stories that will leave you with a general sense of unease rather than keeping you up all night. Scares that leave you with a smile.

Current teens might prefer his Fear Street novels or the work of Christopher Pike.

4.  IT by Stephen King

As far as I’m concerned, this is King’s scariest novel. Perhaps because it invites the reader to slip back into childhood, and to be scared as deeply and irrationally as we could be scared then. When it seemed that anything was possible, even a murderous morphing sewer clown. One of the best parts for me is that each of Pennywise’s victims is scared by their own personal boogeyman: a werewolf, Swamp Thing, a giant bird. Still, they are tied together by that near-universal fear of what might be down the dark, wet drain.

5. The Harry Potter Series

It’s full of magic and fantastical creatures, and Halloween is the one time of year where it not considered hopelessly nerdy to indulge in a love of the supernatural! Besides, between pumpkin pasties and poltergeists, it’s always Halloween at Hogwarts!

6. Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater

This sequel to Lament has a distinctly autumnal feel. The action builds toward the end of October, and as more and more supernatural forces emerge at music conservatory Thornking Ash the narrative becomes increasingly spooky. Not really scary, but definitely has a Halloween-feeling for me.

7. Skeleton Crew, Night Shift, or pretty much any other collection of short stories by Stephen King

He’s not the master of horror for nothing, and his playfulness really comes out in the short story format. His collections generally offer at least one deeply disturbing, well-observed novella mixed into a selection of tightly-paced spook stories and short tales that manage to be both silly and spooky at once. The beauty of Stephen King is in his range, as he has said himself:

“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud. ”
Stephen King

King understands that there are as many kinds of scary as there are people on Earth, and he tries to write them all (which is why this list could easily have been all King).

8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I’m a sucker for any book where you can feel more for the monster than the hero, even as you feel the hero’s fear and anxiety, and this book is an absolute classic. It’s fairly short and masterfully crafted, if you’ve never read it it I would make a point of giving it a shot this Halloween season!

9. The Witches by Roald Dahl

I love Dahl, and like any of his novels The Witches deftly mixes the hilarious with the horrifying. What could be more quintessentially Halloween than a convention of child-hating witches? I also highly recommend the movie version, Anjelica Huston is divine.

10. Barn Dance by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and Ted Rand

This book is one of my all-time favorites, and the late-night harvest-moon dance with the farm animals and scarecrow has always held a little bit of that Halloween magic for me. Great to read with the kids, and not scary at all, but equally as enjoyable for adults thanks to lovely ink-and-watercolor illustrations.

BONUS Graphic Novel and Manga Rec:

Pet Shop of Horrors is an entertaining and spooky manga with a great art style, of the “be careful what you wish for” variety.

The Walking Dead is an outstanding series about survivors roaming the American south in the latter days of a zombie apocalypse. There are some truly shocking plot developments, the story is complex, and the art style engaging without being unbearably gory. I must admit the show lost me about halfway through the first season, not least due to character and plot changes that weakened the overall story.

*The title of this entry refers to Neil Gaiman’s proposed All Hallow’s Read, a movement to start a tradition of giving spooky books on Halloween.

Top Ten Tuesdays

This week The Broke and the Bookish have us serving up a heaping helping of authors in a genre of our choice. I have prepared a fine selection of YA sci-fi authors, and suggested some of the works I most enjoyed by each. Authors like Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, or Isaac Asimov didn’t make my list because I haven’t read their YA work (yet).

Top Ten YA Sci-Fi Authors

1. William Sleator

To me, Sleator is like Pixar. Even his worst book is miles better than the average in the genre. That said, I’d recommend:

Interstellar Pig for gamers.

Strange Attractors for folks who love a love triangle, especially one where two of the people involved are actually alternate-dimension versions of the same girl.

House of Stairs for those who like dystopia.

2. M.T. Anderson

Read Feed! Read it now! Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger shouting that last sentence!

3. Scott Westerfeld

Uglies is a series that gets better with each book (though Extras is skippable for the picky reader).

4. Suzanne Collins

Hmmmm. Suddenly I am having trouble thinking of the sci-fi series that everyone has been talking about for the past two years. The Hunger Games. Quit trying to be cool and just read it already.

5. Robert A. Heinlein

Not strictly a YA sci-fi writer, but many of his books focus on that age group. Tunnel in the Sky is a good choice for survivalist fans who enjoyed books like The Hunger Games for reasons beyone romance.

6. Madeleine L’Engle

My heart will always be with Meg and Charles Wallace, so of course I recommend A Wrinkle In Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Many Waters was very enjoyable, but not so much sci-fi as Christian Myth…and An Acceptable Time was a slog.

7. K.A. Applegate

Animorphs series, what up! I particularly recommend the companion books to the series: The Ellimist Chronicles is still a favorite, and I loved The Andalite Chronicles. Both make sense for someone not ready to take on the whole series.

8. Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker is a solidly scientific, thoroughly entertaining environmentally-oriented novel.

9. Ben Jeapes

He wrote the outstanding novel The Ark, which I borrowed off my brother in seventh grade and still remember. It is a space ark sci-fi for purists reading in the genre. Excellent, intricate plot and very intriguing aliens.

10. Aldous Huxley

Maybe not strictly a YA author, but since many folks read Brave New World in high school, I’m including it. Love that book.

Who would you add to this list? Book recommendations?