Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Salon: October reading for the cowards among us

Halloween is almost upon us and if you follow any book blogs at all, this one excepted, you have probably seen a whole array of posts on scary books and the spine tingling, pulse pounding tales that others are reading. You haven't seen that here, and not just because I haven't been so very good about writing things for the blog lately. You haven't seen it because I am a coward. I do not read things that will give me nightmares. And let me tell you, I suffer from nightmares easily. Shoot, I can still have nightmares about things I read or watched (The Other by Thomas Tryon or Children of the Corn, anyone?!) when I was a young teenager ::mumble mumble:: years ago. Books don't even have to be particularly scary to have me wide awake in a panic in the middle of the night. So it's with a serious sense of self-preservation and a desire to not be up more times I should be sleeping than my bladder already insists on that I avoid mysteries, thrillers, horror, true crime, and the like. People in my various book clubs know that if there's a body or blood involved, I'm out. You mention a death in the jacket copy of a book and I start squirming before I even get through the paragraph. And yet, I do sometimes break my own rules. I have read some books that I would normally shudder before opening because one of my book clubs has chosen it: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl (gruesome), Girl With a Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson (distastefully graphic), and Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (heart pounding in the end) to name a few. So I'm not always the group party pooper. Well, I am but sometimes I get outvoted and I try to be a good sport. This October my sad bleatings about my own personal sensitivities won the day though and we aren't reading anything spooky--we're reading The Bees by Laline Paull instead. Yay!

I can't possibly be alone in the huddled under the covers, worried about the ax murderer just outside the door club, now can I? Just in case there's anyone else out there who needs a lullaby instead of a campfire tale before bed, I thought I'd try and look back on my reading (book club choices excluded) to see what books I might have read and enjoyed in the mystery and thriller genres (because I just can't stretch to horror or true crime--unless you consider art heist stories true crime books) so I can play along in the spirit of October. And if there are other major cowards out there, you might find something here you're willing to try too. More hard core fans of being scared should hold in their giggles as they read my admittedly lightweight list; these may not be scary or deliciously spooky to you but they are good reads so I have no qualms about recommending them even to you creeper fans.

Caper Series: A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond

Gothic Tale: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Comedic Mystery Series: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Mystery Series (child protagonist): The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Mystery Series (post WWI): Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Mystery (no bodies at all!): The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom

Mystery Series (very light): The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

I do have a bookmark in a book (The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell) right now that claims to be "part classic noir thriller, part fabulist fable" and uses the word "terrifying" at some point in the jacket copy. So you see, I do try to continue to stretch myself even as I also fervently hope this is just so much hyperbole. :-) Do any of you, especially my fellow mystery/thriller avoiders, have any other recommendations for my delicate flower self?

This past week's book travels took me to some very different places. In addition to the one listed above, I witnessed a woman who wrestled with her sense of belonging in faith, a sense that changed drastically when she discovered that her family fled Europe and Judaism just prior to WWII. I survived WWI with two sisters and the family friend who is inextricably tied to them and their family's legacy. And I followed along as a granddaughter kidnapped her terminally ill grandmother to keep her blogger mother from publicly documenting grandma's death. Where have your book travels taken you this past week?


  1. I'm with you; I'm a complete scaredy cat. I have bad dreams reading the scariest book in my school library, In a Dark, Dark Room, and I've never been able to get past those flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz.

  2. I can read some scary books but I can't watch scary shows at all!

  3. I'm not much of a scary book reader either. I did read some Stephen King as a teenager, but that's about it. Otherwise, not so much.

    Right now, my reading is taking me to Denver, where I'm with a group of teenagers trying to save the world from a deadly virus. Wish us luck. :)

  4. I've been reading scary books and watching scary movies since I was a child, so they don't bother me.

    I like your list too though.

  5. I'm not to big on graphic details. I just read The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, and almost didn't finish is because I was having bad dreams.

  6. I can't watch scary movie but I can read scary books. I just generally don't.

  7. I'm with you. Scary books are not found on my shelves. I'll occasionally read a psychological thriller such as Mary Kubica's books, but that's as far as I go. Anything with blood and gore is a no-go for me :)

  8. I'm not good with scary movies, but sometimes can read scary books. I'm reading a nonfiction book about the Donner party right now and it's very gruesome. I almost had to stop but I need to find out more! thx for visiting my site recently. hope you will continue to do so when you can.


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