One of the things I miss most during this time of quarantine is just aimlessly wandering around stores. Obviously, there are so many other more important things going on, but it’s one of the little things about the old days I look back on fondly, especially when it comes to book stores. I haven’t been in a Barnes & Noble in months and it really bums me out! I’d love to go to a used or independent book store too, but there aren’t any around where I live, much to my chagrin.
To at least partially fill that void, I’ve signed up for a few ebook mailing lists to bring cool new books and some hot new deals into my life (see what I did there?). If you’re interested, you can sign up for one through Amazon, but there’s also a site called BookBub that I’m a big fan of. You just go in, add the genres you like and they’ll hit you up with daily sales on digital books that run between one and three bucks. That’s how I first came upon Craig Davidson’s The Saturday Night Ghost Club!
As anyone who was paying attention to UM in the fall will know, I plunged deeply into the world of horror for most of September and October. By the time I finished up the epic undertaking of It’s All Connected 2020, I took a break from watching a lot of horror movies throughout most of November, but kept on making my way through my daunting To Read boxes. To that end, I pulled out an old paperback I scored from the library’s free table several years ago as well as the next Paperbacks From Hell reprint from my favorite publisher Valancourt!
How do you go through a particular artist’s work when you want to absorb it all? I take a variety of paths, sometimes trying to go through the efforts chronologically, other times by theme or subject. With Stephen King’s books, I’m a bit more willy nilly! I’ve read a good number so far and have purchased even more, so I often find myself staring into my horror To-Read box wondering which King to tackle next. Though I still have his latest, If It Bleeds, to devour, I decided to dip into the box and chose 2001’s Dreamcatcher for two reasons: one, it’s long and two, I heard it wasn’t very good. Luckily, I was wrong about one of those things!
Immediately after finding my way to the excellent Valancourt Books while reading Paperbacks From Hell, I became enamored with the publisher and their PFH label. I’d missed the first ten entries (though I’m going back and picking them up as I make my way through the series), but I didn’t want to miss out on future installments, so I jumped at the chance to pre-order the next one they announced: the 1988 horror-sci-fi-action-thriller Stage Fright by Garrett Boattman. I mean, just look at that cover!
As I mentioned when I wrote aboutPaperbacks From Hell and The Nest, my latest obsession is paperback horror from the 70s, 80s and 90s. After reading the former book and getting the reprint of the latter from the fantastic Valancourt Books, I made my way over to ThriftBooks armed with the list of titles I wanted to check out from PFH and ordered about a half dozen novels. Honestly, I couldn’t remember what most of them were about or what about the initial writing made me want to check them out, but I figured I could trust myself. With a stack of books featuring titles like The Glow, Heads and Obelisk, I found myself initially drawn to T.M. Wright’s 1984 book A Manhattan Ghost Story. It was a great choice, I must say!
Several months back one new podcast I’ve been listening to — How Did This Get Played — lead me to another new one: Teen Creeps! Hosts Kelly Nugent and Lindsay Katai spotlight young adult scare fair from the 70s, 80s and 90severy week, often with a guest. This instantly perked my ears because I actually had a similar idea for a podcast a while back. In fact, I may have even dabbled with calling it Won’t Somebody PLEASE Think Of The Children which I eventually turned into a not-so-reoccurring feature here on the ol’ blog.
I read a few Goosebumps in my youth, but was far more drawn to R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books, but even more so to Christopher Pike’s offerings. I can’t say how many I read or how far I got into the genre, but it’s been a lot of fun listening to Katai and Nugent explore that territory on the podcast. At some point in the back catalog — I’ve been going through every episode from the first one — someone mentioned a book called Secrets Of The Shopping Mall by Richard Peck, noting that it was about kids in a mall at night and something creepy living in there too. I immediately requested a copy from the library and read it in about three sittings after Thanksgiving!
Last year I decided that, even though I don’t mind buying books second hand, I’d like to get Stephen King’s latest as they come out. As it happened, he released not one, but two books in 2018, the incredibly creepy The Outsider and the fairy tale-esque Elevation. This year, The Institute came out and I was so excited to dive in, though it took me a while to get through it (what else is new?).
I keep a checklist on my phone of all the Stephen King books out there that I use to keep track of which ones I own, in what format and whether I’ve read them or not. Dude’s got so many offerings that it’s hard to keep everything in my head and I’m not a big fan of buying the same book more than once, even at flea market or yard sale prices!
After writing about the four King books I read in 2018 and looking at my list, I realized that I’ve actually read more of his most recent dozen books than his first dozen. I dig this fact because it means I still have plenty of his works to read, but also it reminds me that he’s still spinning yarns that I can’t wait to get my hands on and tear through.
Alright folks, we’re hitting the home stretch here with the last post about books I read in 2018. Hopefully, I’ll keep up on writing about the novels and non-fiction works as I read them, so these year-enders (or beginners at this point) don’t become so unwieldy, but we’ll see about that. Check out parts one and two here and here then hit the jump for the last entry.
Do you ever get really excited about a deep dive, go full-boat into it and then wash out? Well, that’s kind of what happened last year when I found myself minorly obsessed with Hannibal Lecter and his exploits throughout television, film and, of course, the written word. I started watching the series, which made me read the books, while still watching the show (a very unique and interesting experience) and then the movies, but I petered out after seeing my third take on the Red Dragon story. But, I still wanted to get these thoughts out there, so here’s most of the original post I started sometime last spring.
For years, I’d been hearing great things about NBC’s three season-long series Hannibal based on Thomas Harris’ character made most famous in The Silence Of The Lambs. It ran from 2013-2015 with Mads Mikkleson starring as the title character and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, a pure empath who FBI Behavioral Sciences head Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) brought back in from his teaching gig in an effort to help catch a serial killer. I decided to dive right into the series thanks to its presence on Amazon Prime Video and now have a new favorite show! Continue reading The Great Hannibal Lecter Deep Dive