Top Ten Books to Read for Halloween

Top 10 Tuesday Halloween

***Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!

I’ve linked everything to Goodreads, so just click if you’re interested!

Harry Potter pumpkin

1. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

I don’t think this even needs explaining. Witches and wizards and dark forests and castles and pumpkin juice sort of embody Halloween. Plus, is there ever a bad time to read Harry Potter?

2. The Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esmé Raji Codell

I’ve loved this book since I was young. It integrates fairytales like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but mainly it’s just this really cute story about a young witch figuring out where she fits in, and in the meantime, there’s some hilarity and chaos.

3. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

It’s a musical AND a book, aka my two favorite things. I actually read this book over the weekend because I saw it in the bookstore and had a “Yes! I need you!” moment. It’s sort of vaguely creepy but also lovely and mysterious and the narration makes it a very charming read.

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

To be honest, I didn’t like this book. For one, while I have a weak spot for beautiful writing, Shelley just goes on. And on. And on. And by the end of it I actually threw down the book and scowled for a good hour. But still. It’s a classic for a reason, so I’m sure there are plenty of people who would enjoy it, plus the scary/creepy factor is definitely there.

5. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I adored this book when I read it for the first time. I haven’t read it in years, but it’s still an old favorite. Kit, the main character, is a serious badass, and the whole Puritan background contrasts against that and highlights her fiery, exotic nature. It’s not really scary, but I still love it.

6. The Magic in Manhattan series by Sarah Mlynowski

This series is kind of awesome. Teenage witches are one of my favorite things, and I love all the fun and madness and coming-of-age hilarity.

7. Edgar Allan Poe

Poe needs no explanation. He’s friggin’ POE.

8. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman*

So I haven’t read this, but I adored the movie and I love the premise of little soon-to-be witches going to live with their eccentric aunts and growing up and living their weird lives.

9. Coraline by Neil Gaiman*

Who doesn’t love Coraline?

10. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Double, double, toil in trouble! I mean, witches and murder and prophecies are the stuff Halloween is made of, and it’s got a nice, dark vibe that’s not precisely spooky, but not exactly a walk through a field of daisies either.

Also, if you’re looking for something Halloween-y to watch, my personal favorites include Hocus Pocus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Bewitched, Harry Potter, The Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Phantom of the Opera, among many others.

If you have some good Halloween books/movies to suggest, I’d love to know about them! My bookcase hasn’t toppled over yet, so that means I still have room for more books! Let me know your favorites in the comments below.

See you Thursday!

*I haven’t actually read this (yet), but I’m still recommending it based on friends’ recommendations and what I know about the book.
Credits: Graphics courtesy of Obsidian Dawn.
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Stacking the Shelves #1

***Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.

Here I go, diving into these awesome memes! I’ve been buying wayyy too many books considering the amount of time I have to actually read them (which adds up to about .5 seconds per day), so I figured I should share them with the masses. Or rather, any poor unfortunate souls who happen upon my wee little blog.

And with that, here we go!

1. How to Read Literature Like A Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster

This is something I’m reading to help me with my senior project. I’m shadowing an English professor and if all goes well, my final product will be a completed syllabus and outline for a course on banned/controversial books.

2. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

I am so excited to write a review for this book. It’s basically a conversation between the author and Winnie the Pooh about Taoism and it’s so freaking adorable.

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3. The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles

This includes the three Greek tragedies “Antigone”, “Oedipus Rex”, and “Oedipus at Colonus”. I’ve read the first two for my lit class and enjoyed them, although Greek ideals amuse me.

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4. “Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay” by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry, and Diana Ossana

I didn’t know how much I needed this until I saw it on the shelf. I’m very intrigued by screenwriting, so maybe this will inspire me to give it the old college try.

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5. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This is for my lit class. I cannot believe I’m actually going to read an entire book about a giant bug. God help me. Although this brings up my favorite joke (which, to my knowledge, I came up with): What is it called when you are attracted to a bug? INSECTuous. (Please laugh. That was funny, admit it.)

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6. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

Women in history=my favorite thing ever. Especially when we’re talking about women who are traditionally overlooked by historians and society in general (aka, basically all women). I’m not sure just how well-researched this book is, but the title is enough for me to want to read it.

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7. Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “I Heart Jane Austen” and I basically worship her. She’s such a clever author and her books are just chick-flick enough to warm the cockles of my heart and just sad enough that I have to wipe away at least one tear per reading. So obviously I’m all over a book that equates to a big giant “Kudos to Jane!” banner.

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8. Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming A Literary Genius in 365 Days by Jane Mallison

I feel like I should know the classics. I mean, they’re classics for a reason you know? So I should at least give them a chance and try to understand why the literary has embraced them so fully. And a guide to finding those books never hurt anybody. ;)

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9. “Howl” and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg was pretty…interesting. I watched that movie with James Franco and I liked what I saw, and I hate reading poetry on the Internet (it feels like cheating) so I thought I’d go ahead and buy his stuff. Also, the little book is really thin and tiny and cool.

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10. Manhattan Transfer by Dos Passos

I bought this for my lit. class, didn’t read it, and there’s not really a need to read it anymore, so this is going on the Maybe Someday shelf. If anyone reading this post enjoyed this book, please comment below and tell me why you liked it. I’ve heard plenty of negatives about it, but not enough positives.

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11. Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl

Who doesn’t want a book of lists? As a self-diagnosed list-maniac, I drool over books like this.

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12. “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare

It was 20 cents! What was I supposed to do, leave it?

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13. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

I feel like your bookshelf isn’t complete without some R&J.

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14. “Henry V” by William Shakespeare

I dunno, it was cheap and I’ve always been mildly interested in it, so why not?

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15. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

Well we’re reading this in lit in the spring, so I thought I’d be a total nerd and read it now instead.

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16. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’m considering putting this on my fake syllabus for my senior project. I’m not that excited about reading it to be honest, but I’m going to try my best.

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17. “‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore” by John Ford

I’m actually really excited about reading this. It’s an early 17th century play about a brother and sister who fall in love (with each other, in case that wasn’t clear), and I’m just coming off a pretty serious “Borgias” kick, so I need something taboo and scandalous to keep me going. (I think incest is a thing now. It seems like it’s all over HBO. Which, if I’m honest, doesn’t bother me at all.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, and if you have any recent additions to your bookshelf, you can comment here or make your own Stacking the Shelves post!

Review of “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” by Chris Hedges

Genre: Nonfiction, philosophy, war

Synopsis: As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: “It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.”

Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary. (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: I’ve been on a nonfiction kick this summer, which is lucky for me as my summer reading for AP Lit this year consisted of war books, one of which was War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. I enjoyed this book, despite my original trepidation. It made me think about a lot of assumptions and beliefs instilled in me by American culture and it really opened my eyes to the truth and reality of war as opposed to the “myth of war” that Hedges describes. Knowing his background, I could ignore the slightly overdone language when needed, but the author has a very nice way with words for the most part, and I found myself tearing up at several points in the book.

It also, rather surprisingly, has affected my own novel. There is certainly violent conflict in some portions of the story, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to think about the psychological aspects that accompany war when it comes to my characters. War Is a Force gave me a clearer view of the realities of any violent situation and helped me cement in my mind how I will approach fighting and battle scenes in Star Kings. We’ve all been exposed to cultural icons such as LOTR, “Braveheart”, “300”, and “The Patriot”, to name a few, and it never occurred to me personally that there was any other way of portraying war. Chris Hedges, however, has made me consider more fully how I want this part of my story to go, and I have a feeling this awareness of the nature of war will be invaluable when it comes to writing those scenes.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend it? Absolutely.

To Be A Writer

So during the past week or so I’ve been having some trouble getting into gear on my draft, mostly due to my own lazy, procrastinating ways. I know I’m not the only one who does this, so I’m not exactly brokenhearted over my faults, but it does frustrate me that I always find excuses or ways to delay sitting down at my desk and trudging through the process when I feel like doing anything other than writing.

We all have those days, those weeks, those months, where things don’t go right, or we would rather go out with friends and see that movie, or we just plain don’t feel like it. And that’s fine. It happens. It’s okay. There is nothing wrong with losing your groove and falling off the writing wagon. There is nothing wrong with having chinks in your armor, in being afraid or unsure or disinterested in your project. And some people, myself included, often don’t realize that. No one is perfect, least of all a writer. By our very definition, we are made up of flaws and mistakes and our great love is to write about those flaws and mistakes and make them into a story. So it’s okay to have doubts or want to slack off.

It’s okay to even actually slack off once in a while, but when it happens, we need to remind ourselves of a few things.

1. Why we write.

2. What we love about our stories.

3. How we will feel when we finally have a completed manuscript in our hands.

I write because in writing, I find my confidence, and in writing I feel hope for tomorrow and the life ahead of me. I love my story’s characters, its rich setting, and the possibilities it holds. When (not if) I hold that completed manuscript, to be honest, I’ll probably be more brain-dead than anything else. But later, when I lay in bed at night or when I’m driving or eating breakfast, I’ll remember the journey of that manuscript and what it took to get the final product in my hands. That will be the proudest moment of my life.

I can’t wait for that day and I hope, I pray, I dream that I don’t forget a single second of what brought me there.