I’d been feeling like my life had developed a large void where fictional books ought to be. I read a fair amount, but mostly I gravitate towards memoirs, humor, books about writing, and Christian non-fiction. And then suddenly, I needed to read fiction. What probably happened was that my brain knew it was turning to mush because I’d spent several days watching several seasons of Friends, and my brain decided it needed to tell me to read something as a last ditch effort to save itself before it turned to goo and oozed out of my ears.
I wanted a good story I could just lose myself in – a page turner – nothing that required a degree in philosophy to fully enjoy, but nothing so vacuous and formulaic as Nicholas Sparks either. So I turned to my facebook friends for advice, and here’s what I’ll be reading this year:
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- Rescue by Anita Shreve
- Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream both by Francine Rivers
- Into the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French
- Silent in the Grave by Deanna Rayborn
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- The Magicians by Les Grossman
- Monster by A Lee Martinez
- His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
- My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams
- The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- The Confession by John Grisham
- Lush Life by Richard Price
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
I don’t know if I’ll actually get to them all, but I’ll try to give y’all a book report after each one. Starting now…
At the advice of another friend who did not chime in on the facebook discussion, I just read Phantoms by Dean Koontz. Now. I asked him specifically if it was a book girls would like, and he said he didn’t see why not. What I should have asked was, “Will girls who are reading it alone late at night in a quiet house like it?” But he probably wouldn’t have seen a problem with that either.
Y’all. That mess freaked. Me. Out. It’s not even that the writing is all that good. It’s long-winded, he repeats details unnecessarily, homeboy’s editor seriously should have removed half the profanity (he actually probably did, and what was left was quite minimal in comparison to the original manuscript, which is frankly scarier than the plot itself), the characters’ names stole the spotlight from the action, he used the word “said” almost every time someone said something (answered, replied, stated, exclaimed, queried, asked, wondered aloud, whispered, breathed, shouted – just a random sample of alternatives), and don’t get me started on his flagrant overuse of adverbs.
However, when you’re reading a plot like that in a dark, silent house alone, it doesn’t matter that the writing isn’t perfect. All that matters is that you don’t want “it” to get you like it got everyone in Snowfield.
I got into it. So help me I got really, really into it. Then Whitney got into it too.
I was telling her about it as I was getting ready to go to bed on Saturday night, and she agreed that it was not a good suggestion for me to read. But then on Sunday afternoon, somehow we started reading it aloud to each other, and before we knew it, we’d read nearly 200 pages. I won’t lie. It was better than TV. You might feel silly at first, but seriously, try it. If you have a spouse or friend or roommate who’s willing to read with you, go for it.
In our case, reading aloud made the monster less scary, I think because we weren’t left alone with our imaginations. But it was really fun to get into the story together. Also, there were several parts where, alone, we might have just glossed over the wording, but when we read it out loud, we could hear just how ridiculous it sounded. This provided us with some levity as well as a great deal of entertainment.
All in all, on a scale of one to five, I’d give Phantoms by Dean Koontz two stars for holding my attention from start to finish, keeping me guessing until the end, and freaking me the cuss out. **