books

10 Books to Read in the Dark

flashlight bookAnyone who knows me well knows that I have a nightly routine for winding down, at least on weeknights. At 9:00pm, my daughter is put to bed and kissed goodnight. Following that, if I’m not in pajamas, I quickly change into them, take my nightly medication, then curl up in bed with a book and read until I feel my eyes get heavy. This usually takes about an hour or so. If my husband falls asleep before then, so much for the better because that’s when I turn off the light on my nightstand and pop open my booklight or dim my Kindle.

I love to read in the dark. I find when I do that my senses are heightened, and since I’m focusing them all on whatever I’m reading, that makes the experience so much more exhilarating and informative. My Kindle Fire was bought for backlight purposes and organizing my e-books and other online reads in a more convenient fashion, leaving my first generation Kindle waiting for a new owner (perhaps my mother, but I haven’t decided yet). I have invested good money in ordering good booklights that light my pages well, but won’t blind me or my sleeping husband, have good battery life, and are durable during travel. For those who are interested, I highly recommend this one right here, which you can get a great deal on with Amazon. Durable, affordable, and they are available via Prime, so they get to you quickly. But I digress…

I have read a number of books in the dark to this heightened experience. Today I present to you my ten choices for books that are awesome to read in the dark. Get your “Books To Read” list and flashlights ready boys and girls! Here they are in no particular ranking or order.

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Traits: young adult, science fiction, dystopia

After Mad Max: Fury Road took home six Oscars for multiple effects having to do with creating the atmosphere of the film, there’s a lot that can be said for the dystopian genre. Yes, there are a number of movies and books (one I’ve written myself) having to do with this theme, but I believe Collins’ interpretation of the post-apocalyptic American landscape is one that feels all too real. Each time the main character of Katniss finds herself in a period of silence and deep thought, the air around me becomes a deeper shade of black as I feel her sense of foreboding. Emotion and energy can run wild with these ones. Don’t jump if your cat suddenly nuzzles you like I did.

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Traits: classic, mystery

Master detective Sherlock Holmes is the end all king of mystery and to not read one of his adventures in the dark is a sin. A sin I tell you! When you’re in the dark, you can almost feel the London fog and rain closing in around you and the scent of pipe tobacco is in the air. I personally recommend any one of the stories with the exception of “The Final Problem.” That one always leaves me a little too blue at the end. No spoilers here, but grab a tissue and don’t lose hope.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Traits: fiction, triller, religious and history based

I know there may be some readers who think The Da Vinci Code is the reigning Dan Brown novel, but hear me out here. Do not base Angels & Demons on the horrific movie that came out a few years back. Even Ewan McGregor in a cassock couldn’t save that one. Again, I digress. As you are reading this particular novel in the dark, you begin to latch on to the themes of fire, earth, air, and water far more dramatically than if you were reading this on a park bench in the sun. The ideas of drowning or being buried alive freak you out now? Try thinking those thoughts when you can’t see much passed your booklight’s reach. Your senses get much more heightened when it comes to your own mortality.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Traits: non-fiction, crime, medical science based

This book takes a look at the scariest creation on this earth, the human brain, and dissects it by exploring the question of, “What just makes someone mentally insane?” Written by author Jon Ronson, who also penned the fabulous The Men Who Stare at Goats, this read is not without humor on what can be a dark topic. The dark will actually have you analyzing yourself and wondering if you are as stable as you think you are. Don’t worry. As Ronson points out, if you question your stability, you’re probably good. Those who are unstable never question it. But it’s still fun to let the dark mess with your psychiatric state of mind a bit.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Traits: fiction, current events, forgiveness, adolescence

Among the newest of my favorite reads, The Kite Runner brings to light a side of Afghanistan that many do not realize exist. One that once very much like our own in America. Families dined together, children grew together, and celebrated their spiritual beliefs just the same. The dark themes of this novel have more to do with regrets and forgiveness than the physical darkness of the world around us. Reading this one by flashlight will make you feel that emotion even more. You may want a couple tissues nearby as well. I will warn you that there are some heavy themes throughout the story (including rape and torture), but you will feel light by the end. This is one of those books that lifted me and enlightened me in many ways while suffering the regular dose of hate in today’s world.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

Traits: youth/young adult, fantasy, easy read

These books are among my favorites and easily set a theme for my high school years. Plus they are great reads for any age as well. While following the adventures of young princess Cimorene, these stories like to mix themselves up with bits of fractured fairy tales that make being in the dark and knowing you are under the moon and stars more fun! Dragons, witches, magicians, and wizards all play a part in this four book series of epic adventures. These are great books to read with kiddos while out on a summer camping trip. Just sayin’.

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

Traits: young adult, fiction, fantasy, adolescence

Many of us out there have read the Harry Potter books time and time again. But have you ever read them in the dark? If you haven’t, I recommend you do so. Grab your flashlight, chant “Lumos!” as you tuck in, and see how much darker the series gets as you read scenes in the brooding hallways of the North Tower or the Shrieking Shack with nothing but air around you. You’ll wish for a butterbeer after you put down the later books (or a firewhiskey!) Nox!

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells

Traits: sci-fi/fantasy, horror, regency tale

This is the first book I ever remember reading in the dark and since then, it’s the only way I’ll read it. While this novel is not as well known (imagine how excited I was when I met someone who loved it as much as I), it remains one of my favorite horror stories of all time. Sorry Mr. King. But I still get chills when the main character Nic leaves a house of death and whispers, “This is vivisection.” The darkness around you seems to close in as you realize something not human with no physical shape is following the main characters and you wonder if maybe, just maybe, it’s not all fiction after all. Also note that this is the first novel that kept me up reading until 3:00am in high school. Apologies to my mother for that.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Traits: non-fiction, science, psychology

A book like this usually isn’t in my normal repertoire, but in recent years I’ve been coming to terms with being an introvert, with anxiety no less. My library of employment had recently acquired this read and after looking over the details on the cover, I decided that this bit of literature would be in my best interests with learning to deal with myself in certain situations. Why is this book fantastic in the dark? The tranquil of the air around you helps you focus on the information about introverts and how that quiet and calm becomes their alpha and omega in their being. This is a read that even extroverts may find informative and great for a night in when everyone else is off doing their own thing.

The Know-It-All by AJ Jacobs

Traits: memoir, non-fiction, self-improvement

Those who are familiar with the work of AJ Jacobs have come to know him as a human guinea pig. He likes to use himself as the subject of experiments and see how they improve his life (or the opposite). In his first book, he attempts to read the Encyclopedia Britannica (now out of print in hardcopy, boo) in a year. He does this in order to make himself the smartest man on earth! While he talks about this, he chronicles how he and his wife attempt to conceive their first child and how it (as well as the encyclopedia reading) takes a toll on their marriage. Why read this in the dark? Personally, I think it makes you feel closer to Jacobs as a human being. We all hope to better ourselves in our own ways, and if you’re like me, you think about this a lot when you’re falling asleep for the night. So he becomes very relatable. He is a humorist, editor at large for Esquire magazine, and above all, human. His situations are sometimes not that different from any other one of us, try as he might.

I know this list may seem all over the place and some aren’t what you would consider “nighttime” reading, but we all have our different tastes when it comes to books. Some of us hate scary stories, but we could always get behind a book that can thrill us. Some of us like lighter reads before bed, while others do not take to fiction well. This is why I included the little section on traits to give you an idea on what you are getting into with each read.  Choose wisely and enjoy. Regardless, I recommend each and every one of these books in the dark!

Happy reading my friends!

The Giveaway is Open!

book_giveaway

Hey gang! The giveaway for Lore: the Legend of River by yours truly! is now open on GoodReads! So far 70 people have signed up to win one of three signed copies, but be sure to register on the website and enter for your chance to win! Click on the link RIGHT HERE and scroll down to click on the “Enter Giveaway” button. Entry and shipping is completely free. Enjoy and good luck!

PS 25 people have listed Lore as To Read on their GoodReads account and I have received my first rating…5 STARS! I’m really happy people are enjoying it and I can’t wait to share it with even more people. Please feel free to write a review for me. If you have some criticisms, I can take it. What matters to me is that I’m getting people reading.

It’s Giveaway Time!

goodreads

Want a free, autographed copy of Lore: the Legend of River by yours truly? Then starting Saturday, February 20th, head on over to Goodreads.com and enter the giveaway! From February 20th to Leap Day, you can enter to win one of three copies of the novel for your home library.

As soon as the giveaway link goes live, I will post it here for all of you readers!

Thanks once again for your support and good luck!

Giveaway winners are chosen at random by Goodreads. Those who enter will not be contacted by me or Goodreads unless you are a winner.

Day 3: Dystopia – The Hunger Games & Lore Study

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but somewhere down the line humanity has become obsessed with the end of the world. Sure, you can say that it has to do with religious scripture, but I’m talking more of what people expect the end of the world (and after) to be like. For quite some time, this topic has found its way into pop culture, both past and present.  Mel Gibson is memorable as Mad Max. That franchise is getting a revival with

A Springfield newscast of the encompassing dome...
A Springfield newscast of the encompassing dome…

Tom Hardy with an expected 2015 release date. The Simpsons Movie poked fun at the concept as the town of Springfield was forced to fend for themselves under the prison of a glass dome. ThenArmageddon and Deep Impactbrought to light the impending doom one would feel knowing that the earth could be destroyed and there would be very little human kind could do to change that. It could be a very scary concept to think about.

Then we come to what we read. The genre of dystopia has greatly presented itself in Young Adult literature since the new millennium began. With the popularity of books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth, readers going through adolescence can be gaining a very bleak outlook on society as a whole nowadays. Some can argue, however, that this is just a good dose of reality for a growing child. True. In the last fifteen years the world has had to deal with Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami, earthquakes in Japan, the Ebola outbreak in Africa, and lest any American forget the attacks on 9/11. As they were such huge world events, it’s hard to hide that knowledge from children. Then there’s dealing with school, homework, and growing up wondering whom of your friends you can trust. Thanks for that Mean Girls. With so much on their shoulders, why would a young adult reach for a book with such dramatic issues such as the end of the world?

Because for a lot of them at this stage, reading is about escape! It’s about adventure! It’s about being someone that isn’t you! Think back to who you were as a child. Now try to tell someone with a straight face that you never played “dress up” and pretended to be a princess or a super hero, or that the playground equipment wasn’t your fort while your friends tried to climb on during a game of tag.

With dystopia working its way into the general reading repertoire, Lore was my way of adding to the concept. I decided to be someplace and someone I wasn’t! I have a big difference in view from the typical genre, however. While many view dystopia as being ruled by technology and government, I took it in the complete opposite direction. WithLore, I took the human race on a path leading back to simplicity, nature, and spiritualism. Now for the record, when I say spiritualism, I do not mean any specific religion or set of beliefs. Anything I put in the book I made up from my imagination and do not expect anyone to follow as creed. Just as Dan Brown said of his work The DaVinci Code, this is purely a work of fiction.

That being said, there are some similarities I have come to realize when it comes to the dystopian genre and Lore: the Legend of River. For the sake of argument, I am going to use The Hunger Games as my counter example as many people have become familiar with the novels and films.

FAIR WARNING FOR NEW FANS OF BOTH THE HUNGER GAMES AND LORE:

SPOILER ALERT!

Jennifer Lawrence at Katniss Everdeen
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
  • Issues with trust: In a dystopian world, it seems that loyalties can be questioned daily and no one knows who is on their side or who can keep their secrets. One sees this from the start with Katniss Everdeen even before she enters the arena in The Hunger Games. She questions who is there for their own amusement, who is trying to save her life in the arena, and who wants to kill her themselves. InLore, Cattaran must deal with the fact that the sprite, Dervish, does not trust him simply because he is a human being. She contemplates the murder of his character.
  • Abuses of power: Often with this genre, there are leaders with too much power who do not know how to use it properly. As a result, it is abused. Collins creates a tyrant out of President Snow that is worthy of Adolf Hitler. He reaps children from their parents, placing them in battle to the death against each other, only to call it “keeping the peace.” Then there is LaXiva, who disconnects himself from the commune of gods, only to use humans as a weapon in order to attempt to gain ultimate power over the earth.
  • Standing up to terror results in suffering: There are those in the genre who question the authority of those in power. However, when that happens, there are consequences. Katniss’ friend Gale is whipped in the town square as he tries to
    My first drawing of my main character, Cattaran
    My first drawing of my main character, Cattaran

    protect innocent bystanders from rebel soldiers. When Cattaran tells LaXiva he will not betray River, LaXiva swears he will die and attempts to torture and murder him on more than one occasion.

  • Madness as a result of the social situations: With the stress and anguish associated with a dystopia, it is only natural that some psychological abuse will result. Wiress, who is seen as a genius in the nation of Panem, is reduced to muddled, raved answers when placed in the arena multiple times. Ickus, a god who had spent a century in the center of the earth, waiting for the other gods to find him, used music to calm his nerves. Even centuries after his release, the music is used as a therapy and earns him the moniker “The Mad and Wild Piper.”
  • Death is inevitable: With lack of trust, abuse of power, the use of force, and psychological warfare all being part of the dystopian genre, it is only natural that death is a natural consequence. This is a result for multiple characters in both The Hunger Games and Lore: the Legend of River.

To speak of dystopia and the genre it presents in writing is a bleak subject. However, a lot can be learned from it if it is examined in the correct way. Some scoff at it for being too violent, while others, many of which are children, take away lessons that they use as they grow older, besides being a form of escape and entertainment. By reading such stories and associating them with real life events, yes, kids can learn that the world can be a very cruel place. But by making associations with characters such as Katniss and Cattaran, they can also learn that there is good in the world and they can lead by example. Fred Rogers had a wonderful quote from his show long ago.  It went, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” If there’s anything that can be taken away from the dystopian genre, let us hope it is sentiments like this.