The most disturbing book I’ve read this year…so far

Hello fellow readers. Today I wanted to discuss a book that really disturbed me. I am still gathering my thoughts and I am unsure as to whether I liked or hated this book. The book in question is… the Dumb House by John Burnside.

A brief synopsis:

Young Luke is fascinated with the secrets of the human soul and how it relates to human language. He becomes obsessed with a story his mother told him as a child about the Dumb House, a palace where children were raised in complete seclusion and never hearing human speech. He decided to conduct his own experiment with children and creates his own version of the Dumb House.

My thoughts:

The book is told from Luke’s perspective and I have to say that it was very disturbing to be inside the mind of a psychopath. The book opens where it eventually ends and we go back into Luke’s childhood and his relationship with his parents. From the onset it is very apparent that his family environment is unhealthy. Without over analyzing, I saw that he was governed completely by his mother who haunts the rest of the story. His relationship with his father is almost nonexistent. As he grows older, his twisted tendencies go unchecked (you might even say that they were encouraged) and he takes it upon himself to begin experimenting on animals seeking answers about life and the question of where soul comes into play. His later relationships with other characters are twisted and when he performs his biggest “experiment” I was appalled.

As a human and especially as a mother I was completely disgusted and uncomfortable throughout the whole book. I found certain parts very difficult to read.

The writing was excellent. The sentence structure and language were well done and narrating the book from Luke’s thoughts were a great way to present such disturbing content. I was inside his mind the entire time and I was uncomfortable even while I kept reading. Beginning the book at the end and then working from his childhood to the end was probably the best way this story could have been told. While I would consider it a psychological thriller, it is not the quickest paced book out there. Nevertheless, even with the disturbing content and relatively slow pace, I found myself turning pages wanting to know what happened next and hoping it wouldn’t get any worse. It did.

All in all I found it to be disturbingly interesting though I probably won’t read this again. This is not a book I’d recommend to everyone but if you are looking for something disturbing to read that isn’t as gory as some other more horror type books than this might be worth your time (though I’d recommend checking out my warning below).

Warning ⚠️

This books contains elements of child abuse, possible child molestation, rape, exploiting of mental illness, and cruelty to animals.

If you’ve read this book please tell me what you thought. I’m still gathering my thoughts and can’t tell how I’d rate it but I’d love to discuss with someone.

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Creepy (but not too creepy) books for fall…the classics

Greetings fellow readers! I am beyond excited we recently said goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Even though I typically veer towards gothic reads, I am still a mood reader but fall always tends to put me in an even more gothic mood than usual so I find myself reading a lot of more melancholy books this time of year. So today I thought I’d discuss some books that are creepy enough for this time of year but are considered classic literature.  Being the fan of Gothic fiction that I am, this is right up my alley and I had a lot of fun coming up with classic titles that embody the eery atmosphere that we all like to come across in books during this time of year.

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker

I love the format of this book and it remains one of my favorite books of all time.

2. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Melancholy and full of suspense. The setting and the suspense make this story a great fall read.

3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I have a love/hate relationship with this one. Dr. Frankenstein is a character I want to reach through the pages and shake some sense into but it is fascinating and has very creepy parts.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Another all time favorite. Typical gothic fiction complete with mansion, brooding man and young female heroine.

5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The book that kindled my love for Agatha Christie and scared the pants off 13 year old me.

6. 1984 by George Orwell

The paranoia in this book makes it terrifying. Definitely enjoyed this.

7. In a Closed Room by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Nothing at all like her other works (which I love). This one has ghosts and children. Spooky and sad.

8. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe

I am still reading this one but definitely worthy of being on this list.

9. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

You can’t get much more gothic and suspenseful than this book. A worthy classic that I loved.

10. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell

I am currently reading and enjoying so far. This is a collection of shorter stories that are all creepy in a different way.

So that’s it. I decided to keep this shorter because I could have kept going on and on. If you have any creepy classics you think I should try please recommend them to me!

Gothic Book Tag

Greetings, all! While I will read a little of everything, my love has always been Gothic Fiction (and fantasy).  For years I devoured gothic type books without even realizing there was a Gothic sub genre beneath the all encompassing “fiction” genre.  I’ve always been drawn to brooding and moody period pieces (Probably the reason Dracula and Jane Eyre are two of my favorite books of all time) As a teenager I read Agatha Christie and read and reread every book Victoria Holt ever wrote under that pen name (her gothic historical fiction pen name) When I noticed a lot of recent activity in the Classics Club (games and tags) I was excited and when I came across the Gothic Book tag, naturally I was over the moon. So without further ado, here is the Gothic Book Tag:

1. Which classic book has scared you the most? 

This is hard because two books immediately come to mind.  In 1984, Orwell masterfully set the scene with intense paranoia and it really stuck with me. In And Then There Were None, there was a growing sense of dread that really affected me as a 13 year old reading it for the first time and I’m just as spooked every time I reread it.

2. Scariest moment in a book?

Again, I have two.  The final scene in And Then There Were None with Vera and the moment when the Martians start using their tripod looking machines in War of the Worlds.

3. Classic villain that you love to hate?

Dr. Frankenstein.  It is unclear whether he is the protagonist or the villain but I really feel that he brought all of the trouble on himself and I was so angry at him every time he interacted with his creature.

4. Creepiest setting in a book? 

It’s hard to beat Hell from Dante’s Inferno.  There are some really terrible images. There is also the lonely island in And Then There Were None.  The Jamaica Inn was definitely creepy and so was the castle in Dracula.

5. Best scary cover ever?

I used to own an illustrated copy of The Inferno that had a painting of people being tormented in hell but alas, I misplaced it years ago.

6. Book you’re too scared to read?

Might not be a “classic” but the book It by Stephen King is a little above my scary threshold. Plus I tend to like moodier stories as opposed to gory, violent books.

7. Spookiest creature in a book?

I find the tripod things in War of the Worlds extremely spooky.

8. Classic book that haunts you to this day?

Frankenstein because I’m still bitter about the way he behaved towards his creation.

9. Favourite cliffhanger or unexpected twist?

The whodunit in, yes you guessed it, And Then There Were None.

10. Classic book you really, really disliked?

I mildly disliked Villette but mainly because of the ending.  I also disliked My Cousin Rachel.

11. Character death that disturbed/upset you the most?

Dr. Frankenstein’s wife and family

12. List your top 5 Gothic/scary/horror classic reads.

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt

13. Share your scariest/creepiest quote, poem or meme.

I’m going to cheat here and say the entire Tell Tale Heart.

I had a ton of fun answering these questions.  I realize Gothic fic isn’t for everyone but there’s something about it I just love.  I hope you enjoyed this post and if you aren’t a member already I hope you go check out The Classics Club.

You can find my Classics List here.

Tolkien Blog Party 2018

As if I needed an excuse to have a celebratory second breakfast this morning, today is the birthday of the Shire’s two most famous hobbits.  I mean, when two of your favorite characters in all of literature have a birthday on the SAME DAY, it would just be rude and disrespectful to refuse second breakfast.

But second breakfasts aside, I was reading the comments on a post in the Classics Club blog and came across Hamlette.  When she mentioned that she would be hosting her 6th annual Tolkien Blog Party from September 22-29, I knew I had to participate.  She will have posts running all week and she created this tag as a way for the rest of us to participate. So without further ado, here’s a Tolkien tag!

Tolkien Tag 2018

1.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth story/book?  My favorite has to be the Fellowship of the Ring.  There is so much going on and I love every freaking page.

2.  Do you have a favorite subplot?
I absolutely love the Tom Bombadil scenes and the Ent scenes. (I also adore how the friendship between Legolas and Gimli progresses)

3.  What’s your favorite theme in Tolkien’s books?  (Can be in one specific story, or overall.)
I love the element of friendship and solidarity.  Everyone plays a part and they work together to defeat evil.

4.  Do you have a favorite weapon from Middle-earth?
I wouldn’t mind having Sting the next time I get tossed into a group of Orcs.

5.  Would you like to be a hobbit?
I think I have been living as a hobbit for my entire life.

6.  Do you have a favorite romance/couple?
I’m a fan of the Aragorn/Arwen romance, but I really hope Treebeard finds his lady Ent.

7.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth creature?  (Can be “real” or “imaginary.”)
Ents! With Elves as a close second.

8.  What character do you look the most like?
Well, I’m short with brown hair and I enjoy the above mentioned second breakfast, so I’ll have to go with any of the hobbits.

9.  Are there any books about Middle-earth or Professor Tolkien (but not written by him) you recommend?
I have this awesome illustrated Guide to Tolkien by David Day that I would recommend.

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the Middle-earth books and/or movies. 

“It’s the job that’s never started as takes the longest to finish” -Sam

“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised” -Aragorn

I am so excited to get to participate in Bilbo and Frodo’s Blog party.  I have been a fan of Tolkien for years now and I never get tired of rereading the books or talking about the books.

If you are a Tolkien fan, I would recommend checking out Hamlette’s blog party!

Tolkien Party Hobbit Hole 2018

War of the Worlds: My thoughts

I have been wanting to read this book for so long, but after I read The Time Machine, I found that I wasn’t really eager to pick it up anymore.  I put this book on both my Classics Club Challenge list and my Back to the Classics list and finally picked it up last month when I was trying to recover from a book hangover. I wasn’t sure if I’d finish it as I was a bit bored by The Time Machine, but I needn’t have worried because this book sucked me right in.

war of the worlds

 

A brief synopsis:

It is the end of the 19th century and a series of explosions on Mars is seen from an observatory in England.  Scientists are intrigued, but shortly after this, what appears to be a meteor lands in England.  The meteor turns out to be a landing pod which contains Martians.  Several men approach, waving white flags to signify peace, but are quickly incinerated by a strange Martian weapon.  What follows is utter chaos as the Martians begin their invasion of earth.

It wasn’t until the end of the book that I realized that the narrator was unnamed, but I found him to be a very likeable character. He never claims to be a hero and I was rooting for him the entire time. The narrator has a series of narrow escapes and I found it utterly freaking fascinating as he describes the breakdown of society and the mass panic that follows the invasion.

I tend to like books and the writing style from this era, but I think even those who aren’t very accustomed to this particular writing style will find it enjoyable in this book.  The story moves along pretty quickly and the writing is never an obstacle toward enjoying the book.  A Sci-fi book written in the 19th century might be expected to be a little “cheezy” (for lack of a better word) but I honestly found the book to be very suspenseful and no more “cheezy” or hard to swallow than any of the modern movie adaptations (In fact, I don’t think a single movie adaptation has done this book justice). This was definitely a page turner for me, but it also gave me a lot to think about when the narrator described society’s breakdown so clearly.

IMG_4360

Working in an industrial environment as I do, a cheap paperback edition was perfect for reading on breaks.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and I think this book would be a perfect choice for someone who wants to read more classic literature but is intimidated by massive tomes of literature written in archaic language.  5/5 stars for me.

Thanks for joining me today! Happy reading!

 

Utopia: My thoughts

Hello again 🙂 Being a fan of cartography and travel memoirs, an amateur history buff, and an almost graduated history major who has a special fondness for Tudor history, I have long been fascinated by Sir Thomas More. So naturally Utopia is a work I have wanted to read for ages. I had been intimidated in the past and until recently only had an ebook version. When I finally discovered the benefits and pleasure of annotating books (my own copies of course) I finally realized I was capable of tackling books that had intimidated me in the past. Fortunately I found this very inexpensive copy on book depository for around 5$ last month and was very excited to dive in- which I did over the last four days. For such a famous work, I am surprised that I had no idea how short it was (my copy was only 85 pages long) but nevertheless I took my time with it and took about 4 days reading, annotating, reflecting, and taking notes.

A brief synopsis:

This book, written by Sir Thomas More in the early 16th century, describes a fictional Kingdom. A perfect society where everyone works and has useful occupation, and in which nobody goes without the basic necessities.

My thoughts:

This book was pretty darn fascinating.  One of the things that drew me in from the first was the fact that most of the main characters were real historical figures.  Thomas More himself is in the book and narrates the entire thing. And from the very first sentence, in which More mentions Henry VIII in very flowery and flattering terms I was fascinated.  It could also be owing to the fact that I know that More would be executed by Henry VIII years later, while he doesn’t.  And while I do not know if it was his intention, I think that by using real people as characters, he turned it from something that was purely fictional into something that could be related to. The book is essentially just a long discussion between these men.  Given the topic and the book’s criticism of contemporary societies, I think this was an incredibly daring thing to do.  But by his choice of companions (all reputed to be good, learned men) and by setting himself up to criticize and be skeptical of all that is told to him by his friend Ralph, he manages to bring these ideas to his intended audience without seeming like the bad guy who’s got a grudge against society.  It also did not escape me that Ralph, who is the one describing all of these radical ideas, is a fictional character while More and the others are not.

Another thing that struck me early in the book was something that is actually very trivial, though to me as lover of history and cartography it was very interesting. This was a mention of visiting countries below the equator. Now I know that many of the ancients were aware that the earth was round and that in the Tudor period they were aware of this as well, but the idea of the equator just seemed like such a new concept to me that I got on a tangent looking into some medieval maps and reading up on the equator itself. I found some very interesting things. For one, I had no idea that in the early medieval period, the belief that people could live beyond the equator was considered a heretical belief by the Catholic Church. In fact many maps of the time depict the equator as a ring of fire. This idea was still prevalent when Columbus set sail. And that was not so long before this book was published. And while this may not have any bearing on the book itself, I found it fascinating and decided to share it here because nobody in my house was excited to hear my ramblings 🙂

To say that this book is important would be a gross understatement. It has influenced many writers and thinkers for the past 500 years. The ideas presented in this book were radical to say the least and this book had my rapt attention throughout (if you don’t count the times I got sidetracked looking things up)

I’d gladly give it 5/5 stars and I highly recommend picking up this interesting piece of history.

Thanks for joining me while I rambled on about this.

Back to the Classics 2018

Hello again!  I am back today with another glorious reading challenge.  I came across this challenge while I was getting a Russian book recommendation at I read that in a book’s post.

The Challenge is a Classics challenge created by Karen K at Books and Chocolate that contains 12 categories.  The idea is to read from 6, 9, or all 12 categories. I am not a person who signs up for any and every reading challenge I come across and this one actually coincides nicely with my 5 year Classics Club Challenge.  Since most of the books I read for Back to the Classics 2018 challenge will count towards my 5 year Classics Club challenge as well, I thought it would be fun to participate.  Also, since the Back to the Classics challenge is broken down into categories, it will be a nice way to narrow down which books I will read towards my Classics Club Challenge since that one is extremely flexible.

So without further ado, here are the categories and some of my possible choices for each.

A 19th century Classic: Villette by Charlotte Bronte

A 20th century Classic: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

A classic by a woman author: The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Classic in Translation: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes or The Tale of Genji by Lady Muraski

A Children’s Classic: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery or The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Classic Crime Story: Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie

A Classic Travel Narrative: The Travels of Marco Polo

A Classic with single word title: Persuasion by Jane Austen or Utopia by Sir Thomas More

A Classic with a color in the title: The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

A classic by an author who is new to you: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

A classic that scares you: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

A favorite reread: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen or Dracula by Bram Stoker

While my selections are not set in stone, there’s a strong possibility I will be reading these. All of them with the exception of The Travels of Marco Polo and Appointment With Death (though the Travels of Marco Polo will be one of the nonfiction books I wanted to read and Appointment With Death will count towards Project Poirot) are also on my other list.

I feel fairly confident I will at least go through 9 of the categories and I am very excited to be participating.

Well thanks for joining me here and I apologize for my excessive use of the word “challenge”. Till next time here’s to happy reading!