Bwahaha: I Do So Love a Challenge

For someone who can’t even read Agatha Christie after dark, I’m surprised to find how much I like Carl V.’s idea for autumn reading.  It’s pretty simple.  Choose five gothic, scary, look-over-your-shoulder, shiver-as-you read, books. Write about them as you finish them. Maybe I want to do this because I like the idea of seeing what scares other people. Surely, I am not the only faint-hearted blogger. My plan is to read my scary books outside, during the heat wave that is known as Indian Summer around here. (At night, I like a good magazine, preferably one with pictures of food.  Nice food, that is.  Not scary food, like sea urchin or very, very soft boiled eggs.)

Now, as you may know, I’ve got to finish my own mystery pretty soon here, so I can’t take on five entire books. But I’m thinking that five short stories might do the trick, especially since I want to read Ray Bradbury, who is such a fine writer, and from whom much inspiration can be taken.

So, that’s what I’m going to do, as soon as I can get over to BookMooch and find some Bradbury for the mooching. I’m thinking it’ll be The Martian Chronicles.  When the book comes, I’ll put together a preliminary list of five great Ray Bradbury stories.  Perhaps you already know which Bradbury stories are the classics — or there’s a short story that scared the dickens out of you.  (Could even be Dickens, eh?  Sorry.)  Do let me know, will you? I wouldn’t mind being frightened by more than one writer.


22 thoughts on “Bwahaha: I Do So Love a Challenge

  1. No kidding! I have no idea how so much reading gets done by people who don’t appear to be even breaking a sweat. (Not that I’d know, not being able to see all the litbloggers, but that’s just my guess from the wonderful posts that don’t seem in the slightest dashed off or hurried.)

  2. I’ve just borrowed a trillion books out of the library and only one of them looks remotely scary but I am going to bear this challenge in mind.

    The scariest book I’ve read was an Ian McEwan one. It wasn’t gothic but it was horrible. It traumatised me so much that I’ve blanked the title from my mind. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it but I know some people love Ian McEwan.

  3. So glad you’re joining in on this one, Bloglily! I’m very faint-hearted too about books in English (when they’re in French I can choose not to translate if I want to) but I’m going to give it a go. If you fancy trying something different, read one of Maupassant’s short stories. He’s most famous for La Horla, which is quite scary, but he also did a load of other chilling ghost stories, and I am sure they’re all available in translation. Otherwise, I’m reading some Sheridan Le Fanu stories in a collection called ‘Through a Glass Darkly’ which is such a wonderful title, I couldn’t possible not read it, if you see what I mean.

  4. Litlove has some great choices–Le Fanu has some very uneasy stories–the white cat story is really creepy. Bradbury’s scariest stories are in The October Country collection. “The Lake” is a little frightening, but mostly very sad, and a very good read. “The October Game” from another anthology, Long Past Midnight, has a gruesome Twilight Zone sort of twist. I devoured Bradbury when I was a kid. He seemed to have for me the right mix of scary and sentimental.

  5. Hi, BL!
    you probably know this one, but I remember Poe’s “The Black Cat” as the scariest and horrible short story I read in my childhood… I can’t think of anything really scary in my recent readings, I wonder if I’ve stayed away of horror books since then?… mmh, you gave me something to think about, thanks! 🙂

  6. Ohh, The Martian Chronicles is perfectly creepy – I might have to do some Bradbury rereading one of these days. I remember one particular story where everybody was living to be a million years old and the world ran out of food and everybody had to eat sea kelp – it was really scary. For straight-up scary stories you can’t beat, as so many people in this challenge are doing, The Turn of the Screw. I myself am not participating as I already PROMISED and SWORE I’d spend the fall working on all the books i bought in graduate school that i didn’t have time to read, before buying any more. Cant’ wait to read all about these books though and start on them myself eventually!

  7. I really enjoyed The Martian Chronicles. I read The October Country last year and loved it! It has some great stories – The Halloween Tree, The Homecoming, and the classic, The Jar. If you like The Homecoming, then you might want to follow up with From the Dust Returned, Bradbury’s novel based on that story. Not a Bradbury “classic” but a really fun, quirky novel is A Graveyard for Lunatics. The title says it all.

  8. Oh Helen, I’ll bet it’s Amsterdam (sorry if that resurrects some kind of trauma for you!) — it has this awful scene where the character who’s the self-absorbed musician watches, while hiking, an act of violence and doesn’t intervene. I stopped reading at that point. Lots of McEwan books are like this, with shocking violence, but I agree, this is some of the most disturbing stuff I’ve ever read.

    litlove, as always, those are just wonderful suggestions and I am excited about incorporating them. I don’t know anything about French literature, although my childen are French speakers, and I’m looking forward to exploring an entire literature.

    Bikeprof — Thank you for those marvelous ideas. I read Ray Bradbury as a teenager, inspired by a science teacher, Mr. Ufer, who used to tell us stories, totally by heart, from books just like Ray Bradbury. It was a Friday tradition and now, as an adult, I can’t imagine how he could possibly have memorized them well enough to tell them. Legend has it he also once lit his moustache on fire during a particularly exciting experiment, something that probably never happens to English professors!

    Hi Dorothy of the Century — I’m with you. I think Carl’s doing a great service to us all (and I noticed he has some very sexy book covers up today, forwarding the pleasure project just a little in the process.) And thank you Carl, for the Bradbury suggestion. I like the sound of that.

    Courtney, you can be a reader’s muse, how about that? And I know you’re writing, which doesn’t leave that much room for reading. xxoo, BL

    Welcome Marta and Ex Libris!  Thank you so much for those suggestions. It’s a funny thing — here in California, I’ve just woken up, and you guys are already up and moving around, thinking and reading — while I was snoozing away, dreaming of the Bradbury house where all the people are absent (in fact, all the people in the world seem to be absent) but everything’s still on automatic and the toaster and the other appliances keep working until, well, they go utterly haywire and the world ends in a blaze of astonishing proportions.

  9. I guess I need to read more Bradbury, too! I like Poe’s short stories–one of my favorites is A Cask of Amontillado. I like your idea of reading short stories–a nice way of fitting in reading when you don’t have as much time!

  10. What do you know? I’m reading Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing at the moment, a book of essays on creativity.

    He has one discussion, for instance, where he talks about at the beginning he was trying out what he could write that meant something to him. He began to make lists of titles, long lines of nouns. “These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface.” The titles were very simple but meant something quite specific, aroused a specific feeling: The Lake. The Baby. The Scythe. The Trapdoor. The Dwarf. And so on.

    But to get back more to the point of your post, the scariest of his stories for me is Fahrenheit 451. A world where the job of the fireman is to burn books!? The horror.

  11. Lovecraft. I still get chills reading Lovecraft. Mostly because he left so much to our imagination that I frankly scare myself witless imagining what the horror might look like.

  12. Hello Danielle, I was very taken with Kate’s short story idea, and last month ran out of time to do anything about Chekhov — which I’m bummed about, although it was fun to read everyone’s posts. And inspiring. And with these links from Kate and Mandarine, I’m going straight to online short stories for my first couple of scary stories.

    Fencer, I’ve been wanting to read Fahrenheit 451 for a really long time. Thank you for that bit about writing from Bradbury — he’s the real thing, isn’t he? You can tell he writes because he loves it and he’s managed to get through any anxiety he might ever have had to produce a lot of really fine fiction for a really long time.

    Hey Mick — there is indeed something about what you don’t see, what happens off stage that can be incredibly chilling. Thank you for this recommendation. And it’s certainly nice to see your virtual self.

  13. Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Someone who wants some scary story recommendations. Here you go, a list from which you can pick and choose:

    The Room in the Tower by E. F. Benson
    Kerfol by Edith Wharton
    The Pomegranite Seed by Edith Wharton
    The Mezzotint by M.R. James
    Casting the Runes by M.R. James
    The Haunted Dolls’ House by M.R. James
    The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood
    The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
    The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs
    The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

    And two marvelous very short novels:
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
    The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski

    Also, I’ve dabbled in writing some ghost stories myself, so if you’re at all interested in reading some completely sophomoric attempts at such things, I can email one or two of those to you just for fun.

  14. Pingback: R.I.P. Autumn Reading Challenge « Life in Sicily

  15. I loved Bradbury, read everything he wrote when I was a kid. Have you considered Roald Dahl’s short stories for adults? Not so much really scary, but creepy and satisfying. Check out the Roald Dahl Omnibus, for example.

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