While I am finishing up a few books, I thought I would post other ideas for October reading. All of the books listed below are ones that I have read (in most cases, re-read) recently and feel that they are all worth settling in with this month.
Cell and Under the Dome by Stephen King
An undisputed leader of thriller and horror novels, Stephen King should be on everyone’s reading lists. Although these two novels are very different, they remain two of my favorites by the prolific (and possibly under-appreciated?) author. In the slim novel Cell, a freak event causes cell phone users to turn into murderous zombies (although they aren’t dead, so maybe not true zombies) bent on killing as many unaffected people as possible. We follow a small band of survivors as they skirt death searching for loved ones and for answers to the crisis. I still cannot believe this is not a Hollywood blockbuster given the two hot topics, cell phone obsession and zombies!
By contrast, Under the Dome is an enormous novel following the lives of dozens of residents in Chester’s Mill, Maine who find themselves trapped under an invisible dome. Residents scramble to not only make sense of the implausibility of the dome, but also how to handle the day-to-day crises that the dome presents — power grabs, hoarding, lawlessness, and more. You might know this one from the CBS show (which became a sprawling, unwatchable, desperate-for-ratings project) which departs from the book’s intense focus on realistic characters who find themselves facing an unrealistic phenomenon. The book is really wonderful, filled with countless of King’s beautiful (and at times very brief) character studies of the citizens of Chester’s Mill, with some sharp insights into how people handle — for good or bad — terrifying events.
Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Series) by Robert Galbraith
A British war veteran wounded in action returns to London to work as a private investigator. Although unsuccessful in his personal life, his sharp investigative skills — and his very clever assistant Robin — make it possible to solve high profile cases that the police have been unable to close. Written (under a pseudonym) by the incomparable J.K. Rowling, the series is thrilling and highly literate, with a touch of humor, and hosts two characters that you can’t help but want to follow. Not to be missed!
NOTE: The third book in this amazing series, A Career of Evil, has just been released but I am still on the hold list for a library copy. I plan to read it and write an in-depth blog post on it and its predecessors as soon as possible.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
This was the first novel by best-selling thriller writer of Gone Girl. A reporter returns to her small hometown to cover child murder cases, only to have to investigate some of her own family’s dark secrets. Very chilling scenes with many unexpected and shocking twists.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
This is a novel about the Salem witch trials set in 1692 and 1991. The main character Connie, a Harvard academic, returns to her childhood home in Salem, Massachusetts to finish her dissertation, only to become distracted by her family’s mysterious history. The novel presents a modern, intellectual tale of witches and witchcraft without the artificial melodrama. Also of note in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is the first-person portrayal of the persecution and trial of the town midwife set in 1692. Howe gives readers a novel that is simultaneously informative, well-written, thrilling, and very moving.