Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Reading Recap

1.  In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
This totally fascinated me.  Larson has a knack for writing nonfiction that reads like an action-packed novel, and there were several moments in this book where I was on the edge of my seat.  Most of the story is centered around the Dodd family, the real-life American Ambassadors to Germany during Hitler's terrifyingly subtle rise to power.  I have to admit, every time I read a book about Hitler and his weird hold over the German people, I always wondered, "Why did nobody try to stop him?!"  After reading this book, it's easy to see just how slowly (and how brilliantly) he crafted his takeover.  Most people thought he was actually charming when they first met him, and Martha Dodd, the Ambassador's daughter, actually went on a date with him (!). 
**Side-note:  For a really disturbing moment, check out the documentary "The Double-Headed Eagle," which is mainly newsreel footage of the Nazi party from 1918 to 1933.  Hitler's speeches are creepily mesmerizing.  It's almost like watching a worship service at a really charasmatic church, the way people are saluting and screaming.  Really scary.**
2.  The Magdalena Curse by F.G. Cottam 

I read The House of Lost Souls a couple of years ago, and I liked how well Cottam writes a horror story.  While this one wasn't as scary, I thought it was a good thriller.  Essentially, it's about a man who offended a witch (who's totally spooky), and she decided to curse his then-unborn son.  It was a sort-of predictable story, but it set a really dark and gloomy mood in the best way.  I'm going to read more of Cottam's work.

3.  Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
This is the first book I've read by David Sedaris, and while I've read a lot of reviews from people who didn't like it, I thought it was brilliant.  All the short stories are written from the viewpoint of animals -- some funny, some really disturbing, but all amazingly well-written.  There were times that I laughed out loud and then times where I had a hard time shaking images from my mind.  I can't wait to read more of Sedaris's writing.
4.  Mile 81 by Stephen King
This is about a station wagon that eats people.  But it's Stephen King, so it was good.  Trust me on this one.
5.  The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn
I read this for the pure nostalgia of reading something by an author I loved when I was a kid.  It wasn't remotely scary to me as an adult, but it reminded me of riding in the back of our motor home and devouring books like this on long trips.  But Wait Till Helen Comes is still my favorite.