Quick October Book Recommendations

I’m a busy bee this weekend, but I still wanted to put up a post today! Here’s a quick rundown of books I think are great to read in October. It’s a good mix of creepy and fun, so I think there’s something for everyone here!

1. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

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If you love psychological horror and aren’t averse to gore, The Vegetarian will be a gourmet meal for you (ha!). Yeong-hye, an ordinary woman, starts to have intense, bloody nightmares involving meat, and to make them stop, she decides to become a vegetarian. Her traditional family don’t understand the changes in her behavior, and as Yeong-hye’s mental state deteriorates, she faces hostility rather than support from the people around her.

2. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith

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Fan of the classics? Put a spooky spin on it with this fun and campy take on the text of Pride and Prejudice. It sounds like a gimmick, and it is, but it’s also extremely high quality. Confession: I read this version before actual Pride and Prejudice, and it helped me follow the story and the somewhat archaic writing style when I did read the original. It’s not a total rewrite, but rather a rework with interpolations.

3. Charlie Bone/Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo

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These were some of the first “big” books I read as an elementary schooler, back when I thought 400 pages was an absolutely colossal book. Charlie Bone is a kid who discovers an unusual ability to see into the past through photographs, and he’s packed off to school with a group of children, the Endowed, who each boast their own specific magical talents. It’s Harry Potter-esque without being a carbon copy, and I think it’s an underrated pick for kids who want “something like Harry Potter!”

4. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

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Here’s the pitch: a buddy comedy about an angel and a demon during the Apocalypse. If that idea strikes you as overly blasphemous, I wouldn’t bother picking it up, but if you have more of a sense of humor about such things, you’ll probably enjoy it. It taps into ideas both Biblical and cultural about what the Apocalypse will be like and pokes gentle fun at them. I actually learned a thing or two from it!

5. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

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You’ve already read it, right? If not, now’s the perfect time! If you have, what’s stopping you from rereading them for the third or fourth or eleventy-second time? Nothing, that’s what. Aside from being a tale of magic, Harry Potter has the best Halloween-oriented plot points in the game.

Have you read any of these? What are your favorite Halloween reads? Let me know in the comments!

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Fellowship of the Ring Book Tag

Today, for the very first time, I’m doing a book tag on my blog! Many thanks to BiblioNyan for tagging me. She’s very cool and kind and friendly and you should check her out.

I have to admit, I’m a poor Tolkien fan. I’ve only read The Hobbit and about two thirds of The Fellowship of the Ring, although I have seen all the movies in the trilogy & the first Hobbit movie. I’ll have to get on that sometime, but for now, here’s the tag!

Points to Note:

  1. Please pingback to Nandini’s original post.
  2. Feel free to use the banner from her post.
  3. Be as creative as you like while interpreting the prompts.
  4. Tag at least 3 people you think would enjoy doing the tag.
  5. Even though Gollum is not an official part of the Fellowship, Nandini wanted to have a round figure, so she added a prompt for this character too.

1. Gandalf – A book that taught you something

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Out of all the questions in the tag, this the the hardest to pick, because I learn something from just about every book I read. In the end, I decided to just go literal and recommend a book that taught me a lot of good information. Rubicon is a book that was assigned to me by my high school Latin teacher. It’s great because it’s a history book written in an engaging narrative style. Even if you already have a pretty good grasp of Roman history, I recommend this book just on the basis of being fun to read.

2. Frodo – A book that left a mark on you

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I read Night in my eighth grade English class. I’d learned about the Holocaust before, of course, but this was the first time I had encountered a survivor’s account. It was so visceral, dark, and disgusting. It made me realize exactly how dark human nature can be and what true evil looks like. The last line of the book has stuck with me ever since:

From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.

3. Legolas – A book you finished in one sitting

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I very rarely finish a book in one sitting, even if it’s extremely short. Usually it’s only comics or poetry books that fit into that category, and so the last book I remember finishing in one sitting is Milk and Honey. Honestly, I didn’t really like it. While I appreciate the author’s vulnerability and expressiveness, the quality of the poetry is just poor. It’s fourth-rate Tumblr poetry. So many of the poems come across as lazily written. I’m not giving it a pass just because I sympathize with the author’s experiences or agree with some of her viewpoints.

4. Gimli – A book that features an unlikely friendship

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This sprawling masterpiece is full of strange connections and coincidences. There is, of course, Jean Valjean’s commitment to Fantine and later Cosette. His role as Cosette’s surrogate father is one of the essential relationships of the book. When you look at it more closely, though, there are all sorts of unlikely friendships. Valjean and Fauchelevent, Thenardier and Georges Pontmercy, Marius and Les Amis de l’ABC… that last one has a severely underrated backstory that’s totally glossed over in the musical. If you only know the musical, you’re missing out on so many details!

5. Merry – A book that pleasantly surprised you

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One time in middle school, I was taking way too long to choose a book at the bookstore. My mom got impatient and tried to help me pick. When she suggested The Mysterious Benedict Society, I wasn’t sure I would like it. Since we had to leave, though, I accepted her suggestion and gave it a shot. It turns out that this is one of the most clever and charming children’s books I’ve read in my life, and I later ended up buying the sequels, too!

6. Pippin – A book that made you laugh

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Nimona caught my eye at the bookstore one day, and since then, it’s become one of the most reread books on my shelf. It’s an irreverent fantasy story with lots of laughs, but it also offers a nuanced deconstruction of the line between good and evil. The main characters all have depth and make you sympathize with them at the most unexpected moments. I appreciate how this book manages to pull off light banter and ridiculous gags without feeling disjointed when it transitions to deeper and more emotional fare.

7. Boromir – A book/series that you think ended too soon

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There’s something bittersweet about Calvin and Hobbes. It’s basically how I learned how to read, and unlike most of the comics of my youth, it hasn’t grown stale with age. Instead, I find something new every time I revisit a strip. Bill Watterson has left us with plenty to chew on, but I still wish for more sometimes, or at least that the guy would come out of hiding for five minutes so I could shake his hand. These books evoke such intense nostalgia in me that it’s like some sort of drug.

8. Sam – A book with memorable side characters who stole the show

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When I think of books with a colorful ensemble cast, the Harry Potter series is the first one to come to mind. It’s hard to even name all of them, but aside from fan favorites like McGonagall, Snape, and Sirius, even the truly minor characters have their own fans. It’s partly because of the massive popularity of the series, but it’s also because Rowling gives her readers such a large sandbox to play in. Characters I think are underrated? Fleur Delacour and Regulus Black.

9. Aragorn – A good book with a bad/average cover

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My brother gave me The Dispossessed for Christmas this past year. Now, the cover isn’t exactly ugly, but it does look like a plain, cheap science fiction paperback–which, to be fair, it is. What’s contained between the covers, though, is insightful social and political commentary. Le Guin is a sensitive and thoughtful writer who knows how to capture the human condition. I slowly fell in love with this book.

10. Gollum – A book that had great potential but disappointed you in the end

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For this one, I’m going to have to go with Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. I’d heard great things about the book, and the premise excited me. I wanted to see fantasy written for young people that came from a different perspective than the typical amalgamation of various European lore. The magic system here is distinctly Nigerian, to be sure, but the influence of Harry Potter overshadows the book’s plot and style. In the end, I found it surprisingly paint-by-numbers, especially from an author who’s such a critical darling right now.

Tags:

(To be honest, I’m not sure if everyone here is a doer of tags… so if you don’t want to participate, just take it as a compliment!)

  1. Lana Cole
  2. Lorraine
  3. thebookishbohemian

 

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Check out my masterlist for the rest of my posts and reviews!

All of my Halloween Costumes, Ranked

It’s October, and I am gearing up for a spooky month!! I need to decide on a Halloween costume, but first, I thought it would be fun to review the costumes I’ve worn in the past from worst to best. I’ve had costumes both store-bought and homemade, both strokes of genius and remarkably ill-advised. Where possible, I’ve included pictures. Let’s dive in!

10. Gypsy

When I was in fifth grade, my two best friends and I agreed to trick-or-treat as gypsies together. One of their moms was hugely into witchy stuff, so she had a lot of fancy cloths, crystal jewelry, and things like tarot cards. At the time, it seemed like a good idea and we were all proud of our costumes, but in retrospect, I cringe. “Gypsy” is a slur toward Romani people, and it’s never okay to make someone else’s culture into a costume. Plus, I wore a bandanna as a top, and while it looked cool, I was freezing and uncomfortable the entire time.

9. Monster

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This was a cop-out costume I wore my freshman year of college when I realized I didn’t have a real costume. I put on a hat with a monster face on it, then coordinated the rest of my outfit with the hat. I looked more like a quirky scene kid than a monster.

8. Waldo

I’m actually really fond of this costume. I wore it my freshman year of high school. Halloween was on a Saturday that year, so everyone wore their costumes to school on Friday, then again to trick-or-treat the next day. Unfortunately, through all of Friday, over a hundred people (I counted!) obnoxiously yelled “I FOUND YOU!”, which is why this costume is so low on the list.

However, it did redeem itself slightly. That Friday after school, I went to get a haircut. On a whim, I cut off all my hair to donate to charity. When I went trick-or-treating, the hat covered my newly shorn head. I trick-or-treated at my friend’s house and chatted with her for a solid ten minutes, and she never suspected a thing. When I came in to school on Monday, I gleefully told her that my hair had been short the whole weekend already!

7. Ariel

This one is an elementary school staple. A simple store-bought costume handed down from my sister, it never failed to make me feel like a princess. It did get worn down a bit over the years, but it was a trusty friend.

6. Flapper

My grandma wore the dress for Halloween one year, then lent it to me for a project on the 1920s. I never ended up giving it back, and I used it a couple times over the years when I needed a costume. It was cute and recognizable, if a bit generic. It was a good last minute option and easily spruced up by a solid makeup job.

5. Peter Pan

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I ordered this costume online and it looked great! I love wearing costumes that complement my appearance, and at the time, my hair was still pretty short, so I really did look like I could be one of those female actors playing Peter Pan onstage. The one drawback is that the tights that came with it were cheap and too small, and I was also pretty cold in it.

4. Dead Person

In eighth grade, my best friend and I thought it would be fun to go as dead twins. Then my other best friend didn’t want to be left out. Suddenly, my entire friend group, at least six of us, had decided to be dead people together. We spray-dyed our hair black, painted our faces white, gave ourselves raccoon eyes, and even wore black lipstick. Our uniform? Pure black. We bought spiderweb patterned socks and mix-and-matched them. We probably looked more fake goth than dead. In fact, that’s how most people saw us. Older women would chuckle as we walked by. “I looked like that all through college!” “Just don’t dress like that every day!” When people asked us if we were goths, we solemnly told them we were dead people. It was an unintentional hit.

3. Draco Malfoy

This was me in peak pixie cut era. I asked my dad to get me a black robe, but he got one that didn’t open in the front, so I had to cut it the way I wanted. Everyone seemed really offended that I chose to be a Slytherin, but honestly, that’s my Hogwarts house IRL. I’m not trying to be edgy. It’s not a phase. It’s who I am! Anyway, I was proud of the way I put everything together.

2. Calvin & Hobbes

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Even though my hair was short at the time, I bought a wig to get that spiky texture. It was really cute and easy to put together at home. I carried around a stuffed tiger with me, although it would have been even better if I could have gotten one that looked more like Hobbes. Still, it was so satisfying whenever someone recognized my costume. A good portion of people didn’t know who I was supposed to be!

1. Fairy Princess

This is the first Halloween costume I ever remember wearing, and it’s definitely the most magical. I went to the craft store with my mom and she helped me create a genuinely gorgeous wand out of Styrofoam and rhinestones. The dress was extremely poofy. I was blown away by the idea that I could be a fairy AND a princess at the same time. I felt invincible!

What should I be for Halloween this year? What are you planning on being? Tell me in the comments!

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Check out my masterlist for the rest of my posts and reviews!