The Most Classic of the Classics


The Most Classic of the Classics

By Nandy Ekle

I am a fan of horror. That’s not a secret to anyone. And there are so many great horror stories that are considered classics. Some I was assigned to read in school like Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde. I wanted more. So I made the decision to read Dracula, by Bram Stoker. 

And all I could say was WOW!

This story is written in the form of diary/journal entries and newspaper articles. Even though the book was written during an era of formal English, which makes some stories dry and hard to stick with, the language of this book was easy to digest. As a high school student with a normal attention span, I was completely captivated. I think I devoured the book in two days.

There have been hundreds of movies made based on the story. The legend of vampires goes back, probably to the beginning of time. And this was long before the romantic vampires with consciences who hate what they are. And I think we all know the basic Dracula story. 

Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to meet with the Count and discuss some property in England the Count has recently purchased. He leaves his fiancee behind with a typewriter and instructions to practice her typing. Mina, his fiancee, takes her typewriter to the country to visit her aristocratic friend, Lucy, who is being courted by three men. While Jonathan is abroad and Mina is visiting, a mysterious illness afflicts Lucy which causes her to lose blood at an alarming rate, and there seems to be no reason for her blood to disappear. Meanwhile, the count leaves Jonathan locked in the castle to feed his three vampire wives while he travels to England to view the property. Jonathan barely with his life and Mina is called to Transylvania to minister to him as he recovers. They are married and head back to England where they learn Lucy has died. Her three suitors bring in an expert to investigate the mysterious illness and the expert is convinced there is a vampire afoot. Soon Mina is also showing signs of the same illness. The group chases the count back to Transylvania where they finally kill him.

Really and truly, one of the best horror books I’ve ever read. As for versions of the movie, I love the one released in the 90s with Wynona Rider. They add a deep timeless romance to the plot which enhances the story extremely well.

If you get a chance, read Dracula by Bram Stoker.


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The Challenge


The Challenge

By Nandy Ekle


Lately Facebook has been full of various and sundry challenges from The Ice Bucket Challenge, benefitting ALS, to your favorite bible verse. There are challenges to count your blessings, challenges to count positive events from the day, and challenges to count ways you were inspired. These are all worthwhile, thought provoking, self-examining challenges.

For those of us who love books, the hardest challenge I’ve seen out there has been to list your top ten favorite books, books that have stayed with you the longest. While I try to learn something from every single book I read–even the books I didn’t really enjoy–I must say there are a few that my mind refuses to let go of.

Of course, I must start by mentioning The Holy Bible. This is actually 66 books. And really and truly, it’s a lot a more than just fun reading. This is where I go for answers to life questions, inspiration, comfort, peace, correction, lessons, literature, adventure, romance, and magic.

The rest of the books on my list are not nearly as noble as The Bible, but I enjoyed reading them, and I still reread some them over and over. Of course, I tend to lean to the dark side of story telling. But when you think about it, every story has elements of the dark side because, it wouldn’t be a real story without a conflict. And conflict is usually connected to something dark in some way.

So, for hundreds of different reasons, here are the ten books that I will go out on a limb and add the label “favorite.”

  1. The Shining by Stephen King. This was his third book and I was in high school. I had read his first two books and liked them, so when The Shining came out, I bought it, hard back. I’ve reread it more times than I can count. Besides all that, I love a good ghost story.
  1. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Even though this is seven books, it’s really all one story. Ms. Rowling is an expert at capturing her readers immediately and making them love the characters. The world is seamless and the details are astounding. And how she keeps up with those details simply blows me away.
  1. The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snider. This is a middle reader and I was in Jr. High when I read it. Great story of children with big imaginations — one of my favorite themes.
  1. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Another ghost story, and by The King of ghost stories. How could it not be on my list. One other thing I will mention about this book is I never knew he could write romance.
  1. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. In my mind, the flip side of Bag of Bones. Loved it!
  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Now this is a very different book. A story within a story as an older writer tells a younger writer the story of her life. Excellent read.
  1. On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I love the mini biography in the first half of the book, and the second is valuable writing instruction and advice. I keep it on my nightstand.
  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker. I voluntarily read this in high school. Now THAT’S a vampire story. And the format is amazing too.
  1. Go Ask Alice. This was actually the scariest book I ever read. I was in high school and read the whole thing in one night. Just. Wow.
  2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I have read this book to all three of my kids numerous times and to all of my grandchildren even more numerous times. I enjoy getting into the drama of it, and the kids always ask me to read it again. Imagination is the best toy we have.

So, everyone who reads this, consider yourself challenged. In the comments below, list your ten “favorite” books and we can have a fabulous discussion.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.