Outtakes 218


by Cait Collins

I love the fun of Halloween. Kids and adults dressed up and pretending to be someone or something they aren’t is part of the holiday. I just don’t get the all the slasher, zombie, and thriller costumes. Whatever happened to doctors and nurses, cops and robbers, cute little witches and devils? It seems these days the more gruesome the costume, the more hefty the sales. What is the draw to being scared or grossed out?

Take books as an example. I’ve read good horror and I’ve read terrible horror. The bad novels are usually good for a laugh. In attempting to be frightening, the stories can become campy and silly. The good stuff I can’t read. Sorry, but I don’t like being frightened. I tried reading Stephen King’s IT. When I got to the description of the cellar, I had to close the book. King is so masterful with his description, he terrifies me. I could not only see the cellar, I could feel it, smell it, and taste it. That’s too real.

Think about it. What is more frightening; a zombie or a boy-next-door serial killer. I’m more frightened by reality, by something that could actually happen than fantasy characters. I couldn’t sleep after reading Helter Skelter. Charles Manson is far scarier than the Phantom of the Opera. Reality is makes good fiction because a writer has a plot and characters at hand.

I may not enjoy ghouls and goblins, but I appreciate the talent it takes to write good horror. The Stephen Kings, R. L. Steins, and Dean Koontz’s are rare and should be respected. That said; forgive me if I prefer my suspense and women’s fiction books.


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.

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