Aug 28, 2009

By the pricking of my thumbs...

Rip Challenge IV

The RIP Challenge has become a tradition I very much look forward to. I'm participating for the third year now, but I must confess that this year I've been feeling a little despondent. The reason is that the perfect RIP books, the ones I feel like reading the most, are of course ones I don't own. And my book buying ban means that I can't get them. Isn't that silly? Why do books I can't have always sound more exciting than the ones I have?

I do, of course, have several perfectly decent RIPish books sitting on my shelves, and I'm hoping that putting this list together will remind me that I do, in fact, really want to read them. My goal is to read four of these between now and Halloween, but if I manage more, all the better.
  • Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman - I got this one because Aickman has been highly recommended by Neil Gaiman. (See Ana? You do want to read it!)

  • Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand - I'm actually very excited about this book, possibly because I got it just before my book buying ban began. The only problem is that I'm not sure if it's dark fantasy or just plain fantasy. I'll let you know.

  • 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill - I've been saving it for RIP all year!

  • The Virago Book of Ghost Stories edited by Richard Dalby - I read a few stories from it for RIP two years ago, but somehow or other I never actually finished it. Now's the time!

  • McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories edited by Michael Chabon - Another collection I've partially read. It includes stories by authors like Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem, Joyce Carol Oates, Roddy Doyle, Stephen King and David Mitchell. (Side note: I bought it in Inverness, and I've just found a neat map of a historical trail I'd completely forgotten about tucked inside. Don't you love it when that happens?)
  • The Sandman: Book of Dreams edited by Neil Gaiman and Ed Kramer - a collection of stories inspired by the Sandman universe by authors like Caitlín R. Kiernan (whose The Red Tree I'm very much coveting for RIP - sigh), Gene Wolfe, Delia Sherman, Susanna Clarke and Tori Amos. Why haven't I read it yet?!

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - I got this years ago, and I seem to go back and forth about whether or not I actually want to read it. It's not long or anything, so I might as well give it a try.

  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux - Another one I've had for years - specifically since I read Maskerade by Terry Pratchett, which is a sort of parody of it.

  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link - Again, I'm not sure: dark fantasy or just fantasy? The few Kelly Link stories I've read were all quite dark. And also quite awesome.

  • The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively - I've actually started this already, and so far it's not very spooky. But it is a ghost story - a Carnegie Medal winning one!
  • The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake - I know I want to read this, but I also know it will take commitment, and I'm not sure if now's the time. Besides...

  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - ...can I handle more than one chunkster?

  • Drood by Dan Simmons - ...more than TWO chunksters? I really want to read this book. I've been dying to ever since it came out, and Amy was sweet enough to send it to me as a gift all the way across the ocean even though it weights a lot. So I'd better read it. However, I've heard it has spoilers for...

  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - I'd better read that first, no? Another Victorian chunkster. Surely I'm insane.

  • Count Karlstein, or the Ride of the Demon Huntsman by Philip Pullman - I don't actually know much about this one, but it's by Pullman, and "demon huntsman" sounds promising.

  • The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman - book two in the Sally Lockhart series of Gothic Victorian mysteries. The first book was very atmospheric, if not all that mysterious. I hear that this is not the best in the series, but I have to read them in order, so...

  • Cemetery Stories by Katherine Ramsland - A non-fiction title that sounds similar to Stiff by Mary Roach. It's actually older than Stiff, though, so it's not an attempt to imitate it or anything.

  • Moon Called by Patricia Briggs - Rhinoa is making me read this one, and since it's a challenge book I can't replace, it's exempt from the rules.
  • The Dust of Wonderland by Lee Thomas - Same, mwahahaha. This is a Lambda Award winning ghost story set in New Orleans.

  • Black Juice by Margo Lanagan - I've been slowly reading this short story collection for a while, actually. It doesn't get much darker than "Red Nose Day". I eek'ed out loud.
That's it, unless The Secret History by Donna Tart qualifies. Does it? And you know, I think it worked: I feel my enthusiasm for these books returning.

Persephone Reading Week

I thought I'd wrap-up Persephone Reading Week by putting together a short list of Persephones I've been coveting. These are some of the books I discovered this week, either through other participant's reviews or by exploring of the Persephone site this week, - something which was very much encouraged by Verity and Claire's quizzes. The list:
  • Doreen by Barbara Noble - like Saplings, this is about a child evacuated from London during WW2, and about the consequences of the long separation from their families. these children had to endure. Fleur Fisher wrote about it, and she's giving away a copy!

  • Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson - Most definitely the Persephone I'm covering the most. Both Claires wrote about it, and phrases like "fairy-tale for adults", "Victorian" and "love-letter to Scotland" were used. Need I say more?

  • Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson - The reason why I want this one is because once I was done with my books, I dealt with my Persephone deprivation by reading this author's charming The Brontës Went to Woolworths (which I can't wait to tell you about, by the way). Alas, Poor Lady sounds even better: it's about the fate that often awaited Victorian so-called "spinsters".

  • The World That Was Ours by Hilda Bernstein - a political memoir about a dark period in South African history: the Rivonia Trial.
I very much enjoyed Persephone week, and I'm already looking forward to next time. Also, just today I got the splendid news that I won one of the copies of Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Donnes that were being given away - a collection of stories about English domestic life during WW2. This sounds like a perfect follow-up to Saplings and The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, both of which left me wanting more. The dilemma is, do I save it or do I read it right away?

Persephone End Papers


  1. I'm joining this one as well. It's my first time and I'm very excited!

  2. The good thing about all those Collins books is that they're easy to read even though they're fat!!

  3. I've joined RIP IV, but I'm holding out on making a list, because that NEVER works for me with challenges.
    I LOVED 20th Century Ghosts. Enjoy! :D

  4. The Moonstone is fabulous. Don't forgot The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, if you have your own copy, as I remember you saying you were saving that until October.

    I am delighted that you enjoyed Persephone Reading Week. My wishlist is now long too (The World That Was Ours has been at the top of it for a while). Have you managed to read my review of Little Boy Lost today? It was outstanding and the highlight of my week.

  5. "Red Nose Day" was wonderful in a grotesque way. Such an amazingly crafted setting. And the ending -- yikes.

    I'll be curious to hear what you think about Aickman. I picked him up on Gaiman's recommendation also and had a hard time with him. To me, he felt like M.R. James without much plot.

  6. The Secret History certainly qualifies, its very dark. The Turn of the Screw is great and very short.
    Looks like you have a fab list, I'm not allowed o but books either so had to pick from my tbr pile

  7. S. Krishna: I hope you have tons of fun :D Carl's challenges are awesome.

    Amanda: That's reassuring to hear!

    Maree: I loved Heart-Shaped Box, so I think I'll love 20th Century Ghosts too :D

    Claire: I should have hoarded while I could :P The Woman in Black, along with The Lottery, was one I was planing on getting for RIP. But maybe I'll get lucky on Bookmooch, though. And going over in a minute to see your review!

    Loren Eaton: I know. The "don't tell it your name" bit... brilliant, but yikes indeed. I'm sorry to hear that about Aickman! I hope I go manage to get on with it.

    Katrina: I'm glad to hear it, as I was planing on reading it anyway :P

  8. Congratulations on your Persephone win! How exciting. I'm bummed out I didn't get to participate in Persephone week but hopefully next time around!

    And, yay for RIP! It's so funny but I know what you mean about sometimes not being excited enough by the books we own. How silly is that right? I guess our booklust just gets the best of us and we just want more new books :) Have fun with the challenge!

  9. Looking forward to what you think of 20th Century Ghosts -- I liked Heart Shaped Box more than I thought I would. I'll also be interested in what you think of Turn of the Screw. I was a little disappointed, but maybe I had the wrong expectations. I LOVED Phantom of the Opera. Adored. I'm going to read Woman in White too... I really want to read Drood, but I think I'll save that for the end when I'm all done with everything else, since I think it might spill into November.

    And yes, Secret History qualifies. It is sooooooooo good. It's one of those books I wish I could read for the first time, again.

  10. I hope you have fun with the challenge!

  11. What a fantastic list! But you are right about having some chunksters here, and with a challenge that lasts only two months, it seems daunting, doesn't it? I don't think I fully appreciated the chunkiness of Drood until I saw it sitting on a shelf recently. You could have a decent workout just hauling that thing around! I am definitely going to hit The Woman in White soon, as it would not only mark one RIP off my list, but would take care of my Classics challenge too!

  12. That's a great list, Nymeth! I think The Woman in White is one of the popular picks for this challenge, and I totally understand why (though I'm a wimp for reading it because it's a chunkster to me!). :P

    I can't wait to read your reviews for this challenge!

  13. Some fabulous books on there. I have been good and only chosen books that I had, but then I have picked up a lot lately, in my defense they were second hand.

  14. Your reading list makes me want to join the challenge! Wilkie Collins is awesome, so I recommend reading his novels.

  15. Whoa... what a list! ! !

    Mine have all just come in from the library so I'm stoked to pick out my first read. Dun dun DUNNN.

  16. I admire you! I think we live surrounded by our books like good old friends, read or not. So it is always exciting to bring a new cover home, a new friend to hold and page through. Anyway, something like that :D

    I am also joining and mixing it up with Bellezza's Japanese Challenge. I have COIN LOCKER BABIES and IN THE MISO SOUP by Ryu Murakami, so this will fit in nicely.

    Have a great week-end Ana

  17. That is some list for RIP IV! I chose mine because two of them are definitely in-house. Like most, Mr. Collins is featured, but will have to see which of his tomes is at the glad you're doing this (and shoot, forgot all about The Phantom of the Opera!). Enjoy whatever you decide to read!

  18. Fun fun list that is making me want to buy more books. and it was my pleasure to send Drood, I hope my earlier comment to you about the difference btwn it and The Bride's Farewell didn't bug you!

  19. Amazing list! As I wrote on another blog, you are becoming The Main Source for my list of books to acquire!

  20. Those are great choices for Persephone coveting. Do you mind if I steal your idea for a wrap up? We're in the same boat, having nothing else to read after the second, and then trying to find something to recapture the feeling. I tried reading Bloomsbury's Henrietta's War but didn't succeed. I'm giving away my copy. Maybe if I had order The Brontes Went to Woolworths I would've fared better?

  21. Like Claire, I may incorporate your coveting into my wrap-up post too, if you don't mind? I think it's a great reflection of the success of the week, that we have all added greatly to our wishlists (Darlene has already placed an order for Little Boy Lost!)

    Don't forget to email your address for your prize!

    How are you enjoying The Brontes Went to Woolworths? I found it enchanting but it bears a reread I think (I only read it about a year ago during the demise of Woolworths).

  22. I listened to The Turn of the Screw last year, it is a spooky read, if a little dated in the scares department.

  23. I'm so glad that making such an awesome pool made you feel better! :D

    While the Collins might be chunksters, they won't read that way. And I'm jealous of all that Pullman! I'm rereading Phantom of the Opera for the Summer Lovin' Challenge. :)

    Other than that, I can't wait for your reviews, but I know you'll make me want to read them all. :p

  24. Iliana, I hope you do join in next time! And yes...stupid booklust :P

    Daphne: It seems that a lot of people were disappointed. I'll actually be approaching it with low expectations, so who knows, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised :P And yay, now I'm even more excited to read The Secret History :D

    Bermudaonion: Thank you!

    Sandy: It really does! I'll definitely not have time for all the chunksters, but maybe I can fit in one or two. And lol, so true about Drood being good for working out with :D I'm counting The Woman in White for the Classics challenge too - I'm a bit behind on that one, so I'd better hurry up!

    Melody: I'm one too, but I'm trying to get over it :P A good percentage of my tbr is actually made of chunksters.

    Vivienne: lol, and that's a good defense :P

    Trisha: You know you want to join! There are several options, and one of them only requires one book! Come on, you don't want to be left out of the fun :P

    She: yay for books just in from the library!

    Madeleine: That's a great idea to combine it with the Japanese Lit challenge. Enjoy your books, and you have a great weekend too!

    ds: Thank you! Enjoy yours too!

    Amy: Not at all! I felt a bit guilty when I first opened the box, but only for a minute, I promise :P

    rhapsodyinbooks: Awww! I kind of want to say sorry too, though :P

    Claire: I don't mind at all! I'm sorry to hear Henrietta's War didn't work for you! The Brontës.. was just the kind of book I was in the mood for: whimsical, charming and very funny.

    Other Claire: I absolutely don't mind! And you know, I'd probably have ordered it too if not for the ban :P I'll e-mail you my address right away. I finished The Brontës already and enchanting is definitely the right word for it!

    Bart: That's what I keep hearing! Still, it sounds like it's worth reading.

    Eva: You know, I was surprised to find the Pullmans. I had forgotten I had them :P And I'm so relieved to hear the Wilkie Collins books don't read like chunksters!

  25. wow.. that's a lot of books!!!! I hope you read some of the chunksters! lol (i have some of the same ones and a few reviews might make me read them!)

  26. I found Secret History to be pretty creepy! Count it!!! :)

    You go ahead and kick those despondency feelings right out the door. You have a FANTASTIC pool of books! And don't forget about ye ol' library! I'm on a similar ban and I've been living at the library.

    So great to have you in this year. I hope whatever you choose to read ends up being a deliciously creepy experience for you.

  27. That sucks that I missed Persephone week but I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

    I just signed up for R.I.P. challenge and I'm so happy! I'm adding the Chabon book to my list.

  28. I'm with everyone who said THE SECRET HISTORY qualifies. It's another chunkster, but it's so worth adding to your R.I.P. pool.

  29. I know I've already said this but *yes* The Secret History most certainly does qualify for the RIP challenge.

    Interesting list of books too.

  30. Another voice in support of The Secret History - it's atmospheric and enthralling and unputdownable. I tore through it in one afternoon.

    And yay for reading Wilkie Collins! I love him so.

  31. Have fun with the RIP challenge. I liked reading your list. I am seriously coveting those Persephone books too!!!

  32. I also vowed to not buy any books for this challenge. It looks like you have a pretty good pool though!

  33. That is a great list!

    Some of the best books are chunksters. I think you are just going to have to forget about their length and dive in! I hope you enjoy them.

  34. Yay! 20th Century Ghost has been on my wish list for sometime. Can't wait to hear your review.

  35. Oh, I know just how you feel about "greener grass" books! I compiled my list from books I have out of the library and books I own, even though there are others that I've been coveting for some time. But you have some really excellent choices there, and I know you'll enjoy them! Wilkie Collins is a great pick for RIP, particularly The Woman in White.

  36. I finally decided to join in RIP too! Really, who can resist? After reading your list, I see that I could have added Graveyard Book to my list of possibilities. I'll be looking for your reviews!

  37. *facepalm* I haven't read 20th Century Ghosts. I HAVE read Heart-shaped Box, and loved it. Oops.

  38. I actually thought that The Shadow in the North is quite good, but I'll never quite forget Pullman for the fate he chose for my favourite character, who was my first literary crush (I was about 13 when I read the first two books in the series). I won't say more lest I spoiler you... read it and then tell me what you think...

  39. I've just posted my pool of books but I'm wondering if Tender Morsels fits of if that's more suitable for Once Upon a Time... (not that I'll save it until then)?

  40. Ooooh ooooh ooooh I love your list, Ana! I'm reading one of Joe Hill's books (HEART-SHAPED BOX) for this challenge.

  41. I second Daphne..I would love to read The Secret History for the first time again. I do hope you love it as much as I!

  42. Yeay! How fun! I liked the Woman in White when I listened to it. Enjoy!

  43. Wow, it's that time already? I still haven't decided on which books I'll be reading.

    Btw, could you please e-mail me your address? I really want to send you something back but I'm not sure if I'm reading the address on the envelope correctly.

  44. Deslily: I will read some of them for sure...just not all :P

    Carl: I really wish I had access to a public library :( But I discovered recently that my university library allows ex-students to continue to check out books for a modest yearly fee. They have no children's lit, ya, graphic novels, fantasy or any kind of speculative fiction, but it's better than nothing, right? At least they do have classics :P The good news is that no longer feel despondent and can't wait to start reading :D

    Vasilly, there's always next time! I'm so happy to have you around again :D

    Memory: I recently realized that I'm so behind on reviews that my only chance of catching up is to devote all of September to chunksters :P Intimidation, go away!

    Cath, I'll be reading it soon!

    Jenny: One afternoon! Sounds like it was really impossible to put down.

    Staci, thanks!

    J.T. Oldfield: I think I managed to remember why I wanted to read these books. The ones I don't own still sound a tiny bit better, though :P

    Jackie: I know! It's just that I want to read too many books all at once :P

    Christina: And I can't wait to dive into it!

    Darla: "Greener grass books" is the PERFECT expression, hehehe.

    Andreea, I'm glad you think so!

    Beth: Oh, The Graveyard Book is fantastic! I hope you enjoy it :)

    Maree: What matters is that we agree that Joe Hill rocks :D

    Alessandra: Eep! Now I'm worried he'll break my heart. I'll let you know what I think for sure!

    Claire: I'd say count it! Even the Grimms' original fairy tales should qualify, as they're so dark.

    Alice, I hope you enjoy it! I really did.

    Mariel, that makes me even more excited to read it :)

    Rebecca: Thank you!

    Marineko: My handwriting is indecipherable, I know :P I'll e-mail you in a minute!

  45. I've read Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link and it definitely qualifies as dark fantasy!

  46. LOL. The grass is always greener, isn't it? That's a great list of books to choose from though. Wilkie Collins is great for R.I.P. I've only read The Woman in White, but like I said over at my blog, I'm going to have to read The Moonstone too now before Drood. Those darn chunksters though!

    I didn't take part in Persephone Week this time, but I think I may just have to next time around. They all just sound so good.

  47. "Isn't that silly? Why do books I can't have always sound more exciting than the ones I have?"...Silly? Maybe. But a fairly universal feeling, I do believe.

    Your pile sounds pretty darn good to me...probably because I only own one of them. ;) I'm definitely going to keep my list to books I've already got, too...and I'm so excited to finally put together a list! Tonight's mission. :D

  48. Have fun reading :O) I enjoyed 20th Century Ghosts, I look forward to your thoughts on it.

  49. I think The Secret History is totally legit -- it's certainly on the creepy side.

    Either way, happy reading! You have a great list.

  50. The Phantom of the Opera is one of my favorite books of all time. LOVE it. Drood was very, very well-written. I'm not really sure I can say I enjoyed it, but it's definitely worth the read, especially if you're into Victoriana.

  51. welll, I read Drood and seriously disliked it. I've decided i'm going to stay away from "unreliable narrator" books for a while. I haven't read The Moonstone but i don't personally feel spoiled. Maybe i'll remember things when i read it. I liked The Turn of the Screw personally. Tried Gormenghast once, got incredibily bored a hundred pages in and stopped. Good luck!


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