Sep 22, 2013

Hello, Autumn; Hello, Seasonal Reading

RIP Challenge logo

I can’t believe it’s been a whole three years since I last took part in the RIP Reading Challenge. I love me some seasonal reading, especially around this time of year, but this is the first September in a long while when life hasn’t thrown something huge my way. This year I have no MA courses to begin, no dissertations to finish, no job hunts to worry about, and no international moves to contend with. Hopefully this means that over the next few weeks I’ll be able to fully devote my attention to delicious spooky reads.

The reason why I’m relatively late to the game is that for some reason this year I’ve been dragging my heels a bit when it comes to admitting the end of summer was here. But I finally feel ready to face the facts: temperatures have plummeted and the shorter days are here to stay, so I’m might as well make the best of it with a ridiculously long reading list.

Yep, I’m about to go overboard here and be gleefully unrealistic:there’s no way I’m going to read all these books between now and Halloween, but I’m posting my list anyway because making overly ambitious reading plans actually makes me really happy. Also, I can always keep reading spooky books through November, or at least in the first half of the month. This is how it usually goes for me: I enjoy playing with the idea of darkness in October and November, when Autumn is at its peak, but when it gets really cold and dark I tend to turn to comfort reading again.

Anyway, without further ado here’s my ridiculously long list, neatly divided into four piles according to the books’ provenance:

The TBR pile

Book pile containing the titles listed below
  • Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives edited by Sarah Weinman
  • Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters
  • The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart
  • A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King
  • When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh
  • The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
  • The Complaint of the Dove by Hannah March
  • The Dead Witness edited by Michael Sims
Lots of mysteries here, most by authors I already know I like — plus one classic author, Ngaio Marsh, whose work I’ve been meaning to try. About Borrower of the Night, I should probably just carry on with the Amelia Peabody series instead of starting a new one, but I found this at a library sale and Vicky Bliss sounds delightful too.


Also, Weinman’s and Sims’ anthologies — respectively subtitled “Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense” and “A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Detective Stories” — sound perfect for my rediscovered classics-loving self. The Dead Witness actually takes its title from a 1866 short story by Australian author Mary Fortune, which is the earliest known detective story by a woman — pretty cool, right?

The borrowed books pile

Book pile containing the titles listed below
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  • The Secret Rooms by Margaret Bailley
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
  • Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan
  • Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge
These mostly belong to Ana, though there’s one of Meghan’s in there as well. I really want to get to Under My Hat at the very least: it includes stories by Margo Lanagan, Frances Hardinge, Peter S. Beagle and Jane Yolen, so I strongly suspect I’ll love it.

The currently-in-my-shopping-basket pile

Covers of the books listed below
  • Hangsman by Shirley Jackson
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black
  • Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart
  • The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey
Perversely, these are probably the books I want to read the most, even though a quick glance at the other piles will make it abundantly clear that I don’t need any more books. But I really want the Shirley Jackson, and I’m dying to read Doll Bones, and the release of the last instalment in the Monstrumologist series really made me want to get up to date with it. As for the Mary Stewart, I can’t really justify it when I already have The Ivy Tree on my TBR, but every time I take the “Which Mary Stewart Novel Should You Read?” quiz I get Touch Not the Cat, and plus who can resist a title like that?


Also, I recently discovered that Sensation Press is having a promotion, and now I’m really tempted to stock up on books by my beloved Mary Elizabeth Braddon. The only question is, what do I pick? Any experts out there who want to give me some suggestions?

The library pile

Covers of the books listed below
  • The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
  • The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstein
  • Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan
  • Man and Wife by Wilkie Collins
  • Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson
  • Nightbirds on Nantucket by Joan Aiken
  • The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
Lastly, here are some of the books I’ve spotted at the library in recent weeks that made me go “Oooh, I could read that for RIP!”. Most are pretty self-explanatory: I love the idea of reading a ghost novella in one sitting in a long dark evening, and I want to keep up the tradition of reading a Wilkie Collins around this time of year (Man and Wife or The Law and the Lady, I wonder?). Also, I wonder if Midnight Never Come is dark enough to qualify for RIP — any Marie Brennan fans out there?


I had a ton of fun putting this list together, but soon it will be time to actually make some decisions, and this is where you come in. Please help me pick! Anything you think I’d particularly enjoy, or that I’m better off skipping? As always, suggestions are most welcome.


  1. Some great choices there. I thought The Man in the Picture was very good. Also love the Mary Russell series by Laurie King, so liked A Letter of Mary very much, though my favourite of those I've read is The Moor. Probably because I'm familiar with Dartmoor. Happy reading!

  2. So many wonderful titles to choose from! I can't believe that I missed the Mary Stewart quiz so far. I got Touch Not the Cat too (question: does everyone?!), which I have read but certainly wasn't my favourite. I did really enjoy The Ivy Tree tho'.

  3. Oh man, you have everything awesome there! I'd love to hear what you thought about a new Wilkie Collins book, since I've still never read anything except The Moonstone and The Woman in White.

  4. I took that Mary Stewart quiz, too, and got The Ivy Tree, with Touch Not the Cat a close second. Ended up borrowing The Ivy Tree from the library and am enjoying it quite a bit - hope to finish later today.

    You have so many wonderful possibilities for RIP. Happy reading!

  5. I don't want to admit summer's over either because we've hardly had any summer weather. Have fun with the challenge.

  6. Every time I go in the library and see The Monstrumologist available I get tempted. I've heard such great things about it and its follow-up's! Do you think it would work for me?

  7. I didn't sign up for the challenge, and it was 94 here today, but I still have an informal list of books in my head. Lots of Mo Hayder, The Returned, House of Leaves, and I just pre-ordered Stephen King's sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep...out in two days. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

  8. Oh where did you find that title of the Shirley Jackson book? I must find it....I'm so envious you could borrow The Diviners and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, which I really want to read. I am happy to say I have one of the ones you are thinking of - The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore, which I am about to read.

    I've also had my eye on Dollbones, which looks eerie and I know my daughter will love too. I think you should read as many as you want, Ana! they all look so good....I'm just happy you are able to join in again this year!

  9. Envious they are in softcover too, I mean, because I've been waiting a year for The Diviners over here and it's still not in softcover here. Enjoy!!!! I think I'll try again at my library, they didn't have many of these when I checked last month. So you have cool friends to borrow these books from, which is lovely :-)

  10. aw it looks like you have a lot of great choices! Enjoy your autumn reading!

  11. Aaargh. This so makes me want to blow off the entire day and do nothing but read dark and mysterious stories!!! I can make no recommendations on where to start though, as I've not read a single one of those. I hope whichever you choose will be the perfect choice! And that your second one will as well. And your third. And so on...

  12. I never want to admit summer is over, but Eleanor says that London is much more pleasant when it's cooler.
    I don't think you can go wrong with Mary Stewart and Laurie R. King.

  13. I really hope you enjoy your spooky reading whatever you choose to go for. This is the first time in a couple of years that I've taken part too.

  14. Yay for the R.I.P. I love it! I'm reading a Sayers novel too and I loved The Night Circus! Have fun and just read whichever ones sound good at that moment.

  15. Touch Not the Cat is pretty good. I don't think you'll be disappointed in it and you should probably follow your instincts and read it. I remember being in knots over which guy the heroine would pick. On the other hand, I'm not sure that quiz is very accurate, because it said I should read Madame, Will You Talk? which is probably my second least-favorite Mary Stewart; and rated The Ivy Tree at the bottom, which is my MOST favorite.

  16. Glad to see you joining the R.I.P. Challenge! I'm very behind in joining too as I'm just getting back into the groove after vacation. Love reading through your list. I feel like I've seen quite a few mentions of Mary Stewart in other blogs and I really need to read her one of these days!

  17. I love your "ridiculously" long pile! So many of these books are on my reading list like Doll Bones and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I can't wait to read your thoughts on The Diviners. Happy reading.


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