Book Diet – 2017

I’ve always been that reader who can’t pass a used bookstore without going in, and I’ve had to set a firm one-bag limit during my county’s yearly library sale. But when I reorganized a few shelves late last August, I finally realized just how many unread novels I had lying around.

Some of them I recognized right away. There was a short stack of vintage fantasy I picked up at the thrift store down the street and a couple of larger piles of adventure hardbacks from estate sales. I found a book that I borrowed a few months before, two dirt-cheap ebay purchases, and a handful of wild looking picks from this $1 book warehouse in the area.

But there were other books that I’d completely forgotten about. Why did I have two copies of Joseph Conrad’s Victory? And why had I ever thought I’d read those sleazy-looking spy novels? Yes, the lead character is apparently a “Killmaster,” which is hilarious, but skimming the first few pages makes it obvious that those books are never going to be my thing.

It was definitely time for another book diet. I stopped buying books in September, and the plan is to keep that up through December. In the meantime, I’m working on my to-read piles and grabbing new releases from the library. I didn’t cancel anything I cared enough about to preorder, and I might bend the rules if I hear about some really limited edition that’s sure to sell out before the new year. But other than that, I’m not buying books.

Thanks to some strange law of the universe that makes every one of my library holds come in at once, I haven’t gotten through as much of my book stash as I planned to. But now that I know exactly how many unread books I have lying around, it should be easier to resist some of my more questionable book-buying impulses. Maybe next year I’ll just skip the library sale.

Horror Stories You Can Read Online

If you’re looking for something to get you in the Halloween spirit before this weekend’s round of costume parties and horror movie marathons, try one of these:

The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allan Poe
I love the tight focus and the thoroughly cold-blooded narrator, and I’ve always wondered what Fortunato did to provoke such a drastic reaction.

The Yellow Wall Paper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
I like this story best when I imagine that the ending wasn’t inevitable, that things would have gone differently if only anyone had listened. Point-of-view madness makes it the scariest one of the bunch.

The Mask, by Robert W. Chambers
Art and alchemy have tragic effects on a love triangle. This one went in a different direction than I expected, but my inner mean person wishes it had ended a little sooner.

The Haunter of the Ring, by Robert E. Howard
After a meeting with friends provokes a strange reaction, one of the characters explains that he’s afraid of an inherited curse. This story hooked me quick and kept the twists coming.

For maximum effectiveness, be sure to read these in a dark room during a thunderstorm.