Readers Imbibing Peril, XV

I don’t often participate in reading challenges, having my own unpredictable and eclectic method of choosing my next read according to whim, necessity, and release date, but early to mid autumn is a season that really does seem to demand tailored reading. The R(eaders).I(mbibing).P(eril). Challenge is well suited to this, and in 2020 it’s easier than ever to play. Just read at least one book that could be qualified as mystery, suspense, Gothic, horror, supernatural, thriller, or dark fantasy, between 1 September and 31 October. Easy.

It’s not my absolute wheelhouse as far as genre goes, but I do like being a little creeped out, and have had some great reading experiences at this time of the year in the past, as the temperature drops and streetlamps become golden puddles of sanctuary in between inky pools of night, as winds rise and mists creep and bare branches scrape. I also have a few books already in the house that fit the bill, so I’m excited about joining in this year.

There are two I’ll make a definite commitment to read. One is Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith, a contemporary classic about a murder in Soviet Russia that becomes the subject of a cover-up. Really good political crime is such a rare beast that I’m very hopeful about this one. The other is Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s modern-day vampires-in-Stockholm chiller. I started reading it at someone’s house party five years ago (I’m usually better than this at parties, I swear, but I barely knew anyone) and, in retrospect, should have stolen it; it was immediately gripping, with a wonderfully judged air of melancholy, and I’ve wanted to get past page twenty ever since.

A few others are options for when I complete the above two. There’s Stephen King’s The Stand, of course, which is no doubt extraordinary but also incredibly long and could throw a spanner in my reading life for weeks. I’ve also just got hold of Eliza Clark’s Boy Parts, a creepy/grotesque new novel which promises to be all the body horror. Left over from a previous charity shop binge is Mrs. Wood’s sensation novel East Lynne, which I think I’ve ignored for too long. I’m also seeking a secondhand copy of Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady, since I liked The Moonstone so much and have had this one recommended as my next Collins venture by both Twitter and my colleague Zoe. And I’d like to include a volume of Sheridan Le Fanu’s ghost stories, as collected in either In A Glass Darkly or Green Tea, since I read M.R. James’s collected ghost tales this time last year and successfully freaked myself out with them. (I know they’re not meant to be that scary, especially to developed 21st-century sensibilities more accustomed to the Saw movies, but I am the biggest wuss; it does not take much.)

I also read a Dickens novel every late autumn/winter, although I’m running out of ones new to me, and this year will have to choose between The Pickwick Papers, Barnaby Rudge, and Edwin Drood. That doesn’t have to be part of RIP XV, although if it shakes out that way, that’ll be nice too (it’d have to be Drood to count, I think).

You can play too, if you like! Tag #ripxv and @PerilReaders on social media. Happy reading!

16 thoughts on “Readers Imbibing Peril, XV

  1. I’m pretty sure I also started reading Let the Right One In in the library once, didn’t check it out, and have always been keen to finish it! Maybe it finds people that way… Will be interested to know your thoughts!

  2. I’ll definitely do at least one post for RIP this year. I have a bunch of options sitting around, including classic ghost stories compiled by Roald Dahl and a Michelle Paver novel, and then there are Joyce Carol Oates and Laura Purcell books I can get from the library.

    I love your story about reading at a party and wishing you’d taken the book home. Shhhhhhhh, but I took a book from the Airbnb in Hay!

    • Ooh, Michelle Paver! I know she’s produced a few ghost novels for adults, and they’ve sounded really good. I meant to read Wakenhyrst when it came out and didn’t get round to it, foolishly.

      I also want to read JCO (specifically Blonde and The Accursed, the latte of which would definitely count!)

      Heh, book “rescuers” R us…

      • It’s Wakenhyrst that I got from a Little Free Library. I’ve read her Dark Matter and Thin Air for previous RIPs. I didn’t find them particularly scary, but they sure are fast reads.

        The Margaret Atwood story collection really didn’t need to be there alongside self-help books and makeup guides 🙂

    • It may be my only vampire novel so far?! I haven’t even read Dracula (or Twilight!)

      I’ve always liked “Imbibing” because it’s so clearly a goofy filler choice in order for the RIP acronym to work. Maybe “Ingesting” would be better, though, since I think you can technically only imbibe a liquid.

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