Books to Frighten and Delight

The other night, I was lying in bed unable to sleep because my odd little mind was running amok. “Will you be able to pay your son’s tuition? Jeez, I hope so. He’d never forgive you if he had to quit and go to community college. Say goodbye to grandchildren. Speaking of grandkids, it’s too bad you aren’t 30 anymore. Right? I mean, not even taking into account the loss of skin elasticity, the middle-aged hairstyle (‘style’–that’s funny), or the loss of muscle tone, that extra 15 pounds–yikes! What? I’m just sayin’. Aging sucks. Sadly, in this country, only youth matters. OMG. I just thought; what if Tom loses his job? Holy shit that would be bad. Maybe you should get a part-time job at WalMart. You are so qualified for that! Really. Although, now that I think about it, why bother? You wouldn’t make enough to pay the electric bill, much less the mortgage. Oh well. The house won’t be paid off in your lifetime anyway so why worry? Someone will take it off your hands if you can’t afford to keep it and then you can move into a teeny-tiny low-maintenance apartment in a relatively safe neighborhood somewhere. Can you please make your heart stop palpitating like that? It’s really distracting.”

At that point… no, first my mind noticed the interesting similarity between “feat” and “feet”. Then it very cleverly (I thought) came up with, “Having great big feet is no great feat.” Actually, that wasn’t the first draft, we had to collaborate on just the right wording and then discuss the best way to illustrate such a clever play on words. That led to thinking about books. I wondered, of all the books I’ve read, which three did my mind and I find most disturbing. What about the most delightful? Here’s what we came up with:

The Three Most Unsettling Books I’ve Ever Read


Cover art by a talented artist (unkown) for a horrifying story.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The son-of-a-bitch English teacher who made me read that bit of horror at the age of 11 should have had his head stuck on a pike while savage little children dance around it.

Edition designed by Shepard Fairey.

1984 by George Orwell

It’s scary because it’s happening and no one seems to notice.

The Bible
Cover intelligently designed by an anonymous
typesetter (probably an agnostic).

The Bible by Committee

It’s scary because it isn’t true and yet continues to be one of the most powerful weapons of mass propaganda ever created.

The Three Most Delightful Books I’ve Ever Read

Phantom Tollbooth
Artwork by Jules Pfifer

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I wished I had a little electric car that could drive me out of this boring, tedious, senseless existence into a world of adventurous wordplay. I felt sorry for Milo when he had to come home, but his hopefulness in the face of impending indifference was truly inspiring.

The Hobbit
Beautiful cover, designer unkown

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

One of the most enjoyable and unique respites from reality I’ve ever read. Short people can be heroes, not just comedy relief.

Pride and Prejudice
Cover art by Cassandra Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Anyone unable to appreciate this book is vapid, insufferable, and probably too plain to dance with.

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