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  • Writer's pictureStefanie Barnfather

Monthly Reads

Looking for book recommendations?

Check out what I read in September and October.

1984 by George Orwell

This 1949 Orwell classic is not for the shaky of spirit.

Bleak totalitarian dystopia.


Vividly visceral imagery.


A scathing inditement of mass oppression.


Winston lives in "futuristic" Oceania, a post/mid-war world ruled by the ideology of Big Brother. In this depressing, rigidly-controlled regime, Winston seeks ways to retain his sense of self and purpose. But love, thought, safety and individuality are manipulated by the undefinable BB entity and Winston knows it's only a matter of time before he disappears within the void of conformity.

This book is exceptionally well-written. It's exceptionally dismal. It's exceptionally inspiring.

Due to the nature of its content this story is a hard read -- but an important one. Check out this generation-defining novel today (or when you're feeling resilient).


A wonderful collection -- it's Thor-tastic!

Short stories.

My favourite.

Fresh fables.

Yes yes yes.

Humorous tone.

Who doesn't need a laugh right now?

Scandinavian folklore has been retold for centuries, and Gaiman's engaging compilation of tales about Odin, Loki, Thor -- and the rest of the Valhalla family -- uplifts these old-world skaldic poems. Told in his clean, enjoyable style, the stories in Norse Mythology provide a dark and twisted distraction from our dark and twisted lives.

If you like bold content and unfiltered imagery, give this book a whirl.



Philosophically political discourse.


Frightening relevancy.

Double hurrah!

Creepy, hyper-intelligent, biologically-superior alien children being birthed by 1950s British women.

Triple hurrah!

When Midwich, a small town in rural Briton, experiences a Dayout -- a condition where the whole town loses consciousness for a single day without any adverse consequences -- Military Intelligence takes unusual interest in covering up the occurrence. After every fertile female becomes pregnant, regardless of their martial/sexual/orientation status, Midwich decides to care for the creatures that are created. After nine years of housing sixty blonde-haired, golden-eyed Children with the ability to collectively converse while controlling the compulsions of others, a cataclysmic event from behind the Iron Curtain causes a chain reaction of vengeance -- and the imperative for survival.

Though the pacing is slow and the rhetoric highly theoretical, John Wyndham explores themes of collectivism vs. individualism + reactionary instincts vs. compassion-led humility in a driving, resolute manner.

If you love books that make you think -- and scare the pants off of you -- read this amazing story; before you watch the HBO series, please!

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

This was a 'read'. A good read, but a hard read. For good reasons.

Post-apocalyptic dystopia.


Human vs Nature.

Cross it off!

Raw, cutting style.

Bonus points!

The man and the boy travel along a desolate road years after an unspecified catastrophe destroys the planet. As they head through the mountains towards the safety of the coast the man has to protect his son from horrors, both human and environmental. Written in a stark, poetic style -- with punctuation used to affect pacing and meaning -- McCarthy makes it impossible to deny his themes of despair, futility and the fragility of man as he battles himself.

This book is not for the faint (nor shallow) of soul. I recommend you read it -- because this 2006 story explores hard truths we all have to face -- but prepare yourself for bleak representational writing that hits hard. Super fun.

'SALEM'S LOT by Stephen King

Could. Not. Put. This. Down.


Really Scary.

Really, really scary.

In the small town of Jerusalem's Lot, the locals have a big problem. The horror house that hides on the hill has recently been re-occupied -- by residents nobody wants to invite in.

Set in the 1970s, King's second novel gives a wink and a nod to a horror genre giant: Dracul. His "modern" retelling of Bram Stoker's classic is a must-read, if only to know how much garlic to bring when venturing into the forest...

THE BODY by Stephen King

Not King's spookiest book, but it definitely gave me the chills.

Humans are monsters.


Kids are weird.


Times are tough.


In 1960s America, Gordie and his three friends embark on a 12-yr-old's perfect weekend -- a trip across town to see the body of a deceased local. Though the body is the impetus for the pre-teens' journey, it isn't the point of King's story. The horror lies within the nature of the secondary characters.

Abuse, casual bigotry and cultural corruption are the conflicts within this tale, and Gordie and his friends have to bond under the weight of apathetic indifference in order to complete their ghoulish goal.

With its raw language and realistic interactions, The Body sucks you into the mindset of the era -- and makes you eager to escape.

Great read. I've heard the movie is... okay (I'm kidding, the movie is a gem).


Want something horrific to read right before bed? This collection is IT.

Monsters, Spirits and Ghouls.


Short Stories.

More, please!

Ambiguous Realities.

Love that line between 'what the hell' and 'what the damn hell?!'

Richard Matheson inspired some of the great horror writers of our era -- King, Gaiman, Straub and Hill, to name a few (and screenwriting giants Spielberg and Abrams). In his 1950s collection, Matheson explores madness induced by our fears and exposes realities we're terrified to acknowledge. Using viral vampires, manipulative houses, twisted witches and zombified dolls to challenge his MCs, Matheson guides us to the end of each story where realize the real monsters lurk within.

LOVED IT. It's weird, conceptually abstract and highlights theme rather than plot. This book of shorts demands you READ IT. READ IT, NOW.

LADY KILLERS by Tori Tefler

This is a spectacular book of true crime stories -- where the serial killers are women.

Covered up calamities.


Gory history.


Genius (unhinged?) female villains.


In this exploration of the criminal lady brain, Tori Telfer tells true tales about horrific murderesses throughout time. But these evil enchantresses aren't the sexy, misunderstood, maltreated types modern media likes to paint them as -- they're ugly, intelligent, without morals and just as capable of mass murder as their male-identifying counterparts. From the 15th century to 2016, Telfer's summation of the grisliest serialists 'her'story has to offer will leave you questioning what you're told -- by your closest girlfriends...

Give it a read! And lock up your daughters.

Hope these recommendations lead you to a happily-reader-after. Next month I'm going a little lighter -- can't wait to share what I discover.

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