I have such a massive stack of “To Read” books that if I take the time to read a book more than once, it means I really, really love it. I read Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina for the first time last summer. It was probably the best book I read all year. I read it again at the beginning of this year, and it was even better on the second go. (Cool note—someone is adapting this for a musical which they hope to get on Broadway). Storming Heaven was written and published before I was born—how did it take me more than twenty years before I’d even heard of it?
Ever since I was assigned to read Orwell’s 1984 in high school, dystopian fiction has been one of my favorite literary genres. With The Hunger Games and Maze Runner series having captured American pop culture’s admiration, dystopian lit (or, at least, YA dystopian) is now a favorite of many others.
Before YA Dystopian was as big as it is today, M. T. Anderson wrote Feed, published in 2002 by Candlewick Press (in 2012, they released a newer edition, pictured below, which I have not read–as far as I know, all they changed was the cover).
When people ask me for my favorite books (or when I volunteer the information unsolicited), some are surprised when I suggest Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. They are even more surprised when I tell them it is probably one of the most unexpectedly profound books I’ve ever read.
Since Halloween is soon upon us, it doesn’t surprise me that this video has been going around recently: Christopher Walken reciting Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Raven”
I cut my literary-horror teeth on Poe; in fact, Poe has been a huge influence on my own writing (as is the case, I’m sure, for almost every modern American horror writer). I even hesitate to say that I love this poem, because it is so commonly known and admired that I feel like I’m a cliche for doing so–as if, to retain some sort of literati street cred, I should turn my nose up at this one and tell you that that you should really read this other obscure Mesopotamian or German or Norse poem, or whatever (but really, if you like Poe’s fiction, you should check out Johann Ludwig Tieck). But I’m not that well-versed, and even if I were, I would probably still love “The Raven.” And who wouldn’t (besides Emerson)? Beneath the dark and haunting imagery is a genius rhythm that plants those lyrics deep in the cracks of your brain (the rhythm he likely
stole borrowed from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship,” but that one is almost four times as long, and a chick flick besides). “The Raven” was like a creepy 19th century rap song. So, for your viewing and listening pleasure, here some more readings of “The Raven” I found on YouTube.
I like to listen to the next one and imagine Mufasa reading “The Raven” to Simba at night:
And it’s hard to talk of Poe without thinking of Vincent Price (whether you want to or not)–
The following video is actually my favorite out of all of these. I love the animation, and it makes a lot of sense to precede “The Raven” with Poe’s earlier “Lenore.”
I hope you enjoyed all this poetry as much as I did! (See what I did there?) Let me know in the comments which one was your favorite, or if you know of any other good ones out there! And don’t forget to join my email list!