Tying Up Loose Ends: Starting my 2021 Reading List

Originally, I had planned on sharing my 2021 reading list in one big blog post like I did for my 2019 reading list, but the more I thought about it I decided that I would rather do one post per book instead. I’ve already finished a few books off of my reading list already, so expect those posts in the coming weeks.

Usually, my reading list is pretty flexible. I read what I want, when I want, and only let outside forces influence my list if there’s a movie adaptation coming out, or someone strongly recommends something. This year, I’m trying something different. I received a promotional email from Indigo advertising their 2021 reading challenge. I had at look at the list and, at first, I thought I’d pass. I have so many (unread) books at home that I didn’t want to have to buy more just to complete the challenge. But… It is hard for me to resist a challenge. I looked over the list again and realized that many of the unread books in my collection fit into some of the categories, so I decided to give it a go.

Now, although plenty of the books I have already read over the years meet the criteria of the reading list, I am only going to use books I have not yet read to complete the challenge because I seriously need to read through the stuff that’s just been sitting there on my shelves. I’m going to do my absolute best not to buy anything new (although I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m going to have to buy something new for two of the categories: for one category, I own nothing that fits. For the other, I’ve already read all the books I own that are eligible.) Also, some of the books I plan on reading fit into more than one category, but I’m not going to cheat and say that one book crosses two categories off the list – I’ll pick the one category it fits best.

But, I can’t start a new reading list until I finish off the book that haunted me throughout 2020: Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

Although it doesn’t really fit any of the categories on the Indigo reading list, this was something that I was determined to finish in 2021. I started reading this book in January 2020 and had not been able to finish it. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, a number of factors contributed to my procrastination, despite my love of Stephen King’s works. I can usually finish a thick, Stephen King book like this in less than a week – I tear through them. They don’t stand a chance. But not this time.

The first thing that impacted my decision to put this book on hold was that I started reading it around the time Orla passed away. This book brought up some unwanted emotions at the time because it deals with themes of loss. Especially the loss of children. Emotionally, I just had a harder time picking this book up again after losing my fur baby. Depression and all of the chaos of 2020 was another contributing factor. Although I managed to read some other books over the course of 2020, I did not read nearly as much as a normally do. And for some reason, I always just had a hard time picking this back up. I was reading maybe one chapter a month from this book, which is very unusual behaviour for me. But 2021 is a new year, and I was determined to finish Bag of Bones once and for all.

It’s an entertaining read, although I certainly wouldn’t place it in my Stephen King top 10. It has all the classic elements of a King novel: set in Maine and/or recurring King locations, the protagonist is a writer, “sacrificial children” are a key component of the novel, otherworldly entities that exist beyond the scope of this single story, the appearance and/or mention of characters from other King novels, and everything else you’d expect to see. There is violence, rape, racism, messed up dreams, and plenty of ghosts. I enjoyed reading this book simply because I am a fan of King’s style, but it really doesn’t stand out from some of his other works.

The thing that stood out the most to me when reading Bag of Bones were the references to Rebecca and Manderley. It was certainly a perfect choice of book to reference in this ghost story, as Sara Laughs is haunted – both literally and figuratively – by the former lady (or ladies) of the house, just as Manderley is haunted by the memory of Rebecca. And Mike, like Maxim in Rebecca, begins courting (sort of) another woman after the death of his wife. There are a lot of similarities between the two stories, but I also feel like it could have been taken further. I honestly forgot about the connections to Rebecca for part of the novel.

As far as the horror goes, I found it spooky and unsettling, but not scary. Some of the scenes describing the hauntings at Sarah Laughs certainly have the potential to make the story scary, but once the more psychic elements were established the haunting just didn’t stand out as much. The scene that disturbed me the most, however, was the flashback that showed exactly why the haunting was taking place and why the ghosts wanted revenge. It was an uncomfortable chapter to read, but it certainly explained the motivation of the ghosts. If that happened to me, I’d haunt the hell out of the perpetrators too.

A delightful bonus about this book is that the plot is straightforward enough that I had no problem remembering what had happened when I last read the book weeks, or months, earlier. I could just jump back in without having to re-read anything that had come before. It was standard Stephen King fare and I got exactly what I expected to get out of the experience. I still want to watch the tv adaptation of this story, but if someone asks me for a King recommendation this one won’t make it to the list.

So, now that that’s taken care of, I can devote all of my attention to the Indigo Reading Challenge. I’m not going through the list in order – I’m just reading what I feel like – so be prepared for anything!

Related Posts

Don't Miss Out!

Free Stories, updates on my writing, as well as sales and promotions