25 October, 2021

LitStaff Pick: The Books We Wish We Could Read Again for the First Time

The Keeper
Sarah Langan

Sarah Langan’s The Keeper made me nervous, jumpy, and about as happy as can be. I read it during a winter several years ago, maybe 2007-08—one here in southern Ohio that had lots of nights with temperatures in the teens and below, and a couple of good snowstorms. I spent a lot of time in the garage after shoveling the driveways and our porch and the neighbors’ walkways and all. Those who know me well will tell you that I love cold weather, and I’ve never spent more time in it than I did (with icicles in my beard, literally) than I did that winter . . . because I loved this book. After working outside in the dark and cold, I read it in the garage in the light of a small utility bulb while smoking cigars and drinking Guinness. It took me only a couple of nights. The garage was set back from the house, and it was very dark outside. I jumped. I flinched. I listened carefully to noises outside. That’s what the book did to me. And I loved every second, every line, of it. Langan is a master of atmosphere and imagery and tension. The central character, Susan Marley, is terrifying in both a realistic and a supernatural way. This book crawls along sometimes in such a good, detailed, and dreadful way, and then the terror escalates later on at a breakneck pace. I’ve never been so happy to be unnerved as I was on those dark, snowstormy nights while I read this book half-drunk in a cold garage.

-Brady Allen

3 thoughts on “LitStaff Pick: The Books We Wish We Could Read Again for the First Time

  1. Mine would definitely be WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Despite being a classic, it took me by surprise. I've never been a "required reading list" type of reader, so I assumed I wouldn't be into it. Happily, I was wrong. Heathcliff is one of the most complex and interesting characters I've ever read. It's a shame I'll never get to experience meeting him for the first time again.

  2. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Here is this group of people being held hostage in a mansion. The situation must come to an end, of course it must, but how? What sequence of events will finally end months of captivity in which the hostages and hostage-takers have bonded and the real world has come to seem like a dream?

    Also, The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Masterfully written mystery. I recall that I stayed up half the night to finish it.

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