Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction

The Reading List for non-readers (But Especially my Wife)

Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.

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            It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman (if she’s fabulous) will be in want of a wife. I snagged me one, and she’s obscenely perfect in every way.


            Well, almost.


            My wife doesn’t read.


            That’s not true. She doesn’t read much. That doesn’t make her a bad person, nor does it retract from the capital WOW that is her total package. As an author, though, I may or not may forcibly place books in her hand and hold her face down until she’s absorbed every word they have to offer.


            You can imagine how well that goes down.


            So, instead, I’ve constructed this list. Some of the books are aimed specifically at my wife, but they’re excellent picks for the non-reader in your life, too.


Because I like to start with the big guns, may I present DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY—a book about notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes and his reign of terror against the backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair. This work of non-fiction reads like a novel, so for those who read purely for informational purposes, this is a sneaky way to real them into the realms of fiction.






















            If the premise isn’t enough, it’ll soon be a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio starring as Holmes. Oh HELL yes.



























            Not sold by the title alone? Are you DEAD inside? Fine. Pair it with a fine boxed wine and read it while sitting outside your local homeless shelter. Curious? Knew it.


            A little levity never killed anybody. Well, that’s not true. I’m sure there’s some statistic about people laughing themselves to death but, really, that’s not a bad way to go. And if you’re going to laugh yourself to death, it’ll be while reading LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED.

























            There’s a goddamned taxidermy mouse on the cover! Okay, seriously though, I read a lot. A hundred and fifty books a year on average. That’s a book every 2-3 days. I KNOW what I’m talking about when I say this collection of essays is the funniest thing to churn from the publishing cogs in a long time. The best part about it, though, is that it can be read over time without fear of losing your place. Each essay is a story of its own, and just as funny as the last.


            And while we’re talking short, quick reads, let’s throw in some Neil Gaiman. FRAGILE THINGS is a collection of short stories, poems, vignettes…























            Reading this collection is like taking a course in literature theory. You enjoy yourself AND you learn you some stuff, as only Neil Gaiman can teach it.


            This next one is aimed specifically at my wife (paying attention, dear?) She has a special fondness for books that dissect religious customs and belief; FORESKIN’S LAMENT has all that, and is hysterical to boot.























            I interviewed the author, Shalom Auslander, back in the day. He’s a good guy who doesn’t write nearly enough books to sate my lust. Maybe if you read it, he’ll write more. Maybe. A girl can dream, right?


            The classics can be frightening, even for me. Books like WAR AND PEACE and THE IDIOT have been on my to-read list since college, but each time I reach for them, a minor panic attach forces me to reach for a Tim Dorsey novel instead. But FEAR NOT, for I have the answer.
























            Her name is Carmilla, and she’s the first female vampire to appear in literary history. Clocking in at a paltry 140 pages, this classic novel is a breeze to get through. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, and you’ll impress all your friends when you tell them you read literature, now. Bow down, peasants.


            If you’re going to read one classic, you might as well read a second—PETER PAN AND WENDY. You’ve already experienced the Disney version, and if you’re awesome, you’ve seen the stage play, too. But nothing quite compares to the original novel.























            This beloved fairy tale is a lot darker than you’d imagine. (Trimming body parts? What?) You’ll never look at Disney the same way again.


            Irony upon ironies, I purchased SMASHED: THE DIARY OF A DRUNKEN GIRLHOOD during a midnight (yes, I was drunk) Amazon binge. What the author intended as a warning to the young girls ditching homework for frat parties, became (for me) confirmation that my sheltered young adulthood was a lot more sheltered than I thought.

























            This is one of those books you’ll read once and think about several times over the course of YEARS.


            I blame high school for the non-readers in this world. Forcing dry, classic literature on anyone will smother any spark of book love. The books in this list, though, are the cure.

            If you’ve got a book that either ignited or solidified a love of reading, I’d love to hear about it! Tell me at katrinam(at)darkcomedyprods(dot)com.

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