Friday, July 10, 2015

Camping Life: 10 BEST Books to Bring with You

I love camping. Some of my most beloved memories are camping with my family; my grandparents, immediate family, aunts, uncles, cousins…there was always so many of us and so many wonderful memories made! Camping has always held a special spot in my heart, I think because of my Grandma and Grandpa. They are the most fun and loving people, they created such a wonderful close-knit family (they have 4 kids w/ 4 married in spouses, 28 grandkids w/ 22 married in, 68 great-grand kids, and 1 great-great grand kid!). And they are most of my favorite people!! I remember being young and looking forward to our yearly trips, going to Yosemite (my favorite campground), playing capture the flag with all the cousins or playing Chicken Foot/Phase 10/Monopoly all day long, swimming in the lakes/rivers, going on “bear hunts” at nights with a flashlight (we never found one that way, but several have found US rather unsuspectingly!), or telling ghost stories by the fire making ‘Smores and scaring each other half to death. I have treasure troves of wonderful camping memories. As I got older, activities stayed relatively the same, be it swimming/playing games/etc but I started bringing books with me and always looked forward to choosing that ONE book, maybe to fill the void of those campfire tales or perhaps pass the time between Phase 10 and Spoons.

Still, one of my favorite things to do before I go camping is to search for a new book. Of course, because I’m me, I never just bring one book, but usually there’s a couple new ones and a couple old ones, because you never know when you get there what mood you’ll be in! Or, of course, how the new books will turn out!

I LOVE reading scary books while camping, there's just something that feels so RIGHT about it! Like it would be weird to read anything else that doesn't scare the crap out of you...I'm not sure why that is exactly, or what it says about me, but I do love it. It probably started with the fact that my favorite tv show growing up was Nickelodeon's "Are You Afraid of the Dark?". I was (AM) a proud member of The Midnight Society. I loved how the kids met up in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night and told scary stories. I wish that were real! I'd join in a heart beat!!

[If you have never seen this sow (Shame on you!) rectify this immediately and watch them FREE on Amazon Prime Instant Video!! Or really, even if you did, watch it anyways! I have!!]

Anyways, I've always loved the horror genre, both in books and in movies. I've seen about every scary movie there is and have read a whole lot of horror books. For this year's camping trip, after much deliberation, I'm reading Peter Straub's Ghost Story, because apparently it's a crime I haven't read it as a horror lover. [Ghost stories are my *favorite* and they also freak me out the most. Good thing I'll have my pup and be sharing a tent!]

So, thinking that I might not be the only one camping (or traveling or staying inside to read this summer), I’ve compiled a list of some of the BEST books to take camping (or wherever you may be going). 

***Don't worry, they aren't ALL scary, because there's gotta be some people out there not as crazy as I am!

10 BEST Books to Bring with You Camping

1. 4 Past Midnight, by Stephen King. Really, ANYTHING by Stephen King and you’re set. I like 4 past midnight because it’s a collection of scary short stories, which is nice to sort of pick up and read in between activities without being in it for the long haul, you know what I mean?! It also features one of my favorite Steven King stories, Secret Window, Secret Garden. I LOVE a good scare, especially when you’re in the middle of the woods with only a flimsy tent to keep you safe. ;) Also of note, Mr. Mercedes or The Shining.

2. Jurassic Park or Congo, by Michael Crichton. Again, ANYTHING by Michael Crichton is amazing. These are just two of my favorites. Suspense, thrillers, action, adventure, creatures… these have it all!!

3. Harry Potter and …., by J.K. Rowling. Pick your favorite and bring it along! I love adventure books in the summer, maybe because a lot of times you’re stuck in the same place for long intervals, so it’s a great escape!

4. 1st to die, by James Patterson. I *love* James Patterson. If murder mysteries are your thing, he’s your guy. I looove murder mysteries, it’s my favorite genre. I haven’t read anything of his that I haven’t liked, and I’ve read most of his books. But the “Women's Murder Club” series is by far his best series. I know, I know. Those who are Alex Cross diehards are going to strongly disagree with me, but hey, you can’t please everyone! This first book is probably THE BEST in the series, because it’s sharp, riveting, enthralling and will have you gasping in surprise/horror/shock.

5. Bossypants, by Tina Fey or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling. If Comedy is more your thing, and you’re laying out by the lake in the afternoon sunshine, and you love hilariously honest autobiographies, these are GEMS. Seriously, laugh-out-loud funny!

6. Can you Keep a Secret, by Sophie Kinsella. Again, sometimes you need lighter books or something to take away the nightmares Steven King just gave you, and if that’s the case, Sophie Kinsella’s your homegirl. Mostly known for her Shopaholic series (also great), this Brit is witty, sassy, and hilariously relatable. CYKAS is my favorite of hers. She’s like Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones...but with significantly less swearing and smoking. ;)

7. The Partner or The Last Juror, John Grisham. If legal dramas/thrillers are more your cup of tea, these books are exceptional! I know most people think of A Time to Kill, The Pelican Brief, The Firm or even Runaway Jury when they think of Grisham, but these are even better!

8. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson. If you're more into the Classics, this is your novel. This 1959 classic has been scaring readers for 50+ years and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. If ghosts and haunted houses are your thing, or you know, just excellent story-telling that will frighten up your life, give this one a whirl!

9. The Perks of Beings a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky. One of my favorite modern works, this story is a beautiful coming of age novel about growing up, about coming into your own and being who you are. (Not at all scary) The main character Charlie has to be one of the most likable characters, ever. He's a wallflower; shy, introverted, socially awkward, but extremely kind and intelligent. And also broken. I can't say enough about how much I love this book! (And the movie adaptation is wonderful too! They did a great casting job!!) ALSO, the 80's music references are TO DIE FOR!

10. Sharp Objects or Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn. Flynn, of Gone Girl fame, is an excellent story teller. I really love her thrillers and how dark and gritty and messed up her characters/stories are. So in fair warning, if that is not your thing, don't bother. If it is, you will love the twisted, crazy, creepy, sometimes despicable and other times shockingly screwed up her characters are. I'd start with her first novel Sharp Objects before going on to the 2nd, but that's just me. 

***Also, if you like this type of genre and you still haven't read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, do. That's a 3 book series that you'll love because Lisbeth is a total B.A. 

Honorable Mentions: Anything by Preston & Child (Relic for starters!), Harlan Coban (Tell No One), Dean Koontz (The Good Guy or Watchers). 

Well, I hope you have a wonderful time by the campfire!! Enjoy a great book and don't forget about the 'Smores!! :)

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