Archive of ‘bookish’ category

More Sneak Peeks From The Art Of The Occult

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It feels super weird and maybe a little tacky to keep mentioning my forthcoming little book goblin, but part of my job of having written it is to occasionally promote it. Please don’t get annoyed with me!

In the vein of keeping updates brief and lively for your eyeballs, I thought I might share a peek at the table of contents. Hopefully, this is what it will all look like in the end, but if it’s not exactly as displayed in these photos and screenshots, it will be pretty close. I’m pretty thrilled that they included this image of Waterhouse’s Circe Indiviosa here, it’s an incredibly gorgeous work, and one of my very favorites by the artist. What do you think?

To anyone who has already preordered a copy, thank you so much! Preorders help with creating an early buzz about a book, and it’s a clear message to the publisher that there is a demand for the author’s work. So I appreciate all of you for sending that message–it means the world to me!

If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy, all of the details on The Art Of The Occult can be found here. 

Table of contents

Things That Scare Me

 

In this week’s YouTube upload, I chatter about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, and one that’s held a lifelong fascination for me: the things that scare me and strike fear into my heart! From a very young age I’ve been obsessed with the things that frighten me and in this video, I share a few of those things, which, as an adult, I find mildly unsettling, or straight-up freaky.

Pull up a chair, pour a bracing libation for your stout heart, and let’s have a chat about the nightmares and dreadful imagery that haunts our subconscious and lurks in our individual shadows. What scares you? Please feel free to share in the video comments!

Books/stories mentioned in this video:

💀 The House Next Door by Anne River Siddons
💀 The House Next Door Lifetime adaptation
💀 Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edogawa Ranpo
💀 “The Human Chair” LP by Cadabra Records
💀 “The Lady Maid’s Bell” by Edith Wharton (read online)
💀 “The Wendigo” by Algernon Blackwood (read online)

The Art Of The Occult

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Is this a good time to make an official book announcement for The Art Of The Occult (Quarto/White Lion Publishing) complete with a cover reveal and pre-order links? Times are weird and dark and scary right now. Sharing and celebrating this accomplishment with you all feels like a tiny ray of light.

See below for some details, and I look forward to sharing some behind-the-scenes tidbits regarding the process, as well as some personal snippets about my own experience with writing this book, in the upcoming months.

Description

The Art of the Occult is a visual feast of eclectic artwork informed and inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, mythology and otherworldly experiences.

Mystic and occult practices date back centuries, but why, after so much scientific progress, do we still chase the esoteric? Over the past two centuries, artists have been drawn to these unknown spheres and have created curious artworks that transcend time and place. From theosophy and kabbalah, to the zodiac and alchemy; spiritualism and ceremonial magic, to the elements and sacred geometry – The Art of the Occult will explore:

the symbolic and mythical images of the Pre-Raphaelites;
the automatic drawing of Hilma af Klint and Madge Gill;
Leonora Carrington’s surrealist interpretation of myth, alchemy and kabbalah;
the theosophical practices of Mondrian and Kandinsky;
and contemporary tattoo artists inspired by sacred geometry.

Featuring prominent, marginalised and little-known artists, The Art of the Occultcrosses mystical spheres in a bid to inspire and delight. Divided into thematic chapters (The Cosmos, Higher Beings, Practitioners), the book acts as a light introduction to the art of mysticism – with short chapter introductions examining each practice, followed by a series of carefully curated artworks, supported by explanatory captions.

The art of the occult has always existed in the margins but inspired the masses, and this book will spark curiosity in all fans of magic, mysticism and the mysterious.

Pre-order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million / IndieBound

2019 Lists: Books Read

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My main reading goal this year was to have finished five books that gave me trouble over the last few years. Meaning, I started the book, and then put it down, and then never got to the end. Whether the story was boring, or the content seemed too daunting, or perhaps I wasn’t in the right headspace to tackle the thoughts or the writing at the time–whatever the reason, the goal was to finish five such titles before the year’s end.

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I finished exactly one of those books: The King of Elfland’s Daughter. Which was a sort of excruciating read and if you ask me, there wasn’t nearly enough of the titular daughter in it! No matter. It is done and finished and I need never look at it again. As for the other four books, well. That just didn’t happen.*  But I did supplement with at least 70 other books that I wasn’t even supposed to be reading!

*I think I will try to work at least one of each in over the next few years.

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In previous years I’d gotten quite a bit more reading done, but this year I was actually writing a book…and so for a good chunk of the year, the writing took precedence over the reading–reading for pleasure, anyway. There was a lot of reading for research, which just isn’t as fun. Even when the research-reading is something that you are interested in and have a passion for! Whatever “It” is, if you’re obligated to be doing It, It’s never as fun as the stuff you’re not doing. That’s just how it works!

Anyway, that project, while not completely finished, is a good 75% done, and after working on it in late spring-all summer–early fall, I felt it was finally safe to start reserving books at the library again. I’m afraid that for a few weeks there, I might have gone a little nuts.

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With regard to my 2019 reads*, reviews, and resulting recommendations? Well, I’ve probably reviewed them already at Haute Macabre or will be doing so shortly, but feel free to peek over there under the “stacked” tag if you are curious about my thoughts of any of these.

However, if you want to skip all of that and get straight to my favorites, I will recommend the following because they were fantastic and might even warrant a second read some year in the far-flung future.

*read by me in 2019, though not necessarily published in 2019

Fiction picks of 2019
The Ten Thousand Doors Of January by Alix Harrow
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Frankisstein by Jeannette Winterson
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Non-fiction, Essays, and Memoir Picks of 2019
In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes by Anne Elizabeth Moore
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine
Waking The Witch by Pam Grossman. I am not sure why this title didn’t show up in my Goodreads imagery above, maybe I forgot to record it? One thing I definitely did not forget to do though, is write a pretty detailed book report on it for Haute Macabre earlier this summer!

What did you read in 2019 that you would recommend to a friend? Or possibly recommend to a friend who also happens to be me?

Maria Germanova And La Vache Qui Rit

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Can I even read this book? Well…no. But I just received an autobiography on my beloved Maria Germanova all the way from Russia and I’m not gonna let a bunch of Cyrillic alphabets stand in my way!

To be perfectly honest, I had despaired of ever receiving this package. I don’t typically order many things from that part of the world and wasn’t sure how long it might take to arrive (and it seemed like it was taking forever! Although maybe I had only ordered it three weeks ago. Hm. I should better manage my expectations.)

In a prescient missive heralding things to come, I received the below image link via instagram yesterday from a friend. This is a great re-enactment of Maria Germanova’s Blue Bird costume–don’t the Laughing Cow cheese container disks just totally make it?! Brava to the creator! And as it happened, the book arrived not an hour later.

via Lydia Edwards/@howtoreadadress

via Lydia Edwards aka @howtoreadadress

Pam Grossman’s Waking The Witch: Book Review And Giveaway

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I cannot possibly say enough good and wonderful things about Pam Grossman’s Waking The Witch…but I do give it a try over on Haute Macabre today! Be sure to stop by for my review, give a heartfelt congratulations to Pam for putting such a fantastic piece of magic and witchery out into the world, and leave a comment on the blog for the opportunity to win a signed copy!

Happy summer solstice, friends!

Book Stuff

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So…some recent book stuff!

…not to be confused with “butt stuff”. Which…don’t ask me how one could be mistaken for the other, but as someone who frequently mishears and misreads things, I know it happens!

Book stuff the first is our Stacked reading compilation over at Haute Macabre, covering the months of April and May. Among others, I really enjoyed In The House In The Dark Of The Woods by Laird Hunt, a witchy woodland fever dream of a tale, set in colonial New England, is utterly immersive and twisty and strange. Not mentioned, because I didn’t even know how to begin to tackle the material, is The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang. I feel funny saying that I “enjoyed” this book, a woman’s exhausting struggle with chronic and mental illness, but it was intimate and candid,  beautifully written and immediately compelling, and provided perspectives and insights that were surprising, terrifying, and sometimes even quite empowering.

Book stuff the second: I interviewed Mallory O’Meara, best-selling author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent PatrickMilicent Patrick was an illustrator and artist “who designed the iconic monster from The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but, unfortunately for decades, no one knew much else about her.” Mallory’s book is the incredible true story of Milicent Patrick’s life and legacy, and an exploration of why her accomplishments still matter today and why her story needs to be told now more than ever. Bonus: if you’ve never seen Creature From The Black Lagoon, you can watch it over on archive.org!

“By My Broom,” Said She

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By my broom,” said she, “I give you no spell against magic.”

It’s taken me three years, but I have finally finished reading Lord Dunsany’s The King Of Elfland’s Daughter. It was a bit of a slog, but I’ll confess: this enchanting passage kicks off the point at which the story begins to redeem itself for me (20 pages from the end, oh well.)  The ageless, enigmatic Ziroonderel is the star of the show as far as I’m concerned. “As though magic were not the spice and essence of life, its ornament and its splendor.” Quite right! Send that parliament of old fools packing, you wise, wonderful old thing!

This title marks the first of my five goal books read in 2019, though it is book 25 of the total read so far this year. Next up: The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith, which I began in late summer of 2017 and was actually enjoying very much, but I became distracted by other books, set it aside, and it was soon buried and forgotten.

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Coming Home

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For the winter holidays this past year I suggested to my baby sister that if she wanted to get me something in addition to the planner that you’ve all heard so much about recently, why not one of her very favorite books? The sort of comfort read that she might return to year after year, savor time and time again. She presented me with Rosamunde Pilcher’s Coming Home.

“Against the backdrop of an elegant Cornwall mansion before World War II and a vast continent-spanning canvas during the turbulent war years, this involving story tells of an extraordinary young woman’s coming of age, coming to grips with love and sadness, and in every sense of the term, coming home…”
I hadn’t yet started the book, but I learned that Rosamunde Pilcher passed away yesterday, so I thought I’d begin reading it this very afternoon in honor of both the author and the story that so captivated my sister. And in honor of the one who so thoughtfully gave me a tiny piece of her history to cherish, I thought I would dine on what I imagine one of her favorite snacks used to be at the time she discovered her love for this specific book: a generous helping of bright orange Cheezits. To sip, a serving of delicious diet chemicals, which I do not believe she ever developed a taste for.

And you? If you were to gift a loved one with your most beloved, returned-to-time-and-time-again story, what would it be? Do you recall where you were in your life’s path when that book became so vital to you? And of course, it’s always helpful to pair a special snack with your comfort reading–what would you recommend your loved one to pair with your book?

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