Back when blogging about books was a new idea, Carl created two marvelous challenges, that have become part of the internal calendar of many readers, including myself. The fall one is named the R.I.P. Challenge and is devoted to reading darker books, as you might have gathered.


Participants spend September and October reading books (or now watching television or movies…essentially any story medium!) that fall into the mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror, or supernatural genres. Since I happen to love these types of books anyway, I always look forward to joining in the fun.

This year, I’m a bit tardy in signing up, but I have in fact already read the four books required for the Peril the First challenge. What can I say? I got carried away in my enthusiasm! Here they are:

I have no plans to stop at just these four however! The Estella Society (this year’s hosts) is running a read along of Lauren Owen’s The Quick, so I began that last night.Ā  I’ve now realised I’ve begun a week early, but this way I’ll have it finished and can read others participants’ thoughts without worrying about spoilers.

I also thought it’d be interesting to do a mini-theme within the larger challenge and have gathered together four books about Salem; three about the eighteenth century witch trials (two nonfiction, one novel) and one set in contemporary Salem, written by a current resident, and featuring an unreliable narrator with a gift for seeing the future.

I might also throw in a Nathaniel Hawthorne reread for good measure.

I do have hazy thoughts about more books I’ll be reading over the next two months, but as they’re not yet specific, and as my hands are sore today, this will do as a beginning. Tell me: what are you favourite books that would apply to this challenge? I always love adding to my reading wishlist. Knowing how many marvelous new books and authors are out there, waiting patiently for me to stumble across them, gives me a little thrill of pleasure.


28 thoughts on “The Tenth Annual R(est) I(n) P(eace) Reading Challenge

  1. Fun! I like Her Fearful Symmetry and Raven Girl, both by Audrey Neffenegger, and, of course, Du Maurier’s Rebecca and its Hitchcockian visual interpretation. Read on.

    1. Oh I didn’t realise Niffenegger had a new book out! Du Maurier is one of my favourite authors, and I love the Hitchcock adaptation of Rebecca as well. šŸ˜€

  2. Yup, they all need to go on my tbr! šŸ™‚ I really need to get to Oyemi at some point, how are the October sequels? I’m just getting to the serious part in book 1, poor Toby. Also, I saw they had the Kent book in my library, wonders! But I couldn’t remember whether I had heard great or horrible things about it. Can you recommend it? Girl in the well, creeepy title! Love your idea of doing a themed reading for RIP and I’ll check back to see what else you end up reading for RIP šŸ™‚

    My list is surprisingly fantasy-ish, I haven’t always been great with the genre but I’m growing as a reader.

    1. Yes to poor Toby! The third is definitely my favourite so far; it felt like a lot of themes coalesced. Plus, a lot of it is set in creepy woods/fairyland. The second is mainly in silicone valley, and while I thought the theme/premise was a wonderful intellectual exercise, I wasn’t so keen on spending that much time in a computer programmer building. LOL It was still well worth reading though.

      Burial Rites is gorgeous, its prose and the characters and the landscape and the way of life. You can tell the author had a lot of familiarity with Iceland (even though she’s Australian), and she manages to portray it without idealising or demonising it. I found myself invested in it very quickly. Now, I do think the practice of fictionalising real people, to the point of using them as narrators for a novel, is deeply questionable at best, but I’m glad I put that qualm aside and read this one.

      Fantasy has been one of my favourite genres since I was a child, but I’m very uncomfortable with sci-fi, so I can understand how others might feel similarly about fantasy. I’m glad it’s starting to win you over! šŸ˜€

    1. You should do it this year then! I read a lot of mysteries too, mainly of the traditional variety (far closer to ‘cosy’ than ‘gritty’). šŸ˜€

  3. Waaaah. You’ve got four books done already, and I have exactly zero. *sigh* This happens every year though–I get so ridiculously excited about RIP and want to spend two months doing nothing but focusing on all things dark and creepy, but what really happens is that I have next to no time for anything but school stuff as we get rolling in the new school year. Okay, I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself now. (Well, probably I won’t, but I’ll stop crying on your shoulder about it. šŸ˜› )

  4. I will be very curious to hear your thoughts on THE LACE READER, one of the only titles on your list that I’ve read. I did read MR. FOX a while back and… I didn’t love it. But it was my first Oyeyemi and I think part of my issue is that I was expecting a more conventional narrative. Ironically, TLR has a super conventional narrative and was wholly unsurprising and I was really underwhelmed by it when I read it. Maybe you will get something more from it than I did?

    1. I’m laughing hysterically at the idea of Oyeyemi & a conventional narrative. I started with her earlier books, which are far weirder than Mr. Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird, so I found this one surprisingly straightforward. šŸ˜€ I’ve totally been bitten by expectations with other books that I expected to love & then found myself so disoriented by that I didn’t though, so I understand. I loved Mr. Fox even more the second time around, for what that’s worth.

      Now I’m worried about TLR. But I can always abandon it!

  5. I read The Lace Reader with a book group a long time ago. I remember liking it, but it was definitely different. Will be interested in hearing what you think. Good luck with your Salem reading!

  6. Like you, I had already read 2 books that counted before I even signed up, so I left them off the list. For the most part, other than a dog book here or there, the categories are mostly what I read anyway. Love how you incorporated some of your own challenges. I love Salem related stuff and Salem Possessed caught my eye. Good luck on RIP!

    1. Hah, I’m counting my four, since I started them all after the challenge began! šŸ˜‰ Isn’t the subtitle of Salem Possessed intriguing? I’ll report back; I haven’t visited Salem (reading-wise) since high school, when I did a paper on the differences between the movie & play versions of “The Crucible.” So it’s been awhile!

  7. Happy reading, the Salem books look good. I always read some Poe for this event and I plan on reading Rebecca this time around.

  8. I am already starting my fifth? book for the challenge too. I just have so many here on my shelves that it gives me a great excuse to tear through some fun reads and skip over more literary ones for a little while. I love all of the books but these crazy plots and characters are definitely an indulgence! Have a very fun reading season!

  9. Oh! I like that you’ve gathered some books around the theme of Salem. And didn’t know that The Lace Reader was about Salem. I’ve seen it around blogs and whatnot online but wasn’t quite sure if it was for me. Of course I realize that by now, some days after you’ve posted this, you’ve probably read all the books mentioned – and more!

    1. I’m not sure if it’s for me either, so I’ll just abandon it if I don’t connect. Sadly, I’m in a bit of a slump at the moment, so I haven’t read any of the Salem books yet. Eek!

  10. Oooh, how was Mr. Fox? I think that’s going to be my next Oyeyemi! I love your idea of themes within the challenge šŸ™‚ So many of those books sound so intriguing!! This has not been a good RIP for me so far, but I’m hoping to change that…I’ve read exactly zero books so far :p

    1. It was a reread for me; I loved it even more this time around! I’m an Oyeyemi fangirl though. ;D

      I hope your RIP picks up! I’ve hit a reading slump midmonth so hoping it’ll pass soon.

  11. Long time reader here and I just have to say I’m loving the direction of the new blog! I wrote a book blog for a while, but things started to feel stilted for me as I felt somewhat pigeonholed to only write about books. I’m really enjoying the varying content on here šŸ™‚

    This October I’m reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle and I’m finally going to knock Frankenstein off my TBR pile. The Lace Reader is one I’ve been meaning to read for a while now, perhaps I’ll add that to my list as well.
    I really liked Burial Rites. I read it a few months ago and the characters and setting really stuck with me. I hear they will be making it into a movie so that should be interesting!

    1. Oh I adore We Have Always Lived in the Castle! And I’m so glad you’re enjoying my new blogging approach.

      Burial Rites is definitely a book with an impact isn’t it? I hope she’s working on her next novel.

  12. I just finished Burial Rites last nite on your recommendation. Although I am not doing the RIP Challenge, I love Gothic Lit so it was a wonderful choice. I, too, usually avoid fiction involving real people but well done Hannah Kent. And thank you Eva for finding it. Very moving book in so many ways and a wonderful look inside Icelandic culture and history.

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! If you’re interested in Iceland, I highly recommend Nancy Marie Brown’s nonfiction works. šŸ™‚

      Who are you favourite Gothic authors (or just books)? I’m always looking for more.

      1. Helen Dunmore is one of my favorite Gothic authors. And thank you for the nonfiction recommendation. Currently reading This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Women Pioneers of the Environment (nonfiction) by Breton.

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