monsters, magic, and books

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but nothing to do with skepticism. Instead, I have been filling my head with monsters, magic, and fantasy. Over the past couple of weeks, I read all four of the Twilight novels by Stephenie Meyer. And two of my favorite authors have come out with new books that I’ll be reading over the weekend: A Lion Among Men by Gregory MaGuire and The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman. I don’t know why, but it seems like a lot of skeptics are fans of the supernatural in fiction. Is it because of or in spite of the fact that we don’t believe in the supernatural in the real world?

Even with all that fantastical reading, I’ve had time to get some great books lined up for the next few reading selections:

First, to stick to the ghostly lineup of my personal reading, and to celebrate Halloween, we’ll be reading The Ghost on Saturday Night by Sid Fleischman. This is a children’s book, so it’ll be a quick read that you should be able to fit in this month, even though we’re getting a very late start. Instead of interviewing the author, I’d like to post some input by parents who are readers of this blog. Please contact me if you’d like to share your thoughts about reading materials for kids. I have some things to say on this based on my own childhood, but I’d like to include input from parents.

Here are a few more books that we’ll be digging into this winter:

The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby, the author of Freethinkers.

A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God is Good and Faith isn’t Evil by David G. Myers

The Murder of Nikolai Vavilov: The Story of Stalin’s Persecution of one of the Great Scientists of the Twentieth Century by Peter Pringle

Christian No More: On Leaving Christianity, Debunking Christianity, and Embracing Atheism and Freethinking by Jeffrey Mark

I’ve also asked Rebecca to check with Phil Plait (hi Phil!) to see if he’s willing to do an interview or a guest post for us any time soon about his new book, Death From The Skies.


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. Awww… damn… I read what I thought was, “monsters, magic, and boobs,” in my RSS reader and clicked on the link. I was vastly disappointed at what I saw. It was okay, I guess, but not as mammographically wonderful as I thought it would be. Shucks.

  2. Hey, being immersed in fantasy and supernatural fiction (oxymoron there?) is no worse than being immersed in science fiction, dd. I do it all the time. My taste doesn’t run to the supernatural much, though I do like Patricia Briggs latest books on the adventures of Mercy, the coyote changeling. Then again, I like smart, brave heroines that push the limits.

  3. Not saying it’s bad, QA, just a tad ironic. I love scifi, too, and magical realism. I hate realistic fiction — in print and on the screen — for the most part. If I want reality, I can watch the news.

  4. I’m sorry, dd. I didn’t mean it that way. :-(
    There is a certain irony to it.

    It sounds as if you read for the same reasons I do, to be entertained or to learn. I read lots of non-fiction about all kinds of things and s/f to escape. I’m really pleased with the recent explosion of interesting non-fiction books about odd subjects: Mary Roach comes to mind as an example.

  5. Hello,
    I was wondering the same thing about Skeptics reading fantasy as I eat my way through Dresden File series. I came to the conclusion that we understand this is just fiction and enjoy a good story whether it deals with science, contemporary issues or fantasy and magic.

  6. As I look at my Netflix Queue, I see mostly Sci fi and fantasy. I see Supernatural, Twin Peaks, two versions of Superman, BSG, Psych (ok fake psychics), also Jane Austen and John Wayne. We seldom watch realistic fiction. However, not so many boobs, my wife supplies those.

  7. Hi there!

    I find that most Sci-Fi geeks tend to be skeptics simply because they have this insane desire to pick apart everything they read! (I do this myself, actually)

    If you write a typical Space-Opera type story, your target audience will want to know the thrust-to-weight capacity of every spaceship in your fleet. They’ll want to know how the antimatter in the engine was contained when the enemy disabled the ship’s energy systems on page 136. Aliens speaking in perfect American English and you never mentioned any sort of universal translation device? Bitch, please.

    Although Sci-fi and Fantasy geeks tend to cross-pollinate, Fantasy often gets a Get Out of Jail Free card because it can all be hand-waved away by saying: “Magic. It’s a Magical realm, the Dragon Lord doesn’t NEED to account for his extra mass when he shapeshifts because it’s Magic. So … Magic”.

    Not that that would ever stop a determined geek, but it’s a lot more forgiving than hard Sci-fi.

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