Archive for the The Library Category

My Favorite Authors

Posted in Liber et Audax, The Library on April 17, 2018 by Occult Detective

In his most recent newsletter, Brian Keene offered up a list of his 20 favorite authors. That’s a challenge I just could not pass up. So here are my favorites, the caveat being that this is a list of writers of fiction and as close to their proper order as I can muster. Also, because of the third author on my list, I have decided there should be 23 names instead of 20. Fnord.

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1. Robert E. Howard
2. J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Robert Anton Wilson
4. Neil Gaiman
5.
Katherine Kurtz
6. Alan Moore
7. Umberto Eco
8.
Fritz Leiber
9. Mary Stewart
10. Roy Thomas
11. Manly Wade Wellman
12. Stephen King
13. George R.R. Martin

14. Edgar Rice Burroughs
15. Algernon Blackwood
16. H.P. Lovecraft
17.
Raymond Chandler
18. Anne Rice
19. Rex Stout
20. Shirley Jackson
21. Arthur Machen
22. Aleister Crowley
23.
Margaret Weis

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What I’m Reading in 2018

Posted in The Library on January 11, 2018 by Occult Detective

I read a mere 56 books in 2017, surpassing my goal of 52 books a year, but I was certainly off kilter. I have shifted to reading predominately on a first generation kindle, for one thing. Hardcovers are too expensive (though I do prowl them second-hand) and I find mass market paperbacks tiresome, the print too small and light for my aging eyes.

Despite their impermanence, I miss paperbacks, to be honest. I loved everything about mass markets as a kid, especially Howard’s Conan, Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Burrough’s John Carter and Tarzan, Norman’s Gor, Lovecraft’s Mythos tales, Adams’ Horseclans, and Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring (the only one I owned at the time).

I loved the covers and the passport to unimaginable worlds of adventure inside them.

As a 12 year old boy, I would shove one of those books in my back pocket and hike along Turkey Creek with my BB Gun and hunting knife in tow. I typically read in one of four places — under the Turkey Creek bridge, in the old Little Pipe Creek Cemetery, in our creek-side ‘pirate fort’ in the horse pasture, or deep in the haunted woods sitting cross legged atop Treebeard’s Stump.

That was when reading mattered to me in a way that is almost undefinable. Books were everything to me then and while I cherish them and covet them still almost 40 years later, to twelve year old Bobby, with his Daisy rifle, Buck knife, and dog-eared paperbacks, books were portable magic.

Here’s to hoping some of that magic can be rekindled in 2018.

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The Water Street Book Club

01.  End of Watch by Stephen King (Kim)
02. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King (Bob)

.:.

01.  Tarot: Plain & Simple by Leanna Greenaway
02.  Medicine Wheel: Plain & Simple by Deborah Durbin
03.  Fairies: Plain & Simple by Ralph Harvey
04.  Reiki: Plain & Simple by Philip Jones
05.  Reflexology: Plain & Simple by Sonia Jones
06. The Lunar Nomad Oracle by Shaheen Miro
07. Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot
08. Swords by Ben Boos
09. Floor Games & Little Wars by HG Wells
10. Conan: The Blood-Stained God and Other Stories
11. Time of Legends: Joan of Arc Rulebook by Mythic Games
12. Irish Curses, Blessings, and Toasts by Nicholas Nigro
13. The Bardic Book of Becoming: an Introduction to Modern Druidry by Ivan McBeth and Fearn Lickfield
14. Talk to the Hand: A Field Guide to Practical Palmistry by Vernon Mahabal
15. The Lunar Gospel: The Complete Guide to Your Astrological Moon by Cal Garrison
16. Italian Folk Magic by Mary-Grace Fahrun
17. 1602 by Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert
18. Depths of Night by Stephen Zimmer
19. Feng Shui: Plain & Simple by Sarah Bartlett
20. Dunwich by Peter Levenda
21. The Gods Never Left Us by Erich von Daniken
22. The Little Book of Saturn by Aliza Einhorn
23. From Kuan Yin to Chairman Mao by Xuetung Christine Ni
24. John Dee and the Empire of Angels by Jason Louv

Sanctum Sanctorum

Posted in Liber et Audax, Magick by Trial & Error, The Library, Writing in Theory & Practice on January 8, 2018 by Occult Detective

Fancy a look at what an occult detective’s sanctum sanctorum looks like? Here’s a peek at mine, a place I call “The Aerie“, tucked away in the upstairs of our rural Indiana home. In it, I wrote the novels Keepers of the Dead, Descendant, dozens of short stories, and the lion’s share of First Born.

Yes, it’s a cluttered mess. I like clutter. It’s my clutter and I revel in the overwhelming sensory overload that occurs every time I ascend to my sacred space overlooking Little Pipe Creek.

What I’m Reading in 2017

Posted in The Library on January 1, 2017 by Occult Detective

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Welcome back to The Library, where I catalogue the books I read over the course of the year. This is Year Eight of this online journal.

The Water Street Book Club

01: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, screenplay by JK Rowling (Connor)
01: Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane (Kim)
02: Somewhere in Time aka Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson (Bob)
03: The Lake House by Kate Morton (Kim)
04:The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub (Bob)
04: Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Weis & Hickman (Connor)
05: Finders Keepers by Stephen King (Kim)
06: Dragons of Winter Night by Weis & Hickman (Connor)
07: The Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston & Child (Bob)
08: Dragons of Spring Dawning by Weis & Hickman (Connor)
09: Cemetery Dance by Preston & Child (Kim)
10: The Nix by Nathan Hill (Kim)

.:.

01: The Practical Psychic Self-Defense Handbook by Robert Bruce
02. Squaring the Circle (Revised) by Tim Moss
03: Magick in Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley
04: Three Essays on Freedom by John Whiteside Parsons
05: The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky
06: The Way of Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa
07: Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic by Edred Thorsson
08: The Lovecraft Code by Peter Levenda
09: “The Pool of the Black One” by Robert E. Howard
10: Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus
11: Norse Mythology  by Neil Gaiman
12: Conan the Rebel by Poul Anderson
13: Conan of Venarium by Harry Turtledove
14: Dungeons & Dragons: Vor Rukoth by Greg Bilsland
15: Conan: Jeweled Thrones of the Earth by Modiphius
16: Adventures in Middle-Earth: Loremaster’s Guide by Cubicle 7
17: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars RPG Playtest by Modiphius
18: Conan the Thief by Modiphius
19: Conan Player’s Guide by Modiphius
20: The Invisibles by Grant Morrison
21: Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire by Neil Gaiman and Shane Oakley
22: Conan: The Throne of Aquilonia by Roy Thomas and Mike Hawthorne
23: The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives edited by Judika Illes
24. Wicca: Plain & Simple by Leanna Greenaway
25: Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings by Varla Ventura
26: The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
27: Getting Higher by Julian Vayne
28: Deal or No Deal? by William Meikle
29: HeX-Rated by Jason Ridler
30: Critical Role TalDorei Campaign Setting by Matthew Mercer
31: Heart of a Lion by Stephen Zimmer
32: Thunder Horizon by Stephen Zimmer
33: Old Style Conjure by Starr Casas
34: Psychic Ability by Ann Caufield
35: Keys to Perception by Ivo Domingiez Jr
36: Witches & Wizards by Lucy Cavendish
37: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
38: The Basic Handbook of the Secret History of Willowbrook by Jo Beth Mitchell
39: Carnacki: The Edinburgh Townhouse and Other Stories by William Meikle
40: Santa Muerte by Tracey Rollin
41: Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, edited and introduced by Henrik Bogdan & Martin P. Starr
42: The Witches’ Almanac 2018, Issue 37
43: The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags by Elohim Leafar
44: Weiser Books Celebrates 60
45: Prince Valiant, vol 1 by Hal Foster
46: Old Sword Play: Techniques of the Great Masters by Alfred Hutton
47: Pocket Havamal

What I’m Reading in 2016

Posted in The Library on January 1, 2016 by Occult Detective

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Welcome back to The Library, where I catalogue the books I’ve read over the course of the year. This is year seven, and as in past years, I’m tracking things differently. For 2016, I am separating things by Fiction, Non-Fiction, Comics Comic Trades & Graphic Novels, Gaming, and, finally, by Book Club.

That’s right, I said (or, rather, typed) Book Club. It was my lovely wife’s idea for us to read the same book for the purpose of discussion. If anyone would like climb on board, we each choose a book, round robin style. First up, chosen by yours truly, is Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

As to the general Library, if a title is highlighted in yellow it is a new (or recent) release (comics excluded). All books are added when they are cracked open, not finished. If I end up abandoning a book, it will be stricken as such: Book Title

The Water Street Book Club

01. The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Bob)
02. Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz (Kim)
03. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (Bob)
04. Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster (Connor)
05. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin (Kim)
05. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (Kim)
06. The Dead Zone by Stephen King (Bob)
07. You’ve Been Warned by James Patterson & Howard Roughan (Kim)
07. Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts (Kim)
08. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (Bob)
08. The Ice Dragon by George RR Martin (Connor)
09. Ghost Story by Peter Straub (Bob)
10. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling & Friends (Connor)
11. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (Kim)
12. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Connor)
13. Bag of Bones by Stephen King (Bob)
14. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (Kim)
15. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (Connor)

FICTION

01. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
02. Black Creek by Gregory Lamberson
03. The Coming of Conan by Robert E. Howard
04. Savage Season by Joe Lansdale
05. A Long December by Richard Chizmar
06. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
07. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
08. “The Half-Haunted” by Manly Wade Wellman
09. “People of the Black Circle” by Robert E. Howard
10. The Weiser Book of the Fantastic and Forgotten, edited by Judika Illes
11. The Girl on the Glider by Brian Keene
12. Angel Heart, screenplay by Alan Parker
13. Jerusalem by Alan Moore
14. The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost

NON-FICTION

01. Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune
02. Missing Connections: Challenging the Consensus, edited by J. Douglas Kenyon
03. Bloody Mary’s Guide to Hauntings, Horrors, and Dancing with the Dead
04. Communing with the Ancestors by Raven Grimassi
05. The Witches’ Almanac Coloring Book
06. Lost Powers edited by J. Douglas Kenyon
07. I Am Providence: The Life & Times of H.P. Lovecraft by S.T. Joshi
08. Chinese Alchemy by Jean Cooper
09.The Big Book of Practical Spells by Judika Illes
10. Dark Valley Destiny by L. Sprague de Camp
11. The Emerald Tablet: A Commentary on the Path of the True Adept by Martin Faulks
12. Unseen Forces, edited by J. Douglas Kenyon
13. Crystal Skulls by Judy Hall
14. The English Magic Tarot by Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley, & Andy Letcher
15. The Key of Solomon the King, translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, foreword by Joseph H. Peterson
16. Alan Moore’s Promethea: Countercultural Gnosis and the End of the World by WJ Hanegraaff
17. Studies in Occultism by H.P. Blavatsky
18. King Arthur and the Holy Grail by Richard Cavendish
19. Secret Knowledge: Exploring the Boundaries of the Possible, edited by J. Douglas Kenyon

GAMING

01. Dungeons & Dragons: Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue by Brian R. James & Eric Menge
02. Dungeons & Dragons: Systems Reference Document & Open-Gaming License
03. A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying Game by Robert J. Schwalb
04. Robert E. Howard’s Conan Quick Start Rules by Modiphius
05. Dungeons & Dragons: Curse of Strahd by Wizards of the Coast
06. AD&D Module S1: Tomb of Horrors by Gary Gygax
07. A Guide to the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting, vol III
08. Glossography for the Guide to the World of Greyhawk
09. Adventures in Middle Earth: Player’s Guide by Cubicle 7
10. Robert E. Howard’s Conan Core Rule Book
11. Dungeons & Dragons: Halls of Undermountain by Shawn Merwin & Matt Sernett
12.. Dungeons & Dragons: Storm King’s Thunder by Wizards of the Coast

GRAPHIC NOVELS

01. Valkyrie, vol 1 “Cold As Death” by Sylvain Cordurié, Drazen Kovacevic, & Simon Champelovier
02. Valkyrie, vol 2 “The Tenth World” by Sylvain Cordurié, Drazen Kovacevic, & Simon Champelovier
03. Heathen, vol 1 by Natasha Alterici
04. Darkness, vol 1 “Ioen” by Christophe Bec & Ico
05. Conan, vol 8 “Black Colossus” by Tim Truman and Tomas Giorello
06. Marvel Masterworks: Dr. Strange, vol 1 by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
07. Conan, vol 9 “Free Companions” by Tim Truman and Tomas Giorello
08. Conan: The Daughters of Midora by various
09. Conan: The Jewels of Gwahlur by P. Craig Russell
10. Harrow County Volume 1: Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crooks
11. Harrow County Volume 2: Twice Told by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crooks
12. Harrow County Volume 3: Snake Doctor by Cullen Bunn, Tyler Crooks, & more

What I’m reading in 2015

Posted in The Library on January 8, 2015 by Occult Detective

biblioWelcome once more to The Library, where I maintain a list of all the books I read in a given year. This will be my sixth year of cataloging and in that time I’ve read just shy of 400 books, with my best year being 2011 when I read 95. My goal is simple — to average at least a book a week over the course of a year. 52 books. Sounds easy enough. In 2010, the first year I began this project, I read 59.

The style has changed nearly every year, and I suppose it will again, at least until I come up with one that strikes my fancy. It’s the books read that matter, but not in their number, but in their content. I believe you can tell a lot about a person based on what they read. Well, that’s certainly true for me.

This year, we’ll keep the style simple and to the point: title by author/format/year of publication

So, what book gets the distinction of being the first read in 2015? Let’s find out together, shall we?

01. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence /kindle/2011
02. Bad Twin by “Gary Troup” (Laurence Shames)/hardcover/2006
03. John Dee’s Five Books of Mystery, edited by Joseph Peterson /trade/2008
04. Demon Street USA by David Roundtree & Robbie Lunt /trade/2014
05. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins /kindle/2015
06. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman /kindle/2015
07. The Final Transmission by Brian F.H. Clement /trade/2013
08. Shadowland by Peter Straub /hardcover/1980
09. The Divine Spark, edited by Graham Hancock /trade/2015
10. The Essential Guide to Possession, Depossession, & Divine Relationships by Diana L. Paxson /trade/2015
11. Paradigm Busters, edited by J. Douglas Kenyon /trade/2015
12. The Traveler’s Guide to the Astral Plane by Steve Richards /trade/2015
13. The Evidence for Phantom Hitch-Hikers by Michael Goss /trade/2015
14. Johnny Saturn: Intelligent Redesign by Scott & Benita Story /pdf/2015
15. In Search of Vikings, edited by Stephen Harding, David Griffiths, Elizabeth Royles /pdf/2015
16. Tortured Souls (Jake Helman 4) by Gregory Lamberson /trade/2012
17. Storm Demon (Jake Helman 5) by Gregory Lamberson /trade/2013
18. Human Monsters (Jake Helman 6) by Gregory Lamberson /trade/2015
19. Toward the Light by Amy Major /trade/2015
20. Conan, screenplay by Oliver Stone /pdf/1978
21. Gothic Cathedrals by Karen Ralls /trade/2015
22. Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry /trade/2008
23. I am Haunted: Living Life Through the Dead by Zak Bagans & Kelly Crigger /kindle/2015
24. Brood of the Witch-Queen by Sax Rohmer /kindle/1918
25. “Sorcery from Thule” by Manly Wade Wellman /pdf/1944
26. Liber L. Vel Bogus : the Real Confession of Aleister Crowley by Richard T. Cole /trade/2015
27. The Witch’s Guide to Wands by Gypsey Elaine Teague /trade/2015
28. Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz /mmpb/1983
29. The Magical Battle of Britain by Dion Fortune & Gareth Knight /trade/1993
30. Dead Boy Detectives: vol 1 “Schoolboy Terrors” by Toby Litt & Mark Buckingham /trade/2014
31. The Ritual by Adam Nevill /kindle/2012
32. The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies by John Langan /kindle/2013
33. The Last Templar by Michael Jecks /kindle/2009
34. Conan by Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague DeCamp, & Lin Carter /kindle/1968
35. Medieval Swordsmanship by John Clements /pdf/1998
36. H.P. Lovecraft & the Black Magickal Tradition by John L. Steadman /trade/2015
37. Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig /kindle/2015
38. The Haunted House Diaries by William J. Hall /trade/2015
39. The Afterlife Healing Circle by Candace L. Tsalmadge & Jana L. Simons /trade/2015
40. Celtic Mythology by Ward Rutherford /trade/2015
41. Alchemy: The Great Work by Cherry Gilchrist /trade/2015
42. The Complete Book of Aquarian Magic by Marian Green /trade/2015
43. The Tantric Alchemist by Peter Levenda /hardcover/2015
44. Forgotten Origins edited by J. Douglas Kenyon /trade/2015
45. A Dark Matter by Peter Straub /hardcover/2010
46. Incredible Adventures by Algernon Blackwood /kindle/1914
47. Levitation by Steve Richards /trade/2015
48. Witches’ Almanac Issue 35 (Spring 2016-2017) /trade/2015
49. The Dragon Done It edited by Mike Resnick & Eric Flint /kindle/2008
50. The Royal Occultist Halloween Special by Joshua Reynolds /pdf/2015
51. The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard /trade/2008
52. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King /kindle/2015
53. Numero Zero by Umberto Eco /kindle/2015
54. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn /kindle/2015
55. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell /kindle/2005
56. Magicians of the Gods by Graham Hancock /hardcover/2015
57. The Hollow Crown by Dan Jones /kindle/2014
58. Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner /kindle/1975
59. Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski /kindle/2012

Stories That Stayed With Me

Posted in The Library on September 8, 2014 by Occult Detective

Listing ones favorite books is an arduous task akin to murdering your own children, if you had a score or more of them. Depending on mood or season or time of day, the list can ebb and flow with a fey-like whimsey. There is, as I’m sure you’re more than aware, a meme circulating that seeks to circumnavigate this horror.

Rather than commit to a list of favorites, it asks for the chronicler to draft an inventory of those books that “stayed with you”. Rather than simply dash this off, it occurred to me that this could be rather telling.

Peeling back the years, what books had the most impact? Which of the multipudes of stories shaped the mind that rattles about in the Sanctum Cranium Calvariam Sanctorum?

Would you like to play?”, the meme asks.

Why, yes… Yes, I would.

In the order, I think, of which I read them:

The Secret Hide-Out by John Peterson

The House on the Cliff by Franklin W. Dixon (Leslie McFarlane)

The Children of Odin by Padraic Colum

The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley

Unseen Forces by Manly Palmer Hall

The Hobbit /  Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“A Witch Shall Be Born” by Robert E. Howard

“The Dunwich Horror” by H.P. Lovecraft

The Stand by Stephen King

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Necronomicon by Simon

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea

Magick in Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley

Psychic Self-Defence by Dion Fortune

Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz

“Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Love is the Law by Nick Mamatas

I will readily admit that this is an imperfect list. For one thing, it is constructed from memory and that can be a right nasty business. There are things, perhaps forgotten, which still could have left an indelible imprint on my psyche, and others that may have just slipped my mind only to come crashing back later, instigating a bout of self-loathing, hair-pulling (doubtful, as I have little), and the rending of clothing.

Already, before I’ve even dared hit the publish button, things like Rowling’s Harry Potter and Hammett’s Maltese Falcon spring to mind.

Surely they belong on the list?

And they do. As do so many others. In fact, I’m now questioning this whole meme.

Why, I didn’t even mention my first reading of Manly Wade Wellman, for pity’s sake… and there is ne’er a comic mentioned. Bloody hell, I’ve buggered the whole wretched listy.

Is it not more honest to admit that nearly each and every book, for good or bad, has shaped us in some way?

We read, therefore we is.

There is the truth of it, methinks, and therein lies the rub.

Books. It’s what’s for dinner.

Feed your head.

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