It's officially summer, the season for hiking, picnicking, park frolicking, lake swimming, and celebrating the miraculous outdoors. It is also, I'm embarrassed to admit, my least favorite time of the year!
Don't get me wrong, I love nature. However, as a bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool "indoor kid" (this is why I work at the library), there are times when I just have to escape the relentlessly gorgeous weather and retreat to the shady comfort of my home.
And how do I spend those precious, UV ray-free days (besides cuddling with a bag of frozen vegetables and dreaming of January)? I read horrific stories of things going terribly, nightmarishly wrong in the wilderness, of course!
Here are just a few of my favorite books for those days when I refuse to let the sunshine boss me around:
Investigative journalist David Paulides has devoted his life to researching cases of missing people. In his Missing 411 series, opens a new window, he turns his attention to mysterious, unsolved disappearances of visitors in national parks and forests. Although some of his other works have a supernatural, cryptozoological angle to them, the stories in Missing 411 are presented free of paranormal theories or suppositions. It's just the facts, and the effect is chillingly stark and unnerving. This one will put you off of trailside bathroom breaks FOREVER!
Stephen King deftly taps into my visceral childhood fears with the story of Trish McFarland, a 9-year-old girl who gets separated from her family during a hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail. Desperately awaiting rescue amid persistent threats of hunger, pneumonia, and a grotesque, wasp-covered entity that may or may not be a fear-induced hallucination, Trish sustains her faltering spirits by tuning in to broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games featuring her favorite player, pitcher Tom Gordon.
Four middle-class suburban men decide to go whitewater rafting in a remote, barely accessible part of Georgia, and truly terrible things happen at the hands of both Mother Nature and the barbarous men they encounter in the mountains. For a story mostly known for a notoriously brutal 1972 film adaptation , opens a new windowstarring a mustache-less Burt Reynolds, the prose of James Dickey's novel is surprisingly subtle, lyrical and affecting.
Good ol' Dean Koontz...perhaps the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures! In Watchers, a depressed former soldier joins forces with an intensely sheltered woman and a preternaturally intelligent golden retriever to escape a murderous, forest-dwelling beast known as The Outsider. Say what you will about this goofy schlockmeister, but I think he's fun! Just stay far, far away from the movie adaptation, starring a woefully miscast young Corey Haim. , opens a new window