Book Recommendation / Review : Geek Love - The Dainty Squid

Book Recommendation / Review : Geek Love

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I have a new book to recommend to you today! (see the last one here) But this time it's a novel.
Let me preface by telling you this : I AM THE PICKIEST READER EVER. No joke. In high school I read a lot because I was bored. Extra time in class? You could find me reading. Study hall? You could find me reading. On the bus? You could find me reading. I read a lot of serial killer books (loooved Helter Skelter!), Hunter S. Thompson and biographies on Kurt Cobain. (I have literally read every book written in English about him/Nirvana). But somewhere along the line I got picky.  I now find it really hard to get interested in a book. If it isn't weird, gory or shocking - I'm not interested.

I discovered Geek Love by Katherine Dunn by finding it in a book of lists. It was in a list titled "Top Ten Disturbing Books" along side a few books from my very favorite author Chuck Palahniuk. I immediately ran over to find it, and read the back. It peeked my interest but not enough for me to buy it right away. Eventually I got desperate enough for a good book that I went back and bought it. After getting started I tore through the book, completely engrossed and intrigued.

The plot (quoted from Geek Love's wikipedia page);
"The novel is the story of a traveling carnival run by Aloysius "Al" Binewski and his wife "Crystal" Lil. When the business begins to fail, the couple devise an idea to breed their own freak show, using various drugs and radioactive material to alter the genes of their children. The results are Arturo ("Arty"), a boy with flippers for hands and feet; Electra ("Elly") and Iphigenia ("Iphy"), Siamese Twins; Olympia ("Oly"), a hunchbacked albino dwarf; and Fortunato ("Chick"), the normal-looking baby of the family who has telekinetic powers.
Oly tells the story of her family in the form of a novel written for her daughter Miranda."
Sounds completely ridiculous right? That's because it is, but in the best way. Katherine Dunn has such a way with words and you will be able to picture each character perfectly right down to the smallest details. The way the characters all looked (perhaps even felt?) to me was so incredibly vivid.

It's been about a month since I finished the book but I really did want to blog about just in case someone is in the same picky book reader boat as me and has trouble finding things to get lost in. (plus I can't get it off my mind!) If at least one person reads this post and goes "oh my gosh, that is so my style of book" - because it's certainly not a book for everyone - I will be one happy little kitten!
I liked it so much it even earned a spot on my special shelf next to all my Chuck Palahniuk books. ;)

You can find Geek Love here! If you read it let me know what you think! that is if you're not totally freaked out by the whole plot to begin with! ;)
xoxo

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104 thoughts

  1. Hmmm...very interesting...sounds like the story of my life. :p (Wouldn't that be crazy?!)
    I'll have to add it to my "must read" list...I'm so intrigued just by the mini-synopsis alone!

    PS-I know your email must be overflowing so I thought I would let you know - I emailed you a link for a mushroom vintage item I found on Etsy that I thought you'd enjoy! From sewsavoirfairecreations!

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  2. Yay! I love a good book (and they're so hard to find sometimes). This looks perfect - thanks!

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  3. I totally love Chuck Palahniuk! I'm going to have to pick up Geek Love now, thanks for the recommendation!

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  4. yes! such a good book. I read this a bunch of years ago after a friend recommended it to me. i love it!

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  5. i saw it at a yard sale a few years ago a picked it up for $1, not knowing much about it, (i thought it was the other kind of geek), but ended up loving it.

    I too am a big Palahniuk fan, and i actually have my copy of Geek Love (which looks like this http://paperbackfool.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/geek_love.jpg) next to all my Palahniuks.

    I also was on a big Bret Easton Ellis kick for a while (American Psycho, Rules of Attraction, etc) have you read those?

    Let me know if you find any other goodies!

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  6. I read your post, then went immediately up to the stacks (I work in a library) and plucked this book off the shelf. Looking forward to reading it!

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  7. Linzy, I started reading Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis and was so bored I had to quit. I'm thinking about trying something else from him since everyone seems to recommend me him when I say I like Palahniuk.

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  8. This is definitely my style of novel! Thanks for the recommendation! I will be ordering it right away :)

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  9. this book is in my top three all time favorites!!! I'm so glad you are spreading the love!

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  10. Do you not believe in checking books out from the library?

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  11. That is exactly my problem! I used to read anything and everything going, and now I can't remember the last fiction book I read. It's weird.

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  12. Kelsey, that's a strange question, and the way you worded it doesn't seem very polite. But, no, I have no problems with the library. I just prefer to keep all the books I read and have them on my shelf that way I can re-read them whenever I please. :)

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  13. that sounds great! im going to see if they have it at my library! have you read coraline? the movie is pretty good but the book is amazing! i read it in a day and even though it is a kids book i got so creeped out and scared!

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  14. i know what you mean. his superficial way of writing got to me after a while. i didnt even finish Less Than Zero, but those other two i have a soft spot for (and they kinda go together)

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  15. Rae, No, I haven't - but I did love the movie (and the video game!!) I just might have to check into that. :)

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  16. I need to broaden my reading horizons I think, this one definitely sounds interesting. I think I'll see if I can get it in my Kindle.

    Your bookshelf is too cute!

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  17. It's not my kind of book, but my best friend will absolutely love it. Now I know what she's getting for Christmas!

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  18. Well next month is my picks for book club so this will definitely be on the list!! I'll let you now if the other girls vote for it!!

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  19. He is one of my favorite authors! I feel like a lot of people haven't read much by him. I'm glad you have and your collection is stunning! xo, rv

    http://aneclecticheap.blogspot.com/

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  20. Adding this to my list!

    I am also a reader of Kurt Cobain related books. "Love & Death" is pretty much my jam - CONSPIRACY THERORIES!!!!!!

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  21. You know Chuck Palahnuick and Katherine Dunn are both writers from Portland. I've been fortunate enough to have a few of my Palahnuick books signed by him. There is an old book store about 30 minutes outside of Portland that he will autograph and inscribe books- one of his favorite inscription is- you are just a pink snow flake. :)

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  22. Nice recommendation! we have pretty similar tastes. It is now on my "to read" list on Goodreads.com. I love palahniuk! if you like disturbing books, you should try something from Donald Ray Pollock. He recently did a tour with Palahniuk. I'm reading Knockemstiff by him and its really disturbing, but a good read. Kind of reminds me of the movie Gummo if you've ever seen that.

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  23. That sounds AWESOME. Thanks! I'll add it to the 'read soon' list. Chuck P. is coming here soon to do a book signing/reading thing, I'm hoping to score some tickets. Last time I saw him he read Guts out loud and people fainted and threw up and one guy had a seizure. Not even joking, it was insane! I had always heard that happened, but seeing it was so surreal. I even felt a little crazy in there.

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  24. Woo hoo!! FINALLY - another book to read. I am soooo picky as well. I literally ate books as a teenager, but as soon as I hit 21 I just couldn't get into anything. This sounds perfect for me. I'll be snapping it up on amazon right now.

    Have you read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins? I think you'll like them, but better get in there before the film comes out next year!

    http://www.thehungergames.co.uk/

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  25. Oh yay! Book recomendations are always a good thing.
    I too am a picky reader so its nice to have reader input.

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  26. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX2BpC3irXM seriously!

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  27. Good recommendation. I loved this book, it was the first book in awhile that I would go to bed early just to snuggle & read, excellent !

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  28. I love Chuck Palahnuik, and Sylvia Plath. One of my other favorite books is The Spinal Cord Perception by Joshua Porter, you might also like that book.

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  29. ha weird. i just blogged about geek love this morning (http://sianlilemakes.blogspot.com/2011/08/running-away-to-circus.html) it's my next book to read as i'm in a bit of a circusy mood after reading'the night circus' by erin morgenstern (loved the book tho not disturbing so might not be for you!)

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  30. Haha, oh my gosh - our bookshelves look so much alike! I am a huge fan of Chuck P as well.

    I don't know if you are into fantasy works at all, but I highly recommend Neil Gaiman if you haven't already read his work. It's not shocking, but it's wonderful. I am a huge fan of Neverwhere, American Gods, and his Sandman graphic novel series.

    Also, Clown Girl by Monika Drake was an interesting read.

    I've been meaning to read Geek Love! I'll have to pick it up sometime soon.

    -Kaili
    kaw-studios.blogspot.com

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  31. Sounds like an interesting book! I'll have to check it out,along with Helter Skelter and the Chuck books. I have a whole shelf of books that I have yet to read;they're all classics and hard for me to understand but audiobooks are kind of helping with that. Anywho,good books are always awesome! :)

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  32. Wow! How did she come up with that?! It's genius! I bet the telekinetic kid is full of surprises, sounds like a great book!

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  33. I too, only read weird books and I LOVE books about real-life serial killers. I'm also a fan of Chuck Palahniuk, so we obviously have very similar book taste... I'm going to check this out for sure!

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    I'd love to hear more about odd independent movies you've seen and weird books. You're the only blogger who I can really relate to on that level. haha

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  34. To be honest I had heard of this book but it was somehow linked to hipsters and or scene kids or something and I thought it would be about emotional teenagers or a mushy love story or something.

    It sounds amazing, totally my kind of book. I am obsessed with Daisy and Violet Hilton and their life, and recently saw an Evelyn Evelyn concert. Yes. I must read this now. Thanks lady! xx

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  35. P.S- This audiobook is downloading on my Audible app as I type this, I can't wait to listen to it today at work, eek

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  36. Thanks for the review :) I ordered the book - it should come just before the weekend, yay!

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  37. Oh man! This was one of my favorites 10 yrs ago or so, and I completely forgot about it! Thanks for the reminder- it's so awesome!

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  38. Oh my gosh, thank you! I'm an incredibly picky reader as well, and after discovering Chuck Palahniuk in high school I read all his currently published work and haven't been able to really get "in" to a novel since. My mama even got me an e-reader for Christmas this past year, and I've felt SO bad not being able to find a single book to read on it.

    You've just changed that for me, hooray! Thanks, Kaylah. :)

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  39. I'm a huge Chuck P fan as well! I went to a book signing for Snuff and he signed it for me, as well as giving me a stuffed autograph dog, haha.
    Just as I read this post I wondered onto Facebook and I read he has a new book coming out called Damned! Strange to hear about him twice in 5 minutes but I can't wait to pick that one up. The cover art is divine.

    Kate

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  40. GREAT! I found out that they translated it to Dutch, definitely going to buy it now (its real cheap as 2hand!)

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  41. Hi, new follower here.

    I'm a HUGE Chuck Palahniuk fan and I actually have a sample of Geek Love in my e-reader after my uncle recommended it. I have to admit I haven't even read the sample because I lost interest. I'm definitely going to buy the full version and give it a try!

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  42. delve into some Japanese authors if you really like it surreal & raw. start with Murakami, Oe, Abe,,
    true genius.

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  43. aw i loved that book! i read it a couple years ago. i haven't picked up a book in 2 years... thats pathetic!

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  44. Geek Love does sound like a pretty interesting read after reading your review on it. I was definitely the same way in high school and always was reading on bus trips for field hockey games & at very loooonnggg indoor/outdoor track meets.

    Haha and I can share the Palahniuk love as well! I was hooked on his writing style when I first read his book, Choke. :)

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  45. DEFINITELY putting this on my "To Read" list. Too bad I can't but it right now, I just got two books in the mail and I'll be busy reading those :-)

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  46. This is so up my alley. It's been added to my wish list on Amazon :) Thanks for the recommendation!

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  47. That book sounds insane! I'm adding it to my list and going to see if the library happens to have a copy. Thanks for recommending it. It sounds totally random and incredible.

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  48. This book sounds awesome! I'll have to add it to my list. I have a horrible habit of buying a bunch of books and stacking them up with the intention to read them, but then I forget about them and buy another book. So I'm keeping lists, so I won't have too many books on my queue at once!

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  49. I bought Geek Love about 8 years ago at a used book store-I have yet to read it-but it's always on my to-read list! Thanks for the review.

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  50. From your list of old favourites and your search into the "10 most disturbing books" list, I thought you might enjoy and genre of books called "Bizarro" http://bizarrocentral.com/ A lot of it is simlar to Palahniuk's writing. Sometimes a little raunchier but most are tame.
    That goes for everyone that commented about CP being your favourite author; check it out.

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  51. Have you ever seen the 1932 film called 'Freaks?' it's totally trashy because it's sooo old, but if you liked this book i'm sure you'll like the film!

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  52. I read Geek Love probably about 7 years ago...my friend was getting a tattoo and the tattoo artist recommended it to her. She read it and then shared it with me. I like it when something in my daily life triggers a memory of a scene from this book. Its definitely one that has stuck with me! Glad to hear you liked it ;)

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  53. this is one of my favorite books. a book that I suspect you will like (it is my favorite ever) is Cruddy by Lynda Barry

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  54. Sounds great, you should try and this is true by Emily Mackie too, maybe not weird like this one but it's a strange story nevertheless.

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  55. I keep all of my Palahniuk books on a special shelf too :)

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  56. i am always looking for a new book to buy and read. Geek Love sounds very interesting and I now want to go look for it and buy it! i love books but like you I am also very picky when it comes to which books to read.

    :) evelyn

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  57. Geek Love is one of my favorite books ever!!! I was so surprised to see it on the front page when I visited your blog today :) Alas, my copy got lost in a breakup.. I had only been with this guy for a month, but I loaned him the book and never got it back. I should buy it, it's one of my favorites to re-read every so often and it's just as good each time :)

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  58. Ol Chuckie is a fave around here! Surely you've read some Christopher Moore?? If not, I have a feeling you'd love his work!

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  59. You have excellent taste in books as well as everything else! This is one of my all time favorites. I haven't read it in years ... maybe it's time to pick it up again!

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  60. Many of your books look familiar, so I guess I should check this one out.

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  61. I just added "Tell All" to my Chuck P. collection today! I adore him. I'll have to check out Geek Love for sure! =]

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  62. Love your Chuck collection. I'll have to check this out!

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  63. Oooh awesome! I'll have to check it out. If you've considered getting a kindle(it's hard to get over not having real tangible books) one of the best things about it is you can download samples of every book, which has found me a lot of good books and saved me from buying junk.

    Have you read house of leaves? it's supposed to be one of the "scariest books ever". I have it but I haven't gotten too far in it yet. Feels SO heavy after using a kindle :/

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  64. One of my favorite books! I've re-read it so many times. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  65. That book sounds pretty rad!

    Did you also have a slight obsession with Kurt/Nirvana? I'll always love Kurt and Nirvana but when I was a teenager I was mildly obsessed with them and had to have/read/listen to everything about them that was out there. ♥

    Thanks for the recommendation! :)

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  66. If you like wierd books, you might like "Room" by Emma Donoghue (: just a suggestion! It's similar to the story of Jaycee Dugard, but from a much different perspective.

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  67. Dude, I freaking loved Geek Love, AND I'm a huge Palahnuik fan. This post made me so excited. haha.

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  68. This sounds right up my alley. Thanks for sharing.

    ♥ sécia
    www.petiteinsanities.blogspot.com

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  69. I've just found your blog, I love it, I've been looking for a unique "crafty type" blog to add to my list and yours is so much fun. The book sounds intriguing. I'm like you, super picky, I usually don't trust anything but the classics, it's hard for me to trust that I will really get into it.

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  70. Kaylah, what is your favorite Chuck P. book??!

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  71. LOVE CHUCK P! <3 And I will definitely check this out.

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  72. I hope this makes you a happy kitten... I really want to read it!! That sounds like my kind of book :D I've had a terribly hard time getting into books lately too so this book sounds like the perfect remedy to that problem :)

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  73. I apologize, I didn't mean for that question to come off as rude. I'm sort of blunt when I have questions/curiosities and I don't necessarily think about how people will read into it, especially when it's just them reading the text over the Internet. Re-reading that question now I can see how it can be taken as impolite. So again, I'm really sorry! You are for real my favorite blogger ever.

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  74. Yes! Geek Love stays with you for a long time! I loved the book and found myself imagining about the lives behind the voices on the radio more often.

    I've found that I read more intense novels during the fall and winter and tend toward "fluffy" pop culture sorts of books in the spring and summer (at least one Harlequin romance a year). With that in mind, I just finished Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman which was very good (but if you've never read anything by him before, I don't think it's a great first read). This summer I was also really surprised at An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin - it was really quite wonderful.

    My next book to read is Charles Manson Now which was written by a friend of a friend (the Canadian prairies are a small, small place). It's the first book about Manson that he actually participated in the making of. So if you are interested in killers and what happens after 60+ years of prison, it may be the book for you.

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  75. This has been on my wishlist for a while!

    I would also recommend House of Leaves! it was a difficult read (because it's a very..complex story) but it is by far the most unique book I have ever read, and that's saying something! I've recommended it to a lot of people. I would also recommend checking out Tom Robbins. I've only read Still Life with Woodpecker but it was superb, he's got a super unique style similar to Palahniuk.

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  76. Thanks for the tip! (I am a Palahniuk ueberfan as well) Your write up certainly got me interested :)

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  77. i just thought of another book you might like! The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd. You might appreciate the physical book as well.

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  78. GEEK LOVE YESSSSSSS. Earlier this year a friend of mine lent it to me to read while I recovered form surgery. This book combined with the lingering effects of anesthesia created the strangest sensation in me I'd ever felt, but it was pretty awesome.

    I just remember thinking "ok, NOW this book can't get any weirder," but I'd turn the page and it WOULD! And even though it was all completely far-fetched, I bought into the whole world Dunn created.

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  79. Normally I wouldn't go for disturbing type novels cause I'm quite squeamish, but this novel actually seems quite interesting. I think I'll check it out sometime.

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  80. I've recommended this book to so many people! NOT a one has read it. So glad you enjoyed it. My copy is held together by a giant rubber band. Might be time for a new one.

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  81. You've mentioned 2 things from my high school years in the last 2 days: I read Geek Love in the early '90's and still remember it well, and River's Edge is a movie my girlfriends and I watched over and over.
    Enjoy your blog very much!

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  82. I had that exact same house growing up (the one next to your Chuck books)! It's a music box, right? I used to play with it for hours!

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  83. Have you read Wetlands? Judging by your reading interests I think you'd love it!

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  84. Hi Kaylah,

    I’m a Portuguese follower of your blog. I’ve found it only a several months ago when I was looking on the web for opinions/reviews for the INSTAX 210 and I came across with it. Since then I became an avid reader and I decided to leave you a comment now. That book I don’t know,I'll look for it, but Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors as well. I just have “Fight Club”, “Choke” and “Lullaby”. Great!
    Anyway, keep up the good work and congratulations!
    (by the way I bought the camera and I simple love it! - my 11 months old son is my favorite model).

    Kisses,
    Ni

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  85. geek love is one of my top ten favorite books. SO GOOD!

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  86. SO GLAD you enjoyed "Geek Love" and are recommending it to your readership! It's been a few years since I read it, but it definitely is one of, if not my favorite book. Nothing else can compare to it, in my opinion. I do like reading, but am quite picky myself and it takes a lot to keep my attention when it comes to fiction.

    It also introduced me to the whole 'Jonestown Massacre' back in the '70s, which I was totally unaware of, and was one of the inspirations for the author. It's not a story for everyone, but definitely an unforgettable one, all the same.

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  87. Love that book! It has been years since I read it, I gotta pull that off the shelf again!

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  88. That story is amazing. Honestly, any time anyone asks me for a book recommendation it's at the top of the list. The characters take a long, long time to shake and I still think about the plot line regularly. I actually bought this book for my MIL for Hanukkah one year and she left it behind because she didn't have room for it in her suitcase. Whatevs - her loss and my gain. It's on my list of books to re-read this year. ♥

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  89. Geek Love is one of my absolute favorite books. I worked in a bookstore for years, and I always got excited when I met someone I felt I could recommend it to. It definitely isn't for everyone.

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  90. I, too, am a Chuck fan - and Kurt's Diary was one of my all-time favorite reads. :) You have awesome taste, so I have to check his out! :)

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  91. I read Geek Love with my book blub. It is really good, but it definitely is strange. I actually had a nightmare about Arty when I was reading it.

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  92. Love this book! Try out Mr. Vertigo too... maybe not as odd, but an amazingly vivid read about a boy who learns to fly.

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  93. I'm also super super picky with books with is kinda why I've stopped reading :/ But this book sounds awesome, I have a fascination with the macabre and love carnivals and freak shows! Would love a book that freaks me out like my favourite horror films do.

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  94. You are not alone with this!
    I read a lot of serial killer books, and I collect them aswell. I have a few Cobain books, Jim Morrison and Catbooks aswell.
    Its hard for me, to find a book that I can keep reading, I have a hard time concentrating. I need something special. Maybe I should buy this book, I need a good book!

    Thanks for writing about books you like, and being honest to everybody about what you like reading. Its a big relief.

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  95. Too funny. I recently read Geek Love, and it immediately jumped to my #1 favorite book spot. Have you read any of Dunn's other works? I've thought about trying another, but I just don't think it'd live up to Geek Love.

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  96. that sounds like a CRAZY read of a book! This shall be next on the book list for me :D

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  97. i just started reading it yesterday and i cannot put it down! its such a good book! im excited to finish reading it

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  98. "oh my gosh, that is so my style of book!"
    ...lol, seriously. Just finished reading this blog and am completely convinced that I will love reading every page of this book.
    I too find reading these days a chore. It's just too hard to commit to a book unless it's pages jump out and prop my eyelids open with their shocking contenticles :P
    It's a terrible complex that often has me reading less than I'd like.
    I also (like yourself) never seemed to have this problem with any Chuck Palahniuk writings (excluding Pygmy). Which is another solid sign that this book is for me, as if the synopsis wasn't proof enough.

    It's always nice to find another reliable read.
    Thank you Kaylah!
    Smile on you "happy little kitten."

    ps
    you're a mycologist!?
    WOW! Thats SO awesome! Keep it up

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  99. I work at a thrift store, and Geek Love caught my eye. I didn't pick it up though, until I read your review! Can't wait to read it and SO glad it was still there months after I first saw it! It was meant to be.

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  100. I LOVE GEEK LOVE!!! That is my all time favorite book ever! I've even bought a first addition signed by her, eleven days after I was born, weird. Her other books are good and definitely have that Dunn mouth-watering appeal but Geek Love takes the cake and shoves it in your face every time...
    I can't help but ball my eyes out every time I get to the end

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  101. Oh my gosh, I remember reading this review when you first published it and I convinced my aunt to by it for me for my birthday (7 months ago). I started reading it 3 weeks ago and just finished it today. Holy crap, this was one of the best books I've read in so long. It was very shocking and eye-opening and incredibly well written (and I must say... the end was a DOOZY). I was a little hesitant to read it at first, but it ended up being nothing like I expected - it was so much better. I just wanted to say thanks for introducing me to a new favorite. <3 \("_"\)

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  102. I know I'm late to the party on this post but I've just started getting in to your blog and while walking through the forest of posts I got hit it the face by this branch of a review! YES. SOMEONE ELSE who loves Geek Love as fervently as I. I'm obsessed with freak shows and circus politics, so it was perfect for me - but I think you're right, it's not for everyone - when I finished I gave it to a few of my friends in a fit of evangelical excitement and a few of them were too weirded out by it to finish -although compared to the whole literary canon its really quite vanilla. OEDIPUS. LOLITA. THE TURN OF THE SCREW. Now that's fucked up. Anyway, I'm so glad you adore it too - your blog is beyond awesome, thanks for sharing such wonderful and quality content with us all! :)

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