List 24: (Sort of) Scary Books


The only celebrity I follow on Twitter is Neil Gaiman. First, because I think he’s a terrific writer. Second, because he’s just so damned cool. Here’s an example:

Mr. G. has proposed a new gifting tradition for Halloween: Giving scary books to each other. Now, you could say that this is pretty self-serving on Mr. G’s part, given that he’s a writer of scary books and stories. However, he’s not saying you should give HIS books. He’s simply suggesting that in addition to sweets, we should give the treat of a good read.

I’m not the only one who thinks this is cool. The idea of All Hallow’s Read has caught on in the Twitterverse and blogosphere (see here, here and here).

Now, you all know how much I like to read. And you know that had I the means, I would send each of you a good book for All Hallow’s Read. Since I don’t have the resources, I’ll at least list some of my favorites for you to get yourself at your local bookstore or library. (Note: I’m a big weenie, so I tend to go more for thrills than scares.)

For Little Kids

  • Frankenstein’s Cat by Curtis Jobling. Being the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s cat Nine (named not for his number of lives, but for the number of cats it took to make him) and his quest for friendship. Sounds treacly. It’s not. As with many of the things you read about in this blog, this suggestion is not for the easily offended.
  • Time Flies by Eric Rohmann. This is one of the few books from the kids’ early years that I’m saving for eventual grandchildren. There are no words, just eerily evocative pictures of a bird’s storm-induced visions of dinosaurs come to life in a museum. Gorgeous illustrations!
  • Olivia and the Missing Toy by Ian Falconer. The Olivia books are among my favorites a) because I love pigs and b) Olivia is a great heroine. In this installment, Olivia searches for her missing toy in her dark house, carrying a candelabra that throws creepy shadows around. If it had a soundtrack, it would go “dum-dum-dum-DUM” dramatically. It doesn’t. But I love it anyway.

For Bigger Kids

  • The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor. In this Wonderland, Alice is the champion of White Imagination, the source of innovation on Earth. Redd is her the evil aunt who murdered Alice’s parents in a bid for the throne. Hatter is Alice’s bodyguard, complete with killer bowler (like OddJob!). Not scary so much as thrilling.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman’s books for young readers have a Roald Dahl-ish touch; he understands that kids can handle more than we think they can. A young boy is raised by the ghosts of the graveyard where he wandered when his parents were murdered in his babyhood. Ghoulish without being overly gruesome. (I also recommend Coraline, both in book and DVD.)
  • The Inkworld Trilogy by Cornelia Funke. A ruthless killer pursues a young girl and her father–both storytellers so gifted they can transport themselves and listeners into the actual living world of a book. Fantastic in the best sense of the word.

For Adults

  • The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. I remember reading this in high school after watching the (heavily edited) movie on TV. Horrifying. I also remember trying to make it through a midnight screening of the movie in college. Ran back to the dorm and hid under the sheets. To this day, pictures of Linda Blair as the possessed Regan freak me out.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Really, I’m not sucking up to Mr. G. This is a truly spook-tacular adventure into a parallel London, with some of the creepiest characters imaginable.
  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruku Murakami. Murakami books are hard to describe. The lives of a runaway teenaged boy and a simple man still suffering the aftereffects of a mysterious event in World War II intersect in odd ways. Lots of weird stuff ensues. Like a strange dream, you just have to go with it.

What scary, thrilling, creepy books would you give for All Hallow’s Read? Post them here or on Twitter #AllHallowsRead or #booksthatfreakedmeout.

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  1. […] List 24: (Sort of) Scary Books […]

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