Stories For Ghosts

Horror Through a Literary Lens

Category: Horror Literature (page 2 of 3)

January’s Scary Reading List – Who Are You, Really?

“Who are you?” I asked myself this question as I perused my bookshelves for this January’s Scary Reading List. It’s a loaded question, one that is asked again and again during this time of the year. Once the New Year arrives, many people (myself included) are overwhelmed by this question. Out with the Old You, in with the New You, right?

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It Is Always Christmas Eve, In A Ghost Story

It’s Christmas Eve, a few hours before midnight. Presents are wrapped. Stockings are hung. If you went to a Christmas Eve party, you’re probably home by now. Any children in the house are tucked snuggly into bed. Before you go off to bed yourself, you and your family might enjoy the fire as it slowly goes out. You might reminisce about past Christmases or tell stories about the meaning of each ornament on the tree. Or you could tell each other ghost stories. Christmas ghost stories.

It’s not as weird as you might think and, in fact, Christmas ghost stories are a time-honored tradition that has been somewhat forgotten as of late. The tradition started in Britain and quickly spread to the U.S. Every Christmas Eve, whole families gathered around the fire and scared each other silly with ghost stories.

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Autumnal Musings on the Wonderfully Morbid Art of Edward Gorey

Oftentimes, autumn puts me in a melancholy mood and only the most wonderful morbid art makes me feel better. Someting pretty, something scary, and something Gorey.

It has to do with how autumn affects me. The nights get very cold. The days wilt and dim under the flat, gray light. In Texas, because we don’t have real autumn, the leaves wither to a dull brown instead of the fiery colors other states enjoy. As such, the sickly brown emphasizes the emaciated, skeletal tree branches. And as the sky begins to darken earlier and earlier, all I find myself wanting to do is be home. There is a small voice urging me to go home, to get inside where it’s warm and safe.

I experience a curious mixture of forlornness and calm during these cold months. There is beauty in the cold. It possesses a certain elegance as it sweeps in with its frosty nights and frigid winds. Despite my apprehension of the cold (I am from Texas, y’all), when it washes over me in a sudden gust, I accept it.

And it always makes me think of the dark. Of the end.

It has always been this way for me. Every year.

I don’t share this to be overly morbid. There are some wonderful bright points in autumn and winter—tons of holidays, good food, time spent with family and friends, and no work! I only mean to acknowledge the connection.

I’ve always thought it had something to do with the fact that, around Halloween and into November, my grade school’s library would put out all the really good scary books. Overnight, beautifully illustrated copies of the children’s version of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein would appear. There were numerous volumes of ghost stories, urban legends, and campfire tales. One of the best and creepiest of these books was the Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark series, of which I’ve already written about here and here. Those books were deliciously scary, so good that most kids felt compelled to read them, no matter how much those pictures frightened them.

Another one of my favorites was the wickedly artful The Gashlycrumb Tinies, written and illustrated by Edward Gorey. I always remembered those dark tales, despite having long forgotten the name of the author. I remembered the sinister rhyme, offered to help small children remember the alphabet. I remembered the demented but clever drawings.

And it was a particularly grey day that inspired me to dig through my books to revisit this part of my childhood.

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My November Horror Reading List

November is one of my favorite months! I live in Texas, so November is when it finally cools off a bit. It rains more, the sky is gray and cloudy, and I can finally drink hot cocoa without feeling weird about it. My mood gets a little bit more chill, a little darker, and little more pensive. I don’t mind the gloominess. Actually, I kind of relish it. As Cyril Connolly once wrote, “Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils.”

With all that being said, I love to curl up in my armchair with a cup of tea and a good, eerie story. This November, I’ve picked out the following books to enjoy during cool, rainy evenings. I hope you are inspired to pick up any one of these and enjoy your own November evening. Check out my november horror reading list!

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Want A Classic Spooky Read Just In Time For Halloween?

Halloween is only a few days away! In case you aren’t yet in the spirit, or if you are and you want to add a bit more scary fun to these last few days, consider picking up one of these classic horror books!

There are a lot of scary stories out there, too many to read. However, if I have to recommend some good scary books, I’ll recommend the following eight classics of the genre. These books are essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in horror fiction because they are 1) thoughtfully written and well-crafted; 2) unsettling, creepy, and horrifying; and 3) insanely influential. Stephen King wouldn’t be famous at all if it weren’t for Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, and Robert W. Chambers.

Also, its worth noting that while you may “know” about these classics, if you haven’t read them, you’re missing out. So run to your nearest bookstore, library, or Amazon account and get yourself any one of these for a spooky read. If you’re pressed for time, you might like some of the short story collections, which are quick, morbid reads. Enjoy!

*Beware of some spoilers!*

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My September 2015 Reading List

There are so many great books out there, and hardly enough time to read them. On top of that, it’s hard to find them. The bestseller lists, though full of great choices, are only a small sampling of the available books. Those lists aren’t terribly diverse either, which can make for some stale reading lists.

In an effort to combat this problem, I thought I’d try something new this month and share my September 2015 reading list!

Every month, I’ll post a list of the books I plan to read (I may not get to all of them–life happens). I’ll include a brief description and a few thoughts. Feel free to comment with any recommendations for my future reading list!

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I’ll Say It: Stephen King’s Revival Was Disappointing

Don’t you just hate it when you buy a well-reviewed novel with an intriguing plot description, only to slog through the whole thing and realize it’s not very good? It’s not a great feeling to realize around page 220 of 400 that you might have wasted your time. But because you read such good reviews, you persist through dragging plot development, characters you don’t care about, and a whole lot of extra detail that lacks emotional depth and makes you want to start editing the book as you read it.

I have to admit I felt this way about Stephen King’s recent novel Revival.

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An Interview with Amelia Gray, Author of the Bloody Good “Gutshot”

Earlier this year, I read Gutshot by Amelia Gray. It’s a collection of short stories, written like lightning bolts—short, crackling, stunning. Each story is an well-placed incision in the brain, offering slices of the darkly funny, the disturbing, the oddly romantic, and the grotesque.

While the collection isn’t straight horror literature, it definitely shares the aim of literary horror fiction, which as I’ve posted about before, is to acknowledge and explore the scary parts of ourselves. Gray is not afraid of the darkness. She uses her considerable skill to spin strange, visceral stories. She’s done it before with THREATS, a disorienting novel about a grieving widower who keeps finding threats hidden in the nooks and crannies of his house. She’s examined the absurd and unique in her two other short story collections, AM/PM and Museum of the Weird.

And in Gutshot, Gray expertly confronts her readers, blending genres, juxtaposing humor and sensuality with provocative scenes of body horror, weaving challenging and enigmatic premises, introducing alien yet somehow familiar characters, and refusing to explained the ensuing freakiness. If you this sounds like your cup of tea, you won’t regret following her stories into the shadowy twists and turns of the human mind.

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Horrorstör: Horror, Satire, and Particleboard Fun

Odds are, Dear Reader, that you own a least one IKEA item. Odds are even higher that you’ve visited an IKEA at least once in your life. Those stores are everywhere—a quick Google search tellls me that IKEA operates 351 stores in 46 countries on 5 continents. Its furniture is endemic to college dorms and first apartments because its relatively good furniture for being dirt cheap. While IKEA furniture is ridiculously easy to assemble, the shopping at IKEA is like running a gauntlet. Huge crowds, a maze-like showroom floor, and a massive warehouse are only some of the obstacles you must overcome to get your Klippan sofa home.

Seriously, you don’t know the meaning of existential frustration until you go to IKEA for one thing, but you are funneled into the showroom labyrinth through no design of your own, and for two hours you are stuck behind a family that takes up the entire width of the path and stops to touch every. Single. Thing.

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Ho-Ho-Horror: 12 Christmas Novel Recommendations

 

Hey all!

I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas time! I love the songs, the holiday parties, the food, and spending more time with family and friends. As much as I love my family, however, sometimes it’s nice to wander off to a quiet corner with a cup of hot cocoa and curl up with a good book.

And given that Christmas occurs around the winter solstice, when the days shrink at the onslaught of frozen nights, this is the perfect time to branch out into some scary wintery tales.

I’ve done some research and compiled a list* of horror novels related to Christmas or wintertime. In no particular order:

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