Books of Fright

Halloween has arrived, and what better way to get into the spooky spirit by reading scary books! Here are some stories that are sure to send shivers up your spine, and have you looking over your shoulder everywhere you go. Happy reading!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow-Washington Irving

Ichabod is a teacher and choirmaster at the little town of Sleepy Hollow. When Ichabod woos a rich man’s daughter, he must lay low because Brom, who is also in love with the rich man’s daughter, is after him. When Ichabod is invited to a party, he comes across the Headless Horseman, and must flee, terrified for his life.

House of Leaves– Mark Z. Danielewski

In this maze of a book made up of unconventional format, such as unusual page layouts with some pages only containing a few words, House of Leaves tells the story of three family members: a blind old man, a young apprentice at a tattoo shop, and a crazy woman. The family faces unexplainable changes in their home, and eventually come face to face with the darkness at its core.

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary– M.R. James

This collection of eight short stories captures the suspense and horror which defines good ghost stories. The wit and erudition of these eight classics keeps the reader on their toes, and teaches them be wary of every creak in the night. After all, you can never be sure about what lurks behind you.

Dracula– Bram Stoker

Jonathan Harker, a London lawyer, travels to Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase an estate in England. Initially impressed by Dracula’s politeness, Harker is soon wary of Dracula’s ability to communicate to wolves in his huge castle. He quickly realizes he is a prisoner in Dracula’s castle, and must find a way to survive this demonic creature of the night.

The Shining– Stephen King

Jack Torrance is hired as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, eager for a fresh start, and ready to reconnect with his family and work on his writing. As winter begins to set in, the Overlook Hotel grows more sinister. Danny Torrance, Jack’s five-year-old son, is the only one to notice as the hotel’s horrific past begins to consume them all.

The Tell-Tale Heart– Edgar Allen Poe

This story is told through a nameless, mysterious narrator, who does not sound half as sane as he claims. As we hear about the murder he had committed, there is a beating that grows louder and louder, echoing in the mind. It’s the still-beating heart of the victim under the floorboards, where our nameless narrator buried the dismembered body.

Coraline– Neil Gaiman

When her family moved into their new home, Coraline Jones knew things were weird. But weird doesn’t describe a mysterious door with a brick wall behind it. Weird definitely doesn’t describe the mysterious tunnel that takes its place. When Coraline goes through, she finds herself in another house, one just like her own. But this perfect world is hiding something dark and sinister, and Coraline might be too late to stop it.

A Stranger in the House– Shari Lapena

Newlyweds Karen and Tom Krupp happily live in upstate New York, but one day, Karen gets into an accident and loses her memory. When they return home, Karen notices things in the house have been moved. Nothing is quite right, and she realizes someone’s been in the house. This psychological thriller makes you doubt everything you know about your own life.

The Night Circus– Erin Morgenstern

This circus appears with no warning; no announcements or advertisements to display it, and it disappears as quickly as it comes. Only open at night, the circus tents hold amazing sights within, but the Night Circus holds a dark secret., and the performers must pay the price.

Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep– Jack Prelutshy

Instead of bedtime stories, read a dozen horrific poems to keep you up at night. Ranging vampires to ghouls, these poems cover a variety of creepy stories that will scare even the bravest individual.

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

During November, the world of reading and writing is inundated with posts and blogs and articles about NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month). It is now December, and NaNoWriMo is officially over, but the comments and articles still abound. This year was my first year in attempting the challenge. And while I didn’t accomplish the 50,000 word goal, I think I did well for my first attempt. To date, I have managed 35,000 words and averaged about 1,000 words a day (to keep you from doing the math, participants are supposed to write 1,667 words on average per day). Some days I wrote 150 words, and some days I wrote more than 3,000. During my Thanksgiving break, I wrote diddlysquat. I was too busy cooking, eating, and just generally making merry.

I have a decent start to what I think is a decent story. Will I get it published by one of the Big Five (Big Three after all these crazy mergers are done) and will I become the next Erin Morgenstern? Probably not. But will I finish? I certainly hope so. It is six days into December, and I’ve written a bit on my book every day of this month so far, and I want to keep it up. The story still plays in my head every night, just begging to be put down onto (electronic) paper.

I look forward to participating next year and, if not winning (the term used for finishing the 50,000 during the month), improving my word count.

What about you? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? How far did you get?