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Spooktacular Reads and What I Learned After Avoiding Them

There are a hundred things I love about fall—it’s easily my favorite season—but Halloween and the hype of all-things haunted is not one of them. The last time I watched a scary movie was in the 7th grade at my friend Jessica’s Halloween party, and I’m fairly certain that I was more concerned with my boyfriend sitting next to me than I was with the actual movie itself. Still, the moments of spook I did glimpse between the hand holding, the intermittent reading of Laffy Taffy jokes, and the ongoing candy swap (Milky Way and Starburst, please!), were enough to steer me away from scary for good.

I have never voluntarily read horror, thriller, gothic fiction, or anything spooky for that matter...unless “Harry Potter” counts! (Insert eye roll emoji, insert laughing emoji). He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is terrifying!

But this month was different, or at least I hoped it would be. Determined to read something spooky, I began the month of October with the best of intentions, reaching out to a few friends who are notorious for their enjoyment of horror. Here are a few spooky book recommendations, courtesy of Susan Todd and Roz Weedman:

  • A current thriller with some serious creep: “The Butcher and the Wren” by Alaina Urquhart.

  • A horror with a creepy clown puppet situation: “How to Sell a Haunted House” by Grady Hendrix.

  • A scary story dealing with good and evil available on audiobook only because Larson says all the best ghost stories must be told out loud: “No One Goes Alone” by Erik Larson.

  • One of the creepiest stories ever, but without a monster in sight: “Thinner” by Richard Bachman (Stephen King’s pseudonym).

I tried to convince myself that, as your columnist and as someone who aspires to read deeply and widely, October was the perfect time to revisit horror, but I couldn’t will myself to read something scary. Despite my best intentions, I ended up avoiding the spooky books at all costs, and as a result I spent the entire month reading nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I did, however, learn a valuable lesson from all of this: it’s better to read something than to read nothing at all.

Once I gave myself permission to move beyond the spooky books, I immediately picked up a title I’ve been waiting to read, and that’s what really matters.

Besides, at the end of a long (and likely stressful) day with my kids, I’m confronted with my own series of real-life horrors: a pile of dishes in the sink, orange crayon on the walls, toys splayed across the living room in a treacherous obstacle course that threaten to twist my ankle, and a pile of bills waiting to be paid. That’s enough spook for me. I’m kidding (sort of), but you get the picture.

If you like a scary read, please give Roz and Susan’s recommendations a try, or drop by to check out the library’s “Spooktacular Books” display. And no matter how you enjoy this season, if you like a good spook or you don’t, the most important thing is to keep reading something you enjoy.

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