Written by Great Books on Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Here at Great Books headquarters, the weather is turning crisp, the leaves are turning color, and candy corn can be found in every store. It is a sure sign Halloween is right around the corner, so here are a few spooky literary picks to get you ready for the holiday celebrating ghosts, goblins, and ghouls.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
Perhaps it’s obvious to suggest any of Poe’s uncanny thrillers for this time of year, but this time we recommend one of his lesser known stories, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Considered by many to be the first modern detective story, “The Murders at Rue Morgue” contains all the things you love about a good mystery: a gruesome murder, a dark European streetscape, and a monstrous suspect.
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
This is one of the few books that Ray Bradbury wrote for a young audience, but it has endured as a classic for all ages. It tells the story of eight trick-or-treaters who are swept up in a “dark Something,” and must follow the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud through time and space in search of their lost friend. The writing is as imaginative and beautiful as you would expect from Bradbury, and carries the reader through the history of Halloween myth.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
You probably know the tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, but you may not realize how funny the original story is to read. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was originally published under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, a fictional historian whom Irving used for his own brand of viral marketing. Before his collection of stories was published, Irving claimed that the historian Knickerbocker had gone missing, and that his manuscript would be published if he did not turn up and pay his hotel bill. The city of New York was enthralled in the mystery of the missing Knickerbocker, and even more enthralled when his laugh-out-loud Halloween classic was published later that year.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs is known for his method of blending stories with found vintage photographs. The result in his Miss Peregrine series is absolutely eerie. It tells the story of a young man, Jacob, who stumbles upon his family’s past, which includes a community of children with peculiar talents. The accompanying photographs, of children floating on air or with holes through their bodies, sets the stage for the creepy adventure that Jacob and his friends embark upon. The third book in this series, Library of Souls , was just released at the end of September.
Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne is another reliable author when it comes to dark and spooky tales, especially because he was haunted by his ancestor’s legacy in the Salem Witch Trials. In that vein, we recommend one of our Great Books favorites, “Young Goodman Brown.” In this allegorical classic, a man in Salem, Massachusetts goes into the woods to meet the devil, and loses his faith along the way.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
We recommended this book last year, and we will continue to recommend it, because your friendly GBHQ blogger will not rest until everyone has read this book. This unique novel (and its brilliant illustrations by Dave McKean) tells the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, an orphan boy who is adopted and raised by the otherworldly inhabitants of the local graveyard. It’s the Jungle Book wrapped up in ghosts, vampires, and European legends.