Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Salon: The Halloween Edition

I suspect that most people use the month of October as an excuse to read scary books. After all, Halloween costumes (at least for adult women) tend to skew either trampy or scary/gory. And so the books we read for the month reflect the latter incarnation of Halloween. But I am a bona fide coward. I was not thrilled to note that our latest bookclub book snuck in an unexpected murder. It was not presented gorily (is that a word?) but it resulted in a body and a crime scene and a murderer. All things that make me break out in a cold sweat when I read.

Given my absolute wimpiness in all things scary, you are probably not terribly likely to take my advice on creepy books but that doesn't mean I won't jump on the Halloween bandwagon and offer my advice anyway. The scariest book I've ever read, hands down, was The Other by Thomas Tryon. Quite honestly, it still haunts me to this day. It is a terrifying pschological thriller and the reveal can still give me a good nightmare. I think it's long out of print but it is worth hunting down if you want a lock the doors, leave all the lights on, and wet your pants at every stray house creak kind of read. I made the mistake of reading it at our cottage on an island in the woods by flashlight when I was twelve (and no, I am not making this up even if it does have the whiff of the "I walked uphill to school in a blizzard" exaggeration common to we old fogies). I had found it on the shelf of a friend's cottage and had no idea I was about to torment myself for almost 30 years simply by reading it. Truly horrifying! The book that was scary at the time but has faded with time, I'd have to say Thinner by Steven King. The book put me off reading any more of the master of horror but now in my current incarnation, I sort of half wish I could have just a small piece of the pie in the book. OK, starving to death wouldn't be nice, but not being able to gain weight no matter what I ate is rather more appealing now than it was back when I read it originally. And finally (because I really don't read much of this stuff so I have few recommendations), for the creepiest book I've read recently, I'd suggest The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. It was a book club choice several years ago and I can still see the scene with the man crawling with maggots and yet inexplicably still alive. (This is not a spoiler as it happens in the first 25-50 pages of the book.) Horrifying and I set it down at the time with no plans to go back to it, ever. But anal retentiveness won out and I suffered through graphic and appalling descriptions of murders and crime scenes. I really think I'm going to have to quit reading along with book club in October!

Do you like scary books? Do you avoid them like I do? Which books still haunt your nightmares, many years on? Do you have any fluffy bunny reads to scrub the scary books from my brain?

This week I made my way through a charming read set in a cooking school populated by damaged people, watched as a middle-aged woman let the past overwhelm and almost sabotage her happy present, and went along for the ride as two Hollywood outsiders had to make the choice of their lives. What did you read this week?


  1. I'm with you ... I avoid anything scary in my reading (although right now I'm reading The Little Stranger, but this is highly unusual for me).

    We have a very good friend of my husband's who is a horror writer. This guy was in our wedding and everything ... yet I can't bring myself to read anything he's written. I feel terrible about that. (Actually, I might have read one of his short stories, but that's about it.)

  2. I love scary books. The scarier, the better!

  3. I use to love Stephen King. Salems Lot is the only book I have ever encountered that I could not read at night. I like a good mystery/ psychological thriller, but it has been awhile since a book has truly scared me.

  4. I avoid anything scary or remotely disturbing in my reading. The last book I read that kept me up at night was "The Stand" by Stephen King. I knew that King wrote horror, but the coworker who suggested it said that this was one of his non-horror novels. She neglected to tell me about the part of the plot where Good and Evil were fighting for control over an unborn child -- and I was pregnant with my first baby! I tried to reread that book last year (17 years later) and I couldn't get past the first chapter.

  5. I like scary books, but will ONLY read them when my husband will be home and not traveling. On occasion I will have nightmares, so I never read them if he is away (which isn't too often).


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts