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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/04/05 Permalink
    Tags: 100 selected poems, alessandra lynch, , anne carson, autobiography of red, bull, calling a wolf a wolf, courtney peppernell, dalily called it a dangerous moment, danez smith, david elliott, devotions, don't call us dead, , edgar allan poe, exlizabeth acevedo, good bones, gwendolyn brooks, kaveh akbar, kiki petrosino, langston hughes, maggie smith, magic with skin on, , , , morgan nikola-wren, nikita gill, no matter the wreckage, , pillow thoughts, , rumi, , sarah kay, selected poems, shakespeare's sonnets, sun yung shin, the collected poems, the essential rumi: selected poems, the poet x, , the rose that grew from concrete, tupac shakur, twenty love poems and a song of despair, unbearable splendor, wild embers, , witch wife   

    25 Must-Reads for National Poetry Month 

    April is National Poetry month, so we’ve got verses and rhymes and metaphors on the brain. Poetry is wonderfully expressive, and features everything from the most intimate of stories to the grandest of adventures. Here are 25 must-reads for the month!

    Devotions, by Mary Oliver
    One of America’s classic poets has a new collection of 200 poems. Follow Oliver through her poetic journey starting when she was only 28 years old through today, with themes of belonging, nature, and the importance of asking questions.

    Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
    If you’re in the mood for emotional vignettes about what it means to be a woman, to be in love, to be marginalized, and to find your strength, this one’s for you. Once you’ve savored it, pick up the more recent The Sun and Her Flowers.


    Calling a Wolf a Wolf, by Kaveh Akbar
    A story of recovery told in verse, this poetry collection is about living with ghosts and learning to love yourself.

    Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
    One of the most famous poems in 2016 comes from a larger anthology that touches on the unique experience of motherhood that is worth reading no matter your stage in life.

    Don’t Call Us Dead, by Danez Smith
    A fascinating anthology of poetry about the African-American experience in America. Imagine a world where black men are surrounded by love and happiness…but it exists after death. Themes of death, revolution, police brutality, and so much more are explored in this provocative book.

    The Princess Saves Herself In This One, by Amanda Lovelace
    Another feminist poetry anthology to start your month off right. This collection tackles issues like body positivity, assault, surviving grief, and so much more.

    The Rose That Grew from Concrete, by Tupac Shakur
    A wise soul taken from us too soon leaves behind a legacy of beautiful, poignant writing about poverty, systemic racism, violence, and love.

    Unbearable Splendor, by Sun Yung Shin
    A beautiful collection about identity, family, the immigrant experience, and being a modern woman.

    Dalily Called it a Dangerous Moment, by Alessandra Lynch
    Trauma is an experience that can rarely be defined in words, but this collection rips open the mechanics of overcoming trauma, specifically sexual assault, through the poet’s modern yet timeless way with words.

    Witch Wife, by Kiki Petrosino
    This stunning spellbook on love, being a woman in all phases of life, motherhood, and inhabiting the female body will cast a spell on you.

    Pillow Thoughts, by Courtney Peppernell
    The course of true love never did run smooth, but this poetry collection about heartbreak and finding the courage to move on will smooth over all your rough edges, if you’re feeling particularly jagged after a breakup.

    Bull, by David Elliott
    Another novel-in-verse based on a myth, this time in the young adult genre: Bull tells the story of Asterion, but you know him by another name: The Minotaur. But who was the boy before he was a monster? Irreverent, with equal amounts of humor and tragedy, this retelling is part tragedy, part villain origin story.

    Magic With Skin On, by Morgan Nikola-Wren
    Another tome that spins words like magic, this debut poetry collection is about the connection the artist has with her muse, who is currently nowhere to be found.

    The Essential Rumi: Selected Poems, by Rumi
    Rumi’s poetry is everlasting, and applies to the modern age more and more with reminders to trust yourself, be kind and compassionate, and find love everywhere.

    Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
    A poetry collection by a classic writer whom you may know a little about, but who otherwise remains a mystery. These poems are dark and haunting, bordering on magical, and explore the intersections of humanity, devotion, longing, and obsession.

    Selected Poems, by Gwendolyn Brooks
    The very first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry definitely deserves to be read. (You may already know one of her famous poems, “We Real Cool”, about the consequences of risky behavior.)

    The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
    In this recent New York Times bestseller, an Afro-Latina poet struggles to express herself surrounded by family and culture she often feels at odds with. She likes a boy her family wouldn’t approve of; her mother wants her to be a strict Catholic…and performing her poetry is something she craves, but fears could break her from the world she knows.

    Wild Embers, by Nikita Gill
    A feminist collection that blends the world of magic with the world of women. You will be inspired by tales of mythic heroines and how their stories connect with your own.

    Shakespeare’s Sonnets, by William Shakespeare
    He may be known for his plays, but Shakespeare’s sonnets are just as beautiful, tragic, inspiring, and honest about human nature.

    Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson
    Switching things up for a novel in verse! This re-telling of a Greek myth is about a boy-monster who flees a tragic upbringing and finds himself turning to a man with a familiar name: Herakles. Geryon finds himself falling for the man, only to be broken-hearted. Love, lust, and coming-of-age can be found in this tale.

    Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, by Pablo Neruda
    Pablo Neruda is one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated poets, infusing his work with Latino history, culture, and imagery. One interesting thing to note about this collection is that the love poems are often tinged with sadness, reflecting the true nature of the feeling we all crave, that can often leave us brokenhearted.

    100 Selected Poems, by E.E. Cummings
    E.E. Cummings may be a classic poet now, but his work is largely considered experimental and different from the norm. Cummings was also a visual artist, and some of his paintings are collected here!

    The Collected Poems, by Langston Hughes
    Fifty years’ worth of Langston Hughes’ most moving poems (many of which haven’t been published in book form before) is an incredible survey of the life and passion of one of America’s most celebrated poet.

    No Matter the Wreckage, by Sarah Kay
    You may have seen her TEDx Talk, but Sarah Kay also has a poetry collection. It’s the perfect anthology of poems about adolescence, femininity, race, culture, and family.

    Poems, by Maya Angelou
    James Baldwin said of this collection: “Black, bitter, and beautiful, she speaks to our survival.” One of our most important and influential writers, Maya Angelou’s poetry deals with the black experience, womanhood, and so much more.

    The post 25 Must-Reads for National Poetry Month appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , bentley little, bird box, blindness, , carrion comfort, , , , dathan auerbach, dawn, edgar allan poe, exquisite corpose, , ghost story, , hell house, , , , jack ketchum, jose saramago, josh malarian, koji suzuki, lionel shriver, , , , , , penal, , peter straub, poppy z. brite, ramsey campbell, , richard matheson, ring, rosemary’s baby, scott smith, , something wicked this way comes, , the face that must die, the girl next door, , the ruins, the walking, , , we need to talk about kevin,   

    25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever 

    Literature can be a moving, beautiful artistic experience. Skilled writers can bring us face to face with scenarios and emotions we might never encounter in real life, expanding our understanding of both the universe and our fellow man.

    It can also scare the living daylights out of us. Horror novels don’t always get the respect they deserve; just because something is scary doesn’t mean it’s not “literary” or well-crafted art, but if the core purpose of a story is perceived to be “making you soil yourself in fear” for some reason that story won’t get much respect. Of course, a story can be terrifying without necessarily being great art. If your goal is to be so terrified of a book that you put it in the freezer and book a hotel room for a few days, here are twenty-five books that might not necessarily be the best horror novels, but are certainly the scariest.

    Literally Everything Edgar Allan Poe Wrote
    Poe had a knack for infusing everything he wrote with visceral dread. His characters and narrators tend towards the mentally fragile and the insane, people who are haunted by things that might be literal or might be manifestations of their unsound thought processes. Either way, stories like The Tell-Tale Heart or The Cask of Amontillado retain their power to petrify more than a century-and-a-half after their publication because Poe tapped into the fundamental fear we all have that the world and people around us are not what they seem.

    House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
    Put simply, House of Leaves is one of the most frightening books ever written. From a fairly standard horror premise (a house is revealed to be slightly larger on the inside than is strictly possible) Danielewski spins out a dizzying tale involving multiple unreliable narrators, typographic mysteries, and looping footnotes that manage to drag the reader into the story and then make them doubt their own perception of that story. It’s a trick no one else has managed to such dramatic effect, making this novel more of a participatory experience than any other work of literature—which, considering the dark madness at its core, isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience.

    Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
    The film adaptation has supplanted the novel in pop culture, but the novel was a huge hit for Levin—and the film actually sticks to the plot and dialog so closely you really do get a feel for the novel from watching it. The story of a young woman who becomes pregnant after a nightmare gets its terror not from the well-known twist of the baby’s parentage (hint: not her husband), but from the increasing isolation Rosemary experiences as her suspicions about everyone around her grow. So many threads tie into the terror, from the emotional and economic uncertainty of a struggling young couple to the simple fear any mother has for their child, all expertly knotted into a story that will keep you awake at night.

    The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
    When you think about clichés in horror fiction, the haunted house is at the top of the list, an idea done so often it’s frequently an unintentional parody. Shirley Jackson, however, was no ordinary writer, and she takes the concept of the haunted house and perfects it. The Haunting of Hill House is simply the best haunted house story ever written. The scares come not just from the malevolent actions of a house that seems sentient and angry, but from the claustrophobia we experience from the novel’s unreliable narrator, Eleanor, whose descent into madness is slow and excruciating and only begins after we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by the seeming relatability of her early persona.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    The great sage Pat Benatar once sang that hell is for children. Golding’s account of children stranded on an island without supplies or adult supervision is absolutely terrifying for one simple reason: there’s nothing supernatural going on. It’s a story about insufficiently socialized humans descending into savagery because that’s our fundamental nature. You look into the abyss at the center of this novel and the abyss looks back.

    We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
    Another story centered on the terror of children, the horror inherent in this story comes from the fact that the human beings we create eventually become their own people—and possibly strangers to us. Not everyone has a close and loving relationship with their parents, and while the idea that your own kids might grow up to be criminals isn’t pleasant, most people assume they will at least recognize themselves in their kids. But what if you don’t? What if your child—your child—is a blank monster?

    Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
    In the Internet Age it’s pretty easy to fall down a rabbit hole of pop culture obsession, and there are still dark areas of culture that haven’t had a wiki created around them. Pessl’s story about a mysterious underground filmmaker whose movies may or may not contain hints of dark power and horrific events and the journalist who becomes obsessed with him asks the reader how you can be certain there’s a clear line between fact and fiction, then, once that wedge of doubt is established, presents a terrifying fiction to fill that space.

    Ring, by Kōji Suzuki
    The novel that inspired the horror films of the same name, the premise is well-known: anyone who watches a mysterious videotape of creepy images is informed that they will die in seven days—and then they die. The investigation into the tape and how to avoid this grim fate leads to what remains an incredibly shocking backstory involving rape, smallpox, and a forgotten well. Technology has shifted, but the terror never really relied on VHS tapes—it’s the concept that ideas can be deadly, that simply by experiencing something you can be doomed, that’s so horrifying.

    Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach
    Pivoting on the idea that we’re often blinded by the details we can see, making it impossible to see the bigger picture, Auerbach’s debut began life as a series of creepypasta stories on the Internet. The episodic nature of the story is ideal for the effect he achieves; the narrator tells of being a young boy and sending a penpal request attached to a balloon with his classmates, including his best friend Josh. He doesn’t receive a response until nearly a year later, and his life takes a turn for the bizarre shortly afterwards. A series of tragic and strange things happen to him and everyone around him, building a sense of dread that is only increased when the truth is revealed.

    Carrion Comfort, by Dan Simmons
    Simmons’ novel follows several groups of people who have The Ability, a psychic power that allows them to take control of others from a distance and force them to perform any action. When one of their puppets murders someone, the person with The Ability is invigorated and strengthened. Simmons doesn’t shy away from the implications of this power on history and the future, and the book will destroy any sense of security you have in the world around you, revealed to possibly be simply a worldwide board game for those who can control us all like pawns.

    Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
    Several of King’s books could be on this list, but he frequently blunts the terror of his stories with the richness and humanity of his characterizations and the sprawl of his narratives. Pet Sematary manages to be his most terrifying novel by dint of its simple, devastating concept: a magical cemetery where buried things come back to a sort-of life—but aren’t quite what they once were. From that simple idea King ramps up to a climax that gets under your skin in a fundamental way most horror stories fail to.

    The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum
    Horror often pivots on the corruption or warping of societal norms and rules; once you feel like you can’t rely on the natural social order, literally anything is possible. Ketchum’s disturbing novel about the unimaginable abuse suffered by two sisters when they are forced to live with their mentally unstable aunt and her three savage sons is based on real events, but it’s the central theme of an adult giving official sanction to the atrocities that makes this story so utterly horrifying.

    Blindness, by Jose Saramago
    Helplessness is a key factor in a lot of horror; most people labor under the delusion that they are in charge of their destiny and their lives, and horror is often effective simply by reminding us how little control we actually have. An epidemic of blindness leaves an entire city’s population secluded in a mental institution as society within and without crumbles. The brutality and descent into animalistic madness is all too realistic, and Saramago manages to capture the terrifying confusion and helplessness experienced by people in a society that no longer functions.

    Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
    McCarthy’s entire writing style and technique is terrifying; the man could write a grocery list that leaves the reader dripping with dread. This tale of extreme, ruthless, and pervasive violence in the American west emerges from under a sheen of the unreal to become all too real, and the greatest trick McCarthy manages here is by making the single most terrifying aspect of the story—the main character’s death—the one act of brutality he doesn’t depict, leaving the terrors contained within that scene to our imagination—which is infinitely worse than anything he might have conjured.

    Exquisite Corpse, by Poppy Z. Brite
    Brite’s most famous novel follows two serial killers who initially aim to kill each other but, upon discovering a fellow traveler, instead engage in a spree of horrific sex and murder. The matter-of-fact way the pair concocts a plan to kidnap, torture, and then consume a beautiful gay man named Tran is the sort of stuff that could simply be shocking, but Brite continuously considers the value of existence and what we could all be doing with the time we have left—time we too often imagine to be infinite when, of course, we’re all going to be consumed someday by something.

    Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
    Bradbury’s epic rumination on childhood and adulthood tells the story of a magical circus come to a small town, offering the residents dark gifts they weren’t aware they wanted—most notably the carousel that can change your physical age, making boys who yearn to be adults grow older, and middle-aged men and women who yearn for their lost youth to grow younger. Bradbury knows the worst horror in the world is losing the natural order of your life, and perfectly captures the combination of dread and excitement everyone experiences as they crack the mysteries separating them from adulthood.

    Hell House, by Richard Matheson
    What Matheson taps into in this classic haunted house story is the universal fear that we are already lost, already broken. Hired to investigate the existence of an afterlife by exploring the notoriously haunted Belasco House, a team moves in and slowly succumbs to the influence of the entity within—an entity that only uses their own weaknesses and secret shames against them. Their descent into the depths of horror is too close for comfort as a result—for everyone reading the book knows all too well that they have weaknesses, and secret shames, as well.

    The Face That Must Die, by Ramsey Campbell
    Campbell wrote a number of books that are absolutely terrifying, but this one stands out in the way he forces the reader to completely inhabit the mind of a very sick man, Horridge. As he fixates on an overweight man living in his neighborhood, the reader is forced to see the world consistently through his eyes. Everything is off-beat, everything drips with ominous meaning and horrific intent. Horridge sees the entire world as a horror that must be destroyed, and for a while the reader is carried along on that uncomfortable point of view, leaving them exhausted and terrified.

    Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Told in alternating chapters that depict a group of aspiring writers voluntarily secluded in an unusual writer’s retreat and the stories they’re writing, Haunted not only contains one of the most disturbing short stories ever published (“Guts,” which caused several people to faint when Palahniuk read it in public) it’s also a deep dive into madness as the reality-TV obsessed characters start sabotaging their experiment in a quest for fame. The sense of suffocating dread that Palahniuk applies grows so incrementally you don’t notice it until you suddenly realize you’ve been holding your breath for five pages.

    Dawn, by Octavia Butler
    Although technically science fiction, this story of the human race centuries after a devastating apocalypse is straight terror in many ways. Lilith is one of the last surviving humans, awakened on an alien ship. The aliens, three-sexed and many-tentacled, offer Lilith a deal: they will help her repopulated the Earth, but their price is to breed with humanity to gain humanity’s “talent” for cancer (and the creative possibilities it offers) while blunting their self-destructive tendencies. The horror imbued in each page is subtle, but it exerts tremendous mental pressure as you progress through the story.

    The Walking, by Bentley Little
    Far from just another tale of zombies, Little’s story of a man whose father rises from death after a stroke sizzles with a sense of doom long before the reader understands what’s at stake. Discovering that many families are hiding zombie relatives, and have been for some time, private investigator Miles Huerdeen digs into the mystery—and what he finds is easily the scariest stuff about zombies you’ll ever read. If you watch zombie movies and shows and laugh at their shuffling, mindless threat, this book will change your mind.

    The Ruins, by Scott Smith
    Smith’s story is deceptively simple: a group of tourists in Mexico go off in search of an archaeological site where a friend has set up camp; they find a pyramid covered in odd vines, the land around it salted and barren. Once on the pyramid, they discover the dead body of their friend, covered in the vines, and that the nearby villagers have arrived with guns to force them to remain on the pyramid. The vines are one of those simple monsters that seem so easy to defeat at first blush, yet the inexorable doom that descends on the characters slowly, grindingly proves otherwise.

    Bird Box, by Josh Malerman
    Malerman’s intense story of a world that slowly crumbles as people go murderously insane after seeing mysterious creatures—referred to simply as The Problem—is so scary because the reader only has the information that the characters have, and that’s not much. The world collapses and the survivors can only seal themselves off from the outside and try to avoid the worst, leading to a torturous wearing down of hope that leaves the reader defenseless against the horrible images Malerman conjures.

    Ghost Story, by Peter Straub
    A good old-fashioned ghost story is designed to terrify and entertain, and Straub’s breakthrough novel does both. Five old friends gather regularly to trade ghost stories, but when one of them dies mysteriously and the survivors begin to dream of their own deaths, a secret from their past is revealed—and the simple pleasures of a ghost story are explored to their most frightening ends by a master of the form.

    Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    If you don’t think of Beloved as a horror story, you haven’t been paying attention. Morrison’s skill as a writer is in full effect as she draws the reader into what is assuredly one of the saddest and most horrifying stories committed to paper. There’s no more terrifying sequence than the long slide into madness as escaped slave Sethe, convinced the young woman calling herself Beloved is the daughter she murdered in an attempt to keep her safe from slavers come to reclaim them, grows steadily thinner and weaker as she gives everything she has—including food—to Beloved, who grows steadily larger.

    Did we leave off any truly terrifying books? Let us know in the comments.

    The post 25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Maurie Backman 7:00 pm on 2014/08/15 Permalink
    Tags: edgar allan poe, , , , , , , , , thomas harris,   

    6 Great Books to Read on a Dark and Stormy Night 

    The ShiningYou’re home alone, the wind is howling, and a steady rain is beating down heavily against your window. You put on your most comfortable pair of pajamas, pour yourself a mug of hot chocolate, and prepare to cozy up on your couch with a fuzzy blanket. Now all you need is the perfect book to let this dark, stormy night take hold of your mind, and we’ve got several suggestions.

    While you don’t necessarily need ominous weather to enjoy these great works, there’s just something about flashing lightning, crashing thunder, and the heavy pitter-patter of pouring rain that creates the perfect backdrop. For an even more intense experience, we suggest reading one of these books by candlelight. You can always turn the lights back on if you find yourself getting a little too spooked for comfort…

    The Shining, by Stephen King
    There’s a reason Joey from Friends had to stash this novel in the freezer halfway through. If you’re going to get drawn into the world of a haunted, isolated hotel, you might as well do it on a night that lends some realism to the already spooky setting. We won’t spoil the plot, but let’s just say supernatural forces abound to create a tale that’ll rattle you to your very core—especially against a stormy background of your own.

    The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
    This collection features some of Poe’s most thrilling, suspenseful works, from the terrifying “The Pit and the Pendulum” to the fear-inducing “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Pick and choose your favorites and prepare to get swept away by the satisfyingly scary settings Poe creates. Throw in a little real-world thunder and lightning, and it won’t be long before you’re tempted to hide under your own covers until morning.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Nothing complements a Gothic Transylvanian setting like a pounding storm, ideally one that intensifies as you keep reading. Pummeling rains and wailing winds can only make this chilling novel better, especially if you’re reading it for the first time.

    The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
    Forget about the movie version. If you’re looking for a character that will truly mess with your head in the most thrilling of ways, Hannibal Lecter most certainly fits the bill. This novel screams psychological thriller, and against the backdrop of an already eerie night, you’ll be hard-pressed not to consider going to sleep with the lights on.

    Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews
    Now here’s a story that will captivate you in the creepiest of ways, especially when the dreary, isolated nature of the attic is echoed by a real-life raging storm. Reading this novel in an eerie setting of your own will elevate it in a manner that’s as thrilling as it is disturbing.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson
    The first novel in Steig Larsson’s trilogy introduces us to the ever-fascinating and complex characters of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, who team up to solve a mystery with a twist so disturbing it’ll leave even the most jaded of readers reeling. The intricate storyline and cold, icy, remote island setting make this masterpiece the perfect stormy night read.

    What books do you recommend for a dark and stormy night?

  • Ginni Chen 5:00 pm on 2014/08/01 Permalink
    Tags: alvin schwartz, , , , edgar allan poe, , , , , , patrick mccabe, scary stories to tell in the dark, , stephen gammell, , the butcher boy, , ,   

    Beat the Summer Heat with 8 Bone-Chilling Books 


    I grew up in Japan, where, in addition to fireworks and temple festivals, it’s a cultural tradition to tell scary stories during the humid summer months. Spooky stories are popular during that time of year for a couple different reasons. First, Japanese Buddhists believe that spirits return to their ancestral home during the month of August, so it’s the prime time to tell ghost stories.

    Secondly, there is a cultural belief that scary stories will both figuratively and literally “chill” you in hot weather. After all, when you’re frightened, the hair on your neck stands on end and chills run up and down your spine. Thus, theoretically, your body’s physiological response to fear effectively cools you off and you don’t feel the heat anymore.

    To test it out, here are 8 bone-chilling books. Give them a read and see if the creeps keep you cool!

    Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy
    By far the most disturbing book I’ve ever read, but also one of the most beautifully written. In a mere 200 pages, McCarthy takes you through one social outcast’s descent into isolation, violence, and depravity in the deep South.

    The Butcher Boy, by Patrick McCabe
    I couldn’t sleep after finishing this ghastly masterpiece about a young Irish boy. It’s narrated from the point of view of Francie Brady, the only child of an unstable mother and a drunken father. Like all young boys he loves comics, candy, and his best friend, Joe. He’s also a monster.

    The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
    Nobody can give you goosebumps like the Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. I get shivers imagining the dungeons in “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” even when it’s a blistering 90 degrees outside.

    In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s nonfiction book is based on his own investigation into the murder of a Kansas family and interviews he conducted with the convicted murderers. There are innumerable true-crime novels out there, but something about Capote’s classic will haunt you long after you finish it.

    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz
    These stories might be for kids, but mark my words, they’ll make an adult’s hair stand on end, too. I still get the heebie-jeebies from these classic tales, especially when they’re accompanied by Stephen Gammell’s creepy, drippy, oozy illustrations.

    Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Though not in the vein of classic ghost stories, Palahniuk’s collection of short stories will nonetheless make your blood curdle. The premise? A bunch of writers think they’re on a retreat, then realize they’ve signed up for something much more sinister. What they do in response is incredibly unnerving, gory, and entertaining. You’ll get pangs of phantom pain alongside the shivers.

    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
    Shelley’s classic never fails to make me shudder while still pulling on my heartstrings. Frankenstein’s monster has been a ubiquitous and influential character in pop culture, but he’s become increasingly less scary over the years. Go back to the original Frankenstein and get properly frightened, the good ol’ Gothic way.

    The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    It’s not a ghost story, it’s not a horror story—it’s even written for young adults to read. It’s nonetheless one of the most brutal, ominous books I’ve ever read. So far this reading list has been about murderers and monsters, but I’ve added one cult classic about a band of British schoolboys, stuck alone on an island with a conch shell. Why’s it on this list? If you haven’t already, just read it and see.

    What books have given you the chills?

  • Lauren Passell 5:30 pm on 2014/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: by the numbers, , edgar allan poe, , , , , , , ,   

    5 Gothic Novels, By the Numbers 

    we-have-always-lived-in-the-castle001Gothic novels come in many flavors, ranging from the classics, like Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, that helped pave the way to some of my favorites, and newer works, like Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, that perfectly fit the bill. But my favorites all share the same things: creepy houses, mysterious relatives, unexplained ailments/physical deformities, and always a twisty secret. Below, I’ve ranked my favorite Gothic novels based on those components. There are too many greats to list them all, but here’s a good starter guide for someone looking forward to a chill-inducing Gothic summer:

    My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier
    Every Gothic list worth its salt mentions Rebecca, but a lesser-known but still super rad novel is de Maurier’s other macabre tale, My Cousin Rachel. Philip Ashley goes to live with his cousin Ambrose, who falls in love and marries a woman named Rachel on a trip in Florence before randomly dying. Philip is immediately suspicious of Rachel, but finds himself inexplicably drawn to her. Is she guilty of murdering Ambrose? If you loved Rebecca‘s puzzling thrills, you’ll be equally gripped by My Cousin Rachel. 

    Creepy houses: 1
    Unpleasant attics: 0
    Mysterious relatives: 1
    Illness/physical impairments: 0
    Deaths: 1
    Poisonings: 0
    Orphans: 1
    Falling down the stairs: 0
    Destructive fires: 0
    Twisty secrets: 1
    Total: 5

    The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe
    Right off the bat, readers get a very creepy feeling when introduced to the House of Usher, where an unnamed narrator is visiting his sick friend, Roderick Usher, who needs a bit of a cheer-up:

    “About the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn—a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued.”

    Usher’s sister is sick, too, and the story lays out all the terrible things happening to the final Usher descendants in their threatening old house before they die. Every single sinister detail in this book pulls you further through castle halls and nightmarish forests and adds to the characters’ mounting insanity and the book’s Gothic rush. A terrifying, dramatic ending awaits you. If you’re truly invested in being totally disturbed, The Fall of the House of Usher will be wholly satisfying.

    Creepy houses: 1
    Unpleasant attics: 0
    Mysterious relatives: 1
    Illness/physical impairments: 2
    Deaths: 1
    Poisonings: 0
    Orphans: 0
    Someone falling down the stairs: 0
    Destructive fires: 0
    Twisty secrets: 1/2
    Total: 5 1/2

    Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
    Brontë’s classic tells the story of Jane, an orphan raised by her cruel and wealthy aunt and eventually shipped off to boarding school. Later, she becomes a governess for the ward of the rich Mr. Rochester, who she falls in love with after saving him from a fire. They part ways until another fire eats up his home, Thornfield, this time, taking Rochester’s sight and one hand. Jane returns to Rochester because…love. Just like any great gothic novel, this book features a creepy attic, and you wouldn’t believe what’s in this one even if I told you.

    Creepy houses: 1
    Unpleasant attics: 1
    Mysterious relatives: 1
    Illness/physical impairments: 1
    Deaths: 0
    Poisonings: 0
    Orphans: 1
    Falling down the stairs: 0
    Destructive fires: 2
    Twisty secrets: 1
    Total: 8

    We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
    Creepy mansion? Check. Tea times? Check. Wheelchair? Check. Arsenic, mysterious relative, destructive fire?  Check, check, check. And beneath it all: a heavy blanket of madness. We Have Always Lived In The Castle tells the story of the Blackwoods, a gang that will immediately put you at unease. In the beginning, we learn that several members of the Blackwood family died at the dinner table, but it still feels like everyone knows something you don’t. (And they do.) When a strange cousin shows up for a stay, your brain really starts struggling to put the pieces together. And then there’s the fire. And the twist. You’ll feel like you’re having a really odd dream you can’t wait to wake up and tell your friends about. Your friends will be like, “you dreamed what? That’s pretty messsed up.” See also (obviously): Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

    Creepy houses: 1
    Unpleasant attics: 1
    Mysterious relatives: 5
    Illness/physical impairments: 1
    Deaths: Several
    Poisons: Several
    Orphans: 0
    Falling down the stairs: 0
    Destructive fires: 1
    Twisty secrets: 1
    Total: 10

    My Sweet Audrina, by V.C. Andrews
    Choosing just one V.C. Andrews book for a Gothic list is like being forced to choose one grunge song out of Nirvana’s discography, but here I go: My Sweet Audrina is possibly the most Gothicy book of all time. It’s not just that there are Gothic elements (and oh, there are), but the entire atmosphere is so puzzling and vague you could choke on it. It stars Audrina, a girl who seems odd in every way. She doesn’t know how old she is. There are no clocks in her house. Her dad religiously makes her sit in a weird rocking chair. Everyone keeps talking about her perfect older sister, who is dead. People keep falling down the stairs. There are so many menacing details that it seems like Andrews is distracting you from the heart of the story, but it’s all so delicious that it’s okay.

    Creepy houses: 1
    Unpleasant attics: 1
    Mysterious relatives: 5
    Illness/physical impairments: 2
    Deaths: 2
    Poisonings: 0
    Orphans: 0
    Falling down the stairs: Too many to count
    Destructive fires: 0
    Twisty secrets: 1
    Total: 14

    What’s your favorite gothic novel?

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