Halloween reading: What's the freakiest book of them all?
By Katie Rogers
As a kid, late-night, under-the-covers reading offenses occurred so often that my parents amassed an impressive collection of flashlights by the time I entered high school. I credit one creepy book for kick-starting my reading obsession at age 8: "Bunnicula," the story of a (vegetarian) vampire rabbit. "Goosebumps" and "Fear Street" books by R.L. Stine held me over until I got into the hard stuff: "Dracula," "The Shining," "Interview with the Vampire." All books that I never quite got over and that still keep me awake when I'm home alone at night.
(A hint to parents everywhere: this list of children's books from Monster Librarian should keep your kid similarly sleep-deprived.)
So when Melissa read British fiction writer Neil Gaiman's blog and saw that he'd like us all to give a scary book to someone on Halloween, we swooned at the morbidly heartwarming idea. After all, it's fun to visit a world much spookier than our own, return ticket safely in hand.
Melissa writes about her first real clash with the creeps:
I knew the book was about a clown that lived in a gutter. I knew it was a joke. I knew that it was just a book. I was an adult. I could handle a silly scare tactic or two. A clown! Please. I read "It" one winter in a bedroom of a rented house in Virginia. It was a lonely house and a quiet room and my bed lay at a diagonal between two windows. It was my first brush with Stephen King. My, how I underestimated the man's talents. Every noise outside my window was that clown scratching at the glass. I couldn't step out of my bed because that clown was hiding beneath it. During the days, I'd cross the street away from the street drains, in case that clown reached its claws out for my ankles. For three nights, I shivered and groaned and read that terrifying, awful (and really, really good) book. I slept with the lights on the rest of the winter.
Tweet To honor Gaiman's experiment, I propose a trade: I'll send along my copy of current freaky favorite "Haunted" by Chuck Palahniuk to a reader who'll send me their choice book. You can find me here. In the meantime, tell us which books totally freaked you out. Use #booksthatfreakedmeout on Twitter. Or leave a note in the comments. Happy reading!
Update: Neil Gaiman weighed in on the idea:
Pondering Washington Post's #booksthatfreakedmeout. The last one was Dark Feasts by Ramsey Campbell. After reading it the world was weirder.
Update: Our book critic, Ron Charles, jumped in:
And then you started to share your picks ...
Deliverance by James Dickey and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway #booksthatfreakedmeout
So we decided to give you the whole conversation. Enjoy!
| October 26, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
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