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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween: Here's A Recommended List of Halloween Books from the Foremost Expert on the Holiday

Happy Halloween! We made it. See and you didn't get too scared this month.

This year I have asked Lisa Morton, international Halloween expert, author, and the current President of the HWA back to the blog to help us celebrate [click here for her past appearances].

She wanted to share with you six Halloween titles that she feels are perfect for public library collections. She made sure they were in paperback [to save us money] and in print. She also included the link for you to order them directly from the publisher. Thanks to Lisa and HAPPY HALLOWEEN to you all.

Remember, just because Halloween is today that doesn't mean you cannot suggest great scary reads all year long; in fact, I will have a few options perfect for a wide range of readers here on the regular blog tomorrow. [See even if you hide from my horror blog, I will come and find you.]

Now, Lisa, take it away...


Six Halloween Books Every Library Should Have 
By Lisa Morton 

As a Halloween expert, I’ve been known to refer to my favorite day of the year as “the most misunderstood holiday.” I encounter a lot of misconceptions about the holiday, everything from the notion that it’s based on a day when ancient Celts worshipped a Lord of Death (it’s not), to “trick or treat is centuries old” (again – it’s not), to concerns that anonymous psychos tampering with candy is a real problem every year (surprise answer: it’s not). 

Fortunately, over the last twenty years a number of excellent books about Halloween have been published, so I consider it my civic duty to let librarians know that they can assist in countering these mistaken notions of Halloween by putting these titles on their shelves. 
Plus, they’re all really fun books that patrons will enjoy, and will likely want to check out even when it’s not October. 

Here are six that are still in print as trade paperbacks and are all worthwhile additions to any collection: 

A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past, edited by Lesley Pratt 

Bannatyne, published by Pelican Publishing. Bannatyne is one of the world’s leading authorities on the holiday, so you know this anthology of stories, poems, and articles was chosen with knowledge and care. The book includes classic works (Robert Burns’s poem “Hallowe’en”), pieces by great authors (James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe), and lesser-known but equally wonderful entries. It works as either a reference volume or just an enjoyable, casual reader. Younger readers will find plenty to scarf down here, too. 

The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, edited by Stephen Jones, published by Skyhorse Publishing. 

Halloween fiction has become immensely popular over the last twenty years, and there are a number of fine anthologies out there. This one, just released two months ago, packs twenty-six stories into nearly 500 pages, so every reader is sure to find new seasonal favorites in this “mammoth book.” Authors include such genre luminaries as Ramsey Campbell, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy Kilpatrick, and many more. Be aware that these stories are not intended for very young readers. 

Drawn to the Dark: Explorations in Scare Tourism Around the World, by Chris Kullstroem, published by Pelican Publishing.

This is the only title on this list that’s not 100% about Halloween (although it has a wonderful chapter on playing a monster in a Halloween haunted attraction), but I’m recommending it because it offers a compelling examination of similar festivals and attractions around the world and makes us realize why the things we love about Halloween are universal. Don’t be surprised if you want to book some airline tickets after reading this!

The Halloween Encyclopedia (2nd edition), by Lisa Morton, published by McFarland and Co., Inc. 

Although this book is really intended for either academics or serious Halloweenaholics, it’s also illustrated throughout and written in an accessible style that makes for fun, enlightening browsing. 

Halloween and Other Festivals of Life and Death, edited by Jack Santino, published by the University of Tennessee Press. This is the one truly academic title on this list, but the papers assembled here have made it the classic for Halloween scholars. Santino is a folklorist who is without peer in the field of serious Halloween studies, plus the selections offer up some wonderful takes on Halloween (like the importance of noisemakers in the past) that you won’t find elsewhere. 

Halloween: The History of America’s Darkest Holiday, by David J. Skal, published by Dover Publications. Originally released under the title Death Makes a Holiday, this is an entertaining pop culture history by the always-reliable Skal. Dover has reprinted it in an affordable paperback with a kickin’ new cover. 

Happy Halloween, everyone! 

BIO: Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”. She is the author of four novels and more than 130 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, and a world-class Halloween expert. She co-edited (with Ellen Datlow) the anthology Haunted Nights; other recent releases include Ghosts: A Haunted History and the collection The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats. Forthcoming in 2019 is an anthology of classic ghost stories, co-edited with Leslie Klinger, and short fiction in books including Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and online at .

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