The start of fall and the approach of Halloween is my favorite time of year. Halloween is a a month-long celebration in our house, complete with spooky decorations, scary movie marathons, and visits to pumpkin patches and creepy cemeteries. The arrival of October also means that all five members of my family turn to slightly darker (but age appropriate) reading material. We save up the thrillers and mysteries for the shorter days and chilly nights, enjoying the unnerving energy-boost only a scary story can elicit.
My husband and I have a huge stack of mysteries, thrillers, and horror novels on the bookshelf by our bed. We plan to go to bed every night this month reading about all manner of supernatural terrors. This new blog project offered me the perfect opportunity to take my book list and make it a series of posts I am calling my “October Book Series” which seemed more manageable than the “Mystery-Thriller-Horror Book Series.” (Just in case the books aren’t scary enough, we also indulge in a horror movie double-feature every Friday night in October. Tonight we plan to re-watch The Shining and Poltergeist)
Very few people I know read scary novels or watch horror movies. In fact, most of my girlfriends find it rather ghoulish that I dedicate so much of my month to being terrified. While I understand that the horror genre is not for every reader, I really feel that there are a lot of wonderfully written books that are being skipped just because the content is unsettling. Scary stories can be really exhilarating to read, making my appreciation for my warm bed in my safe little house even greater than usual. Even more than missing out on great writing, skipping the scary stuff also means that readers are missing out on some deep life exploration. Thriller and horror stories call on us to really dig deep and think about the dark side of life. Even beyond asking us to think “what would I do if faced with a zombie attack or alien invasion?,” these readings can also force us to consider the more realistic horrors that we might be called upon to face: stalkers, kidnapping, domestic violence, death in all its forms. In those moments, reading these stories we are being challenged to consider terrible possibilities that might help us formulate a “what if” plan. Just because we don’t read about horrific events does not mean they will never happen.
I don’t mean to say that we should read horror and thrillers only as preparation for how to escape a deranged killer. But the autumn is the time when the ripe fruits and green leaves of the summer start to decay, and a little thinking about decay makes the first growth of spring all the brighter.
Reading for my October (Mystery-Thriller-Horror) Reading Series is under way, stay tuned…