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A Glimpse into the Thoughts & Imaginings of Vibeke Hiatt

October Books

Do you read October books?

Even before the weather gets cooler, I can feel fall coming. With that feeling comes a strong desire to read ghost stories—stories that tingle my spine and chill my bones. I want something to get me into the Halloween spirit.

Back in college, when I spent a lot of time at Barnes & Noble and bought a lot of books from the bargain book section, I bought a book called Haunted Britain and Ireland. It had short accounts of hauntings in the British Isles, along with atmospheric photographs. I followed a set of unwritten rules, though. I only read it during the day, in my family’s living room, where people—real, familiar, living people—were constantly passing through. When the sun started to go down, I closed the book, set it on the coffee table, and didn’t pick it up again until the next day. I didn’t even want it in my bedroom.

After a couple of weeks, my mom said to me, “That book of yours with the ghosts is creepy!” I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one reading the book—or following the same set of “rules.”

It usually isn’t too hard to find a book that satisfies my craving, but this year has been different. A friend of mine was reading the Lockwood & Co series, by Jonathan Stroud, earlier this year and I couldn’t read them fast enough. But a few weeks ago, I found myself wishing I had waited until September to start that series. The stories of English teenagers who investigate ghostly sightings, they are five books perfect for the season.

A couple of years ago, I found Scottish Ghost Stories by James Robertson at my local library. I love Scotland and the book has a black and white photo of a Scottish castle* on the front. Judging that book by its cover was not a mistake. The stories are accounts of true claims of hauntings in Scotland, from medieval times to the present day. They are told in just the right way to make you look over your shoulder when you go to bed.

This September, I checked out Spooky Southwest by S.E. Schlosser, hoping for the same type of book, but I was disappointed. The author retells ghostly stories from the folklore of the Southwest region of the United States, but she focuses on the humorous side more than the spooky side. I found the few stories I read to be ridiculously impossible, and I don’t want my ghost stories to be completely unbelievable. No bones were chilled while reading this book.

Fortunately, the local library listened to my suggestion and ordered House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. A couple of friends have read it and said that it’s just frightening enough to be the perfect October book. With the children and chores, I haven’t been able to dive into it as deeply as I would like, but I’ve already read one part that set my spine dancing. I look forward to seeing where the story goes.

My unwritten rules changed earlier this year when I realized that, now that I don’t sleep alone, I don’t have to worry about nightmares or sounds in the night. I can read ghost stories in bed and, if I get nervous, snuggle up to my husband. I’m still careful about reading or watching ghost stories after dark, but when Brett is nearby, I’m willing to brave it.

What do you like to read in October? Are there any stories you recommend for fall? Please share in the comments!

*It wasn’t until I was finding the links for this post that I realized Haunted Britain and Ireland and Scottish Ghost Stories have the same photograph on the cover. No wonder I was so eager to read them both, fifteen years apart!

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