Spooky Books for Every Reader

It’s October, the best time to read all manner of scary, chilling, horror-inducing tales.  Many readers avoid horror, believing it is all gore, but is a surprisingly varied genre with titles ranging from unsettling to funny to downright terrifying.  Here are some outstanding examples:

The Elementals by Michael McDowell.

Originally written in the 1980’s, this gripping, terrifying Gothic horror writing at its best. It’s a terror that occupies their family home and has haunted two brothers for years.  It may be poised to strike again.  Set in Deep South Alabama, this anticipatory, sultry and alluring tale keeps you on the edge of your seat whilst also speculating about just what strange events are afoot in this coastal Victorian house.  This book certainly falls into the category of a lost classic.

The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker

For any lover of H.P. Lovecraft this is a must read. Set in 1930’s Providence, R.I.  there is something amiss in the dark and musty house that Arthor Crandle has come to occupy.  “Ech-Pi,” his employer, is never seen and the only way they communicate are via letters left on a table outside the employer’s door.  “Ech-Pi” is also the author of strange tales that Arthor has been retained to transcribe.  Although he can see light seeping from under this mysterious “Ech-Pi’s” door Arthor never sees it from outside the house. Something feels creepy, wrong.  What presence lurks that cannot be seen?

Monster Portraits by Sofia Samatar and Del Samatar

This story narrated and illustrated by a sister and brother team is a novel look at monsters through brilliant prose and evocative drawings. Part fiction, part fact, part poetry, part myth this little gem invites the reader to explore the nature of monsters, monstrosity, monster-ness.  It explores our relationship with that otherness, that which we cannot explain and, therefore, label monster.

Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker

A macabre, gruesome yet hilarious tale told by a demon himself, Jakabok, whose harrowing story begins in the 1400’s when he’s torn from hell by medieval priests. As the centuries proceed, Jakabok experiences harrowing adventures that lead to the ultimate culmination…a final battle.  Henceforth, whacky high jinks ensue!  It explores the very nature of Good versus Evil from a demon’s perspective and his relationship with humanity.  There are various twists and turns to this delightful story as the demon implores the reader to “burn this book!”  In time, you, dear reader, will discover why.

Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite

Meet English killer Andrew Compton, who considers murder an art. Encounter Jay Byrne, who takes the art of murder in new directions previously unexplored.  See what transpires when Andrew and Jay seduce Tran, the young Vietnamese American who is their perfect victim.  Dark, disgusting, gruesome and violent…this book is not for the faint of heart or anyone of delicate sensibilities.  If you want to enter into the mind of a serial killer (or two) and traverse the visceral landscape of the foulest parts of human depravity this book will take you there.

~ Posted by Tricia R.

A trio of reads on Western land

The land and coasts that make up the West are many things to many people: recreation areas, sacred sites, grazing land, just to name a few. In the past five years we’ve seen an escalation, reflected in mainstream news stories, of the conflicts among groups with differing visions for public lands: from the ongoing fight over the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, to escalating action over federal land management that culminated last year in the occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, to a newly urgent discussion about what steps should be taken to save the orca whales of Puget Sound. No matter which side you agree with on these issues, there’s no denying that human actions have had a dramatic and direct impact on land, flora, and fauna. To dig deeper on a few issues, check out these recent books about our Western geography:

Book cover image for Where the Water GoesWhere the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River by David Owen
Rights to water from the Colorado River is a fight that has been raging for generations, and water availability is a primary environmental issue. Owens investigates the twisted history of the Colorado River and the water rights that have held since the early 20th century, and which today continue to be decided by a shady organization. Traveling the length of the Colorado River, from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to its now-dry delta near the U.S.-Mexico border, Owens stops at the reservoirs, power plants, farms, fracking sites, and towns that hold a share of the water flow, and interviews politicians, environmental experts, farmers, and other stakeholders. Ultimately, “Owen presents a deep, … useful analysis of the subtle interplay between natural and human needs” (Publishers Weekly).

Book cover image for EagerEager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb
Beavers have long been considered a nuisance species, damaging trees and flooding areas. Challenging that perception, Goldfarb makes the case for beavers as a species vital to healthy ecosystems. Their dams promote aquatic plant and fish growth and provide habitat for other species, forestalling a loss of biodiversity; help control sedimentation in rivers; prevent erosion; reduce damages of climate change; and much, much more. Goldfarb’s narrative takes us from the early days of the fur trade when beavers were killed by the millions up to present-day conservation efforts, compellingly making the case for a return of beavers to the landscape.

Book cover image for Chosen CountryChosen Country: A Rebellion in the West
by James Pogue
Journalist Pogue delivers an examination of issues around public land use brought to the forefront by a series of Western standoffs organized by the antigovernment Bundy family and their followers, including their occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. It’s an up close and personal account, as Pogue spends time hanging out with the Bundys and their group and examines his own youthful passions and thoughts on the subject. While Pogue does not spend much time on the alternate viewpoints, he does include an assessment of who would actually benefit from this type of land use policy, who would suffer, and how those dynamics are influenced by unrecognized white male power.

~ posted by Andrea G.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Books for Children and Teens by Latinx Authors

Hispanic Heritage month, running from September 15 to October 15, is an annual celebration of the rich cultures and traditions of people living in the United States who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.  There has been a very welcome increase in books written by and for the Latinx community in the past several years, which is helping to fill a long-standing publishing gap.  Here are a few of our recent favorites:

In Dreamers author Yuyi Morales recounts her experience moving from Mexico to the United States with her young son.  It was on one hand a typical journey as they navigate a new city and learn English, but unusual in that Morales gives equal attention to how being bilingual also shaped and enhanced their creative journey.  Mexican motifs and Spanish words are integrated into the inviting pages of this inspirational story.  For ages 4-8. Continue reading “Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Books for Children and Teens by Latinx Authors”