Three years ago, Neil Gaiman (writer of many things you probably should have read by now) thought up a new Halloween tradition. What he proposed is that people give each other scary books to read for Halloween. His initial thoughts were that this should take place on Halloween or during the week leading up to it. Find something you think someone special in your life will like and give it to them.
In his original blog post he writes: “Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.
I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…”
In this video promoting the burgeoning tradition he details how it might fit into your personal Halloween plans, while some actors pretending to be zombies mess around behind him.
From the moment I read his initial blog post, I accepted the tradition with open, leathery bat wings. What a perfect and simple idea. (the perfect ideas are often the simplest.) What a great way to bring a little appreciation for the macabre (both suggested and overt) into the lives of those we care about.
That very first year, I purchased A House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs for my sister and her kids, based on the suggest of Joe Hill (author of other things you should have read by now). The following year, I had a story of my own published in a Halloween anthology from Rainstorm Press. One of my older stories was reprinted on Halloween night. I even sent everyone in my e-mail contacts, a short story by Joe Hill that could be read in minutes.
So, I took to Mr. Gaiman’s idea instantly.
This year I wanted to do something a little different. Over at cinemassacre.com, James Rolfe has his own annual Halloween celebration with Monster Madness. Each day in October he posts a short review of a horror film. Each year has a specific theme. Two years ago, he did something called “Sequel-A-Thon”. This year, he plans to sequelize his own work by doing “Sequel-A-Thon 2”. Like the previous one he will be picking four horror franchises and devoting a day to each film in the series.
In a blatant ripoff of this, and combining it with Gaiman’s suggestion, I will be reviewing a scary short story or book everyday in October. These won’t be particularly long reviews, but they will serve as my personal recommendations to you for your All Hallow’s Reading gifts.