All Hallows Read

In honor of tonight’s Halloween, I thought I would plug a great idea touted by Neil Gaiman, called All Hallows Read. His premise is outlined in a recent blog post and even has its own website now. The premise is frightfully simple – give a person a scary book to read for Halloween. Not instead of trick or treating mind you (perish the thought!) but as an opportunity to encourage reading (and we certainly need more of those!).

In Australia, Halloween is pretty much a non-event with hardly anyone bothering to decorate their houses and even less bothering to hand out candy. The American Women’s Auxiliary here in Melbourne (of which I am the proud, if inept, secretary) holds an annual ‘trunk or treat’ event to provide the necessary Halloween candy fix. Basically about 100 cars roll up, open their decorated trunks and provide a kind of automotive neighborhood for kids to trick of treat along. My boys LOVE it and we now have enough candy to eat for an entire year. If only I had heard of Neil Gaiman’s great idea, I would have suggested we hold an All Hallows Read event alongside it. That would have been pretty cool.

I also think the concept of All Hallows Read is a great one and it’s got me thinking about the scariest books I’ve ever read. Given I have an exceptionally low tolerance to gore and horror, my ‘scariest books’ are pretty tame. Even my 6 year old sons would no doubt scoff at my cowardice…but I remember getting chills reading Rebecca as a teenager and the early Patricia Cornwall novels in my twenties. Last year Justin Cronin’s The Passage had me pretty spooked (but in a more distant, cerebral way than the scream-out-loud variety).

Given I am such a wimp, I could do with your help and advice:

What book would you chose to give for All Hallows Read (could be either an adult or a children’s book)

Which book was the scariest you ever read?

Has there ever been a book so terrifying that you couldn’t even finish it?

Happy Halloween!

18 thoughts on “All Hallows Read

  1. I haven’t read too many horror novels either, but the scariest one I’ve read is probably The Shining. It freaked me out pretty bad. That book is also a huge adrenaline rush to read.

  2. THE SHINING, closely followed by the WALKING DEAD graphic novels, would be my most terrifying reads. I’ve been unable to finish any of Poppy Z. Brite’s horror novels due to the gross-out factor on several levels.

    Thanks so much for sharing the idea of an All Hallows Read!

  3. I finished THE EXORCIST, but I was absolutely terrified. I was on a plane to Europe at the time, and I was convinced that the demon was going to become aware of me and crash the plane. I also was scared by THE SHINING. It had (appropriately) a shiny metallic cover on it that would catch the light and freak me out between reads. I’ll never forget the topiary monsters as described by Stephen King. I was so disappointed when the movie version replaced the topiaries with a maze. I guess the film makers couldn’t figure out how to make them as terrifying as they were in the imagination.

    Oh, and I’ve never gone swimming in the ocean again after reading (and seeing) JAWS.

  4. I’m a big fan of Dean Koontz. When I traveled on business, I usually had one of his books to read until I read A BAD PLACE. It’s about a psychpath kid who can teleport anywhere to kill people. I had to check under my hotel bed & in the closet to make sure I was alone. I stopped reading him for a while, but eventually came back to his books. THE TAKING was deliciously dark with a fast paced linear plot & borderline horror in some of his graphic descriptions. Loved it.

  5. I avoid scary books. I’d rather read light and funny stories, or fantasy where you know everything turns out okay in the end. If I want to be scared, I’ll watch the news on TV.

  6. I’m a little like you Nancy and the news, as far as I am concerned, is scary enough. Looks like a fair number if you rate The Shining as an all time scary read so maybe, just maybe I will read it. I will certainly give it for All Hallows Read…what do you think, will it catch on? Sadly I worry that with all the media hubub anything that focuses on reading will get lost in the noise, like it usually does.

  7. While it probably doesn’t count as straight up horror, King’s novella “Langoliers” really creeped me out. Something about being caught behind schedule only to get eaten by the cleaning crew has been a real motivator to make sure I stay on task.

    I recently undertook several narration contracts for horror novels, the first one being Nightmare Frontier. Since horror novels are typically my thing, some of the next ones I am recording may well prove to be my undoing. We’ll see.

  8. “Since horror novels are typically my thing,”

    make that not my thing

    see….already the terror is ebbing in and I find myself controlled by forces beyond myself that demand submission.

    No mommy!! I don’t wanna open the toybox…Jack in the Box is mad at GI Joe. He took his knife from him and said he needs to make a sacrifice!”

  9. Kathryn, I applaud you for finishing The Exorcist. I bought it as an audiobook for a long car ride. What a mistake. I couldn’t finish listening, and I almost crashed the car!

    Poe stories still creep me out. The Black Cat has the highest chills-to-pages ratio.

  10. People in Australia don’t “bother” to celebrate Halloween because it’s not an Australian celebration and never has been. It’s like being annoyed that people in India don’t celebrate Christmas – very culturally high-handed. Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude but as an Australian who finds the creeping “Americanisation” of our culture irritating, I found the tone of that comment somewhat grating.

  11. Bleah . . . Halloween is Halloween, just candy and silly costumes, not a cultural invasion.

    Scariest book ever – Stephen King’s IT. There’s a scene involving a refrigerator. I was reading it alone one night and the phone rang during that scene. I threw the book across the room. Read it a half-dozen times and it still scares me. The Shining is another. Even though Needful Things degenerates at the end, there is something about looking into the window of the shop and one person sees junk while the other sees his heart’s desire that gets to me as well.

    One of King’s many (many) strengths is the creepy inevitability in the stories. The kids see the clown, but the adults walk on past, oblivious.

    Now back to NaNoWriMo!

    Non-fic I’ll go with Helter-Skelter and most other true crime books.

  12. I’m American & I don’t celebrate halloween. But I did used to celebrate Chusok, Korean Harvest celebration. I stopped a few years ago when it turned out I was the only guy wearing the traditional Korean Hanbok to church on that day…its a Korean church…I’m the only white guy on staff too…and one of only five non-Korean guys there in a sea of a couple hundred Korean faces. I felt funny being more Korean than the Korean dudes…does this mean I’m trying to Koreanize America?

    hey…it’s my only costume holiday..what’s an Irish/Polish/Jewish/Korean Presbyterian to do?

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