Halloween Reads from Classic American Authors

Happy Hallowreading!  One of our library customers asked me if I read things seasonally or certain things during the different seasons, but the only answer I could come up with is for Halloween.   Having a background in American History and Literature, a few American classic writers come to mind.

My personal tradition is to read Edgar Allan Poe short stories a few nights before and on Halloween.  They’re beautifully and lyrically written and some of them are spine-tingling scary.  I suggest The Tale-Tell Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, both available in some anthologies we have here at the library and on numerous places online.  For lovers of suspense, The Pit and the Pendulum is a great choice.  The reader feels the despair and the pain of  the prisoner.  These stories all lead up to a scary, horrible climax with grace and great prose.

Another classic American writer whose works are fun to read this time of year is Nathanial Hawthorne.  Young Goodman Brown is set on Halloween night in chilly New England.  The story has the classic plot of good versus evil, but it is fun to try to figure out the symbolism throughout the story.  It’s a perfect Halloween read!  Other Hawthorne stories that are frightening include Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment and Rappacini’s Daughter.  We actually have the film version of these two stories on DVD, starring Vincent Price and a very young Beverly Garland.  The House of Seven Gables, also by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a creepy story about family turmoil, struggle, and a murder.  We have this book in electronic format and on DVD, also starring Vincent Price.

And lastly, we have Washington Irving’s Tales of the Supernatural, an anthology that includes several spooky stories involving ghosts, the Devil himself, and pirate treasure.  What a combination!  Tales of the Supernatural includes The Spectre Bridegroom, The Devil and Tom Walker, and The Legend of the Enchanted Soldier.  It also includes the all-time classic Halloween story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. 

 Many of these stories are now in the public domain, so you can find them online in full text.  You can find many of them in the Guttenberg Project collection online here:  https://uppl.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/default/?rm=OPEN+SOURCE+DA0%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7Ctrue.  Type in the name of the story or author you are looking for in the search bar.  We also have anthologies, in print and in electronic format, containing some of these stories, in the library.  If you need help finding them on the Libby app, please give us a call at 214-363-9095 or email me at sperry@uptexas.org.

I will also be talking about some more contemporary Halloween Reading on Wednesday, October 21st at 2pm on Facebook live.  I hope you join me there!

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