When I was a kid I once stayed up for roughly 48 hours straight to read Stephen King's The Stand. I devoured endless short story collections, from Roald Dahl to Edgar Allan Poe, during my family's endless summer drives from Ohio to Oregon. In fact, I may have overindulged, as my adult reading habits have ranged from damn'd, square historical tomes to "literary fiction," (the most loaded term in the English language). But something clearly took root, because now I write ghost stories, and have found myself returning to the form as a reader, too.
So I'm clearly delighted to announce the shortlist for October's 1book140 selection. There's nothing like crisp nights and harvest moons to inspire terror and dread, and no better month to pick a great work of horror for us all to read. Here's my entirely personal shortlist. Voting starts now and runs until Thursday at 10 am.
1.) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
I believe this book has been nominated by someone every month. Not only that, but it gets great reader reviews and Joe has been an active promoter and participant of the community. And if you need one more reason, it's supposed to be scary as hell.
2.) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
A perennial favorite, and a book that lit up the boards last week when we made the call for nominations. Most of you have seen the movie (hopefully the far scarier original, as opposed to the tepid, unscary remake, The Haunting); Now it's time to read the book. Or not. You decide. (Isn't democracy wonderful?)
3.) The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
This book was only nominated once. Why is it on the shortlist? Because del Toro produced the best horror movie of the 21st Century, The Orphanage. Oh yeah, I think he had something to do with another small movie, Pan's something or other.
4.) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
One of the most popular books of its time, Rebecca tells the story of a young bride who is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife. It's haunting and psychologically thrilling--which made it excellent source material for the Oscar-winning, Laurence Olivier-starring 1940 Albert Hitchcock film.
5.) The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
With a subtitle like that, it's really hard to say just how to define this book. Actually, for those of you who aren't familiar with the founder of "cosmic horror," know this: Stephen King called him "the greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." It's been said that the entire genre springs from Poe and Lovecraft. And oh yeah, he's in the public domain, and unlikely to become bait for book publicists, an increasing concern in the #1book140 community.
6.) Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
This New York Times bestseller tells the story of a woman who tries to profit off the murder of her mother and sisters--and then finds herself learning things about the day of their death that she never imagined. It was nominated for several crime writing awards, but it's not just a genre book. Set in rural Kansas, Dark Places deals with issues of class and poverty that elevate it beyond pulp.