You know, there just aren't enough useless holiday excuses to give books to people.
Giving books as presents has to be one of my all-time favourite things to do in life -- especially the opportunity to give books to my family!
I propose that, on Hallowe'en or during the week of Hallowe'en, we give each other scary books. 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...
Give a scary book.
If you don't know what kinds of books there are, or what would be appropriate for the person you're giving a book to, talk to a bookseller. They love to help, most of them. (The ones that don't tend not to be booksellers for long.) Talk to librarians. (Do not plan to give away their books though, unless they are having a library sale.)
That's it. That's my idea.
Scary book. Hallowe'en.
Who's with me?
Neil, I'm with you.
Any suggestions on good scary books to give? I recommended The Walking Dead series a while back and that's a great place to start. Those that are interested can see what I'm currently reading here on Goodreads, including some of the scary stuff from the last little while.
And no matter what you think of the idea, go on over and vote in Chad's poll on Gaiman's idea.
I take it Poe, Shelley, and Stoker go without saying? (Leastwise, I haven't seen them mentioned, but it seems obvious to me.)
Off the top of my head . . .
Ambrose Bierce's ghost stories and horror stories are always a good read -- he was a contemporary of Mark Twain, and has a similar writing style, but much, much darker and cynical, and fear is a constant theme in all his writing. His horror stories were a big influence on Chambers, Dunsany, Lovecraft, et al. "The Death of Halpin Fraser" might even be considered the first great zombie story. More so than Poe, Bierce's stories are uniquely American, and often take place on the frontiers and in open, empty spaces.
Sheridan LeFanu's novella Carmilla is one of the great vampire stories ever, and I think actually a better introduction to 19th c. vampires than Stoker.
Late Victorian/Edwardian England was chock full of good horror story writers. Besides Machen and MR James, I can recommend just about anything by Algernon Blackwood and Oliver Onions. Even Dickens ("The Signalman") and Conan Doyle ("The Leather Funnel") tried their hand at supernatural horror.
Of course, all these authors are public domain now and widely available digitized. So you could conceivably package up customized eBooks as a kind of "handcrafted" gift.
HP, older authors are totally ok for giving! Some of my favourite horror fiction is classic stuff, Dracula probably being my all-time favourite horror novel.
Since this is a science blog, how about the ultimate scary science book: THE HOT ZONE, journalist Richard Preston's Ebola virus true nightmare?
If you prefer a little humor smeared with gore, I recommend STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS by Mary Roach.
On the classics theme of the previous comment, I must add Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novelette THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, a really creepy mystery with an exciting finish.
Quite a few science thrillers (novels) out there offer scary scenarios, like Michael Crichton's classic THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, Robin Cook's COMA, and medical thrillers by Tess Gerritsen. If you like your chills true to life, Carla Buckley's new novel THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE tells the story of one suburban family in Ohio trying to survive a global bird flu pandemic in their own home while the world collapses around them.