RA for All...The Road Show!

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Friday, October 28, 2016

31 Days of Horror: Day 28-- Where to Begin?

Where should I start if I want to understand horror? 

This is a question I get all of the time from library workers. First, thank you to those who ask. It means you are trying to serve your patrons better. Well done.

Second, there are two ways to go about it:

  1. You can read ABOUT horror. A great place to start is by reading my book and this blog. In particular, in my book I have a chapter on the appeal of horror and one on the current state of horror fiction. Reading about horror also means reading reviews. Between the annotations in my book and the reviews here on the blog, I have hundreds of titles for you to read about in order to get a sense of the genre. But there are many other places to go.  For example, Academic Librarian and horror fiction expert J T Glover recently had this post on the best places to find critical reviews of horror. All of the sites he lists there are also a great place to begin as you read about horror.
  2. You can try a horror book out for yourself. Now, I know this is not always the best option for every library worker. Many of you have shared your stories of trying to read a horror novel and scaring yourself so badly that it was detrimental to your health. For you, please stick with option 1. However, for the rest of you, many of you have told me you just don’t know where to begin. So I am going to help you get started.
Tor.com has a great series of essays called, Where to Begin. Here they take major speculative fiction authors and explain why people like these authors and break down their major books. [Actually, these essays work for numbers 1 and 2 above.] Currently they have an essay on where to start with Joe Hill, Peter Straub, and even Weird Westerns (which are a hot trend).

In my book, I list the aforementioned Joe Hill and Jonathan Maberry as the reigning kings of horror, so I often also start people with them.  In fact, we talked about where to begin with horror at length in the horror boot camp I led for ARRT back in August. Click here for the notes which also include slide access. There are many great “start with authors” listed there.

But when push comes to shove and someone corners me asking for one book to understand why people want to be scared by a book because they cannot ever imagine liking a book that terrifies them, I tell them to read Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

I have yet to have an unsatisfied customer.

Finally, if you are one of my horror fan, library worker, readers I urge you to use this post as a primer to try out a genre you are scared of. That’s right, you are not off the hook either. Click here for an RA for ALL post about why it is important for all of us to get out there and read something we are scared of.

Back tomorrow and Sunday with a bunch of odds and ends posts leading up to a huge, no holds barred rant prepared to run on Monday-- Halloween. You will want to come back for that.

Party safely this weekend. 

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