this study from RUSA, Library Journal and NoveList found [see graph too], I know many of you are happy to wash your hands of horror after October 31st. Some of you are even my friends!
But hear me out right now.
You shouldn’t be SCARED of horror. You don’t have to enjoy it for yourself, but being “scared” of it is just silly. It’s not going to bite you. Neither are the readers. I like to say-- Horror fans are not monsters, they just like to read about them.
Scared just means you don’t understand it. That’s where today’s post comes in. There are two resources I am assigning you all to read AFTER Halloween to help you understand horror, how it works, why it exists, and what it means. Reading these books will educate you. You may not like horror still, but you won’t be scared of it anymore.
First is a classic and I know it is on the shelf at most of your libraries-- Danse Macabre by Stephen King, originally published in 1981. From Goodreads:
The author whose boundless imagination & storytelling powers have redefined the horror genre, from 1974's Carrie to his newest epic, reflects on the very nature of terror--what scares us & why--in films (both cheesy & choice), tv & radio, &, of course, the horror novel, past & present. Informal, engaging, tremendous fun & tremendously informative, Danse Macabre is an essential tour with the master of horror as your guide; much like his spellbinding works of fiction, you won't be able to put it down.Danse Macabre is a little bit memoir but it is also a social science look at horror in media. It is fascinating and enlightening. I own a personal dogeared paperback. If you can’t wrap your head around why people like horror, this is the book to read to help you understand.
The second is new-- Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix which I wrote about back in June here. Hendrix has a snarky but well researched writing style. This book is all about the popular horror titles from the 70s and 80s-- all the stuff King writes about in Danse Macabre. He looks at these titles and authors with affection, yes, but also makes a compelling argument as to why these books did, and continue to, matter.
I particularly LOVE the appendix where he wrote interesting, fun, and useful bios for every author he mentions. George R. R. Martin’s is on of my favorites.
Come for the fun covers and the engaging narration, but stay for the educational aspects. Even the biggest fraidy-cat or horror cynic will learn here-- and enjoy the process too.
So now you have your marching orders for after Halloween. Read one, or both of these titles. I promise they will help you to understand horror and its readers in a way you didn’t before. Understanding means your fear will lessen. Less fear means you will try to suggest horror to the appropriate patrons outside of the 10th month of the year.
But first, get back to work. You still have a couple more days to press the flesh and put some scary reads into your horror craving patrons’ hands.