Reading list

What to Read for the Spookiest Season

The days draw in and the nights are long. The warmth and light of summer have vanished. It is the spooky season. This is the time of Trick or Treat, but also the time of older horrors and fears. And what better way to spend it than to read a good book? We offer you gothic tales; shapeshifters and cannibals; blemmyes and basilisks; legendary beasts, mutants, and bats. Delve the mysteries of natural history and folklore with us. Explore the monsters within and without. After all, it is the spooky season.

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From Chicago

The Nightwatches of Bonaventura

Bonaventura, Translated and with a new Introduction by Gerald Gillespie

First published in German in 1804, The Nightwatches of Bonaventura is a dark, twisted, and comic novel, one part Poe and one part Beckett.

Nightwatches unfolds as a series of spooky episodes, told by a ringmaster and raconteur who refers to himself as a night watchman, a spectral and sometimes melodramatic figure. In baroque, often murky prose, he shares dreams, observations both literal and philosophical, literary analyses, and dark tales reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft.”—Publishers Weekly  

Bats: A World of Science and Mystery

M. Brock Fenton and Nancy B. Simmons

“Fenton and Simmons provide a highly accessible glimpse into what it is like to study bats and the kinds of unexpected things that can happen along the way.”—Biological Conservation  

“Yes, bats can be scary, but they can be beautiful, too, as the authors show in their new book.”—Wall Street Journal

Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal

Jeffrey J. Kripal

“Kripal provides new maps of the secret world of superpowers. To access these deep strata of reality and to achieve a measure of self‑realization, we need to embrace this strangeness and not be frightened of it.”—Fortean Times

From Reaktion Books

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

Lisa Morton

“If you want to know anything at all about the subject, you ought to find it in Trick or Treat.”—Times 

“From an authority on Hallowe’en lore comes all you need to know about this ‘misunderstood’ festival. . . . Well written and illustrated, informative, and entertaining.”—Fortean Times  

Living with the Dead: How We Care for the Deceased

Vibeke Maria Viestad and Andreas Viestad, Translated by Matt Bagguley

“No bones about it, there are wild and wonderful ways to honor the dead. The Viestads live in a Norwegian cemetery. Their fascination with burials led them to dig deep into relationships with death.”—Sunday Post  

Eaters of the Dead: Myths and Realities of Cannibal Monsters

Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.

“Wetmore cuts to the bone with Eaters of the Dead and serves up a wonderfully creepy insight into a shocking variety of cannibals, human and otherwise. Creepy, brilliant, and delicious!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times–bestselling author of Relentless  

Shapeshifters: A History

John B. Kachuba

“A wide‑ranging study . . . of our long‑established fascination with shapeshifting in all its guises. It is ubiquitous in literature and folklore, from the countless metamorphoses in Greek myth down to the apprentice wizards of Hogwarts.”—Literary Review

“The moral of the story is that monsters change principally from within not from without, and it can be a two‑way process. The choice is ours.”—Catholic Herald  

Cloven Country: The Devil and the English Landscape

Jeremy Harte

“From the demon who appears as a fearsome figure hurling stones, gouging out valleys and heaping up hills to ideas about how a woman’s wit is better than a man’s when it comes to besting the lord of darkness, Harte takes his reader on a devilishly entertaining tour of England and its richly storied landscape.”—Guardian  

Basilisks and Beowulf

Monsters in the Anglo‑Saxon World

Tim Flight

“From the mysterious blemmyes, headless men with eyes on their chest, to cynocephali (literally, ‘dog‑headed’), human‑canine hybrids with cannibalistic tendencies, it shows how the monstrous is associated with the ‘corruption of God’s design’.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Immensely readable, thought‑provoking and entertaining.”—BBC History Magazine  

All of these spooky books are available from our website or your favorite bookseller.