The season is changing, and as more trees take on the golden hues of autumn, one can’t help but get excited for the tricks, treats and haunts ahead. There are many ways to get into the excitement of the spooky season — carving pumpkins, hayrides, finding your way through corn mazes and creeping around corners of haunted houses. But perhaps one of the best ways is to throw on a cozy sweater, fill up a big mug of pumpkin spice coffee and curl up with a creepy book. To help get you in the spirit, we asked several UNH English professors what spooky reads they recommend this Halloween. Happy Haunting!
Recommendation: “The Eyes of the Dragon” by Stephen King
Recommended by: Seth Abramson
Abramson is an assistant professor of English and writing specialist on the Manchester campus. He has published several books, poems, anthologies and manuscripts. Halloween is his favorite holiday, and, coincidentally, his birthday! As for his personal favorite noir story, he praises Mark Z. Danielewski’s “House of Leaves,” an experimental novel that he says is “a visually stunning book that engages the question of form.”
When asked about the scariest book he’s ever read, Abramson revisits his childhood and explains his fear of the wolf from “The Three Little Pigs.” “For about three years I was convinced that the wolf lived in the attic above my bed, and that as soon as the light went out he'd come on down.”
Recommendation: “Southern Reach Trilogy” by Jeff VanderMeer (which starts with the first book titled “Annihilation”)
Recommended by: Lawrence Beemer
Beemer is a lecturer in English on the Durham campus. He teaches first-year writing, medieval epic and romance, graphic literature, and he will teach a science fiction course next term. He credits George Orwell’s “1984” as being the scariest book he’s ever read — not in the sense that it is a horror novel, but rather, he notes, it is terrifying to imagine that there is “increasing plausibility that we're all going to find ourselves in that book.”
Recommendations: “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe and “From Hell” by Alan Moore
Recommended by: Susanne Paterson
Paterson is the program coordinator and an associate professor of English on the Manchester campus. She teaches classes on Shakespeare, British literature, early drama and English grammar. Paterson’s favorite spooky character is De Flores from Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's “The Changeling. “He's not noir, he's just horrible,” she says. “I read his lines and feel like I need to disinfect my brain afterwards.”
Recommendations: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving; “The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton” by Edith Wharton; “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James; and “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson
Recommended by: Sarah Sherman
Sherman is a professor of English on the Durham campus. She has an extensive knowledge of American authors and provided a lengthy list of spooky reads perfect for the Halloween season. Sherman teaches classes on literary analysis and American literature.
Recommendations: “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
Recommended by: David Watters
Watters is a professor of English on the Durham campus. He teaches several classes on early American literature. Watters credits Stephen King as being “the contemporary master of New England spookiness.” Some of his favorite pieces are “The Shining” and “Joyland,” which features scenes in Durham and Hamilton Smith Hall.
Recommendation: “The Thing in the Forest” by A.S Byatt
Recommended by: Brigitte Bailey
Bailey is an associate professor of English on the Durham campus. She teaches classes on American literature and urban writing, and has a research interest in American travel writing. Bailey recommends the “usual suspects” of Edgar Allan Poe for spooky reading, but mentions having recently read a contemporary story with her class on literary analysis that “really gets under your skin” called “The Thing in the Forest.”
One of Stephen King’s newer novels, “Joyland,” (2013) follows the story of Devin Jones, a UNH student (go Wildcats!) who moves to North Carolina for the summer to work at an amusement park called Joyland, which was once the scene of a brutal murder. As the summer progresses, Devin takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of this unsolved crime. Hamilton Smith Hall even gets a shout out in the story.