In early October 2011, Neil Gaiman – world-renowned author of graphic novels and chapter books alike – started a new Halloween tradition: All Hallow’s Read. In essence, the concept is simple: you give someone, or lots of someones, a scary book to read at Halloween.
Image copyright Sean Von Gorman, who won the All Hallow’s Eve bookmark competition hosted by kittysneverwear.
Contrary to the traditional ways of celebrating Halloween, All Hallow’s Read doesn’t encourage overindulging in sweets, or playing pranks on people who refuse to give you any. The only thing All Hallow’s Read encourages is…reading. Although, as Gaiman himself says, “Trick or Treat is Trick or Treat. This is All Hallow’s Read, a great excuse to give someone a book.”
You can even give out scary books or comics to trick or treaters on Hallowe’en if you want to. (Gaiman recommends looking the child in the eye and saying, “Take it. Read it. Trust me… around here… a book can be… safer than candy.” Then chuckling to yourself, as if remembering something unfortunate that happened to some of the local children only last year).
Finding a scary book to give isn’t always simple. If you do not know what scary book to give someone, talk to a bookseller or a librarian. They like to help. Librarians will not mind even if you admit that you are not planning to take out a book, but instead you are going to buy one and give it to someone.
In the first blog post made about All Hallow’s Read, Gaiman wrote: “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…”
Each year, Gaiman and others compile a list of suggested scary books, which are accessible online.
The joy of reading is intrinsic to the act, but so many people miss out on this genre – possibly scared of the connotations of horror in books? But the reality is, Wanderers, the joy of a book is being able to separate yourself from it and drip feed the story (and if you really want, you can read the last chapter first, just don’t say you heard it here!).
So, Wanderers? Give a scary book this Halloween. And share the fright this Halloween.
Hannah Carter (is going to go find the scariest book she can)