Oh Poor Horror, Misunderstood: Josh Malerman on Horror’s New Generation

Photo by W A T A R I on Unsplash

Oh, poor horror, misunderstood.

Mother says you’re made up of witches and woods, brutal bloodletting, slashers in hoods. But I know better, having eaten my share, saved some for later, stashed under stairs.

Mixed ‘em and matched ‘em and made new pairs.

Mother doesn’t like you. She says you are trite! I try to convince her night after night. I beseeched her, “Dear Mother, open thy mind. Horror is no longer a word you will find so neatly packaged with stuffing and twine.”

“Leave me, dark child, with a full foamy stein.
And take your common monsters, speckled with teeth
Used so often they put me to sleep.
Take your old bones lying out in the rain
While I read something compelling and sane.”

Oh, poor horror, misunderstood.

I continued with Mother, as well as I could. My argument expanded to include books she deemed good. “Some say Jane Eyre is as much of a fright as Tanith Lee’s Dreams of Dark and Light. And some cite Melville as a man of such tales, for what could be scarier than a giant white whale? But never mind the classics, fuddy mother of mine, horror no longer grows on the vine Here, let me show you one of mine.”

Here I showed Mother Inspection of mine.

She huffed and she hawed until halfway she knew it, she lifted the book and she almost threw it, then brought it back down to the yarn on her knees, and read the second half at her ease.

“But this isn’t horror, rotten child of mine, for it has no vampires or inverted nines.”

“But Mother, you see! The word is elastic, and all us new writers are made of new plastic! We’ll write of such things, but not cause they’re gaudy, we’re interested in both the mind and the body. We thrill but we think, we’re intellectually naughty. We’re interested in both the mind and the body.”

Dear Mother then frowned and dismissed me again. But she hadn’t yet thrown the book in her hand.

“What does your kind know of the ways of the soul? Coming of age? Quality control? Leave me, braindead child, and take with you your trolls.”

Oh poor horror, misunderstood.

I took leave as she ordered but for only so long, and returned with a stack of new songs.
A tower of books, a stack of new songs.

“Horror has changed, Dear Mother it’s true, it’s not the same now as it was for you. The genre is present as the ice in your drink, it’s come up through the pipes and the sink.”

Here Mother looked to the kitchen, to the sink, and I felt I’d made progress, had got her to think.

“The genre has fled from the castles of yore and is no longer steeped in bones and gore–though we love such elements, we love them, it’s true! But did you know the color blue could be as much monster as the thing in the brew? Did you know we see monsters in even baby blue?”

“The way you talk, it’s as if you see scares everywhere.”

“That’s it! That’s right! Even over there!”

I pointed to a corner where nothing was there.

Mother shook her head and pointed, too, a long wrinkled finger and said, “You, oh you. Do you think me so vulgar to believe such a thing? That your genre might be found on a butterfly’s wing?”

“But what better place–do not make a face–for your likeness may match the pattern of lace in the curtains of this room in which we debate, or the pattern indeed of the butterfly’s mate.”

“Oh!” Mother said, shaking her head. “Leave me, gross child, and take your undead. You speak as though you’d marry Dreary and Dread.”

Oh poor horror, misunderstood.

“I’ll leave you, Dear Mother, I’ll go up to my bed. But not without repeating the things that I’ve said. For horror has risen from the graves of yore and can be found now in places never heard of before, or perhaps even the corners of this very room! A brand new monster in this very room!”

She looked to the corner and I felt I’d scored, but I’d need to describe what stood where the walls met the floor.

“Do you see it, Dear Mother? The crown of its head? Why, it’s not even a ghost, it’s not even dead. Nor is it invisible, as you’ve read of before. What stands in this room is More.”

More as a monster?” Mother laughed at me so. “But what sort of horror does More have in store?”

I crossed the room then.

“The livers are living but they still want More.
The lovers are loving but they still want More.
Mothers are presented with examples but they still want More.
Do you see, Dear Mother, we’ve made a monster of More?”

Mother seemed to consider, but did not look resigned.

“I told you,” I said, “the body and the mind.”

She set down my book, took the yarn from her lap, rose to a standing, and clapped a lone clap.

“Bedtime for me, ugly child of mine.” And she made for the staircase of antique pine.

Her opinion, I thought, as hard as the wood.

Oh poor horror, misunderstood.

But as she took the first step, and the step did shriek, she paused without turning to speak: “The way you see it, stairs could be horror. And a person who takes them, an explorer.”

She did turn then, and gave me a wink, nodded her head as if to rethink, then climbed the stairs and called over her shoulder, “Interesting child, you simmer and smolder–do all you new writers think this way? Horror in all things, every day?”

She stopped outside her bedroom up there, perhaps pondering a brand new scare.

“Yes, Dear Mother,” Dear Mother, I swore.

And she whispered, “Not bad,” before closing the door.

Books to Film: Novemer 2018

“The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffmann

The Nutcracker : A Young Reader's Edition of the Holiday ClassicThe Nutcracker and the Four Realms.pngMovie: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
When it comes out: November 2
What the book is about: The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share. In this original version, a Marie worries about a beautiful nutcracker that’s been broken. At night, she goes to check up on it. To her surprise, it has come alive, and a story-within-the-story begins: armies of mice and toy soldiers battle in what is either the child’s delirious nightmare, or perhaps another reality into which she wanders.


“Marie Colvin’s Private War” (article featured in Vanity Fair Magazine) by Marie Brenner

Aprivatewarposter.jpgMovie: A Private War
When it comes out: November 2
What the book is about: Marie Colvin dropped into the long, dark, dank tunnel that would lead her to the last reporting assignment of her life. It was the night of February 20, 2012. All Colvin could hear was the piercing sound made by the Free Syrian Army commander accompanying her and the photographer Paul Conroy: “Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.” The singer was jubilant that the Sunday Times of London’s renowned war correspondent Marie Colvin was there. But his voice unnerved Colvin. “Paul, do something!” she demanded. “Make him stop!” All of her years in London had not subdued her American whiskey tone. Just as memorable was the cascade of laughter that always erupted when there seemed to be no way out. It was not heard that night as she and Conroy made their way back into a massacre being waged by the troops of President Bashar al-Assad near Syria’s western border.


Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

Boy Erased: A MemoirBoy Erased (2018 poster).pngMovie: Boy Erased
When it comes out: November 2
What the book is about: The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.


All the Truth Is Out by Matt Bai

All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went TabloidThe Front Runner.jpgMovie: The Front Runner
When it comes out: November 6
What the book is about: In 1987, Gary Hart-articulate, dashing, refreshingly progressive-seemed a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination for president and led George H. W. Bush comfortably in the polls. And then: rumors of marital infidelity, an indelible photo of Hart and a model snapped near a fatefully named yacht (Monkey Business), and it all came crashing down in a blaze of flashbulbs, the birth of 24-hour news cycles, tabloid speculation, and late-night farce. Matt Bai shows how the Hart affair marked a crucial turning point in the ethos of political media-and, by extension, politics itself-when candidates’ “character” began to draw more fixation than their political experience.


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Bel CantoBel Canto poster.jpegMovie: Bel Canto
When it comes out:
November 6
What the book is about: 
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry. Among the hostages are Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Swiss Red Cross negotiator oachim Messner comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands. Days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months. Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!The Grinch, final poster.jpgMovie: The Grinch
When it comes out: November 9
What the book is about: For 53 years, the Grinch has lived in a cave on the side of a mountain, looming above the Whos in Whoville. The noisy holiday preparations and infernal singing of the happy little citizens below annoy him to no end. The Grinch decides this frivolous merriment must stop. His “wonderful, awful” idea is to don a Santa outfit, strap heavy antlers on his poor, quivering dog Max, construct a makeshift sleigh, head down to Whoville, and strip the chafingly cheerful Whos of their Yuletide glee once and for all.


The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium, #4)The Girl in the Spider's Web poster.pngMovie: The Girl in the Spider’s Web
When it comes out: November 9
What the book is about: She is the girl with the dragon tattoo—a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution. Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . .


The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little StrangerThe Little Stranger (film).pngMovie: The Little Stranger
When it comes out: November 27
What the book is about: One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.


If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

If Beale Street Could TalkIf Beale Street Could Talk.jpegMovie: If Beale Street Could Talk
When it comes out: November 30
What the book is about: In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions-affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.

25 Horror Classics You Need to Read

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

In any genre there are always those seminal works that are pure must-reads. They’re the classics, the stories that are either the foundational underpinnings or pitch perfect examples of what the genre has to offer. People have been telling scary stories for as long as they’ve been, in fact, telling stories. There’s just something addictive about a bit of bone-chilling terror. But the sheer breadth of the horror catalog can be a little daunting – particularly when you’re talking the must-reads. Ever the glutton for punishment, I’ve taken a stab at pulling together twenty-five must-read classics, from the 1800s through the 1980s. Let us know your favorite horror reads in the comments!

The cover of the book The Haunting of Hill House (Movie Tie-In)The Haunting of Hill House 
With The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson crafted one of the most influential haunted house tales of all time. It’s a slow burn masterpiece that relies as much on its deeply drawn characters as its potentially haunted setting to methodically ratchet up the dread and terror.



The cover of the book Interview with the VampireInterview with the Vampire
Anne Rice essentially reinvented the popular mythology of the vampire with her Vampire Chronicles series, and it all began with Interview with the Vampire. Rice’s influence on the vampire genre in the latter twentieth century is difficult to overstate and Interview is still one of her best.



The cover of the book ItIt
For me personally, this was the most difficult pick. I debated The Shining, The Stand, and ‘Salem’s Lot. However, I just can’t escape the fact that It is just so quintessentially Stephen King. If you only read one Stephen King novel, the sprawling story of a group of kids fighting a timeless evil in the twisted of community Derry, Maine has to be the one.



The cover of the book DraculaDracula
Dracula is the definitive vampire novel. It quite literally defined many of the tropes and conventions that are now staples of the of the vampire genre. Beyond underpinning an entire subgenre, Dracula is a tale of obsession, loss, and repressed sexuality.



The cover of the book Something Wicked This Way ComesSomething Wicked This Way Comes
There are times when it feels like I read Ray Bradbury as much for his absurdly well-written prose and use of metaphor as his forays into all things horrific. Something Wicked This Way Comes is the gold standard – it melds Bradbury’s keen sense of nostalgia, unfettered imagination, and gleeful wordsmithing into one brilliant and unsettling package.



The cover of the book Frankenstein: The 1818 TextFrankenstein: The 1818 Text
Although it’s also widely considered one of the first science fiction novels, the macabre horror of Frankenstein is undeniable. Its influence has stretched through two centuries of horror and it remains a foundational piece of the genre.



The cover of the book BelovedBeloved
Beloved wrecked me the first time I read it. At its base, it is a ghost story – and an incredibly well-told one – but the horrifying secret at its core, and the way Toni Morrison expertly peels away the layers of guilt, desperation, and trauma that define the tale, make this Pulitzer Prize-winner a singular and devastating appearance.



The cover of the book Gothic TalesGothic Tales
Any discussion of Gothic horror and its genesis should include Elizabeth Gaskell. The dread-inducing collection of stories in Gothic Tales is a perfect example why. Her works are darkly surreal, blending local legends, fairy tales, and an incisive understanding of mankind’s darker inclinations into a deeply unsettling collection of eerie tales.



The cover of the book RebeccaRebecca
Rebecca is a classic study in obsession and sustained suspense. Readers are inexorably carried along with the unnamed narrator’s increasingly intense fascination with the death of her husband’s first wife. What unfolds is intricately woven mystery as unnerving as it is shocking.



The cover of the book The Best of Richard MathesonThe Best of Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson is arguably best known for I Am Legend, his seminal post-apocalyptic pseudo-vampire novel, but he’s also one of the finest short fiction writers of latter twentieth century. Matheson’s occasionally pulpy and always terrifying short stories influenced virtually every major horror writer to follow in his considerable wake, including the likes of Stephen King and Peter Straub. They also had a major impact on Victor LaValle, who both edited and wrote an introduction for this collection. LaValle is no slouch in the horror department himself and well worth a look.



The cover of the book The OtherThe Other
It was arguably the success of novels like The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Other that ushered in the paperback horror boom of the late 70’s and early 80’s. With The Other Tryon’s takes a deep dive into humanity’s darker side. Set against a bucolic farming community, the story eschews the supernatural in favor of more mundane, if no less horrifying, scares.



The cover of the book The ExorcistThe Exorcist
If you only know William Peter Blatty’s terrifying masterpiece by way of its classic adaptation, pick up a copy of the novel that inspired it. Blatty manages to imbue an eerie sense of plausibility into the story that makes it all the more unsettling.




The cover of the book Rosemary's BabyRosemary’s Baby
Rosemary’s Baby effortlessly weaves its suspense through the oft-mundane everyday lives of the young couple at its center. There’s an inkling from the beginning that something is not quite right, but the reader’s realization, paced alongside Rosemary’s own, is what lifts Ira Levin’s masterpiece to a different level.



The cover of the book The Woman in BlackThe Woman in Black
The Woman in Black feels like a throwback to a much earlier period. It’s a bit shocking to realize this Victorian chiller was published in 1983. That’s a very good thing. The Woman in Black is a pitch perfect ghost story – one that takes its time and lets the fear slowly creep in and envelope the reader.



The cover of the book The House Next DoorThe House Next Door
The House Next Door is an oddly overlooked slice of horror that deserves a spot alongside the haunted house heavyweights (The Haunting of Hill House, The Shining, Hell House). Best known for novels like Peachtree Road that center around the sagas of wealthy southern families, Anne Rivers Siddons nonetheless quietly crafted a brilliantly creepy haunted house tale that has stood the test of time.



The cover of the book PhantomsPhantoms
Dean Koontz has leaned a bit more into sci-fi and pure thrillers for most of his prodigious career, but on the occasion that he embraces full-on horror it’s invariably worth a look, and Phantoms is one of his best. It builds on classic urban legend with more than a small debt to Lovecraft, and is precisely the sort of page-turner that made Koontz a perennial bestseller.



The cover of the book The Damnation GameThe Damnation Game
The Damnation Game proved without a doubt that Barker could sustain his particular brand of unrelenting terror over the course of an entire novel. Following Books of Blood, The Damnation Game delves into the darkest recesses of Barker’s imagination for a particularly depraved tale tinged with cannibalism, incest, and all manner of macabre.



The cover of the book The Bloody ChamberThe Bloody Chamber
The Bloody Chamber is, at base, a series of fairy tale retellings. What lifts the whole package and sets it apart is Carter’s understanding of the dark undertones of virtually every fairy tale ever conceived. She pulls those darker elements to the forefront, deftly inverting every classic trope.



The cover of the book The Bad SeedThe Bad Seed
The idea of a seemingly innocent child committing heinous acts has become a fairly common trope in horror, but when The Bad Seed was published in 1954, it proved a tremendous shock for its readers. March’s matter-of-fact prose style lends an air of both authority and plausibility to this story of a mother slowly realizing the true evil of her young, murderous daughter.



The cover of the book Geek LoveGeek Love
Odds are you’ve never read a novel quite a like Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love. Geek Love, centering around a family of circus “freaks,” is bizarre, mesmerizing, and perverse. It’s a shocking lamentation on the human condition, of torment and trauma. Ultimately, it turns a sort of fun house mirror on societal ideals, presenting a delirious and disturbing vision in return.



The cover of the book The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost StoriesThe Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories
Henry James seminal ghost tale is one of those foundational texts for the horror genre. There are still very few authors who have done the traditional ghost story better. James keeps the scares and narrative subtle, but no less dread-inducing. The fact that even after the final page it’s not precisely clear what’s happening — that very uncertainty is the genius of “The Turn of the Screw.”



The cover of the book American PsychoAmerican Psycho
American Psycho is a gleefully over-the-top slasher flick in prose form that also happens to be an absurdly biting, post-modern cultural dissection. It’s dark, for sure. There’s cannibalism, necrophilia, all manner of torture. But it’s also a wholly unreliable descent into pure madness – but also maybe not. This one is as thought-provoking as it is unsettling.



The cover of the book Summer of NightSummer of Night
There’s a lot of great horror scattered across Dan Simmons’ eclectic bibliography. Summer of Night is one of my favorites. Falling on a spectrum somewhere between Bradbury and King, it is a tale of small towns and ancient evils, but there’s an eerie sort of quality that taints the nostalgic hue in a way that separates it from those clear influences.



The cover of the book The ElementalsThe Elementals
Best known for scripting the likes of “Beetlejuice” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” McDowell’s brilliantly terrifying novels are once again making their way onto the radar of horror fans. The Elementals is arguably his best work – a southern Gothic-tinged haunt that is claustrophobic and disturbing.



The cover of the book The Silence of the LambsThe Silence of the Lambs
While it’s on the list of novels overshadowed by their adaptations, there really is just something about experiencing Hannibal Lecter in print that even the brilliance of Anthony Hopkins can’t quite match. And while Thomas Harris may have overextended with perhaps too many sequels, Silence of the Lambs is an unrelenting and bone-chilling descent into the darker – and very plausible – recesses of humanity.

5 Science and History Books Horror Fans Will Love

Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

Horror is most often considered the purview of fiction, but real life can be plenty scary. Here’s a list of five non-fiction books featuring real-life zombies, vampires, and other terrors.

If you like ghosts, try…
The cover of the book Strange FrequenciesStrange Frequencies
Are ghosts real? What happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil? These are questions that people have struggled to answer through art, religion, and more recently, science. In Peter Bebergal’s Strange Frequencies, we learn some of the oddest ways that technology has been used in attempts to breach the wall between this world and the next. Follow Bebergal as he explores voicemails from the dead, spirit photography, and other odd topics in this entertaining and ever so spooky read.


If you like zombies, try…
The cover of the book Plight of the Living DeadPlight of the Living Dead
Forget “walkers” and flesh-eating ghouls: Mother Nature’s own zombies are more horrifying than anything you can find on screen. Matt Simon introduces us to predatory wasps, burrowing worms, and parasitic fungi with the uncanny ability to zombify their animal and insect prey. Worst of all, Simon suggests that we may be victims of some of these ourselves. Could it be that we’re all obeying the impulses of tiny creatures deep within our own bodies?


If you like vampires, try…
The cover of the book Dark BanquetDark Banquet
There’s no such thing as vampires, but that doesn’t mean that your blood isn’t on the menu. In Dark Banquet, author Bill Schutt ventures into the shadowy world of the sanguivore: creatures that eat blood. Prepare to learn more about bed bugs, vampire bats, and other bloodsuckers you can’t repel with a crucifix than you ever thought you’d want to know.


If you like were-creatures, try…
The cover of the book The TigerThe Tiger
Werewolves hunt at night. So do Siberian tigers, and unlike the lycanthrope of legend, they don’t have to wait until the next full moon to do it. The Tiger is the true story of a man-eating cat who stalked a remote corner of Russia’s Far East, and the elite team of hunters sent to take it down. Warning: This is not a book for the faint of heart.


If you like Frankenstein’s monster, try…
The cover of the book Evolving OurselvesEvolving Ourselves
Thanks to rapidly evolving gene editing technologies like CRISPR, we’ll soon be able to tinker with life in a way that Frankenstein author Mary Shelley could never imagine. According to Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans, the future may be one of designer babies, de-extinct animals, vastly increased lifespans, and even clones. If so, it will also offer moral and ethical quandaries that we’ve never had to face. Can we handle the responsibility?

They Don’t Just Act: 18 Celebrities With Books That Are Worth a Read

True talent is rare – we’re lucky to have a knack for just one thing in this world. But these celebrities seem to have won the talent lottery because not only are they kick-ass actors and actresses, but they also write, and they do it well.

From Tom Hanks to Mindy Kaling, the celebrities listed below have all written fantastic books. Spanning fiction and nonfiction, there’s a book here for every kind of reader.

The cover of the book Like BrothersLike Brothers
Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass
In this delightful memoir, Mark and Jay Duplass – the writers, directors, producers, and actors as seen on “The League,” “Transparent,” and “The Mindy Project“ – share the secrets of their success, their experiences in working together, and the lessons they’ve learned through it all. The two brothers take us on their life journey from their childhood in the suburbs of New Orleans to their years at the University of Texas, the rise of their career, and beyond.


The cover of the book Uncommon TypeUncommon Type
Tom Hanks
A short story collection written by Tom Hanks – need we say more? The beloved, two-time Oscar-winning actor has written his first fiction collection, with seventeen short stories that are poignant, relevant, and thought-provoking, proving that he’s just as good with pen and paper as he is on screen. His writing will capture the hearts of all readers, and with this book, his die-hard fans will get more than they could’ve ever hoped for.


The cover of the book UnqualifiedUnqualified
Anna Faris; Foreword by Chris Pratt
Anna Faris fans are in for a treat – her comic memoir, Unqualified, contains everything there is to know about her life. Anna’s humor is strong throughout the pages as she explores the stages of her life in full detail, from her embarrassing elementary school days, to entering the entertainment industry, and struggling with marriage and parenthood. Anna offers timely advice on how to take charge of your life, be optimistic, and reap the rewards of the crazy world of love. Unqualified is perfect for anyone looking to laugh, smile, and maybe even shed a tear or two.


The cover of the book The Actor’s LifeThe Actor’s Life
Jenna Fischer
In The Actor’s Life, Jenna Fischer, best known for playing the Pam Beesly to John Krasinksi’s Jim Halpert on “The Office,” draws upon her own experience climbing the rungs of the entertainment business to help aspiring actors and actresses on their own journeys. She opens up about the (often hilarious) pitfalls she encountered on her way to success, and if you yourself aren’t looking to learn from them practically, Fischer’s writing has got an air of worldly wisdom to it that just about anyone can benefit from.


The cover of the book Good Clean FunGood Clean Fun
Nick Offerman
You probably know him as Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation,” but the man behind the meat-loving Director of Pawnee’s City Parks and Recreation Department is actually quite the prolific author. In Good Clean Fun, Offerman takes readers behind the scenes of his woodshop, formally known as the Offerman Woodshop. In his woodshop, he crafts everything from fine furniture to ukuleles. Whether you’re a fan of woodwork or Offerman himself, you’ll enjoy this book.


The cover of the book Handbook for an Unpredictable LifeHandbook for an Unpredictable Life
Rosie Perez
Oscar-nominated actress and star of new musical drama “Rise,” Rosie Perez recounts her remarkable and troubled young years in Handbook for an Unpredictable Life. When she was just three years old, Rosie was sent away to live in a Catholic children’s home in New York’s Westchester County, where she and countless other children suffered abuse at the hands of nuns. Rosie stayed strong throughout her childhood, eventually paving a life for herself in the world of the arts, New York City, and L.A., but the journey was not easy. Here, she opens up for the first time about just how hard it was, and how she made it through.


The cover of the book BonfireBonfire
Krysten Ritter
From actress, producer, and writer Krysten Ritter, Bonfireseeks to answer the age-old question: Can you ever really forget your past? Abby Williams left her small hometown of Barrens, Indiana years ago, desperate to shed painful memories she made there. Now she’s an environmental lawyer in Chicago, with a thriving career and a promising future. But a new case takes her back home to investigate one of the biggest scandals the town has ever seen, and Abby’s burned-away past ignites once again. Bonfire is a dark exploration of what can happen when your past and present collide.


The cover of the book The Bassoon KingThe Bassoon King
Rainn Wilson
The man behind the legendary Dwight Schrute of “The Office” tells his personal story in The Bassoon King, from his days as a high school drama geek to “The Office” and beyond. He made it out of high school in one piece, but it would be many years (most spent as a starving artist in New York City) before he’d land the role of the beloved Dwight Schrute. Wilson takes us through these years and beyond the finale of “The Office” to his life today.


The cover of the book A Load of HoneyA Load of Honey
Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk is perhaps currently best known as Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” though his comedic acting work reaches far and wide. A Load of Hooey is Odenkirk’s debut, and its contents run the gamut from free-verse poetry to absurdist monologues. It’s best read aloud, but perhaps in the privacy of your home, where no one can hear you.


The cover of the book OtherworldOtherworld
Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
In this YA novel, Jason Segel, perhaps best known for his role as Marshall Eriksen in the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” creates a futuristic world that tests the dangerous possibilities of technology. Otherworld is a highly-addictive virtual reality game that indulges every desire – it gives everyone what they want. The problem? You’ll never want to leave.


The cover of the book A Life in PartsA Life in Parts
Bryan Cranston
Before “Breaking Bad” there was “Malcom in the Middle,” and before “Malcom in the Middle” there were countless other parts. In A Life in Parts, Bryan Cranston takes us through the many roles he’s played in his life, from the 5thgrade school play to today, and why he almost gave up on acting entirely somewhere in-between.


The cover of the book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling
In her first memoir, Mindy Kaling, creator and star of “The Mindy Project” (also known for her role as Kelly on “The Office”), takes readers on a journey through her eventful life, from being a child of immigrant professionals to becoming a comedy writer and actress who speaks her mind. Mindy lets readers up close and personal as she shares her very unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood in a completely hilarious and unforgettable way.


The cover of the book In Conclusion, Don't Worry About ItIn Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It
Lauren Graham
Fans of “Gilmore Girls” will want to get their hands on this book by Lauren Graham, who played the famous Lorelai Gilmore on the show. This book is an expansion on a graduation speech Lauren gave at her hometown high school, Langley High. In it, she offers advice for graduates and reveals the importance of staying true to yourself, no matter where life takes you. It’s hilarious, yet touching, which is what we love most about Lauren Graham.


The cover of the book Why Not Me?Why Not Me?
Mindy Kaling
You might be thinking to yourself, “another book by Mindy Kaling?” Yes, another book by Mindy Kaling – she’s that good. This time around, it’s a collection of essays that are as hilarious and insightful as they are deeply personal. In Why Not Me?, Mindy shares her meditations on contentment and adulthood, and how they’re related to each other. She gives us an inside look on her life and experiences in Hollywood, and describes how they’ve made her who she is today.


The cover of the book I Can't Make This UpI Can’t Make This Up
Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart is one of the biggest comedians in the world, with tours that sell out football stadiums and films that have collectively grossed over $3.5 billion. In his book, I Can’t Make This Up, Kevin lets readers take an in-depth look at his life, from his extremely difficult childhood to his path to success, and his life advice for overcoming even the most difficult challenges. It’s hysterical (obviously), but also deeply personal and inspirational.


The cover of the book Yes PleaseYes Please
Amy Poehler
Best known for her role as Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” Amy Poehler is a comedian and actress that’s loved by many. This book is filled with stories, photographs, life advice, lists, and even some poetry. Yes Pleaseis inspirational, informative, and hilarious – definitely a must-have for all of Amy’s fans.


The cover of the book This Is Just My Face: Try Not to StareThis Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare
Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe, or “Gabby” to fans, achieved international fame when she played the leading role in the acclaimed movie, “Precious.” In this memoir, Gabby shares her life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen. With humor and honesty, Sidibe paints a portrait of her difficult family life when she was growing up, and shares her unconventional journey to becoming a movie star in a world that worked against her. This book is perfect for anyone who has ever felt like a misfit – it will inspire people to dream big, and reach for their goals, no matter what.


The cover of the book I'm Fine...And Other LiesI’m Fine…And Other Lies
Whitney Cummings
Creator and star of “Whitney” and co-creator of “2 Broke Girls,” comedian Whitney Cummings lays bare her most catastrophically embarrassing moments in I’m Fine and Other Lies. In what Cummings describes as a collection of “stories and mistakes I’ve made that were way too embarrassing to tell on stage in front of an actual audience,” she frankly discusses things about herself and her life that most people would probably take with them to their graves. But thankfully, Whitney Cummings is not like most people.

10 Terrifying Books to Read Based on Your Favorite Classic Horror Movie

Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash

With Halloween just around the corner, our thoughts are quickly turning to all things dark, ghoulish, and macabre. While it’s the perfect time to revisit those favorite classic horror films, you may also be in the mood for scares of a different sort. If you’re looking a terrifying change of pace, these chilling reads are just the thing.
Max von Sydow in The Exorcist (1973) © Warner Bros.

If You Like The “The Exorcist”, Try…

Max von Sydow in The Exorcist (1973) © Warner Bros.

The cover of the book PandemoniumPandemonium
“The Exorcist”, itself an adaption of the novel by William Peter, is one of the most influential horror films of all-time – and my personal pick for one of the most bone-deep terrifying. Unfortunately, the demonic possession sub-genre is a bit overdone and arguably stale. Fortunately, Daryl Gregory crafted a thoroughly original take on the idea of possession. With Pandemonium, Gregory imagines a world beset by random possession. With instances of possession ranging from benign to horrific, Pandemonium is a clever mix of pop culture and cultural pathos built on the same sense of lingering dread that powered “The Exorcist”.

If You Like “The Shining”, Try…

Image result for the shining

Jack Nicholson in The Shining (1980) © Warner Bros.

The cover of the book House of LeavesHouse of Leaves
Despite an initially tepid reaction from fans and critics, “The Shining” is now generally considered one of the finest horror films ever made. Jack Nicholson’s spiral into madness and the purposefully disorienting layout of the Overlook Hotel combined to create a truly classic haunted house film. Few novels capture the sense of unease and disorientation as well as Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. It is a stunning and wholly unique reading experience centering around a house that is vastly larger on the inside than out. It is an epistolary novel, a metaphorical and literal maze, a story within a story within a story. It’s a deeply unsettling and endlessly fascinating read.

If You Like “The Wicker Man” (1973), Try…

Christopher Lee in The Wicker Man (1973) © Rialto Pictures/ Studiocanal

If you only know “The Wicker Man” from the endlessly meme-worthy 2006 reboot, do yourself a favor and check out the original slow-burn masterpiece. It may be the best film to come of the British horror boom of the 1970s. Once you’ve done that and if you’re still in the mood for some unrelentingly bleak (seriously, this book gets DARK) horror about bizarre small communities that packs a hell of shock ending, pick up Hex. It’s set in a small Hudson Valley town haunted a seventeenth century witch whose eyes and mouth were sewn shut. No one is safe, there will not be a happy ending. This one goes there.

If You Like “Poltergeist”, Try…

Poltergeist (1982) © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

The cover of the book The Grip of ItThe Grip of It
“Poltergeist” is a classic for a reason. Written by Stephen Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper, it had an impressive pedigree. While it certainly brings the terror and iconic moments (“They’re here…”, “This house is clean”), it also a knowing suburban satire with scares that succeed because of its focus on the family at its center . The same can be said of Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It. What begins as a fairly standard tale of a couple searching out a fresh start away from the city quickly evolves into a horrifyingly original take on the haunted house tale that packs in plenty of character-focused pathos.

If You Like“A Nightmare on Elm Street”, Try…

Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) © New Line Cinema

The cover of the book Heart-Shaped BoxHeart-Shaped Box
Back before Freddy went into full gleeful, pun-tastic camp, Wes Craven gave us the only slasher flick that could truly give “Halloween” a run for its money. It’s easy to forget just how unsettling and legitimately terrifying Freddy Kruger’s first appearance was. Sure, there were still doses of humor, but it was considerably darker than what many fans came to expect from the franchise. Joe Hill’s first novel featured a similar vibe. Centering on a washed up heavy metal star with an affinity for the occult who unknowingly purchases a deadly and malicious ghost, Heart-Shaped Box was a tight, well-crafted ghost story with an original hook, plenty of scares, and a healthy dose of gallows humor.

If You Like “Scream”, Try…

Scream (1996) © Dimension Films

The cover of the book Final GirlsFinal Girls
As a franchise, “Scream” may have been done in by sequel-itis, but the original is still a well-hewn thriller that knowingly pokes holes in the classic slasher tropes from the final girl to the virgin-death-exemption and the killer’s-not-quite-dead final scare. It walked a fine between satirical and scary and walked it well. The same can be said of Riley Sager’s Final Girls. The novels follows a group of three “Final Girls”, lone survivors of horror-movie type massacres. When one of the three is found dead in her bathtub, the other two are forced together to confront their devastating pasts before they become victims themselves.

If You Like “Evil Dead 2”, Try…

Sarah Berry, Bruce Campbell, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, and Dan Hicks in Evil Dead II (1987) ©De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)

The cover of the book John Dies at the EndJohn Dies at the End
While “Evil Dead” is well worth a look, the franchise really didn’t find its legs until the considerably more over-the-top “Evil Dead 2”. “Evil Dead 2” gave fans more in every sense of the word – more gore, more humor, and more of the Ash Williams we’ve all come to know and love. If you’re looking for another genre-bending exercise in humor and horror that is at turns bizarre, satirical, and revels in its brand of immature-yet-occasionally biting humor, you could do a lot worse than John Dies at the End. Reading like the unholy love-child of Douglas Adams, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King, John Dies at the End is a drug-fueled fever dream of Lovecraftian proportions that is equal parts zany and horrifying.

If You Like “Night of the Living Dead”, Try…

Night of the Living Dead (1968) © Image Ten

The cover of the book The MissingThe Missing
“Night of the Living Dead” is the literal grand-daddy of the zombie craze. The film essentially invented the language and flow of the modern zombie story. It also sits neck and neck with “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) as George Romero’s best film. While not technically a zombie thriller – the undead creatures of The Missing are more sentient if no less ravenous – The Missing is certainly a good pickup for fans of the genre. It centers around an elementary school field trip that unwittingly sets a devastating airborne contagion loose on a town turning the residents into predatory undead monsters.

If You Like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978), Try…

Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) © Solofilm

The cover of the book Bird BoxBird Box
It’s rare for a remake to surpass the original, but while the original 1956 version of “Body Snatchers” is a classic in its own right, the 1978 version is superior in nearly every way. It’s a tense thriller, a deft blend of horror and sci-fi, and a fascinating allegory. The idea of alien/preternatural creatures overtaking society in some way is a classic sci-fi trope and few films have done it better than “Body Snatchers” (1978). Josh Malerman’s brilliant debut, Bird Box, may not seem like an immediate choice for “Body Snatcher” fans, but its themes of isolation, desperation, and creeping madness will resonate. In Bird Box, the mere sight of a mysterious creature is enough to drive a person to deadly insanity. In the midst of this civilization-shattering calamity, a woman struggles to find a safe haven for her two young children.

If You Like “Rosemary’s Baby”, Try…

Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby (1968) © Paramount Pictures

The cover of the book The Silent CompanionsThe Silent Companions
“Rosemary’s Baby” is another of my personal favorites. It’s a slow-burn piece of horror film-making unafraid to take the time to develop its deep-seated sense of dread. From the macabre history of the Woodhouse’s new apartment building to the seemingly kindly but bizarre elderly neighbors, everything builds with creeping, mounting horror to that final devastating and well-earned conclusion. It’s one of the finest horror films (and adaptations) of all time. Like “Rosemary’s Baby”, The Silent Companions takes its time and lets the horror slowly seep in. There’s a sense of mounting unease, as protagonist Elsie – pregnant and recently widowed – comes to grips with her new life in a sprawling, decrepit estate. The real terror hits the reader in much the same way it hits Elsie as that slinking dread finally bursts into full-blown terror.