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7 Spooky Bookies for Seasonally Appropriate Bibliophilia

A question to the mental_floss editorial team: What Scary Book Haunts You To This Day?

mental_floss magazine editorial director Ethan Trex appreciates both the creepiness and the wit of The Green Man by Kingsley Amis.

The Green Man by Kingsley Amis is my favorite spooky novel, in part because it's also incredibly funny. Amis' descriptions of life around a haunted British inn and the hard-drinking exploits of its owner can be terrifying, but the dialogue and situations are laden with the writer's trademark wit and appreciation of absurdity. How can you not love the story in which the antagonist is a monster made of trees? Even though I read it as an adult, it still has me just a little nervous any time I'm alone in the woods.” Buy it now, if you dare!

For younger (but super brave) audiences, mentalfloss.com deputy editor Erin McCarthy can’t seem to shake the sheer spookiness of Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz.

“As a kid, I loved being scared, and when I was in elementary school, no books did it better than the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. I would frequently check them out of the library and read them on the bus home, after I was done my homework and under the covers at night. Then, when I was too terrified to read any more, I would put them down and try to sleep. (The key word is try.) Alvin Schwartz's takes on classic scary stories haunt me to this day. Among my favorites: 'The Red Spot,' 'The White Wolf,' 'High Beams,' 'Cat in the Shopping Bag,' 'The Little Black Dog,' 'Wonderful Sausage,' and, OK, all of them.” But it now, if you dare!

More For Your Little Boys and Ghouls With These Fun, Monstrous Parodies:

For those who enjoyed: Try this spooky version:
Madeline features: Frankenstein features:
Twelve little girls in two straight lines Twelve ugly monsters in two straight lines
Little girls who were sometimes sad Monsters who tried to devour your dad
Miss Clavel Miss Devel
An emergency appendectomy An emergency cranial replacement
A tummy scar Some neck screws
For those who enjoyed:

Try this spooky version:

The Runaway Bunny features: The Runaway Mummy features:
A little bunny A little mummy
A trout and a fisherman A serpent and a sea monster
A crocus and a gardener A revenous plant and a monstrous gorilla
A carrot treat A loving, rotten mummy cuddle

And In Spooky Self-Help:

How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

This book offers sage advice for horror-movie survival. The author starts with advice on determining whether you are in a horror movie and, if so, what kind of horror movie is it (a slasher flick, one with a satanic bent, an onslaught of the undead or, oh no, gasp, a sequel)?  He then lays out the seven deadly sins of horror movie behavior (doubt, machismo, independence, and curiosity, to name a few). The book goes on to offer more specific survival advice given particular horrific scenarios like “What to Do If You Did Something Last Summer,” “What to Do When An Evil Vehicle Wants You Dead,” “How to Tell If You’ve Been Dead Since the Beginning of the Movie” and “What to Do If Your Corn Has Children In It.” A foreword by Wes Craven serves as an apology from the mastermind behind so many horror movies for the many fictional lives he’s cut short—from buxom babysitters, to doubting cops, to well-intentioned boyfriends. Buy it now, if you dare!

The Monster Hunter’s Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Saving Mankind from Vampires, Zombies, Hellhounds and Other Mythical Beasts by Ibrahim S. Amin

A critical reference book for hunters of mythical creatures of any kind, this book presents descriptions, illustrations and killing methods for 30 creatures you may encounter on your many mythical quests.

 Did you know, for example, that…

+ Centaurs are highly vulnerable to flank attacks?

+ To destroy an attacking mummy, fire is likely your best choice—but, due to their slow, lumbering pace, you might also elect to simply walk briskly away?

+ A gorgon’s snake hair and tusks are not to be feared nearly as much as her petrifying stare?

+ Should you encounter a hellhound like Cerberus, you may elect to capture and domesticate the beast rather than destroy him?

In Part II of this display-worthy, hardback tome, the author introduces readers to the little-known field of cryptohoplology, the study of weapons and armor considered by the world at large to be mythical, and includes entries on such weaponry as Aeneas’s Arms and Armor, Excalibur, Hades’ Helmet and the Spear of Destiny. Buy it now, if you dare!

The Zen of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead by Scott Kenemore

Who knew that one could learn so much about living from the living dead? No, this book is not a manual on brain-eating and graveyard landscaping but, rather, gleans more general advice for good living based on the 24 habits of highly-effective zombies, advise such as:

+ “Be Adaptable.” Shoot, zombies had to adapt to a stranger set of circumstances than any you’re facing when their decaying corpses were reanimated.

+ “Slow Down! (You Move Too Fast).” The distinct “ponderous tread” of a zombie offers low-anxiety, blood-pressure-reducing benefits and also allows one to be more observant, analytical and opportunistic.

+ “Strength in Numbers.” Take a lesson from the evident ability zombies have to bond and join together into zombie armies. Ghosts, vampires, abominable snowmen and other spooky creatures just don’t seem to have the same team spirit. Buy it now, if you dare!

STORE.MENTALFLOSS.COM—Do NOT Abandon all hope, ye who enter here—Henceforth, all orders of $60 or more ship free! And be sure to follow the store on Twitter; we tweet fun stuff and sometimes give things away for nothin'.

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15 Powerful Quotes From Margaret Atwood
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images

It turns out the woman behind such eerily prescient novels as The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake is just as wise as her tales are haunting. Here are 15 of the most profound quips from author, activist, and Twitter enthusiast Margaret Atwood, who was born on this day in 1939.

1. On her personal philosophy

 “Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

2. On the reality of being female

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

3. On limiting how her politics influence her characters

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

4. On so-called “pretty” works of literature

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels … All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. … We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

— From a 2010 interview with The Progressive

5. On the artist’s relationship with her fans

“The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

6. On the challenges of writing non-fiction

“When I was young I believed that ‘nonfiction’ meant ‘true.’ But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

7. On poetry

“The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

8. On being labeled an icon

“All these things set a standard of behavior that you don’t necessarily wish to live up to. If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

9. On how we’re all born writers

“[Everyone] ‘writes’ in a way; that is, each person has a ‘story’—a personal narrative—which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at 20 is seen as comedy or nostalgia at 40.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

10. On the oppression at the center of The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here. Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” 

— From a 2015 lecture to West Point cadets

11. On the discord between men and women

“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine. … ‘They’re afraid women will laugh at them,’ he said. ‘Undercut their world view.’ … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ ‘They’re afraid of being killed,’ they said.”

— From Atwood’s Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982

12. On the challenges of expressing oneself

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

13. On selfies

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature. And it does no good to puritanically say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that,’ because people do.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

14. On the value of popular kids' series (à la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson)

"It put a lot of kids onto reading; it made reading cool. I’m sure a lot of later adult book clubs came out of that experience. Let people begin where they are rather than pretending that they’re something else, or feeling that they should be something else."

— From a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post

15. On why even the bleakest post-apocalyptic novels are, deep down, full of hope

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

— From a 2011 interview with The Atlantic 

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China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library
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People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t Newsweek]

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