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7 Spooky Bookies for Seasonally Appropriate Bibliophilia

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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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10 Terrific Facts About Stephen King
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Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Warner Bros.

As if being one of the world's most successful and prolific writers wasn't already reason enough to celebrate, Stephen King is ringing in his birthday as the toast of Hollywood. As It continues to break box office records, we're digging into the horror master's past. Here are 10 things you might not have known about Stephen King, who turns 70 years old today.

1. STEPHEN KING AND HIS WIFE, TABITHA, OWN A RADIO STATION.

Stephen and Tabitha King own Zone Radio, a company that serves to head their three radio stations in Maine. One of them, WKIT, is a classic rock station that goes by the tagline "Stephen King's Rock Station."

2. HE'S A HARDCORE RED SOX FAN.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Not only did he write a story about the Boston Red Sox—The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (who was a former Red Sox pitcher)—he also had a cameo in the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie Fever Pitch, which is about a crazed Sox fan. He plays himself and throws out the first pitch at a game.

In 2004, King and Stewart O'Nan, another novelist, chronicled their reactions to the season that finally brought the World Series title back to Beantown. It's appropriately titled Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.

3. HE WAS HIT BY A CAR, THEN BOUGHT THE CAR THAT HIT HIM.

You probably remember that King was hit by a van not far from his summer home in Maine in 1999. The incident left King with a collapsed lung, multiple fractures to his hip and leg, and a gash to the head. Afterward, King and his lawyer bought the van for $1500 with King announcing that, "Yes, we've got the van, and I'm going to take a sledgehammer and beat it!"

4. AS A KID, HIS FRIEND WAS STRUCK AND KILLED BY A TRAIN.

King's brain seems to be able to create chilling stories at such an amazing clip, yet he's seen his fair share of horror in real life. In addition to the aforementioned car accident, when King was just a kid his friend was struck and killed by a train (a plot line that made it into his story "The Body," which was adapted into Stand By Me). While it would be easy to assume that this incident informed much of King's writing, the author claims to have no memory of the event:

"According to Mom, I had gone off to play at a neighbor’s house—a house that was near a railroad line. About an hour after I left I came back (she said), as white as a ghost. I would not speak for the rest of the day; I would not tell her why I’d not waited to be picked up or phoned that I wanted to come home; I would not tell her why my chum’s mom hadn’t walked me back but had allowed me to come alone.

"It turned out that the kid I had been playing with had been run over by a freight train while playing on or crossing the tracks (years later, my mother told me they had picked up the pieces in a wicker basket). My mom never knew if I had been near him when it happened, if it had occurred before I even arrived, or if I had wandered away after it happened. Perhaps she had her own ideas on the subject. But as I’ve said, I have no memory of the incident at all; only of having been told about it some years after the fact."

5. HE WROTE A MUSICAL WITH JOHN MELLENCAMP.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

King, John Mellencamp, and T Bone Burnett collaborated on a musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which made its debut in 2012. The story is based on a house that Mellencamp bought in Indiana that came complete with a ghost story. Legend has it that three siblings were messing around in the woods and one of the brothers accidentally got shot. The surviving brother and sister jumped in the car to go get help, and in their panic, swerved off the road right into a tree and were killed instantly. Of course, the three now haunt the woods by Mellencamp's house.

6. HE PLAYED IN A BAND WITH OTHER SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS.

King played rhythm guitar for a band made up of successful writers called The Rock Bottom Remainders. From 1992 to 2012, the band "toured" about once a year. In addition to King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Barbara Kingsolver, Matt Groening and Ridley Pearson were just some of its other members.

7. HE'S A NATIVE MAINER.

A photo of Stephen King's home in Bangor, Maine.
By Julia Ess - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

King writes about Maine a lot because he knows and loves The Pine Tree State: he was born there, grew up there, and still lives there (in Bangor). Castle Rock, Derry, and Jerusalem's Lot—the fictional towns he has written about in his books—are just products of King's imagination, but he can tell you exactly where in the state they would be if they were real.

8. HE HAS BATTLED DRUG AND ALCOHOL PROBLEMS.

Throughout much of the 1980s, King struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. In discussing this time, he admitted that, "There's one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing at all. I don't say that with pride or shame, only with a vague sense of sorrow and loss. I like that book. I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page."

It came to a head when his family members staged an intervention and confronted him with drug paraphernalia they had collected from his trash can. It was the eye-opener King needed; he got help and has been sober ever since.

9. THERE WAS A RUMOR THAT HE WROTE A LOST TIE-IN NOVEL.

King was an avid Lost fan and sometimes wrote about the show in his Entertainment Weekly column, "The Pop of King." The admiration was mutual. Lost's writers mentioned that King was a major influence in their work. There was a lot of speculation that he was the man behind Bad Twin, a Lost tie-in mystery, but he debunked that rumor.

10. HE IS SURROUNDED BY WRITERS.

A photo of Stephen King's son, author Joe Hill
Joe Hill
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Stephen isn't the only writer in the King family: His wife, Tabitha King, has published several novels. Joe, their oldest son, followed in his dad's footsteps and is a bestselling horror writer (he writes under the pen name Joe Hill). Youngest child Owen has written a collection of short stories and one novella and he and his dad co-wrote Sleeping Beauties, which will be released later this month (Owen also married a writer). Naomi, the only King daughter, is a minister and gay activist.

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Kyle Ely
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Dedicated Middle School Teacher Transforms His Classroom Into Hogwarts
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Kyle Ely

It would be hard to dread back-to-school season with Kyle Ely as your teacher. As ABC News reports, the instructor brought a piece of Hogwarts to Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon by plastering his classroom with Harry Potter-themed decor.

The journey into the school's makeshift wizarding world started at his door, which was decorated with red brick wall paper and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign above the entrance. Inside, students found a convincing Hogwarts classroom complete with floating candles, a sorting hat, owl statues, and house crests. He even managed to recreate the starry night sky effect of the school’s Great Hall by covering the ceiling with black garbage bags and splattering them with white paint.

The whole project cost the teacher around $300 to $400 and took him 70 hours to build. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, he said that being able to share his love of the book series with his students made it all pay off it. He wrote in a Facebook post, "Seeing their faces light up made all the time and effort put into this totally worth it."

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Though wildly creative, the Hogwarts-themed classroom at Evergreen Middle School isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2015, a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City outfitted her classroom with a potions station and a stuffed version of Fluffy to make the new school year a little more magical. Here are some more unique classroom themes teachers have used to transport their kids without leaving school.

[h/t ABC News]

Images courtesy of Kyle Ely.

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