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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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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 118th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."

Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."

Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."

By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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12 Fantastic Facts About A Wrinkle in Time
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istock (blank book) / Taeeun Yoo (cover art)

Madeleine L’Engle’s acclaimed science fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time has been delighting readers since its 1962 release. Whether you’ve never had the chance to read this timeless tale or haven’t picked it up in a while, here are some facts that are sure to get you in the mood for a literary journey through the universe—not to mention its upcoming big-screen adaptation.

1. THE AUTHOR’S PERSISTENCE PAID OFF.

She’s a revered writer today, but Madeleine L’Engle’s early literary career was rocky. She nearly gave up on writing on her 40th birthday. L’Engle stuck with it, though, and on a 10-week cross-country camping trip she found herself inspired to begin writing A Wrinkle in Time.

2. EINSTEIN SPARKED L'ENGLE'S INTEREST IN QUANTUM PHYSICS AND TESSERACTS.

L’Engle was never a strong math student, but as an adult she found herself drawn to concepts of cosmology and non-linear time after picking up a book about Albert Einstein. L’Engle adamantly believed that any theory of writing is also a theory of cosmology because “one cannot discuss structure in writing without discussing structure in all life." The idea that religion, science, and magic are different aspects of a single reality and should not be thought of as conflicting is a recurring theme in her work.

3. L’ENGLE BASED THE PROTAGONIST ON HERSELF.

L’Engle often compared her young heroine, Meg Murry, to her childhood self—gangly, awkward, and a poor student. Like many young girls, both Meg and L’Engle were dissatisfied with their looks and felt their appearances were homely, unkempt, and in a constant state of disarray.

4. IT WAS REJECTED BY MORE THAN TWO DOZEN PUBLISHERS.

L’Engle weathered 26 rejections before Farrar, Straus & Giroux finally took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time. Many publishers were nervous about acquiring the novel because it was too difficult to categorize. Was it written for children or adults? Was the genre science fiction or fantasy?

5. L’ENGLE DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO CATEGORIZE THE BOOK, EITHER.

To compound publishers’ worries, L’Engle famously rejected these arbitrary categories and insisted that her writing was for anyone, regardless of age. She believed that children could often understand concepts that would baffle adults, due to their childlike ability to use their imaginations with the unknown.

6. MEG MURRY WAS ONE OF SCIENCE FICTION'S FIRST GREAT FEMALE PROTAGONISTS ...

… and that scared publishers even more. L’Engle believed that the relatively uncommon choice of a young heroine contributed to her struggles getting the book in stores since men and boys dominated science fiction.

Nevertheless, the author stood by her heroine and consistently promoted acceptance of one’s unique traits and personality. When A Wrinkle in Time won the 1963 Newbury Award, L’Engle used her acceptance speech to decry forces working for the standardization of mankind, or, as she so eloquently put it, “making muffins of us, muffins like every other muffin in the muffin tin.” L’Engle’s commitment to individualism contributed to the very future of science fiction. Without her we may never have met The Hunger Games’s Katniss Everdeen or Divergent’s Tris Prior.

7. THE MURKY GENRE HELPED MAKE THE BOOK A SUCCESS.

Once A Wrinkle in Time hit bookstores, its slippery categorization stopped being a drawback. The book was smart enough for adults without losing sight of the storytelling elements kids love. A glowing 1963 review in The Milwaukee Sentinel captured this sentiment: “A sort of space age Alice in Wonderland, Miss L’Engle’s book combines a warm story of family life with science fiction and a most convincing case for nonconformity. Adults who still enjoy Alice will find it delightful reading along with their youngsters.”

8. THE BOOK IS ACTUALLY THE FIRST OF A SERIES.

Although the other four novels are not as well known as A Wrinkle in Time, the “Time Quintet” is a favorite of science fiction fans. The series, written over a period of nearly 30 years, follows the Murry family’s continuing battle over evil forces.

9. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY BANNED BOOKS OF ALL TIME.

Oddly enough, A Wrinkle in Time has been accused of being both too religious and anti-Christian. L’Engle’s particular brand of liberal Christianity was deeply rooted in universal salvation, a view that some critics have claimed “denigrates organized Christianity and promotes an occultic world view.” There have also been objections to the use of Jesus Christ’s name alongside figures like Buddha, Shakespeare, and Gandhi. Detractors feel that grouping these names together trivializes Christ’s divine nature.

10. L’ENGLE LEARNED TO SEE THE UPSIDE OF THIS CONTROVERSY.

The author revealed how she felt about all this sniping in a 2001 interview with The New York Times. She brushed it aside, saying, “It seems people are willing to damn the book without reading it. Nonsense about witchcraft and fantasy. First I felt horror, then anger, and finally I said, 'Ah, the hell with it.' It's great publicity, really.''

11. THE SCIENCE FICTION HAS INSPIRED SCIENCE FACTS.

American astronaut Janice Voss once told L’Engle that A Wrinkle in Time inspired her career path. When Voss asked if she could bring a copy of the novel into space, L’Engle jokingly asked why she couldn’t go, too.

Inspiring astronauts wasn’t L’Engle’s only out-of-this-world achievement. In 2013 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) honored the writer’s memory by naming a crater on Mercury’s south pole “L’Engle.”

12. A STAR-STUDDED MOVIE ADAPTATION WILL HIT THEATERS IN 2018.

Although L’Engle was famously skeptical of film adaptations of the novel, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay (13th; Selma) is bringing a star-filled version of the book to the big screen next year. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, and Zach Galifianakis are among the film's stars. It's due in theaters on March 9, 2018.

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