Best Halloween Books for People Who Don’t Love Books

Do you want to hear something terrifying?

Apparently there are people out there who don’t love to read.

[SFX: ear-piercing scream]

Scary, I know.

If you don’t love reading as much as I do (insert ear-piercing scream again), allow me to present some possible alternatives for you to enjoy the literary loveliness of the darkest month of the year.

Coraline

Because if you don’t love books, you can see the movie, which is also fantastic.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

If you don’t love books: Well, this is a book. There’s no way around it. But it’s a graphic novel, which means all those words are supplemented by truly spectacular art (done with ballpoint pen, I might add). The art alone is mind-blowing. If you don’t want to commit to a graphic novel (sigh!), you’ll have to wait for the movie, which has been optioned by Sony.

Frankenstein

I know what you’re thinking. You think Frankenstein is a boring, murky classic. I understand. But! You have another option. If you don’t love books, you should listen to the audio. It translates beautifully, and is one-hundred percent creepy if you have the right reader. There’s a very commendable version available for free from Librivox, read by Cori Samuel.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

This is one of my favorite books. I featured it last Halloween. It’s short. It’s creepy. And I don’t understand why this isn’t a movie yet. Unfortunately, this is a book you’ll have to actually read. But, if you don’t love books you can always watch The Haunting (1963), which was adapted from a novel by the same author—the creep-tastic Shirley Jackson.

Carrie

I know, I know. You’ve heard of it. But have you read it? Don’t worry; it’s short. If you don’t love books enough to commit to this slim volume, watch the movie. The original movie. The one with Sissy Spacek. (I choose not to acknowledge the others). If you’ve already seen the movie, watch it again. Just because.

My Dear Misfits: You Will Be Found

A fan of Hello, Universe created this art a few weeks ago, and its hashtag tugged at me.

Do you see it? At the bottom of Virgil’s backpack?

#YouWillBeFound

I rolled it over and over in my mind: You will be found. 

It says everything. For Virgil, Valencia, Kaori, and all people—young and old—who feel like they’re wandering lost in the world. Misfits waiting to discover their group, their crowd, their people. Maybe they’ve been told they’re weirdos. Maybe they don’t look, think, or act the “right” way. Maybe they’re boys who like to wear skirts or girls who like to wear neckties—or maybe they only think they’d like to, but society has convinced them not to try. Maybe they prefer to color outside the lines. Write vertically instead of horizontally. Maybe their head is in the clouds instead of on the ground.

Maybe they know they’re misfits, but they do their best to conform, and a little voice inside their head whispers: This isn’t you. But they ignore the voice because they want to stay quiet. They don’t want to be too loud. They don’t want to step into the spotlight because spotlights are bright and burning.

Are you one of those people?

Are you wandering? Searching?

You are not alone.

You will be found.

Be patient. Be resilient. Be yourself. Click To Tweet

Thank you, Princess Fernandez.

My Favorite 2017 Releases — So Far

Of the 92 books I’ve read in 2017, these four — all released this year — are my favorites so far. They’re all very different, but have one thing in common: Awesomeness.


The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

I loved The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (2015), so I assumed I’d love this just as much. I was wrong: I loved it more.

I attended several conferences this year. Each time, I hurried to the Penguin booth to see if they had an advance copy. They told me no in Atlanta, Chicago, and San Antonio. Finally, my perseverance paid off.

The Arsonist, scheduled for release in September, has all the ingredients that make my book-heart flutter: well-crafted, alternating POVs; well-crafted, alternating timelines; and distinctive, dimensional, compelling characters.

I was sad when the book ended. I could’ve hung out with Pepper, Molly, and Ava for 300 more pages.


See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Alex Petroski! Sweet, kind-hearted, 11-year-old Alex Petroski! I wanted to jump in the book and give him a hug. But I can’t. Maybe I’ll hug Jack Cheng next time I see him instead.

Inspired by NASA’s Golden Record, Alex decides to make his own recording, which he plans to shoot into space on his homemade rocket. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth — his earth — is like. Lucky us, we get to join him on the way.


Flight Risk by Jennifer Fenn

Robert Jackson Kelly is one of the most well-written characters I’ve met this year. He practically walks off the page. Or flies off the page, as the case may be.

Fenn was inspired by real-life plane thief Colton Harris-Moore. I’d read about Harris-Moore in the past and seen documentaries about his flighty escapades. But Fenn’s story of Robert Jackson Kelly feels new. It was enough to make me forget about Moore or Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me if You Can. Instead, I escaped into Flight Risk. And I was totally emmersed.


Mental Diplopia by Julianna Baggott

This is a short story from the amazing wizards at Tor, one of my favorite fiction sites.

There seems to be a strange new disease spreading around the world. People are getting stuck in the past in mostly happy memories. They are straddling the line between now and then. Although the disease ends in death, the infected seem to go willingly. The epidemiologist narrator seeks the answers to this viral mystery while she falls in love and tries not to get infected.


What are some of your favorite books this year?

Why I Write Longhand

When I was a little girl, I would put a pillow on my lap, balance a notebook on top, and write stories. There was something magical about pencil-on-paper. When I speak to young people, I tell them how powerful it is to create something that didn’t exist before. Imagine having a blank sheet of paper in front of you one minute, and a new creation the next.

I’m not so little anymore, but I still love the magic of paper. When people ask about my process, I tell them there are only two things about it that are disciplined: I always have a fluid outline, and I write all my first drafts in longhand.

Here’s why.

Writing in longhand gives me a tactile relationship with the words.

Writing on paper provides a tactile response that doesn’t happen with a keyboard and computer screen. You can feel the words moving under the tip of your pen. You can feel the pages turn between your fingertips. You can see the journal sitting in your bag, ready to be conquered. And if you’re a true nerd like I am, you can even smell the paper.

Writing in longhand is deeply personal.

Each of my novels required a different type of notebook or journal. Most of the time, a simple spiral notebook will do. But then I have to consider the color. The number of pages. College- or wide-ruled? Each work has a different personality. The notebooks do, too. For my current WIP, I went in a completely different direction, because the book is its own departure. Rather than the spiral-bound notebooks I used for my realistic contemporary novels, I wanted a personalized hand-stitched leather journal for my first fantasy (!) Buying a notebook for your WIP adds yet another level of experience to the first draft. Same for pens. Yes, I’m also a nerd for pens. I must have the right pen. Luckily, I don’t have expensive taste. All I need is a smooth-glide or felt tip and I’m good to go. Traditional black ink is my first go-to, but it’s nice to have other options. The type of pen I use also depends on what kind of journal I have. The two need to complement each other.

It helps me keep the right pace.

I’m more deliberate when I write with a pen. I take my time. This is another individualistic writer trait. Some writers throw everything on the page and worry about the rest later. I tend to edit as I go. Writing with pen and paper helps me do that. It also allows me to make notes in the margins for elements that I want to revisit later.

I want to write at a moment’s notice—without the distraction of the internet.

I’m not a scheduled writer. I don’t block off certain hours of time solely for writing. For some reason, that never works for me. Instead, I write when I’m compelled to. Sometimes it’s in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or the middle of a bookstore. I never need to haul around my laptop, which also means I won’t be distracted by the endless and beguiling rabbit holes of the internet.

Two drafts for the price of one. 

When it’s time to shift it from page to computer, I have the opportunity to read my words again and add (or take away) the necessary flourish.

It’s not as intimidating.

There’s something scary about a big, blank computer screen, with its accusatory cursor. Paper isn’t as judgemental. You can draw a doodle of a hipster with a mustache and still feel like you accomplished something.

NEW BOOK, NEW COVER REVEAL!

This has been an incredible year. The release of HELLO, UNIVERSE in March came with a flurry of activity, traveling, starred reviews (!), book talks, speeches, conferences, and general fantastic-ness that can’t be described in words. And just to keep you on your toes, I have yet another announcement: A NEW BOOK! And it’s dressed up beautifully in the art of Isabel Roxas. To quote someone on Twitter: “Erin Entrada Kelly and Isabel Roxas are a match made in literary heaven.” I can’t speak to my own book-heaven contributions, but I couldn’t agree more about Isabel.

 

Why Libraries are Gold #NationalLibraryWeek

I still remember the smell of my elementary school library — the scent of well-loved books and paperback leaves. I still see how the shelves are arranged — the tables in the center of the room, and the door that led to the playground.

And I remember the precious gem of Sideways Stories from Wayside School.

I checked out many books from my school library, including Halfway Down Paddy Lane, a childhood favorite. But every now and then I had an overwhelming bookwormy need to visit Wayside School. I loved Louis Sachar’s crazy and ridiculous stories and wished my school was more like Wayside, despite the evil Mrs. Gorf.

But I wasn’t the only one who loved Wayside. Most of the time, the book was already checked out. I had to wait and wait and wait. It would finally appear — its spine cracked and disjointed; pages worn from a thousand hungry fingers — and I would carry it home like a rare and precious gem. I had something that was in high demand, and it was mine! Fora time, at least.

If you asked me to write about the time I got a book from Amazon, what would I say? That I opened a box and there it was, less than forty-eight hours after I ordered it, barely enough time to grow impatient? Do I treat those books like rare gems? No, reader. I do not. I may read them and love them, but if you asked me to describe their spines and pages in twenty years, I’m not sure I would remember. 

There’s a reason why libraries are magical. They’re an experience, not a delivery service.

I Will Not Tell a Lie

Tashi Levent-Levi, http://bit.ly/2odYMFL

In my debut novel Blackbird Fly, the main character Apple Yengko is voted the third-ugliest girl in school. There’s a rumor that she eats dog for dinner. The boys bark at her when she walks down the hall.

In Hello, Universe, Virgil Salinas — a boy in the special-needs class — is called “the R-word” by his neighborhood bully.

I received an email from an adult reader who had lovely things to say about the book, but wanted to know why I used the “R-word.” I thanked her (genuinely) for her feedback, and said I used the R-word because that’s the word Chet Bullens — the boy who bullies Virgil — would say IRL. She agreed, but said she still wished I hadn’t used it.

“It makes me uncomfortable,” she said.

I understand. Believe me. The word makes me uncomfortable, too. That’s why I never use it. That’s also why we have to write it.

When I’m working on a book, honesty is the most important thing to me.

I wish people would quit using “retard” as a way to cut someone else down. I wish we didn’t use “ugly” as a weapon against girls. I wish we all treated each other with kindness and respect. I wish life was never uncomfortable. (Then again, Virgil’s Lola says bad things have to happen. ‘If you don’t have bad things, you wouldn’t have good things. They would all just be things.’) But until then, I make this promise to my readers:

I will strive to use words that are realistic, even when those words are ugly. We need them exposed to the light so they can wither.

I will write scenes that are realistic (to the best of my ability), even when they’re uncomfortable. Because life is uncomfortable sometimes. Unfortunately for many, it’s uncomfortable most of the time. And those stories have a place. 

I will aim to write with honesty. I will aim to see you. Truth is empowering, and we all have a right to share ours. Click To Tweet

 

3 Things I Learned on Tour

Adults are kinda lame. (Sorry, grown-ups.) When I arrived and left, I was greeted with excited cheers and I suspect at least 50 percent of them had no idea who I was. They were just thrilled to miss class and loved me for it. But it’s a win-win situation. I pretend I’m a super-celebrity, they pretend they love me, and no one is the wiser. This doesn’t happen when I speak to adults. They just, like, sit there. At one point during the tour, I was asked to draw a pickle Godzilla. Adults never ask me to draw pickle Godzillas.

Wrinkle release spray can be used as perfume if your body spray is confiscated by airport security. Word to the wise: The scent doesn’t last long.

Hand sanitizer is the most important product ever created. When you’re skipping across the country and visiting thousands of kids, you don’t want to get sick. But going in and out of airports and schools exposes you to five bazillion germs. That’s just an estimate. Have you ever noticed how often people cough, sneeze, or sniffle? ALL THE TIME.

I bet at least one person in this photo sneezed on me when I wasn’t paying attention: