Spooky Summer Reads

October / Autumn Equinox / Halloween are times to visit other worlds and celebrate in the face of the darkening days.

But I still maintain that mid-summer is for horror. The sun can be brutal, the heat pushes us past our limits. Maybe we hallucinate, maybe we can’t get to sleep because the days stretch so long. Staying up late with thrilling or creepy tales, listening to the air conditioning blasting, wondering what that noise was … I live for it.

Here are five witchy, gritty, twisted reads I’ve enjoyed so far this summer:

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is a short story collection that takes us to the dark, disturbing places in the American psyche–like the capitalism that makes us into rabid zombies, and the racism and inequality rotting at the core of this country. It’s a speculative work, it’s a political work–so much to think through on every page.

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the perfect summer read: three teens try to improve their lives in Mexico City by practicing magic, accessed through music on vinyl records. Set in the late 1980s, they experiment to discover which of their favorite artists have written songs to bring them money, love, or power.

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias. My favorite ghost stories point to the true horror: the ways humans treat one another, and the gruesome systems we’ve designed to dehuminze each other while we’re still alive. Coyote Songs is a stunning example of this, with great writing that keeps the pages turning.

The Sandman Omnibus, Vol 1. It’s been 10 years since I first read the Sandman comics all the way through, and it feels so right to return to them on hot summer nights. I swear, they bring me to the deepest sleep of my life…

Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I’ve had a weird run with this wildly successful and popular author: I loved a YA book he wrote when I was a preteen. I read his craft book about writing in college. That was it for a long time. A few years ago I tried to read the book that inspired a really REALLY scary movie and … I thought the writing was atrocious. It made the Monster much less frightening to me.

So, I’d stayed away. Many online lists rank Pet Sematary as the best Stephen King novel; it’s certainly the best I’ve ever read. Truly scary, and I wasn’t distracted by repetitive or dull writing.

This one disturbed me and gave me what I wanted. May be the last time I ever read Stephen King, but I am going out on a high note!

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