Although Halloween is over, the days are getting colder and darker (sometimes it even rains!)… it’s as wintry as California will get. Perfect weather for curling up with a warm drink and a good, spooky book to chill you to the bone. So we asked our teachers what their favorite scary work of literature was, or what creeped them out the most, and these are their responses… happy reading!
“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.”
“Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.”
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
Note: The Road was also adapted as a post-apocalyptic survival film by the same name!
“When any pretty maiden came within that space she was changed into a bird, and the fairy put her into a cage, and hung her up in a chamber in the castle. There were seven hundred of these cages hanging in the castle, and all with beautiful birds in them.”
We know fairy tales as the stories of a beautiful princess, a charming prince, and their happily-ever-after… but let’s just say that Disney did quite a lot of clean up…
In The Body Artist, DeLillo tells the hallucinatory tale of performance artist Lauren Hartke in the days following the suicide of her husband, filmmaker Rey Robles.
Finishing out their lease of a rented house on the coast, living in a self-imposed exile, Lauren discovers a mysterious man in the bedroom upstairs who is able to repeat — verbatim — entire conversations she had with her husband before his death but does not seem to know his own name or where he happens to come from.
“A metaphysical ghost story about a woman alone…intimate, spare, exquisite.” – Adam Begley, The New York Times Book Review
Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
“Much later, she would tell me the story of this day at those times when it seemed as if her limbs were too heavy to move and she stood staring into the refrigerator for long spells… then I would sit quietly beside her, and she would tell the story the same way every time, as if ripping out something that had worked its roots deep inside her.”
You can find it here in The New Yorker (TW: domestic violence)
If you are at all like me, you are obsessed with Taylor Swift’s new album, folklore. The melodies are wonderful, the lyrics are mesmerizing, and every time I listen, I feel all the emotions.
So, here is a list of books that correspond with songs on the album. Some have the same vibes, and others have similar content. Please be aware that some of these books deal with triggering topics; I’ve tried my best to list them under each recommendation (labeled TW).
I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend a book with the exact same title: The One by John Marrs. What if there was an app that could match you to your soulmate… with DNA? But what if this app went wrong?
This song is about a house, a strong-willed woman, and a judging society. I recommend Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Mexican Gothic is a 2020 release inspired by “The Yellow Wallpaper” (shout out to the sophomores reading it this year!).
If you want a series that will give you all of the feelings, I recommend The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. This series is part of the giant mega Shadowhunters universe, but you don’t need to read any of the other ones in order to read this one. The Infernal Devices is my favorite series of all time, so I had to recommend it at least once. Think of 1878 London… with demon hunters!
First off, I recommend Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness. JVN (the wonderful TV personality) details their experience as a child, being bullied for being feminine and gay, but how they turned their life around to be an absolute icon.
TW: sexual abuse, drug addiction, sex addiction, cheating, bullying, homophobia, death disordered eating, mental health struggles
Second, I have to recommend a similar book about coming to terms with one’s gender and sexuality which is Sissy by Jacob Tobia. In this touching memoir, they discuss coming out as nonbinary while living in a highly gendered world.
TW: homophobia, transphobia, bullying, mental health struggles, violence
Third, I’d like to recommend a book that you may have already read, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book deals with police brutality of Black people, which is especially relevant now, with the murders of Black people, the BLM protests, and the upcoming election.
For “mirrorball,” I was particularly inspired by one line:
“I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight.”
So, I picked The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This novel details the lives of two twins who are Black, but white passing. One decides to live as a Black woman and the other decides to live as a white woman. We get to see the ramifications of these decisions as their lives and the lives of their children unfold.
TW: racism, colorism, domestic abuse, hate crimes, race-based violence
This recommendation is pretty simple: Life was better at age seven. As a little kid, your imagination can run wild, which is exactly what happens in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If you read this in middle school, read it again. As a high schooler (or an adult), you will look at it with completely different eyes.
For “august,” I have a recommendation that fits the same emotions, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This book is the most incredible retelling of the Trojan War, centered around a romance between Achilles and Patroclus, our narrator. Prepare to have your heart absolutely destroyed by the ending.
TW: murder, death, slavery, abduction, abandonment, torture, mention of rape, physical violence, human trafficking, self-harm, child abuse
For “illicit affairs,” I would recommend Lovely War by Julie Berry. This is a historical fiction set in World War 1, following a group of four people who are brought together by music and love. Narrated by the Greek gods, this story is sure to transport you back to the past.
Here, I’d recommend Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. The vibes of the song and the book are completely different: The song is a slower, reflective track, and the book is weird science fiction. However, I think that the content matches. Middlegame is a novel about a duo, Roger and Dodger who are linked by special powers.
This song truly screams Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl is a thriller about Nick, and his wife Amy, who goes missing. I don’t think you should know anything else about the book beforehand; it will truly take you for the most wild ride.
Here, I’ll recommend Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This book starts off with the death of the daughter in a family, and leads readers down a path of uncovering all of the secrets of a “perfect” family.
TW: death, drowning, emotional abuse, sexism, sexual assault, violence, racism
For a book that gives you the same feeling as “peace,” I’d recommend Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. This story, at its heart, is one of friendship and acceptance, and will leave you feeling sad but comforted. Best part is that it centers around teens in high school who are making a podcast!
I would recommend Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust if you want similar vibes to “hoax.” This book is a retelling of some famous Persian myths and features some very interesting and compelling characters.
Both novels depict the life of someone famous who struggles under the limelight. Evelyn Hugo is a famous actress, and Daisy Jones is part of a sensational band. These character-driven stories will pull on your heartstrings in just the way that this entire album does.
If you take any of these recommendations, please let me know. Do you agree? Disagree? –Anika Fuloria ’21