I lurve me some Halloween. I’m not big on the grody stuff, like vampires and tombstones. What I love is dressing up, the fall weather, carving pumpkins, caramel apples, candles flickering, and neighborhood kids running around in the night. What I also love is re-reading Harry Potter.
There are two series of books I try to re-read every year. Both of them I enjoy immensely for their ability to take me on a vacay of the mind. I also learn from them. From Harry, I learn lots about plotting, suspense, carrying a plot point through, staying consistent with character, and, dang it, hooking readers. These are not my natural strong points. I am more of, how do you say it nicely?, a lyrical writer. So, while my GoodReads Reading Challenge 2014 and my TBR sit idle, I have lost myself, once again, in Hogwarts.
Here are other things I love about Halloween time (which, let’s face it, is the whole month of October):
- our Halloween buffet, which in the past has revolved around chili, mummies in a blanket, or a giant bratwurst sub, but always includes some Butterbeer and bone cookies.
- October snacking, like caramel apples, sugar-cinnamon donuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, caramel corn, mulled cider, monster mouths, and pumpkin chip cookies. Not to mention all the other Oktoberfest eating, like roasted chicken, kraut, schnitzel, pretzels, and spaetzel. And fancy beer and imported mustard.
- cider mills. Oh yeah, they don’t have those properly in the South. Ah well, there is a fairly Northernesque one in Ramseur, NC. As for the northerners out there, I know you love you some hayride, some cold, fresh-pressed cider, hot donuts, long lines, and swarms of bees.
- bonfires. I have such fond memories of late nights huddled around bonfires against the encroaching freeze. Love the way the cold makes the nights clearer. Love the smell of burning wood and the jump of the flames.
- fall camping and hiking. Where’s the kill-joy who doesn’t like the explosion of colors the fall brings to nature? Or the pure scent of it?
- family costumes. I know it won’t last forever, but our kids are still in a stage where they let us plan our costume together. Starting with, appropriately, Harry Potter (Harry, Hermione, Head Boy, and Head Girl), we have been through Word Girl (Word Girl, Captain Huggy Face, Lady Redundant Woman, Doctor Two Brains), DC Comics (Bat Man, Bat Girl, Cat Woman, and Robin), and Scooby Doo (Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy). This year… Phineas and Ferb (and Candace and Isabella)!
- decorating and carving pumpkins, and filling the house with candles. I’m always waiting for the next excuse to string some lights and break out the appropriately-scented candles.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (movie). Perfect for the day after Halloween, sandwiched right between the holidays that it features. It might even get you in the mood for Christmas. Not really recommended for small kids, but I really enjoy Tim Burton’s endless imagination and slightly creepy vibe. You could also go with Coraline or The Corpse Bride.
- Cloverfield (movie). You want a real scary movie? I don’t do them. But between M. Night Shyamalan and J.J. Abrams, I can get the willies without them. (Extend to The Sixth Sense, Super 8, Unbreakable, and Signs.)
- Frankenstein (book). Classic. Not the movie, the book. Reading this for the first time as an adult, I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s a quick read for the time period, and it’s pretty darn meaningful besides.
- The Ghost Eye Tree (book). That would be for the kids. It’s a picture book. Extend to almost anything Chris Van Allsburg.
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. For all of us. This is one of my favorites, probably because of the nostalgia, but that’s how the world turns, right?
- The Witches (book). Roald Dahl. I know I said I didn’t do witches, but I am a Dahl fan. Too scary for my fantasy-oriented kids. Extend to other Dahl books and some movie adaptations.
- Donnie Darko (movie). Creepy AND about Halloween. And about time travel. And starring the Gyllenhaals. How can you go wrong?
- Hotel Transylvania. As much as Vlad the Impaler is no joking matter, this movie is. It’s cute and entertaining and funny. Adam Sandler voices.
- Since Halloween music is sort of thin pickings, we like to blast A.N.T. Farm’s “Calling All the Monsters” several times each season. As for “Thriller”… you had me up to the goofy laughing at the end.
- and of course, Harry Potter and... (book series, although the movies will do in a pinch). True, Harry takes place year-round, for seven years. Even so, those wizards sure know how to throw a Halloween Bash (or a Deathday Party, either one). In fact, Harry Potter parties make great Halloween theme parties.
So here’s your cue to do one of two things: one, grab a very Octobery book from the library or bookstore and snuggle up tonight with some steaming cider and a few knobbly, green candles. Or two, grab a book you loved before and read it again. No shame! A re-read is a difference experience, anyway, and life’s too short not to wallow in the things you know you enjoy.
And if you have any new Halloween book ideas, throw them my way.