Outside the Book Episode 3: Monsters Among Us
“Outside the Book” is a new monthly list that brings together materials from several areas of the library’s collections under the banner of an entertaining theme. Our themes may remind you of something you wanted to read, watch, listen to, or explore. Check back regularly for updates to our Outside the Book column to find new treasures!
The Theme for October’s Outside the Book is “Monsters Among Us.” When there are displays of spookiness all around, it is thrilling to contemplate the illusion that supernatural creatures roam the sidewalks and freeways of brightly-lit 20th century civilization. Or chilling to acknowledge the reality that human monsters actually do.
If you are looking for novels about spooky creatures alongside “normal” humans , there are lots of series to entertain you in the urban fantasy genre. Kelly Armstrong’s “Women of the Otherworld“ series includes werewolves, vampires and witches with a strong romantic element and lots of action. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files features an eponymous wizard in Chicago who investigates crimes involving demons, wicked faeries, and even stranger monsters.
In our mystery section, you can find Charlain Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, in which a Louisiana telepath dates vampires and solves mysteries, and also Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot, wherein a London police officer seeks the help of London’s river god’s to help quell a murdering ghost. The less fantastical Dexter series, by Jeff Lindsay, features a serial killer that only kills other serial killers.
Our non-fiction collection is a strong source of the spooky and spine-chilling. If you look around the Dewey number 364, you will find a rich collection of true crime, including The Devil in the White City, about one of the first human monsters to shock the American public, and Mafia: Inside the Dark Heart. Also, around Dewey 133 you will find lots of books about “real” hauntings, like Haunted Highways. Around Dewey 394, you will find books about folklore and holidays, including Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween), and Artful Halloween: 31 Frightfully Elegant Projects.
There are even literary monsters in our nonfiction collection. An example is Roseanne Montillo’s The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece. Just like Frankenstein’s monster itself, The Lady and… is made of a little bit of everything: romance, biography, true crime, and medical drama.
If you listen to books, you can find horror and urban fantasy classics by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ted Dekker, Neil Gaiman and many of the author’s listed above. In addition, we have a series of radio dramatizations titled Vincent Price Presents, which capitalizes on his eerie reputation.
In our DVD collections, you can find TV shows based on some of the series mentioned above: Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood), and Dexter. We also carry the original Dark Shadows, a soap opera starring the vampire Barnabas Collins, which may have been the first pop culture story to merge the supernatural with the matter-of-fact. The BBC show Being Human is the twenty first century successor of Dark Shadows, a show about a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf who walk into a bar… oops, I mean, end up as room mates.
Even our music collection can offer scary narrative, with the score of the musical Nightmare Before Christmas representing the monstrous side of things, and the score of the musical Sweeny Todd offering the maniacal side. Our music collection can also offer moody music for the spooky season, including soundtracks to monster-movies: Hellboy 2, The Last House on the Left, Pirates of the Caribbean, and perhaps the scariest music of all time, the movie Jaws, as well as a compilation of tracks from horror movie soundtracks titled Halloween.
In our graphic novel collection you can find the Hellboy series, and it’s spinoff B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), about a group of monstrous and psychic heroes who defend Earth from cosmic evil and cyborg Nazis. The Creepy Archives and Eerie Archives collect horror stories from comics anthologies of the 1960s.
That’s at least 26 monstrous hiding places to find fearful entertainment this Halloween season, and beyond.