Summer Scares Reading Program
The Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and BookList, has launched a reading program that provides libraries and schools with an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult (teen), and middle grade readers. The goal is to introduce new authors and help librarians start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.
Each year, a special guest author and a committee of four librarians will select 3 recommended fiction titles in each of 3 reading levels (Middle Grade, Teen, and Adult), for a total of 9 Summer Scares selections. The goal of the program is to encourage a national conversation about the entire horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries all over the country and ultimately get more adults, teens, and children interested in reading. Official Summer Scares designated authors will also be available to appear, either virtually or in person, at public and school libraries all over the country, for free.
The committee’s final selections will be announced on February 14— National Library Lover’s Day. Some or all of the authors of those titles will appear on kickoff panels during Librarian’s Day at StokerCon each year.
In addition, the committee and its partners will be publishing lists of even more suggested titles (read alikes) for further horror reading, content by committee members about the genre, and interviews with the selected authors. Official Summer Scares podcasting partner, Ladies of the Fright Podcast, will also be recording episodes in conjunction with Summer Scares.
Forget Halloween — summer is the best time for horror. Michael’s hanging with the vampires down at the Santa Carla boardwalk in The Lost Boys. Sally and Franklin head out in a hotbox of a van during the dog days of summer to make sure no one’s vandalizing grandpa’s grave and run into Leatherface and his family in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And summer is when counselors start clean out the cabins at Camp Crystal Lake.
And then there’s the most horrific summer menace of all: the required reading list.
The Horror Writer’s Association thought the best way to alleviate the actual torture of the summer reading list was by offering readers a bunch of books that contain fictional torture. Our alternate summer reading list contains the best and the brightest (or, maybe, the worst and the darkest) horror novels out there. After all, if you’re taking a book to the beach, why not make it Jaws? If you’re grabbing something to take with you to that vacation rental, why not a book that points out that the house you snagged for a bargain is haunted?
But why read horror at all? Isn’t it all just blood and gore and one tired old scare scene after another? It certainly was when horror literature imploded in the early 1990’s. Coming off a serial killer boom, thanks to the success of Silence of the Lambs, horror’s publishing bubble exploded thanks to the overproduction of too many gruesome serial killer novels that trafficked in gory atrocities, leaving readers with the impression that horror was basically torture porn for boys. But before that brief boom, horror was rich with female writers like Ann Radcliffe, Shirley Jackson, Bari Wood, Vernon Lee, Anne Rice, and dozens of others who were some of the biggest authors of their day, and who got written out of the historical narrative.
After the horror boom died in the early 90’s, the common wisdom says the genre stayed dormant for a decade, but actually the 90’s was when horror became the province of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and The X-Files which taught an entire generation of fans that horror didn’t have to only be scary, it could be funny, it could be romantic, it could be complicated, and it had room for women.
The generation who are writing books now are bringing a breath of fresh air to a revitalized genre. Along with the effort to bring back into print some of the best horror writers of the past, many of them women, contemporary horror fiction is more varied, more fascinating, more surprising, and more diverse than ever before. But with so many ways to die, so many monsters to eat us, and so many new flavors of fear to be explored, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s where the HWA steps in, and from now until the sun explodes some time in the future and we all die screaming, allow us to be your horror sherpas guiding you down these dark stairs, into this underground crypt, down these winding tunnels lit only by a single flickering flame. Don’t be afraid. We have such sights to show you.
–Grady Hendrix, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Paperbacks from Hell
For 2021, the committee will comprise:
For more information, contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Committee Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Becky Spratford, HWA Secretary (email@example.com)