|From The Cinematic Katzenjammer|
Halloween is on a weeknight this year, which seriously limits the amount of time most people can spend celebrating this haunted holiday. Those with children will probably be sending the little ones out for trick-or-treating, and a spooky supper may be served, but otherwise most will not be partying in a big way. Many will probably watch a scary movie or two and then call it a night. I would like to suggest a once popular pastime that few rarely consider any more, which is reading a good story aloud. This is assuming you have an appreciative audience -- if not, simply cozy up in your favorite spot and settle in for a satisfying spell of solitary reading!
One suggestion for an aptly titled selection is The Haunted House (1859) by Charles Dickens (and others). This work is a collection of stories, each chapter being written by a different author. Dickens supplied the first, sixth, and last chapters, while the remaining five were supplied by various authors of the time. Two of the authors, Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell, are known to me, but I am unfamiliar with the other three (Hesba Stretton, George Augustus Sala, and Adelaide Anne Procter). Despite the book title, the stories in this collection are not at all scary, even though ghosts are the theme. They range from the melancholy, to the romantic, and even to the slightly comical, so you can choose the best one for your particular audience. The book is beautifully presented online by eBooks@Adelaide. View their version here (be sure to check out the rest of their offerings as well). Below is a list of the chapters from this site, with a link to each story:
1) The Mortals in the House (Charles Dickens)
2) The Ghost in the Clock Room (Hesba Stretton)
3) The Ghost in the Double Room (George Augustus Stretton)
4) The Ghost in the Picture Room (Adelaide Anne Procter)
5) The Ghost in the Cupboard Room (Wilkie Collins)
6) The Ghost in Master B.'s Room (Charles Dickens)
7) The Ghost in the Garden Room (Elizabeth Gaskell)
8) The Ghost in the Corner Room (Charles Dickens)
Savor these stories slowly by reading just one a night, or enjoy a feast of satisfying tales by reading them all at once. I say we need to bring back the lost art of reading aloud, and All Hallow's Eve night is a great time to start!