Not spooky at all

I really don’t like Halloween, for quite a few reasons. I don’t like the whole celebration-of-evil root that the day has [I think I may be wrong about this part – see Hayley’s useful comment!], and I don’t like the idea that children should be able to demand goods with menaces in people’s homes. I don’t like the fact that many old or vulnerable people will probably spend their evenings scared in their homes. I don’t like that vicarages get targeted by egg-throwing youths. (‘Pranks’ in general seem pretty unkind to me.) Most of all, I don’t like that the creatures I’m scared of are put in decorations all over town.

SO, enough curmudgeonliness from me. I want to ask for your anti-Halloween book recommendations. Nothing scary, nothing murdery, nothing set in October. Basically, the kindest, nicest, funniest, loveliest book you can think of… any ideas?

(At the moment I’m re-reading Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns, which I love, but which doesn’t quite fit that bill.)

23 thoughts on “Not spooky at all

  • October 31, 2014 at 12:39 am
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    I know you've read it already, but I'll say Our Hearts Were Young & Gay. I've been exploring Emily Kimbrough's other books, and I ended up reading parts of this one again – such a delight.

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  • October 31, 2014 at 4:10 am
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  • October 31, 2014 at 7:54 am
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    PG Wodehouse is the antidote to pretty well all scariness – or you could try the Sebastian Faulks' 'Jeeves and the Wedding Bells' for a jolly read… from behind the sofa?

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  • October 31, 2014 at 9:23 am
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    OVW's suggestion of PGW is an excellent one. (I happened to hear Martin Jarvis reading a Wodehouse story on the radio the other day, and it was 'just' perfection!)

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  • October 31, 2014 at 10:42 am
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    You're wildly misinformed — Halloween is not a celebration of evil, but a pagan new year festival that honours the dead. I'm no fan of trick or treating either, but it has nothing to do with Halloween's origins and is a symptom of its corruption and commercialisation.

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    • October 31, 2014 at 10:59 am
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      Thanks Hayley, I will investigate more. I don't know why that idea was in my head.

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    • October 31, 2014 at 5:05 pm
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      Check out Selena Fox's site and Covenant if the Goddess for info. Do NOT use Wikipedia

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  • October 31, 2014 at 11:23 am
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    I agree with the PGW recommendation, and add Alexander McCall-Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. They are perhaps not the funniest, but qualify under nicest and kindest. And Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent, which is kindly for the most part, and after numerous rereadings still makes me weep with laughter.

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  • October 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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    Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico. No pranks just warm fuzzy feeling at the end.

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  • October 31, 2014 at 3:33 pm
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    I love Halloween! Sorry, but I do! I have such lovely memories of trick-or-treating in our little town in rural Canada in the '70s. Maybe it's different now or different in the UK, but it was all about community and every house in town would welcome children in and give us sweets and home-made treats. And far from celebrating evil, my costumes were generally of the cat variety.

    My book choice for you is Alison Uttley's 'The Country Child'. I know it's mainly a children's book but it's absolutely magical and lovely!

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  • October 31, 2014 at 5:01 pm
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    Simon dear one, I don't hate Samhein, the forerunner of Halloween. It's the autumnal celebration of the thinning of the worlds, a day when pagans celebrate those who have passed.

    I DO hate that is now the fourth greediest "Hallmark Holiday" in the world, where greedy little and big kids expect the sugar high that comes from overdoses of candy c**p, where the idea that Greed is Good rules, and where non candy gifts get chucked into the street.

    And, it might be strange but I hate not giving pennies for UNICEF. That was a bigger part of trick or treating than the candy. Now, we pull the blinds, turn off the lights, and pray the clients at the bar up the street don't use the side of our house as a WC.

    That, and the "zombification"of America really creep me out

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  • October 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm
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    Camilla by Frances Burney
    Persuasion by Jane Austen
    Girl reading by Katie Ward

    Have a peaceful evening…

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  • October 31, 2014 at 7:12 pm
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    You might like Rumer Godden's "Thus Far and No Further." It's a fictionalization of her own time early in WWII when she and her children went to live on an isolated tea plantation. She moves from a frantic life to a much slower paced world. It always calms me to read it.
    Also, a favorite D.E. Stevenson is "The Green Money." It is lighthearted and funny and delightful.
    Another possibility is Ann Tyler's "Saint Maybe," in which the protagonist finds help in the storefront "Church of the Second Chance."
    I'd be careful with the Saki stories recommended earlier. I love them and many are delightfully lighthearted and funny. But a few of them are distinctly creepy — like 'Gabriel-Ernest.'
    Good luck,
    Mary Grover

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  • October 31, 2014 at 8:57 pm
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    I'm not keen on it either! For all the reasons you say – though I have to say our local kids are very polite (lots of thank yous from tiny witches this evening) and only knock on doors with pumpkins outside. No pumpkin and they leave you alone.

    I'd recommend retreating under your duvet with a Georgette Heyer. I also take a large bar of fruit and nut!

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  • October 31, 2014 at 9:20 pm
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    Jane B

    Absolutely the easiest book recommendation I've ever been asked to suggest…

    The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery.

    I defy anyone not to fall in love with Barney Snape. This is a gorgeous, beautiful, waspishly written modern fairy tale.

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  • October 31, 2014 at 9:21 pm
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    I don't like what it has become, it is All Souls followed by All Saints tomorrow in the Christian calendar, I'm sure you know that. Like Mothering Sunday it has been commercialised and ruined, turned into another spending orgy….whew, I am cross! When we lived in London, my youngest son was returning home with a friend when he was 'trick or treated' in the street, he had nothing to give them and these children squirted and aerosol of something nasty into his face…so much for fun!! I think some Elizabeth Gouge might help, I don't know what you think of her books. They can be a bit whimsical but are a gentle antidote. Maybe do a bit of baking to calm the nerves.

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  • October 31, 2014 at 9:26 pm
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    I loved Saint Maybe, so I'm seconding that recommendation. I'll mention Diary of a Provincial Lady, which is where I rush when in need of all things comfort, though I know you're a fan already. Otherwise Elizabeth von Armin in her German Garden, Angela Carter's Wise Children and The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice. Pretty sure you'll know them all though!

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  • November 3, 2014 at 9:50 pm
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    Another vote for Elizabeth Goudge! Long ago I sent you The Dean's Watch. Those are wonderful books, substantive but also beautiful.

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  • November 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm
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    Cluny Brown, by Margery Sharp; her Gipsy in the Parlour I also enjoyed; and her Miss Bianca books for children, The Rescuers, Miss Bianca, the Turret. Thank you for the Bake Off coverage!

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  • November 20, 2014 at 10:22 pm
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    It's far too late for this year, but next year try Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor, a sweet little picture book. And hearty congratulations on your birthday and your multiple degrees!

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