R.L. Stine has been scaring people all over the world for decades. To date, he’s sold more than 400 million books and they’ve been translated into 35 languages, making him one of the bestselling authors in history.
No wonder nearly 1,000 people recently stood in line for up to six hours (starting at 5 am) to meet him in his hometown of Bexley, Ohio. Stine came to Central Ohio, hosted by Gramercy Books, as part of his book tour for his four latest scary books (two Stinetinglers volumes, Goosebumps House of Shivers, and Slime Doesn’t Pay). Fans were from two generations of Goosebumpsreaders. They came from West Virginia, Kentucky, and all over the state of Ohio. They wore Goosebumps T-shirts, carried Goosebumps purses, and dressed like Slappy the Dummy. They told Stine he changed their lives—he got them to read, after all. Some said they now write horror stories because of his inspiration. Several gave him presents—drawings, writings, even a ghost doll. Everyone wanted a photo; some asked permission to shake his hand.
I, too, am on a book tour for my third novel, Bessie, a reimagining of 1945 Miss America winner Bess Myerson at a precarious cultural moment in our history. While I don’t draw thousands or even hundreds, and people don’t travel from afar or stand in line to see me, the feedback has been very positive. I’ve signed a lot of books (not as many as Stine!) at events in Columbus, Cleveland, and Detroit, with more ahead in New York, Pittsburgh, Toledo, and Boca Raton. As a bookseller and as an author on tour, it is evident that lots of folks are reading and there is a wide appetite of tastes in terms of what books readers find appealing.
So let me offer you a sampling of book recommendations from what I’ve read recently. As a writer, I try to read broadly, so below I include a fantasy, a thriller, a memoir-like novel, and a work of literary fiction.
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab is really a story about a ghost, a very human ghost. Addie (Adeline) LaRue was born in France at the very end of the 17th century — but thanks to the deal she made (with a devil she comes to call Luc) to escape an unwanted marriage and an ordinary life, she trades her soul for immortality. Over three hundred years, we journey with Addie as she realizes too late that the price of her freedom is her legacy — for she is doomed to be instantly forgotten by everyone she meets.
- Small Mercies, a literary thriller by Dennis Lehane, takes place in the tumultuous months after a June 1974 order to integrate the Boston City Schools through busing. When two of the city’s poorest neighborhoods—all-white South Boston and mostly Black Roxbury—were chosen, protest broke out in South Boston where parents mobilized against the policy, vowing not to send their children to school in September. Lehane reveals how hatred and racism is passed from generation to generation. (This is one of R.L. Stine's recent favorites!)
- The Postcard is a powerful and deeply moving account of a Jewish family, the author Anne Berest’s family, almost completely wiped out at Auschwitz in 1942. The four names on the postcard that unexpectantly arrives in 2003 lists four names: Ephraim, Emma, Noemie, Jacques. Told as an unfolding mystery about these four people, The Postcard is a story about survivorship, about mothers and daughters, about reconnecting to one’s faith, and about secrets.
- Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake is a novel about family, love, memory, and fate. In the spring of 2020, Lara Nelson is sheltering in place on the family’s orchard in northern Michigan with her husband, Joe, and their three twentysomething daughters, Emily, Maisie, and Nell. Harvesters are scarce and while the women are picking cherries, the daughters beg their mother to tell them about her brief career as an actor and particularly about her time in the 1980s spent as part of a summer theatre troupe in a rural Michigan town called Tom Lake where she shared the stage and was romantically involved with an actor named Peter Duke who later became famous. The group is putting on a production of “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder and that dramatic work becomes this novel’s soul, as it is a tale about life, death, and destiny.
Whether your October is cozy, scary, or anything in between, we’ve got the book for you!
Written by Linda Kass
About the author: I began my career as a magazine writer and correspondent for regional and national publications and am now an assistant editor for Narrative, an online literary magazine. My debut novel, Tasa’s Song, was inspired by my mother’s early life in eastern Poland during the Second World War. My second historical novel, A Ritchie Boy, was inspired by my immigrant father's role as a military intelligence office in World War II. My third novel, Bessie, a fictional portrait of Bess Myerson's early life, was released in September of 2023. I am also the proud owner of Gramercy Books, serving all of central Ohio!
Learn more about me on my personal website.