A Scary Good Author You Need to Read…

Horror author Laird Barron (Illustration by Dalton Rose for "Slate.")
Horror author Laird Barron (Illustration by Dalton Rose for Slate.)

With Halloween lurking right around the darkened corner, now is a frighteningly good time to talk about authors who will scare you right out of your reading glasses.  We know you know about horror heavy hitters like Peter Straub, Stephen King, and Ramsey Campbell, but how about Laird Barron?  Already a favorite among horror and dark fantasy aficionados, Barron mixes cosmic horror, supernatural noir, and the occult into terrifying tales that should be topping your Halloween reading list.  Strikingly original and expertly crafted, his novels and story collections have already won three Shirley Jackson Awards, received multiple Bram Stoker and Locus nominations, and been favorably compared to the work of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.  So if you’re in the mood for a good scare, try to be brave and check out one of the following Laird Barron books.  They’re guaranteed to give you the creeps if you give them the chance.  Happy Halloween!

swift-to-chaseSwift to Chase

Barron’s latest story collection was declared an “instant classic” by author John Langan and is sure to make Barron a household name in horror.  Combining “psychological horror, slasher fiction, and earthy weirdness,” these 12 spine-tingling stories are set in far-future dystopias and a hellish Alaskan wilderness where a cyborg war dog, a modern day Jack the Ripper, and a psycho sorority girl all roam wild.  The first book in a planned “Alaska” cycle, this collection is a nightmarish must read.

 

the-beautiful-thing-that-awaits-us-allThe Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us and Other Stories

This cosmic horror gem is the final book of a “loose trilogy” that includes the award-winning story collections The Imago Sequence and Occultation.  Featuring eight interlinking tales and the World Fantasy Award nominated novella Hand of Glory, these chilling stories are so well crafted author Kelly Link insists you’ll forgive Barron for the sleepless nights they cause.

 

 

the-croningThe Croning

Barron’s debut novel tells the story of 80-year-old Donald Miller, a geologist whose sanity is tested as he unearths dark secrets about his wife and their adult twins.  Filled with black magic, weird cults, and unspeakable things looming in the shadows, Barron’s book is a “disturbing imagining of a modern day Rumpelstiltskin” that is by turns touching and terrifying.

 

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An Irish Author You Need to Read…

barry
Award-winning author Kevin Barry

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and the perfect time to talk a wee bit about Irish authors.  We know you know about the heavy hitters like James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, and you couldn’t miss the Irish-influence at this year’s Oscars:  Emma Donoghue’s Room and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn both inspired Best Picture nominees.  But how about Kevin Barry?  If this Irish lit phenom’s books aren’t yet topping your reading list, there’s little doubt they soon will be.  Celebrated for their dazzling language and endless originality, his novels and story collections have already won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Goldsmiths Prize, and the International Dublin Literary Award with author Irvine Welsh calling Barry’s debut The City of Bohane “the best novel to come out of Ireland since Ulysses.”  So as you celebrate all things Irish today, don’t forget to check out a book by Kevin Barry.  You can read more about them below, and don’t miss the great clip of Barry reading “Apparitions” – his witty tale about the ghosts of Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, and William Butler Yeats haunting the streets of modern Dublin.  Enjoy!

Continue reading “An Irish Author You Need to Read…”

A Post-‘Downton Abbey’ Survival Kit

downton 4

The final episode of Downton Abbey aired this past Sunday evening, and now that we’ve reached Day 3 in this strange, post-Downton world, it’s likely that even casual fans have started suffering symptoms of withdrawal.  Do not panic, dear Downton lovers.  You see, we’ve assembled a Post-Downton Abbey Survival Kit featuring Downton-related documentaries, BBC shows, books, cast updates, humor, and much more.  It is the next best thing to a seventh season and specially designed to ease you through this difficult time.  So please try to keep calm, friends, and carry on knowing that Off the Shelf is here for you.

Downton-Like DVDs

If you’ve already binged Upstairs Downstairs and worn out your copy of Gosford Park, don’t hesitate to give these series a try:

the pallisersThe Pallisers

Set in the palatial country houses and grand Mayfair salons of mid-Victorian England, this captivating BBC saga of wealth, passion, and power follows an aristocratic family through three generations and begins when Lady Glencora is forced to marry a rising politician named Palliser.  Based the celebrated novels of Anthony Trollope.

 

paradiseThe Paradise

Instead of an estate, this Victorian romance from the BBC is set in Britain’s first department store.  Telling the rags-to-riches story of shop girl Denise, the series is filled with great characters, intrigue, affairs, and a realistic look at Britain’s class system.

 

 

secrets of highclere castleSecrets of Highclere Castle

Famous today as the setting of Downton, England’s 1,300-year-old Highclere Castle has its own stories to tell.  This riveting documentary shows how both the aristocrats and the army of servants lived when the castle was the social epicenter of Edwardian England.  Also see how the current owners – Lord and Lady Carnarvon – live today.

 

Also try these DVDs…

 

Continue reading “A Post-‘Downton Abbey’ Survival Kit”

Happy National Grammar Day!

You’ve had your decorations up for weeks, and now the big day is finally here.  That’s right, it’s National Grammar Day, and tonight spell checkers and proofreaders from coast to coast will be celebrating into the wee hours.  In honor of this momentous day, we asked a few EPL regulars the following:

What is your biggest grammar pet peeve?

Linda“In our house, we’re constantly hearing ‘me and so-and-so’ instead of ‘so-and-so and I.’  We’re always correcting each other.”

— Kathy Henke, a 13-year Evanston resident and mother of 3

 

 

Marney“When someone uses mixed verb tenses in a sentence.”

— Marley Haller, an NU grad living in Evanston since 2003

 

 

Volunteer“Prepositions at the end of a sentence!  Also, saying ‘me and him went to…’  Eek!  That’s like nails on a blackboard for me.”

— Sheila McGuire, an EPL volunteer and 15-year Evanston resident

 

 

If you’re making National Grammar Day resolutions, try the following books to help you reach your goals, but for now… let the festivities begin!

Continue reading “Happy National Grammar Day!”

Andrew Carnegie Medals announced!

Each year the American Library Association awards one work of fiction and one work of nonfiction an Andrew Carnegie Medal. This year the longlists of both categories have been announced. Where are your gaps? Want to fill them? Then just click on the titles below and reserve your copies with EPL today! Continue reading “Andrew Carnegie Medals announced!”

National Book Award 2015 Nominees: Fiction

The longlist for the 2015 National Book Award nominees was released today and though there were a lot of familiar faces to be found (Clegg, Pearlman, Hanagihara) we were happy to see some surprises as well.  Who could have predicted the appearance of Karen E. Bender’s Refund?  Or the inclusion of Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson?  Haven’t read them?  Well here’s your chance.  Reserve your own copies by clicking on the links and covers below: Continue reading “National Book Award 2015 Nominees: Fiction”

National Book Award 2015 Nominees: Non-Fiction

I don’t think anyone was too surprised to see Ta-Nehisi Coates’s massive breakaway hit Between the World and Me appear on this year’s longlist of nonfiction National Book Award nominees.  There were some pleasant surprises, however.  Sy Montgomery, long known for her children’s nonfiction titles, did well with her recent The Soul of an Octopus (which is NOT for kids).  Meanwhile Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still made an appearance as well.  Have  you read all the nominees?  Click on the titles below to reserve your copies from the EPL system: Continue reading “National Book Award 2015 Nominees: Non-Fiction”

National Book Award 2015 Nominees: Poetry

Day Two of the ever-so-slowly released National Book Award nominee longlists.  Poetry got real play today with titles well known and appreciated, titles forthcoming and appealing, and titles obscure and alluring.  How many have you read?  Here are the books.  Be sure to follow the links to reserve them in the EPL system: Continue reading “National Book Award 2015 Nominees: Poetry”

Football Season Starts So Pick Up Some Pigskin Related Reading

That smell in the air?  It’s the scent of footballs whizzing through the air at a rapid rate.  It may still be warm outside but football season is fast upon us.  And what better way to celebrate than reading the latest gridiron-related publications out this year?  Here are the latest books on our shelves, ready for you to punt over the circulation desk and into your home:

Continue reading “Football Season Starts So Pick Up Some Pigskin Related Reading”

The More the Scarier

Boo!

Okay, okay, we get the picture.  Vampires and zombies… they’re pretty scary.  What with their blood sucking and flesh feasting, glamoring and lurching, death defying and multiplying it’s really no wonder they’ve cornered the market in creepy.  But if variety is truly the spice of the afterlife, at this point you’re likely dying for something new on your Halloween reading list.  So to help you diversify your diet of literary horror, we’re featuring all those terrifying ghosts and ghouls left lurking in the shadows while the vampires and zombies hog the limelight.  We’ve got witches, and we’ve got ghosts.  We’ve got killer clowns, shape-shifting crows, and even… could it be…  Satan!  So lock your doors, turn on the lights, and try to be brave.  These bloodcurdling books are chomping for a chance to scare you sideways: Continue reading “The More the Scarier”