If you were reading RobAroundBooks at any time during the month of October last year, then you may have noticed a distinctly creepy atmosphere around the place, as I joined Memory over at Stella Matutina, on her 31 Tales of Terror reading challenge, which saw participants reading a horror related short story every day throughout the month of October, in the run up to Halloween.
Unfortunately Memory has been too busy to organise a similar reading challenge for this year (boo hoo!), but because I enjoyed it so much the last time around, and because Memory has given her blessing, I’m going to take on the challenge myself (and so I’m not totally stealing Memory’s idea I’m using a different name for it – 31 Shots of Shock; a homage to my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge).
I’ve already spoken about doing this short story reading challenge in a recent Daily Bookshot, featuring Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters (Canongate). I’m adding the nine stories found in that collection to the list of 31 I want to read, but I still have space for 22 other stories. Some story slots I’ve reserved already (including three for stories that were recommended to me a few weeks ago, although I’m still trying to source them – more on that later), but I wanted to pass over to the collective mind of my wonderful readers, so that I could harvest suggestions on favourite horror shorts, so that I may add them to the challenge list and read them.
Before you do offer up any suggestions though, I’ve a couple of points to make. Firstly I’m already doing an Edgar Allan Poe reading challenge (iPoe) so I don’t need any Poe story suggestions. Secondly, I obviously don’t want to reread any of the 31 horror shorts I read last year, so I’m listing these below (together with links to my review of each story, which in turn links to an online version of the story – so you can enjoy them yourself if you wish), so that you know I’ve already read them:
- Telling Winter Stories by Charles Dickens
- Sredni Vashtar by Saki
- Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
- The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
- The Whisperers by Algernon Blackwood
- The Silver Mirror by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
- The Mystery of My Grandmother’s Hair Sofa by John Kendrick Bangs
- Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad by M. R. James
- The Secret of Macarger’s Gulch by Ambrose Bierce
- Protection by Valery Brussof
- The Curse of the Fires and of the Shadows by W. B. Yeats
- The Ebony Frame by E. Nesbit
- The Striding-Place by Gertrude Atherton
- Earl Beardie’s Game At Cards by Anonymous
- The Dead Woman’s Photograph by Anonymous
- A School Story by M. R. James
- In Kropsberg Keep by Ralf A. Cram
- In the Confessional by Amelia B. Edwards
- Ghosts that Have Haunted Me by John Kendrick Bangs
- A Ghost Story by Mark Twain
- Glámr by Sabine Baring-Gould
- The Dampmere Mystery by John Kendrick Bangs
- An Inhabitant of Carcosa by Ambrose Bierce
- The Ghost in All the Rooms by Daniel Defoe
- The Shadow of a Midnight by Maurice Baring
- The Mystery of the Semi-Detached by E. Nesbit
- How He Left the Hotel by Louisa Baldwin
- The Bully of Brocas Court by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
As you can probably tell Memory’s story preference was for Victorian/Edwardian Gothic :), and I’ve got to say that that’s my preference too. However, I’m not against ‘tale of terrors’ from any period of time, so don’t think I’m only looking for vintage horror short story suggestions.
A couple of other things. Firstly I’m not sure if I should publicly open up this reading challenge like Memory did last year. If I do then there’s a problem with the nine shorts I’ve added from the Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters, because not everyone has this book, and I’m sure the stories won’t be easily sourced online. For these nine however, I could suggest online alternatives, so there’s a workable way around the problem if need be. I guess it all comes down to interest. So if I get enough of interest then I certainly will open up this reading challenge publicly, and also root around for a few giveaways for the most active participants.
Secondly, and most importantly (for me), back to those three stories that I’m having a problem sourcing. They were recommended a few weeks ago by a student doing a research paper on Blackwood’s Magazine (how cool is that), but I’ve never heard from her again and can’t find the stories anywhere. So any help in finding any of the following would be very much appreciated:
- The Executioner by William Godwin Jr.
- The Man in the Bell by William Maginn
- The Spectre-Smitten by Samuel Warren
So there we have it. My 31 Shots of Shock reading challenge announced, and your assistance in selecting stories canvassed for. That was the main aim of this post but please do let me know if 31 Shots of Shock (reading one short story every day throughout October) is something you may be interested in ‘signing up’ for.
Now get those short stories suggested good people. I’m beside myself with excitement here 🙂