The spooky season is officially upon us. If you’re looking for reading recommendations to get you in the mood, we’ve compiled some of our favorite Longreads pieces below. Consider Lesley Finn’s “Final Girl, Terrible Place,” a sharp essay on horror films, the male gaze on the female body, and the American patriarchy. Dive into Jeanna Kadlec’s commentary on the witch/mother archetype in the Maleficent films, which is part of her Deconstructing Disney series. Or try “The Corpse Rider,” Colin Dickey’s piece about Lafcadio Hearn, the famous chronicler of Japanese culture, including its ghost stories and folk tales.
We’ve also gathered editors’ picks we’ve highlighted over the past few years about haunted houses, the ghosts of history and in our own lives, famous fictional monsters, and other monsters and figures of evil on our screens—and in our bedrooms.
Longreads essays and reading lists
I was expecting a handy theory. What I found was a way of seeing that would help me decode a script I’d been stuck in for much of my life.
Witches we need you. Now more than ever. In the time of COVID-19 we can find respite in place-based reverence, plant magic and the divine feminine. So writes Lisa Richardson, who came to witchiness with nothing but white hetero straight-lacedness and a crush on a yoga teacher.
Tales of odd phenomena stoke our imagination even as they tease us.
Last week, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, was released on Disney+. Jeanna Kadlec takes this opportunity to explore how Disney has dealt with their most powerful of witches.
Horror movies give more screen time to strong female characters and attract a large female audience. But few female filmmakers get to work on them.
Doree Shafrir reflects on how Halloween changed for her after struggling with infertility.
“I could see the ghosts,” recalled Lafcadio Hearn about his early childhood. Late in life, he became a celebrated chronicler of Japan’s folk tales: stories of strange demons and lingering visitations.
What can haunted houses and their history tell us about American history and culture? Writer Colin Dickey sets out across America to investigate America’s haunted spaces in order to uncover what their ghost stories say about who we were, are, and will be.
Editors’ picks across the web
“Looking for demons in a disenchanted world.”
“We were all there to see ghosts; we were all, I suppose, future ghosts.”
“As climate change threatens to upend the icy kingdom, we’re writing ghost stories in real time.”
“I didn’t know how to write about my sister’s death—so I had AI do it for me.”
“A disappearance in Arkansas.”
“During a childhood spent in the famed Chelsea Hotel, Amanda Chemeche learned about life, loss, and the power of art.”
“Twenty years on, the author reflects on being trapped in a vortex of dark energy.”
“On the hunt with TikTok star Brittany Broski and her mother Heather Long, lead investigator of the Texas Ghost Gals.”
“A humble Scotsman saw something strange in the water — and daringly set out to catch it — only to have lecherous out-of-towners steal his fame and upend his quest.”
“It is hard, in the era of the AR-15, to fear a vampire.”
“Is a witch-based tourism economy the best way to honor the legacy of executed individuals who weren’t even witches in the first place? Or is continuing to transform the town into the epicenter of modern-day witchcraft actually the perfect way to right the wrongs of the past?”
“An upended fairy tale.”
“I think of all the hurts she can never outlive — the ghosts that can never be satisfied, no matter how much of herself she feeds to them.”
“A classic ghost story has something to say about America—200 years ago, 100 years ago, and today.”
“In tribal communities across Namibia, older, eccentric people are often accused of witchcraft and violently attacked.”