Why do we like to be scared? – the psychology of horror

As Halloween quickly approaches, I find myself dipping deeper into the pool of horror films, books and media that always seems to be present, any time of year you go looking for them. I didn’t come to love horror organically, as an over anxious child and teen I was somehow drawn to true crime documentaries, sneaking peeks at the coverage of the OJ Simpson trial, and staying up late to watch E! “Murders of Hollywood”. My first experience with horror movies was staying up in my friends living room, her German Shepard was half blocking my view of The Ring on VHS, which was particularly ironic. So why do we seek out things that scare us, instead of those that comfort us?

The easy answer is : We like to be safe. If we expose ourselves to things that scare us in a safe environment, it’s like going on a roller coaster. Your endorphins spike, your heart rate races, but in two minutes it’s over, you’re back on solid ground. I’d rather know how horrible the world can be so I can prepared for what actually goes bump in the night.

The Horror of It All is a memoir from the front lines of the industry that dissects the hugely popular genre of scary movies.

Horror movies and novels are much the same. People chose entertainment because they want to be affected. You choose a romance novel because you want to feel the giddy rush of love, you choose action because you want to feel excitement. Horror is another sensation driven genre. You want to experience the rush with none of the consequences of the situation, which lets you enjoy the sensation and adrenaline spike. Quoted from a 2004 paper in the Journal of Medical Psychology by Dr. Glen Walters “the three primary factors that make horror films alluring are tension (generated by suspense, mystery, terror, shock, and gore), relevance (that may relate to personal relevance, cultural meaningfulness, the fear of death, etc.), and (somewhat paradoxically given the second factor) unreal-ism.”(Walters, 2004)

So if you’re like me and looking for a thrill (while at the same time being wrapped up in a blanket fort for safety) then you’ve come to the right place for some recommendations. All of the things I recommend are available for checkout at the Cheshire Public Library, so let’s tuck in to my favorite genre:

hereditary_xlg.jpgHereditary  – When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited. Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage gone to hell.

This movie is fantastic, Ari Aster is a master of portraying agony in a way I haven’t seen in any other movie thus far. His characters experience the broadest range of emotion, and each scene is raw and beautifully acted. It’s really a treat to watch, both for the performances, and the scares. Prepare to have expectations subverted with this movie, Ari Aster is one to watch as a newcomer to the horror genre, and A24 is producing some outstanding content as well. If you haven’t seen it yet, treat yourself to Hereditary, as well as his newest film, Midsommar.

The Stand – The Stand takes place in a post-apocalyptic world triggered by the breakdown of society following the release of a biological weapon. The weapon is a virulent strain of influenza that decimates the population. It follows a few key characters across the United States, attempting to survive and make peace with the people they’ve become after the world has ended. It has elements of horror, elements of suspense, and in my opinion it’s one of the best post apocalyptic fiction novels ever written. Above all else though, it’s a thoughtful, well paced book. (One can’t have a list of horror titles and not mention King at least once, if not multiple times – The Tommyknockers, Salem’s Lot, The Shining…) The characters feel real and well flushed out, and the antagonist is ominous without becoming comic. It’s my go-to summer read, and I keep a paperback copy in my car at all times, so I can dip back in whenever the mood strikes, which is often.

I saw Gone Girl  before I had read the book (I know, the cardinal sin) and I had no context going into it. Gone girl? Sounds like a witty comedy about a girl who’s traveling cross country! I was very wrong. I had no idea about the twists (which I will keep to myself) and I had no idea what a treat I’d be in for when I read the book. They both play off each-other beautifully, and the book is written with punch and one liners that stick with you. The cool girl speech (look it up) is worth the price of the paperback alone. You should definitely treat yourself to this book, as well as Gillian Flynn’s two other titles Dark Places and Sharp Objects.

If you’re looking for something with real world ties, look no further than the masterpiece that is I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by the late Michelle McNamara. McNamara devoted a larger part of her life to sitting up in her daughters old playroom, surrounded by stuffed animals and tracking who would be come to known as the Golden State Killer. Sure she had a day job, but she also somehow convinced retired detectives from the case to send over boxes of case files. She went over phone records, emails, connected leads to perps, and made some of the most important headway the case had seen since it’s beginning in 1976. The case had been unsolved for ten years, and just recently closed with the arrest of a 73 year old Joseph Deangelo, a retired policeman. The book is well written, well researched, and fascinating if you want to know more about detective work, but never had the stomach to do it yourself. You feel yourself dissecting the facts along with Michelle, and the fact that she died before the case was solved makes the ending all the more poignant. It’s definitely worth the read, especially if you’re a fan of true crime and cases being solved.

Dipping into horror as a person with a chronically small comfort zone is more than just a little ironic. It’s taken me twenty five years to accept that strange part of myself, as a small portion of a largely complex whole. As an artist, a writer, and a creative, I find the darkness just as interesting as the light. Luckily, there are plenty of people who agree with me, and the horror genre is booming. Last summer, horror films accounted for 10% of cinema visits by moviegoers under 30-years-old. I’ll support any genre that encourages its artists and producers to push boundaries and visuals, and luckily, horror is doing just that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recycling your Reading

There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone. Even if I do work in the library, that number can be pretty daunting to even the most seasoned reader. If you’re like me, and you have more books than bookshelf, you know what an expensive hobby reading can be. I have to pull myself away from the draw of big box bookstores like Barnes and Noble, and often find myself shocked at the prices of flashy new hardcover titles, or that fancy art print book I’ve had my eye on. Luckily for you and your wallet, there are plenty of ways to get the books you’re after, save some money in the process, as well as still supporting the authors and creators you love.

1. The Library

Of course I’m going to say the library, but you really can’t beat this system! Libraries are built to support readers and authors alike, its free to join the library, and you can request virtually any book. Through our holds system, you can request an obscure book from your childhood, or the newest thriller. There are 30 libraries in our consortium, meaning that if we don’t have what you’re looking for, we can request the book from the thirty other libraries connected to us. You can take out as many as you’d like, and return them when you’re done, saving you from buying a book you may not love (libraries are also good places to donate books when thinning out your bookshelves – most libraries gladly accept gently used books for their collection or book sales). 359,026 items were checked out at the Cheshire Public Library when library statistics were last taken; we have a collection of over 100,000 items in our library alone, and that’s just in the physical building. Which brings me to my next resource, the digital world of reading…

2. Ebooks

If you have a kindle, Ipad, or smartphone, you have access to a world of books, movies and magazines from the comfort of your own home. Our library alone has access to several apps including OverDrive/Libby and RB Digital, that let you download materials for free with your library card. You can also look into Amazon’s Daily or Monthly deals, each day you receive an email letting you know about kindle books that are on sale, some for as little as 99 cents. Have a look at the free classics that Amazon offers, too. There are hundreds of great books, so if you’re a lover of classics you can build your digital library for free!

  • Looking for children’s books? Try the ICDL Foundation’s library. This program has evolved into the world’s largest digital collection of children’s books. Currently its digital library collection includes 4,619 books in 59 languages. The compete ICDL collection is also available as a free iPad app.
  • There’s also Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is the largest single collection of free electronic books. With more than 40,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Collection, there are plenty of options across different genres. The Project Gutenberg site offers download formats suitable for eBook readers, mobile phones, and other devices.

3. Used Books and Thrift Books

My favorite smell in the world is an old book (stereotypical I know) and the best place to find used books can be thrift stores and used book shops. These used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones, anscreen-shot-2018-09-19-at-8-09-17-pmd the product they carry is built on the community around it. This creates a unique experience in every bookstore you frequent, you’ll never find the same selection twice. Used bookstores are also the place to go if you’re looking to bulk up your classics collection (I’ve been known to walk out with a stack of mass market Stephen King books for less than five dollars.) Putting your money into these small businesses ensure that a staple in our communities and our culture remains alive. I for one would be sad to live in a world without used book stores. Another place to find books, often a only a few months old, is library book sales. These books can be from the libraries own collection that have been donated or weeded due to lack of circulation (a fancy way of saying they aren’t being checked out as frequently as they were). The Friends of Cheshire Library host two book sales every year, one in the spring and one in the fall, and even includes days where you can fill a shopping bag of books for only five dollars! This is a fantastic way to fill your bookshelves, all while supporting your local library in the process. The funds from these sales go directly to the funding of the library programs and projects.

4. Trade/Swap Books

Have friends who are just as into reading as you are? Start a book swap between friends! This is a fantastic way to read new titles, and share books that you’ve loved with friends. That way, you both get to read them, and talk about your favorite titles and characters. After all, what’s a better gift to give and receive than a new book. I’ve been trading books with friends for years, and I find it’s a fantastic way to read things I normally never would have picked up, and learn more about my friends taste in books. It’s like having an informal book club, without all the pressure of meetings and who’s bringing the snacks.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to find information in our day and age, and plenty of ways to satisfy your book craving. Through clever shopping, or clever borrowing, you can fill you time and your bookshelves with titles you’ve been meaning to read, or meaning to go back to reading. By practicing book “recycling” you can build your collection for a fraction of the price, and feel good about where your collection is coming from. With your support, small town libraries, book stores and independent sellers can continue to thrive and enrich their communities.

 

 

 

 

This is Your Brain on Podcasts – a new kind of on-the-go storytelling

PodcastingPodcasting is rapidly becoming the newest and most easily consumable form of storytelling. As of June 2018, iTunes features more than 500,000 active podcasts, including content in more than 100 languages and over 18.5 million episodes. Now if you’re new to podcasts, this number can be overwhelming, how are you supposed to sift through a sea of seemingly endless possibilities to find the hosts, and topic, that keep you listening? To be fair, a lot of listening is trial and error. Maybe you don’t like the hosts tone, or their voice, or maybe the topic just doesn’t grab your attention, but stay vigilant, there are enough podcasts in the world for everyone, there must be one for you! I’ve compiled a list of podcasts that are easy to get into for beginners, based on (of course) your favorite books, all of which can be found at the Cheshire Public Library!

Note : The podcast’s listed here may be explicit, or contain explicit language. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- The most chilling part of the world that          Atwood has created is that it has a strong basis in history, a history that is doomed to repeat itself. If you love history, and the dark origins behind common folklore, you’ll love Lore. Aaron Mahnke, the host and author himself, draws you into the rich history that paints our modern day nightmares. Tune in to learn the humble origins of the werewolf, how fairies terrified and mystified pilgrims, and how Krampus, the Christmas demon, still receives tribute every year in a tiny town in Germany. It’ll make you wish all history classes were this interesting. Released every two weeks on Mondays, Lore is an award-winning podcast that will soon be produced into a television series on Amazon. With 6-million monthly listeners, it has been awarded as iTunes’ “Best of 2015” and “Best of 2016” podcast.

Want to check out more of Mahnke’s writing? Check out his novel list here.

Do you comb the stacks looking for self help books, that lay forgotten about because, really, who has time? Don’t feel alone in this pursuit, it’s hard to read someone else’s proA1J-Xl6I7CLmises of a better life. After all, who really has all the answers? One book I found refreshingly honest is Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things . Lawson, an American journalist, author, and blogger, is known for her hysterically skewed outlook on life, and her candor about her struggles with depression and mental illness. If you’re looking for a podcast that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, and focuses on the bright side of life, look no further than Wonderful! , a podcast for joyful and enthusiastic peopwonderful cover art final_57le that like hearing about the passions, big and small, of other people. Each week Rachel and Griffin McElroy will talk about things they love and invite listeners to write in with their treasured items of enthusiasm. Topics may include movies, television, sports, books, drinks, eats, animals, methods of transportation, cooking implements, types of clothing, places in the world, imaginary places, fictional characters, and fonts, to name a few. It’s a delightfully sweet and genuine series, and a quick break from a world full of negatives.

Now if you’re a true crime lover like me, I’m always searching for a new case to dissect, and foJacketr a new podcast or book that leads me through the facts of the case. That’s exactly why I was drawn to Adnan’s Story : The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial . A full-length account of the story investigated by the award-winning Serial podcast draws on some 170 documents and letters to trace the experiences of Adnan Syed, who in 2000 was sentenced to life for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and who the author and other supporters are certain is innocent. Ifserial-itunes-logo you want to listen to the podcast that brought the case to light in the first place, check out Serial season one. I’d compare it to a classic radio drama, the pacing and tone is incredible and keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the journalistic research that goes into every episode is admirable. It’s a great place to start if you’re just getting into true crime podcasts, or need something to listen to after binging the first and second season of Making a Murderer on Netflix.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a podcast that brings the book club to your home (without having people over to your actual home), look no further than Overdueoverdue-podcast-642x336. Overdue is a podcast about the books you’ve been meaning to read. Join Andrew and Craig each week as they tackle a new title from their backlog. Classic literature, obscure plays, goofy murder mysteries: they’ll read it all, one overdue book at a time. While not actively encouraging you to return your books late (insert finger wagging from behind the return’s desk) this podcast encourages the over zealous reader in all of us to take the time to head back into the stacks for the book you might not have otherwise checked out.

If you’re having trouble accessing podcasts or don’t know how to start, check out this easy to use guide provided by  Gimlet : How to start listening. It’ll take you step by step on how to both download, and enjoy the hundreds of podcasts iTunes has to offer.

 

 

 

Freshen Up That Resume!

stock-photo-resume-forms-with-phone-on-table-job-interview-concept-1030784911Spring is the traditionally time we clean things  out around the house.  Why not apply the same  idea to your resume? It may be past time you went in there and spruced things up a bit. Fortunately for you, the library is a valuable resource for more than just  the latest thriller novels and that movie you couldn’t make it to the theater to see. We also pride ourselves on being a fantastic resource for the every day job hunter!

Included below are a couple of tips and tricks to updating your resume, polishing its look, and making it stand out to a new prospective employer.

  • First off, make sure you’re succinct and to the point, do the hiring managers job for them if possible. No matter how well written, your resume won’t get a thorough reading the first time through. Generally a resume gets scanned for 25 seconds. Scanning is more difficult if it is hard to read, poorly organized or exceeds two pages.
  • It’s best to use clear type and headings to lead the viewer’s eye through the page, stick to classic fonts, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or other easy to read, classic fonts.
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for! Do some light trimming if you feel certain jobs aren’t relevant, or include achievements you feel would help you stand out.

    – Example: You’re applying for a job in sales and you’ve helped your town sell tickets to raffles every year. This achievement will highlight that you’re experienced in sales, and also interested in helping your community.

Example: You had a job at Target back in 2005, and now you’re applying for a job in graphic design in 2019. You can leave Target off the list if you feel it’s no longer relevant.

Using Active Language –

  • Your resume should be written using active language without extraneous words. This means using power words, such as “achieved”, “earned”, “completed” or “accomplished”. If your resume is too long or seems hard to read, you might consider making sentences shorter or ideas more concise.For example, you may have a job description that reads: – “During my time at Freedom Inc, I ran multiple team-based projects and helped each team member with various tasks associated with each project.”This example could be shortened and strengthened in the following way: –  “Led multiple team-based projects and effectively coordinated group tasks.”

Finally, make sure you send your resumes to friends, relatives, and others you trust to proofread and edit. Another pair of eyes is important to the writing process, and having someone else read through your resume can give you a fresh perspective. Feel free to CV resume. Job interview concept. Writing a resume.stop by the library and reserve one of our new study rooms to write and research in private. All you need to do is call or visit one of our reference librarians and sign up for a slot! We also have online resources that can help you perfect your new resume, including BrainFuse’s Job Now. This helpful site includes templates you can follow, resume assistance from live assistants, and help finding the perfect fit job for you.

Who knows, 2019 may be the perfect start to a new career, a step up in your field, or the chance to pursue new goals and challenges. Take the chance and apply for that job that you feel is out of your reach, or maybe one you never thought you’d be interested in. Don’t worry, the library has your back the whole way.

CPL has several guides for writing & polishing up your resume, both on our shelves (look under 650.14), and ebooks (via OverDrive and hoopla with your CPL card).

Leading Ladies in Literature – Strong Female Reads for International Women’s Day (March 8)

When asked to write a post about strong female protagonists, it took me longer than I’d like to admit to think of my favorites. Even if I’ve read hundreds of books over the course of my life, only a handful stand out in their portrayal of a female lead. Most often, the most interesting characters I’ve come across are varied, flawed, and human, filled with errors and quirks that I find easy to relate to in my day to day life. These are the women I find myself relating to (even if I do wish I could be as perfect as Hermione Granger) and rooting for. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorites, which barely scratch the surface of the wonderful and wide world of women in books, but hey, we all have to start somewhere.

If I’ve missed your favorites, please feel free to leave a comment down below, I’m always looking to add books to my reading list.                                                    

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. First off, this is a book I swore to never read again, ironically,  just because of how much it hurts to read. Wally Lamb is a master of creating a character you physically hurt for after getting to know them, and Dolores Price is no different. At once a fragile girl and a hard-edged cynic, so tough to love yet so inimitably lovable, Dolores is as poignantly real as our own imperfections. Through rough edges and rougher trials, including assault, mental institutions, absentee parents and lonely adulthood, Lamb shapes a character you find yourself cursing at, wincing for, and holding close.

519bogs1ivl._sx330_bo1,204,203,200_How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. After she shames herself on local TV, 14-year-old Johanna Morgan reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde–a fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. Watching Johanna stumble through her rebirth into a plucky more confident version of herself made me look back fondly (and lets be honest, not that fondly) on my high school years. Trying to re-brand yourself, whether it be with new fish net stockings, a streak of pink in your hair, or a new favorite band, is a rough process. How to Build A Girl highlights how surface level all of these additions are, and asks the question, how far will one really go to re-imagine themselves? I found myself wanting to hug the pivotal character Johanna, and tell her it gets better, if not by action, then by time. It seems like even if she’s struggling, Johanna is a character you find yourself egging on, and even being somewhat jealous of at times.

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein.  I brought this book on vacation thinking I’d enjoy a pulpy novel about crime scene clean up. I’m a true crime fan myself, and my interest in forensic science has led me down an interesting path in terms of books in the past year. This book turned out to be the opposite of pulp, and had very little to do with crime scene clean up after all. Sandra Pankhurst is a titan in the industry of Specialized Trauma Cleaning, she does her job and she does it well. Before she began professionally cleaning up their traumas, she experienced her own. First, as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home. Then as a husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, and trophy wife. The true life story of Sandra left me wounded in ways I didn’t expect. In a world that profits of making jokes of hoarders and death, this book, and Sandra, treat these people with dignity. She bags up their postcards, their books, their recipe cards tucked into binders, and saves them from the despair of dirt and mold. She returns them to their family, and gives the people effected by it hope to start their life over. She never once jokes at their expense, or teases them for their situation behind closed doors. After going through such a violent and unforgiving life, Sandra shows grace and humility, mixed in with grit and sarcasm I find comforting.

51cbsqw0cbl._sx331_bo1,204,203,200_Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.  If you’re looking for a strange, otherworldly novel, that expands into two more books, then the Southern Reach trilogy is for you.  A group of female scientists, ignoring the high mortality rate of the previous missions, travels into an area only known as “Area X” to research a strange phenomenon.  Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.  The narrator, the biologist of the group,  is a strange and difficult character to get a hold on. You don’t know her motives until they uncover themselves, slowly and methodically throughout the text. She seems driven by knowledge and the unknown alone, until it’s revealed that she had a husband who also went into the reach, but who came back strange and unrecognizable. I think one of my favorite parts of this character is that she’s not a broken record throughout the story. She doesn’t repeat over and over her need to find her husband in the Reach, if anything, she loses that goal almost immediately. Her goals become more abstract, her position as a narrator is unreliable at best, which makes her all the more interesting.

Some other books with strong female protagonists worth checking out: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, Little Women by Louise May Alcott, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.