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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return of the Rom-Com!

The romantic comedy film genre took a serious dive in popularity over the last 2 decades, going from 2 billion dollars in tickets sales (1999) to less than 1/2 million (2018). Romantic comedy novels followed a similar trajectory.  But the film genre is experiencing a resurgence, and rom-com novels are riding their coattails with a comeback of their own.

The past couple of years have seen an explosion of romantic comedies in publishing – heck, the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction went to a book with a lot of rom-com characteristics: Less by Andrew Sean Greer. As poignant as it is humorous, Greer’s award-winning novel contains many familiar rom-com tropes, and also turns a few on their heads!

Once known somewhat disparagingly as “chick lit”, these smart and sassy stories explore all the quirks and foibles of modern relationships, often tackling difficult subjects but never losing their sense of humor. If you’re new to the genre, this list of recent romantic comedies is a good place to start:

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are competitive rivals at a publishing company and profess to hate each other, but when the tension reaches the boiling point, they both wonder if the competition is just a game and that maybe they don’t hate each other after all.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. Partnered with a nemesis best man on a paradise honeymoon when her bride twin gets food poisoning, a chronically unlucky maid of honor assumes the role of a newlywed before unexpectedly falling for her companion.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. A 30-year-old math whiz with Asperger’s tries to make her love life as rich as her career by hiring an escort to help her with her lack of knowledge and experience in the dating department.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. Stranded together in an elevator during a power outage, Drew and Alexa agree to pose as a couple at an ex’s wedding and discover afterwards that they are unable to forget each other.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young. After her delayed flight, Ava has a brief intimate encounter with Caleb, an arrogant Scotsman, and never expects to see him again, but when he is stranded in Boston, they reconnect, and Ava has to deal with her increasing attraction.

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. After meeting the former actor she had a crush on as a teenager and fangirling all over him, Kailyn Flowers strikes up a friendship with Daxton Hughes who needs help acting as guardian to his 13-year-old-sister.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. A modern Muslim adaptation of Pride and Prejudice finds a reluctant teacher who would avoid an arranged marriage setting aside her literary ambitions before falling in love with her perpetually single cousin’s infuriatingly conservative fiancé.

Red, White & Royal Blue  by Casey McQuistion. A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends.

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri. A romantic comedy about gender and sexuality follows the experiences of a traditionally minded Midwesterner who, in the aftermath of an ended engagement, finds herself in a transformative relationship with a self-assured New York businesswoman.

 

 

Self-Help Books to Boost Positivity

Why wait for January’s New Year’s resolutions to be your best self? You can start any time during the calendar year. Small incremental changes work best, and this is where self-help books shine. Go at your own pace, ease in slowly, and you might find you don’t need a New Year’s resolution at all. This month’s Reader’s Depot focuses on self-help books to bring notes of gratitude and love into your daily life.

Almost Everything by Anne Lamott – Presents an inspirational guide to the role of hope in everyday life and explores essential truths about how to overcome burnout and suffering by deliberately choosing joy.

 

Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin – Offers manageable steps for creating a more serene, orderly environment, which contributes to maintaining inner calm.

 

Let Love Have the Last Word by Common – Explores how love and mindfulness can guide people in living their lives and interacting with their communities, and calls upon readers to give and receive love in their lives.

 

Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson – A counterintuitive guide to hope looks at contemporary society’s relationships with religion, politics, money, entertainment, and the internet, and challenges people to be honest with themselves and connect with the world in ways they had not considered before.

 

Where the Light Enters by Jill Biden- The former second lady describes her marriage to Joe Biden and the role of politics in her life and teaching career, sharing intimate insights into the traditions, resilience, and love that have helped her family establish balance and endure tragedy.

 

Nanaville by Anna Quindlen – The author discusses her role as a grandmother and how she learned to support her grandson’s parents by stepping back and following their lead.

 

Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani – The founder of the Girls Who Code nonprofit shares insights into the toxic cultural standards affecting girls today, explaining how girls can transition from perfectionism to more courageous practices that understand the value of imperfection.

 

The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey – Offers a guide for identifying one’s purpose and creating a framework for a life that is both successful and meaningful, sharing inspirational quotes by some of today’s most influential cultural figures.

 

Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manual Miranda and Jonny Sun – The creator and star of “Hamilton” presents an illustrated book of affirmations to provide inspiration at the beginning and end of each day.

 

On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff – An inspirational memoir based on the popular workshop of the same name reveals how the author’s years of waitressing and hearing impairment taught her to recognize unexpected beauty, relinquish shame, and find love in the face of imperfection.

Most Wanted Books of Summer 2019

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Looking for something to read this summer? Let us help! Our Reader’s Depot has new book lists every month, so you’ll never run out of books to read. For even more recommendations, visit the Reader’s Depot display on the library’s main level.

city-of-girlsCity of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert – Eighty-nine-year-old Vivian recounts her life after being kicked out of Vassar College, living in Manhattan with her Aunt Peg and the personal mistake that resulted in a professional scandal.

 

The Wedding Partywedding-party.jpg by Jasmine Guillory – After mistakenly spending a night together, Maddie and Theo uncomfortably share bridal party responsibilities for their best friend’s wedding, but despite the sharp barbs they toss at each other, a simmering attraction lingers that just won’t fade.

 

The Mistress of the Ritzmistress-of-the-ritz.jpg by Melanie Benjamin – The director of the luxurious Hotel Ritz in occupied Paris and his courageous American wife, Blanche Auzello, risk their marriage and lives to support the French Resistance during World War II.

 

Resistance Womenresistance-women.jpg by Jennifer Chiaverini – Resisting the power grabs of an increasingly formidable Nazi Party in 1930s Berlin, the courageous American wife of a German intellectual and her circle of women friends engage in a clandestine battle to sabotage Hitler’s regime.

 

The Farmthe-farm.jpg by Joanne Ramos – Ensconced within a Hudson Valley retreat where expectant birth mothers are given luxurious accommodations and lucrative rewards to produce perfect babies, a Filipino immigrant is forced to choose between a life-changing payment and the outside world.

 

The Last Time I Saw Youlast-time.jpg by Liv Constantine – In the aftermath of her mother’s murder, Dr. Kate English reaches out to her estranged best friend Blaire Barrington, a mystery author, who decides to investigate when Kate starts getting anonymous texts from the killer.

 

The Never Gamenever-game by Jeffery Deaver – Colter Shaw is an itinerate “reward-seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job.

 

Queen Beequeen-bee.jpg by Dorothea Benton Frank – A woman wounded by her past comes to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina to find new meaning in life and to find herself.

 

Meet Me In Monacomeet-me.jpg by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb – Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and unforgettable wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco.

 

night-before.jpgThe Night Before by Wendy Walker – A tale told through parallel accounts of the days before and after a fateful blind date follows a woman’s revelatory investigation into her sister’s disappearance and complicated nature.

 

The Paris Diversionparis.jpg by Chris Pavone – After a leisurely start to a normal day, American expat Kate Moore finds herself partnered with a French agent to investigate a bombing threat in Paris.

 

The Night Windownight-window.jpg by Dean Koontz – When people under Arcadian control begin showing signs of instability, Jane Hawk and her supporters confront the center of power in a showdown that will determine America’s future.

 

The Tenth Musetenth-muse.jpg by Catherine Chung – From childhood, Katherine knows she is different, and that her parents are not who they seem to be. But in becoming a mathematician, she must face the most human of problems—who is she?

 

The Turn of the Keyturn-of-the-key.jpg by Ruth Ware – When a high-paying nanny job at a luxurious Scottish Highlands home ends with her imprisonment for a child’s murder, a young woman struggles to explain to her lawyer the unravelling events that led to her incarceration.

 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creekbook-woman.jpg by Kim Michele Richardson – A last-of-her-kind outcast and member of the Pack Horse Library Project braves the hardships of Kentucky’s Great Depression and hostile community discrimination to bring the near-magical perspectives of books to her neighbors.

 

Under Currentsunder-currents.jpg by Nora Roberts – Returning to his hometown of Lakeview where his father’s abuse made his childhood a nightmare, Zane Bigelow begins a relationship with Darby McCray, a landscape designer, but his dark past comes back to haunt Zane and threatens their happiness.

 

big-kahuna.jpgThe Big Kahuna by Janet and Peter Evanovich – When unlikely partners FBI agent Kate O’Hare and con man Nicholas Fox investigate a missing Silicon Valley billionaire known as the Big Kahuna, they go undercover as a married couple in Paia, Maui, to find the man’s son.

 

Anna of Kleveanna.jpg by Alison Weir – Chosen as his fourth wife by England’s infamous Henry VIII, Anna of Kleve, a princess from a small German duchy, hides a desperate secret in a hostile foreign court.

 

The Daughter’s Taledaughter.jpg by Armando Lucas Correa – A tale of love and redemption based on the 1944 Oradour-Sur-Glane massacre follows an octogenarian’s receipt of a cache of letters, written by her mother during World War II, that uncover decades of secrets.

 

The Fourth of July – How Much Do You Know?

Our Head of Adult Services, Bill, has some Fourth of July facts for you:
The Fourth of July –  also known as Independence Day – is the day we celebrate our country’s birthday. Think you know all there is to know about it? The library’s here to help you celebrate with some fun facts and other ways to learn about democracy and the founding of our nation!

Did you know?

Yankee Doodle” is a well-known American song, the early versions of which date to before the Seven Years’ War and the American War for Independence.  It is the official state anthem of Connecticut. The melody can be traced back to folk songs of Medieval Europe.

In a bizarre coincidence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826 — the nation’s 50th birthday. The two founding fathers and political adversaries died within five hours of each other. 

Americans consume roughly 150 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July enough to stretch from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles five times!

More Fourth Fun Facts:

 

The Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776.
On July 4, 1776, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and as a result the date is celebrated as Independence Day. Nearly a month would go by, however, before the actual signing of the document took place. Most of the delegates signed on August 2, but several signed on a later date. (Two others, John Dickinson and Robert R. Livingston, never signed at all.)
One signer of the Declaration of Independence later recanted. On November 30, 1776, delegate Richard Stockton from Princeton, New Jersey was captured by the British and thrown in jail. After months of brutal treatment, a broken and sickly Stockton renounced his signature on the Declaration of Independence and swore his allegiance to King George III.
There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
In the movie “National Treasure,” Nicholas Cage’s character claims that the back of the Declaration contains a treasure map with encrypted instructions from the founding fathers, written in invisible ink. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is, however, a simpler message, written upside-down across the bottom of the signed document: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” It’s thought that the text was added as a label.

Read more about it!

ADULTS:

KIDS:

 

Cap off your Independence Day celebration with some fireworks! Here’s where to find them: