Men, Women, and Chainsaws – Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol Clover

From its first publication in 1992, Men, Women, and Chain Saws has offered a groundbreaking perspective on the creativity and influence of horror cinema since the mid-1970s. Investigating the popularity of the low-budget tradition, Carol Clover looks in particular at slasher, occult, and rape-revenge films. Although such movies have been traditionally understood as offering only sadistic pleasures to their mostly male audiences, Clover demonstrates that they align spectators not with the male tormentor, but with the females tormented―notably the slasher movie’s “final girls”―as they endure fear and degradation before rising to save themselves. The lesson was not lost on the mainstream industry, which was soon turning out the formula in well-made thrillers.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful plantation where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. 

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbors soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle.

Audition by Ryu Murakami

In this gloriously over-the-top tale, Aoyama, a widower who has lived alone with his son ever since his wife died seven years before, finally decides it is time to remarry. Since Aoyama is a bit rusty when it comes to dating, a filmmaker friend proposes that, in order to attract the perfect wife, they do a casting call for a movie they don’t intend to produce. As the résumés pile up, only one of the applicants catches Aoyama’s attention―Yamasaki Asami―a striking young former ballerina with a mysterious past. Blinded by his instant and total infatuation, Aoyama is too late in discovering that she is a far cry from the innocent young woman he imagines her to be. The novel’s fast-paced, thriller conclusion doesn’t spare the reader as Yamasaki takes off her angelic mask and reveals what lies beneath.

Vic and Blood [Stories] by Harlan Ellison

The cycle begins with “Eggsucker,” which chronicles the early years of the association between fourteen‑year‑old loner Vic and his brilliant, telepathic dog in a post-apocalyptic world. The saga continues and expands in “A Boy and His Dog,” in which Blood shows just how much smarter he is than Vic, and Vic shows how loyal he can be. The story continues in “Run, Spot, Run,” the first part of Ellison’s promised novel of the cycle, Blood’s a Rover. Here Vic and Blood find surprising new ways to get into trouble—but getting out of it may be beyond even their combined talents. 

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This Gothic novella tells the story of a young woman’s susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named Carmilla. Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years. Although Carmilla is a lesser known and far shorter Gothic vampire story, Stoker openly explained his influence by Le Fanu’s short story.

The Ritual by Adam Nevill

When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn’t possibly get any worse. But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artifacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. As the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn’t come easy among these ancient trees . . .

Dream of Ding Village by YAN Lianke

A powerful look at the AIDS scandal in Henan Province during the 1990s, when many people became infected with HIV after selling their blood at private collection centers, the novel focuses on one family at the heart of the tragedy in a place called Ding Village.

The Blood Confession by Alisa M. Libby

Born under the omen of a falling star, Erzebet Bizecka is a child of prophecy. The only heir of a powerful Hungarian count, she was predicted to die young or to live forever. Determined to survive despite the grim prophecy, Erzebet becomes obsessed with preserving her youth and beauty. Not even her closest friend, Marianna, can understand her crippling fear of growing older. Only the beautiful stranger, Sinestra, understands Erzebet’s mania. He assures her that there are ways to determine her own destiny, pulling her into a dark world of blood rituals and promising eternal youth in return. Luring her victims to her tower room, Erzebet is determined to thwart God’s plan for her life and create her own. How far will she be willing to go to protect herself?