My reading list for the Halloween season — and yes, I consider it a season, rather than just one day of celebration, is comprised of an old favorite author, a new author and some short stories that I’m looking forward to reading as the days get shorter and the nights cool down.

One short story I highly recommend everyone add to their reading list for September/October is Rad Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree. In under 200 pages, Bradbury explores our history of Halloween and how it’s been influenced by history, myths and from a variety of locations and cultures throughout the world. I listened to this as an audiobook on the Libby app, this version of the story was adapted and performed by the Colonial Radio Players. The actors, accompanying music, and sound effects made this piece of literature come to life. I felt like I was listening to a pre-cursor of The Nightmare Before Christmas, with the images of jack-o-lanterns, and the Halloween tree.

As we ramp up for Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated annually from Sept. 15 – October 15, I am looking forward to reading Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This story is a Gothic horror reminiscent of Jane Eyre, but set in 1950s Mexico. Side note: I am a huge fan of Jane Eyre and anything influenced by it, so I also added Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Earlier this year I decided that as a Latina and a writer, I should be supportive of other Latina writers and added several books to my reading list including Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras and Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. Last year I read Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, which I borrowed from the library and I absolutely loved so much that I bought it in paperback this year to enjoy over and over again.

Obviously, some Stephen King is in order to help get into the mood of the season. I am cautiously looking forward to If It Bleeds, a collection of novellas by Stephen King. The last King book I read was Mr. Mercedes, which was definitely cringey to say the least. However, I didn’t want my reading list to be too heavy, so I also threw in a paranormal romance that was recommended by a friend. Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson will be a palate cleanser between all the planned horror stories.

And what is Halloween Time without a little magic? To wrap it all up, I plan to read Neil Gaiman’s M is for Magic, which I admit, just seeing the cat on the cover swayed me to add this collection of stories to my To Be Read list immediately. My own black cat turns 11 on Sept. 4 and we’ll be celebrating by hanging out together, and watching movies featuring black cats like Hocus Pocus and Coraline.

All of these books are available through my local library. If I get through this reading list, I’m sure there are more titles to explore, including The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston, the second book in the The Witch’s Daughter series and many others. What are your favorite Halloween-time books to read?

Cost: $0, borrowed through the Libby app.

Drink of Choice: Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew

My perfect beach read.

Imagine the time when the famed poem “The Raven” was brand new, when the world was captivated by the repeating “Nevermore!” It is the 1840s, where gatherings in New England are being held weekly to discuss economics, art, and the gossip of other prominent writers. This is the setting of Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen, a wickedly creepy and mesmerizing story that will transport you to the Romanticism period of American history.

Frances Osgood, wife of the famed painter and flirt Samuel Osgood (these are real people by the way) can’t help but be interested in the man from Boston, being from a wealthy Boston family herself before being disowned by her parents for her own reckless marriage. Her husband Samuel is off gallivanting with whatever current heiress he’s busy “producing a portrait” for and hasn’t been seen in months. Lonely and struggling to provide for her daughters on her own writing, Frances sees an opportunity to expand her earnings, if only she could write as dark as the famous Mr. Poe.

The members of New York society are enthralled by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, who jumps the ranks of obscure poet and writer to desired party guest. What’s even more delicious is that he has chosen to move to their community, and has brought along with his mysterious wife – the young Mrs. Virginia Poe, who was barely 13 years old when the two cousins wed nearly 10 years before. It is with such a flurry of excitement that the salon Frances frequents has managed to convince The Poes to join their soiree.

Mrs. Poe is a delicate woman with a horrendous cough that keeps her home for most events. Except that she suddenly keeps showing up unannounced at Frances’s home or constantly inviting her over, actively seeking her attention and trying to win her friendship. Mrs. Poe’s insistence on a friendship bores Frances, but as her own friendship with Mr. Poe seems to blossom, she can’t help feeling like she’s being watched and set up by the sickly Mrs. Poe. These frequent and unexpected meetings with the Poes is causing quite a stir in her community, and for the married, but separated Frances, this can only result in scandal.

I became obsessed with reading this book and enjoyed experiencing the 1840s safely from the 21st century. I didn’t realize how many important literary and American figures were among Poe’s peers: Graham, who inspired the graham crackers, Audubon, Dickens, Walt Whitman, Melville, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. These people and their re-imagined lives are woven in the story and some of them are just at the cusp of future famous lives. I also learned from reading this book that Samuel Morse was a painter first before inventing the famous Morse Code and his motivation behind his invention. This definitely sparked a trip down the Wikipedia rabbit hole.

I know it’s historical fiction, but I learned a lot about the time period and had a fabulous time trying to decipher if Frances was being paranoid or if the jealous, childish Mrs. Poe was really out to get her. Cue the Rockwell!

Cost: $1.00 at a library book sale

Drink of Choice: Hazelnut latte with oat milk from Rail Side Cafe.