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EvCC Reads!   Tags: book_of_the_year, reading  

A guide to books we're reading and talking about this year.
Last Updated: Nov 23, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Hauntings...Real and Imagined Print Page


Whether you believe in ghosts or not (only 45% of Americans surveyed did in 2013...), some pretty heavy hitters have, and do, believe that the dead come back to visit the living.

Literary critic and political theorist Russell Kirk (1918-1994) spent years living in his family house in Michigan, which was haunted by several spirits that he (and unwitting guests) sometimes encountered. The house burned on Ash Wednesday, 1975. A new house built on the same site is not haunted. Columnist, talk show host, and movie critic Michael Medved once snuck onto the Gettysburg Battlefield to camp with a friend. They endured a night of terror, as the ghosts of dead soldiers kept appearing nearby. John and Charles Wesley, and Lord Castlereagh are just three trustworthy historical figures who reported seeing ghosts.

These types of encounters have generated some fascinating literature...

Cover Art
Coast to Coast Ghosts - Leslie Rule; Ann Rule (Foreword by)
Call Number: BF1472.U6 R85 2001
ISBN: 9780740718663
Publication Date: 2001-08-07
From "Coast to Coast Ghosts features dozens of spine-tingling, real-life ghost stories and approximately fifty black-and-white photographs taken by Rule, including some believed to have captured actual apparitions."

Cover Art
Ghosts among Us - Leslie Rule
Call Number: BF1461.R78 2004
ISBN: 9780740747175
Publication Date: 2004-08-01
From "Macabre and fascinating, Ghosts Among Us offers true-life, haunting accounts of eerie visitations and paranormal experiences along with artistically shot black-and-white photographs of haunted sites."

Locally-Sourced Scares and Spooks

Ashcroft, B.C. residents Barbara and Christopher Roden own a small publishing house, Ash-Tree Press, dedicated to publishing beautiful hardcover and softcover editions of classic supernatural fiction and ghost stories. Many of their print publications are now available as ebooks through and other ebook distributors. This is an inexpensive way to try out some good ghostly fiction. Happy Hauntings!


and Imagined

Writers of ghostly fiction don't have to believe in ghosts...but it helps if they do. 

Though he only wrote 22 fictional ghostly tales, American man of letters Russell Kirk's (1918-1994) stories continue to win high praise from critics. Seattle-born author, editor and publisher John Pelan writes, “I’d go so far as to suggest that to find the greatest American author of ghostly fiction, one need look no further than Russell Kirk,” and Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda writes that "Kirk has a tremendous flair for narrative and a clear, plain style, while his principles imbue his tales with a sometimes Dostoevskyan power." Kirk's true ghostly encounters (which inspired some of his fiction) reached beyond his home in Mecosta, Michigan, to ancient Scottish castles and country homes where he lived during his years abroad. Kirk's most well-known tale, "There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding," won the World Fantasy Award for best short story in 1977.

  • Kirk wrote two essays called "A Cautionary Note on the Ghostly Tale." One is available here.
  • Read my brief essay on Kirk's stories here.

Medievalist and provost of King's College, Cambridge, and Eton College, Montague Rhodes (M.R.) James (1862-1936) is without question the greatest English ghost story writer of any century. Winston Churchill's cousin, Shane Leslie, remembered a conversation with James: "Shortly before his death I asked him what he really thought on the subject, since he had written better ghost-stories than any man living. He answered: 'Depend upon it! Some of these things are so, but we do not know the rules!'" James's stories are dark, subtle, and written with grace and impish humour. Many  of his tales have been turned into BBC TV presentations of varying quality that can be found on You can also find his complete story texts online, since James's tales have passed into the public domain.

Be warned. Neither of these men's tales should be read lightly, nor without the lights on...

Cover Art
Ancestral Shadows - Russell Kirk; Vigen Guroian (Foreword by)
Call Number: PS3521.I665 A83 2004
ISBN: 9780802839381
Publication Date: 2004-09-01
Nineteen of Kirk's stories appear in this volume. "A reason why I write stories like those in this present that I aspire to help extract the stuffing from the keyhole." -Russell Kirk

Cover Art
Nineteen Ghost Stories of M. R. James to Keep You up at Night the Complete Three Volume Collection - M. R. James
ISBN: 1438288085
Publication Date: 2009-03-27
From "According to James, a story must 'put the reader into the position of saying to himself: "If I'm not careful, something of this kind may happen to me!"'"

Southern Ghostly Tales

One of the greatest pleasures of literature is having stories read to you. The Moonlit Road is a website dedicated to ghostly tales of the American South. They have also produced forty-five podcasts of some of these stories that are a great pleasure to hear.


Your Ghost Host

Your ghost editor for this EvCC Reads! 2014 Hallowe'en edition is Ghost Story Society member Jeffrey D. Pearce, who is Director of Logistics Operations, and a member of the history faculty, at the College. He also founded, and edits, Ghostly Kirk, a web page dedicated to the ghostly tales of Russell Kirk.


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