Gift Guide 2016: Haunted Holidays

A few suggestions if you're giving your Ghost of Christmas Past a present ...

Illustration by Jason Stout / Thinkstock

"The telling or reading of ghost stories during long, dark, and cold Christmas nights is a yuletide ritual which dates to at least the 18th century and was once as much a part of Christmas tradition as decorating fir trees, feasting on goose, and the singing of carols. During the Victorian era, many magazines printed ghost stories specifically for the Christmas season. These 'winter tales' did not necessarily explore Christmas themes in any manner. Rather, they were offered as an eerie pleasure to be enjoyed on Christmas Eve with the family, adding a supernatural shiver to the seasonal chill."

So begins the introduction in each edition of the Biblioasis series the Haunted Bookshelf, which dusts off antique tales of spectral encounters in nifty little booklets illustrated by esteemed contemporary cartoonist Seth (Palookaville, The New Yorker). It's the publisher's way of reminding us yuletide revelers in the 21st century that the presence of otherworldly spirits around the holidays didn't begin and end with Dickens' A Christmas Carol. As Scrooge himself beholds in that cherished tale, the December air has long been "filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went."

At the Chronicle, we've begun to suspect that some of that moaning might be owed to the fact that no one ever remembers to get a gift for the ghosts at Christmastime. Shuffle off this mortal coil, and you get dropped from Santa's list. That's why this week's Gift Guide is focused on suggested presents for the wraith in your life, something to make an apparition feel more appreciated. (Hint: They also work for beings who are not yet ghosts but will be down the line.)

  • The Haunted Bookshelf

    Heavens, this series of reprints of vintage ghost stories may unsettle the composure of the steadiest reader

    The Dead Boy Detectives

    Vertigo's adventurous adolescent apparitions are an appealing throwback to the junior sleuths of the past
  • I’ll Take You There

    Wally Lamb's novel spotlights a spirit of early Hollywood, but its Metabook edition gives her a 21st century showcase

    Elvis Lives?

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Arts Reviews
Austin Symphony Orchestra's <i>Variation Voyage</i>
Austin Symphony Orchestra's Variation Voyage
ASO's first concert of 2019 had us hearing all sorts of feels, but Leon Fleisher's piano also got us thinking

Robert Faires, Jan. 18, 2019

“Dave McClinton: Despite It All” at the Butridge
"Dave McClinton: Despite It All" at the Butridge
The digital collagist’s new solo exhibition is peopled with many colors

Wayne Alan Brenner, Jan. 18, 2019

More by Robert Faires
Second Wave of Acts Added to Moontower Comedy Festival 2019
Second Wave of Acts Added to Moontower Comedy Festival 2019
Latest list of headliners shows Moontower up Schitt's Creek

Jan. 18, 2019

In <i>Heartland</i>, Playwright Gabriel Jason Dean Makes the War in Afghanistan Personal
In Heartland, Playwright Gabriel Jason Dean Makes the War in Afghanistan Personal
Michener Center alumnus' latest drama turns down the volume of war

Jan. 18, 2019

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Sweet Ritual Expands Its Thriving Vegan Ice Cream Location on Airport
Sweet Ritual Expands Its Thriving Vegan Ice Cream Location on Airport
Bigger and better from the ground up

Jan. 18, 2019

Graham Reynolds Is Doing <i>What</i>, Exactly, to the Alamo Drafthouse?
‘The Sound of Science’ and the Science of Sounds
The Sound of Science and the science of sounds

Jan. 16, 2019


Gift Guide 2016, Haunted Bookshelf, Biblioasis, Vertigo, Coldtowne Theater, Elvis' Rockin' Nativity, Paramount Theatre, Priscilla Presley, Joe Nick Patoski, Ted Roddy, King Conjure Orchestra, Continental Club, Long Center

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle