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?

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

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

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