There’s something very satisfying about peeling back the pages of a great creepy book. Whether the story is from the fantastic minds of Stephen King or Ray Bradbury, or a non-fiction real life horror story ripped from the news, reading a tale of terror is chilling. Current sat down with Jay Platt, Proprietor of The West Side Book Shop to discuss some spooky tales this Halloween season.
Why are so many people interested in reading scary books?
A wide variety of people seek out books about horror and the occult. “There’s always been a strong demand and interest in creepy books,” Platt said. “Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Clive Barker (to name a few) are household names in the horror genre. The stories will scare you, but you’re safe reading in bed. It’s thrilling. Poe capitalized on the subject quite well. He wrote great stories. They’re timeless subjects.”
What are some of the creepy books available at West Side Book Shop?
“I’ve seen almost everything imaginable come through the shop,” Platt said. One time a customer came and was about to purchase a book called the Art of Restoration. Thinking the book was about restoring paintings, the customer was a bit shocked to find that the book was actually about the art of restorative embalming. Although creepy books about the occult and fictional horror only make a very small percentage of the huge selection of available books at Platt’s shop, there’s plenty of creepy reading material available for customers. Platt was kind enough to arrange a stack which included an older copy of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, books on witchcraft and gargoyles, and a book called Space Vampires written by one of Platt’s favorite authors, Colin Wilson. Platt spoke of his admiration for the book publisher Arkham House, who published the influential works of H.P. Lovecraft and other horror fiction writers. “They’re very well written books, and are a great introduction to the horror genre,” Platt said.
Creepy classics and rare scares
West Side Book Shop tends to carry books that are more of antiquity nature, old and rare. “I’ve never had any first editions of Poe, or Frankenstein, or Dracula, but I’ve had very early editions of these books in the past, and I’d love to have a first edition in the shop,” Platt said. Early editions and first printings of books like Dracula by Bram Stoker can fetch in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars for a stellar example.
What are the most unsettling creepy books Platt has seen?
Although horror fiction is a thrill ride of imagination, there are books that fit into the horror genre that are non-fiction. Subjects that include witchcraft, demonology, paranormal sightings, cannibals and serial killers — all of which make for terrifying reads on a dark and stormy night.
One of the more disturbing books Platt has seen is Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Originally published in 1563 by John Fox, the book chronicles the sufferings of the Protestants at the hands of the Catholic Church. “It’s a very graphic book filled with torture imagery,” said Platt. The images (see below) are creepy enough to keep anyone up at night, but it’s rare finds along those lines that keep Platt, and hungry book collectors, coming back to Westside.
Find can find Jay Platt at
The West Side Book Shop at 113 West Liberty St.
Hours are 11am-10pm Monday-Saturday, and 12-5pm on Sunday.