October is my favorite month.  It always has been, even when I lived in different parts of the country.  Of course, it’s no coincidence that October means Halloween for me.  Scary stories, chocolate, costumes – what’s not to love!  So, as the days grow shorter and cooler, here are some suggestions for the change in weather.  I’ll read a creepy story any time of the year, but these titles make you want to curl up with a strange, mysterious or frightening book.

Steampunk!  An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
Edited by Kelly Link & Gavin Grant

This book from Candlewick Press is a collection of short stories with Steampunk-ish themes.  Each tale is by a different author who approach the genre a bit differently.  This makes the book a great way to discover new authors and ideas.  The only downside, really, is that if you really love a story or writer, it can be a bit of a tease.  It’s kind of amazing to see how many imaginary worlds, just in touch with reality, are inspired by these writers.   Far less important but just as enjoyable are the small illustrations that adorn the pages and change with each story.
One of my favorite tales in the collection is The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor by Delia Sherman.  It marries beautifully the advanced mechanisms of the genre with a romantic ghost story.  I was also drawn to The Summer People which is set a surreal-yet-somehow-believable world of an Appalachia with small clockwork fairy-like creatures.  
Read samples and learn more: http://strangeandfascinating.com/

Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography
By Errol Morris

For the more academically-minded but still interested in a something illuminating, check out this handsome compilation of essays by Errol Morris.  While most items have been published elsewhere as serial entries, this brings them all together on large, well-designed pages with great reproductions of the photographs that are examined.
These series of articles investigate the veracity not only of photographs but also our perceptions of them.  Since the birth of the medium, there has been an association of truth with photograph.  Morris expounds on how the camera can lie through technical means like perspective and parallax as well as a choices made by the photographer.  
The best of the series is one called “Whose Father Was He?” in which he retraced an investigation around a photograph of three children found on the body of a Civil War solider.  

Reproduction of the photo
This photograph was reprinted in dozens of newspapers at the time, trying to identify the children.  Morris tracks the story with the determination of a bloodhound, all the while ruminating on why this particular story of tragedy to captured a nation.  
Other essays, while in depth, delve into the abstruse and seem distracted.  Indeed, every once in awhile Morris seems to be tooting his own horn rather than letting the photography and ideas lead him.
Read up on Morris and his other projects here:  http://errolmorris.com/

Many thanks to the folks at Candlewick Press and The Penguin Press for the review copies.

ALSO, watch for my upcoming review of MURDER ON THE FIRST-CLASS CARRIAGE: THE FIRST VICTORIAN RAILWAY KILLING by Kate Colquhoun.  It goes live 10/21.

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