What I'm Reading Wednesday: Read then Watch (Spooky Edition!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

I'm not a brave person by nature. I don't love watching really scary movies or shows or reading especially scary books. I do make an exception, however, for suspenseful tales, shows, and movies. (And who doesn't love a good murder?) So, in keeping with the Halloween and fall seasons, I thought that today I'd recommend a series of suspenseful stories (novels, short stories, teleplays, radio plays, and poems) you can read and then enjoy a movie or television show that is based on (or in some cases, related to) the written work. I hope this helps you further get into this spooky time of year! 

Read: Psycho, a novel by Robert Bloch 

Then Watch: Psycho, a film by Alfred Hitchcock

The novel is written in first person, from Norman Bates's point of view. While the characters in the book aren't quite as sympathetic as those in the film, both versions of this chilling story are great. 

Read: "The Hitch-Hiker," a radio play by Lucille Fletcher 

Then Watch: "The Hitch-Hiker," a teleplay by Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone*)

I used to read this play every fall with my sixth grade students, and then we would watch the corresponding episode of The Twilight Zone. The children and I enjoyed both. A major story change from the radio play to the television episode is the main character is switched from a man to a woman. Talking about why Rod Serling might have made that choice always made for great discussion. 

Read: "The Raven," a poem by Edgar Allan Poe

Then Watch: "The Raven" performed by Vincent Price 

Admittedly, this is not a movie or television show, but watching and listening to Vincent Price masterfully perform "The Raven" is a must. 

Read: The Circle, a novel by Dave Eggers

Then Watch: "Nosedive," story by Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror*

While the other movie and television show suggestions on this list so far are direct adaptations of the written works I'm recommending, this one is not. I know that a movie is being made based on the book, but throughout reading this novel, I couldn't stop thinking about its similarities to Black Mirror. This particular episode would be a great one to watch after reading The Circle

Read: "The Lottery," a short story by Shirley Jackson

Then Watch: "The Lottery," a short film by the Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation

If you're following The Midnight Society this fall then you know "The Lottery" is our story of the week this week. The short film version of Shirley Jackson's creepy tale is worth a watch after you read. 

Read: "Sorry, Right Number," a teleplay by Stephen King

Then Watch: "Sorry, Right Number," an episode of Tales from the Dark Side 

Believe it or not, this one was in the eighth grade literature book I used to teach from. I always used it as the first story for The Midnight Society every year since it is super eerie as well as a play that the kids could perform. Since it is a teleplay, it also had an accompanying episode we could watch and discuss. 

Read: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a novel by Stuart Turton

Then Watch: "White Bear," a teleplay by Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror*)

Much like The Circle, when I read The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (one of the best books I've read this year), I could not stop thinking about this specific episode of Black Mirror

Read: "The Birds," a short story by Daphne du Maurier

Then Watch: The Birds, a film by Alfred Hitchcock

Although there are a number of differences between du Maurier's short story and Hitchcock's film, the main premise remains the same, and it is both an excellent story as well as a great movie. 

Read: "The Cremation of Sam McGee," a poem by Robert Service

Then Watch: "The Cremation of Sam McGee," a short film by down Low films 

If you haven't read this poem, do something nice for yourself and check it out. I used to teach it to 7th grade students, and we all had a good time with it. If you want a great read-aloud, check out Johnny Cash reading the poem here. Admittedly, he leaves out a few lines and mixes up a couple parts, but his voice is perfectly paired with this poem. 

Let me know if you enjoy some of the pairings on this list! I hope to see you back tomorrow for our Midnight Society discussion on "The Lottery." 

*Episodes of The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror can be viewed on Netflix. 

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