Halloween is our holiest of candy-and-gourd-based holidays. But everyone has different feelings about our yearly celebration of the Great Pumpkin. Some are in it for the gore, the goblins, and the marauding killer clowns terrorizing our nation. Others really just want to dress up and eat "fun" sized versions of real candy bars. So if you're all about the candy corn and cute costumes but not so much about the serial killers and rotting corpses, here are a few non-scary Halloween books to help you get in the trick-or-treat spirit.
I mean, yes, I like the occasional creepy book. I can get behind some Shirley Jackson, if it's not too close to bedtime. But I refuse to watch horror movies on the grounds that most horror movie trailers give me nightmares. So I get it. Some people love to be grossed out and scared out of their minds, and other people like to watch Young Frankenstein with the lights on. It's all good. If you're a Halloween fan who'd rather not wake up in cold sweats or touch Stephen King with a ten foot pole, there's still plenty to read this October.
These books have their fair share of vampires, werewolves, and zombies, but not so many scares:
1. Trick or Treat: A Peanuts Halloween by Charles M. Schulz
Before there was the Peanuts Halloween special, there was Charles Schulz's comic strip. Trick or Treat collects over a hundred of his Halloween strips, all guaranteed to be horror-free (spoiler alert: Charlie Brown gets a rock). This collection also includes tips on throwing an adorable, non-scary Halloween party for fellow Peanuts fans.
2. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
In the world of "horror" humor, Martinez reigns supreme. Gil's All Fright Diner is the story of Duke (a grumpy werewolf) and Earl (an anxious vampire), as they try to save one ramshackle roadside diner from the forces of the damned. There's plenty of supernatural nonsense, but it's all hilariously weird and not especially scary (unless you find diners terrifying on principle).
3. The New Vampire's Handbook: A Guide for the Recently Turned Creature of the Night by Anita Serwacki, Joe Garden, Scott Sherman,Chris Pauls, and Janet Ginsburg
Don't be intimidated by all those authors: The New Vampire's Handbook is a comprehensive, helpful (and humorous) guide for the newly undead. With society's vampire obsession, it's easy to be misinformed. But this book will set you straight, and teach you how to make the most of your afterlife.
4. The Werewolf's Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten by Ritch Duncan and Bob Powers
Don't worry, werewolves, there's a book out there for you, too. If you were recently bitten by a strange, wolf-like creature during the full moon, you're going to want to pick up a copy of The Werewolf's Guide to Life straightaway. It'll help you debunk all the Hollywood myths about lycanthropy, and come to terms with your new life as a hairy creature of night.
5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
OK, so this book definitely has its spooky moments—but on the whole, The Graveyard Book is the brilliant tale of Nobody Owens, the living boy being raised by the residents of a graveyard. It's a coming-of-age story set amid (mostly friendly) ghosts, and one strange guardian who seems to exist between the worlds of the living and dead.
6. My Crowd by Charles Addams
Charles Addams' cartoons are delightfully twisted (but never quite scary). My Crowd collects some of his best Addams Family moments, as well as his other darkly humorous cartoons and comics. Check it out for some wickedly clever humor, and bizarre (kind of cute?) drawings.
7. Bunnicula by James Howe and Deborah Howe
Is Bunnicula a kid's book? Sure, but it's a classic as far as books about vampiric rabbits go. Bunnicula is the extremely silly, quite adorable story of a dog and cat trying to save their family from a potentially undead rabbit.
8. The Book of Hallowe'en by Ruth Edna Kelley
Take a vintage trip through the history of Halloween! The Book of Hallowe'en explores the ancient traditions that came before modern Halloween, as well as the Halloween traditions and games of yesteryear. It's scare-proof, nonfiction fun for history buffs who like pumpkins.
9. Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones
All of Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci series is well worth a read, but her standalone story Witch Week is especially perfect for Halloween. In a world where witchcraft is real, but punishable by death, a class full of kids must discover who's the witch in their midst of risk being burned at the stake. But are the witches of this world really as bad as they seem?
10. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
Really, every time of year is the right time of year to arm yourself against the coming zombie apocalypse. But Max Brooks' humorous take on protecting yourself from zombies works best during Halloween, when shambling corpses seem to be around every corner. Make sure you're prepared to take down the undead this year, should the need arise.