Reading horror has always been beneficial for persons of any age, whether it’s providing a safe space to explore our deepest fears, to seeing characters like ourselves overcome adversity (often in the form of some sort of monster, real and imagined), or as a way to analyze discomforting topics while enjoying a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller. That’s why the Horror Writers Association established an annual summer reading program, Summer Scares, to encourage a national conversation about the horror genre, across all age levels, at libraries nationwide and ultimately foster a lifelong love of reading.
In celebration of National Library Lover’s Day, the HWA, in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Booklist, is delighted to announce the fourth annual Summer Scares reading list. Every year, a team of librarians, along with an author spokesperson, selects three titles in each of three categories: Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade. For 2022, the Summer Scares team was thrilled to welcome acclaimed and award-winning author Alma Katsu, whose novel The Hunger was a 2021 Summer Scares selected title.
Horror can be a hard sell for some librarians and patrons, but having these lists of vetted titles, and being able to tout the respected organizations and authors behind them, can help readers and librarians alike feel confident engaging with the horror genre, whether they are an avid horror fan or someone considering trying the genre for the first time.
The Summer Scares team has heard from many librarians across the country about the lively conversations they have had with discussion groups and the meaningful experiences they have been able to provide their communities through author events and programs. Each year more and more libraries reach out to the Summer Scares team to find out how they can both better serve the horror lovers in their areas and get more people excited about indulging their fears through fiction.
As the HWA’s Library Committee Co-Chair, I love to see the ways in which horror can connect people, because fear is universal. And for kids and teens especially, the fears brought on by change, by loss, by feelings of otherness, can be particularly overwhelming. It is heartening to see how experiencing a fictional world of frights can help people process their real world anxieties and pain.
Each of this year’s Summer Scares titles, regardless of age group, speaks to this exploration of our shared fears through enthralling stories, whether of all-too-real horrors happening along the U.S./Mexico border (Coyote Songs), fighting to survive a world-wide pandemic (Agnes at the End of the World), or finding the confidence and magic within yourself to help your friends (Beetle & the Hollowbones).
The 2022 Summer Scares titles are:
- Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias [Broken River Books, 2018]
- My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris [Fantagraphics, 2017]
- The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman [Quirk Books, 2019]
- Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare [HarperTeen, 2020]
- The Companion by Kate Alender [G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2020]
- Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams [Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020]
Middle grade fiction:
- The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown [Scholastic Press, 2019]
- Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker [Henry Holt and Co., 2019]
- Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne [Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020]
“I’m thrilled with the selection of books and authors chosen by the Summer Scares programming committee for this year’s program,” said 2022 spokesperson Alma Katsu, “and look forward to working with librarians to introduce these great titles to more readers.”
The goal of Summer Scares is to introduce horror titles to school and public library workers in order to help them start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come. In addition to the annual list of recommended titles, the Summer Scares committee will release themed lists of even more “read-alike” titles libraries can suggest to readers. And, in order to help libraries forge stronger connections between books and readers, the Summer Scares committee will be working with both the recommended list authors and Horror authors from all over the country to provide free programming to libraries.
“The 2022 guide is packed with ideas that library workers can use to engage their communities with these great titles, whether they’re putting up book displays, hosting author events, or planning an entire Summer Scares program series,” states Konrad Stump, co-creator of the programming guide.
Sabat, Stump, Katsu, and many of our Summer Scares 2022 authors will be appearing along with committee members Becky Spratford and Julia Smith as part of the HWA’s Librarians’ Day, taking place in person on May 13, 2022, at the Curtis Hotel in Denver, CO, during this year’s StokerCon. Summer Scares content will be available live, in person, and as part of our virtual conference, as well as on the HWA’s YouTube page.
The HWA is a non-profit organization of writers and publishing professionals, and the oldest organization dedicated to the horror/dark fiction genre. One of the HWA’s missions is to foster an appreciation of reading through extensive programming and partnerships with libraries, schools, and literacy-based organizations.
The 2022 Summer Scares program committee consists of author Alma Katsu, HWA Library Committee Co-Chairs Becky Spratford and Konrad Stump, as well as Academic Librarian Carolyn Ciesla, Book Riot Editor and YA specialist Kelly Jensen, and Booklist Editor and Middle Grade specialist Julia Smith.
For more information about Summer Scares, including committee member bios and how to obtain promotional materials and schedule events with the authors/committee members, please visit the Summer Scares FAQ and Resources page or email HWA Library Committee Co-Chairs Becky Spratford and Konrad Stump at email@example.com.