I’ve always had a love affair with ghost and horror stories – for as long as I can remember and as a teenager I used to get through the numbered Pan books of horror stories like nobody’s business.
Anyone remember those? Edited by Herbert Van Thal. Goodness knows how many – I think there were 24 and I must have read most if not all of them. They had delightfully gruesome covers and I’m pretty sure that when I put the books down at night, I put them face down in case I should wake up and scare myself even more stupid than I already was.
I hung on to them for years – my kids can remember the covers vividly – I can’t think why.
I first read the story of the Elephant Man in those books. And stories by Rosemary Timperley, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, H P Lovecraft, L P Hartley, C S Forester, Bram Stoker, W W Jacobs – I could go on and on and probably on some more.
I’m pretty sure I read The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry in one of them. It is one of my all time favourites.
I would read any book of horror stories I could get my paws on, not just the Van Thal ones. I wish I hadn’t parted with them when I had one of my massive book clearances.
I may have to visit http://www.abebooks.co.uk/ and treat myself.
Most of those offered for sale are fair or have slight scuffing or show signs of wear and tear. My Pan books were very creased and battered through much handling. My copy of To Kill a Mockingbird is like that – the cover falls off when I pick it up.
But isn’t that the sign of a much loved book? One that has been read and read and obviously enjoyed? The best kind.