Pumpkins, Squirrels, and #RIPXVII

Little Free Library with pumpkin

One of the odd things about living in Connecticut is that squirrels here (at least in Guilford) don’t eat pumpkins. This statement is based on my own observations of living here for almost nine years. In Illinois and in other states I’ve lived, squirrels often munch on them. Is it a difference in food availability? Regional taste preferences? Are CT pumpkins gross?

Do squirrels eat pumpkins where you live? 🎃 🐿 

What do Outlander & Cannery Row have in common?

Also related to the above photo, I was tempted to snag that copy of Outlander in this Little Free Library. I recently finished watching season five of the TV series and have been slowly (like, glacially) reading Outlander on my e-reader. My reading speed has more to do with the fact that it is my bedtime book than my enjoyment of the story; I read for a few minutes before passing out.

I just finished reading Cannery Row by John Steinbeck for book club. It was published in 1945 and this appearance of Halloween decorations was certainly timely:

Halloween decorations in Cannery Row

It’s also interesting that orange and black have come to represent the holiday more than yellow and black, although I know that color scheme is still used (particularly on Halloween cat decorations: black body, yellow eyes).

I wonder why orange has taken the lead. Do you know why? Perhaps someone has written a dissertation on Halloween Decorations in Literature.

Oh! It just hit me as I wrote the last sentence that the beginning of Outlander is set during the Halloween season, or the Gaelic festival of Samhain. In place of colorful decorations, blood is smeared over doorways. Clair’s husband Frank sees the “ghost” of Jamie very early on in the novel and in the first episode of the TV series. There’s a beautiful depiction of a Druid ceremony where local townsfolk dressed in flowy white robes and carrying lights gracefully dance around a circle of stones. Perhaps not historically accurate, but nice to watch.

And here I was thinking that I wouldn’t get in much Halloween reading this season due to coursework (more on that in my next post).

Readers Imbibing Peril #RIPXVII

A novel I recently read that qualifies for Readers Imbibing Peril (#RIPXVII) is Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Research for a paper I’m writing lead me to episode three of the TV series, which I watched. That lead me to read the novel, which I enjoyed. It’s a fabulous mashup of fantasy, horror, sci-fi, historical fiction, and social justice. I plan on watching the whole season as a post-semester treat.

As for other creepy fall reading, I’ll be re-reading Carmilla (1872) by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu for a book discussion hosted by The History Project. This is a free discussion but you do have to RSVP.

If you don’t mind reading digitally, a free copy of Carmilla is available on Project Gutenberg. If you want to dig into some of the scholarship about Carmilla, there is a critical edition introduced and edited by Kathleen Costello-Sullivan. There is also a fantastic Audible Originals version that I listened to last year:

Publisher’s Summary

FINALIST: The Audie Awards 2016

Audible Originals brings you a brand new audiobook adaptation of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic gothic novella, Carmilla – starring Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey), David Tennant (Doctor Who and Broadchurch) and Phoebe Fox (Life in Squares and The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death)

One of the very first vampire thrillers, this audio adaptation follows 18-year-old Laura as she recounts the story of her mysterious, intriguing and beautiful house guest Carmilla, who is stranded in the forest after a carriage accident and taken in by Laura’s widowed father. The girls develop a friendship which turns into a passionate meeting of souls. A relationship of vampire and prey, the story is told through Laura’s eyes as she is drawn further into Carmilla’s terrifying world of pleasure and pain.

A masterpiece of erotic Gothic horror, Carmilla encompasses mystery, suspense, forbidden lust, violence…and lots of blood….

Carmilla has been dramatised by Robin Brooks, an actor, dramatist and author who has been working as a playwright for over 25 years. Carmilla was directed by Fiona McAlpine of Allegra Productions for Audible Originals.


When I listened to it last fall, this performance had me gripping the steering wheel as I drove home along a curvy two-lane tree-lined road long after sunset. Fog even rolled in at one point causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. It was a perfect listening experience.

As for other creepy reads this season, I may squeeze in a ghost story or two by Edith Wharton.

Have you any special Halloween or #RIPXVII reading plans?


  1. I don’t recall squirrels eating pumpkins when I lived in Nebraska. They generally seemed too busy planting, er, storing food. On the outskirts of the Phoenix metro where I live now, people have be careful because pumpkins will attract javelina, which are much less friendly than squirrels.

  2. Squirrel-pumpkin report from Wisconsin. Never seen it. Though we did have a chipmunk busily attempting to store nuts in the store for winter. I regret so say, I called the landlord and he live trapped the chipmunk and hopefully, he’s now living his best life in a pumpkin patch somewhere. I have no idea on the Halloween schemes but also suspect there is a dissertation somewhere ready to be dusted off. I’ve been pushing The Sentence as our bookstore Halloween read–the cranky customer turned ghost who inhabits Louise Erdrich’s bookstore is fabulous. Thanks for this wonderful blog–I especially love the Cannery Row find.

    • Oh, The Sentence! I’ve wanted to read that and it slipped my mind. I just ordered a copy from you. And Blair Braverman’s Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. I loved Small Game and we interviewed her for my podcast — I can’t wait to share that episode. One of my dogs is a retired sled dog, so Dogs on the Trail was also a big hit in my house. It sounds like I’m becoming a groupie.

      Thanks for the squirrel report. This is so fascinating.

  3. Interestingly, last year was the first year that our local squirrels, Eastern CT, dug right in to our pumpkins. So far this year they have left them alone but there’s still time for a pumpkin feast.

  4. Thoughts from Australia re squirrels – we don’t have any here! But we have plenty of pesky possums. Although they don’t eat pumpkins because they are too lazy to chew through the skin. They much prefer fruit trees, blossom and sneaking unattended cat food. Our possums are nocturnal so they would make a fun Halloween symbol. Actually Halloween is starting to catch on in Australia but is not something I grew up with 🙂

    • I did not know that you don’t have squirrels in Australia! I thought they were a worldwide critter. We have possums here, too, and they are not very well loved. That might change as more people learn they eat ticks (which are a problem where I live, one that’s spreading in the US). That’s funny that you say possums would make a good Halloween symbol as they do look kind of ghost-like. 👻

  5. Our squirrels now eat a steady diet of the birdseed from the feeder we put out a few months ago! We do have a little red squirrel (as opposed to the normal gray ones) that is especially crafty. This is my husband’s new occupation now that he’s retired: trying to keep the squirrels out of the feeder!

    Outlander is SO good! I’ve only read the first two books so far. I had #3 on my stack for Big Book Summer, but I didn’t get to it.

    I had no idea Halloween was celebrated that long ago! Very cool. I think orange represents pumpkins, a Halloween icon.

    I wanted to let you know that I chose your blog as my Blog of the Month in my blog’s monthly newsletter, which will go out later today – I linked to your blog and also to Book Cougars, of course 🙂 I hope you get some new visitors!

    Hope you enjoyed your RIP reading! I definitely did (still finishing one last ghost book!)

    Book By Book

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