Lit Picks: Three Local Books to Pick Up and Read by the Fire 

HORRORSTÖR | Horrorstör is, in the words of its author Grady Hendrix, "the only book about haunted Scandinavian furniture stores you'll ever need." Indeed, if you're in the mood for a spooky autumnal read, and enjoy social satire couched in inventive book packaging, Horrorstör  (240 pgs., Quirk Books) is the tome for you. Set in an IKEA-inspired mega-furniture emporium in Columbus, this modern twist on the haunted house narrative finds five courageous employees volunteering for an all-night shift to see if they can find the paranormal vandals laying waste to their inventory. Horrorstör comes in the form of a furniture catalogue (wackers on crackers, right?), but Hendrix, an illustrator and sci-fi specialist by trade, is comfortable as hell in the horror-social commentary space. It's not only a wicked fun read; it's also a biting critique of the nature of work in the 21st century.

THE FAMILY HIGHTOWER | With three science-fiction novels under his belt, author Brian Francis Slattery has now written an epic family saga about two boys born in 1968 to a family of Cleveland industrialists. (Side note: "The Cleveland Industrialists" was the name of at least 14 high-school metal bands in the region since the 1980s). Published just this month, The Family Hightower (336 pgs., Seven Stories Press) focuses on two boys both named for their grandfather, Peter Henry Hightower, and their assorted international journeys. One becomes a journalist in Granada. The other becomes a minor figure in Cleveland's organized crime scene before booking it to Kiev (where there is certainly no shortage of crime, organized or otherwise). The book is a grand meditation on capitalism, crime and family, and features our fair city as the crucible and spawning ground for it all.

PLAY. SPEAK. | As a TV actor with credits including Law & Order, One Life to Live, and Conviction, Aurora native Tia Dionne Hodge-Jones will be inducted into the Aurora High School Alumni Hall of Fame in October. But Hodge-Jones is also a gifted writer. She'll be in town for most of next month to publicize her new book Play. Speak. (174 pgs., OddInt Media) for local audiences. The book is a collection of 40 challenging contemporary monologues for young actors. It's not a beach read or anything, but if you're in high school (or have high-school-aged children), and are looking to elevate your acting skills to the next level, this one's a must read. It's got selections for male and female performers of all character types. You can feel good about buying this one as well, and not just because you're supporting a local working actress. The proceeds will help fund a national project to bring writing and performance classes to the homeless.


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