Book club for teens explores popular genre
WILLIAMSPORT — With help from zombies, vampires and werewolves, some area teens are exploring life’s deepest topics.
Members of the Skeleton Key Horror Book Club gather at 4:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month at Williamsport Memorial Library. The next meeting of the group — for ages 13 to 17 — is Feb. 9.
“I’ve always liked horror,” said Beau Bradley, branch manager at the library and leader of the club, which has about five members and room for more.
He said he appreciates “the way it lets us examine topics in a very unusual way,” listing identity, loss and love among the issues on which horror touches. Bradley said the genre personifies those topics and others in an entertaining way, but also digs deeper.
“It’s sort of like a no-holds-barred approach to some of these difficult topics,” said Bradley, 27.
The genre speaks to all sorts of people, including those who consider themselves outsiders and those who have had tough experiences.
“It can be so outside the box,” he said. “It’s not all schlock. It’s not all Pablum.”
The library hosts a Halloween party every year that is geared toward younger children, but in October 2015, Bradley had a gathering for teens, during which short horror stories were shared.
“I saw there was an interest in it,” he said, and the club was formed a year later.
Bradley said the group is run more like a book share, with teens talking about what they’re reading and what they want to read. He added that some teens have a hard time fitting pleasure reading into their academic schedules.
“I try to talk as little as possible,” Bradley said.
Instead, he sparks conversation with questions: What are you excited about? Why do you like those characters?
“People always love to share what they like with other people,” he said.
Bradley said the teens aren’t focused so much on authors, but characters, like zombies, vampires, serial killers and werewolves. Writers such as Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft do come up in conversation, though.
He attended a workshop about horror books for young-adult readers and got some good ideas. Sometimes he recommends books that he thinks the club members would like.
“It’s really a genre on the rise,” Bradley said, with a number of new authors penning works of horror.
While there is a Skeleton Key book series, that is not the inspiration for the club’s name. Bradley said he heard about a librarian who hosted a gathering of students, and at every meeting, they were given tokens. Among the trinkets distributed were skeleton keys, the real versions of which are designed to open many locks.
He ordered skeleton keys of various sizes online and gives them to teens when they attend their first Skeleton Key Horror Book Club meeting.
“It’s like a fun little thing,” he said.
Bradley finds value in teens reading books of horror.
“There’s merit to this. It’s not just indulgent reading,” he said.