Halloween is right around the corner. The neighbors have carved their pumpkins (including the chic miniature pumpkins which are more avant garde these days), your kids swear their friends already have costumes and the check-out lanes at the grocery store are clogged with bags of candy. Are you really going to be this ordinary? Please, there are alternatives. Consult these new books for inspiration on innovative ways to celebrate a hair-raising, high-spirited Halloween.

Witch Crafting

Let's face it witches have gotten a raw deal in history. From the Salem trials to Oz's Wicked Witch of the West, witches are portrayed as scary, ugly and evil. Author Phyllis Curott, a Wiccan high priestess, certainly doesn't fit that stereotype. A svelte blonde and former civil liberties lawyer, Curott told the story of her own journey toward accepting Wicca in the 1998 memoir Book of Shadows. Her latest effort, Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic, is a practical guide to the whys and hows of making Wiccan magic. With Curott's advice, you can find your own inner goddess just in time for Halloween.

How To Communicate with Spirits

Ever felt like touching the other side ? Then this is your book. In How to Communicate with Spirits, certified medium Elizabeth Owens gathers advice from noted experts on how to contact the spirits of those who have passed on. But beware: the spirits you contact may be naughty rather than nice. While positive spirits can help you out of difficult situations (like getting a seat on a crowded airplane), a negative spirit can be a household menace, stealing items from your kitchen or sending you into fits of depression. Shocking.

Coast to Coast Ghosts

Bored by the same old ghost stories around the campfire? Leslie Rule has solved your dilemma by traveling the country to collect eerie tales of our nation's most haunted places. Guaranteed to send a chill down your spine, Coast to Coast Ghosts: True Stories of Hauntings Across Americadescribes haunted houses, schools, hotels, bridges, forts and, of course, cemeteries. The author, who is the daughter of true-crime writer Ann Rule, includes plenty of photographs for those who need cold, hard evidence that there are goblins and ghouls among us.

Ghost Dogs of the South

Reading scary stories can haunt your bedtime hours with nightmares. And after reading Ghost Dogs of the South, your nightmares will be full of slobber and paws. In these mysterious tales compiled by folklorists Randy Russell and Janet Barnett, dead dogs from Dixie return in ghostly form, while in even stranger cases, humans who die come back as ghost dogs. Think again before you buy that cheaper bag of dog food at the market.

Origami Monsters

If you're interested in the Japanese art of paper folding, why waste your time on a delicate swan or butterfly when you can create such origami ogres as Frankenstein's monster or a snapping goblin? Far less messy than carving a pumpkin, Steve and Megumi Biddle's Origami Monsters should keep the little demons at your house occupied for hours. The book includes well-illustrated instructions and paper for creating several seasonably appropriate creatures.

Handmade Halloween

If your house is the least spooky on the block, don't despair. You can become the Martha Stewart of Halloween decorating by implementing a few practical suggestions from Handmade Halloween: Ideas for a Happy, Haunted Celebration. Tissue paper ghosts will hang from your windows, a front-door scarecrow will grace your entrance and skeleton luminarias will light the way for trick-or-treaters arriving at your stylishly haunted house. Author Zazel Loven also includes cute costume ideas suitable for frantic moms who have never mastered the sewing machine.

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