What are you doing this Halloween? I have some cheeky reads for you introverts out there that don’t want to take part in the festivities, or some fabulous hostess gifts for those of you who do. So grab a pumpkin latte (or a pumpkin beer) and curl up with a book.

The Drunken Botanist

Have you ever read Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart? Such a wonderful book about the nefarious side of the plant kingdom. It’s wicked fun reading and would also be perfect for Halloween reading and hostess gifts. The Drunken Botanist is also delightfully naughty with a beautiful presentation and cocktail recipes perfect for the holiday season, beginning with Halloween.

There is something so mischievous about Amy Stewart’s books, I love it! Both Wicked Plants and The Drunken Botanist are somewhat scholarly despite the relatable, inviting tone. They are gorgeous books, the kind you want to leave out to look at often. My son became fascinated with Wicked Plants when he was little and read it all the time. It may have been because we saw the author give a talk in person and she was just as engaging as her books. She even had some show-and-tell poisonous plants with her, in glass bottles. It was quite a presentation which captured my son’s imagination along with the lovely illustrations in the book. Strange for a seven year old to latch onto, but it just goes to show you the crossover appeal of this original work. The Drunken Botanist is a newer book, but contains the same feisty appeal.

A little science, a little history, and loads of fun-facts, The Drunken Botanist is a fascinating, enchanting book that belongs on every cocktail enthusiast’s shelf, and anyone interested in the more rowdy side of botany.

Kitchen Table Tarot

How about some tarot for Halloween? I treat tarot in a similar way to the way I treat horoscopes–for me it’s for fun. I wouldn’t make a life decision based on the cards, but they can offer insight. Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova is a light hearted, page turning read that will get you reading cards very quickly.

The author has a great conversational style and her sense of humor is delightful. She makes it fun. Though she does touch on serious topics, and she’s a 30-year tarot veteran who knows what she is talking about, this is about as approachable as it gets. You learn about the meanings of the cards, how to do different layouts, and other tips and tricks for authentic tarot reading. Cynova is such a hoot, I wish I knew her. She’s spicy and sassy, and captivating. She’s also not afraid to get deep. Aside from learning tarot, and being entertained, this book is full of interesting concepts and insights. So engaging it’s hard to put down, Kitchen Table Tarot makes a wonderful Halloween read, hopefully followed by your own kitchen table tarot readings. 

Crystal Tarot

This colorful Crystal Tarot deck looks a little like stained glass. Saturated colors are pleasing to the eye and though not exactly traditional with its Art Nouveau vibe, but more of a blend of modern and classic. The name of each card is on the bottom, so you don’t have to know them by heart, but the minor arcana are illustrated only with the suite symbols.

The cards have a nice weight in your hands and both sides are wonderful to look at, the backs. This is one of the prettiest decks I’ve ever seen.

Universal Tarot Premium

For more experienced tarot readers, the Universal Tarot Premium is more traditional in appearance, but does not have the names of the cards on the bottom, so you need to either know them or refer to the booklet which is included in the box. Colors are muted and more pastel.

Premium refers to the card stock, so these cards should last longer and they have a heavier weight in your hand. Neither of these decks are what Cynova recommends in her book, by the way. They are probably not meant for beginners, but the artwork is lovely, and for me they both work just fine, though the Crystal deck is my preference.

Holistic Tarot

If you want to dig deeper into Tarot, check out Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen. This is a tome. It’s a scholarly study into the history and psychology of tarot. You’ll find the various spreads with illustrations and detailed interpretations of each card. I like that she offers an analytic approach to tarot, as opposed to the “fortune telling” method. She says that what is most valuable about tarot is that it forges a path for inner exploration via intuition and that resonates for me, it’s a pragmatic approach.

Not a book I would read cover to cover, but something you could return to one and over as a reference or to read a little at a time, this 4-inch thick book is a classic. This is an appropriate book for beginners, so don’t be intimidated by its size, just take it in small bites.