In the spirit of Halloween, I chose to read a book a little outside of my usual genre of choice. “America’s Haunted Universities: Ghosts that Roam Hallowed Halls” by Matthew Swayne catalogs haunted university buildings across the United States. For someone who spends most of her time reading romance and science-fiction novels, this spooky compendium was definitely a change of scenery.
Before diving into this assignment, I looked up the book online to get an idea of what exactly I would be in for. After reading the introduction, I was hooked. It was light and funny and contained enough intertwined fantasy and fact to hold my interest. Or so I first thought.
Upon further reading, I found myself quickly losing interest. The repetition of ghost stories that essentially followed the same plot line became tedious. Furthermore, the light humor that had originally piqued my interest quickly felt weak and tired.
My original impression of this book as an easy read was correct, but I was so disinterested in the material by the third chapter that I had to strain to read several entries in one sitting.
I don’t think this is a terrible book, nor do I think that the topic is uninteresting. However, I’m not sure it’s a book that can be read in one sitting. The content page allows the reader to see the names of each building that is featured, in relation to the category they fall into, such as dorm, classroom or greek house. Readers can skip from entry to entry without worry that it will alter their understanding of the material. Ultimately, I wish there was an index that listed the haunted buildings by university.
One entry I found especially interesting was the story of Nick the Ghost, who resides in The Purple Masque Theatre here at K-State. I had been aware of the story, but hadn’t heard the actual experiences of students and faculty at K-State.
While I don’t have the resources to determine if every entry in the book is true, the truth of an entry about a teacher I had taken a class from was enough to solidify the book’s credibility, at least to me. However, Swayne does write in the afterword that it is difficult to assure that the stories he retells are anything more than campus folklore.
Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5. It is a fun and interesting topic displayed in an easy-to-read format. I took off points for the book’s inability to hold my attention and its lack of some organizational aspects, such as an index. While I somewhat enjoyed branching out from my usual choices, I’ll probably be sticking to my fictional fantasy books from now on.
Kelsey McClelland is a senior in journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.