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It’s so strange–as a kid you’re excited about Halloween no matter what day of the week it falls on, but as an adult I feel like I’m usually more excited about the weekend closest to it. This year, our friends threw a party and everyone dressed up as their childhood dream job. I dressed up as an archaeologist a la Indiana Jones, and Paul dressed up like a fighter pilot.
The atmosphere of disguise and pretending to be someone else is my favorite part of Halloween, so in honor of that, here are 10 memorable costumes from my childhood and 10 books to go with them.
Archaeologist—Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones
This book is probably the best (as well as only) book that I’ve read recently that features archaeology as its subject. The protagonist acts as a translator for the dig, helping them secure permission from the government. Also a great love story
Esmerelda—Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies
Oh I loved this costume. My mom didn’t make it, but it was homemade by someone. The cotton fabric had this rich, watery quality to it.
Anyway, I think of Esmerelda as a character who stands up for those in need, even at great personal cost. I can’t think of anyone who exemplifies that more than Miep Gies, who helped hide the Franks with her partner at great personal risk.
Belly Dancer—Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher
My family did make this costume. It felt like everyone had a hand in it. Unfortunately we lived in Oregon, which meant I had to basically ruin the costume with layers or I’d get wet from the rain.
This YA book was one of my favorites around this time in my life (5th grade or so). I loved the emphasis it placed on storytelling and the intrigue. The life it depicted was as enchanting as it was disturbing.
Cleopatra—Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff or watch the movie with Elizabeth Taylor
This was probably one of my more memorable costumes. My hair was the right length and the right color to fit all the images you probably have in your mind of the Queen. My makeup was a bit sloppy, but that didn’t matter because I felt incredibly regal.
I like this biography of Cleopatra because it tries to rescue the woman from behind the legend created for her. I also love the movie with Liz Taylor because it does exactly the opposite.
Delores Umbridge—Matilda by Roald Dahl
It would be too easy to choose a Harry Potter book for this character. Instead I chose one with another despicable school administrator.
Bumblebee—Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
I don’t really have any memories of this costume, but it’s featured in lots of toddler pictures, so it definitely existed. I chose a book that’s sweet but also stings.
Pink Power Ranger—Bossypants by Tina Fey
Not that Tina Fey would have ever dressed up as a Power Ranger, but the message behind the costume is I will clearly kick your butt while defying all of your expectations–hence Tina Fey’s book.
Did the Power Ranger costume not say that to you? Maybe it’s just me.
Alice—Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
This book seems like the perfect counterpart to Alice in Wonderland. Not only does it have a quintessentially English feel (complete with footnotes), there’s also some traveling via mirrors going on. I will rave about this book more later. But it and the show are perfect Halloween reading.
50s housewife—Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
This book is a really interesting look into the mind of a woman who seems to be a perfect 50’s housewife, but is really a person with her own complications, flaws, and concerns.
Snow White—The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
I didn’t actually consider this costume to be a costume for Snow White. My mom and I found a bunch of these pretty German-style costumes at the thrift store, and the three of us (Mom, me and my best friend) went around dressed up as Bavarian beauties or something–we never quite settled on that. But I went dressed up that way to the preschool where my aunt worked, and all the kids called me Snow White, which was flattering.
Anyway, Angela Carter’s not-so-fairy tales are perfect for Halloween or really any time of year.
What was your most memorable costume? Let me know in the comments.