The Millions

Adults Beware: On the Wisdom of the Goosebumps Books

R.L. Stine’s horror adventures for kids, Goosebumps, are apparently the second best selling book series in history, right behind the exploits of the world’s most famous wizard.

As a lifelong Goosebumps fan, I find this endlessly puzzling.

It is not like I am alone in my adoration. Stine has his share of devotees. Goosebumps recently got a movie and will soon get a second one. The first film, starring Jack Black as a cursed RL Stine, is exactly the gooey mashup of random monsters, dorky characters, and screwball humor Goosebumps fans find palatable—or are compelled to appreciate after reading too many Goosebumps early on.

… And yet.

Compare the state of the Goosebumps fandom to their main commercial rival, Harry Potter, its ending lines inked on countless forearms all the world over, its jewelry hanging from the necks and wrists of not a few respectable adults I know. Harry Potter has turned England into the kind of theme park that would make , with his Disneyan America, break into heavy breathing. People has a double West End show that , especially considering every child in England is going to sonic-attack their parents and go on hunger strikes until they are sedated or brought to the play.

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