This is a collection of Washington Irving's writings which includes: a combination of stories, letters, history, and essays about different topics. Some of the stories with a Halloween theme were: Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Haunted House, and Adventure of the Mysterious Picture. These stories had ghosts, strange unexplained events, and creepy elements to them.
One of the first American authors to become popular in Europe, Irving helped promote American culture abroad. He was also influential to later authors such as Hawthorne, Poe, and Longfellow. He popularized calling New York city Gotham in his writing of Salmagundi. His success as an author enabled him to make a living only by writing, which was extremely uncommon in America in the early 19th century.
More horrific than his scary stories, were his views on women. They were not very different from the typical viewpoint of his time, but Irving's "longing for the days of the subjection of women" was repellent. I was disappointed to discover it was a chore to read this book. I had looked forward to being engrossed by tales of early American horror and history. I did find a few of the stories interesting, or occasionally part of a story, but I did not care for the style they were written in. Distracted with the condescending language and strange whimsy that Irving often presented, I found that these tales could not hold my attention.
Bastinado: Punishment where the soles of feet are beaten, or foot whipping
Emolument: Salary or pay for a job, compensation
Galligaskins: Loose fitting breeches
Garrulity: Excessive talkativeness, especially with nothing to say on trivial matters
Grampus: Sea creature: whale or dolphin
Rantipole: Boisterous merrymaking, wild
Roysters: Revelers without restraint
Slang-whangers: One who uses abusive slang, or a ranting partisan
Termagant: Argumentative or nagging. A harsh tempered or overbearing woman.
Virago: Quarrelsome shrewish woman, A strong courageous woman
I would recommend finding out which of his stories you like, and only buying those.
November 6, 2014 Update:
You can read my review of a movie version of this book here.