The Watkins Book of Urban Legends

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Pub Date Nov 12 2024 | Archive Date Nov 05 2024

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A comprehensive and entertaining collection of urban legends from around the world, with a history and analysis of the origin of each tale, compiled by a leading authority in the field.

A rich and unique collection of folktales and urban legends from around the world. Each story comes with an accompanying brief note to provide context. Including new tales reflecting new concerns; old tales repurposed for new audiences and new ways of telling. 

The collection illustrates that these stories are now alive across many new media. This is the first such popular book to bring together stories with both traditional and digital media origins and to examine how the phenomenon of social media has affected both the spread of urban legends and their very nature.

  • Features the uniquely modern manifestation of folk mythology and legend, now made ubiquitous by the internet; the conspiracy theory.
  • Includes urban legends such as: The Pickled Hand, The Babysitter, The Sandman.
  • Includes conspiracy theories such as: Wild Fires, Fifteen Minute Cities and Organ Theft.
  • 40% of the stories originate in North America, 30% in Europe, 20% in Asia, 10% in Africa and elsewhere
  • The book also shows how stories spread and change from the country of origin to become global.
A comprehensive and entertaining collection of urban legends from around the world, with a history and analysis of the origin of each tale, compiled by a leading authority in the field.

A rich and...

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ISBN 9781786788559
PRICE $19.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 11 members

Featured Reviews

The Watkins Book of Urban Legends is a collection of contemporary myths compiled by author and storyteller Gail De Vos. It focuses on modern tales with some emphasis on internet and social media culture.

I loved this book. I only have good things to say about it!

I love how the author encourages others to adapt these legends according to their own experiences. It really shows that she cares about legend itself as a high concept, as oral storytelling—a very popular way for legends to spread—leads into the creation of variation. I also like how it reads casually, with occasional little interruptions like the reader is listening to the author tell these stories in person as the author stated she has lots of experience with. I especially love the historical/cultural/psychological research that accompanies each legend to provide context. It’s fascinating to read how and why these legends are created and evolve (The fears of the microwave, for instance, changing from pets to phones).

It was interesting to see just how many of these legends I’d heard before. It was more than I’d expected, as I realized many times I’d just heard a different variation of them. There is one included about a KFC order being rat instead of chicken, and while I don’t think I’ve heard that tale specifically, I’ve seen memes of the same variety. A lot of these legends have been morphed by meme culture (and a surprising amount were only floating around my brain because of SpongeBob episodes specifically). Stories I thought originated as Creepypastas turned out to be significantly older. Storytelling and legends really show how humans have always been humans.

I enjoyed the legends from other parts of the world than North America. There were especially many from Eastern Asia, namely Japan.

As a lifelong reader of books like this one, I have to extend my recommendation. This collection is highly researched, accessible, and has to be my favorite I’ve read so far. I’ve looked so long for a centralized place with a list like this, and finally I’ve found it. The author, unlike many others in this genre, doesn’t treat her reader as if they’ve never heard of bigfoot (for example). You’ll never feel talked down to or babied. You WILL learn something in virtually every entry. If you’re into urban legends, cryptids, ghost stories, conspiracy theories, or even the history of legends and storytelling itself, this is a great piece to pick up from an author who clearly knows what she’s writing about.

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Honestly I thought this was just going to be an encyclopedia style book about urban legends. Boy was i pleasantly surprised!

I love how the author shares their own twists on the stories and legends within. It really hits home with nostalgia for me and helps me remember tales long forgotten so I can tell my children.

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Super impressive and extensive collection of urban legends. Like another reviewer, I thought this was going to be just an encyclopedia situation. Not this collection! It also included different derivatives of the story that you may have heard. Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book!

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This book is fantastically written and is a great way to share some contemporary folklore! Gail is clearly passionate about her work and I have enjoyed her previous work as well.

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I love reading these sorts of books. Finding out about urban legends from around the world, the history, where they started, how they’ve changed overtime with each re-telling.
I’ve read similar books before, but they’ve always been more of a summarised bullet point format. The basics and nothing else.
Where as this one gave me everything I wanted to know and more I didn’t even know I needed!
Would definitely recommend this to everyone.

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If you're interested in Urban Legends, then this book is for you!

There's an extensive number of legends included within, all with references and source details. There is a lot of information within these pages to the point of saturation.

Overall, this would probably be more of a reference book on my shelf, but I would heartily recommend this to anyone who is interested in Urban Legends.

*I received an advance review copy for free from NetGalley, and I'm voluntarily leaving a review.*

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Thank you for this eARC!

A fascinating collection of urban legends—in an expansive use of the word, also dealing with conspiracy theories, hoaxes and scam emails.

I particularly liked the way the author talked of their personal connections to each story. This book was clearly well-researched and covered a vast range of different urban legends. Having read this book, I’m really keen to check out others in the series!

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Well written and engaging this in depth look at urban legends is well worth reading.

Showing how legends have adapted to the age of social media and the internet, along with research provides context for each legends and it's iterations over the years

The only issue was misspellings and formatting errors but this could have been due to the ARC I was provided with.

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