This American classic (1 hour and 15 minutes) was published in September of 2014 by Audible Studios. The audiobook takes you to a small town in 18th century New York. Melissa listened to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.
This is one of those stories that’s seeped into our shared consciousness: gangly Ichabod Crane, the spine-chilling headless horseman, a flaming pumpkin. But if you’ve never read the original source material, you are in for a treat.
The story begins in 1790 when our mostly unlikeable hero — school teacher Ichabod Cran — arrives in the village of Tarrytown in upstate New York. Tucked away in the secluded valley of Sleepy Hollow, it’s a primarily Dutch settlement that’s well known for its ghost stories. The residents of the town are said to possess a dreamy quality. Some people even whisper that the town is bewitched.
The ghost story the townsfolk most like to tell is that of the infamous Headless Horseman, the spirit of a Hessian soldier whose head was blown off by a cannonball during ‘some nameless battle’ of the American Revolution. Unable to rest, he rides his mighty black steed through the local woods on a nightly quest for his head.
Ichabod is a grasping, gluttonous, judgmental social climber — and a _terrible_singer. He immediately becomes obsessed with two things: the ghosts and Katrina Van Tassel, the beautiful daughter of one of the wealthiest men in town. As he tries to wriggle himself into Tarrytown society, he earns a rival for Katrina’s affection: The handsome local gentlemen named Abraham, but called Brom Bones by his friends.
On the night of the big autumn party at the Van Tassel’s, all of the tensions that have been simmering come to a head, and, eventually, the Headless Horseman gallops onto the scene.
Irving’s prose is unexpectedly funny; the unnamed narrator is quick-witted and has a wry, teasing approach to the people and events in the story. These residents of Sleepy Hollow are bougie and snobby, yet all-together unsophisticated. Underneath its Gothic trappings, this story is an astute look at the class consciousness of rural America, as well as the tension between Christianity and paganism, the city and the country. It would all be heady stuff were it not for the showdown on the covered bridge and the projectile pumpkin.
We love this pitch-perfect Audible version of the book, narrated by Tom Mison, star of the TV series Sleepy Hollow.
He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield. — Washington Irving
Fun fact: Should you find yourself in Tarrytown, New York, you can visit Washington Irving’s grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Wanna help us spread the word? If you like this page, please share with your friends.
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.