Top Ten Spooky Reads for Halloween

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Holiday themed reading is one of my favorite things. In high school and college, I’d pick books for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas and try to read them in their respective months to get in the festive mood. I’ve not been as great at getting this done lately, but this year, I am finally doing better. I’ve read Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett (vampires!), a few spooky short stories by Neil Gaiman (evil Jack-in-the-Boxes aren’t cool, f.y.i.), and even gotten started on some Cthulhu mythos.

Since I’m enjoying my current foray into creepy reads, I thought I’d join in with Top Ten Tuesday (brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish) to share some of my favorite scary books.  None of them are probably all that horrifying (because I like being able to go to sleep at night), but they’re still perfect to get you in the Halloween mood!

Top Ten Spooky Reads for Halloween

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  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ~ For me, Frankenstein is to Halloween what The Christmas Carol is to Christmas. I read it almost every year in October—which isn’t too tough since it’s a short book. Over the years, it’s even become my favorite Classic, spooky novel!
  • A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelanzy ~ This is a horror novel told from animals’ POVs. What’s fun is that those animals belong to famous monsters and horror story staples (like Frankenstein and Dracula).
  • The Monk by Matthew Lewis ~ I read this novel for my Gothic Literature course in college and loved it because it was so absurdly over-the-top. If you haven’t read a Classic Gothic novel, please try this one. It’s so bad it’s good.
  • Horrorstӧr by Grady Hendrix ~ A horror story set at an Ikea ripoff by the author of those really awesome Under the Dome recaps. Yeah, it’s a definite must-read.
  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest ~ Steampunk and zombies! Priest has written a whole series of “Clockwork Century” books and they’re spooky good without being too horrific. I’m not sure the same can be said about her Lizzie Borden-Meets-Lovecraft series. I haven’t been brave enough to start that one yet.

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  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman ~ Most of Neil Gaiman’s books are kind of creepy, but there’s something about the alternate world in Coraline that gives me the heebie-jeebies. It’s not my favorite Gaiman book, but I think it’s the most appropriate to read (or reread) for Halloween.
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield ~ I like Gothic literature because I like reading about super wacked out families. This book 100% satisfies in the “Wacked Out Family” category. And there’s a spooky, old house. And a mysterious writer. Basically, it’s got all the must-have Gothic tropes going for it.
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson ~ I would have put We Have Always Lived in the Castle on this list, but I just wrote about it a couple of weeks ago. I decided to go with The Haunting for the obligatory Shirley Jackson novel instead. I still haven’t seen the adaptations though! I need to get on that this year for sure.
  • Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman ~ I know a lot of people watch Hocus Pocus every year for Halloween, but I tend to watch Practical Magic instead (not that I don’t like Hocus Pocus!). The book is quite a bit different from the movie, but it’s still a good read (even if it is more magical realism than horror).
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop ~ Vampires and werewolves and elementals, oh my! I stopped reading the second book in this series because it freaked me out so much. Still, I loved Written in Red—it was spooky and gross but manageable.

What have you been reading to get yourself in the mood for Halloween?

Image Sources: Disney Screencaps and Goodreads

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24 thoughts on “Top Ten Spooky Reads for Halloween

  1. Horrorstor was a fantastic read! I’m going to pick up Boneshaker at some point. My scary reads were almost all done last month for October (I’m perpetually scheduled 3-4 weeks ahead), but I recently read Beneath Claire’s House, and that was REALLY good.

    My TTT

  2. I love Frankenstein, and almost read it again this year but have so many other books I wanted to finish in October! I love that you have The Monk on here. I picked up a copy a while back, and haven’t had a chance to read it yet. And I haven’t read The Haunting of Hill House yet, but I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle for an American Gothic course. I loved it and have been meaning to read more Shirley Jackson. My TTT focused on spooky books I read as a child, but it also has Coraline on it.

  3. I clearly remember reading Practical Magic when I was in middle school and I can picture being in my art classroom with two of my close guy friends at the time who picked up my library book and of course managed to turn to the sex scene and I never heard the end of it. I can’t even remember how graphic it was because it was so long ago at this point but I just remember it being such a big deal in middle school lol. I’ve always wanted to re-read it since it’s been so long (the whole book, not just the sex scene)!

  4. Wow! I didn’t know the Bishop series was so freaky! I need to get on those 🙂 THIRTEENTH TALE is one of my absolute favorites and I did so enjoy HORRORSTOR (more people need to read that one!).

  5. The 1960’s Haunting is very good. Ignore all other films. And I also have a deep and abiding love for Frankenstein (novel & all film adaptations, even the terrible ones). Thanks for the recommendation of The Monk. I love me a good “classic” Gothic novel.

  6. I teach a unit on Gothic literature with my eighth graders right around Halloween – it’s nice because we just finished our first round of standardized testing, so their brains are craving something fun. We read a reader’s theater version of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” three of Poe’s short stories (“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Black Cat,” and/or “William Wilson”), “The Raven,” and a detective story (either “The Murders in Rue Morgue” by Poe or “The Speckled Band” by Arthur Conan Doyle). It gets me in the mood for celebrating my favorite holiday and lets me teach some stories that are as creepy as I want without the kids thinking I’m a weirdo.

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