Around this time of year, as the wind chills me while I walk down the street and the air starts to get cold in my throat, I love settling into a blanket with a good, spooky book. I grew up watching tons of scary movies, but it was the imagination necessary in reading books that scared me – your mind will conjure something far more personally scary than any movie could show you. Here are a few of my favorite horror reads.
1. The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson A classic. I remember this story being one of the first things I read that ever scared me; there’s a sense of foreboding throughout the short story, and the realization at the end is horrifying. For more scary Jackson, check out her novel The Haunting of Hill House, which sometimes gets called the most frightening book of all time.
Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, $24.95 from Amazon
2. Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allen Poe Continuing in the short story vein, Poe’s contribution to terrifying tales cannot be ignored. There are many stories of his I wouldn’t read by myself, and it was hard to choose which I found most bewitching – I’d definitely suggest The Pit & the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat and The Cask of Amontillado.
The Shining, $16.00 from Amazon
3. The Shining, by Stephen King What would a list of horror books be without something from Stephen King? Some of his later works I couldn’t get into because he seems to ramble for long periods of time; but The Shining is King at his visceral best. And the book is far, far more chilling and scary than the film.
The Little Stranger, $26.95 from Amazon
4. The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters For another book about a haunted dwelling, this may be of interest. The story, about an old British house in which the narrator’s mother worked as a maid years earlier, makes you question exactly what is happening. There are a lot of angles to certain mysterious events, and told through the narrator – you realize he may not be as reliable as previously thought.
The Season of Passage, $14.99 from Amazon
5. The Season of Passage, by Christopher Pike While the past and old books surely has a hold to scare us, there’s also something incredibly horrifying about the future. I grew up reading Christopher Pike’s young adult novels, but he also wrote adult horror novels. This book follows about a team of astronauts sent on a rescue mission to Mars, I had to relegate to not reading before bed because I was afraid I would have nightmares. Creepy stuff!
Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft, $24.99 from Amazon
6. Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodgriguez Recently, I had a friend suggest a graphic novel to scare me. I was a bit skeptical, but I started reading it and it was greusome and terrifying! Come to find the author of the Locke & Key series is none other than Joe Hill — his real last name is “King.” Yep, Stephen King’s son wrote a graphic novel (with illustrations by Gabriel Rodriguez). It’s pretty scary stuff, and I’ve only read the first volume. It starts with a murder, and transplants a family to an old house with some very interesting keys as accessories. Apparently it’s a series that will end after a few more issues, and I’m almost hesitant to read the second volume out of fear! Also, warning: this is not reading suitable for kids, even if it does have pictures!
House of Leaves, $19.95 from Amazon
7. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski And finally, the one book I could not read in a room by myself, nor right before bed, nor without every light on in the room. The book is 700+ pages, and it’s actually two novels. It’s a manuscript describing a documentary of a house, and the story of a young man finding that manuscript after its owner dies. Both storylines are scary, but the descriptions of the house are terrifying. (Sidenote: why are houses so scary?!) The house itself has a life and history of its own, replete with hallways appearing and disappearing, the walls expanding only on the inside, and mysterious closets suddenly becoming endless tunnels. The book is visually arresting, too. In the color version, there are certain words that repeat in the same color (the word “house” is always blue), and sometimes the sentences and words fall off the page (see first picture) or lead you to another page and back again. There was a moment where I had to put the book up to a mirror in order to read it. It’s a true journey, and one that scared the *(@# out of me!
Obviously I love to be scared and read horror novels! Do you have any suggestions? What’s your favorite scary book? List your own!
…Maybe I should just be a scary house for Halloween?