I haven’t done this in awhile, and this one is hard, honestly…or is it? Most of what I do to get into Halloween is watch movies like Hocus Pocus or the Charlie Brown special. But let’s see what we can come up with.
1.) “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, Washington Irving-Not a book, really, but a great short story. I’ve realized I’m a lot like Ichabod Crane. Such a scaredy-cat. No joke. I can’t watch a scary movie or even see a commercial for it without having issues. Regardless, it’s got pumpkins, headless guys, windy nights, and Halloween parties. What could be better?
2.) The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson-One of the scariest things I’ve ever read and better than most scary movies I’ve ever seen. Both written and set in the 1950’s.
4.) Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (any), Alvin Scwartz-Kind of self explanatory. These books might be for kids, but they’re terrifying. Complete with eerie illustrations and Poe-style stories, it’s great for getting in the spirit (pun intended).
5.) Any Poe story-the ambiance is perfect, and Poe’s works are classic.
6.) Crime and Punishment-One of the most intense analyses of the human mind as it relates to madness and murder that I’ve ever experienced.
7.) Edward Gorey-Any story, really. All are grim and dark with a twist of dark humor. Isn’t that what Halloween is about (in a modern sense, anyway).
8.) The Phantom of the Opera (original novel), Gaston Leroux-If you’ve ever read the book that the musical is based on, you’ll know that the musical sucks. Hate to say it, but it’s like comparing cheese with Handel’s Messiah. It’s creepy and heart wrenching and explores societal cruelty and what it means to be human.
9.) Shirley Jackson short story collection-These stories aren’t ghostly, but they are creepy. I highly recommend them for anyone who enjoys unforeseeable twists and eerie situations.
10.) Frankenstein, Mary Shelley- Another book that explores what it means to be human and the moral implications for creation of life. Is it sometimes just as much a crime to create life as it is to destroy it? Murder, an emotional monster, the responsibility of life, the horror of that responsibility. All good.
Most of these books are creepy because they point to something deep within the human soul that is disturbing. I highly recommend them if only to enrich your reading and thinking. Some of them are just good and scary reads that I would also highly recommend. Unfortunately for me, reading them again would mean another night hiding under the covers…but I might not be able to resist.