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I try to read a little bit of everything, from lovey romances to timeless classics, but I’m hopelessly obsessed with a good scare. When autumn comes around and Halloween is right around the corner, I can’t resist pulling out the books filled with haunted houses, creepy twists, and — best of all — ghosts.
When you think of ghost stories, you may think of a classic haunted tale, but ghosts are in all kinds of literary genres, from paranormal romances to creepy true crime tales.
To make this list of perfect ghost books for Halloween, I looked at bestseller lists on Amazon and Audible, plus readers’ favorites from Goodreads. So whether you’re looking for a good scare or a fun read with a ghostly twist, here are some of the best ghost stories to read this Halloween.
“The Shining” by Stephen King, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.27
In what is considered by many to be Stephen King’s best work, Jack Torrance is looking for a fresh start when he takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, hoping to focus on reconnecting with his son and work on his writing. When a winter storm traps Jack and his family inside the building, it becomes clear that something sinister is happening — and only his son, Danny, can see the secrets of the hotel’s dark past.
“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.27
First published in 1959 and considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century, “The Haunting of Hill House” is a haunted house classic from Shirley Jackson, who also famously wrote “The Lottery.” “The Haunting of Hill House” is about four people who volunteer to participate in a paranormal study by staying in a haunted mansion that’s more powerful than they ever could have imagined.
“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.27
“The Graveyard Book” is the young adult story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, who is a completely normal kid — except for growing up in a graveyard and being raised by ghosts. Bod’s only rule is he must not leave the graveyard, as the dangers that lurk beyond the gates include the man who killed his family (and is waiting to finish the job).
“The Girl From the Well” by Rin Chupeco, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99
The girl from the well is dead, hunting child murderers like the man who killed her 300 years ago. When a strange boy moves into the neighborhood bringing something eerie with him, the two set off on a terrifying and wicked journey that takes them to Aomori, Japan in this young adult paranormal horror story.
“The Deep” by Alma Katsu available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.99
“The Deep” is a historical fiction horror story set on the Titanic where the passengers believe something sinister is going on from the moment they set sail. Years after the Titanic sinks, Annie Hebbley survived the disaster and is now working as a nurse on the hospital ship Britannic when she comes across an unconscious soldier who she recognizes — but knows did not survive the sinking of the Titanic.
“Mapping the Interior” by Stephen Graham Jones, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.99
When a young boy is wandering his house at night, he sees a strange figure who resembles his father who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows the figure through the doorway, he discovers the secrets of their house and their family and finds he must risk everything to save his brother in this powerful and emotional paranormal thriller.
“White Smoke” by Tiffany D. Jackson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.19
In this new young adult thriller, Marigold is running from the metaphorical haunts of her old life when she moves to a Midwestern city with her new, blended family. Though their new house seems picture-perfect, strange things start happening, and when Marigold’s younger sister can’t stop talking about a friend who wants her gone, Marigold knows she must find out what’s really happening in their home.
“City of Ghosts” by V.E. Schwab, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.78
After Cassidy Blake nearly drowned as a young girl, she was rescued by a ghost named Jacob and left with the ability to see the spirits around her. When her ghost-hunting parents take her to Scotland for their TV show, Cassidy meets Lara, another girl who can see the dead and believes they have an obligation to send ghosts beyond the Veil — permanently.
“The Sun Down Motel” by Simone St. James, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.40
In 1982, Carly’s Aunt Viv was working as a night clerk at the Sun Down Motel when she mysteriously went missing and was never found. Now, Carly has taken the same job her aunt once had, determined to uncover the secrets around her aunt’s disappearance before whatever frightening thing that haunts the motel can take her too.
“Nothing But Blackened Teeth” by Cassandra Khaw, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.86
When a group of five friends reunite in Japan for a destination wedding and rent a Heian-era mansion, they discover the bones of a long-dead bride. The group soon learns that when the bride’s fiance died on the way to the wedding, she had herself buried alive beneath the house, waiting for his ghost to come home. Each year after, another girl was buried in the walls to keep her company. In this horrifying thriller, the five ghost-hunting friends are thrilled by the adventure of uncovering this haunted history — until their fun night quickly devolves into a nightmare.
“Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural” by Marc Hartzman, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $20.49
“Chasing Ghosts” is a nonfiction tour of the paranormal history of America, from notorious haunted sites to the public’s obsession with famous supernatural figures. Covering a variety of ghost-related topics, this is a fascinating read for anyone who loves unique history or unsolved mysteries.
“Under the Whispering Door” by T.J. Klune, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.82
Wallace Prince finally knows he’s dead when a reaper collects him from his own funeral and takes him to a tea shop in a small, peculiar village. When Wallace meets the tea shop’s owner, Hugo, he begins to realize how much he missed in life and sets off on a quest to live a lifetime in the seven days before he must cross over into the afterlife.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.66
In this terrifying and nail-biting horror story, Judas Coyne is a rockstar obsessed with disturbing and morbid things. So when a ghost comes up for sale on an online auction site, Judas immediately purchases it. When Judas receives his haunted box, he discovers the suit inside belongs to the revenge-obsessed spirit of a man whose stepdaughter killed herself after being used by Judas. Merciless and out for blood, the spirit will stop at nothing to kill Judas — and anyone who tries to stop him.
“The Taking of Jake Livingston” by Ryan Douglass, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99
Jake Livingston can see ghosts around him all the time. Most are harmless and leave people alone, but when Jake meets a troubled and vengeful teen ghost named Sawyer, he must challenge everything he thought he knew about ghosts to stop Sawyer from carrying out his terrible plan in this queer, paranormal horror and romance read.
“Layla” by Colleen Hoover, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99
Known for her gripping psychological and domestic thrillers, Colleen Hoover’s “Layla” is a fast-paced and mind-blowing paranormal romance about Leeds and his beloved Layla, who survives an attack but is left with terrible emotional and mental scarring after weeks in the hospital. When Leeds decides to reignite their romance with a trip to the bed and breakfast where they first met, a series of unexplainable events occur as Layla’s behavior takes an even stranger turn.
“Summer Sons” by Lee Mandelo, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.99
Andrew and Eddie were deeply bonded best friends until Eddie left for his graduate program at Vanderbilt, leaving Andrew behind. When Eddie dies of an apparent suicide six months later, Andrew is left to search through the secrets and rubble of his friend’s life to find the truth as something paranormal lurks nearby.
“I Remember You” by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, available at Amazon and Bookshop from $14.99
“I Remember You” is a chilling horror story about three friends who discover a presence as they renovate a rundown house. In a nearby town, a young doctor investigates the suicide of an elderly woman who was obsessed with the doctor’s missing son. The two stories collide into one terrifying tale in this ghost story perfect for anyone in search of a good scare.
“The Amityville Horror” by Jay Anson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.36
“The Amityville Horror” uses a journalistic style of writing to tell the Lutz’s family story of 28 terrifying days living in an evil haunted house. In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into what seemed like their dream home, despite the gruesome murders that took place inside only one year prior. This book details their horrifying experiences and is great for any horror or true crime fan.
“Cemetery Boys” by Aiden Thomas, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.30
When Yadriels sets out to find and free the ghost of his murdered cousin in order to prove himself to his family, he accidentally summons the wrong ghost and is left with the spirit of Julian Diaz, a recently deceased boy from his school. Determined to find out what happened that could have led to his death, Julian asks for Yadriel’s help in tying up his loose ends.
“Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99
Cas Lowood learned how to hunt ghosts from his father, who was murdered by the very ghost he was hunting. Now, Cas is following in his father’s footsteps, hunting for a ghost the locals call “Anna Dressed in Blood” when he encounters a curse and vengeful ghost more powerful than he’s ever faced before.
“Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories” by Roald Dahl, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.89
First published in 1983, this book is a collection of 14 of Roald Dahl’s favorite ghost stories. Though Roald Dahl is best-known for his magical and beloved children’s tales, he personally loved the “spookiness” of a good ghost story and read nearly 800 tales before selecting the stories in this collection.
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