Tales of Terror: 21 Great Spooky Reads

It’s October, the nights are getting longer, and it’s the perfect time of year for spooky books! Our booksellers have selected some of the best spine-tingling, goose-bump-raising, and downright creepy tales to set the mood. Monsters, witches, mysterious text messages, real-life morticians and more — it’s enough to make you sleep with one eye open! (All the better to read more, right?) And now, browse our list of tantalizingly terrifying books — if you dare!

Recommended by Karen

Lost and Wanted: A novel Cover ImageLost and Wanted

Freudenberger combines science and the supernatural in this beautifully written novel about female friendship. Helen and Charlie became fast friends in college and even as their lives grew apart there was always a bond that could not be broken. Even after Charlie dies, it appears that that bond is not severed, when Helen continues to receive texts from her friend.

Recommended by Karen

Killing Commendatore: A novel Cover ImageKilling Commendatore

A portrait painter finds himself unable to put brush to canvas after his life is upended by his wife asking for a divorce. He finds himself living in a secluded mountain home full of secrets that start revealing themselves to him. As he gets to know his neighbors, he starts painting again, but in a completely different way. Once again, Murakami takes us on a satisfying, surreal ride.

Recommended by Cat

Melmoth: A Novel Cover ImageMelmoth

Settle in for a truly eerie story based on the tale of Melmoth the Wanderer; Perry’s gothic novel will have you glancing over your shoulder and wondering what the shadow in the corner of your eye was as you read about Helen Franklin’s desire to leave the demons of her past behind, only to be haunted by what she learns of Melmoth.

Recommended by Kay

The Girl With All the Gifts Cover ImageThe Girl With All the Gifts

This is the story of a conflicted teacher trying to protect a brilliant young girl in a world willing to tear them both to pieces. Go into this book completely blind if you can, but I promise it will keep you guessing long after you think you’ve figured out the first twist. It’s full of complex characters, bursting with tension, and has an ending left me shaking the whole next day.

Recommended by Sissy

A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror Cover ImageA Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror

These two beautifully crafted stories are just dark enough; don’t let the title scare you away! Jacobs is a lyrical writer who dives deep into the dark side of human nature. One tale takes place in South America, the other in the American South. If you loved the latest Ken Burns doc, you’ll be fascinated by one character in search of rural, unheard music during the Great Depression.

Recommended by Kevin

The Little Buddhist Monk & the Proof Cover ImageThe Little Buddhist Monk & the Proof

These wicked little novellas should come with a warning label. The Little Buddhist Monk causes troubled afternoons; The Proof, long quickening walks after midnight.

Recommended by Kay

Strange Practice (A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel) Cover ImageStrange Practice (A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel)

With the third book in the series out now, this is the perfect Halloween season to jump into Dr. Greta Helsing’s adventures. Dr. Helsing is a doctor to London’s monster population, but when an unknown danger surfaces to threaten her unusual patients she is forced to battle with much more than broken bones and common colds to protect the city she loves.

Recommended by Nell

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories Cover ImageHer Body and Other Parties: Stories

This short story collection is in the eerie, otherworldly tradition of Shirley Jackson, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, and Karen Russell. Which is to say it will grip your shoulders very firmly, pull you out of yourself, and put you back down in a territory you don’t recognize. Look out for her memoir In the Dream House in November.

Recommended by Chelsea

The Haunting of Hill House: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover ImageThe Haunting of Hill House

Considered by many as the template for haunted house stories, Jackson’s classic is worth a revisit during October. Four people converge on Hill House, which doesn’t seem too bad during the daylight hours. As the sun sets, the house’s true personality comes out. Jackson’s mastery of tone and environment will make you read this one with the lights on.

Recommended by Keltie

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession Cover ImageSavage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Women love true crime — and tales of serial killers. This book sets out to understand why. Monroe profiles four women: an eccentric heiress obsessed with creating dioramas of crime scenes; a woman who helps free — and marries — Damian Echols of the Memphis 3; a woman who inserts herself into the family of Sharon Tate; and a woman who aspires to become a killer-celebrity herself. More riveting than an episode of Snapped!

Recommended by Steve

Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us Cover ImageSlime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us

Sure, this book sets out to demystify slime, which is kind of the opposite of spookiness. But slime! Humans basically come from slime! What could be more horrifying than that?

Recommended by Keltie

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory Cover ImageSmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

Caitlin Doughty is a popular blogger, YouTube star, and social media maven, and her new book Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is a bestseller. Want to know how a nice girl from Hawaii with degree in in medieval history from the University of Chicago grew up to become a mortician and champion of the Death Positive Movement and Funerary Arts? Read this fascinating (and informative and funny!) memoir.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Creepy Carrots! Cover ImageCreepy Carrots!

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. Until they start following him! A creepy read-aloud with some laughs.

Recommended by Jordan

Creepy Pair of Underwear! Cover ImageCreepy Pair of Underwear!

What child (or adult) doesn’t love a silly story about spooky underwear? Jasper Rabbit is back in this sequel to Creepy Carrots.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Small Spaces Cover ImageSmall Spaces

A class field trip goes off the rails in this spooky novel for independent readers. Now out in paperback!

Recommended by Jordan

How to Scare a Ghost Cover ImageHow to Scare a Ghost

This fun and spooky story tells readers of all ages how to scare a ghost! Fans of Reagan and Wildish’s other works including How to Babysit a Grandma and How to Get your Teacher Ready will enjoy this cute book.

Recommended by Kay

Bunnicula: 40th Anniversary Edition (Bunnicula and Friends) Cover ImageBunnicula

Bunnicula just might be the perfect blend of spooky and funny for young readers. The family dog and cat must team up to figure out if their family’s new bunny is actually a vampire before disaster strikes. Now featuring a fancy fuzzy cover to celebrate its 40th anniversary!

Recommended by Chelsea

The Graveyard Book Cover ImageThe Graveyard Book

Available in both novel and graphic novel form, this story focuses on Bod, a boy raised from infancy ghosts, werewolves, and other graveyard inhabitants. Can Bod navigate both the living world and the dead as he grows up?

Recommended by Kay

The Okay Witch Cover ImageThe Okay Witch

This coming-of-age story about a young witch who suddenly gets her magic on Halloween is a funny and heartfelt treat for the season. When Moth discovers just how closely her family’s history is entwined with her town’s witch-hunting past, she has to question where she truly belongs herself.

Recommended by Kay

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Three Books to Chill Your Bones: All 3 Scary Stories Books with the Original Art! Cover ImageScary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Experience the books that entertained (and traumatized) a generation, newly collected in one complete volume with their original illustrations. Schwartz collects and analyzes short, traditional ghost stories from all over, while Gammell brings each to life with horrifying skill. Perfect for taking turns to read out loud around a campfire.

Recommended by Chelsea

Jackaby Cover ImageJackaby

Abigail has arrived in New England in 1892, looking for a job that is not mundane. In her search, she meets Jackaby, an investigator who can see the supernatural. Abigail’s first assignment? Assisting Jackaby on a serial killer case. A fun, spooky read that is the start of a great series.

Previously Picked and Still Spooky:

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
Monster She Wrote by Melanie R. Anderson & Lisa Kröger
The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
Pursuit by Joyce Carol Oates
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths
Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Light From Other Stars by Erica Swyler
Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Got little ones? Don’t forget our special trick-or-treat storytime on Thursday, Oct. 31 at 4pm. Come in costume!