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5 Scary Books to Read

If you are a voracious reader who wants to apply your fondness for October terrors to your to-be-read pile, then you have no shortage of novels, collections and anthologies to choose from. Here are five great books to choose if you want to satiate your appetite for frights this fall.

“The October Country” by Ray Bradbury

Few authors have ever exhibited a singular grasp on an idea quite like how the late Ray Bradbury could write about October. 1955’s “The October Country” collects 19 of Bradbury’s most terrifying tales, including classics such as “The Scythe,” “The Wind” and “The Dwarf.” Each story is rich in atmosphere, and whenever fall is brought into focus, the reader can practically hear the leaves crunching beneath their feet. Those who read and loved Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” or “Something Wicked This Way Comes” cannot miss this collection, which is available for purchase at

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” Series by Alvin Schwartz

The urban legends and folk tales found in Alvin Schwartz’ “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” trilogy will likely strike a familiar chord. Schwartz’ recounting of classic tales takes a backseat, however, to the unsettling illustrations of Stephen Gammell. Gammell’s artwork was the primary reason that the “Scary Stories” series was the single most challenged work by the American Library Association during the 1990s, with illustrations for stories like “The Dream” and “The Haunted House” plaguing the nightmares of countless children. Gammell’s illustrations were removed from later editions, so it is best to track down a used copy of “The Scary Stories Treasury,” available at

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson

Widely believed to be the best haunted-house story ever written, 1959’s “The Haunting of Hill House” has influenced more than a half-century’s worth of stories, novels and films that followed in its ethereal footsteps. Jackson’s focus on the relationships between the four main characters, as well as the relationships between those characters and the eponymous structure, solidifies her place as one of America’s best literary ghost story scribes. That authors such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Richard Matheson have been quick to identify this book and her other works as significant influences on their careers only confirms as much. “The Haunting of Hill House” is available in paperback at

“It” by Stephen King

Speaking of Stephen King, it would likely be impossible to put together a list of horror books without pulling in at least one of his titles. One of the most prolific writers of the last 50 years, King’s ever-expanding oeuvre is replete with modern classics such as “The Shining,” “Carrie” and “The Green Mile.” “It” is the 1986 tale of an otherworldly being that takes the form of a clown in order to terrorize a group of children known as “The Losers’ Club.” Whether you consider yourself coulrophobic (afraid of clowns) or not, Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a figure that will haunt you when the pages are closed and the lights are off. “It” is available in various physical, digital and audio formats at

“The Graveyard Apartment” by Mariko Koike

Mariko Koike is considered one of Japan’s best living authors, and works such as “The Cat in the Coffin” and “Twinkle, Twinkle” have gone on to earn global acclaim. 1986’s “The Graveyard Apartment” is considered Koike’s masterwork, but it has gone untranslated for the American market for 30 years. After much anticipation, Thomas Dunne Books and translator Deborah Boliver Boehm will bring this harrowing tale to the United States on Oct. 11. After a young couple moves into a new apartment built next to a graveyard, it does not take long before unusual happenings unfold and the family finds itself facing the terror of something lurking in the dark recesses of the basement. “The Graveyard Apartment” is available for pre-order at

If you are looking for a scary read this October, there is a wealth of books to choose from. Whether you choose one of the five books listed above or a different selection from another author you have heard good things about, be sure to keep the lights on after you are done reading—just in case.


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