An October Reading List

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Tis the season for scary books!

Assuming that’s your cup of tea, of course.

It is my cup of tea. Or spiked hot chocolate, rather. I love sitting in a cabin next to a roaring fire with an autumnal beverage and a scary, cozy book. (Not that I actually have a cabin. Or a fireplace. Yet. Both are on my list of life goals, however.) So I decided to make a list of the books I deem most appropriate for this scenario.

What you will NOT find on this list is full-on horror. I don’t like books that are full of gore and horribly visceral things happening to people. (I hate horror movies. HATE them.) (You may find that odd, given I did enjoy this book, but that’s mainly because Stephen King is a genius and I can skip over the more gory paragraphs when needed.)

But I do like creepy and scary. And so on to the list:

1. The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill. Confession: I picked this up partly because it had Harry Potter on the cover (he starred in the movie a few years back.) What I got was a beautifully written tale about a man who arrives in a creepy-ass English town to resolve a deceased woman’s creepy-ass estate with some creepy-ass specters along the way. What was so brilliant in this book was the subtlety of the ghost story–it wasn’t a pop-out-and-say-boo kind of story, but more a lurking-in-the-shadows, is-it-really-there kind of creepiness. Easily the best ghost story I’ve ever read.

(Caveat: The movie was WAY SCARIER. They changed a ton of stuff from the book to make it much more of a jump-out-at-you kind of story. It was good, but DO NOT WATCH ALONE.)

(And bonus: my favorite podcast is reading this book for their annual Spooktober. Read it and listen to the episode, coming out this Monday.)

2. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie. To this day, my favorite mystery murder book. Ten strangers arrive on an island in 1930s England. They figure out they’ve been lured there under false pretenses. All of them have dark secrets in their pasts. And when they start to die, one by one, they have to figure out who the killer is before it’s too late. SUCH a great mystery that keeps you guessing until the end.

3. Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger. I picked this up because I loved her other book,  The Time Traveler’s Wife. This one … was a little different. It had the same gorgeous prose, which kept me reading the whole way through, but the protagonists (identical woman-child twins) were so creepy. They arrive in London to live in their recently deceased aunt’s “flat”  (why do all the good ghost stories happen in England? Discuss, please), which is on the property of a famous cemetery. Creepy hijinks and inappropriate relationships with older men ensue. The ending is utterly bizarre and entirely chilling. I recommend it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

4. The Raven BoysMaggie Stiefvater. I’ve extolled the virtue of these books over and over again, but it’s possible I never talked up their creepiness factor. Any book that starts with the line “It was freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrived” is just perfect for October. (Although, while looking up that line, I realize the story actually starts in April. No matter; this is an October series.)

5. Wait Til Helen Comes, Mary Downing Hahn. Don’t let the middle-grade categorization or the campy cover fool you; this book is creepy AF. I first read it as a preteen, and it scared the bejesus out of me; I reread a few years ago as an adult, assuming I’d gotten braver since then. NOPE. Helen is terrifying, and to this day I associate the name Helen with “murderous child ghost.”

That’s my list of creepy for now. (Though I’ve always found October, November, and December ripe for Harry Potter rereads, as well 🙂 Do you have any to add? Let me know!

Just a note to let you know I’m off to Ireland today and am kind of hoping for a total break from the internets, though I’m sure some of the places we’re going will have wifi and I won’t be able to resist posting one thing or another (most likely on my Instagram, so please follow if you’re so inclined.) Oh, and I’ve also started this book, a recent arrival from my favorite writer, and am so excited to be reading a Dublin Murder Squad book in Dublin. Full review (and trip highlights) to come! Have a wonderful week!

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2 thoughts on “An October Reading List

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