The Very Best Books to Read Around Halloween

Happy Halloween!  This is my zombie pumpkin

Hello all!  Sorry for the delay for this post.  I wasn’t quite sure what to write about.  Still trying to finish up the current novel that I am reading – there’s just not enough time in the day for everything that I want to do.  Anyway, since it is so close to Halloween, I thought I would again do something a little bit different in the spirit of the holiday. So here is a list of some of the very best books to be reading during Halloween.

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – First of all, let’s just clarify something right here and now. The big green guy with the big metal thing in his head who groans a lot? Yeah, that’s not Frankenstein. Frankenstein is the doctor who creates him…the actual man. Shelley referred to the monster as ‘Frankenstein’s monster’.  It’s a distinction that has been lost, but one that is definitely made in the novel.  It is interesting that Frankenstein is commonly meant to  be the monster – as there is definitely a theme of doubling that can be applied to the novel – are Dr. Frankenstein and his monster doubles/represent the same thing?  It depends on how you read it, but even if doubled, there is a distinction between them.

Now that that has been cleared up –  Frankenstein is also more than just a spooky story.  It’s actually incredibly well written and touches on a lot of issues then that are still applicable today.  There is a really wonderful under current of femininity and nature – and how we both need to be preserved and respected.  Mary Shelley herself is also fascinating.  Her parents, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, were also authors and seen as a bit radical in comparison to their peers at the time.  Her relationship with Percy Shelley was pretty scandalous.  And we can’t forget that she wrote Frankenstein while at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva – which belonged to friend Byron.  The novel was at first published anonymously and received critical praise – until it was revealed that it was written by a woman.  Still, Frankenstein’s value is shown in the fact that it is still read and analyzed.  It remains as one of the most popular costume ideas and is a truly iconic Halloween figure.

2. Pretty much anything by Stephen King

I am not much of a Stephen King fan.  I don’t like be scared when I read – which usually ends up being right before I go to bed.  But I can respect Stephen King’s impressive line of work.  Not only is there just an outstanding number of novels, but his novels just seem to stick to people.  You can’t seem to forget the haunting imagery or the terrifying scenes.  I think a lot of this is due to the fact that his novels are just so weird and creative.

Carrie, It, and The Shining are iconic – classic horror, if you will – and they are the titles that immediately come to mind when I think of Steven King and Halloween.  But there are so many more.

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker – the vampire book of all vampire books.  It’s gotten almost annoying how many vampire things are around.  Most are terrible.  This is different.  It’s a novel that explores much more than the actual legend of vampire-ism.

4. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – a ghost story novella.  I haven’t read this story yet (on my ever growing to do list).  I have heard amazing things about it.  The best thing – it’s apparently very open to interpretation – for me, these are always the best books.   And the evil in the novel is again never strictly determined… it’s all up to how you read it, which sort of makes it a bit like a puzzle.

5. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – chances are, you’ve probably already read this at some point in your life.  It still deserves a spot on the list just in case you haven’t.  I remember having nightmares about the headless horseman when I was younger.

6. Horns by Joe Hill – the movie is coming out soon, starring Daniel Radcliffe, so I think it’s time to read it now.  A story that delves into human nature, evil with some apparently awesome symbolism. I can’t wait to read this one and tell you even more about it.

7. Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury –  a work of dark fantasy, a sort of modern Gothic literature.

8.  The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – an obvious choice and a great read.  It explores the instability of the human mind and the scary results of such.

9.  The House of the Seven Gableby Nathaniel Hawthorne – For those of you who want some classic literature on this list.  It is a Gothic novel with hints of supernatural and witchcraft.  It explores themes of guilt and retribution – always good for a story.

10. Anything by Agatha Christie – these books are amazing, as Agatha Christie is the master of mystery. And Then There Were None remains my favorite of hers.  Plus stories of murders and mysteries are very timely for Halloween.

11. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk – so this book is actually disgusting and horrifying.  A friend of mine was reading this and told me I HAD to read the very first chapter.  I did.  And this chapter has stuck with me and I don’t think I will ever forget it.  In fact, I know I won’t.  It was terrifying in a terribly realistic and shocking way.  I couldn’t read any more – but it might be for others who truly want to be shocked and freaked out.

12.  Anything by Edgar Allen Poe – Let’s be real – no Halloween reading list would be complete without the macabre works of Poe on it.  We all know the stories – but it’s always good to revisit them.

13. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman – For the graphic novel and zombie fans.  This graphic novel series takes a look at what would actually happen if a zombie apocalypse were to break out upon the human race.  There’s obviously the TV show as well, but the graphic novel series has an even more bleak style that makes it well worth the read.

14. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – a story about an under the radar killing spree – deals with the identity-crisis and creation of a killer in a way that most other novels ignore or leave under-developed.  The novel also inspired a movie that stars Christian Bale.

This is all I could think of for now, but I am sure I missed some.  Do you have a favorite read for Halloween?

Hope you have a wonderful Halloween!

Written by Rachel B.

Rachel is a co-creator and writer at Definitely Not for the Birds (DNFB). She recently graduated with a degree in English. Presently, she writes, reads, and then reads and writes some more, with a giant and ever-present mug of green tea in her hand. Follow Rachel @rrbindl and DNFB @not4birds