top ten tuesday: best halloween books

I’m back! After a couple of weeks away, I’m happy to do a new Top Ten Tuesday. I know I’m getting around to this pretty late tonight, but oh well, better late than never. Today Broke and the Bookish gave the prompt “scariest book covers or best books to read for Halloween,” and I didn’t have the time to dig out book cover images, and anyway I’m more interested in the content.

October 29: Kristin’s top ten scary books for Halloween

The stuff that scares me isn’t always the “typical” definition of horror or frightening, but I do have some classics (and new classics…? To me, anyway) in the mix. In no particular order:

1. Pet Semetary by Stephen King
This book scared the living daylights out of me when I was a kid. I had nightmares for weeks… and then again after I saw the movie. <shudder> (Still sort of want to see the movie again, though…! SMRT.)

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I read The Road about four years ago. It’s about a father and son walking cross country to reach the shore after an unexplained apocalypse that basically decimates the planet and wipes out almost all the human race. Except the cannibals. It’s dark, dreary, stark, and scary.

3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Atwood’s futuristic dystopia of genetic tinkering, corporate evilness, and outright weirdness was super frightening to me. I listened to this on audiobook on a long drive this summer and was just captivated, and I recently finished book #2 in the MaddAddam series, The Year of the Flood (review post coming soon!).

4. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
Not “horrific” in the traditional sense—more gothic—but as I said in my review post, each page is darker and more depressing than the last. A couple creates a secluded, sheltered home in which to raise a large family. Everything seems perfect until they have their fifth child, who is obviously something other than human. Bad things happen after that…

5. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Teen vampires in a relationship? NO it’s not Twilight! But seriously, Let the Right One In could be one of the most disturbing horror books I ever read. I liked that it was an unconventional vampire story (at least, one of the first that I encountered) that wasn’t about coffins and Transylvania and superpowers, but about solitude and desperation.

6. Blindness by José Saramago
I’m already kind of badly nearsighted, so a book about a “white blindness” freaked me out. And of course with any good plague story, the debasement of human society in the face of extraordinarily bad circumstances is a key factor.

7. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Possibly (?) the first story to offer a medical explanation for vampirism, I loved Matheson’s iconic post-apocalyptic story about “the last man on earth,” so to speak. Neville’s descent into madness is gripping, and it’s so different from all the movie versions.

8. World War Z by Max Brooks
Another audiobook on a long drive this summer. WWZ is a series of survivor interviews and various documentation chronicling the aftermath of an apocalyptic catastrophe called the Zombie War. I loved the wide range of characters and how it spanned the globe. I also liked that, thanks to the writing style, it sort of almost tricks you into thinking you’re reading about actual historical events. Freaky.

9. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
A lethal, rapid-spreading virus from Africa suddenly surfaces in Washington DC and seems unstoppable. I just started reading The Hot Zone this week and it is NUTS that this is a non-fiction.

[Can you tell I have a weird thing for gothic, plague, and post-apocalypse stories?]

10. To Be Read…
Okay so I had trouble coming up with a tenth book that I’ve read, so here are a few that I’d like to get to one day: Dracula (Stoker)Rebecca (du Maurier)Frankenstein (Shelley), Psycho (Bloch), American Psycho (Ellis), The Haunting of Hill House (Jackson), and House of Leaves (Danielewski).

What are your best choices for Halloween/scary books?

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