ghost stories


Whether told around a campfire, whispered at sleepovers, or devoured with a flashlight under the covers, ghost books and spooky stories have a unique way of getting under our skin. There’s just something about being intentionally scared that’s equal parts thrilling and satisfying. When I was a kid, my parents introduced me to the excitement of the genre with an audiobook of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a collection of spooky tales that’s since gained a cult following. I don’t think I’ve slept well since. Many of us probably remember our first childhood ghost story, but we don’t have to leave them behind as we grow up. Ghost books for adults are often even creepier, especially if you’re able to suspend disbelief for the time it takes to get to the last page. Different cultures have their own takes on the supernatural too, and dipping into new-to-you legends can reclaim that feeling of discovery all over again. From age-old classics to newer releases, we’ve got a tale from beyond the grave that will keep you up at night. And if you’re lying awake trying not to let your feet peek out from under the covers, cleanse your mental palate with one of our feel-good books next.

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1 Scary Stories Paperback Box Set: The Complete 3-Book Collection

Alvin Schwartz


$11.98 (50% off)

2 The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson


$13.99 (13% off)

If you loved the Netflix series, check out the book by one of the best voices in horror. It follows four people who arrive to decide the fate of Hill House: occult scholar Dr. Montague, his assistant Theodora, the fragile Eleanor and future heir Luke. Soon enough, they realize the house has it out for them and it’ll be all they can do to escape.

3 The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories

Henry James


After losing their parents, a pair of siblings move into a remote mansion with their uncle who hires a governess to care for them. But it soon becomes apparent that the children have a connection with ghosts that inhabit the house. This version pairs the spine-tingling story with other, lesser-known tales for a truly terrifying read.

4 Pet Sematary

Stephen King


$11.29 (37% off)

No list of spooky stories is complete without the King himself, and this one has often been called his scariest ever. Ludlow’s a tranquil enough town, except for the pet cemetery where the locals bury their dearly departed. But there’s worse lurking under the ground than a few bones.

RELATED: The 35 Best Psychological Thriller Books to Scare Yourself Silly

5 The Little Stranger

Sarah Waters


$9.99 (41% off)

When a doctor calls on a formerly grand old house in the country, he discovers the family living there is struggling to keep up with society. But there’s more going on than meets the eye, something the good doctor soon learns firsthand. 

6 House of Leaves

Mark Z. Danielewski


$19.49 (11% off)

This highly unusual book’s form is almost as engrossing as its subject matter, and that’s saying something. Part love story, part haunted tale, part exploration of mental illness, it attempts to suss out what happens when a family moves into a house that’s bigger on the inside than the outside. Then their children disappear, and the plot gets even darker.

7 Infidel

Aaron Campbell, Jose Villarrubia and Jeff Powellage Comics


$12.75 (25% off)

This graphic novel about a Muslim woman and her diverse cast of neighbors who move into a haunted house is scary on two levels. The spirits that live in the house feed off xenophobia and hatred and the creepy renderings will stamp themselves on your brain.

8 Experimental Film

Emma Files


Film buffs will love this feminist horror story about a struggling critic who discovers lost film by Iris Dunlopp Whitcomb, who she believes was the first female filmmaker in Canada. But as she embarks on a project to prove it, the echoes of the past become more and more real.

9 Hell House

Richard Matheson


$15.99 (11% off)

Stephen King once called this one “the scariest haunted house novel ever written,” and he’s not wrong. Physicist Dr. Lionel Barrett travels with two mediums to the Belasco House in Maine to figure out exactly why the locals call it the Hell House. The house quickly lives up to its name.

10 Mexican Gothic

Silvia Moreno-Garcia


$14.67 (46% off)

Glamorous Noemí Taboada may seem like an unlikely rescuer, but when her cousin begs her to rescue her from an unnamed menace, she heads off to the isolated High Place in the Mexican countryside. Noemí’s tough, smart and determined but the house’s enigmatic residents, not to mention the secrets it harbors within its walls, soon get under her skin. 

11 Ghost Summer: Stories

Tananarive Due


$11.60 (27% off)

From one of the masters of horror comes a hair-raising short story collection perfect for sharing around the campfire. There’s a tale for every taste in this book. Just pray you don’t have to leave your sleeping bag in the dark afterward. 

12 Ghost Story

Peter Straub


Four old men pass the time in their sleepy town the way they do in towns all across America: telling each other stories. But one of those is coming back to haunt them and remind us all that nothing wicked ever stays buried forever.

13 The Third Hotel: A Novel

Laura van den Berg


$12.89 (24% off)

Clare arrives in Cuba to find her husband Richard. There’s just one problem: He’s dead. As she follows him around the city, the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur. We learn more and more about their marriage, his death and reappearance in this novel that’s as eerie as it is beautifully written. 

14 Sing, Unburied, Sing

Jesmyn Ward


$13.79 (47% off)

A young boy named Jojo is finding his way in the world, his mother Leonie tormented by the ghost of her dead brother when she’s high (which is often). When they travel to pick up Jojo’s father from prison, another spirit surfaces who has a lot to teach the boy about what it means to survive. It’s more engrossing than scary, but absolutely worth a read. 

15 The Removed: A Novel

Brandon Hobson


$16.79 (38% off)

Not all stories that stray into the spirit realm are scary. This sad, lyrical book about loss, addiction, family and how they can all tear us apart draws on Cherokee legend to bring us a haunting meditation on trauma. 

Senior editor Lizz Schumer is the senior editor for Good Housekeeping, and also contributes to Woman’s Day, and Prevention, covering pets, culture, lifestyle, books, and entertainment.

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