When I’m not indulging my morbid curiosity by reading books about serial killers, I’m asking one of the biggest questions of all: what happens to us after we die? It's a truly morbid topic of thought, but that's why so many books about ghosts exist. I have no definitive proof one way or another about what happens after death, but I find the idea of coming back as a ghost pretty comforting. Unfortunately, there’s no proof that I'm going to come back as awesome the ghosts from Harry Potter (aren’t they only the ghosts of wizards and witches anyway?) but hey, I’ll take whatever I can get. According to a Harry Poll, a shocking 42% of Americans believe in ghosts, so I’m not the only one who wants to believe. If you're reading this, you probably do, too.
It seems as though you can’t throw a rock into popular culture without hitting a “true” account of a haunting, and almost every local area has tales of their own ghosts. I’ve compiled a list of nine nonfiction books about ghosts. These are allegedly true stories and firsthand accounts of spooky hauntings and demonic entities. Sure, we don’t know if they’re real, but isn’t it just nice to pretend? Check them out and decide for yourself.
1. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
On in the December of 1975, the Lutz family moved into their dream home, complete with a swimming pool, finished basement, and a boathouse. Twenty-eight days later, the family fled in horror, leaving almost all of their possessions behind, carrying with them a story of paranormal terror that was widely publicized at the time. Turns out, the house carried a deadly history: it was the site of a mass murder years before.
On the day they moved in, a mysterious otherworldly voice roared "Get out!" at the priest who had been invited to bless the home. This was just the beginning of a terrifying month during which the family was tormented by an unseen force. Written with all the suspense of a horror film, this book claims to be entirely true, but the veracity of these claims are truly up to the reader.
2. The Haunted: One Family's Nightmare by Robert Curran
Over the course of several years, the family of Jack and Janet Smurl were abused by strange and inhuman entities. Their encounters with the paranormal were even verified by researchers, priests, psychics, and neighbors. These events range from the innocuous to the truly terrifying, including the ripping out of ceiling fixtures, the beating and levitating of the family dog, and the repeated appearance of a hooded figure on their home. To make matters worse, it seems as though the ghostly figure begins to follow them even when they leave the home, and pretty soon it's made clear that the Smurl family is not only living in a haunted house, but they're living haunted lives.
3. The Myrtles Plantation: The True Story of America's Most Haunted House by Frances Kermeen
The Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana has long been recognized by the media and parapsychologists as the most haunted house in the United States. This 28-room bed-and-breakfast was once owned by Frances Kermeen, who chronicles the experiences that forever changed her view on the supernatural. While the haunting was at times benevolent, Kermeen also faced threats from the Ku Klux Klan, a horrible betrayal, and the catastrophic loss of friends during her time at the Myrtles, which all combines together to be one crazy compelling read.
4. The Uninvited: the True Story of the Union Screaming House by Steven A. LaChance
In this firsthand account, Steven LaChance tells the tale of how his family was driven from their home in Union, Missouri by what seems to be a mysterious demonic entity. This unseen force did terrifying and unspeakable things which eventually led to two people being institutionalized. After fleeing the house, LaChance believes himself to be safe, until he's contacted by Helen, the new owner, and he realizes that he must help her. This true story reads like a chilling thriller.
5. The Demonologist: the Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle
For over five decades, Ed and Lorraine Warren were renowned as the world's best paranormal investigators. Lorraine was a gifted clairvoyant, and Ed was recognized by the Catholic Church as the only non-ordained demonologist in the world. These two people have lived extraordinary (and super paranormal) lives, and in this book, the secrets and terrifying religious background behind every spooky haunting are uncovered.
6. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
Mary Roach is at it again. After studying what happens to dead bodies donated to science in Stiff, she turned her scientific eye to what happens to us after we die. In this meticulously researched nonfiction book, Roach attempts to use science to determine whether an afterlife even exists. Spook takes a look at mediums, the souls of reincarnated children, and ghosts with a mixture of fact and humor that makes for an infectious read.
7. Ghosts Caught on Film: Photographs of the Paranormal by Melvyn Willan and Donald West
For those of you who prefer visual books, Ghosts Caught on Film shows a collection of strange and unexplained photographs that just may prove the existence of ghosts. Each picture is accompanied by an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the haunting as well as the research efforts to establish that there is no "normal" explanation for the photo.
8. Beware the Night by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool
Ralph Sarchie is a 16-year veteran of the NYPD, working primarily out of the Bronx. But his other job (what he calls "the Work") involves hunting ghosts and performing exorcisms. Now for the first time, he's spilling his secrets and discussing his investigation into the incredible unsolved true crimes that seem to defy explanation or understanding to anyone except for Sarchie and his partner. Some of these cases include a haunting by a malevolent bride who was murdered in the 19th century, a pair of neighbors who were literally from Hell, and so much more. It might be too crazy to be true, but it at least makes for an awesome read.
9. Weird Hauntings: True Tales of Ghostly Places by Joanne Austin, Mark Moran, Mark Sceurman, and Ryan Doan
If you love the Weird U.S. series but wish they were a little creepier, take a look at Weird Hauntings. This guide to the most haunted houses in America features first-hand accounts of spooky house hauntings, ghostly graveyards, haunted roads, and loads of other spooky places. So, hop in the car, and hit the road toward some of the scariest haunted places in America... if you dare!
Image: Platinum Dunes, Radar Pictures