13 Books About Ghosts To Get You In The Spirit Of The Halloween Season

'Tis the season to dim the lights, cuddle up with a steaming mug of apple cider, and settle in to your favorite armchair with a terrifying book about ghosts in hand. There's no better time of the year to indulge the supernatural believer within you: the days are shorter than ever, plunging us all into darkness earlier and earlier with each passing day; the weather is just on the cusp of cold, leaving us all perpetually afflicted by goosebumps; and the creepiest holiday of all, Halloween, is approaching, reminding us that sometimes the dead walk among us. The mood is festive but grim, celebratory but disquieting, vibrant but menacing.

In other words, it's the perfect time to feed your fear and crack open a novel that will have you tingling with anticipation, fear, and suspicion. These 13 books — by authors like Shirley Jackson, Joe Hill, and Neil Gaiman — are a mix of fiction, nonfiction, and that diabolically uncertain category publishers like to label as "based on a true story." Some are children's novels; others are most definitely not recommended for kids (and only the bravest of adults). Read on, if you dare:

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1. 'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is a perfect example of the importance of atmosphere. Four people — an occult scholar, his assistant, a young woman all-too-familiar with unfriendly ghosts, and the heir of Hill House — decide to stay in the titular house to unpack the mystery of its haunting. Unfortunately for them all, it soon becomes all-too-apparent that the house has an agenda of its own.

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2. 'The Amityville Horror' by Jay Anson

The merits of the truthfulness of this book have been long debated. But the fact remains that The Amityville Horror details what is perhaps the most famous haunting in American history — that of the Lutz family and their Long Island home, a place with a tragic past that reverberates into the future in a menacing fashion. True or not, the details of the haunting are terrifying, and you'll be sleeping with the lights on for days after closing the cover on Jay Anson's classic.

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3. 'The Turn of the Screw' by Henry James

Henry James' The Turn of the Screw is one of the most famous ghost stories in literature, with good reason. The book follows a young governess tasked to care for two odd children at a haunted, isolated estate. The gothic novella is deeply, deeply unsettling, and the truth of the 'ghosts' will have you up all night wondering, What the hell just happened?

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4. 'Ghosts: A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof' by Roger Clarke

This work of nonfiction is perfect for those with an interest in the historical and sociological roots of our present day fascination with ghosts. Clarke strips away the embellishments from some of Britain's most famous ghost stories in an attempt to uncover the truth. This is a must-read for believers and skeptics alike because Clarke approaches the subject of ghosts with an academic eye, providing an objective perspective on the nature of the supernatural.

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5. 'Ring' by Koji Suzuki

Perhaps you've heard of a little horror movie that scared the bejeezus out of every child growing up in the early '00s? It's called The Ring, and it was inspired by a Japanese book. Here's the premise: a mysterious video tape promises viewers that they will die within a week of watching. The murderer is the ghost of a young girl named Sadako (in the movie, Samara), and she is really freakin' creepy. Read this one before you watch the forthcoming The Ring sequel, Rings.

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6. 'Pedro Páramo' by Juan Rulfo

This short novel — a defining work of magical realism — follows Juan Preciado on his journey to meet his father, Pedro Páramo. When Preciado arrives in Páramo's hometown, Comala, he discovers a literal ghost town. As in, it's entirely populated by ghosts — some of whom seem to be unaware (or unconcerned?) by their spirited state of being. Rulfo's iridescent prose and complex storytelling will have you questioning the truth about ghosts and their role in both the worlds of the living and the dead.

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7. 'Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places' by Colin Dickey

Colin Dickey journeyed across the United States in an attempt to decipher and demystify the most famous ghost stories of our nation. Then he wrote about it. In the process, he learned that some ghost stories are nothing but bunk... but others may be more truthful than he imagined. Dickey presents the history of these American locales side-by-side with the legends, examining both with equal care to get to the root of the story.

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8. 'The Icarus Girl' by Helen Oyeyemi

When eight-year-old Jess travels to her mother's homeland, Nigeria, for the first time, she finally makes a friend who understand her: a little girl named TillyTilly. But gradually, the friendship transforms into something more sinister, and strange, frightening happenings threaten Jess's very soul.

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9. 'Heart-Shaped Box' by Joe Hill

If you're a fan of master of horror Stephen King, maybe you should give his son, Joe Hill, a try. Stephen King's works are terrifying, but they've always felt a bit out of the realm of possibility for average Joes and Janes. But Joe Hill's stories could very much happen to you or me or the girl next door. In Heart-Shaped Box, an occult-obsessed rock star buys a heart-shaped box that houses a vengeful spirit. He buys it intentionally, but honestly, don't we all fear that we'll accidentally buy a haunted object? (Or maybe that's just me...) As it turns out, the ghost of the heart-shaped box is on a very specific mission... and it involves murder.

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10. 'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman

This children's book begins with the brutal murder of an entire family, save for one little boy named Bod. Orphaned and alone, Bod wanders into a neighboring graveyard, and a ghostly couple adopts him and introduces him to their ghostly community and ghostly friends. Bod feels at home there with his ghost parents, but the evil that killed his biological family is still on the loose... and still looking for him.

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11. 'The Canterville Ghost' by Oscar Wilde

If you haven't read Oscar Wilde's take on a ghost story, please rectify that immediately. Wilde introduces readers to an American family who acquire an English mansion haunted by a British ghost with a flair for the dramatic. The ghost tries his best to scare the uncouth Americans from his premises. Unfortunately for the ghost, the Americans aren't scared by him at all! This short story is the perfect amuse-bouche to begin your Halloween literary feast.

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12. 'This House is Haunted' by John Boyne

I don't know about you, but the title alone is scary enough to send me running for the nearest church. The contents are similarly horrifying. Like Turn of the Screw, this novel centers upon a governess and two children who live in a very, very haunted house shrouded in secrets.

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13. 'The Woman In Black' by Susan Hill

Fair warning: this book is frightening af. The Woman in Black follows a young solicitor named Arthur Kipps who is sent to a remote English village to sort the affairs of a recently deceased woman. In order to get the job done more efficiently, he decides to stay in her home — an isolated manor surrounded by marshes. The house is unreachable during high tide. Soon, Arthur discovers he's not alone in the house.

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