9 Nonfiction Books That Give You The TRUE Story Behind Your Favorite Scary Stories

Every October, readers flock to the horror genre in search of terrifying tales about monsters, ghosts, witches, and things that go bump in the night. But what if I told you that the fiction section of the library wasn't the only place to find unnerving narratives about the supernatural? Whether you're into vampires and werewolves or aliens and man-eating insects, there are plenty of nonfiction books about scary stories that reveal sometimes, the truth isn't just stranger but often spookier than fiction.

If you're a fan of horror, than chances are you already know the scary stories of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the other classic monsters by heart. But how much do you know about the real stories, the real people, and the real history that inspired them? Although scary stories often seem out of this world, the truth is, it is from this world that they are born from. Whether it be a result of religious fears, cultural anxieties, racial tensions, impending war, or something else entirely, fictional tales of horror are almost always inspired by something happening in real life. The only question is, what real life events inspired your favorite scary story?

Whether you're a fan of classic monster legends or more into modern tales of otherworldly terror, you're going to love these nine terrifying nonfiction books that take you behind the scenes of your favorite scary stories.

If you love 'Frankenstein' and other monster stories, read 'Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting' by W. Scott Poole

Whether you have read Mary Shelley's classic or watched one of the many film adaptations of it, chances are you know the story of Frankenstein by now. But do you know why this horror story and others like it became so popular and continue to flourish today? In Monsters in America, historian W. Scott Poole explores cultural obsessions with the monstrous "other" and what it can tell us about our conflicting anxieties, fears, and beliefs.

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If you love 'Hound of the Baskervilles' and werewolf folklore, read 'Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America' by Linda S. Godfrey

In this terrifying nonfiction book, researcher, reporter, and Monsters Among Us author Linda S. Godfrey examines the long history of these infamous canine creatures in America, from the 1930 all the way to the present day. If you weren't sure whether or not werewolves were real before, this in-depth investigation just might convince you.

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If you love 'The Exorcist' and terrifying religious tales, read 'American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty' by Michael W. Cuneo

There are plenty of fictional accounts of exorcisms, including William Peter Blatty's classic horror novel The Exorcist and the highly successful film adaptation by the same name, but if you're curious about the real business of vanquishing evil spirits, pick up Michael W. Cuneo's terrifying true tale all about it. In American Exorcism, readers get an inside look at this religious ritual, from the ceremony itself to the people who perform and advocate for it and beyond.

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If you love 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' and other classic scary stories, read 'Haunted: On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies, and Other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural Worlds' by Leo Braudy

Are you a love of all things occult? Then you're going to want to read award-winning scholar and author Leo Braudy's expansive history of monsters and the supernatural, from the Protestant Reformation to present day pop culture. Drawing from extensive research, Haunted explains not just how certain supernatural stories came to be, but why they became so popular, and why they continue to thrive in the age of scientific progress.

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If you love 'The Haunting of Hill House' and other haunted house stories, read 'Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places' by Colin Dickey

If haunted houses are your thing, Ghostland is a much-needed addition to your library. In this fascinating book, author Colin Dickey takes readers on a road trip through some of America's most haunted places, exposing the devastating true stories and the role of the country's dark history behind each one.

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If you love 'Dreamcatcher' and horror about aliens, read 'Communion: A True Story' by Whitley Strieber

Do you love reading scary sci-fi stories or freaking yourself out with The X-Files? Then you're need to add Communion to your TBR pile ASAP. A tantalizing "true" tale of alien abduction, this classic New York Times bestseller takes readers on a bone-chilling adventure that is quite literally out of this world.

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If you love 'Slither' and spooky insect stories, read 'Wicked Bugs: The louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects' by Amy Stewart

For me, there are few scary stories more terrifying than those about insects. That's what makes Amy Stewart's Wicked Bugs so spine-tingling: it tells true tales of some of the world's creepiest creatures, from the "bookworms" that devastated libraries to the hornets that have the most painful sting and beyond. Read with caution, and get ready to feel your skin crawl.

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If you love 'Dracula' and tales about vampires, pre-order 'The Vampire: A New History' by Nick Groom (Oct. 30)

There are plenty of fiction and nonfiction titles about vampires out there for fans of the Dracula legend, but few cover as much ground as Nick Groom's upcoming book, The Vampire. Out this October, this thoroughly researched history of one of horror's most iconic creatures explores the legend through the lenses of art, literature, medicine, culture, religion, and so much more.

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If you love the Creature from the Black Lagoon, pre-order 'The Lady from the Black Lagoon' by Mallory O'Meara (March 5)

If you're favorite scary story involves the mysterious Creature from the Black Lagoon, then you're going to want to make sure this forthcoming book by Mallory O'Meara is on your radar. Out next March, The Lady from the Black Lagoon examines the life and work of Milicent Patrick, the only woman in history to create a classic movie monster. You can read an excerpt now.

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