I do read a lot, I might not talk about it much & I am not much for best sellers or what’s hot, but there’s always a book or two within 3 feet of me most of my life, within easy reach if an available 5 or 10 minutes (hopefully more) opens up. Scary stories have been part of my life since I was a little kid. I was easily scared when I was young, but heavy exposure to Steven King novels from age 11 or so forward inured me to much of the creepy, gross stuff. Here are some of my favorite scary reads, both past & recent.
1. As a kid I received Cricket magazine for a lot of years, thanks to an uncle in the library biz. I remember a short story in there about the ghost of a boy, I don’t have the exacts I’m afraid, but it was a favorite of mine for many years.
2. The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes, while not particularly scary was always one of my favorite books growing up & I read & re-read it every Halloween until I was much older than my mother thought I should be- reading this book.
3. Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck, Both funny & scary, I loved this book & all of Richard Pecks books (the ones which were written when I was still a kid that is.) Although ms 13 was given “A Year Down Yonder” this summer for a school reading program & I read it myself & enjoyed it very much too.
4. The House With A Clock in it’s Walls by John Bellaris. I discovered this book in the library all on my own (my mother often shoved books at me at the library which I sometimes dutifully read & sometimes didn’t) And my mother was amazed, the author was from her (& my adopted) Hometown of Haverhill MA. & my uncle the librarian knew him. More importantly (at least to me) It was illustrated by Edward Gorey & consequently was my introduction to Edward Gorey who continues to be one of my favorite artists.
5. I’m already seeing that this could be a real mess, I don’t want to list 8 Steven King books in order of my preference for them, but really, there aren’t all that many adult books which actually deal with real ghosts. (I remember being terribly disappointed in “Ghost Story” By Peter Straub as it was not anywhere near as scary as I expected it to be when I read it at 12.
6. The Witching Hour & the rest of the Mayfair Family Chronicles by Anne Rice. I’ve read a few of the Vampire books, but Vampires aren’t my favorite thing really. (I understand the attraction, it’s just not all that appealing to me) I found the Mayfair Witches very entertaining though & it certainly has some very detailed descriptions of New Orleans which I enjoyed, never having been there & having heard all sorts of wonderful stories from my Grandmother who went there often when she was married.
7. I also have spent a lot of time reading non-fiction books about ghosts, Hanz Holzer & others who spent lots of time chasing them long before people followed ghost hunters around with tv cameras.
8. Also in the Non-fiction category are books loaned to me by a co-worker a few years back: “Ghosts of Virginia” volumes 1 through 4 (I understand there are 13 or so now) were very entertaining although I was disappointed that there were no stories about my adopted home county. (we do have a ghost tour, one of these years I hope to get to go on it!)
9. I still stand by my statements over the years that Steven King is best in short story form. Most of my very favorite stories of his are from the short story collections. Room 1408 (the story, not so much the movie) You Know they got a Hell of a Band, Crouch Lane, Uncle Otto’s Truck & Gramma are all stories which packed a lot more punch, a lot more scare for the words than The Stand or Carrie for me at least.
10. That’s not to say I don’t love some of the full length books too. The first book I read by Steven King was The Shining & I was 11, the librarian was dubious but my mother said I could take anything I wanted out & backed me when the librarian questioned it. I read it & it scared me, not a lot as there was a lot I didn’t totally understand, I’ve always been one to go with the flow when it comes to reading, I always assume if I don’t quite get something right away that it will be made clear by the end of the book. (It’s always worked, although with some books it took a couple of times reaching the end of the book for it to all make sense!)
11. Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill (yes, Steven King’s son) I really liked this story & wish he’d hurry up & come out with more books!
12. Duma Key by Steven King, (I know, I know, way too much Steven King on this list, but this one was so good!) I listened to this one as a book on CD & really loved it. Lisey’s Story surpassed it but it wasn’t so scary, it was more fascinating generally.
13. The #1 scary book for me is Pet Cemetary by Steven King, I haven’t read it since I was 15 or so & don’t intend to do so ever again. The reasons are more about my own superstitions regarding my kids than because the book specifically scared me. With my family’s history, seeing my parents go through losing a child when my brother died, I don’t want to have one of my kids precede me in death & so couldn’t hack trying to read this book again because of its subject matter.