Halloween is just around the corner, and if you are anything like me you are watching scary movies and reading scary books. Obviously, scary movies are great, but I find horror books to be much more frightening. Movies have it easy, with makeup and special effects. Demon faces pop up out of nowhere and give you that heart attack feeling, but to me those are cheap thrills. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Horror books don't leap out at you covered in fake gore. They take your hand and lead your down a dark alley to inevitable doom, allowing you to visualize the details from your own personal set of fears. The slow, creepy progress of a horror book is what keeps me up late at night, reading under the covers with a flashlight. Most of these books have been adapted into movies, which is probably where you know them from. As with most book-based movies, the books are way better.

Here is a list of some of our favorite horror books and hopefully the weeks leading up to Halloween will find you under your own covers with a flashlight, reading wide-eyed all night.

Click READ MORE to read the list.

Stephen King - Bag of Bones:
King is generally held to be the master of horror. It seems like every famous horror movie is based on one of his books. I was going to recommend The Shining here, since it's one of the most famous of his stories. The Shining is amazing and scary, and if you loved the movie you should read the book, but I find Bag of Bones to be much scarier. I have talked to a few Stephen King fans who found Bag of Bones to be just too creepy to read. This book revolves around a recently widowed author living in a haunted house in an insulated small town with a twisted past. Obviously, the plot is not what makes this book scary, but rather the slow progress of the ghostly activities and the revelations about how the ghosts came to be. As with most Stephen King books (which we recommend constantly...While you are at it you should read It) this is an easy, entertaining read. A beach read, if you will...but not a sunny, nice beach. A creepy haunted beach or something.

Mark Z. Danielewski - House of Leaves:
Granted, this book is really weird. I wouldn't say this book is for everyone. It is over 700 pages long, and filled with footnotes, lists, collages, codes, and even a part where you have to hold the book up to a mirror in order to read it. Yes, you will need a pencil and a notebook for this one. However, if you have a hunch you might enjoy such a non-traditional book you should give it a shot. It may become your favorite horror book of all time. It can be tough to describe what this book is about, but generally it's about an irreputable journalist studying a mysterious manuscript about a creepy film about a haunted house. The thing with this book is that you get so engrossed in it, just through the nature of the book itself, that when things get scary it feels almost real. This book will haunt you long after you finish reading it.

Shirley Jackson - The Haunting of Hill House:
While we are on the subject of haunted houses, this is a book that get mentioned in the reviews for every haunted house book ever. It is the book all other haunted house books are compared too, and that isn't something you want to be left out of. There aren't really any ghosts in this book, meaning that at no point does anything jump out and say "Boo!" What you see is a world where the natural (obsession, loneliness, and fear) meet the supernatural (messages written on walls, cold spots, banging). This book really engages your imagination, and it will stay with you. Just like it stayed with every human who has reviewed another haunted house book. The movie "The Haunting" (and it's remake) is based on this book.

Justin Cronin - The Passage and The Twelve:
Vampire fiction has undergone some changes since the era of Dracula, and I generally like most author's additions to the world of vampires, with the exception of teenage moodiness and sparkling. The nature of vampires changes slowly, with each author adding something unique on top of what has come before. Like most good vampire novelists, Justin Cronin hasn't turned the world of vampires on it's head, but The Passage probably has my favorite version of vampires. The world is overrun with gruesome, plague-ridden hordes of super-fast, super-strong "virals" (AKA "jumps," or "dracs") presided over by twelve psychic super-vampires. This has somewhat of an effect on the human survivor's day-to-day life in a post-apocalyptic America. The prose is gory and incredibly cinematic, and I found the characters and their relationships to be wonderfully well-developed. This series, due to become a trilogy, had little touches of horror greatness on almost every page.

John Ajvide Lindqvist - Let the Right One In:
Yes, vampires are a thing for me. I wouldn't really say this book changed the vampire mythos too much, but change isn't always good and this is still one of my favorite vampire books. Let the Right On In is set in a Swedish suburb that still gives me chills. The people there don't seem to notice each other. They hardly seem to notice themselves. It's the humans who are creepy in this book, from a kid who dreams of being a serial killer, to a wide array of pedophiles and alcoholics. The vampire might be the most normal character in the book. In fact, when the humans start "turning" people hardly notice at all. Well, they notice this one guy, but he sort of stands out in a crowd. I won't ruin the surprise.

Thomas Harris - The Silence of the Lambs:
I'm sure you know the story from the movie, which is one of my favorites, but I really must insist you read the book. You know why this book is scary: Dr. Hannibal Lector. One of the greatest villans of all time. By reading the book you dive much deeper into the mind of this cold-blood genius and criminal psychopath. Anthony Hopkins did a great job playing him in the movie. Maybe too good. I almost found his character charming and likable because Hopkins was so great. In the book you don't really get a sense of that. What you see is a man who is so talented at murder and manipulation that it is a miracle he was ever caught. You get drawn into Dr. Lector, just as Clarice Starling does, when he uses those talents in an attempt to gain his freedom, and a bit of company. That's not to mention the actual serial killer on the loose, who also sets new standards in his talent for misery and murder.

Joe Hill - Horns:
If you have read some of our other reading lists you may be getting tired of seeing hearing about this book. But we love to recommend it, and people seem to be getting the picture. Thanks to us, this book is going to be made into a movie next year! Well...that's what we like to think anyway. The gist is that a a man wakes up one morning with devil horns growing out of his head. Horns that he earned because he is a bad man. Not only that, but he gains the power to make people reveal their deepest, darkest thoughts and secrets. Things you never want to hear people say. You can imagine how scary things get when you start exploring that part of their mind, especially when you are out to solve a murder in which you are the prime suspect. Again, it isn't the supernatural that scares you in this book, but the everyday people that he interacts with. The puzzle in this book comes together in a perfect way that is sure to satisfy you.

H.P. Lovecraft - Tales:
No horror book list is complete without a shout-out to H.P. Lovecraft. Along with Edgar Allen Poe, he is probably the most influential horror writer of all time. Everybody knows to quake in fear at the feet of Cthulhu, and they don't call things "Lovecraftian" because he wasn't the master of the horror of the cosmic unknown. Lovecraft's stories are often about characters being slowly driven mad in a search for forbidden knowledge from outside the human realm of understanding, although he has so many stories with so many themes it seems unfair to generalize. This book is the best collection of his stories we could find, and it is entirely thorough. Trust me, you are going to need thoroughness, because once you read "Call of Cthulhu" or "At the Mountains of Madness" you are going to be thoroughly hooked.

Chuck Palahniuk - Haunted:
This one is pretty nasty. Whether people love this book or hate it, they can at least agree on one thing: It is disturbing, grotesque, and unforgettable. This is the peak of shock-fiction. This book is a collection of short stories, written by a series of fictional authors locked in a house for three months. The stories progress in their depravity as the authors spend more time locked up, convinced they are the participants in a reality TV-style competition. This includes the story "Guts," which is a bit of a legend in the horror story community. This book is obviously not for everyone, but I'm sure someone out there is interested in what is probably the most extreme horror book of all time.

Richard Matheson - I Am Legend:
This is generally held to be the first zombie story, and as a resident of Pittsburgh I am obligated to mention zombies. However, obligations aside, this is an amazing book that was incredibly influential on the genre. People use the term "thinking-man's horror" when they talk about this book. To be honest I think that is both "boring" and "stupid," as if all other horror is for dumb-idiots. Whether you think the creatures in this book are zombies or vampires, it definitely presented a new kind of threat: unstoppable hordes of powerful, infected, undead WHATEVERS in a post-apocalyptic world and the struggle to escape them. There have been approximately one million books and movies with this same premise since, and respect must be payed to where they all came from. Especially when the book completely lives up to the hype and expectation.

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