By Callie S.
My co-workers are wonderfully creative people, and every October they conjure a box of decorations from below a desk and a few days later our workroom looks like….this.
Decorating isn’t my forte. I’ll let them create the physical ambience, and I’ll provide you with the fall ambience. Here is a list of my favorite October reads:
Dracula by Bram Stoker – Ok ok, before you roll your eyes and move past the most obvious book on any October reading list, have you read it? I know you know the story, but have you really sat down with Bram at night with a candle flickering and perhaps a wind howling outside? Don’t count him out. It’s a really spooky read.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This one is not a spooky read, but it’s perfect for October. I read this one every two years because it creates the perfect fall atmosphere. The plot is fine, the characters barely pass muster, but I’ll read this one again and again solely for the perfect autumn world. Plus who doesn’t love reading about a magical circus?
Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories by Bram Stoker- I love short stories. This collection is perfect for the darker nights, and the title story is believed to be an actual chapter of Dracula that was purged before it made it to print. Harker’s first meeting with Dracula may have taken place before he even made it to the castle. Spooky.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – If you were intrigued by the above description of The Night Circus but you want your October reads to be full of the macabre and the creepy, don’t fret. Something Wicked This Way Comes was a major influence on Morgenstern and this one will give you all the chills.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James – What I love about Simone St. James is how she blends the supernatural with real horrors. Join our heroine as she moves to an out of the way city in New York to discover why her aunt went missing decades ago. The obvious place to start is the creepy motel where she was last seen.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – If I ever have an opportunity to sneak this one on a list, I absolutely will. A decrepit mansion, a houseful of suspicious guests, and a death that takes place every night make this the perfect modern Agatha Christie novel. Live the same day over and over amidst unseen enemies until you can solve the murder and hopefully escape.
Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories by Shirley Jackson – Yes, I could have put The Haunting of Hill House on this list. It’s deliberate that I didn’t. With the Netflix show and the other ways the book has been featured in pop culture, I’m afraid it won’t live up to the hype. Don’t get me wrong, it’s creepy, but it’s a much more subtle type of creep. I strongly recommend Jackson’s collected works so you can really appreciate her special brand of the unsettling.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – This was probably the first scary story I ever heard and it might be yours too. Have you actually read it though? Does Ichabod Crane throw a pumpkin or does the horseman kill him with his own head? Take a stroll through haunted New England and visit a story you might not know as well as you think you do.
His Hideous Heart by multiple authors – Can I confess something? I haven’t’ *actually* read this one yet. I have it checked out and it’s waiting on me right now. A few years ago I started a collected works of Edgar Allen Poe and I couldn’t get past the first story. Maybe not all of Poe is for me, but I know at least some of it is. Because I don’t have the patience to wade through everything he’s written, I’m indulging in 13 of his short stories followed by a modern retelling of that same story. I’m super excited for this one!
‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – As my manager so kindly reminded me; you can’t have an October book list without something by King. Although I’ve read a good deal by King, the only one that really sits right for the month is ‘Salem’s Lot, which I’m only about halfway through. It’s deliciously creepy though and a perfect bookend for a month of reading that begins with Dracula.
Just one tiny thing to mention: if for any reason you can’t read these books in October, you are completely allowed to read them in November, February, or even on the beach in July. You are responsible for your own spooky ambiance.