The 60 Most Popular Horror Books of the Past Five Years

Posted by Sharon on September 29, 2022


Horror fiction, as a genre, can be fascinating to track over time. The scary stories that we tell ourselves often reflect the anxieties we’re living through as a society. Why do certain books catch on with a large reading audience? No one knows for sure. But it’s fun to speculate.
 
Below we have gathered the most popular horror books on Goodreads over the past five years. Popularity is measured by total shelvings—books that appear on readers’ Read and Want to Read shelves—and overall star ratings. The titles here are all classified as adult horror and were published in the U.S. from October 2017 through September 2022.
 
Some interesting notes: We saw a significant surge in the popularity of the horror genre starting around the summer of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic settled in for the long haul. We’ve also noticed a recent and delightfully weird uptick in stories about haunted houses (e.g., Just Like Home and The Hacienda), which may reflect a kind of collective response to spending so much time at home feeling worried.
 
You’ll find some familiar names in this collection, but also a wave of new authors who are energizing the genre: Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alexis Henderson, and Lee Mandelo, to name three. Also keep an eye out for the other kind of usual suspects: vampires, ghosts, shadows, imaginary friends, and that sinister old rascal, the boogeyman.
 
Scroll over the book cover images for more details, and don’t forget to feed your Want to Read shelf.
 
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How many of these terrifying tales have you read? Let us know in the comments! 


Comments Showing 1-50 of 192 (192 new)


message 1: by Sue (new)

Sue I’ve read a few but I want to read more now!


message 2: by Erin (new)

Erin I've only read 2 of these; definitely adding more to my list!


RoXXie | The Art of Reading I have a lot of these waiting on my wishlist and some actually waiting do be read.


message 4: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Allard Planning my October all-horror reading list -- thanks for the help, Goodreads!


Jasmine Monique The Hacienda and Ring Shout novels are calling my name. I think I am going to commit to those for my October reads.


message 6: by Jane (new)

Jane Haha only Mexican Gothic!


message 7: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Bergen I've read 8.


message 8: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Uh oh..I've read 27 while recovering from back surgery these last few months.


message 9: by Joel (new)

Joel Duncan Jenn wrote: "Uh oh..I've read 27 while recovering from back surgery these last few months."

Any genuinely scary books?


message 10: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Kool I’ve read 15 and have a few more on my tbr. None for this month though. Maybe I need to change that…


message 11: by Caitlyn (new)

Caitlyn Fox 16!


message 12: by Bailey Drake (new)

Bailey Drake Okay maybe I should stop looking at the ratings because a lot of these are like 3.5-3.7 but the comments say they read many of them. Were they any good, guys??


message 13: by James (new)

James Hunt Earthlings? Horror? What?


message 14: by Megan (new)

Megan Graves I’ve read 22 and several are on my TBR


message 15: by Magdalena (new)

Magdalena Hanell 8 of these!


message 16: by Kristie (new)

Kristie I've read eight and have eight on my physical TBR


message 17: by Claudine (new)

Claudine I’ve read 20 and 13 on my TBR. These lists get me excited for spooky reading season. 👻


message 18: by Hazel Bee (new)

Hazel Bee Bailey Drake wrote: "Okay maybe I should stop looking at the ratings because a lot of these are like 3.5-3.7 but the comments say they read many of them. Were they any good, guys??"

Don't pay attention to Goodreads ratings. If I did I would have missed out on some great books.


message 19: by Shanna (new)

Shanna Pankey Read 23, all the rest are on my TBR.


message 20: by BookWyrme Lynn (new)

BookWyrme Lynn I've only read 8 but want to read more.


message 21: by Shelly (last edited Oct 01, 2022 12:20PM) (new)

Shelly Jasmine Monique wrote: "The Hacienda and Ring Shout novels are calling my name. I think I am going to commit to those for my October reads."

Hacienda is excellent! Highly recommended!


message 22: by Tom (new)

Tom I've read 14. I was surprised that Malorie was a sequel more exciting than its predecessor!


message 23: by patty (new)

patty Jasmine Monique wrote: "The Hacienda and Ring Shout novels are calling my name. I think I am going to commit to those for my October reads."

Ring Shout was my favorite novel from last year. It was sooo good.


message 24: by Will (new)

Will B “Hidden Pictures” and “Full Throttle” were great, but “Mexican Gothic” and “The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires” sucked. I wanted to read “The Hacienda” but I’m not sure if I will like it. I’m surprised that Goodreads didn’t add “Ninth House”, “The Last Thing He Told Me” and “Blood Sugar” to this list!


message 25: by Bree (new)

Bree Vee I can’t wait to read some of these!


message 26: by Constantine (new)

Constantine Read: 3
On TBR: 3
On my Wishlist: 9


message 27: by Michele (last edited Oct 02, 2022 10:01AM) (new)

Michele Read 4
On TBR 1


message 28: by Angelica (new)

Angelica I've read 12 of these and the best of which is definitely "The Silent Companions". That book is soooo creepy!


message 29: by Holly (new)

Holly Freeman 18 for me, and I think my favourite was The Twisted Ones!


message 30: by Shawn (new)

Shawn I've read 5 of these so far...a few are marked "want to read". The Last House on Needless street is my favourite on this list!!


message 31: by Zde (new)

Zde I´ve read 7 of them and planning to more!


message 32: by David (new)

David I've read 23 on this list.


message 33: by Suzana (new)

Suzana Thompson If you want a scary book with vampires, check out The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle. Vampires haven't been scary in a long time, so I was surprised by how creepy they were in this book. I was actually afraid to turn out the light and close my eyes.
The Hallowed Ones


message 34: by Kiki (last edited Oct 03, 2022 05:50AM) (new)

Kiki I can't believe there's no Joyce Carol Oates on there! I just finished CARDIFF, BY THE SEA, a creepy and wonderful book that contains four novellas. PURSUIT, another JCO gothic, is probably her darkest book. BELLEFLEUR is the first book in a creepy series. And if anyone's looking for a creepy autumn classic, I'd recommend CHILDREN OF THE CORN by the late Tom Tryon. THE GHOSTWRITER by John Harwood is also excellent.


message 35: by Shelby (new)

Shelby Koning I've read 11 and have several on my TBR, I increased that again today.


message 36: by Jenny Baker (new)

Jenny Baker I've read 11, DNF'd 4, and 2 are on my TBR.


message 37: by Marli (new)

Marli Hanekom I have read only one on this list . . . I am surprised there is no Japanese horror on this list. Another was one of my favourites :D


message 38: by Henry (new)

Henry Olivas I've only read the two Stephen King novels and found them to be alright, nothing great. Some of the others seem worth looking into.


Werefox by moonlight: Half man, half beast, but all horror A lot of these seem too thriller-ish for my tastes. I basically only read horror and don't want to waste my time on books which turn out to be thrillers in disguise.


message 40: by Simone (new)

Simone Hazel Bee wrote: "Bailey Drake wrote: "Okay maybe I should stop looking at the ratings because a lot of these are like 3.5-3.7 but the comments say they read many of them. Were they any good, guys??"

Don't pay atte..."


I totally agree!! Some of the best books I've read this year had low ratings. I sometimes read the reviews but even that hasn't been helpful lately. I just give the books that catch my eye a try and see for myself if the book was worth reading.


message 41: by Peter (new)

Peter Joel wrote: "Jenn wrote: "Uh oh..I've read 27 while recovering from back surgery these last few months."

Any genuinely scary books?"


This is super subjective, don't you think? What makes one person shiver will make the next roll their eyes.


message 42: by Peter (new)

Peter 13 read... Last House On Needless Street is my favorite of those


message 43: by Gene (new)

Gene Borowski "Dracul" (Stoker/Barker) is a must read for Ghostober.


message 44: by Aarica (new)

Aarica I've read 12 and own a few, and many on my TBR list. I have added more. Excited to read many of these options!


message 45: by amy jo (new)

amy jo rodriguez I only read of few of these and now I just added darn near the whole list to my "want to read" list. Can't wait to get started


message 46: by Rach (new)

Rach I've read 7 of these picks! Love Grady's books and would 10/10 recommend My Best Friend's Exorcism especially because a movie just came out based on it??!?!?


message 47: by Moira-ji (new)

Moira-ji having read both books, it suprises me to see Lakewood on this list and not Sorrowland


message 48: by Paula (new)

Paula 15. Ring Shout was excellent, as were both Stephen Graham Jones books. As for actually scary? Weirdly, Devolution kept me on edge, even though it's mostly satirical - probably because I read it in a house in the woods. Survivor Song was scary, but I have found Paul Tremblay to have gotten steadily less scary with every book. Last House on Needless Street was mesmerizing, and Mira Grant's book was delicious.


message 49: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Mckimmey I’ve read 25 and most are on my
My Goodreads shelves


message 50: by Tanya (new)

Tanya I've only read 19 of these, but I do own 8 others....still, I definitely need to step up my game!!


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