13 Spooky Books Guaranteed to Send Chills Up Your Spine

Posted by Hayley on October 27, 2015
To celebrate Horror Week on Goodreads, we asked you on Facebook and Twitter: What's the scariest book you've ever read? Take a look at the top answers and add them to your want-to-read shelf—if you dare.

Rate this book
Clear rating
The Shining
by Stephen King
"Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in."

Check into the Overlook Hotel, a building with a sinister life of its own—and an evil only beginning to shine.


Rate this book
Clear rating
In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote
"I thought that Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up to the moment that I cut his throat."

Have the stomach for some real-life horror? Then dive deep into this true crime tale of murder and savagery in Holcomb, Kansas.


Rate this book
Clear rating
Bird Box
by Josh Malerman
"You can smell it, too. Death. Dying. Decay. The sky is falling, the sky is dying, the sky is dead."

If you see it, you'll go mad. With only a blindfold to protect them, a mother and her children navigate a wasteland of violence and death.


Rate this book
Clear rating
The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill
"I have sat here at my desk, day after day, night after night, a blank sheet of paper before me, unable to lift my pen, trembling and weeping too."

Professional duty—or personal sanity? Solicitor Arthur Kipps grapples with the paranormal in the ghostly grounds of Eel Marsh House.


Rate this book
Clear rating
The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
"There is no God and we are his prophets."

The post-apocalypse has never looked so bleak. The sky is dark, the air cracks stones, and cannibals stalk the land. Enter this dystopia with caution.


Rate this book
Clear rating
The Silence of the Lambs
by Thomas Harris
"When the Fox hears the Rabbit scream he comes a-runnin', but not to help."

If you've got the appetite for more cannibals, then meet Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the devious mastermind with a taste for cruelty and flesh.


Rate this book
Clear rating
The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
"Who can remember pain, once it's over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see."

Offred used to have a husband, a child, a life of her own… Now she's a Handmaid, forced to subjugation in this chilling work of speculative fiction.


Rate this book
Clear rating
The Amityville Horror
by Jay Anson
"They talked of feeling the presence of some energy inside, some unnatural evil that grew stronger each day they remained."

Controversial for its alleged truthfulness, this creepy tale follows the Lutz family and their ill-advised decision to move into the DeFeo murder house.


Rate this book
Clear rating
House of Leaves
by Mark Z. Danielewski
"You'll finish [the book] and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year… And then the nightmares will begin."

Their house is bigger on the inside—a quirk that turns frightful when the children disappear, voices echo in the hall, and a growing darkness beckons.


Rate this book
Clear rating
Intensity
by Dean Koontz
"But victimhood was seductive, a release from responsibility and caring. Fear would be transmuted into weary resignation."

Dare to come face-to-face with a self-proclaimed "homicidal adventurer"? Then come along for sociopath Edgler's descent into madness.


Rate this book
Clear rating
It
by Stephen King
"Come on back and we'll see if you remember the simplest thing of all—how it is to be children, secure in belief and thus afraid of the dark."

If you're not scared of clowns yet, allow us to introduce (or re-introduce) you to Pennywise. Good luck going to sleep tonight!


Rate this book
Clear rating
Rebecca
by Daphne du Maurier
"We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end."

Ease up on the gore and sink into this haunting gothic tale, a classic brimming with suspense, dread—and a lingering evil.


Rate this book
Clear rating
Helter Skelter
by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
"I may have implied on several occasions to several different people that I may have been Jesus Christ, but I haven't decided yet what I am or who I am…"

Infamous and horrific, this is the firsthand account of the case against serial killer Charles Manson. It has sold more copies than any other true crime book ever written.



Did we miss your favorite scary read? Then share it with us in the comments! And be sure to catch up on all the spooky Horror Week festivities here.

Comments Showing 1-50 of 57 (57 new)


Ertica*~She'sABookBirdy~*Castley You've just made my TBR list even bigger. Truly i haven't read all of it.


message 2: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy Deibel Not only do I approve of these, but I've got to crow that I just made it 13 likes...


message 3: by mirba (new)

mirba will list them on the books to never ever read


message 4: by Ashley (last edited Oct 27, 2015 08:46AM) (new)

Ashley I would have to say Helter Skelter. Nothing can compare with true insanity.


message 5: by Loreen ☕️ (new)

Loreen ☕️ Ghost Story by Peter Straub. It is terrifying.


message 6: by Nicole (new)

Nicole I've only read The Handmaid's Tale which I thought was pretty scary, but even more scary and similar to that was 1984. I read that book a few months ago and it's still with me a little bit everyday. Great list! I don't like scary movies, so this is my compromise. :P


message 7: by Shima (new)

Shima I can watch all the scary movies I want and sleep like a baby, but I can not read scary books! Movies are fiction, books are so damn real.


message 8: by Carol (new)

Carol Stephen King's It still scares the s*** out of me


message 9: by Pamela (new)

Pamela The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Only book to scare me in the daytime, in a room full of people. King only done it with two books and at night, alone.


message 10: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Martin It is an interesting list mixing true horror and dystopia. I don't read much horror but I like this list.


message 11: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie Great list.


message 12: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie All but one of these is already on my TBR -- no interest in Koontz, but I'll be looking at everything else! And currently reading IT to boot!


message 13: by Michelle (new)

Michelle No Bram Stoker's Dracula? Surely that deserves a place (near the top)? I read that fist time when I as about 18, in the middle of a stinking hot summer but could not sleep with the windows open until I got to the end. So scary and he as a master at building terror.


message 14: by Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (last edited Oct 27, 2015 12:10PM) (new)

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I always miss the polls that make up these lists!

Good choices. Added a few to my wishlist. A few I've read. One or two I hadn't heard of.

I love Rebecca but it's pure Goth ambience, not at all chilling horror.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Michelle wrote: "No Bram Stoker's Dracula? Surely that deserves a place (near the top)? I read that fist time when I as about 18, in the middle of a stinking hot summer but could not sleep with the windows open unt..."

Dracula did have some genuinely chilling parts at the beginning half.


message 16: by Veronica (new)

Veronica Loreen wrote: "Ghost Story by Peter Straub. It is terrifying."

Ghost Story is one of my all time favorites too.


message 17: by Jo (new)

Jo Nicole wrote: "I've only read The Handmaid's Tale which I thought was pretty scary, but even more scary and similar to that was 1984. I read that book a few months ago and it's still with me a little bit everyday..."

I completely agree with you about 1984. It's by far the scariest book I've read. Just thinking about it gave me goosebumps for weeks after I read it.


message 18: by Vic (new)

Vic Pamela wrote: "The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Only book to scare me in the daytime, in a room full of people. King only done it with two books and at night, alone."

I definitely agree! That one is number one on my list.


message 20: by Richard (new)


message 25: by Richard (new)


message 27: by Richard (new)

Richard Carol wrote: "Stephen King's It still scares the s*** out of me"

want a ballon


message 28: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante I read Helter Skelter and Amityville Horror long time ago - time to revisit both of them!

Look forward to reading The Woman in Black - sounds like just up my alley!

I love Bad House books - houses that have gone *bad* because of what happens between their walls...

Would like to add The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red to this list. It really does set the mood, and while I'm not much for movie tie-ins, this one was excellent and unsettling!


message 29: by Diana (new)

Diana I'm happy that I have read quite a few on the list. Are there some that I think should be on here? Always.


message 30: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Mugleston Ravenous by Ray Garton . Best and most terrifying werewolf book I've ever read.


message 31: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Shima wrote: "I can watch all the scary movies I want and sleep like a baby, but I can not read scary books! Movies are fiction, books are so damn real."

Me too!


message 32: by Alondra (new)

Alondra Miller Read all, except for 4. Good choices. :)


message 33: by Kat (new)

Kat C The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty) and Pet Sematary are two of the scariest books I've ever read!!!


message 34: by Jamie (new)

Jamie I always vote for Bird Box. I could not put this book down. I literally had nightmares. So good!


message 35: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra Freire Stephen King. La expedicion. esos minirelatos...


message 36: by Kike (new)

Kike Ramos I would like to add "The case of Charles Dexter Ward" by Lovecraft. I one of the very few books that caused me true fear, like really. It may not start scary but you'll get to it.


message 37: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia I Love Bird Box. And I want to read all the other books on the list as well.


message 38: by Duane (new)

Duane Ashley wrote: "I would have to say Helter Skelter. Nothing can compare with true insanity."

yeah, no kidding... I was mystified as to why that one and "In Cold Blood" are even on a list that's otherwise fantasy entertainment.

Of course, nowadays more and more people are reared in such a cocooned environment that they can't distinguish fantasy from reality any more... so...


message 39: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I I've read five of these and there's a sorry about one of them. A story that happened after I read it. A horrible, cruel, not right on so many levels, evil, awesomely funny as hell story. It's actually a joke my ex and my girls played on me back in 2006-07. I saw the movie when I was little and read the book just those short years back.

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson and the book scared the crap out of me. So much that it became the only book I'd ever even considered throwing in the trash. I wanted <needed it gone.....out of my house, burned, trashed......just gone. So when I had to go to the food store, he had taken me and he and the girls waited in the car because I wasn't going to be in there for long.

On my way in, freaking creepy book in hand, I threw it away in the trashcan right outside the food store. AWESOME!! The evil book was gone!!!! *exhaled a huge sigh of relief* Mission complete and the evil book was no longer in my home.

Now back to the family in the car.....

They thought they were so so sooooo funny. What they did.....their plot of scaring me to death....

My ex to girls: Hey girls, why don't we go get that book out of the trash can, take it back home and leave it somewhere for mommy to find, not knowing how it got back in the house!!!!!!!!?????!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Girls: Laughing their butts off: Okay, that's so funny!!

Maybe it's one of those jokes that you had to be there to find funny, but WHO DOES THAT!!!!!!!!??????!!!?!?!?!

LOL, I laugh now, but my God that was a horrible joke and an awesome joke all at the same time. They knew I'd literally be crying, terrified trying to figure out a logical explanation for how the book could have gotten back home. They were right......


message 40: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I I have zero idea why that book picture posted twice above. There was a glitch when I was trying to add it.

I've read The Shining (The Shining, #1) by Stephen King and It by Stephen King by (of course) Stephen King

Intensity by Dean Koontz by Dean Koontz

Amityville, of course which I'm not posting a picture again....

And saw "Helter Skelter" the movie.

My 2015 scary book pick still stands at A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay by Paul Tremblay

And others, but this glitch on Goodreads is driving me insane so I'm stopping with that. Have fun everyone and thank you for an awesome week, Goodreads :)


message 41: by Pantomime Python (new)

Pantomime Python Out of all these books I've only read The Shining and it's brilliant.


message 42: by Abby (new)

Abby I like the look of It by Stephen King it looks interesting. I might give that one a read if it's not too scary.


message 43: by Anne (new)

Anne Badly I haven't read any of it but I will start with Dean Koontz.


message 44: by Marion (new)

Marion Kathy wrote: "The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty) and Pet Sematary are two of the scariest books I've ever read!!!"

Yep, Pet Sematary...terrifying and dark...brilliant...


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Carol wrote: "Stephen King's It still scares the s*** out of me"

It scared the crap out of me when I read it as a teen and clowns always used to creep me out...so you can imagine what happened after coming across Pennywise...


message 46: by Liz (new)

Liz read about half of them on the list here love horror books and i have added the ones on the list that i haven't read...


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

I am not certain, but I am pretty sure that the quote from "The Shining" was from the movie and NOT the novel. I also have a funny feeling that if I am right, Mr. King would not be pleased since he has been pretty outspoken about how much he disliked the treatment his characters received in the film adaptation.


message 48: by Kersoe (new)

Kersoe What a disappointing list. Only 6 of the books are actually horror and they are all extremely predictable choices taken from other lists. My guess is its compiled by someone who has only read other lists. I've read all these books and for example, in cold blood... Hugely overrated and boring and about as scary as a growling puppy. Famous for being a new genre. Not for being scary! Same for many in the list. Handmaid tale... Famous as a dystopia classic, not horror. Much more inspired by the reader recommended... Eg dracula!


message 49: by Carla (new)

Carla all good books but am amazed no one has included joe hill the heart shaped box is without doubt the scariest book i have ever only been able to read while the sun is up give it a try


message 50: by C.J. (last edited Oct 28, 2015 03:59PM) (new)

C.J. Mugleston Duane wrote: "Ashley wrote: "I would have to say Helter Skelter. Nothing can compare with true insanity."

yeah, no kidding... I was mystified as to why that one and "In Cold Blood" are even on a list that's oth..."


I know right?
BRING BACK REAL HORROR!!
Authors visibly hold back so much these days. It's like they themselves are terrified of actually scaring their reader.
I saw a book about a girl getting her period labeled horror the other day.
I mean, come on!


« previous 1
back to top