Not only is Halloween the scene of some of my best childhood memories, it also kicks off our entire holiday season. It feels like once Halloween rolls around, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's are all like a week away, which starts to feel just a taaaaaad overwhelming. With that kind of pressure building right behind Halloween, I'm careful every year to take some time to fully appreciate the spooky holiday; I love it too much to let it pass me by!
The thing about Halloween is it sits directly on the precipice of the season. It's a time to sit and soak in the last bits of fall with it's golden sunshine, blazing trees, flickering jack-o-lanterns, comfort food, and crisp air, but it's also a time when I deeply appreciate the eerie, chilled nights and the waning autumn light as we descend more firmly towards winter. I love that Halloween night always feels both sugar coated and a little sinister.
When considering books for Halloween, we did our best to pick from both sides: the warmth and the chill...
If you're looking for a warmer read filled with all the good fun the holiday Brings:
A Discovery of Witches | Deborah Harkness- Though I didn't personally like this one, SO MANY people absolutely love it, and you might too! It's full of witches and vampires and fairies and all that fun stuff. There's ancient secret societies, a ton of book love, and of course, a forbidden romance. Plus, the story begins in early fall and ends on Halloween night, how perfect is that?
The Graveyard Book | Neil Gaiman- A brave boy, a fatherly vampire, underworlds, ghosts, and evil legends pepper this book that ultimately is about friendship and growing up and the many ways to be a family. Gaiman always toes the line between realism and the fantastic, and in this book it's executed beautifully. This has been described as The Jungle Book meets ghosts, and that is pretty dang accurate.
The Woman in White | Wilkie Collins- This is one of the original Victorian detective novels, and don't be intimidated by it's age or length as it's shockingly page turner-y. A mysterious woman in white, whispers of insane asylums, ominous letters, star crossed lovers, grand estates, and much more are contained in this volume. It's got just enough of a creepy edge to be the perfect read for late October while having plenty of other action happening that keeps the well layered plot moving quickly.
The Phantom of the Opera | Gaston Leroux- This one straddles the line between being a warmer read, and a scarier one. There is, of course, a successful love story, and a darker one contained within the pages. Glittering opera houses, walks in snowy graveyards, murders, and masked balls....it embraces both the light and the dark. Plus, the movie and soundtrack are solidly fun and seasonally on point, if you'd rather go that route!
If you're looking for something more deeply sinister, or scary:
House of Leaves | Mark Z. Danielewski- This one is a serious mindf*ck. It actually creeped me out so badly that I never finished reading it, so maybe you're braver than I am! It's got a bit of a cult following behind it, and everyone I know who has read it has had a visceral reaction to it. The formatting inside it is just bonkers in a lot of places, as it's full of text at odd angles and codes and puzzles and ciphers and things like that. Ultimately, the story revolves around a family and their ever-changing, very sinister house, but this book is not about the plot.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow | Washington Irving- If you just want something spooky that you can read in under an hour, this is your book! Irving presents the story of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman in creepy, vivid, beautiful detail. Rikki and I both loved this short story, and it's truly a perfect pick for Halloween if you haven't read it yet!
The Halloween Tree | Ray Bradbury- On an eerie halloween night, a group of boys are whisked away on a journey through space and time. They learn about halloween as they encounter funeral processions, witches, gargoyles, catacombs, mummies, druids and more. It's a lot of fun and has a good dose of creepy while being a really fascinating look at the traditions and origins of halloween.
The Shining | Stephen King- Such a classic! I'm sure everyone knows the plot of this one, or has seen the movie, but like with most movies....the book is better. Vintage King is the best King as far as we're concerned!
Tell us your favorite books to read around Halloween, we'd love to hear!