Happy Halloween! My favorite part of Halloween is always children and pets in cute costumes. A couple years ago I bought a costume for my cat, but he hates it more than anything in the entire world and wriggled out of it in 30 seconds flat. He’s selfish that way. Anyway. What I don’t like about Halloween are scary, gross things. For example, zombies. Zombies are disgusting. Everyone knows that, right? Does everyone like zombies because they’re disgusting? I don’t get it. The last scary movie I willingly saw was Scream 2, and that’s because, back in my day, Jamie Kennedy was a dreamboat. (He was. I swear. Zac Efron hadn’t been invented yet.)
That said, despite my general aversion to the horror genre, sometimes I accidentally read scary books. Sometimes I even like them. Here are my favorite scary books. They’re spooktacular!! (They’re not really.)
- Feed by M.T. Anderson
In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.
This book gives me serious misgivings about my own Facebook addiction. Is this how I’m going to end up? Noo!
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now…everything has changed.
This is the scariest dystopia I’ve ever read because it sounds like the most plausible one. Eeeek!
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
One of the world’s most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey — into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.
This book is where I first learned about one of my deepest fears, the Yellowstone Supervolcano. If the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts in our lifetime, we are so, so, screwed. Stop with your “zombocalypse emergency plans” and start making a Supervolcano plan. There’s a YA series about this very premise by Mike Mullin. The first one is called Ashfall, but I haven’t read it because it sounds too scary. Bill Bryson’s book about Australia, In A Sunburned Country, also made me very scared of crocodiles, sharks, spiders, and basically everything that lives in Australia.
- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Two fears for the price of one: what if my house floods? What if I’m illegally detained by the government for months? Spooky-scary!
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, memoir and his own detective work, “Eating Animals” explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits–from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth–and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting.
Guys! Slaughterhouses are so gross, you guys! If you like reading about zombies, you’ll love reading about slaughterhouses!
- The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
A collection of stories that introduce the graphic novel series’ lead character, Morpheus, the King of Dreams, and his family, the Endless, a group of immortal beings who embody the most powerful forces or
aspects of the universe.
Okay but one of the stories in this is called “24 Hours” and it’s about Doctor Destiny holding people in a hostage for, um, 24 hours, because he has taken Morpheus’s ruby and it gives him power over people’s thoughts. First he makes them think their dreams are coming true, and then things get… darker. It’s so scary. It makes me never want to eat in a diner again. And I love diners.
- Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
A long-awaited collection of stories–twelve in all–by one of the most exciting writers at work today, the acclaimed author of Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Self-Help. Stories remarkable in their range, emotional force, and dark laughter, and in the sheer beauty and power of their language.
This is a truly beautiful collection of short stories, but one of them is called “Terrific Mother” and it’s about a single woman in her 30s who has to hold a friend’s baby at a party, and she trips and falls and kills the baby, and that is my literal nightmare scenario whenever anyone makes me hold their baby. Parents! Stop making me hold your babies! It’s terrifying!