Now that we're well into October and getting ready for Halloween, spooky season is officially upon us. If the chill in the air makes you want to curl up with a book that will put a chill in your spine, you'll love Goodreads' book recommendations. The reading community has put together a frighteningly good list of the 10 most popular horror books of all time, based on over 90 million reviewers' rankings.
Although it's not a surefire litmus test, it seems the best horror books usually have great material for scary movies. You might recognize most of these titles from the cinematic versions because those flicks went on to become classics in that genre. It's an urban legend that books are always "better" than the films they inspire. If that's the case, prepare yourself to be scared out of your fuzzy slippers — these thrillers are the real deal.
The reigning monarch of this list is by far Stephen King, who wrote a whopping five of the 10 horror reads. These stories, featuring characters from ancient vampires, apocalyptic zombies, to homicidal little girls, all have incredible writing that plunges you into the authors' worlds of terror. Read these before bedtime only if you love nightmares and things that go bump in the dark.
1. 'The Shining' by Stephen King
A writer and his family settle in for a harsh winter just as he takes a new job as the caretaker of the remote Overlook Hotel. But something creepy is happening at the seemingly pleasant getaway. Stephen King is genius at writing books about horrible things happening to writers.
2. 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker
The granddaddy of all vampire stories, Dracula introduces us the titular Count Dracula in his quest to make more of the undead. Bram Stoker's gothic novel was published in 1897 but has held up through centuries, quite like its main character. It's still a bloody good read.
3. 'It' by Stephen King
It follows seven small-town children as they are haunted and hunted by an evil creature taking the shape of their deepest fears. The film reboots, the latest of which premiered in 2019, are also highly acclaimed. If you enjoyed those, then returning to the original will be good fun.
4. 'The Stand' by Stephen King
Taking place during an apocalypse, The Stand is the story of how the world fares after a biological disaster occurs. When a raging influenza reduces the human population, it also brings out the worst monstrosities in us. Who are the good guys when this happens?
5. 'Coraline' by Neil Gaiman
A bored little girl named Coraline moves into an old house that has a few amazing secrets. When she explores a passageway that had been bricked over, she discovers a parallel world, with doppelgängers that appear to be better than the versions in her own world. But everything is not as it seems.
6. 'Carrie' by Stephen King
Shy and reserved Carrie White is bullied at school and abused by her religious mother at home. Teen life is hard enough without slowly realizing that you have supernatural powers. Things come to a head at prom when Carrie explodes.
7. 'Misery' by Stephen King
Misery is what happens when your greatest fan becomes your greatest nightmare. A best-selling author is stranded in the dead of winter and rescued by a woman who at first seems like a godsend. But he soon discovers her obsession with his work threatens to destroy them both.
8. 'World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War' by Max Brooks
World War Z, as it's most commonly called, collects the fictional chronicles of people who survived after the world is overtaken by a virus. Brooks' novel explores sociopolitical and economic consequences from the zombie apocalypse. It's perfect for readers who like a bit of social commentary with their infectious bites.
9. 'Interview With The Vampire' by Anne Rice
An ancient vampire based in San Francisco recounts his exploits and colorful life to a reporter. One of the most memorable parts of the tale includes a child vampire. Anne Rice is one of the foremost writers of horror and this classic of hers is not to be missed.
10. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
This book, second in a series of four, delves into the life of FBI agent Clarice Starling as she encounters a cannibalistic serial killer. Thomas Harris's novel, Red Dragon, first introduces the world to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The character, which was made famous by Anthony Hopkins' brilliant cinematic portrayal, is (in my humble opinion) one of the greatest villains of all time.