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5 scary reads to get you in the mood for Halloween

Good thing you need to keep at least one light on to read. Some of the scariest stories can be found in book form. If you’re looking for bedside reading that’s sure to keep you from a good night’s sleep, try classics like Frankenstein, collections of ghost stories or history books about witch trials and royal executions. For reads that chill in a completely different way, pick up a real-life survival story such as the tragic mountain climb of Into Thin Air or Elie Wiesel’s Night, a harrowing war memoir. Horror movie fans have many options. Many of these films started as books. Try American Psycho or a Stephen King novel. In fact, scenes that would be too hard to stomach onscreen often get detailed in print. Here are five picks to get you in the mood for Halloween.

1. Black Hole by Charles Burns

Black Hole gives “graphic novel” a whole new meaning. What’s worse than being a teenaged virgin in the suburbs? Why, having sex and catching a super virus ravaging the town, that’s what. The symptoms of the STD infecting this book’s characters manifest themselves as physical mutations. And you thought pimples were bad. The black and white drawings of disfigured faces and bodies could induce queasiness, but it’s the premise that’s sure to creep the reader out. But this book also haunts you another way. Ultimately, it’s a relatable, tender, and sad coming of age tale. A beautifully drawn book that sucks you back into the black hole of adolescence.

2. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Adolescence is not a good time. Here’s another take on the trials of youth: having already published his dystopian Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury wrote this classic fantasy about two teenaged boys who must battle a bewitched carnival. A nightmare in book form. This one could interest young adult readers. Although it scared the bejeezus out of me when I was young.

3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Reality is often scarier than fiction. In 1959, a family is found dead in their Kansas home, shot at close range. Having recently published Breakfast at Tiffany’s, writer Truman Capote goes to investigate the murders. The result, after several years of research, is this non-fiction classic (parts were first serialized by the New Yorker). In Cold Blood is a page-turner. This mystery is driven by quirky characters—or rather, real people. Capote has recorded human nature, both the banal and the horrific.

4. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
In the same vein as Capote’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil depicts a real-life murder investigation but reads like a novel. Here, the victim is a male prostitute, and the setting is Savannah, Georgia. This is not a scare your pants off read, but the murder does set off an intriguing chain of events and, more importantly, Berendt introduces readers to a wild and unforgettable Southern cast.

5. Dracula by Bram Stoker

This classic spawned a whole genre of horror tales. Curious about the root of vampire mania? Presented in the form of letters and diary entries, Dracula contains the stories that have come back to life in countless books, movies, and television shows. There’s the everyman who visits the castle of a mysterious count. The beautiful lady who tragically wastes away—but won’t stay dead. The vampire hunter with stake in hand, at the ready…