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Autumn is my favorite time of year and it’s the perfect time to cozy up with a sweater and book while the air turns chilly and your surroundings turn orange.

To fully encapsulate this wonderful albeit spooky feeling, here are certain books guaranteed to put you in an autumnal mood.

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I just finished this book a couple weeks ago and it made for the perfect short spooky story. The story is refreshing and the characters are all equally horrifying.

18 year old Mary Katherine (Merricat) is an odd young woman whose family died when arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl at dinner. All died except Merricat, her uncle, and her older sister Constance, who was tried and acquitted of the crimes. When their cousin shows up out of the blue, disrupting the girls’ constant schedule, all hell breaks loose.

2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Another super short super creepy book that I just adore.

When Coraline Jones and her family move into a new house, she’s bored of out her mind. But when she finds a door that leads to a world eerily similar to her own run by her “Other-Mother” and “Other-Father”, where everything is mysteriously better, she starts having a good time. But when her “Other-Mother” starts becoming possessive, things go wrong.

I read this book all in one day and absolutely loved it. Gaiman’s writing is so beautiful and his managing to pretend like this is a children’s book blows my mind.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This classic is so dark and gloomy, it’s captured the hearts of generations.

Set in the eery English countryside, it follows the past of the Earnshaws and the turbulence caused by their taking in a young boy called Heathcliff. Told by the housekeeper, this tale spans centuries of heartbreak. The selfish characters make for such drama I like to think of it as gothic Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The romance and heartache of Wuthering Heights creates a perfect autumn read.

4. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Now, this one is one to read if you want to read pure garbage that manages to be quite entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, this series is one of my favorites of all time (I type this as my New Moon poster and Edward action figure stare down at me), but even I have to admit the writing here is horrible.

However, the overall story is worth it and will instantly transport you to misty, moody Forks, Washington. When Bella goes to live with her dad, she expects nothing but boredom and awkwardness. But this changes when she meets the mysterious Edward Cullen and she’s enveloped in a world she never knew existed.

5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Talk about drama. This book is downright brilliant.

Flynn, author of Gone Girl, created a terrifying story that won’t let up its grip on you even long after you’ve finished it. When writer Camille returns to her small town to investigate the disappearance of young children, she becomes entangled in her family drama and the horror the town holds.

6. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Another classic that managed to scare me so badly in high school.

Morrison is one of the best chilling storytellers of our generation. If you’re looking for a story that is both blood-curdling and extremely important, this is the one for you. The book follows a former slave and her family whose house is haunted by a spirit. This story stills haunts my thoughts every now and then.

7. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Obviously.

What’s more Halloween-y than Bram Stoker? The original tale of Dracula is dark and haunting. If you’re a fan of the classics, this one is for you.

8. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

THIS BOOK. If you’re on booktok ever, I’m sure you’ve heard of this one, and god is it worth it.

The characters are compelling and its setting is a rich, historic college. This book grips you tight and won’t let go. When Oliver starts attending college looking to study Greek, he is brought into the tight-wound group of Greek students lead by their enigmatic professor. They live in their own little world of money, academia, poetry and brilliance. But when things start slipping out of their hands, the group faces challenges they never imagined. Of all the books on this list, this is probably my favorite (okay maybe all but Twilight, I can’t help it!)

9. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

If you liked The Secret History, odds are you’ll like this one (but don’t try to compare them, The Secret History stands alone) but this one is focused on a group of students studying theater, but mostly Shakespeare. As they start blurring the lines between themselves and Shakespeare’s characters, they begin to lose themselves more and more.

10. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Here’s another short story! This one was recently adapted by Netflix into The Haunting of Bly Manor.

A young au pair finds herself in a secluded manor taking care of two charming young children whose parents passed away. Several unnerving sightings cause a stir in the house and the au pair tries to protect the children as the house is swarmed with its chilling past.

11. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s charming novel of blurred morals and hedonism, Dorian Gray is a world of wealth and splendor. By influence of his close friend Lord Henry, Dorian finds his way in the world. Filled with desire and naivety, he makes a deal to stay forever young, letting the portrait of him decay with each immoral action he performs.

12. The Whisper Man by Alex North

I read this a couple years ago and let me tell you- it freaked me out.

This one is about Tom and his son, Jake, who move to a new town to get a fresh start, but soon find out the small town has a terrifying past. It was formerly home to a serial killer who abducted and killed five little boys who all claimed to have heard whispering from their windows before they were taken. The man responsible has been locked up for years, but soon Jake starts hearing whispers late at night…The Whisper Man kept me on the edge of my seat and had me flipping pages into late at night, which is not the best time to read this story!!

13. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by the Grimm Brothers

What better way to pay homage to spooky time that reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales? Absolutely terrifying stories that include the original tellings of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and more will cause you nightmares when they transform your childhood movies to bone-chilling stories.

My advice for this season is to pick up one (or more) of these spooky stories from the library, curl up in a fluffy blanket with your preferred fall drink from Starbucks and prepare to be scared!

Emilee Keaggy

Kent State '25

I'm a lover of reading, music, movies, astrology, and food! I'm a freshman at Kent who's interested in psychology, english, and fashion. I'm an avid magazine reader and I live for Vogue's September issue (and free tote!) every year.
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