Posted in Reading Books

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Ghost Story?

I don’t believe in ghosts.  When I was younger, I think I liked to believe that ghosts really did hang around certain areas…i.e. basements, attics, campgrounds, abandoned barns, etc.  But the older I got, the more skeptical I became.  All those shows on TV about ghost-hunting and real-life hauntings?  I think they’re crap.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love reading ghost stories.

I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories, ever since I was a kid and my friends and I would scare ourselves silly telling stories of “encounters” other people have had.  Ghost stories aren’t fun because we actually think they’re true – they’re fun because we just like to be scared.  Of course it’s only fun to be scared when you know that you’re safe in your own bed at home.  It’s not very fun when something like this crosses your path:

This was actually really difficult for me to post.  Horrifying.

Obviously, a ton of books have been written about ghosts.  And I’ve read a lot of them.  Most of them were read when I was younger, since that’s when I was going through the “phase”, but every now and then I’ll find one that sounds interesting, like when I need a break from vampires and werewolves and witches.  Let’s talk about a few of them, shall we?

 1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I read this book last year after the high recommendation given to me by my husband.  It was awarded the Newbury Medal in 2009, which is a pretty big deal, but not a surprise.  This book was good.  And it wasn’t scary.  I mean, a couple of parts were a little freaky – having a scary madman after you is a bit of a frightening thought – but the book as a whole was a little depressing.  Not in a bad way, though.  Depressing in a heartwarming sort of way, if that makes sense.  Anyway.  Just read it.

 2.  Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

You want to read something scary?  This book scared the poo out of me when I was a kid.  Yet I read it so much that I think the book spine eventually cracked.  To be honest, I don’t remember entirely what it was about – just a girl who meets a ghost girl named Helen.  And that it was scary.  But a good scary.  The kind that makes you want to curl up in bed with some hot tea while a storm rages outside (that is, if you live in a part of the country that gets thunderstorms.  I do not.).

 3. The 13th Floor by Sid Fleischman

I read this book on the plane from Los Angeles to Minneapolis last fall, and although it wasn’t scary, it was fun. It involves ghosts from history and, being a history geek myself, I totally dug it.  Three hundred year-old ghosts, pirates, a big storm, time-travel, witch trials…who wouldn’t want to read about all that?  A quick, entertaining read that can be done in less than four hours.

 4. There’s a Dead Person Following My Sister Around by Vivian Vande Velde

Okay, I actually haven’t read this book.  But the title itself sounds effing scary.  Must check this one out.

 5. Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan

I read this book last summer because I heard it was “kinda creepy”.  Well, I’m afraid that “kinda creepy” doesn’t really do this book justice.  This book is “crazy freaky insane scary”.  And you can quote me on that. Lois Duncan was like the queen of YA horror lit back in the 70s and 80s – long before people like Stephenie Meyer and P.C. Cast was a blip on anyone’s YA radar.  I always wanted to read her books when I was younger, but I kept getting distracted by R.L. Stine and his Fear Street series (which is also totally good).  So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book from the library.  I definitely didn’t expect to be this scared, though since the book takes place at an all-girls school, I should have had an inkling.   All the characters in the book are freaky as hell, weird stuff happens to them, and the revelation at the end is all twisty and totally worth it.  Man, I want to read this book again.

 6.  Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell

The stories in this book are about more than just ghosts, but I still consider it to be a book of ghost stories. This is another one from my childhood, one my friends and I would read over and over to each other while camped out in my parents’ freaky basement.  For some reason this book keeps appearing on the most challenged books list, and has for the past 20 years.  Why?  Apparently there’s violence, and people don’t like the fact that it’s considered a kids book, “due to the surreal and nightmarish illustrations contained within”.  Um…okay?  But isn’t that what makes it so fun?

Ghost stories aren’t for everyone.  I actually know people who aren’t fans (don’t ask me why).  But if you ever want to feel just a little bit scared, pick up any of these books.  Or find a spooky story of your own and just read enough for you to feel hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Happy scary reading!

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I have way too much information floating around in my head, which is why I write things down. I find that books, movies, music, and television are much more interesting than my local news.

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