Spooky Stories and NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, and so is October 31st. I’m here to provide a few recommendations for this week.

Attend our NaNoWriMo Kick-off on Tuesday October 27th at 6:30. Get inspired, find a writing buddy, learn some tips from local author Jeff Deck, and kick-start your creativity with a writing exercise! There will be free pizza, if you come for nothing else.

Other NaNoWriMo events are listed here. Sign up for National Novel Writing Month here.

I have curated a list of my favorite spooky short stories available at the library. Whether you are participating in NaNoWriMo or not, this is a great week for reading, and an even better week for reading scary stories. In no particular order, here are my favorite short spooky tales:ghosts

The Fifty-Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski. Okay, so this isn’t particularly short at 285 pages, but the words per page are sparse. I recommend reading it on a dark, stormy night. Maybe Wednesday? If you’ve read anything else by Danielewski (House of Leaves?) then you know how creepy this book is.

Let the Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist. You probably recognize the name from his other creepy stories about vampires and zombies. These tales are weird and disturbing and not for the faint of heart. “Equinox” is particularly unsettling.

Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Tales by Algernon Blackwood. “The Willows” is a tale of the natural world at its most sinister. Two men experience nightmarish things during a canoe trip. A great example of folk horror at its best.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson is my personal favorite author. Her novella, We Have Always Lived in the Castle left me chilled, to say the least. This collection contains her most famous short story, “The Lottery,” and many other horrors. Might seem familiar if you have read the Hunger Games!

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson. Fans of the Twilight Zone, Matheson wrote 16 episodes. Matheson also wrote the famous post-apocalyptic tale–where many glasses of whiskey are sacrificed–I am Legend that was adapted into two movies. I prefer The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston. If you are going to read just one story in this collection, let it be “Dress of White Silk.”

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman can do creepy for children and for adults. This collection is for adult eyes, but it does include an early exploration of The Graveyard Book called “October in the Chair.” My favorite story in this collection is “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of Night of Dread Desire,” a gothic comedy. Maybe not the scariest collection, but definitely strange!

My Own True Ghost Story by Rudyard Kipling. I have to include a tale we do not own, but you can read it at Project Gutenberg here or by clicking on the title. This is a particularly atmospheric ghost story, so read it alone in your favorite comfortable old chair.

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Bernheimer. These new fairy tales draw from folk tales from around the world. Some aren’t as scary as others, but some particular made me feel uncomfortable, like “Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child” by Joy Williams, in which Baba Iaga has a pelican child that is killed by John James Audubon as he collects specimens to draw.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. This is a superbly spooky graphic novel. Just look at it! Composed of 5 stories and illustrated fantastically, you really need to read this. ttw

A Lady's Hands are Cold
A Lady’s Hands are Cold

We also have much of the short fiction of Stephen King (Night Shift – available in eBook format, Four Past Midnight), Tales by H.P. Lovecraft, Ghostly, a new anthology of ghost stories, and so many more. I could recommend them all! Ask me or email me if you need something spooky to read.


blogphotoThis post was written by Stacia Oparowski, a library assistant in technical services. Besides reading and reviewing graphic novels, she also participates each year in NaNoWriMo and writes the November updates. If you have a suggestion for a graphic novel she should review or if you would like a graphic novel recommendation, please email her at soparowski@cityofportsmouth.com. Also, email if you need a scary story recommendation! 

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