We are about a week away from Halloween, so I thought I’d share with you some great classic books that fit all of the requirements for a good October read. I’m not much of a scary movie person, but every now and then it’s nice to curl up with a suspenseful read. In case you’re more used to spooky films, though, I’ve paired each of these nine books up with a different scary movie “genre,” so pick your poison!
If your favorite character in the Wizard of Oz was the Wicked Witch of the West…
You have to start with Macbeth, right? I mean, the play opens with three witches standing in a field, talking about the main character. Macbeth is one of my favorite plays by Shakespeare, a fact you can probably figure out since I’ve still kept up with two of the puppets I used for my college production of The Scottish Play. The witch’s nose might have fallen off, but she still looks good sitting next to my Macbeth puppet (not pictured).
If Scottish witches aren’t your thing, here’s The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller. This play is set during the turbulent Salem witch trials, and there are certainly some creepy moments!
If you’re more of a monster flick fan…
Literary legend has it that Frankenstein was written on a dare. Shelley was challenged to write the most frightening story she could, and the result was Frankenstein. Shelley was only 19 when it was published, which is incredible!
If you’re in to ancient monsters, flip through the ancient text of Beowulf. You’ll find battles with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and even a dragon or two for your troubles! You can find a lot of different translations of this book–it comes to us from Old English, which sounds like a completely different language. I think it’s so fascinating to listen to people reciting the text in Old English. Here’s a short clip, if you’re interested.
If Twilight makes you swoon…
You can’t go wrong with our source novel for all modern vampires–Dracula. While vampires have existed in folklore for centuries, this is really the first modern novel that deals with the blood-sucking monsters. I think you’ll find that the Dracula of Bram Stoker’s novel is nothing like the sparkly heartthrob vampires of Twilight. This is definitely a creepy novel!
If you love a good psychological thriller…
Brush up on your Russian lit and power through Crime and Punishment. This novel is probably one of the shortest and least difficult Russian classics to work through, and it’s a great read. There is a lot more “punishment,” than “crime,” however, so be prepared for lots of mental anguish and paranoia!
Like Ghostbusters? Read this…
It just wouldn’t be like me to not include another Shakespeare reference. Hamlet features a pretty important ghost–in fact, Hamlet meeting his father’s ghost is what jump starts the entire tragedy. If you’ve never read Hamlet, it really is worth your while. It’s one of the enduring works of English literature, and for good reason.
For you plain, old-fashioned mystery fans…
Brush up on your powers of observation with the world’s most famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. These short stories are perfect to read in between answering the door to all those trick-or-treaters.
Or, let’s be honest, you could always watch Sherlock on Netflix and call it a day.
Finally, if scary books and movies just aren’t your thing, there’s always this classic:
What’s more fun around this time of the year than reading It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? This edition of the book belonged to my dad before my grandmother passed it on to my brother and me, so it’s seen a lot of Halloween story times!
Did I leave anything out? What are some of your favorite spooky classics? Let me know in the comments below!