31 Books to Read This Halloween
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Ever heard of the 12 Days of Christmas? How about the 31 Books of Halloween? Alright, I know, reading a book for every day of October isn't the most realistic goal (especially considering this post is launching a few days after October began—oopsie). Chances are, not all of these will be up your alley, so take what book recommendations you will and give them a read this Spooky Season!
Cozy Fall Reads
Need something adorable or whimsical to go with that hot drink? Pick a cozy read!
1) Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
While this book largely centers on the romance and the main character as she awkwardly navigates a new life, it has tons of witchy undertones and a dark curse that needs to be lifted. For a cozy witchy read, check out Spellbound!
Pair with: Caramel or kettle corn and Oktoberfest beer.
2) The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
What's that? You don't read children's books? You do now. Short, whimsical, and strangely dark for a juvenile read, The Spiderwick Chronicles is filled with all sorts of nasty fey the Grace children must fight or outwit to stay alive.
3) Coraline by Neil Gaiman
You're probably familiar with the movie, but have you read the book? If not, shame on you! The book is always better! Follow Coraline as she explores a twisty, dark world that exists parallel to her own.
Pair with: Confetti popcorn and orange soda.
4) Jinx by Meg Cabot
Back to another cute, witchy romance with Jinx. This is something you can read in a single afternoon, just in time to pick up another witchy read!
Pair with: Spiced cookies (like pumpkin or snickerdoodle) and Long Island iced tea (or your favorite herbal blend).
5) Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
Aha! Another . . . romance. Look, guys, I'm sorry; this section is called cozy for a reason. Except this book is more about mystical relics and baked treats than witches—even if the main character lives in Salem, Massachusetts. Toss in some angels and demons, and we've got a winner.
Pair with: Red velvet cupcakes and spiced wine.
6) Vampire Crush by A. M. Robinson
Tired of all the broody vampire bad boys? Check out Vampire Crush for a cozy, quirky romance that pokes fun at pop culture vamps.
Pair with: Jelly or red-frosting donut with your favorite soda.
7) A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Witchy, fun, and magical, this is another great cozy fall read for those who prefer not to delve into anything too spooky. Also, make sure you read the books before diving into the TV series—the books are always better!
Pair with: Elizabethan French toast and hot breakfast tea or coffee.
8) Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
Short, witty, and fun, this is a series you can easily blow through this October if you're looking for something on the lighthearted side. Sookie is a peppy waitress turned paranormal detective who gets into all sorts of supernatural shenanigans.
Pair with: Cheese fries and a milkshake.
Maybe you're in the mood for something darker, more broody. Something with enough gothic imagery to make you long to go traipsing through the book's scenery. In that case, behold the gothic reads!
9) Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
With all the gothic luster, dark angel dealings, and themes of forbidden love from Fallen, but with a main character who actually contributes to the plot (that's right, I'm throwing shade). Check out Hush, Hush if any of the above sounds like something you'd enjoy.
Pair with: Dark chocolate and chai tea/latte.
10) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Born of a concept that was more atmosphere than plot, it's no wonder this tops the list of many people's favorite October reads: a dark circus, a deadly battle of magic and wits, and a forbidden romance add up to all the hallmarks of gothic aesthetic.
Pair with: Honeyed figs and champagne.
11) Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Imagine the acid-trip, dreamy feeling of Wonderland paired with the gory horror of zombies—as a modern-day Southern gothic. Dare ye enter the world of zombie hunters?
12) Night World books by L. J. Smith
I'm a major reverse-fan of the Vampire Diaries books and pretty much anything else by Smith, so I understand any skepticism attached to this rec. Oddly enough, Night World stepped up its game by fleshing out paranormal lore and the underground Night World and presenting several characters I either genuinely enjoyed or didn't mind following. Another plus: these are short, contained plots, basically a novella collection building into a grander scheme.
13) Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
We're back to a Southern gothic atmosphere with enough descriptions of weepy trees, civil war graveyards, and superstitious townsfolk to offset the dark, witchy vibes of the mysterious family residing at an old plantation.
Pair with: Beignets and chicory coffee.
14) Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
In a misty English town known as Sorry-in-the-Vale, Kami is determined to get to the bottom of mysterious, ritualistic animal sacrifices and the return of the dangerous Lynburn family to their old manor house after a 10-year absence.
15) Splintered by A. G. Howard
Yet another modern twist to Alice in Wonderland, this one sans zombies and inspired by the Tim Burton Alice movie and sort of The Crow? Hey, it works.
16) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This one straddles the line between gothic and spooky, which makes it a great wrap-up before the next section. If you're looking for a read that's mysterious, haunting, and steeped in weird situations, try this book—then the Tim Burton movie after!
Want to bypass all that cozy nonsense? I hear you. Check out these chilling reads for spooky goodness.
17) Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
This one speaks to our modern-day and supernatural fears with monsters in both categories. Alex Stern not only has to navigate the dark underbelly of the paranormal secret societies of Yale, but the everyday human monsters that wear pretty faces and escape punishment with money and connections.
Pair with: Shortbread cookies and black tea.
18) The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Imagine The Walking Dead meets The Hunger Games—but with vampires and samurai swords instead of zombies and cowboys. Dark, gritty, and bloody, this is perfect for your next spooky read.
Pair with: Chocolate-dipped strawberries and Blood Orange punch.
19) Phantoms by Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz is a master of slow-build horror that utilizes clues and the characters' and reader's imaginations to develop an atmosphere of dread. Even though he's a mass-market author, this book is still worth mentioning for anyone who hasn't tried his work or who hasn't gotten around to this particular book. Highly recommended spooky read!
Pair with: Ghostly marshmallows and hot cocoa.
20) The Farm by Emily McKay
In a gritty, post-apocalyptic world where children grow up on "farms" to one day become food for the vampiric creatures roaming the night, it's a fight to escape and survive for the few who discover the truth of what's going on.
21) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
I'll admit it: I watched the movie first and loved it. You'll be happy to know the book contains just as much gore, despair, and badass zombie killing as the movie, so why not make this a spooky book-and-film combo?
Pair with: Pound cake and raspberry tea.
22) Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Ah, yes, another book-turned-film you can turn into a double-feature. While this has enough dark humor to alleviate the gore and horror of life as a zombie, it's still definitely more spooky than cozy.
23) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Hey, it's not my fault Grahame-Smith wrote two books that are perfect spooky reads for Halloween. It's also not my fault they made movies of them to give you guys book-and-movie experiences. Why not enjoy them all?
What's this? You shun the crusty old classics? Nonsense! Respect your spooky forefathers, for they are the reason gothic literature exists.
24) The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The book is indeed different from our beloved Phantom movies, but no less deadly, gothic, and haunting. It's also shorter than most classics, making this a book you can read in a day, just in time to enjoy the movie before bed!
Pair with: Crème brûlée and French press coffee.
25) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
More gothic aesthetic and drama than plot, this book is still no less fascinating over 100 years after its publication. With the imagery of the windy moors, the seemingly haunted Thornfield Hall, deadly secrets, and of course another forbidden romance, this has become a staple of gothic literature.
(Fun fact: I wrote my thesis on this one!).
Pair with: Scones with clotted cream and green tea.
26) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
If you haven't read Jane Eyre, you've at least read Wuthering Heights, right? Right?? For shame. The Brontë sisters are gothic hallmarks, with all those moors and snarly antiheroes.
Pair with: Tea cakes and ginger tea.
27) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Say hello to one of the OG broody bad boys with enough vanity and debauchery to fill an entire book. And, wouldn't you know it, there are several film adaptations either centered around or featuring Dorian to choose from.
Pair with: Black Forest trifle and Earl Grey tea.
28) Novels and Stories by Shirley Jackson
Not quite as dated as some of the other classics, Jackson explores contemporary Gothic and psychological horror from the 1940s-60s with haunting tales like The Haunting of Hill House (now a TV series) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
29) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Another debauched villain and another slightly later classic with some good ol' Anne Rice gothic horror. If you haven't tried this well-known tale, this October may be the time to do so.
30) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
This classic is known for poking fun at the gothic romances of the time, but in doing so, it actually manages to create a gothic atmosphere (whoops?). In true Jane Austen fashion, Northanger Abbey ends much happier than many of the other gothic classics.
Pair with: Flummery and oolong tea.
31) The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe
Funnily enough, this classic is mentioned in Northanger Abbey as one of the gothic novels the protagonist is obsessed with. It too has all the trappings of a gothic tale with its spooky castle filled with secrets and psychological distress.
Enjoy these recommendations and recipes? Be sure to tell us your favorite(s) in the comments or tag @bookish_witches on Twitter!