Members of the English department share their scariest reads

October 20, 2020

Members of the English department share their scariest reads

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The leaves are falling, the air is getting colder and Halloween is right around the corner! There are so many ways to get into the spooky spirit this autumn, whether it be designing a costume or cracking open a scary book. We asked members of the English department for their Halloween reading recommendations, and they shared their favorite scary stories that will keep you up at night.


The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe

What about this story scares you the most?

“I remember reading this story aloud with some friends in high school (at night, of course). I couldn't sleep thinking about it!”

Why would you recommend this story?

“It's classic Poe creepiness!”

—Anonymous


The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis

What about the story scared you the most?

“It really sinks to the depths of depravity, and those depravities are constantly unexpected. Lewis really *goes there*, to places beyond where you'd see in contemporary horror novels...and given that this was written in the late 18th century, that's saying something.”

Why would you recommend this story?

“It has an evil priest and ends in a sepulcher. Need I say more?”

Shaun Russell, PhD in English Candidate


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

What about this story scares you the most?

“The suffocating atmosphere and pervasive sense of unease.”

Why would you recommend this story?

“It's short, so it can be devoured all in one weekend, and it's the perfect balance between psychological horror and supernatural horror. Also, the Netflix adaptation is fantastic (even with its many changes) and a must-watch, so you can read the novel and follow it up with the show!”

Rachel Stewart, MA/PhD Student


The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

What about this story scares you the most?

“It is completely disorienting.”

Why would you recommend this story?

“It's got ecohorror, a haunted house, and a mystery that would have made Poe proud.”

Sara Crosby, Associate Professor


"Nightmare World" (1952) in Weird Tales of the Future #3 by Basil Woverton

What about this story scares you the most?

“It's use of the second-person narration accompanied by the disorienting visual perspective of the framing of the comics panel creates a dizzying and ultimately terrifying nightmare. And Basil Wolverton as an artist makes even everyday objects surreal.”

Why would you recommend this story?

“It is short, it is different than the usual Halloween fare, and it will mess up your sleep.”

Jared Gardner, Joseph V. Denney Designated Professor of English


A Ghost Story and How to Tell a Story by Mark Twain

What about this story scares you the most?

“Not actually that scary, but a great read if you like Mark Twain. Mixture of humor and standard scary story themes.”

Why would you recommend this story?

“Both are pretty short, easily read in one sitting, even aloud. They both have some humor.”

James Fredal, Associate Professor


Bonus! Here's a scary film recommendation to check out:

The Others by Alejandro Amenábar

What about this film scared you the most?

“Possibly the best ghost story ever on film, and one of the very few twist endings that works perfectly. Brilliant.”

Why would you recommend this film?

“No blood and guts, mutilation, or psychopathic killers. Just a seriously creepy ghost story that you'll never get out of your head.”

Hannibal Hamlin, Professor

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