Sure horror movies are fine, but these classic spooky reads are bound to get the hairs on the back of your neck tingling and leaving you thinking about them for days.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
This classic vampire novel that made its title ubiquitous with vampires everywhere is the perfect spooky classic to read this Fall. Penned by Bram Stoker, the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London (which is still in operation by the way), the book tells the haunting story of Count Dracula, a Transylvanian vampire attempting to move to England in search of new blood and his ensuing battle with the professor Van Helsing. Stoker actually based Dracula’s mannerisms off of the famed Victorian-era actor and manager of the Lyceum, Henry Irving, in the hopes that he would play the Count in a subsequent stage production (Irving never did).

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley essentially composed Frankenstein at age 18 as a dare. While vacationing with her lover-and-future-husband, Percy Shelley, and none other than Lord Byron himself, the three were shut up in a villa in Geneva by a volcanic winter. They amused themselves by reading old German ghost stories before Byron suggested that each write their own. Thus, this classic tale of a mad scientist reanimating a corpse with disastrous results was born. And as Shelley fanatics will tell you—if you’re not already aware—Frankenstein is the name of the doctor, not the monster.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
While there is a plot to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, it’s pretty classic ghost story stuff so I don’t want to describe it too much. Suffice it to say, there’s a love story and a headless horseman who haunts the outskirts of the New York town, Sleepy Hollow. First published in 1820, this short story is considered one of the earliest pieces of enduring American fiction.

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu is the ideal introduction to the writer’s personal canon and what has come to be known today as the cosmic horror genre. This short story first appeared in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928 and tells the story of a series of truly bizarre events that ultimately leads to the unleashing of the ancient god Cthulhu from his undersea city of the dead, R’lyeh.

The Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe
It’s the spooky season and there are few writers more appropriate than this beloved poet and short story author. Highlights to checkout include The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of The Red Death, and (duh) the poem “The Raven”.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Ah yes, the classic tale of a man who found a portrait of himself so pretty he literally sold his soul to the devil in order to stay that good-looking forever. In exchange for eternally youthful looks, his portrait would age through the years and also take on a representative picture of his soul’s internal decay as he ensconced himself in a life of hedonism and depravity.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
This classic gothic novel from adventure writing legend Robert Louis Stevenson tells the taut story of a lawyer investigating his dear friend’s strange relationship with an evil antagonist known as Edward Hyde. But get this—there’s a twist.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Sure sure sure this isn’t a novel or anything but it’s by far Shakespeare’s spookiest play around. Three witches approach a victorious warrior on the battlefield telling spooky prophecies that compel him (along with the urgings of his scheming wife) to commit regicide. His wife goes mad and wanders the castle unable to wash her hands of the imagined blood she perceives. Macbeth is also haunted by ghosts. In fact, the play itself is said to be so haunted that, unless they’re performing the actual production, actors refuse to say the play’s name while inside a theater (they refer to it instead as “The Scottish Play”).

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