Book Recommendations

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Please leave your own book recommendations in the comments to this page.


  1. I got a zombie book and gave the Penguin’s Classics American Supernatural Tales. Best new holiday ever :)

  2. I’ll start off by saying this is an amazing idea. I’m all over this idea. This year I gave out Frankenstein, American Psycho, World War Z by Max Brooks , I am Legend (to my younger brother who loves the movie), Cujo by Stephen King (to a friend who is a huge dog lover), Swan Song by Robert McCammonm and The Graveyard Book. I gave out more books this year than gifts at Christmas. Also, it seems the font color in these text fields are set to white, and the fields background color is white. I can’t see anything that I type. I’m using aChrome on a PC if that helps.

  3. Our family has had the annual Christmas tradition of listening to either Jim Dale or Patrick Stewart reading A Christmas Carol for longer than we’ve actually been a family. (My husband and I started doing it—the listening, among other things, I suppose—a few years before the kids showed up.)

    This year, because of your All Hallow’s Read idea, I started a corollary to that December ritual, and will, forevermore, listen to (and watch) YOU reading The Graveyard Book. I had read and loved the book before it won all its prestigious accolades, but I was literally on the edge of my seat, gasping and laughing at all the right places, and it was a wonderful experience that I will share with the whole family for my remaining years.

    P.S. Anansi Boys is one of my all-time favorite books, and my six-year-old daughter can make me laugh by saying “Are you da one wit’ the lime?” :)

  4. I love this new tradition, and badgered friends and family with repeated links and Facebook posts leading up to the actual day. I was thrilled to find recommendations on the AHR website – especially for children’s books, as our two daughters are sensitive souls. We had to walk a fine line between scary and not-too-scary! Please keep the recommendations coming!

    We gave my 4-year-old a copy of “The ABCs of Halloween” (not my first choice, but it was nice to see that the children’s Halloween section was picked over at the bookstore!) My 8-year-old received “Bunnicula”. She is a big Neil Gaiman fan (the graphic novel of “Coraline” was the first time I have seen her so involved in a book that she didn’t want to surface for dinner!) – so it was an extra thrill for her to see Mr. Gaiman’s recommendation on the back cover of “Bunnicula”!

    My husband and I shared/exchanged a collection of H. P. Lovecraft. Neither of us have read him before, and I am utterly delighted with “The Music of Erich Zann”, the only story I’ve had time for so far in a deadly week chock-full of grad-school papers and exams. Although I have to confess, I MADE time to read Bradbury’s “The Lake” and Gaiman’s “The Price”, two of my most favorite-ist creep-me-out-and-make-me-shiver stories . . .

  5. First of all, I think that this is an awesome idea. Amazing, even.

    This is what I would really love to see–if I had a single drawing-bone in either hand, I’d do it myself, but I’d be thrilled to participate as a writer:

    Small, inexpensive comics distributed to Trick or Treaters…compact ten page black and white scary comics, like the wicked hybrid children of RL Stine’s Goosebumps books and the scary-for-different-reasons Chick tracts. You’d need a team to write and draw, maybe do a Kickstarter for the initial print cost, release the source PDF under Creative Commons or a similar open license, and try to coordinate batch purchases regionally for printing economies, but let anyone order as many as they want.

    Sound cool?

  6. This year I discovered both ‘The Squamkin Patch’ by J.T. Petty (juvenile) and ‘The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray’ by Chris Wooding (young adult). I highly recommend them, definitely wonderful creepy fun. So good I don’t know what to read next!

  7. For several months I’ve been trying to get a friend to read John Dies at the End, which might best be described as a comedy in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft. This was the perfect excuse to simply buy him his own copy, which much to his annoyance he’s been unable to put down.

    All Hallow’s Read: The greatest holiday modifier since going out for a movie and Chinese food on Jewish Christmas.

  8. I gave out copies of Let the Right One In to friends who have been resisting the lure of Swedish vampires. Already starting to think about what might be good for next year!

  9. For Halloween parties, some kind of Secret Santa (Secret Satan?) thing would probably be a good idea- everyone gives one random person a scary book.

    Also, “scary” is a pretty broad church, and I think we should encourage that- anything with ghosts/devils/murderers is eligible (I’d say Stardust, Good Omens, Ghostwritten, 1984, Beyond Black, Fighting Fantasy, An Instance Of The Fingerpost or Jonathan Strange could all qualify). Scary shouldn’t be limited to Stephen King (not that there’s anything wrong with him).

  10. I made a list of scary books I couldn’t afford to buy people, promising myself I’d budget better next Halloween. And then, 4 days after the 31st, The Native Star by M.K. Hobson arrived in the mail for me, unheard-of and unsigned (in fact, the shipping form gave my address as both ship-to and bill-to, when I knew full well I hadn’t ordered a book), except for a typed “Happy All Hallows Read!” An evening of searching finally revealed the sender, an absent-minded friend who’d simply forgotten to sign his name, indadvertedly giving me a bit of a spook.

  11. For next year: have a tie-in with libraries and the ALA. (Every librarian in the US loves you, you know.) Libraries could have scary book give-aways at Hallowe’en parties. Posters at local libraries. ALA might provide publicity and media kits.

  12. I’m using this space to answer the questions Mr. Gaiman posed on his blog here. Specifically, this:

    [W]hat kinds of things would people like to see on the website? What kinds of things would you like to see in real life? Posters? Suggestions? Should we enlist bookshops or publishers or libraries or all of the above? Should we start an online group?

    Perhaps the website could be used as a repository for pictures of All Hallow’s Read events, displays, parties, etc. It might even be fun if there was a way to take the Halloween parties that got Neil to visit Decatur and Winnipeg and make them an annual tradition for All Hallow’s Read. Obviously, Neil wouldn’t be able to offer a personal appearance as a prize every single year until the end of time, BUT you could have a page on this site where you could post information about independent bookstores who are planning All Hallow’s Read parties (dates, times, address, links to websites, etc.) If people wanted to plan gatherings outside of bookstores (for whatever silly reason) you could also put the details there as well.

    My local library had a display for Talk Like a Pirate Day. Seriously. Surely they (and other libraries) would be all over the idea of All Hallow’s Read.

    All Hallow’s Eve is also the eve of National Novel Writing Month. I’m not sure how you could tie the two together, but it would be brilliant if you could.

    So those are my recommendations for future years. I was too broke this year to buy scary books for anybody, but if I weren’t, I would have bought a big stack of Dover Thrift Editions of scary stories and handed them out to anybody I could think of. (And, yes, I was broke enough at the end of October that a single Dover Thrift Edition for ONE person would have been difficult. I hope to be in a better financial situation by the next All Hallow’s Eve.)

    I hope the coming year will provide many more cool ideas and time to prepare for them so that All Hallow’s Read 2011 (and beyond) will be a smashing success!

  13. My husband and I got married last Halloween, so when we heard about All Hallows Read we thought it was perfect, especially since the traditional gift for a first anniversary is Paper.

    We went to Booksamillion together and picked out books for each other. While his was definitely more horror in nature, mine was not. It still gave us a chance to discuss what kind of horror titles we did enjoy and what we might get each other next year. :)

  14. I gave to adults this year. My friend got “The Child Thief” by Brom and my mom got both “Horns” and “Heart-Shaped Box” by Joe Hill. Since I work in a library I’m hoping to do a whole big thing next All Hallow’s Read. Should be muchly excellent.

  15. Sent my friend a copy of Tanya Huffs Blood Ties, as it was a short notice thing and I couldn’t find a copy of the book I wanted to send her, which was Susan Hill’s “The Woman In Black” will be ready for next year though.

    I was sent two stories written by another friend and can’t wait to read those, that is even better than a book. the fact that someone took the time to sit and write you a story, knocked out by that, have them saved for a nice quiet moment.

    I also gave my copy of The Graveyard Book to my niece and told her to read it but I wanted it back, I prefaced it with its got a vampire in it.

    Along with the giving of books I would like to see a spot on here for people to write a short story and send it in if possible or maybe we could ask for someone to write us a story, by prompting them. Some other than famous authors that is, as my friend did for me.

  16. My friends and I didn’t really have enough time between work and school to get books this year with the short notice and all, but we plan to next year.

    For my birthday though my best friend gave me an anthology of H.P. Lovecraft’s works and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, and I gave my friend the first two books in Patrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek series.

    We didn’t get it this year, but we can’t wait for next year though!

  17. So I gave 2 books for All Hallow’s Read – The Graveyard Book to a friend (@ljc) and At the Mountains of Madness by Lovecraft to my husband (partly out of curiosity around the connection to the Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket).

    Unfortunately, I bought the books the day after Neil tweeted the idea, before this site was up, and missed some good recommendations – especially intrigued by Heart-Shaped Box – so I can’t wait til next year (and maybe I’ll buy myself one next time).

    I know it was all a rush this year – next year, it’d be good to seed out recommendation lists over the course of October, so I have ideas when shopping for my husband’s birthday 10/30

  18. Great idea! I gave Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, my favorite book of 2009. The sequel, Kill the Dead, is even better, but it is still only in hardcover and I am poor.

  19. I gave out a treasured copy of Joe Hill’s “20th Century Ghosts” and spoke at length to friends about those wonderfully creepy ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ with the haunting covers that scared me silly in primary school. It was more the art than the stories themselves.

  20. I wish I had had the funds to gift more books, but I did give my older sister my copy of the creepy children’s book Uncle Montegue’s Tales of Terror. It’s pretty creep-some even as an adult.

  21. I gave my wife and daughter a copy of Mary Downing Hahn’s All the Lovely Bad Ones.

    Hey, we should have a mascot, like cupid or Santa Claus. Maybe a Black Cat (like from Mr. Gaiman’s “The Price”)?

  22. For next year, I think somebody should make AHR Posters. We should also enlist bookshops & publishers & libraries to publicize this cool holiday.

    I gave The Graveyard Book, & Coraline, which were both received well :) I look forward to more next year…

  23. I also like the idea of a black cat mascot. It could be the classic arched back, bottle brush tail Halloween cat (not quite the cat from The Price), which could add a lot of visual flair to posters, bookmarks, & such.

  24. Aprille,

    I can enthusiastically recommend either of Joe Hill’s novels, HSB or Horns, and add his amazing collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts

  25. NOTHING….not a movie…not a tv show…NOTHING can scare you like a good ghost story well told. We need to setup some truly talented story tellers around the country and let them do their thing.

    • Steve – this was my thought exactly. I cannot do books, however, I CAN offer stories.

      I already do a show, Cabinet Of Curiosities Podcast, that showcases a number of true, macabre “ghost” stories. However, I am inspired to do a special set of stories for All Hallow’s Read, both fictional and real.

      I think I’ll start out with some Shirley Jackson.

  26. Given the current popularity of vampires, I think that Terry Pratchette’s Carpe Jugulum would be a good choice to give. Maybe not so scary but certainly fun.

  27. Such a list must include Roger Zelazny’s A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER. It’s a combination of eerie, spooky, gruesome, and funny. Sherlock Holmes literally meets Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, Dracula and the Werewolf, among others. Lots of open acknowledgments to B horror movies and actors, and who can resist a novel told from the viewpoint of Jack the Ripper’s dog and which makes Jack a sympathetic character? Because it’s written in a prologue plus 31 chapters named for each day of the month, a cult tradition has evolved of reading it a chapter a day each October, although I still prefer to read it all at once. Highly recommended for teens and up; the older the reader, the more likely that the characters in the book will be recognized for who they really are.

  28. I’ll second “A Night in the Lonesome October” by Roger Zelazny as needing to be included on this list. I’ve read a chapter a day through the month for years now & this book never fails to amuse & amaze me. They’re short chapters, but each one is packed with clues as to what is really going on. Each read, I pick up something new & read further afield to find out more about the players. It truly is a lunatic scavenger hunt, as one of the characters in the book describes the Game.

    When you realize who you are rooting for, it’s pretty creepy, but the characters are fantastic. There’s Jack & his dog, Snuff. Jack does bad things, so that worse things don’t happen. Bubo, the rat, Cheeter the squirrel, & Graymaulk, the cat. Rastov, the Mad Monk has a black snake named Quicklime that lives in his belly. Plenty more too.

  29. I can’t add much to what those ahead of me have said more eloquently, but I’ll add my voice to the chorus recommending Roger Zelazny’s A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER. It is one of my all time favorites and it has a very Addams family joy-in-the-macabre feel to it.

  30. “I am a watchdog. My name is Snuff.”

    A Night in the Lonesome October is out of print, so you might have trouble finding it; but the audio version (read by Zelazny himself) is available from Speaking Volumes. Big Fun, and essential.

    –Chris DeVito

  31. I’ll go ahead and join my Zelazny boys in recommending A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER.

    Any collection that doesn’t include that book just isn’t up to Snuff.

  32. I love this idea! Far scarier to use your imagination then to spend the night watching movies/specials you’ve already seen.
    Coraline, The Graveyard Book & The Spook tales/wardstone Chronicles are perfect for this. I recommend all of them, especially The Spook novels after dark. Will be saving the 9th novel for halloween.
    Not on the list but I recommend these:
    “Gone” by Michael Grant (the 1st alone is scary but gets better with each book in the series.)
    “Raven’s Gate” by Anthony Horowitz (definitely for supernatural fans/alex rider fans/ AH fans alike. Also recommend the rest of the series especially 3&4 for being super scary moments.)
    Also I find that a lot of the novels for adults are no where near as scary as the young readers novels. The stories for the young seem far more creative and hit home more.
    I also recommend Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets for those who hate spiders and snakes (helped me with my fear), Prisoner of Azkabam for the dementors/darker elements of the world and Goblet of Fire for scares and for the squeamish.
    Hope you all have a good night.

  33. There are a lot of good Halloween books out there, but my favorite (even over Neil’s books), hands down is Ray Bradbury’s Halloween Tree.

  34. I suggest Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley for YA,

  35. A few more YA titles to suggest:
    (Varying levels of frightening)

    * Teeth edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
    * Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
    * Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    * The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
    * Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alende
    * The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
    * The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
    * Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
    * Darren Shan

  36. A superb Halloween book for a 3 year old: A Visit to the Haunted House (A Hallmark Pop-Up Book), by Dean Walley, illustrated by Arlene Noel.

    It’s prob’ly not easy to find (i.e. it’s out of print and rather fragile, as an age-ed pop-up book would be), but worth seeking out. It was my own introduction to Halloween, and I remember it very vividly, so I’m partial. It scared me as a 3 year old, but not too much, and it was more of a curious kind of fright .

  37. Last year (and this one unfortunately) I was unable to give any books for All Hallows Read. I did, however, make a point to recommend The Last Temptation, a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Alice Cooper (can’t get a much better combination for such a holiday). One of my aunts gave me Bradbury’s October Country last Christmas, which I’m guessing stemmed from my mentioning All Hallows Read.

    I recall Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned being very Halloween-y when I read it in high school. At a stretch Bradbury’s Death is a Lonely Business and Graveyard for Lunatics might be good as not-quite-as-creepy options.

    I think that the previously mentioned idea of people writing original scary stories for AHR is a wonderful idea and an excellent warm-up for those of us participating in National Novel Writing Month afterward.

    In fact, I might try to whip something up to share with friends in the coming week…

  38. I recommend some of the short story collections in the series that has “Demons: Encounters with the Devil and his Minions, Fallen Angels, and the Possessed,” which features a Gaiman story. The others in the series are great, too: Zombies, Werewolves, Vampires, etc.

    The series is definitely for adults, though. But you get a great variety of the old-school classics from Poe and Lovecraft with the new heavy-hitters like Gaiman and Harrison, AND you get some new blood with up-and-coming authors in the collections. Very cool!

  39. A Dark Dark Tale by Ruth Brown is a favorite book of my friend’s 6 year old. The first time I read it to him (age 4), his eyes got wider and wider every page, and he was a little frightened, but at the end when he found out it was a mouse, he laughed and said ‘again’, and we read it probably 20 times in a row, lol. Now, he likes to read it to me when he stays over. I’m giving it to him for All Hallows Read this year. And, I’m giving his brother (12) ‘The Light’ by D.J. MacHale (first of Morpheus Road series), which I read and was delightfully frightened by. Last year I gave the Graveyard Book, of course. ;-)

  40. The Greene County Public Library staff have offered our All Hallows Read recommendations on the Library’s Facebook page. We are located just east of Dayton, OH.


  41. For several years now the kids who come to my house get to pick out a paperback book. I save up all year–samples from publishers, things I pick up at conferences, etc. Reading is a real treat!

  42. For chills you can’t beat the classic writers like Arthur Machen or MR James. ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by Poe is a good short one that can be read out loud.

  43. So many books: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Ricard Matheson’s I Am Legend, etc….

    Nonfiction ghost books are good ideas too as an author of four of these that people like. Way for people to learn of ghost lore in their towns and states and countries. I’ve been reading these got years.

  44. I just wanted to recommend the book “The Book That Eats People” by John Perry as a scary book that is appropriate for Preschoolers. The conceit is that the book is one that eats people, and it tells funny stories about how the book ate people, but it definitely fits into the horror genre. I’ve read it with preschoolers, and they often ask me to put the book out of arms reach after it is done. However, they also ask for it again and again and again. Overall, it is the perfect kind of book for All Hallow’s Read.


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