The interesting thing of being scared is that a lot of it is self-inflicted. We purposely watch horror movies knowing they’re going to scare us. The same can be said for our selection of reading material. “Horror” has its own section in every bookstore and library. Back when Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley were crafting their horror epics, there was only the printed page to generate a scare. What could be more frightening then what you conjure in your mind’s eye? For the record, we’ll stipulate that your book fright-fest can start with anything by Stephen King. Now for some more scares:

1. The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This tale is always popping up on top ten scariest book lists and rightfully so. Here a bunch of stalwart doctors goes in search of some hauntings by visiting a remote house. Don’t they know any better? Apparently not.

2. The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

For sheer gruesomeness you can’t beat the Tell Tale Heart but The Fall Of The House Of Usher drips with spook imagery on practically every page. You’ve got Roderick who is upended by the death of his sister and that’s just the start. Plus, it’s one of the creepiest endings ever written. Yes, read this one with the lights on.

3. Hell by Kathryn Davis

Okay, if you start out by calling your book Hell, then you better deliver the goods. This one does. It is a mind-numbing tale of three homes that are all haunting each other but it’s the same home. Confusing? It won’t be once you settle into the rhythm of the story and when you do that, you’re in for a real scare.

4. Ghost Story by Peter Straub

You might see this title and go, “meh.” After all, a ghost story can’t be all that bad, right? Wrong! This is a novel that follows a group of friends who are haunted by their past both literally and figuratively. It was a great movie but even greater book. (Isn’t that always the case?)

5. Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

If you look at a photo of Joe Hill on the back of the book you might say, “Gee, he looks a lot like Stephen King.” That’s probably because Stephen is his dad and when it comes to writing creepy, the spider doesn’t fall far from the web in this family. Here an aging rock star collects memorabilia of a macabre nature. Of course, that stuff is going to bring in poltergeists.

6. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

Before the movies, there was a book. Before the book, there was the actual story. Think of this as the original Paranormal Activity but real. At least real to the family who lived through the horrors. This is not the best book to read if you’re alone or thinking about buying a new home or staying in a strange bed and breakfast. Let’s face it; this is just a scary book to read any time.

What is your favorite scary tome book??