The best books about haunted minds

Who am I?

Mental health has always been at the forefront of my writing because it has always been at the forefront of my life. My own experience with mental health is something I talk about openly and often, doing whatever I can to contribute to ending its stigma. My own mind has been haunted just as the minds of the characters in these novels are haunted, and that is why I have always been drawn to these stories. Just as I have felt less alone in reading these novels, it is my hope that someone out there will feel equally less alone, equally seen, and equally safe within the pages of my own novels.


I wrote...

Horrid

By Katrina Leno,

Book cover of Horrid

What is my book about?

Following her father's sudden death, Jane and her mom, Ruth, move from California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where Ruth grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but North Manor seems to hide secrets behind each of its locked doors…As the cold New England autumn arrives, Jane tries to find solace in old books and memories of her dad. But then she discovers that the "storage room" Ruth has kept locked is actually a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears . . .

Are all the creepy things happening at North Manor due to grief? Mental illness? Or something more . . . horrid?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

Katrina Leno Why did I love this book?

This is often called the greatest haunted house story ever written. And, my friends—it is. It really is. What Shirley Jackson grasps so completely is that all good haunted house stories have something deeper crawling around underneath their pages. A simple story of a spooky ghost might get boring after a few hundred pages. There needs to be a question, a mystery, something gritty to grab at. Did that really just happen? What is going on? Is this real or imagined—or both? Is the house haunted or is Eleanor haunted? Or…both?

The gentle, lilting prose crescendos gradually to a dizzying ending. I recommend finding a friend to buddy read this with, because you’re definitely going to want to talk about it with someone.

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Haunting of Hill House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part of a new six-volume series of the best in classic horror, selected by Academy Award-winning director of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker and longtime horror literature fan Guillermo del Toro serves as the curator for the Penguin Horror series, a new collection of classic tales and poems by masters of the genre. Included here are some of del Toro's favorites, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ray Russell's short story "Sardonicus," considered by Stephen King to be "perhaps the finest example of the modern Gothic ever written," to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and stories…


Book cover of The Shining

Katrina Leno Why did I love this book?

This is probably the first book I actually threw across the room in fear, just needing to get it away from me as quickly as possible. It’s that scary, and it’s that good. King drew on many of his own personal demons for this one, and I think that personal relationship to the material is key here. Jack Torrance’s descent into madness is brutal and jarring and as much a dialogue about addiction as it is a dialogue about ghosts. 

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Shining as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around…


Book cover of In the Dream House: A Memoir

Katrina Leno Why did I love this book?

This raw and heartbreaking memoir is told in prose that is sometimes stark, sometimes lush, and always riveting. It is a story of domestic abuse that especially highlights the way an abuser can affect so much more than your physical health. The dream house Machado speaks of is a haunted house in and of itself, a metaphorical place that the abuser has infiltrated, its unwelcome and ever-present guest. This is not an easy read, but it has stayed with me long after I finished its last page. 

By Carmen Maria Machado,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked In the Dream House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Ravishingly beautiful' Observer
'Excruciatingly honest and yet vibrantly creative' Irish Times
'Provocative and rich' Economist
'Daring, chilling, and unlike anything else you've ever read' Esquire
'An absolute must-read' Stylist

WINNER OF THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE 2021

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing experience with a charismatic but volatile woman, this is a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse.

Each chapter views the relationship through a different lens, as Machado holds events up to the light and…


Book cover of The Bell Jar

Katrina Leno Why did I love this book?

While a beautiful novel on its own, The Bell Jar becomes heartbreaking when compared to the life of its writer, Sylvia Plath, who took her own life in 1963, a month after the novel’s publication. It is considered semi-autobiographical and follows a young woman experiencing a mental breakdown. Through the journey of Esther Greenwood, The Bell Jar’s protagonist, we look at New York in the 1950s, and we follow one woman’s discovery that the life she had always imagined for herself is not at all what she expected it to be. 

By Sylvia Plath,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Bell Jar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I was supposed to be having the time of my life.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria…


Book cover of We Were Liars

Katrina Leno Why did I love this book?

It is hard to talk much about this book without giving too much away. It’s one of those rare works that is best to dive into completely unaware. What I will say is that Cadence Sinclair Eastman, the protagonist, comes from a family that is outwardly perfect. But Cadence herself is struggling. Why? How could a member of the Sinclair family be anything but blessed? Does it have anything to do with the head injury she suffered two years ago? 

This novel contains the most shocking and heartbreaking twist I think I’ve ever come across before. And it holds up—I’ve read it since, and even when you know the mystery, it is a beautiful and haunting story.

By E. Lockhart,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked We Were Liars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The TikTok phenomenon and #1 New York Times bestseller.

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends-the Liars-whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honouree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Don't miss FAMILY OF LIARS, the thrilling prequel to We Were Liars, published in May 2022.


You might also like...

Make Her Pay

By Miranda Rijks,

Book cover of Make Her Pay

Miranda Rijks Author Of The Homemaker

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Mountain-lover

Miranda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A twisty psychological thriller about beautiful, successful Leonie who has just met Markus, the man of her dreams. But Leonie has a secret. Ten years ago, she was involved in an accident in which another driver died. Leonie shouldn’t have been behind the wheel that night – so she fled the scene. And ever since, she’s struggled with the terrible guilt.

Now, as her wedding to Markus draws near, it seems someone is out to get her. It’s little things at first but it soon escalates into a terrifying campaign which threatens her business, her family and even her life. Leonie realizes there’s a link to the accident that happened all those years ago. Someone knows what she did. Someone is determined to make her pay.

Make Her Pay

By Miranda Rijks,

What is this book about?

Leonie has the perfect life. Someone wants to take it away.

Leonie is living her best life. Still in her twenties, she’s beautiful, successful and has just met Markus, the man of her dreams.

But Leonie has a secret. Ten years ago, she was involved in an accident in which another driver died. Leonie shouldn’t have been behind the wheel that night – no license, no insurance – so she fled the scene. And ever since, she’s been struggling to deal with the terrible guilt.

Now, as her wedding to Markus draws near, it seems someone is out to get…


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