The best books on the paranormal to scare up myths and legends from the safety of your armchair

Who am I?

Long before I began writing my first fictional story and way before I researched for my first nonfiction paranormal book, I gave up ignoring the voices in my head and began writing horror, fantasy, and six nonfiction books on the paranormal in Virginia. Besides learning a new piece of history or legend I never knew before, the research for my nonfiction books and articles inspired me to incorporate it into my horror or fantasy fiction. I enjoy writing fiction, but I believe I learn as much as my readers when I write nonfiction. 

I wrote...

Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales

By Pamela K. Kinney,

Book cover of Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales

What is my book about?

Like every state in the Union, Virginia has unique myths, legends, and yes, even true stories that sound much like legends, but aren't. Read the urban legend of the Bunnyman and what happens to mortals at his Bunnyman Bridge at midnight on Halloween. Discover the myths surrounding Edgar Allan Poe and other famous Virginians. See why Natural Bridge is a haunted tourist attraction. What makes the Great Dismal Swamp so creepy: Is it the ghosts or Bigfoot? Meet the Witch of Pungo in Virginia Beach and find out that Mothman and the Jersey Devil visited Virginia. Read Virginian stories of witches, demons, monsters, ghosts, pirates, strange animals, and soldiers from the Civil War. Visit an amazing and frightening Virginia that you never knew existed.

The books I picked & why

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Haunted Virginia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Old Dominion

By Jr. Taylor, L. B.,

Book cover of Haunted Virginia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Old Dominion

Why this book?

Before other authors (including me) published books on Virginia’s ghosts and legends, it was L. B. Taylor who’d written many spooky tales that haunted the Old Dominion in a long span of books, including this one. Not just Virginians, but as someone who moved here in 1985, I learned about the state’s many ghosts, monsters, and legends that taught me a new view of the state. No one needs to live in Virginia to enjoy reading this book.

Virginia Legends & Lore

By Charles a. Mills,

Book cover of Virginia Legends & Lore

Why this book?

For centuries, Virginians have told, retold, and embellished terrific stories of their history, some based on truth, others more folklore than reality. As someone who has written her own myths and legends book, it was refreshing to read about them from another author’s viewpoint. Plus, I got to learn some new angles about the lore of Virginia.

Virginia Folk Legends

By Thomas E. Barden,

Book cover of Virginia Folk Legends

Why this book?

This book is a collection of legends and folklore gathered by field workers of the Virginia Writers Project of the WPA that languished for decades in the libraries of the University of Virginia. It took folklorist Thomas E. Barde to put them in a book endorsed by the American Folklore Society. It helped me discover the witch stories told in the past until the 40s in the western part of Virginia, as I researched for the witch chapter of my own book. I enjoyed these tales and believed other armchair folklorists would enjoy them, too. 

American Indian Myths and Legends

By Richard Erdoes,

Book cover of American Indian Myths and Legends

Why this book?

There are more than 160 tales from eighty tribal groups in this book. They are various tales of creation and love, heroes and war, animals, tricksters, and the world’s end, many from contemporary Indigenous voices. Hopefully, these stories enable others who are not Native American but still want to read what many indigenous tribes taught to their children as a reason for the history of their peoples.

American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America

By Linda S. Godfrey,

Book cover of American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America

Why this book?

As I was working on a new nonfiction book, this time about werewolves, dogmen, and other types of shapeshifters in the United States, I read many books on the subject out there. One author. Linda S. Godfrey, had written many stories connected to the American Dogman/werewolf, beginning with the Beast of Bray Road. In this book, she also wrote about other American creatures, not just the dogman. She covers pre-Columbian to modern sightings. I believe, whether a fantasy/horror writer looking for their next monster for their short story or novel to the amateur cryptid hunter happy to explore these beasties from the safety of their seat, anyone will enjoy this book. I did. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Virginia, the paranormal, and legends?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Virginia, the paranormal, and legends.

Virginia Explore 61 books about Virginia
The Paranormal Explore 111 books about the paranormal
Legends Explore 19 books about legends

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Hot Zone, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs, and The Bondwoman's Narrative if you like this list.