100 books like 20th Century Ghosts

By Joe Hill,

Here are 100 books that 20th Century Ghosts fans have personally recommended if you like 20th Century Ghosts. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of After the People Lights Have Gone Off

Kenneth W. Cain Author Of Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

From my list on short story collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading short stories in the annual Reader’s Digest books my parents collected, so I’ve always liked the short form. Perhaps that is why I pursued it in college, wanting to know what made them work. So I took a lot of classes in college to do just that, to dissect stories to see what made them resonate with readers. And although I’ve been trying to push myself to write longer fiction, I’ll never be able to fully abandon the short fiction. I love a story you can read in a day and think about all night.

Kenneth's book list on short story collections

Kenneth W. Cain Why did Kenneth love this book?

SGJ has such a unique voice, it’s hard to deny this collection its props. Here you have a wide range of themes and unique characterization, and I think there’s a lot to be learned from a collection such as this. Dialogue, character building, tension; this is like a guide to writing good fiction.

By Stephen Graham Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked After the People Lights Have Gone Off as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, Best Collection of the Year, This Is Horror

Nominated, Best Collection of the Year, Bram Stoker Awards

Nominated, Best Collection of the Year, Shirley Jackson Awards

The 15 stories in After the People Lights Have Gone Off, by Stephen Graham Jones, explore the horrors and fears of the supernatural and the everyday. Included are two original stories, several rarities and out-of-print narratives, as well as a few "best of the year" inclusions. 

In "Thirteen", horrors lurk behind the flickering images on the big screen. "Welcome to the Reptile House" reveals the secrets that hide in our flesh. In "The…


Book cover of Full Dark, No Stars

Mark Fearing Author Of Last Exit to Feral

From my list on horror I read again and again and again.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the gifts of the horror genre is that the stories use metaphor to examine human behaviors that defy understanding. My favorite horror novels, novellas, and short stories can be read again and again. While my Feral graphic novel series is for middle school readers, I wanted to provide grey areas, perhaps more than the editor always liked! I wanted the adventure, the scares, the questions, the uncertainty that would let the small town of Feral take on a larger-than-life presence for a reader and encourage revisiting it whenever the mood strikes. It's almost pleasant, the rhythm, the anticipation. A little unnerving too.

Mark's book list on horror I read again and again and again

Mark Fearing Why did Mark love this book?

This is a short story collection I return to every few years. There are four novellas in this collection, but each of them was delivered directly to my cerebral cortex. I can recall passages from each story. And I can see the locations.

I feel King is at his best when he's twisting his way through novellas and short stories. After reading "1922", it was weeks before I stopped seeing the well. And weeks before, I stopped shaking my head at what Wilfred James did or the grit of Tess in "Big Driver" or the pettiness of Dave Streeter. This is worth reading every year.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Full Dark, No Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the master of the long story form, the Sunday Times No. 1 besteller, Full Dark, No Stars - described by the Sunday Telegraph as 'an extraordinary collection, thrillingly merciless, and a career high point' - now with a stunning new cover look.

Is it possible to fully know anyone? Even those we love the most? What tips someone over the edge to commit a crime?

In '1922', a story which was adapted into a Netflix original film, a Nebraska farmer, the turning point comes when his wife threatens to sell off the family homestead.

In 'Big Driver', a cozy…


Book cover of Episode Thirteen

Amanda Desiree Author Of Smithy

From my list on creepy epistolary horror novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always admired epistolary novels—stories told in the form of diaries, letters, or other mass media. They seem so real and so much more believable than plain narratives. When dealing with fantastic subjects, like paranormal phenomena, any technique that can draw the weird back into the real world helps me become more invested as a reader. It’s a quality I’ve also tried to capture as a horror writer. Moreover, the epistolary format pairs well with unreliable narrators, often filtering stories so as to make them more ambiguous and disturbing. From the many epistolary works I’ve read over the years, here are my picks for the most compelling—and creepy.

Amanda's book list on creepy epistolary horror novels

Amanda Desiree Why did Amanda love this book?

This chronicle of a doomed reality TV show taping feels the most like a modern found-footage movie of any epistolary novel with its addition of instant messages and video footage to diaries and emails. The converging of different media corroboration adds a high level of realism to the story—an impressive trait that’s often lacking in cosmic horror.

Further, I’m impressed by the breadth of subjects Di Louie covered (Hindu mythology, occult mysticism, 1960s/1970s pop-culture references) and the way he expanded the haunted house trope beyond my expectations.

This book captivated me so much that I was more interested in reading it than in sightseeing while on my vacation.

By Craig DiLouie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Episode Thirteen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fade to Black is the newest hit ghost hunting reality TV show. Led by husband and wife team Matt and Claire Kirklin, it delivers weekly hauntings investigated by a dedicated team of ghost hunting experts.

Episode Thirteen takes them to every ghost hunter's holy grail: the Paranormal Research Foundation. This brooding, derelict mansion holds secrets and clues about bizarre experiments that took place there in the 1970s. It's also famously haunted, and the team hopes their scientific techniques and high tech gear will prove it. But as the house begins to reveal itself to them, proof of an afterlife might…


Book cover of A Skinful of Shadows

Ceinwen Langley Author Of The Misadventures of an Amateur Naturalist

From my list on to cozy up with a cup of tea and a warm blanket.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in love with cozy, low-stakes fantasy ever since my mother first handed me a copy of The Hobbit—so for most of my life. I love the focus on place and small comforts, the humble (and often unwilling!) heroes, the slower pace that builds to an emotional crescendo (as well as an action-packed one!), and the way these stories always leave me feeling warm, like I’ve just shared a coffee with a loved one. It should come as no surprise, then, that these are the kinds of stories I love writing best.  

Ceinwen's book list on to cozy up with a cup of tea and a warm blanket

Ceinwen Langley Why did Ceinwen love this book?

I’ve spent much of my adult life searching for media that gives me the same feeling as sitting down to my favourite Halloween movies as a kid. The gorgeous, autumnal crunch of Hocus Pocus, the spooky-but-not-scary atmosphere of Tim Burton’s 90’s offerings, the magic and adventure of Willow and The Dark Crystal. It was a big, specific ask, and yet I found it so perfectly in Frances Hardinge. 

My favourite of her books (so far) is A Skinful of Shadows. A twisting, turning, spooky adventure about a girl harboring the spirit of an abused circus bear who must save herself, her doofus brother, and said bear from being hollowed out and used as hosts by their horde of ghoulish ancestors. It’s cozy, clever, spectral perfection.

By Frances Hardinge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Skinful of Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Skinful of Shadows is a dark YA historical fantasy set in the early part of the English Civil War. Makepeace is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, and as such, she shares their unique hereditary gift: the capacity to be possessed by ghosts. Reluctant to accept her appointed destiny as vessel for a coterie of her ancestors, she escapes. As she flees the pursuing Fellmottes across war-torn England, she accumulates a motley crew of her own allies, including outcasts, misfits, criminals, and one extremely angry dead bear. From Costa Book of the Year winner Frances Hardinge comes…


Book cover of The Family Plot

Nicole Willson Author Of Tidepool

From my list on contemporary horror written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a near-lifelong fan of horror in all its forms. I read the works of Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, and Shirley Jackson as a child, and for most of my writing career, I’ve been trying to recreate the feelings those early works gave me the first time I read them. My short fiction has appeared in several publications, and my debut horror novel Tidepool came out in 2021. Even though one of the best-known horror novels of all time, Frankenstein, was written by Mary Shelley, the horror world still sometimes treats female authors like afterthoughts. I hope my list will help readers discover more imaginative books written by women. 

Nicole's book list on contemporary horror written by women

Nicole Willson Why did Nicole love this book?

Cherie Priest is a very versatile writer, and this horror novel is one of her best. I’ve lent copies of Family Plot to people and never gotten them back. Dahlia, whose father owns a salvage company, takes a team of coworkers to an old mansion to strip all the valuable stuff they can find before it’s torn down. But there are far more things in—and around—the house than they know, and those things have a way of making themselves known during the nights the crew spends at the mansion. Dahlia is a wonderful, tough, no-nonsense main character, and parts of the novel gave me the “Alone in the house late at night” creeps. 

By Cherie Priest,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Family Plot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chuck Dutton built Music City Salvage with patience and expertise, stripping historic properties and reselling their bones. Inventory is running low, so he's thrilled when Augusta Withrow appears in his office offering salvage rights to her entire property. This could be a gold mine, so he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project. The crew finds a handful of surprises right away. Firstly, the place is in unexpectedly good shape. And then there's the cemetery, about thirty fallen and overgrown graves dating to the early 1900s, Augusta insists that the cemetery isjust a fake, a Halloween prank, so…


Book cover of The Time of the Ghost

James Stoorie Author Of AfterWitch

From my list on supernaturally troubled teenagers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As long as I can remember I have found the world a terrifying yet magical place. My first memories are of reading ghost stories, the best mirrors for my emotional experiences. As a teenager supernatural tales continued to inspire me and still do. Sometimes a starkly realistic approach can prove too dull or intrusive; far better to process or confront issues by presenting them as fantastical. When I return to these books, or discover similar stories, I listen hard to what they are trying to tell me. I won’t learn overnight for, as the villain in The Doll Maker states: “the life so short, the craft so long to learn.”

James' book list on supernaturally troubled teenagers

James Stoorie Why did James love this book?

“Perhaps if I ask myself questions, my memory will come back?” The story opens with a now grown-up girl returning to her childhood home, only to realise on route that she is a ghost. But why did she die so young? Her mission must be to go back in time and warn her younger self of impending danger, however when she reaches her destination she can’t remember which of four sisters she is, as they all seem annoying. And what exactly is the disaster she is trying to avert? Could it be related to the pagan rituals the sisters are conducting to Monigan, the creepy doll they keep in the garden shed? What do you think? A thoughtful timeslip tale about trying to make sense of your childhood self.

By Diana Wynne Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Time of the Ghost 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?

Can a ghost from the future save a life in the past? A chilling tale of dark forces and revenge...

The ghost turns up one summer day, alone in a world she once knew, among people who were once her family. She knows she is one of four sisters, but which one? She can be sure of only one thing - that there's been an accident.
As she struggles to find her identity, she becomes aware of a malevolent force stirring around her. Something terrible is about to happen. One of the sisters will die - unless the ghost can…


Book cover of The Whispering Dead

Bill Thompson Author Of Callie

From my list on kick off a great series.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my decades in the corporate world, I traveled extensively and spent months in England, where I became a devoted Anglophile. I am privileged to have met Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, and to have attended a knighting at Westminster. English history fascinates me, but so do gripping spy thrillers occurring in European and Middle Eastern settings. There’s nothing better than finishing a satisfying first book in a series—fiction or not--and deciding to ration the remaining ones so you can savor the experience a little longer! 

Bill's book list on kick off a great series

Bill Thompson Why did Bill love this book?

Many of my books are ghost stories, and I enjoy finding other authors who write scary stories in that genre. Darcy Coates, a prolific author from Australia, does a wonderful job creating an eerie, spine-tingling setting and characters who will remind you of that monster you thought was in the closet. These are downright scary stories that will cause you to sleep with the light on. She has written numerous excellent stand-alone books, but her Gravekeeper series is a great way to delve into the mind of an author who has this genre nailed down tight (just like that coffin that might be hidden behind a wall in your basement)!   

By Darcy Coates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whispering Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

USA Today bestseller and rising queen of atmospheric horror Darcy Coates returns with a ghost story that will haunt you long after the final page. She hears them whispering...
Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper's cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.
And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.
The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died…


Book cover of Vintage

Jameson Currier Author Of The Wolf at the Door

From my list on ghost stories with gay characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

During the years that I have been writing ghost stories, many of them collected in The Haunted Heart and Other Tales, I have read a variety of classic and contemporary ghost stories, horror anthologies, and novels that included gay characters, written by authors who are also openly gay or whose legacy has identified the writer as homosexual. While there are a number of short stories that are personal favorites, this list focuses on novels. 

Jameson's book list on ghost stories with gay characters

Jameson Currier Why did Jameson love this book?

Walking an empty stretch of New Jersey highway on an autumn night, a lonely gay teenaged boy meets a strange and beautiful guy who turns out to be a local legend who has haunted that stretch of road for decades. At the heart of this superb coming-of-age tale is the remarkable portrayal of the friendships of a group of Goth teens. This is an extraordinary, moving ghost story that will engage both young readers and adults. 

By Steve Berman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vintage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

On a chilly, autumn night, on a lonely New Jersey highway, a teenager meets the boy of his dreams dressed in vintage clothing. When the boy vanishes, the teenager discovers he’s encountered the local legend, the ghost of a young man who died four decades earlier and has haunted that stretch of road ever since. Curious and smitten, the next evening the teen returns with his best friend. So begins an unusual story of boy-meets-ghost complete with Ouija boards, hours spent in cemeteries, scares and macabre humor. This new edition of the book, to celebrate its thirteenth anniversary, features a…


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