The most recommended ghost story books

Who picked these books? Meet our 172 experts.

172 authors created a book list connected to ghost story, and here are their favorite ghost story books.
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What type of ghost story book?



By Patricia Clapp,

Book cover of Jane-Emily: And Witches' Children

Kathryn Knight Author Of Ghost Moon

From the list on romantic ghost stories.

Who am I?

I’m a fan of all things spooky! I especially love ghost stories, which is probably abundantly clear from my own novels. I’ve been known to frequent old graveyards, seek out haunted places, and sneak into abandoned buildings for inspiration—and the adrenaline rush! This fascination started when I was a young girl and my dad brought me a YA ghost mystery home from the library—every week, he would have the librarian help him pick out books for me, and I would devour the stack immediately, then re-read until the next library day! My favorite ghost stories have a mix similar to what I write—a tension-filled romance combined with a spooky, suspenseful haunting. 

Kathryn's book list on romantic ghost stories

Why did Kathryn love this book?

Jane-Emily is a YA classic, both a sweet romance and a spooky ghost mystery, set in the early 1900s. 

It’s also the book I described in my introduction as the one that made me fall in love with this genre! I first read it when I was about ten, and I immediately recommended it to my best friend, who was also an avid reader. To this day, we are both still scared of those mirrored gazing balls people display in gardens.

When my own children were young, I bought an old paperback on eBay and read it to them, savoring the story that I’ve re-read so many times once again. Even after all these years, Emily’s ghost still delivers chills as she unleashes her wrath on the innocent nine-year-old Jane, and the romance developing between Jane’s young aunt and an old friend of the family plays a part.

One exciting…

By Patricia Clapp,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jane-Emily as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Emily was a selfish, willful, hateful child who died before her thirteenth birthday. But that was a long time ago.

Jane is nine years old and an orphan when she and her young Aunt Louisa come to spend the summer at Jane's grandmother's house, a large, mysterious mansion in Massachusetts. Then one day . . . Jane stares into a reflecting ball in the garden—and the face that looks back at her is not her own.

Many years earlier, a child of rage and malevolence lived in this place. And she never left. Now Emily has dark plans for little…

Book cover of The Amazing Mr. Blunden (Puffin books)

Andrew Norriss Author Of Friends for Life

From the list on ghosts help solve a problem rather than cause one.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a big fan of ghost stories where, for some reason, the ghosts reveal that they are stuck here. Something happened to them during their earthly life so that, instead of going to wherever you’re supposed to go when you die, this means they can’t. Not until they have ‘undone’ or put right something they did or had done to them. In these stories, we meet spirits who, usually with the help of some human, are doing exactly that. I find such stories deeply satisfying. Which is probably why I try and write them as well…

Andrew's book list on ghosts help solve a problem rather than cause one

Why did Andrew love this book?

It’s not quite clear at first whether the two children who appear one day out of the mist asking for help are ghosts, or whether the word is better used to describe the children who go back in time, as requested, to help them. Either way, this is a cracking story with a very satisfactory solution for all of them. And the amazing Mr. Blunden? For me, he is the best and the most moving part of the story. An old gentleman who made a terrible mistake in the past, but who has now been given a chance to put it right, and earn forgiveness and peace.

By Antonia Barber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Amazing Mr. Blunden (Puffin books) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'When you come to the house, you will hear strange tales. They will tell you in the village that it is haunted, but you must not be afraid. When the time comes ... you will know what to do.'

Mr Blunden's words echoed through Lucy's ears as she explored the house. It was such an old house that it seemed to Lucy as if all the past was gathered up inside it as if in a great box; as…

The Stranger Diaries

By Elly Griffiths,

Book cover of The Stranger Diaries

Liz Faraim Author Of Pinned

From Liz's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Awkward introvert Author with a day job Nature lover

Liz's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Liz love this book?

I did not seek this book out. It found me by way of a random box of paperbacks my father had read and mailed to me. I consider The Stranger Diaries my gateway book into Griffiths’ writing.

Since reading itI have read Griffiths’ books exclusively, one after the other, for the last several months. My local librarian must think I am obsessed. All of this to say, this book really sucked me in.

Harbinder Kaur is a closeted lesbian and a damn fine police investigator. Without giving too much away, I will say that I enjoyed all the characters, which were well-developed and unique.

The mystery kept me curious until the end. Griffiths does a fantastic job of enveloping each scene with lovely descriptions, including the seaside and other spaces where the story takes place.

By Elly Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Stranger Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Utterly bewitching ... a pitch-perfect modern Gothic' AJ FINN, author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

This is what the police know: English teacher Clare Cassidy's friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the…

Weird Illinois

By Troy Taylor,

Book cover of Weird Illinois: Your Travel Guide to Illinois' Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

Bill Lindsay Author Of Curse of a Devil

From the list on variety of quest for knowledge.

Who am I?

Ghost stories were always a part of my childhood. I believe most people wonder about what comes ‘after’. I have tried to keep up with the latest information regarding the unusual. I was a paranormal searcher and spent much time in the woods and forests. I have seen a few unusual, unexplained things. Curiosity and the thirst for knowledge still burn inside me. I suppose the mundane and redundant characteristics of my job gave me a desire to keep my mind searching for answers to difficult questions.  

Bill's book list on variety of quest for knowledge

Why did Bill love this book?

I have always sought out the strange and unusual. This book covers many different phenomena. Whether it is ghosts, aliens, legends, cryptids, or just weird lore, this book has a wide scope. I live in the state and occasionally participate in investigations of these subjects. I even wrote a play Ghosts, Aliens, and Bigfoot. This book almost reminds me of being with my grandfather as a child. He loved to scare with local legends and ghost stories spun with his special brand of creepiness and humor. Reading this late at night took me back to those special times.

By Troy Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explores bizarre sights and stories found in Illinois.


By Ed McBain,

Book cover of Ghosts

Weldon Burge Author Of Harvester of Sorrow

From the list on police procedural series.

Who am I?

I’ve been a writer of nonfiction and fiction and full-time editor since my college years, and a publisher (Smart Rhino Publications). I’ve read horror and suspense fiction all my life, but it’s only been in the past decade or so that my reading has turned more and more toward police procedurals, noir, and crime fiction. It was only natural that I’d turn to writing a police procedural series, starting with Harvester of Sorrow. I hope you’ll read all the wonderful books I’ve recommended!

Weldon's book list on police procedural series

Why did Weldon love this book?

Ghosts was the first book of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series that I read, primarily because I was interested in the paranormal aspect—I’ve always been a sucker for ghost stories. This was the first true police procedural I’d read, and I was most impressed with McBain’s mastery of writing dialogue. I was hooked and I’ve read most of the series since. As I wrote my own debut novel I referred to McBain’s novels many times to see how he handled dialogue tags and beats throughout his books. His dialogue is almost seamless. I’d recommend the 87th Precinct series to any writer serious about writing police procedurals.

By Ed McBain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young woman stops at the grocery store after work, but she never makes it home—at least not all the way. She is stabbed to death in front of her building, her groceries strewn across the cold pavement. Upstairs her neighbor and popular ghost story author Gregory Craig lay dead as well, stabbed in his apartment. When Craig’s publisher is found murdered just days later, Detective Steve Carella has a deadly mystery on his hands, one unlike any he’s ever had before.

Searching for clues, Carella instead finds Craig’s girlfriend, a medium whose spooky predictions keep him guessing. When some…

Bad Girls Don't Die

By Katie Alender,

Book cover of Bad Girls Don't Die

A.A. Blair Author Of Mystic of the Midway

From the list on ghost stories with important messages from beyond.

Who am I?

I grew up in the 80s, the era of horror super-franchises. Most would be familiar with Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween, but there were so many more. Oscar-winning films the decade prior like The Exorcist and Jaws ushered a new wave of new horror. Whether it was advancement in visual effects, or improvement in production, the genre was everywhere. And I couldn’t get enough. Those experiences have possessed my pen and continue to rule my reading choices. I hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as I did. There’s a lot we can learn about ourselves when we’re scared.  

A.A.'s book list on ghost stories with important messages from beyond

Why did A.A. love this book?

Bullies beware! Bad Girls Don’t Die features a vengeful poltergeist that possesses the little sister of protagonist Alexis Warren.

Alexis is a lonely misfit teenager on the fringes of her high-school social scene. Her home life isn’t much better as her mother’s desire for corporate success leads to regular dinner table conflict. The sisters find comfort in each other, but that’s when Alexis notices a change in her sibling Kasey. Subtle at first, Kasey’s transformation into a malicious psychopath sends Alexis into an investigation that reveals a small-town secret of a fatal bullying incident. 

Bad Girl’s Don’t Die is a story of sisterly bonds, secret pasts, and the sacrifices that are sometimes made to protect loved ones.

By Katie Alender,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad Girls Don't Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A page-turning, spine-chilling young adult murder mystery about surviving the ghosts around us.

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage. Or her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey. Or even like her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude.


When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green, sometimes she uses old-fashioned language, and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is…

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

By Shehan Karunatilaka,

Book cover of The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

Melissa Joulwan

From Melissa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Super reader Writer Kickboxer Traveler Popcorn pro

Melissa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Melissa love this book?

This novel set in Sri Lanka blends murder mystery with historical fiction and upends expectations at every turn.

The story opens with anti-hero Maali waking up to find he's a ghost. I was immediately in his corner despite his being a shady character. (His business card: "Photographer, Gambler, Slut.")

When Maali learns he has seven moons (one week) to move into the Light, he opts to spend his precious time investigating his own murder. I was immersed in this world of the In-Between (think: ghosts, ghouls, demons) and real-life Sri Lanka during its war years. 

This book stomped on my heart multiple times, but it's funny and wise, too, thanks to Maali's jaded yet hopeful outlook. When the truth of his death was revealed, I was devastated—but the story's ending is bright and life-affirming.

By Shehan Karunatilaka,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida-war photographer, gambler, and closet queen-has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to…

Bound Feet

By Kelsea Yu,

Book cover of Bound Feet

Gordon B. White Author Of As Summer's Mask Slips and Other Disruptions

From the list on capturing the feel of autumn horror.

Who am I?

I’m a Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of horror fiction and have always had an affinity for the autumn season. I grew up in North Carolina and have wonderful memories of the time of year when the summer heat finally ends and the chill returns—the season of long walks in the turning woods, campfires, ghost stories, and, of course, Halloween. There’s something about that time that has always stuck with me and finds its way into my writing even now. My first collection, As Summer’s Mask Slips and Other Disruptions, draws on this period of transition and so I absolutely love sharing those works which have influenced and entertained me.  

Gordon's book list on capturing the feel of autumn horror

Why did Gordon love this book?

This one is a bit of a fudge because it takes place in mid-August during the Hungry Ghost Festival, but the full moon and cool evening breeze capture that atmosphere of summer sliding into fall. Bound Feet is a modern ghost story centered on a grieving mother whose friend helps her break into Portland’s Chinese Garden and Ghost Museum in order to try to connect with her late daughter. What she finds, though, is a sinister presence from centuries ago and secrets that may upend her world. I love a story haunted by literal ghosts of the past, and this one had me smiling ear to ear as it descends into a nightmare phantasmagoria and twist after delicious twist is revealed. A great, quick read for beginning the season. 

By Kelsea Yu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the night of the Hungry Ghost Moon, when spirits can briefly return to the living world, Jodi Wu and her best friend sneak into Portland’s Chinese Garden and Ghost Museum. Kneeling before the pond where Jodi’s toddler drowned one year before, they leave food offerings and burn joss paper—and Jodi prays that Ella’s ghost will return for the night.

To distract Jodi from her grief, the two friends tell each other ghost stories as they explore the museum. They stop at the main display, a centuries-old pair of lotus slippers belonging to a woman whose toes were broken and…

Gothic Tales

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,

Book cover of Gothic Tales

Lisa Morton Author Of Haunted Tales: Classic Stories of Ghosts and the Supernatural

From the list on collections of classic ghost stories.

Who am I?

I've always been a fan of ghost stories. As a kid, I loved horror movies and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and H. P. Lovecraft; later on, I discovered movies like The Innocents (based on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw) and The Haunting (adapted from Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House). As a ghost historian and editor, I've discovered dozens of brilliant tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; these are stories that remain relevant, entertaining, and frightening.

Lisa's book list on collections of classic ghost stories

Why did Lisa love this book?

Famous during her life for her social commentary novels like North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) was also a spectacularly gifted author of ghost stories (Charles Dickens, in fact, frequently included her ghost tales in his periodical Household Words). This collection would be worth it for "The Old Nurse's Story" alone - considered to be one of the finest ghost stories ever written - but it contains other bone-chilling classics as well. 

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elizabeth Gaskell's chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. 'Disappearances', inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; 'Lois the Witch', a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in 'The Old Nurse's Story' a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as 'The Poor Clare', where an evil doppelganger is formed by a woman's bitter curse, or mischievous like 'Curious, if True', a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the stories in this…


By R.J. Palacio,

Book cover of Pony

Artie Bennett Author Of The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn't

From the list on horse-themed children’s books—and that ain’t hay.

Who am I?

I stumbled upon an article about Zippy Chippy and knew, right out of the starting gate, that I needed to share his fascinating tale with young readers. I’m the author of a quintet of hilarious rhyming picture books, including the classic The Butt Book and my “number two” picture book, Poopendous! But this was a horse of a different color for me. It’s my first picture-book biography in prose. When I was a lad, my father would take me, on occasion, to Aqueduct Racetrack. I watched in awe as the horses would thunder by. These boyhood experiences surely planted the seeds. I fell in love with Zippy Chippy, and I know you will, too. 

Artie's book list on horse-themed children’s books—and that ain’t hay

Why did Artie love this book?

I wear two hats. In addition to being a children’s book writer, I’m also the executive copy editor at Random House Books for Young Readers. I had the good fortune recently to work on a new novel from R. J. Palacio, of Wonder fame. It’s a one-of-a-kind Western that seamlessly and skillfully melds the material and the supernatural worlds. And it’s beautifully written and filled with heart-stopping suspense and iconic characters. Pony, a mysterious horse, leads a boy, Silas, on an epic quest to rescue his father from desperadoes. This haunting, deeply moving coming-of-age tale stayed with me long past its completion.

By R.J. Palacio,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The highly anticipated, unforgettable new story from the internationally bestselling, multi-award-winning author of WONDER.

'Thrillingly told . . . Palacio is a fantastic writer' The Times

'Perfection . . . A beautiful, funny, heart-twisting wonder of a book . . . A brilliant story of love and courage' Wall Street Journal

When Silas Bird wakes in the dead of night, he watches powerlessly as three strangers take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool . . . who happens to be a ghost. But then a mysterious pony shows…