The most recommended books about poltergeists

Who picked these books? Meet our 7 experts.

7 authors created a book list connected to poltergeists, and here are their favorite poltergeist books.
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The Fountain Overflows

By Rebecca West,

Book cover of The Fountain Overflows

Ursula DeYoung Author Of Shorecliff

From the list on families from the mid-twentieth century.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small seaside town north of Boston. I have three siblings, and we always spent a few weeks every summer with our cousins in a rented house somewhere in New England—a new place each year. I became a bookworm at a young age, and I’ve always loved reading novels about big families that capture both the magic and the conflicts inevitable with many siblings and relatives. I was also an anglophile, and I tended to gravitate toward books written in earlier decades, particularly those of the mid 20th century. When I began writing my own novels, it seemed natural to set them in those fascinating earlier times.

Ursula's book list on families from the mid-twentieth century

Why did Ursula love this book?

Toward the end of her career, Rebecca West wrote an unusually autobiographical novel, retelling her Edwardian childhood with the wisdom and sadness of hindsight. The Fountain Overflows, published in 1956, describes the struggles of an artistic family with a fiercely devoted mother and an impossibly wayward father. West brilliantly describes the hard work and ambitions of gifted children, but the book is mainly memorable for its strange, semi-magical atmosphere and the sense it gives readers of revisiting a lost world—for hanging over this book is the shadow of the First World War, a cataclysm that finally arrives in the sequel, This Dark Night.

By Rebecca West,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The lives of the talented Aubrey children have long been clouded by their father's genius for instability, but his new job in the London suburbs promises, for a time at least, reprieve from scandal and the threat of ruin. Mrs. Aubrey, a former concert pianist, struggles to keep the family afloat, but then she is something of a high-strung eccentric herself, as is all too clear to her daughter Rose, through whose loving but sometimes cruel eyes events are seen. Still, living on the edge holds the promise of the unexpected, and the Aubreys, who encounter furious poltergeists, turn up…


By Stacy Horn,

Book cover of Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory

Mitch Horowitz Author Of Daydream Believer: Unlocking the Ultimate Power of Your Mind

From the list on the extra-physical potentials of the mind.

Who am I?

I'm a PEN Award-winning historian of alternative spirituality and a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library. I track the impact and substance of supernatural beliefs—a source of fascination since my Queens, NY, boyhood—in books including Occult America, The Miracle Club, and Uncertain Places. I often say that if you do not write your own history, it gets written for you—usually by people who may not care about or even understand the values that emanate from your work. Given my personal dedication to the spiritual search, I call myself a believing historian (which most historians of religion actually are). I labor to explore the lives, ideas, and practices behind esoteric spirituality.

Mitch's book list on the extra-physical potentials of the mind

Why did Mitch love this book?

I have been praising this book for years and have no plans to stop anytime soon. Using investigatory skills and a keen sense of human pathos, journalist and NPR producer Horn tells the full-circle story of the parapsychology lab founded by the Rhines. She doggedly and accurately presents the “unbelievable” findings of the Duke lab and the struggle of its founders to swim against a tide of orthodox reaction. As a work of history, it is significant—and as a piece of dramatic historiography it is enthralling. 

By Stacy Horn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Author Stacy Horn dissects all the things that go bump in the night—ghosts, poltergeists, your ex-boyfriend Klaus—in [her] macabre book.”
 —Marie Claire

A fascinating, eye-opening collection of “Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory,” Unbelievable by Stacy Horn explores science’s remarkable first attempts to prove—or disprove—the existence of the paranormal. A featured contributor on the popular NPR program “All Things Considered,” Horn has been praised by Mary Roach, bestselling author of Spook, for her “awe-fueled curiosity [and] top-flight reporting skills.” Horn attacks a most controversial subject with Unbelievable—a book that will appeal to…

Charles Fort

By Jim Steinmeyer,

Book cover of Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural

Nicole Cushing Author Of Mothwoman

From the list on paranormal investigation.

Who am I?

I’m a weirdo, so of course I’m attracted to the idea that the universe may be weird, too. I like the idea that the universe is able to hold itself together ninety-nine percent of the time, but every once in a while it just has to let its freak flag fly. Even if paranormal experiences are nothing more than waking dreams, they may still be worth our attention (the same as any dream). Even if such experiences aren’t objectively “real”, they’re subjectively fascinating. I love exploring the line between reality and unreality. Like Fort, I don’t believe it to be as cut and dry as mainstream science would have us believe.

Nicole's book list on paranormal investigation

Why did Nicole love this book?

Charles Fort was the o.g. paranormal investigator. One hundred years ago, he made a sweeping study of all the weird stuff mainstream science refuses to examine. Even now we use the word “Fortean” to describe the study of ghosts, bigfoot, ufos, ESP, etc. Steinmeyer’s biography reveals the complicated man behind the adjective. 

Was Fort a kook? Not really. Steinmeyer reveals him to be more of a gadfly, playfully thumbing his nose at science but never investing too much belief in his own eccentric theories, either. For Fort, the real and the unreal were two sides of the same coin. His quarrel was with those who insisted the quarter only had heads and refused to investigate the possible existence of tails.

By Jim Steinmeyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'I am the first disciple of Charles Fort. Henceforth I am a Fortean'

Since Ben Hecht wrote this line in reviewing The Book of The Damned in 1919, Charles Fort - whose very name spawned an adjective, Fortean, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as 'relating to or denoting paranormal phenomena' - has so divided opinion that to Theodore Dreiser he was "the most fascinating literary figure since Poe;" to The New York Times he was "the enfant terrible of science;" and to HG Wells he was "one of the most damnable bores who ever cut scraps from out of…

Book cover of Confessions of a Ghost-hunter

Marc Hartzman Author Of Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural

From the list on ghosts written by people who might now be ghosts.

Who am I?

Though I’ve always found the idea of survival after death fascinating, it was my interest in Modern Spiritualism that really sparked the desire to write Chasing Ghosts. That era (mid-1800s to the early 1900s) was a time when millions confidently believed they could communicate with the dead. Of course, this was only the tip of the paranormal iceberg. So I continued the journey into the lore of haunted places, ancient cultural beliefs, and scientific endeavors to find evidence for paranormal experiences or to debunk it. As a historian of the weirder pages of the past, this topic endlessly fascinates me. I hope it will for you as well. 

Marc's book list on ghosts written by people who might now be ghosts

Why did Marc love this book?

Harry Price is one of history’s great ghost hunters. In this book, you’ll hear his tales about his remarkable adventures at the Borley Rectory—which he has called the most haunted house in England—his investigation of a talking mongoose, and much more. Price discusses his methods, his tools, the behind-the-scenes experiences that pulled him into such unusual cases, and of course, his findings. 

By Harry Price,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confessions of a Ghost-hunter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Harry Price devoted his life to the study of paranormal phenomena, leading him to become one of the most famous 20th centuries psychical/supernatural researchers of all time.This book contains a comprehensive study of some of Price’s most interesting cases which had taken place over his lifetime of investigation into a variety of paranormal events. From an allegedly haunted mansion from the days of his youth to his initial encounters with the famous Borley Rectory, the house that gained infamy as "the most haunted house in England" after its ten-year-long paranormal investigation by Price himself.Other investigations covered in this book include…

The Ghost That Ate Us

By Daniel Kraus,

Book cover of The Ghost That Ate Us: The Tragic True Story of the Burger City Poltergeist

Barbara Cottrell Author Of Darkness Below

From Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Former professor Lovecraft aficionado

Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Barbara love this book?

When most people think of haunted houses, they usually picture an aging building on the edge of town. But what if the place that’s haunted is a busy fast food joint? That’s the premise of Daniel Kraus’s The Ghost That Ate Us.

The employees of Burger City near Jonny, Iowa begin to experience strange events. At first, the incidents are harmless, but they slowly become more menacing, until an event happens that makes the national news. A journalist comes in after the fact, to interview the surviving workers and try to figure out what ‘really’ happened.

The book is scattered with pictures, a la Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. The result is an intriguing blend of horror, faux true crime, and biting social commentary.

By Daniel Kraus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ghost That Ate Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You remember the brutal crime, don't you?

Maybe you read about it on Twitter. Maybe a friend sent you a news clip. Maybe you saw it on an episode of Spectral Journeys that night you were flipping through channels, unable to sleep. On June 1, 2017, six people were killed at a Burger City franchise off I-80 near Jonny, Iowa. It was the bizarre and gruesome conclusion to nine months of alleged paranormal activity at the fast-food joint-events popularly known as "the Burger City Poltergeist."

The story inspired Facebook memes, Twitter hashtags, Buzzfeed listicles, Saturday Night Live sketches, and more.…

The Haunting of Hiram

By Eva Ibbotson,

Book cover of The Haunting of Hiram

Griselda Heppel Author Of The Fall of a Sparrow

From the list on ghost stories.

Who am I?

I write adventure and mystery stories for children aged 9 - 13, involving battles with mythical creatures, dangerous pacts with demons, and other supernatural chills. My first book, Ante’s Inferno, won the People’s Book Prize and a Silver Wishing Shelf Award. For The Fall of a Sparrow, I drew on my love of ghost stories, not just for their scariness but also for their emotional complexity: ghosts don’t haunt just for the sake of it. They need something only the main character can give. Friendship, perhaps, a companion in their loneliness… or something much darker. Here’s my choice of classic stories in which ghosts pursue a wide – and sometimes terrifying – variety of agendas.

Griselda's book list on ghost stories

Why did Griselda love this book?

A delightful, bonkers story in which 12-year-old Alex MacBuff, Laird of ancient Castle Carra, is not so much haunted by a motley collection of ghosts as brought up by them from babyhood. For battle-hardened Krok the Viking, heartbroken Victorian governess Miss Spinks, spoilt 5-year-old poltergeist Flossie, retired vampire Stanislaus and failed Hellhound Cyril, Alex is the centre of their world, and they will do anything to help him. Anything, that is, except stop haunting the crumbling, much-loved but unaffordable Castle Carra that Alex needs to sell to Texan billionaire Hiram Hopgood. Which is awkward… as a ghost-free castle is part of the deal.

By Eva Ibbotson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'I will buy your castle,' declared Hiram C. Hopgood. 'But only if there are no ghosts!'

Alex MacBuff can't afford to keep his beloved Castle Carra, and an American millionaire has made him an offer he can't refuse. The castle is shipped all the way to Texas, but its ghostly inhabitants, including Krok the Viking warrior and a hell-hound called Cyril, follow their home across the Atlantic. How can Alex stop them haunting Hiram and also save the millionaire's daughter from an evil ransom plot?

The Haunting of Hiram is a wonderfully spooky young-fiction title from the award-winning author of…

Strange World

By Frank Edwards,

Book cover of Strange World

Andy Kaiser Author Of In Tents

From the list on dark altered realities and other creepy places.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to the dark, mysterious, and weird. Originally influenced by science fiction and fantasy, then later by mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and horror, I loved the mental visuals and excitement of being in extreme, reality-bending situations. Combine these aspects, and that’s why I told my own story with these same themes: In Tents is my homage to small-town culture… twisted into a darker reality. 

Andy's book list on dark altered realities and other creepy places

Why did Andy love this book?

Strange World is a collection of short stories (and many are very short). They expand on the title, the stories being recollections, reports, and (I’m fairly sure) completely made-up weirdness from around the country and world. Everything from strange coincidences to the absurdly fantastic, are all presented as matter-of-fact. This is perfectly in line with the publication date of 1964. Then, America was fully invested in the UFO craze, tinged with metaphysics and the occult. The stores are a time capsule of this cultural view and – whether or not you believe the stories are true – are a fun read.

By Frank Edwards,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Describes unexplained incidents of premonitions, UFO sightings, apparitions, ghost lights, family curses, cloudless rain, miracle cures, blackouts, reincarnation, disappearances, and poltergeists

Kiss Me Deadly

By Jessie Thomas,

Book cover of Kiss Me Deadly

Julie Embleton Author Of Bound

From the list on not-your-usual vampire, werewolf, and witch.

Who am I?

The idea of paranormal beings living amongst us makes me irrationally giddy. It constantly distracts me as I wonder how they blend into society and live behind their closed doors. Happy to explore these possibilities, I love to read and write books where wolves, vamps, and witches are put through the wringer as they navigate a world that’s sometimes hidden, and other times not. Tenacious females, gutsy heroes, and heinous villains inhabit my dark paranormal and epic fantasy realms, but with added twists that make them not-your-usual paranormal tales. When not torturing my characters, I can be found reading tarot as I live my own otherworldly life in Dublin, Ireland. 

Julie's book list on not-your-usual vampire, werewolf, and witch

Why did Julie love this book?

"A necromancer and a vampire walk into a cemetery…and if you’re wondering how this joke ends, that makes two of us." Nickel City ticks all the boxes for reasons why I’ll deprive myself of sleep for a book. The cast leaps out of the pages; Sera the witty, brave, but soft-hearted heroine, her friend/ex-girlfriend, Dev, a feisty, sharp-tongued vampire hunter, and then Nate, the brooding vampire who Sera just can’t ignore. Three deadly enemies forced to work together against evil; what can go wrong, eh? Thomas slays with this enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance. With delicious simmering tension and laugh-aloud moments, it’s a clever, gripping read that now has me addicted to visiting cemeteries in the hopes of bumping into a certain vampire.

By Jessie Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A necromancer and a vampire walk into a cemetery…and if you’re wondering how this joke ends, that makes two of us.I’m Seraphina Mason, Buffalo’s only resident necromancer. While other people are on normal sleep schedules doing regular human things, I spend my nights conjuring spirits, resurrecting the dead, and sometimes a bit of poltergeist removal, if you need it. But I’m not even the most dangerous nocturnal creature lurking around the cemeteries. That’s where vampire Nathaniel Caligari waltzes in—all devastating eternal beauty and brooding charm, ready to ruin my life. He’d rather have a wooden stake shoved through his chest…