The most recommended urban legend books

Who picked these books? Meet our 10 experts.

10 authors created a book list connected to urban legend, and here are their favorite urban legend books.
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Never Have I Ever

By Isabel Yap,

Book cover of Never Have I Ever: Stories

Charlie Jane Anders Author Of Even Greater Mistakes

From the list on short stories that could change your life.

Who am I?

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All the Birds in the Sky, which Time Magazine listed as one of the hundred best fantasy novels of all time. Her other books include The City in the Middle of the Night, Victories Greater than Death, and Never Say You Can't Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times By Making Up Stories. She organizes the long-running spoken word series Writers With Drinks, helps to organize tours of local bookstores, and also co-hosts the podcast Our Opinions Are Correct. Her short fiction has appeared in Tin House, Conjunctions, Wired Magazine, Slate, and the Boston Review.

Charlie's book list on short stories that could change your life

Why did Charlie love this book?

Yap's debut collection is full of brilliant moments and haunting images. She wraps together Filipino folklore with characters who are endlessly rich and fascinating, and the result is sometimes terrifying, sometimes weird and unsettling, and always gorgeous. This book will leave you feeling as if uncanny worlds are waiting for you to discover them, just out of view. Many of these stories go to dark places, but then you stumble on a sweet tale like "A Spell For Foolish Hearts," involving a gay magician, a love potion, and a complicated relationship. You'll wish you could read this book for the first time more than once.

By Isabel Yap,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Have I Ever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Am I dead?" Mebuyen sighs.
She was hoping the girl would not ask.

Spells and stories, urban legends and immigrant tales: the magic in Isabel Yap's debut collection jumps right off the page, from the joy in her new novella, "A Spell for Foolish Hearts" to the terrifying tension of the urban legend "Have You Heard the One About Anamaria Marquez."

Rules for Vanishing

By Kate Alice Marshall,

Book cover of Rules for Vanishing

Matt Doyle Author Of Ailuros

From the list on creepy stories told in unique ways.

Who am I?

I’m an author of genre-bent stories and grew up with a love of dark tales. In particular, I was a fan of things that layered stories and linked their themes together, even if you didn’t necessarily notice initially. For example, the Alien franchise is a story of human survival, but also of corporate conspiracy. When I come across books that mix stories or add interesting structural elements, it instantly draws me in, so I set out to create exactly that with my release Ailuros. But I’m not alone in experimenting like that, so I hope you find some fun, scary releases you may not have known about in my list.

Matt's book list on creepy stories told in unique ways

Why did Matt love this book?

Described as a faux documentary in the style of The Blair Witch Project, this one is an interesting take on the horror genre. Interviews, descriptions of crime-related exhibits, and written testimonies all come together to make the book feel both investigative and more than a little fractured. It’s an uncomfortable combination that helps create a nice sense of fear for readers.

By Kate Alice Marshall,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Rules for Vanishing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister--at all costs.

Once a year, a road appears in the forest. And at the end of it, the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons. Lucy's game isn't for the faint of heart. If you win, you escape with your life. But if you lose....

Sara's sister disappeared one year ago--and only Sara knows where she is. Becca went to find the ghost of Lucy Gallows and is trapped on the road…

Ember Burning

By Jennifer Alsever,

Book cover of Ember Burning

Kayla Krantz Author Of The Council

From the list on creative magical realms in fantasy.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of all genres that’s found a lot of love, particularly in fantasy and thrillers. My love for epic fantasies first began when I was young, and like all young readers, was introduced to Harry Potter and the Magic Tree House series. The idea of being whisked away to a magical world captivated me, and so, I started to create my own stories to keep that magic alive. 

Kayla's book list on creative magical realms in fantasy

Why did Kayla love this book?

After Ember loses her grandmother, she finds herself retreating from the Real World and going into the woods. They’re no ordinary woods though. They’re a portal to another world. One where Ember isn’t lonely. The only catch? She can never return to her real life. This book I felt had a lot of good metaphors for depression and grief mixed with the fantasy elements to give it both a powerful message and an entertaining feeling.

By Jennifer Alsever,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She wanted an escape from reality. Her ticket home could cost her life.
Ember Trouvé was never the same after her parents died tragically. Obsessed with finding other lost souls like herself, she collects missing-teenager flyers. But when they lead her to explore the eerie woods rumored to contain strange happenings, she's shocked to discover a group of happy-go-lucky high-schoolers.
As welcoming new friends and seductive boys show her the fun she's forgotten, Ember is reminded of the sweet taste of happiness. But just as her inner joy reignites, she learns there's a price for the forest's wondrous gift: She…

Slender Man

By Anonymous,

Book cover of Slender Man

Ethan Marek Author Of Tolerance Book One

From the list on aesthetic universes in science fiction.

Who am I?

Growing up, I melted into the cinematic universe. And it was always the fantasies that made me feel wonderous. Star Wars, Skyrim, Fallout, Dune, The Hunger Games, you name it, they all sucked me in during the darkest times in life. That’s why I write, for the children and the young adults. I want them to experience my worlds to understand their own. I earned my BFA in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. I hope to translate my books into screenplays while my dream and goal is to watch my own story on the big screen with a bucket of popcorn in my hands.

Ethan's book list on aesthetic universes in science fiction

Why did Ethan love this book?

Weird, right? The author of the story is unknown. Some may say it’s just a narrative of the main character’s story, but no one really knows the truth behind the mythical monster. Slender Man was a decent book, a very quick read too for four-hundred pages. While the story was slow, it pitched in its genre of suspense, mystery, and terror. We live in the real world, but we’re also living in a world of wonders. I’d recommend this story to anyone who loves mysteries and evil entities, even gamers who run around the worlds of Fallout and Skyrim.

By Anonymous,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


As her friends and the police search for answers, Matt Barker begins to dream of trees and black skies and something drawing closer.

Through fragments of journals, blog posts and messages, a sinister, slender figure emerges and all divisions between fiction and delusion, between nightmare and reality, begin to fall.

The urban legend of the Slender Man has inspired short fiction, viral videos, and a feature film. Gathered from online
whispers, Matt's story reveals the true power of the internet's most terrifying creation.


By Mohale Mashigo,

Book cover of Intruders: Short stories

Wole Talabi Author Of Incomplete Solutions

From the list on collections of African speculative fiction stories.

Who am I?

Novels are great. I’ve written one myself. I have also written many short stories for major science fiction and fantasy publishing venues—Asimov’s, F&SF, Analog, Lightspeed, etc. But there is something special about single-author short story collections. They are like tasting platters. They reveal running themes and can be a unique way to explore places—through the imaginations of its authors. For example, many of my stories are set in or feature characters from Nigeria. I hope you enjoy the books on this list and that they show you something new about Africa and what (some) African authors dream about. 

Wole's book list on collections of African speculative fiction stories

Why did Wole love this book?

This is a short but excellent collection of short stories that focus more on voice, concept, character, and theme than traditional plots, especially when compared to some of the other collections I have recommended but wow, does it deliver on its strengths. I like this book for its colorful and layered writing used to describe new and inventive spins on township folklore galore, tortured friendships and families, unique community bonds, and South Africans in space. These stories linger in the mind and there aren’t a lot of better ways to jump into some of South Africa’s weirdest waters than this. 

By Mohale Mashigo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Orphan sisters chase monsters of urban legend in Bloemfontein. At a busy taxi rank, a woman kills a man with her shoe. A genomicist is accused of playing God when she creates a fatherless child. Intruders is a collection that explores how it feels not to belong. These are stories of unremarkable people thrust into extraordinary situations by events beyond their control. With a unique and memorable touch, Mohale Mashigo explores the everyday ills we live with and wrestle constantly, all the while allowing hidden energies to emerge and play out their unforeseen consequences. Intruders is speculative fiction at its…

Book cover of How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions

John V. Petrocelli Author Of The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

From the list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news.

Who am I?

As an experimental social psychologist, who has conducted years of empirical research on bullshitting behavior and bullshit detection, I’ve found compelling evidence that the worst outcomes of bullshit communications are false beliefs and bad decisions. I’m convinced that all of our problems, whether they be personal, interpersonal, professional, or societal are either directly or indirectly linked to mindless bullshit reasoning and communication. I’m just sick and tired of incompetent, bullshit artists who capitalize by repackaging and selling what I and other experimental psychologists do for free. It’s time the masses learn that some of us who actually do the research on the things we write about can actually do it better.    

John's book list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news

Why did John love this book?

If there is one book I wish I’d written myself, it is How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass. One of the things I admired most about the people who shaped my education and career path most was their ability to listen carefully and ask critical questions that uncovered even more than what was first expressed. Christopher DiCarlo’s book is a manual to practicing these traits. The book provides all of the tools needed to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they’re talking about, while at the same time providing practical solutions for today’s world of misinformation. The book also convinced me that faulty reasoning can be spotted by asking the right sorts of questions—what better gift to give someone? 

By Christopher Dicarlo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this witty, incisive guide to critical thinking the author provides you with the tools to allow you to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they're talking about. These days there are many people whom we need to question: politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, clergy members, bankers, car salesmen, and your boss. This book will empower you with the ability to spot faulty reasoning and, by asking the right sorts of questions, hold people accountable not only for what they believe but how they behave.

By using this book you'll learn to analyze your own…

Dreams Underfoot

By Charles de Lint,

Book cover of Dreams Underfoot

Stephen Dedman Author Of Shadowrun: For A Few Nuyen More

From the list on lovers of urban fantasy.

Who am I?

I’ve had a passion for weirdness in mundane settings since my childhood days watching The Addams Family in a boring suburb. I grew up with the Apollo program, but as I realized I’d never be an astronaut, I increasingly turned to writing science fiction and fantasy set on Earth. I discovered role-playing games shortly after D&D came out, but when I became bored with characters who were only after money and mayhem, I found other RPGs and began writing for them. FGU’s Bushido introduced me to Japanese mythology, which inspired my first urban fantasy novel, The Art of Arrow Cutting, which led me to being invited to write Shadowrun novels.

Stephen's book list on lovers of urban fantasy

Why did Stephen love this book?

This is a collection of wonderful short stories, not a novel. It was my introduction to de Lint’s Newford, the setting of many of de Lint’s later novels and collections, a fictional composite of the best aspects of several North American cities, where beings from different mythologies co-exist with humans and interact with those who believe in them. It's such a fascinating setting, and feels so real, that I wish I could live there.

By Charles de Lint,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome to Charles de Lint’s first collection of Newford stories. Immerse yourself in his gritty fictional city—as much a character as Jilly who paints fey wonders, fiddle player Geordie seeking his stolen beloved, the conjure man and his Tree of Tales, or Paperjack revealing fortunes. Meet Gemmins who live in abandoned cars and Katrina, a mermaid so entranced by love that she’s left the cold dark water to walk in the moonlight. Visit the music clubs, the waterfront, and the alleyways where myths and magic spill into the modern world.

This collection of conceptually innovative, thematically simple stories proves…