Spooky reads for your Halloween weekend

photo of spooky books in a bookstore
Nick Quinlan/Staff

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Throughout the years, Halloween has progressively become one of the most adored holidays — with festive activities like pumpkin patches experienced with loved ones to spookily curated lo-fi YouTube videos to keep you afloat in the middle of fall semester. Not to mention the flood of precious pets in costumes found all over the internet. However, there is another aspect of this time of year that is equally as fitting that often gets overlooked: books. Reading can be such a cathartic method of dealing with overwhelming stress or difficulty sleeping. So, give yourself a break this Halloween weekend and pick up a novel from the list below. 

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

Now before you roll your eyes, let me explain. The birth of this novel occurred during a rainy evening — much like the weather we’ve experienced lately. As a result of being trapped indoors, a competition of ghostly stories arose between Shelley and her friends. Thus, “Frankenstein” as we know it came to be. It consists of scientist Victor Frankenstein and his creation who remains nameless throughout its storyline. The reader follows the outcome of Victor’s regretful choice of creating his monster. With murders, chases and vengeance galore, you either sympathize with Victor or his monster by the end of it. While this classic novel has made its way into the high school curriculum, there’s no denying that it’s the perfect Halloween read. I mean come on, children have dressed up like Victor’s green monster with bolts on both sides of their head for years. 

“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gothic, suspenseful and creepy are the main words that seemingly repeat when readers describe Garcia’s novel. Which, if I may, are quintessential for a wickedly spooky weekend read. Published in 2020, it has earned the Pacific Northwest Book Award and Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror. Simply put, there’s no avoiding its magic. While there isn’t literal magic involved, Garcia gained inspiration from Disney’s popular fairy tales among other classic works by famous authors. On the contrary, the story focuses on a woman by the name of Noemí Taboada who receives a warning from her cousin that her husband has plans to murder her. Thus, we travel through Mexico City in the 1950s alongside her journey of finding evidence for such a claim. 

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

While this novel by Tartt is quite an extensive read for students who are assigned countless pages for class a day, perhaps this brief blurb will persuade you. “The Secret History” is both an intellectual and murder mystery without the “whodunnit” question as it is revealed on the very first page. Despite this, the novel continues identifying the instances leading up to the murder and what happens afterward. It follows a group of wealthy university students studying ancient Greek while finding ways to keep their murder hidden within the depths of the New England snow. While the imagery of their winter is not quite what pertains to the sort we experience here in California, it is certain to get you in the spirit for the holidays — if you aren’t already. 

The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe

While Edgar Allen Poe too has his work highlighted in high school curriculum, there’s no avoiding his work this Halloween weekend. From “The Tell-Tale Heart” to “Annabel Lee,” there are definitely plenty of elements filled with gore. With numerous options to choose from, why not make your way through a few of his complete works this Halloween? As a result of his work being prominent in classroom settings, there are websites dedicated to the preservation of his writing. With that being said, there are hundreds of short stories and poems to browse through. Unlike “The Secret History,” you can explore the works of Edgar Allen Poe for as long or short as you want, which is perfect for a weekend booked with autumn and Halloween fun. 

Whether you decide to read one of the novels mentioned above or are simply inspired to take up reading as a hobby again, remember that it’s the intention that matters. Allotting time for yourself is the best way to nourish your mental health. Happy trick-or-reading, bears!

Contact Anyssa Torres at [email protected].