Find the perfect scary books on the Cult of Weird Fall Reading List, a selection of creepy, paranormal and disturbing reads for the spooky season.
The air is chilling, the veil is thinning, and we once again turn to the comfort of the pages of a scary book. Whether it’s a creepy read about the horror that lurks in the dark corners of history, or the monsters lurking in your own back yard, these picks are sure to get you in the mood for spooky season.
2022 marks ten years of the Cult of Weird fall reading list! If you need more macabre in your life, see what disturbing books we recommended in previous years at the bottom of this post.
The United States of Cryptids
by J.W. Ocker
There are bizarre creatures crawling across the entire United States, lurking in our lakes, forests, swamps and skies. Join J.W. Ocker in this compendium of cryptozoology to explore the legends of these North American cryptids, from the Jersey Devil, Sasquatch, Mothman, Wendigo and Chupacrabra, to the Flatwoods Monster, Puckwudgie, Batsquatch, Lizard Man, and the Nain Rouge.
The Book of Mysteries of the Unexplained
This 640-page tome digs up a plethora of unexplained mysteries, from unsolved deaths and disappearances to the Bermuda Triangle, Jack the Ripper, the exorcism of Roland Doe, and ghosts in the White House.
The Gathering Dark: An Anthology of Folk Horror
A cemetery full of the restless dead. A town so wicked it has already burned twice, with the breath of the third fire looming. A rural, isolated bridge with a terrifying monster waiting for the completion of its summoning ritual. A lake that allows the drowned to return, though they have been changed by the claws of death. These are the shadowed, liminal spaces where the curses and monsters lurk, refusing to be forgotten.
by Sarah Andersen
Do you hate social gatherings? Dodge cameras? Enjoy staying up just a little too late at night? You might have more in common with your local cryptid than you think! Enter the world of Cryptid Club, a look inside the adventures of elusive creatures ranging from Mothman to the Loch Ness Monster. This humorous new series celebrates the unique qualities that make cryptids so desperately sought after by mankind (to no avail). After all, it’s what makes us different that also makes us beautiful.
Miss Peregrine’s Museum of Wonders
by Ransom Riggs
A deluxe companion guide to the #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. Everything you need to know about the peculiar world, written by Miss Peregrine herself. Gloriously rich and utterly delightful, Miss Peregrine’s Museum of Wonders is an indispensable guide to the peculiar world, perfect for longtime fans and new readers alike. Covering everything from how to blend in with suspicious normals to the most popular time loops to visit as a temporal tourist, this essential volume is ideal for anyone curious about the world of Miss Peregrine: its strange history, curious practices, fascinating places, most famous (and infamous) names, and much more.
When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson
The Stoker Award-winning chilling anthology of 18 short stories in tribute to Shirley Jackson, a seminal writer of horror and mystery fiction, whose legacy resonates globally today. Chilling, human, poignant and strange, her stories have inspired a generation of writers and readers. This collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by, and in tribute to, Shirley Jackson features work by Joyce Carol Oates, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Hand, Laird Barron, and more.
How to Sell a Haunted House
by Grady Hendrix
When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn’t want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world.
Mostly, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. But she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.
Some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them…
by Lindsey Fitzharris
Lindsey Fitzharris, the award-winning author of The Butchering Art, presents the compelling, true story of a visionary surgeon who rebuilt the faces of the First World War’s injured heroes, and in the process ushered in the modern era of plastic surgery.
From the moment the first machine gun rang out over the Western Front, one thing was clear: humankind’s military technology had wildly surpassed its medical capabilities. Bodies were battered, gouged, hacked, and gassed. The First World War claimed millions of lives and left millions more wounded and disfigured. In the midst of this brutality, however, there were also those who strove to alleviate suffering. The Facemaker tells the extraordinary story of such an individual: the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, who dedicated himself to reconstructing the burned and broken faces of the injured soldiers under his care.
Gillies, a Cambridge-educated New Zealander, became interested in the nascent field of plastic surgery after encountering the human wreckage on the front. Returning to Britain, he established one of the world’s first hospitals dedicated entirely to facial reconstruction. There, Gillies assembled a unique group of practitioners whose task was to rebuild what had been torn apart, to re-create what had been destroyed. At a time when losing a limb made a soldier a hero, but losing a face made him a monster to a society largely intolerant of disfigurement, Gillies restored not just the faces of the wounded but also their spirits.
The Facemaker places Gillies’s ingenious surgical innovations alongside the dramatic stories of soldiers whose lives were wrecked and repaired. The result is a vivid account of how medicine can be an art, and of what courage and imagination can accomplish in the presence of relentless horror.
The UFO Hotspot Compendium
by Craig Campobasso
The definitive UFO hunter’s bucket list of legendary and active UFO and alien hotspots in North America
The UFO Hotspot Compendium will take you on your own behind-the-scenes trip to some of the most visited UFO hotspots—areas where aliens and cryptids are spotted, forbidden scary locations, as well as terrifying places only the brave dare to visit.
Based on first-hand information gleaned from MUFON’s trained investigators and researchers, interviews with people who have had extraordinary UFO experiences, and the author’s travel to many of the locations, this book is a guided tour of thirty-five of the most remarkable UFO-related sites: the when, where, backstory, investigations, and things to do when visiting the site. Included are MUFON’s top twenty-five places known for the most UFO sightings, legendary spots known for UFO activity, alien kitsch sites, locations that have the added benefit of sacred retreats, and places you might not want to visit but should know about.
From the Skinwalker Ranch to Area 51 to Joshua Tree, The UFO Hotspot Compendium will be a hit with true believers, the mildly curious, and those intrigued by all things off-planet. Experience the wonder and terror of alien abduction, a spaceship crash, or a UFO sighting from the safety of your own home.
The Art of Darkness: A Treasury of the Morbid, Melancholic and Macabre
by S. Elizabeth
The Art of Darkness is a visually rich sourcebook featuring eclectic artworks that have been inspired and informed by the morbid, melancholic, and macabre.
Throughout history, artists have been obsessed with darkness – creating works that haunt and horrify, mesmerise and delight, and play on our innermost fears. Gentileschi took revenge with paint in Judith Slaying Holofernes while Bosch depicted fearful visions of Hell that still beguile. Victorian Britain became strangely obsessed with the dead and in Norway Munch explored anxiety and fear in one of the most famous paintings in the world (The Scream, 1893). Today, the Chapman Brothers, Damien Hirst and Louise Bourgeois, as well as many lesser known artists working in the margins, are still drawn to all that is macabre.
From Dreams & Nightmares to Matters of Mortality, Depravity & Destruction to Gods & Monsters – this book introduces sometimes disturbing and often beautiful artworks that indulge our greatest fears, uniting us as humans from century to century.
But, while these themes might scare us – can’t they also be heartening and beautiful? Exploring and examining the artworks with thoughtful and evocative text, S. Elizabeth offers insight into each artist’s influences and inspirations, asking what comfort can be found in facing our demons? Why are we tempted by fear and the grotesque? And what does this tell us about the human mind?
Of course, sometimes there is no good that can come from the sensibilities of darkness and the sickly shivers and sensations they evoke. These are uncomfortable feelings, and we must sit for a while with these shadows – from the safety of our armchairs.
Artists covered include Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Francisco de Goya, Leonora Carrington, John Everett Millais, Tracey Emin, Vincent van Gogh, Barbara Hepworth, Paul Cezanne, and Salvador Dalí, as well as scores more. With over 200 carefully curated artworks from across the centuries, The Art of Darkness examines all that is dark in a bid to haunt and hearten.
An Illustrated History of Ghosts
by Adam Allsuch Boardman
From haunted ranches to epic maritime legends of the 19th century, devour stories of our world’s oldest hauntings and unexplainable phenomena in hair-raising accounts of the afterlife.
Get to the heart of the unexplainable in Adam’s third addition to the “llustrated History” series filled with private seances and ectoplasm to spiritual mediums and spirit photography galore. Fans of conspiracy and strange phenomena will transport themselves across the centuries through diagrammatic illustrations paired with well-researched facts about exorcism, mediums, ghost photos, talking boards, and connections to after life.
Whether you are a ghost fanatic or simply piqued by curiosity, you’ll get a robust deep dive into the experiences of paranormal occurrences, alternative explanations for these occurrences, and our culture’s fascination with them. Prepare to embark on a strange journey that allows skeptical inquiry, or perhaps the possibility of believing in the afterlife!
The Book of Seances
by Claire Goodchild
A beautifully mysterious guide to conducting seances and communing with the spirits in our conscious and unconscious lives.
As long as people have lived, they have longed for wisdom and comfort from those who have died. In The Book of Séances, artist, author, and witch Claire Goodchild takes readers on a journey through the historical landscape of spiritualism and guides questers through safe practices for cultivating a connection with the other side.
The Book of Séances details the four types of spiritual encounters, teaches us how to protect ourselves, and breaks down the different tools — from spirit boards and tarot to dominoes and charms — that are essential for opening a bridge to the afterlife. Whether conducting solitary or group séances, this book offers a way to safely glimpse beyond the veil.
Through her evocative writing and singular art, Claire provides a comprehensive history of the séance, alongside an immersive guide to accessing and communing with the spirit world. The Book of Séances provides hauntingly lovely signposts into our own personal mythology as revealed through our conscious and unconscious lives.
All the Living and the Dead
by Hayley Campbell
A deeply compelling exploration of the death industry and the people – morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, executioners – who work in it and what led them there.
We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what we’re so afraid of, when we are never given the chance to look?
Fueled by a childhood fascination with death, journalist Hayley Campbell searches for answers in the people who make a living by working with the dead. Along the way, she encounters mass fatality investigators, embalmers, and a former executioner who is responsible for ending sixty-two lives. She meets gravediggers who have already dug their own graves, visits a cryonics facility in Michigan, goes for late-night Chinese with a homicide detective, and questions a man whose job it is to make crime scenes disappear.
Through Campbell’s incisive and candid interviews with these people who see death every day, she asks: Why would someone choose this kind of life? Does it change you as a person? And are we missing something vital by letting death remain hidden? A dazzling work of cultural criticism, All the Living and the Dead weaves together reportage with memoir, history, and philosophy, to offer readers a fascinating look into the psychology of Western death.