Reader’s Advisory: Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

Now that the last Hunger Games movie is in movie theaters, the beloved trilogy is officially over. Now what? Lucky for you, the UGL has put together a list of young adult novels that have everything you loved about The Hunger Games and may even leave you asking, “Katniss who?” Suzanne Collins’s series may live in your heart forever, but the time has come to test out some other dystopian young adult fiction. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown’s science fiction novel, Red Rising, is the first in a three-part series that blends oppression, rebellion, and an impossibly strong lead character. The story’s teen protagonist, Darrow, lives in a mining colony on Mars and learns about government secrets when he is rescued by an underground revolutionary group. As Darrow attempts to seek justice on the ruling elite, the action heats up and it becomes impossible to set this book down. If you’re looking for a fast-paced story, this is it.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Tahir’s thought-provoking, action-packed novel is the perfect follow-up for The Hunger Games if you are craving complex characters. The story follows Laia, a slave, and Elias, a soldier, as they both seek freedom from the tyrannical government, inspired by ancient Rome, that destroys everything they hold dear. Tahir’s novel is a heart-wrenching look at what it means to be human and includes everything from gritty action to complex romance.

Matched by Allie Condie

Condie’s book follows a strong female protagonist that has to decide between listening to authorities and standing up for what she believes in. Cassia gets matched with her perfect partner by Officials who have control over people’s love, life, and death. When Cassia falls in love with someone else, she has to decide whether she will obey or follow her own path and fight back. This novel is perfect for anyone who preferred the themes of The Hunger Games, but not the violence.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Aveyard’s fantasy novel follows seventeen-year-old Mare Barrow as she discovers her magical ability and navigates a dangerous, divided society. Mare is torn between the Red commoners that she grew up among and the Silver elites that are gifted with superhuman abilities. Filled with class tension, betrayal, and moments of romance, this clever book is the perfect read if you are looking for a self-aware, strong female character.

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend takes place in what was once the western United States, an area faced with endless war. The story follows June, a wealthy military prodigy, and Day, the country’s most wanted criminal. When June’s brother is murdered and Day is the number-one suspect, their lives become intertwined. June seeks to avenge her brother’s death, but the two characters soon realize they both have a common enemy. This suspense-driven novel is full of twists and turns and provides an interesting look at the role of government and power.

What are your favorite YA books? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC)!

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Reader’s Advisory: Halloween Graphic Novels

Well Club UGLers, it is getting ever closer to Halloween which means it’s time to make costumes, eat candy corn, and scare ourselves with movies, books, and haunted houses. In this week’s Reader’s Advisory, we are going to give you some graphic novel reading suggestions that up the ante on chills, thrills, and blood. The Undergraduate Library has one of the biggest graphic novel collections in the country, so stay tuned because there is bound to be something you’ll like.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Broshol

Anya’s Ghost, by Russian-American Vera Broshol, is a creepy, yet tame, ghost story option for those who prefer not to be kept up at night. Anya is a Russian immigrant navigating high school with no friends and low self-esteem when she unexpectedly falls into a well and meets a ghost. When Anya is rescued, she also rescues the ghost, who she adopts as her new best friend. The best laid plans go awry in this ghostly graphic novel perfect for someone who gets a bit squeamish in a horror film!

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

If your favorite part of a graphic novel is the artwork, Through the Woods is sure to suit your tastes. This horror graphic novel by Canadian lesbian author Emily Carroll is composed of five spine-tingling fairy tales gone wrong. From kidnapped sisters in the cold winter to a murdered wife’s ghost, these five tales and the horrifically beautiful depictions will be just creepy enough for people who like fear without the gore.

Dark Metro by Tokyo Calen and illustrated by Yoshiken

For those who prefer manga, Dark Metro is a perfect Halloween choice. This exploration of the Tokyo underground beneath the subways. The boundaries between life and death are challenged by those who spend time here with Seiya, the guide of the land of the dead. These short stories about people preyed upon by the ghosts of the city’s terrifying underworld will please those who are a little into the dark side. This creepy manga has two volumes to keep you reading all Halloween weekend.

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb

If manga isn’t your thing, you could always go to the tried and true Batman for your source of Halloween entertainment. In Batman: The Long Halloween Batman must stop a serial killer called Holiday. Holiday is a crazed maniac who kills people every holiday. In this story, Batman’s greatest foe is defeating this villain while also wrestling with some of the most iconic members of his rogues gallery including Falcone, Two-Face, and the Joker. This graphic novel is sure to delight the murder-mystery fans in us all. Check this one out if you need to quench your superhero fix with a Halloween twist.

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles

Last on the list is easily the most brutal and bloody. 30 Days of Night, takes place in a small town in Alaska where the sun does not rise for 30 days. Vampires come to the town to openly kill and feed on the townspeople. How will this seemingly endless vampire rampage end? You could always check out the graphic novel! This graphic novel is definitely for fans of vampires – and those that aren’t on the squeamish side.

For more Halloween graphic novel suggestions, check out our handy chart:

Halloween Graphic Novels

Have any other suggestions for frightful graphic novels? Tweet at us (@askundergrad) or contact us on Facebook (Undergraduate Library at UIUC)! Happy reading, Club UGL!

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Reader’s Advisory: Book to Film

Well it appears that the summer is over and school is back to dominate your life. With school comes endless amounts of homework and social events that could really slow down your progress on that constantly growing “to-read” list. Unfortunately for you, your time to read these books before they are inevitably adapted into movies could be coming to an end. From Sci-Fi to young adult dystopians, no genre is safe from the entertainment machine that is the movie industry! You better put your reading hat on, you do not want the movie to ruin the book!

Here at the UGL, we understand your plight, so this week’s reader’s advisory is focusing on books that will be adapted into movies during the Fall semester.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

First on the list is James Dashner’s The Scorch Trials. If you were a fan of the first book in the series, then you will be quite pleased to read The Scorch Trials. Centered on the Gladers after their adventures and hardships in the maze, the story sees the group from the first story face even more tragic situations and encounter new friends. From start to finish, this book is full of excitement and with the adaptation, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, coming out September 18th, you better get off your butt and do some reading.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Have you ever wondered if you would be able to survive in the wilderness with just your wit and your smarts? Well stop wondering, you would definitely not make it. But Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian, depicts someone who is attempting to survive on Mars with just those tools (and a couple degrees in botany and engineering). In Weir’s groundbreaking novel, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after a freak accident. Now, against all odds Mark must survive long enough for NASA to save him. Humorous, dark, and amazingly hopeful, Weir’s novel is the go-to read of the fall. With the adaptation coming out October 2nd, you have a couple weeks to read this page turner.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Next on your young adult list is the final chapter of the popular Hunger Games trilogy: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. After the last hunger games, which saw the launch of a revolution, Mockingjay sees Katniss’ story end with a violent revolution, secrets, and love. With the success of the previous films and pending release of Mockingjay Pt. 2 in theaters on November 20, you have some time to read this one, but why wait?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Let’s be completely honest, you probably skipped Frankenstein in your high school class. So what better time to read Mary Shelley’s magnum opus than now? Frankenstein tells the classic story of a doctor attempting to create life. Frankenstein has been spoofed and adapted into a number of different movies, novels, and plays, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from trying again. Harry Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe) is starring in an adaptation that tells the story from Igor’s perspective titled Victor Frankenstein. With this coming out November 25th, you better start scheduling some “me time” with Mary Shelley.

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

Guys and gals, Moby Dick was real! In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex tells the real life story of man’s encounter with nature and giant whales. The novel, by Nathaniel Philbrick, tells the story of the survivors of the Essex, a whaleship that was attacked by a sperm whale in November 1820. Tragedy after tragedy befalls the survivors of the attack who were eventually saved in February of 1821. This is a must read for non-fiction aficionados and it is also a great way to mentally prepare to see Chris Hemsworth (yes, that is indeed Thor) on the big screen once again. In the Heart of Sea comes out December 11th which sounds like a thrilling way to kick start your Christmas vacation.

Which of these fine books are you most looking forward to read? Let us know by tweeting @AskUndergrad. All of these and more can be found at the Undergraduate Library or online using the library catalog.

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New Science Fiction Books at the UGL

Are you a fan of space travel? Do you crave futuristic storylines? Are you interested in reading about science, technology, and parallel universes? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you’re in luck. The UGL has recently added several new science fiction works to its collection. Whether you’re looking for a standalone cyberpunk novel, or a space opera series, the UGL has you covered.

Nigerians in Space by Deji Bryce Olukotun


Olukotun’s debut novel is equal parts action and history. Nigerians in Space, which is primarily set in Cape Town, combines African politics, culture, and thrilling adventure. This afrofuturist science fiction novel is a great choice for readers that want a little bit of everything.


The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle

The Atlantis Gene is the first novel in the Origin Mystery Trilogy. Riddle’s novel takes place at the start of the next human evolution. This novel takes both the past and future of humans into consideration with great detail. The Atlantis Gene is a great choice for anyone who is looking to be immersed in incredible detail and a fast-paced plot.


The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata

Nagata’s Locus award winning novel blends cyberpunk and hard science fiction to tell a story about nanotechnology, privilege, and strong female characters. The Bohr Maker is the first book in the Nanotech Succession, a collection of standalone novels. Readers looking to think deeply about what it means to be human should consider checking this book out.


Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Trading in Danger is the first of five novels in the Vatta’s War space opera series. Kylara Vatta, the novel’s heroine, forgoes tradition and chooses to join the military rather than pursue a career in her family’s business. Things don’t quite go as planned and soon Ky’s easy journey as a ship captain turns into an adventure filled with interplanetary rebellion and exciting space battles. This book is great for readers that are looking to become immersed in an action-packed series about military strategy and brilliant characters.

Tau Zero by Poul Anderson

Tau Zero is a hard science fiction novel that fuses emotion with technology. Anderson’s novel follows the crew of a starship as they embark on a journey to reach a distant star system. With in-depth scientific explanations of how time, relativity, and the cosmos work, this novel is a great read for hardcore science enthusiasts.

What are your favorite science fiction novels? Let us know in the comments!

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New Mystery Books at the UGL

From Miss Marple to Sherlock Holmes, many of the greatest mystery novels act as the playgrounds for brilliant and strong protagonists. This remains true for contemporary mystery books and series, as well. Their intense personalities and sharp intellects augment the intriguing worlds of crime they inhabit. Whether it is a psychological thriller or a classic detective novel, these characters pull you, the reader, into their psyches. This makes mystery novels great for addictive summer reading, akin to ghost stories around the campfire. Luckily, the UGL has a huge collection to choose from, depending on your taste!

Motive: Alex Delaware by Jonathon Kellerman


For a great psychological suspense series, you do not need to look further than Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware. With a degree in psychology, and numerous published works on psychology and psychopathology, Kellerman understands how to get into the minds of his hero and his villains. Alex Delaware is a forensic psychologist who assists the Los Angeles Police Department in solving crimes. This series is notable for the inclusion of a gay police officer who acts as Delaware’s sidekick. With twenty-eight additions, undertaking this series is a substantial yet fruitful endeavor.

Rizzoli and Isles: The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen


If you have ever flipped through the cable channels – or merely keep up with current television trends – you have probably heard of Rizzoli and Isles, the popular TNT drama about a police detective and a medical examiner who team up to solve crimes. But did you know that the television show is based on a book series by Tess Gerritsen? Gerritsen received a medical degree from Stanford University before starting her writing career. This gives her a unique advantage when tackling the medical side of her thrillers, including accurately portraying medical examiner, Maura Isles. This is a great series to read if you like medical thrillers and if you like books with female protagonists.

Mortal Causes: Inspector Rebus by Ian Rankin


If you enjoy rogue detectives in the vein of Sherlock Holmes, Ian Rankin’s work might work well for you. While studying for his PhD in Scottish literature, Rankin began writing a mystery series that would ultimately turn in the award winning, and very popular, Inspector Rebus series. It chronicles the cynical and deeply flawed Inspector John Rebus. Written in real time, Rebus ages along with the series, growing both in age and wisdom. This is, perhaps, what makes this series so rewarding to return to with each new addition. ITV did a television adaptation of the first thirteen novels in 2000.

The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor


Interested in historical fiction? In his more recent works, Andrew Taylor expertly interweaves mystery with history. Set in 1778 New York, The Scent of Death chronicles Edward Savill’s adventures as a loyalist in Revolutionary America and the chain of murders that pull him into a dark, secret world that makes him, and the reader, question his preconceptions of loyalty. Taylor does an excellent job of mingling history with crime, emulating an American Gothic style, atmosphere, and plot that culminate in a shocking climax. A must read for anyone who enjoys a historical mystery!

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear


A historical crime novel? A psychological thriller? A mystery novel with a strong female protagonist? Jacqueline Winspear combines all three when writing her bestselling Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie Dobbs is an orphan who, through a benefactor, receives a degree in psychology before World War One breaks out. Years after the war, she sets up an independent shop as a Psychologist and Investigator. When an ordinary case turns into a multiple murder, Maisie realizes she needs to confront her own troubled past to solve it. This series owes much of its addictive nature to Maisie’s resilient characterization.

You can find these mystery novels and many more at the UGL. So stop in and get lost in a thrilling mystery!

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New Fantasy Books at the UGL

The fantasy genre has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years with the success of the Game of Thrones television show based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. There is an abundance of good fantasy literature, both old and new. This encompasses the familiar swords and sorcery setting, Lovecraftian weird fiction, fantasy horror, and other works that subvert genre expectations. The UGL recently added a number of fantasy works to its collection. Let’s take a brief look at some of the more notable additions.

Dreamsongs: Volumes I and II by George R.R. Martin


GRRM now looms large over the fantasy genre, accompanied by fellow master J.R.R. Tolkien. If you’ve been eagerly waiting for Martin to finish The Winds of Winter, his next release in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, you can bide your time by checking out this two-volume collection of some of his shorter work. These volumes include Hugo and Nebula award-winning short stories, as well as Martin’s novella “The Hedge Knight,” which acts as a prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire.

Image courtesy of Rmdolhen at Wikimedia Commons

The Works of Michael Moorcock


Although he’s not as well-known as Tolkien and GRRM, British author Michael Moorcock is one of the most critically acclaimed authors working in the fantasy and sci-fi genres. Moorcock has been publishing since the 1960s, producing a body of work that can be daunting to the uninitiated. Thankfully, the AV Club has written a helpful primer to the works of Moorcock. The author is perhaps best known for his character Elric of Melnibone, an albino prince with a magical sword called Stormbringer. Elric’s adventures have been re-released in a multi-volume collection, which starts with Elric: The Stealer of Souls.

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton


The winner of the 2004 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, Tooth and Claw takes the familiar Victorian romance novel (think Anthony Trollope) and gives it a major twist. Rather than focusing on cultured, upper-class humans, Walton instead chooses to populate her plot with firebreathing dragons. The intricate plot of Victorian novels is left intact, making this a must read for fans of Dickensian literature who are craving something a little more fantastical or for people who loved Watership Down.

Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer


Jeff Vandermeer, noted author of the New Weird genre and resident of Tallahassee, Florida, captures the Sunshine State’s dark side in this mysterious trilogy of novels. All published in 2014, these award-winning novels (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) revolve around an abandoned ecological disaster zone called Area X which is controlled by a government agency called The Southern Reach. Highly recommended for fans of Weird Fiction, environmental literature, and thrilling mysteries.

Books of Blood by Clive Barker


If you prefer your fantasy with a heavy helping of horror, look no further than the collections of short stories in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. Barker is perhaps most well-known in popular culture for writing the works that the Hellraiser and Candyman film series are based on. Barker’s work definitely leans heavily towards horror, but contains fantasy elements as well. Recommended for fans of horror film, Stephen King, and those who like to terrify themselves in short doses.


These are just some of the fantasy works the UGL has recently added to the collection. Take a look around our bookstacks on the lower level, particularly in the P shelves, for other fantastical literature.

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Secret Societies: Revealed!

Secret societies have flourished for many centuries in many different cultures. Though some, like the Shriners, perform semi-public activities, not much is known about what goes on within them – that’s why they’re called ‘secret.’ This lack of knowledge has led the mysterious groups to captivate our cultural imagination, as unexplained coincidences and nefarious plots are attributed to them.

If you’ve watched The Good Shepherd, National Treasure, or read about the V.F.D in A Series of Unfortunate Events, then you’ve already been exposed to how fun and engrossing the idea of a sinister secret society can be. To help you find more things to enjoy in that vein, here’s a round-up of books that feature shadowy groups, conspiracy theories, and men in fezzes.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, conspiracy-wise, start with the Illuminatus! trilogy. Every weirdo theory out there is covered, and connected to the most secretest secret society of all – the Illuminati. There are lots of symbolic eyeballs, and you’ll be eyeballing your surroundings after reading it, especially that buck – what’s the deal with that spooky staring pyramid, anyway?

 The New Avengers: Illuminati by Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Reed, and Jim Cheung

This is a kinder, gentler Illuminati. Sort of. A gathering of well-known powerful Marvel comics characters are revealed as having manipulated several important events from behind the scenes. Their intentions are mostly good, but as with many tales of good versus evil, things get muddy, and what Professor Xavier, Tony Stark, and Doctor Strange (among others) resort to meet their goals may not always be so nice.

 The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin

Can you have a good secret society/conspiracy theory reading list without Nazis? No, you cannot. Nazis are the fallback conspiracy of literature at large. So, here is a book about secret Nazis hiding in South America and plotting to kill six aging men. Why do they want to kill these six men in particular? What are the connections between them and the exiled SS members? The writing has been described as ‘cinematic,’ which explains why there is a movie version.

The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White

The members of the secret society in this group want to save the world and make it a better place – but very slowly, over hundreds of years and multiple reincarnations. One could say they want to do so in increments. The plan seems to be progressing well, if at a glacial place, but then something goes wrong with the lovebirds who star in the story, and they go wrong rather quickly, as they often do.

Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society, a Visual Guide by Adam Parfrey

Most of the secret societies on this list are fictional, but as we mentioned before, there have been real ones throughout history. This book takes a comprehensive look at the secret fraternal societies of America in particular, describing their history, traditions, and influence. As indicated by the ‘visual guide’ part of the title, almost every page features reproductions of fraternal memorabilia, including many snapshots of men in aprons and silly hats.

Alright, we’re done conspiring to bring you fun things to read – for now. We’ll duck back behind our librarian curtain and let you take over – what are your favorite books or movies about secret societies? Let us know in the comments. Bonus points if you write it in code.


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Read.Watch.Play: The winners

Don’t let the cold weather get you down – February is an awesome time to curl up with a nice warm book, watch a movie with friends, or play a fun video game from the UGL collection.  And who better to recommend one than the winners of our READ.WATCH.PLAY contest from last Fall.

We promised to make then library-famous, and now we have. Please join us in congratulating the first three of our six winners – Grant Wilson, Liz Armstrong, and Maggie Wolfe, who can’t wait to share some of their favorites with you.  Check out their amazing choices below, photographed in our highly literary video production studio, and look for their posters on the upper level of the UGL.

First up, we have Liz Armstrong, who chose Pride and Prejudice, the movie (the Keira Knightley version).  With Valentine’s Day coming up, take a break to remind yourself how love can overcome any obstacle

Watch! with Liz Armstrong. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Watch! with Liz Armstrong. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Next, we have Grant Wilson who recommends “Unwind” by Neal Shusterman.  Set in a dystopian future, this science fiction novel brings you action, excitement, and plot twists framing a thoughtful discussion of a hugely-relevant social issue.


Read! with Grant Wilson. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library

Read! with Grant Wilson. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library


And third, we have Ms. Maggie Wolfe, who shares a favorite of hers, “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare. Find inspiration in the words of the immortal bard, which still feel connect to the lives of college students today.  When things feel out of your hands, Maggie encourages us to think of Prospero, entreating “let your indulgences set me free.”

Read! with Maggie Wolfe. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library.

Read! with Maggie Wolfe. Photo courtesy of the Undergraduate Library.

A photo shoot and your very own poster sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Be on the lookout for our next Read.Watch.Play contest, and start planning your own poster now.

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The combination of narrative and dialogue with sequenced illustrations is generally what sets a graphic novel apart from other literary forms. Speech bubbles between characters move the plot along, and expository notes from the author help us follow the illustrated action. Some artists, however, focus exclusively on the ‘graphic’ part of graphic novels, and create works with no words at all. In the following books, there are no sentences or paragraphs, but that doesn’t mean nothing is said.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

First things first, if you haven’t already read “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan, pick it up right now. For those of you who have come a long way to attend UIUC, or who are still getting used to your new college environment, this book is a gentle, comforting tale of finding your bearings in a strange land. The illustrations are high detailed, but soft and warm. It’s the best picture book for adults, period – though children can enjoy it, too, of course.

Six Novels in Woodcuts by Lynd Ward

Before graphic novels, there were wordless novels: long series of woodcuts which, when viewed in sequence, told a story. Lynd Ward was the first prominent American artist to work in this proto-graphic-novel form, and we have all 6 of his stark works for you to enjoy. You can also read more about wordless novels in general in “Wordless Books” by David A. Beronä (lots of words in that one, though).

Mister O. by Lewis Trondheim

Mister O is a small person. Mister O is shaped like an O. Mister O would like to cross that chasm so that he can continue his walk, but everything in the world seems to conspire to prevent him from doing so – cranky birds, aliens, poorly aimed cannons… It’s very simple, but sometimes the simplest pictures are best. There’s a punchline on every page – almost instant gratification!

Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring

While “The Arrival” (above) focuses on making a new home in a new place, “Congress of the Animals” is more about what happens when you leave home and have no idea where you are. Frank, a small buck-toothed critter, escapes his safe, but stifling environment and journeys through bizarre, woodcut-esque landscapes. Stuff gets real weird, but if you’re into it, you can check out the similarly wordless “Weathercraft” by the same author, which the publisher describes as containing “32 pages of almost incomprehensible suffering.”

Greetings from Hellville by Thomas Ott

As the title implies, the short stories in this collection are hellish and disturbing; finely-textured nightmares in which nothing goes right. The artists Thomas Ott draws inspiration from early silent horror movies, so give ’em a look if you want to be seriously creeped out (and possibly scared speechless, much like the characters). You can also check out more of Ott’s work in “R.I.P: Best of 1985-2004;” just leave your nightlight on.

Sshhhh! by Jason

What an appropriate title for a book with no words. This is a collection of 10 short vignettes that follow a bird-headed man in a hat through journeys simultaneously mundane and surreal. Bird-head man explores love, jealousy, parenthood, aging, death, and isolation, in absolute contemplative silence. If you dig Jason’s style but want a little more conversation with your illustration, try another of his works, “Tell Me Something,” which (aptly enough) has some dialogue.

We think we’ve said enough about stories that thrive on a lack of words. Do you have a favorite graphic novel without words? Tell us about in the comments…or draw us a picture, if you’re really in the spirit!

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Classic Horror Stories Readers’ Advisory

Halloween season is here! Although there are many things to enjoy about the holiday (dressing up in silly costumes, eating tons of candy, the return of the NBA, etc.),a favorite part of Halloween is the tradition of reading scary stories. You can be scared witless by a story at any time of the year, but around this time feels just right to curl up with a scary book as the leaves are beginning to turn.


Horror fiction has a long, rich history. Many modern horror novels and films are influenced by the classic horror stories of yesteryear. The following reader’s advisory are horror stories and novels whose frights have withstood the test of time.


The Raven: Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

 Arguably the father of the horror short story, Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most notable writers in the horror/suspense genre. Poe is perhaps best known for his poem, “The Raven,” but his short stories are where the true scares can be found. This collection includes the titular poem, as well as nail-biters like “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” Recommended if you like Gothic literature, detective stories, and mystery.

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

 This 1895 collection of weird, supernatural short stories has experienced something of a renaissance this year. The cause behind this spike in interest is the HBO series “True Detective”, which heavily referenced Chambers’ work in its suspenseful first season (ex: The Yellow King, Carcosa, etc.). American horror master H.P. Lovecraft was also heavily influenced by this collection. Recommended if you like supernatural stories and/or if you’re a “True Detective” fan waiting for Season 2.


“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

 Published in 1898, this novella is a literary tale of psychology and the supernatural. Given its short length, this is a good choice if you’re looking for an evening of mystery. Like many of the best horror stories, this novella is still inspiring a debate over whether the ghosts in the tale are real or merely imagined. Recommended if you like psychological literature, ghost stories, and New Criticism.

Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft

 Despite not being widely recognized during his lifetime, H.P. Lovecraft is now one of the most celebrated authors of Horror and Weird Fiction. Although not all of his work falls into the horror genre, Lovecraft’s short stories and novellas have plenty of terrifying and eerie moments. This collection contains all of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories, including his most famous story, “The Call of Cthulhu,” as well as his legendary novella, “At the Mountains of Madness.” Recommended if you like terrifying creatures, complex mythologies, and artist H.R. Giger’s work on the Alien films.


The Shining by Stephen King

 One of Stephen King’s best works, The Shining is a quintessential haunted house (or hotel) story. Although Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation is excellent and quite scary at times, the book is way more terrifying. Set at a luxurious mountain hotel in Colorado, The Shining explores what happens when the Overlook Hotel closes for the winter and aspiring novelist Jack Torrance and his family stay on as caretakers. Recommended if you like supernatural terror, haunted houses, and being scared of bathtubs.


These five works merely scratch the surface of the scares that horror literature has to offer. What are your favorite scary stories or films? Tell us in the comments below. Happy haunting!

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