Scary Stories to Read in the Dark

Call it an odd coincidence if you will, but Casper mattresses has been popping up in my Facebook feed over the last few weeks. Typically I ignore most of the sponsored ads, as it can be creepy how well targeted those ads really are (they have my demographic nailed down). It made me wonder how the internet knew I’d been fantasizing about and my desperate need for – in a very first world, cannot get my kid to sleep in his own bed kind of way – a soft new king size mattress*.

At least it didn’t know that I had a spider nightmare last night.

Imagine my surprise when this mattress company appeared in my inbox – talking about books and asking about my favorites, a dangerous question to ask any bookworm. In an odd turn of events, I actually returned the email. As it turns out, Casper is an interesting company, they even have a hotline that provides bedtime stories**. We got to talking about – what else?! – scary books. Specifically, we talked about the books that keep (and kept!) us up at night – the ones that had use holding a flashlight as a child and leaving the bedside lamp on for an extra few minutes as an adult. It got me to thinking, does what scares us in our childhood reading correlate to what scares us in our adult reading. That conversation was the inspiration behind this post, though certainly not the content, because as you may have noticed, those are some of my very favorite kind of books. I live all year for October.

So, you may be wondering, what scared me as a child (and what am I scaring my poor children with now):

Kids Horror Books

01. Let’s start with Goosebumps. Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine scared me half to death. There is something incredibly creepy about a possessed dummy.  I feel this way even as an adult. My son and I just finished up chapter 10 tonight.

02. In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz. The story The Green Ribbon has haunted me for years. Thanks to Google, I simply typed in “story of a girl with a ribbon around neck” and this collection popped right up. Apparently I’m not the only child it scarred for life. This is the same author who is behind the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. No surprise there.

03. Scary Stories for Sleep-overs by R. C. Welch. Why was I reading this stuff and why did my parents let me?! The ant story has stuck with for over 20 years… *SPOILER ALERT* The protagonist tortures the ants in his and farm, the ants get mad and eat him in his sleep.

04. The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene. In the second of the original Nancy Drew mysteries, Nancy’s dealing with eerie occurrences and her father’s disappearance.

05. The Twits by Roald Dahl. Twits are mean and ugly and they try and make things mean and ungly for everyone around them. A tale of revenge, kid style.

Perhaps it is because I spent my childhood filling my head with nonsense, but I’d like to think I’m pretty hard to scare. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, because it most certainly does.

Adult Horror

01. Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I swear I spent most of the book hoping Louis wasn’t going where he was going, but he was. Sometimes dead is better.

02. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. Haunting and atmospheric, this is a great one for those who love classics.

03. Phantoms by Dean Koontz. This book may be one of the more intense and thrilling books I’ve ever read. 80% of it is fantastic (endings are hard). If you’re scratching your head over the familiarity of this title, why yes, it was made into a movie starring Ben Affleck. It was made during his dark years.

04. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. This book plays on one of my personal fears – having no one believe me. An unsuccessful actor (and husband) is willing to do almost anything to succeed. Pity his poor wife. This is an excellent movie as well.

05. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. If there’s any part of you that still believes in the good of humanity, this book will kill it. Based on a true story, of course.

What scares (and scared) you? Is a king size mattress worth it? Inquiring minds want to knowAside from these books, I’m rather run of the mill – spiders, aliens, and clowns are what immediately spring to mind. And more importantly, Happy Halloween!

*In the interest of keeping it real, this post was not sponsored in any way. I am not sleeping on a brand new mattress simply for sharing books that made me reach for a flashlight. A good idea is just a good idea.
**I really do think there is something to this. I read to my sons every night before bed and generally they sleep the contented sleep of children (after I answer for the tenth time that no, Slappy is not real). The reading of bedtime stories is a lost art among adults.

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