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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Book collection presents an assortment of the horror genre, gets readers ready for Halloween

Colin Zelinski

The best scary stories used to be told around a crackling fire or between the pages of a good book. Now, most nail-bitters are told at the modern movie theater, with screens as wide as 72 feet. These movies are often accompanied by blood and appendages jumping from the screen at viewers.

But for horror fans who are interested in getting scared the old-fashioned way, The Daily Texan has compiled a short list of scary books you should consider reading for Halloween. Note that this list does not aim to rank “the best” but instead offers a sample of the multidimensional horror genre.

“World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks (2007) Zombie

“World War Z” is a history book of a nonexistent zombie war that almost wiped out mankind. Written after the near-apocalypse, Max Brooks assumes the role of a nonfiction writer hoping to recap the human side of the horrific experience. The narrative is told through first-person testimony and Q-and-A’s of eyewitnesses to the war or high-ranking government officials. In “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War,” humanity survives the zombie apocalypse. It is a terrifying experience and one of the most engaging zombie stories written.

“The Shining” by Stephen King (1977) Psychological Thriller

No horror book list would be complete without a novel by Stephen King. Although trying to choose just one King novel is a conundrum, “The Shining” may be King’s most well known work (after “Carrie,” that is.) In the book, aspiring novelist Jack Torrance moves his family to an abandoned hotel so he can focus on his writing. However, the hotel is haunted and the presence of his telepathic son brings the hotel’s dark nightmares to life. The psychological thriller will leave the reader scared for days and permanently wary of empty hotels.

“John Dies at the End” by David Wong (2007) Satire

It is hard to tell a horror story while simultaneously spoofing the genre of horror itself, but David Wong does that in “John Dies at the End.” Guaranteed to bring both laughter and shudders, “John Dies at the End” tells an odd tale. John and Dave both experiment with a new drug called “Soy Sauce,” which allows them to see a hidden world of untold horror. From this point on, they are in a constant battle to save the world and themselves from the frightening monsters that “Soy Sauce” reveals.

“Dracula” by Bram Stoker (1897) Vampire

Vampires existed in literature before “Dracula,” but it was Bram Stoker’s gothic novel that defined the modern creature of the night. In his novel, Stoker follows the battle between Count Dracula and a band of humans trying to stop him from moving to England. Although it was written in 1897, Stoker’s prose reads like a more modern work. A Victorian-era gothic novel with easy-to-read prose that has maintained a position in modern popular culture is far from common.

“The Exorcist” by William Blatty (1971) Demonic

After many bad sequels and spin-offs, exorcism horror has almost become a genre by itself. But William Blatty’s original work and the movie adaptation have left a mark on horror culture. No exorcism is as scary as Blatty’s “The Exorcist,” in which a young girl becomes possessed by a demon, and it is up to two priests to drive the dark spirit out. It may be the now-standard exorcism plot — but “The Exorcist” was the first and the scariest.

“American Psycho” by Bret Ellis (1991) Psychopath

By day, Patrick Bateman works for Wall Street, acquiring a small fortune. By night, he expresses his true self through torture and unfathomable violent acts. Written as a reflection of society, Bret Ellis’ “American Psycho” will leave readers equally disturbed and fascinated. Bateman never stops surprising readers, and Ellis provides graphic details about his murders, torture and even cannibalism.

“The Woman in Black” by Susan Hill (1983) Ghosts

Before Daniel Radcliffe starred in a semi-successful film adaptation, “The Woman in Black” was already a highly regarded novel. A young solicitor is summoned to the Eel Marsh House and spends many days there despite omninous warnings from locals. He encounters a ghost who seeks revenge on the living on behalf of her child, who died very young. Most ghost stories are cliche and boring, but “The Woman in Black” offers scares no other ghost story has. Today’s idea of a ghost story is strapping a camera onto a wall as hauntings unfold, but “The Woman in Black” is the real deal.

Printed on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 as: Boo books offer old-time frights

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Book collection presents an assortment of the horror genre, gets readers ready for Halloween