I love a good ghost story and not just around Halloween. Right now I’m reading You Came Back by Christopher Coake. It has the elements I like- mystery and creepy atmosphere and steers clear of horror and bloodbath. At least, that is, so far.

One of my pet peeves about ghost stories is that I don’t like it when a book purports to be a ghost story and then it turns out, the main character is either crazy or a drug addict. I think this is a cop out. Call me crazy, but I think it is necessary to have a ghost in a ghost story. I don’t want to read about alternative takes on ghosts. I want to read about ghosts.

 A little (and I mean very little) research online into ghost stories revealed two facts which were rather interesting. First, all cultures around the world have some kind of ghost story. And here I admit to being an Asian ghost story freak. I like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Indonesian ghost movies. These cultures offer a slightly different take on ghosts and I find these fascinating. Thank you Netflix for expanding my world! The second fact I uncovered is that literary critics often refer to the “Golden Age of the Ghost Story” and set that time period from the 1830s until WWI. Think Victorian Age and Edgar Allan Poe. It’s sad to think that we aren’t in the Golden Age of Ghost Stories any more.

In an effort to stimulate a new golden age of ghost stories, I propose we return to reading some this summer. Read these on the bus, at picnics, at sleepovers, near the pool, on the beach, and of course, at night- alone, during fearful thunder storms.  

 For the Younger Set: middle grade novels:

Breathe by Cliff McNish (innovative and creepy)

Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

Time For Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn

The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

 For Young Adults:

Ruined- A Ghost Story by Paula Morris

Giving Up the Ghost by Sheri Sinykin

Beating Heart- A Ghost Story by AM Jenkins (creepy & mature)



Filed under Books


  1. That makes two of us! I want to read about ghosts, too. That’s why I’m searching for novels or young adult books with ghosts in it -like mean, and creepy ghosts, and not gothic books. 🙂 I enjoyed this post and good to know I’m not the only one! 🙂

  2. Thanks for looking at my poetry blog. My favourite ghost story is a short novel by Jonathan Aycliffe called “Naomi’s Room”. It’s absolutely chilling!

  3. Thank you for the visit. This is an interesting post. Would you suggest any online ghost stories?

  4. I agree that ghost stories should have ghosts, first and foremost. For me, the scary factor for the genre (which I love!) comes from the atmosphere. I love stories that are not so “in-your-face” so there’s plenty of room for your imagination to run wild. Thanks for the post, will be checking out the authors you’ve mentioned!

  5. This is why the movie Secret Garden disappointed me. Johnny Depp turns out to be just a crazy guy. Lame :/ good read! 🙂

  6. I’m also not into the blood and gore and really love the ghost story!

    One of my favorite ghost movies is “Ghost Story.” Tons of atmosphere there. I read the Peter Straub book, it was so different, and to be honest I don’t remember how I felt about it! Isn’t that funny? I think I liked the book, but liked the movie better. But Thomas Tryon’s “The Other” is also one of my favorites. I remember being so creeped out by the movie/book as a kid. And I haven’t seen either of these movies in years and years. And more contremporarily, Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones”–though I did not like the ending. The mini series didn’t impact near like the book did. Why is that with King’s work?

    Anyway, great post!

    • I agree about Ghost Story and The Others being great movies in this genre. I thought Bag of Bones was ok and that’s generally what I think of most of King’s movies.

  7. You might enjoy the book More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon. 🙂

  8. Nothing like a good ghost yarn! Japanese wind witches tend to be ghosts. All good fun.

  9. You should follow She and her live journal cohorts often write spooky stories, interstitial stories and poems. Right now she is working on a youth book about Indonesia, but it is not a ghost story.

  10. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I like your list for middle graders, and for older teens I’d recommend Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake. A teen ghost hunter going after real ghosts. He does end up falling for one of them, but it definitely has some creepy moments (my twenty-something niece thought so, at least!).

  11. Thanks for sharing the list, I will definitely read on of those, I love ghost stories! Thank you for your appreciation in my blog,
    Artphalt (

  12. This post and the books you listed, though I’ve never heard before, definitely bring back my appetite to devour ghost stories.. The only western ghost stories I’ve ever read is Goosebumps.
    Contrary to the scary effect I used to feel when I was kid, reading ghost stories to me now is like a journey filled with much fun..
    By the way, if you like Indonesian ghosts, you must be familiar with pocong, jailangkung, and the like..

  13. Thanks for stopping by my blog….and thanks for the ghost story recommendations, I will definitely check these out 🙂

  14. First – thank you very much for liking my blog! I just hit 200 likes yesterday; pretty new at all of this. Second, glad to know about the Christopher Coake book, I looked at it the other day and couldn’t decide on it. I’m going back to give it a second look!

    • You know, I’m on disk 8 of 11 and Coake’s book has really bogged down. The character details are dragging the story under. I’m actually skipping tracks which is usual for me.

  15. Hi there, I totally agree a ghost story should have a bonafide ghost. I was also impressed by The Woman In Black as it took the genre seriously and didn’t try to rationalise his fear. Unfortunately I think that we are in an age where ghosts and the supernatural isn’t that cool anymore.
    Although have you ever watched ‘Being Human’? It is a British comedy drama where a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire all live together – sounds a bit weird but it really takes the concept seriously. I wouldn’t say it is spooky like a ghost story but it is definitely making ghosts cool again this side of the pond 🙂
    Thanks for a great blog.

  16. Cheryl Turtlemoon

    What a great post and I agree with you – though I’ve never read a ghost story, I like to listen to them 🙂 thanks for stopping by my blog.

  17. Thank you so much for liking my blog. I am so glad I came to see what you write about. It never occurred to me that every culture has ghost stories. So cool that you had a book published … Congrats!

  18. [Raising hand high in the air] I got one, “Lasher” by Anne Rice.
    “The Witching Hour” was really good too but “Lasher” was so so scary. 🙂

  19. I agree about all the horror ghost stuff. For movies, I like atmosphere and a good backstory. The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (really old b&w movie), The Others, Passengers, and The Lady in Black (w/ Daniel Radcliff) are good.

  20. I remember reading “Wait Til Helen Comes” when I was younger and it was really chilling! You’re right, a ghost story should have a ghost; there’s something to be said for the supernatural being just that: beyond the natural, and something that can’t be explained by the rational. I was having a similar discussion with a friend about movies these days. It’s tough to find a movie that tells a ghost story without being all slashers, blood and gore. The stories that can effectively tell a haunting tale without relying on being sensational or overly graphic are the ones that stick with me.

  21. readatouille

    Wonderful list! Thanks!

  22. Thanks for sharing…Another ghost story (picture book) for younger kids – elementary age – that I love is called Zen Ghosts by Jon Muth…

  23. We so agree that ghost stories need to allow ghosts to be ghosts. Hard reality has plenty of holes, and this is what is captured in this type of story.

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