The Most Popular Horror Reads Of The Past Year, According To Goodreads

Ambar Pardilla
·Contract Commerce Writer, HuffPost
·3 min read

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Don’t worry, these books <i>aren’t</i> horrible — but they <i>are</i> oozing with horror. (Photo: HuffPost)
Don’t worry, these books aren’t horrible — but they are oozing with horror. (Photo: HuffPost)

It’s the spookiest season of all — when we’re all on the lookout for full moons, things that go bump in the night, tricks and treats.

You might be ready to take a trip to the dark side right about now — whether that means taking out your tasteful Halloween home decor, finding Halloween decorations that you don’t have to put away on Oct. 31 or putting your cat in her own Halloween costume.

If you’re looking to take a break from a marathon of creepy flicks or a slew of spooky shows, you could turn to spine-chilling, hair-raising and blood-curdling books for frights that’ll feel oh so real.

That’s why we asked the folks at Goodreads for the top horror books that have been popular with their book-loving members throughout this year. These books have vampires who bite and mysterious witches, along with enough twists to be thrilling. A few have even made it to our monthly “Most Anticipated Books” guide that Goodreads also helps us curate.

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but in these strange times, lots of us have been searching for fictional spooks. There’s an essential pandemic reading list from Vulture. Electric Literature picked out books about plagues back in March. Even The New York Times has the “Quarantine Reader” featuring authors Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King.

“As we all learned to navigate the uncertainty and loss of normalcy that this year has brought us, we saw readers flock to horror novels, propelling tales of terror to the top of our most popular lists,” said Cybil Wallace, a senior editor at Goodreads. “And the genre was ready for the extra attention, with some very compelling and terrifying reads.”

If you’ve been looking for a horror book that you won’t be able to put down, Goodreads gave us their scary suggestions based on books that were published in the last year and have at least a 3.5-star rating from members. Maybe these popular picks will help you escape from this world for a little while.

As always, you should check to see if a nearby independent bookstore has these titles in stock. That’s why we’re linking the books below to Bookshop. You can find all 10 books on Amazon as well.

If you don’t know, on Bookshop you can opt to have all the profits from your purchase go to a local bookstore that you choose. Or your order can contribute to a fund that’s split between different independent bookstores.

No spoilers, so you’ll have to see the list down there for the top scary stories that Goodreads members have been devouring this year. Just make sure you’re not reading these in the dark.

Check out the most popular horror picks on Goodreads this year:

"Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a mysterious letter from her newlywed cousin, debutante Noemí Taboada goes to visit her and her new husband, who might not be who he seems. And the house itself, called High Place, holds lots of secrets about the family her cousin married into. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/3038PPo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $25 at <a href="https://fave.co/362LEZt" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/2J0MU5S" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
After receiving a mysterious letter from her newlywed cousin, debutante Noemí Taboada goes to visit her and her new husband, who might not be who he seems. And the house itself, called High Place, holds lots of secrets about the family her cousin married into.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $25 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires" by Grady Hendrix

Set in the '90s, this book has been described as "'Steel Magnolias' meets 'Dracula.'" It's centered around Patricia Campbell, who always looks forward to her book club since her family life isn't as fulfilling as she thought it would be. When a stranger moves next door, Patricia initially likes him but starts to suspect that he might be involved in the disappearance of a few local children. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/2Tg56ds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $21 at <a href="https://fave.co/3dJA07w" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/35h7Ay4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
Set in the '90s, this book has been described as "'Steel Magnolias' meets 'Dracula.'" It's centered around Patricia Campbell, who always looks forward to her book club since her family life isn't as fulfilling as she thought it would be. When a stranger moves next door, Patricia initially likes him but starts to suspect that he might be involved in the disappearance of a few local children.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $21 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"If It Bleeds" by Stephen King

From Stephen King, "If It Bleeds" is actually a collection of four long stories. The first story is a standalone sequel to King's "The Outsider" and focuses on Holly Gibney, who is working on a case about a missing dog but starts to suspect that not everything is as it seems. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/3dNl08L" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $28 at <a href="https://fave.co/2HnIPbt" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/3dKI3B2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
From Stephen King, "If It Bleeds" is actually a collection of four long stories. The first story is a standalone sequel to King's "The Outsider" and focuses on Holly Gibney, who is working on a case about a missing dog but starts to suspect that not everything is as it seems.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $28 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"The Year of the Witching" by Alexis Henderson

In "The Year of the Witching," Immanuelle Moore lives in puritanical Bethel and is seen as an outcast because of her mother's relationship with a man of a different race. But she accidentally stumbles into a place called Darkwood and finds her mother's journal — which tells of how dark Bethel is itself and how her mother spent time with witches. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/31KhffF" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $24 at <a href="https://fave.co/35i4BoR" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/3jfkPUJ" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
In "The Year of the Witching," Immanuelle Moore lives in puritanical Bethel and is seen as an outcast because of her mother's relationship with a man of a different race. But she accidentally stumbles into a place called Darkwood and finds her mother's journal — which tells of how dark Bethel is itself and how her mother spent time with witches.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $24 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"The Only Good Indians" by Stephen Graham Jones

This novel follows four Native American men who are being pursued by a dark force that's trying to catch up with them after a traumatic and mysterious childhood event. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/37rleBe" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $25 at <a href="https://fave.co/35mHvNN" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/3jkfXO2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
This novel follows four Native American men who are being pursued by a dark force that's trying to catch up with them after a traumatic and mysterious childhood event.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $25 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre" by Max Brooks

From the author of "World War Z," this book is an account of Kate Holland, who writes about seeing Bigfoot after a volcanic eruption and the "Greenloop Massacre" that followed. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/3dIIU5k" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $26 at <a href="https://fave.co/2Hlt4BA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/37t6C4g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
From the author of "World War Z," this book is an account of Kate Holland, who writes about seeing Bigfoot after a volcanic eruption and the "Greenloop Massacre" that followed.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $26 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"Survivor Song" by Paul Tremblay

In "Survivor Song," Massachusetts is overrun by a virus that's spread by saliva. When infected, people lose their minds and try to infect as many others as they can before dying of the rabies-like disease. Dr. Ramola Sherman is trying to help her pregnant friend who has been infected by her husband get a vaccine to save herself and her unborn child.  <br /> <br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/2Hl1i8v" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $26 at <a href="https://fave.co/2IMFt1T" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/34j4V7D" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
In "Survivor Song," Massachusetts is overrun by a virus that's spread by saliva. When infected, people lose their minds and try to infect as many others as they can before dying of the rabies-like disease. Dr. Ramola Sherman is trying to help her pregnant friend who has been infected by her husband get a vaccine to save herself and her unborn child.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $26 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"Malorie" by Josh Malerman

"Malorie" is a sequel to the popular "Bird Box," which was made into a Netflix movie. It continues where the first left off, with Malorie facing what's next in this strange world. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/3kiIULV" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $26 at <a href="https://fave.co/3kvftGc" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/34hRIMv" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
"Malorie" is a sequel to the popular "Bird Box," which was made into a Netflix movie. It continues where the first left off, with Malorie facing what's next in this strange world.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $26 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"Lakewood" by Megan Giddings

When Lena Johnson's grandmother dies, she drops out of college and gets a job to support her family in Lakewood, Michigan. But that job forces her to participate in a secret program with things like gold pills that's meant to make bad thoughts disappear. Very creepy, for sure. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/35hD9aZ" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $25 at <a href="https://fave.co/2HlyVXA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/2HmgUbu" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
When Lena Johnson's grandmother dies, she drops out of college and gets a job to support her family in Lakewood, Michigan. But that job forces her to participate in a secret program with things like gold pills that's meant to make bad thoughts disappear. Very creepy, for sure.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $25 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

"The Bright Lands" by John Fram

"The Bright Lands" takes place in Bentley, Texas where the town's talented quarterback goes missing. His older brother, who was an outcast in Bentley because he's gay, returns from New York and quickly finds out that there are plenty of skeletons that the town has been hiding. <br /><br />You can read more about this book on <a href="https://fave.co/3kmiQQ2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Goodreads</a> and find it for $26 at <a href="https://fave.co/3ofR2ik" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bookshop</a>. It’s also available at <a href="https://amzn.to/2ITl6jN" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Amazon</a>.
"The Bright Lands" takes place in Bentley, Texas where the town's talented quarterback goes missing. His older brother, who was an outcast in Bentley because he's gay, returns from New York and quickly finds out that there are plenty of skeletons that the town has been hiding.

You can read more about this book on Goodreads and find it for $26 at Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.