For the past few years many committed to reading 13 or 31 spooky short stories during the month of October. This challenge is not only doable, but it is accessible as I provide free resources. I find this tradition an excellent way to introduce yourself to new writers, folklore, genres, and more.
What makes this year especially spooky is my new co-host: Sian Ellis! Sian was kind enough to design spooky progress sheets. They are an easy and fun way to keep track of your stories, whether you are doing 13 or 31 stories this October.
There’s not wrong or right way to complete this challenge. When choosing the next story for this challenge, I usually grab one of my favorite short story anthologies and randomly pick a story. I usually read nonfiction pieces and I never go a challenge without reading M.R. James. Your reading style, interests, and availability may be different than mine, so I gave the challenge additional options:
- You might read from one anthology/story collection or multiple anthologies/story collections.
- You might double, triple, or quadtrouple stories on slow days or makeup days. Heck, you could read 31 stories in one week. I find I read most my stories on the weekend.
- You might choose to read fiction and/or nonfiction spooky stories.
- You might not have time for 31 stories, so let’s swap the numbers around and make it 13.
- You might choose to participate with your children (I sprinkled in some children’s books below).
Make this challenge your own. I look forward to seeing what you do with it and what stories you recommend! 👻
Join the Fun on Instagram
Some challenge readers (me included) will be sharing on social media. Follow me (@notebookofghosts) for reading templates, my daily reads, available anthologies from some of my favorite online sellers, and more!
We’ll be using the hashtag #31SpookyStories!
Documenting Your Reads
There are many ways to keep track of your stories, whether privately in a notebook or publicly on social media. This year spooky artist Sian Ellis was kind enough to create printable progress sheets for both challenges.
And, what better way to save your page than with one of Sian’s bookmarks (though you’ll find yourself putting multiple items in your cart). Make sure to follow my cohost Sian on Instagram (@thisissianellis)!
If you would like to share your reads on social media, here are some ways:
- Post your daily reads (story, story writer, book title, and book editors) on Twitter or in your Instagram stories. Instagram users: I made you templates. Just check my highlights! You might also create your only highlight to archive your daily reads!
- Share a picture of your book piles periodically.
- Share your method for picking stories.
- Write down and share your favorite stories.
Recommendations for Fiction
(That aren’t already in the Free Section)
- American Gothic Tales, edited by Joyce Carol Oates
- American Supernatural Tales (Penguin Classics), edited by S. T. Joshi (“The Events of Poroth Farm” by T.E.D. Klein is one of my favorite stories!)
- The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, edited by Marie O’Regan
- October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween, edited by Richard Chizmar & Robert Morrish
- Classic Ghost Stories (Vintage Classics) (Please note, this book says Christmas Ghost Stories on Amazon, but that’s not true.)
- The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle
- The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series by Alvin Schwartz (I recommend the books with the original illustrations)
- In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz (Ages 4-8 says Amazon)
- Here’s a blog post I did on some spooky & specific anthologies
- Barnes and Noble sells some collectable editions of anthologies
- The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories by Angela Carter
- Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories (Penguin Horror) by Ray Russell
- Japanese Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn
- Marvin Kaye put together a lot of great anthologies (many with covers by Edward Gorey). You can find them used around the internet.
Recommendations for Nonfiction
- Haunted Heritage: A Definitive Collection of North American Ghost Stories by Michael Norman & Beth Scott (There are other books in this series and I recommend them all!)
- Spooky [YOUR STATE]: Tales Of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, And Other Local Lore by S.E. Schlosser (I’m pretty sure there are books in this series for every state, so find yours!)
- The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia McKissack
- Anything by Kathryn Tucker Windham or Nancy Roberts.
- There so many books created by local authors, so see if you can track down some about your hometown.
Below are links to some anthologies online. I haven’t read all of these, so I’m sorry for the lame ones! Please note: Most of these links take you to Project Gutenberg, which gives you multiple formats to read it in. HTML is best for reading on your computer. You can also send it to your Kindle (I use this email method).
- “15 Creepy Short Stories You Can Read Online For Free, If You Need A Good Scare,” Bustle (This is a great list.)
- Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James (“Lost Hearts” is one of my favorite stories!)
- Twenty-Five Ghost Stories, W. Bob Holland
- The Topaz Story Book: Stories and Legends of Autumn, Hallowe’en, and Thanksgiving (for Young Readers)
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
- Famous Modern Ghost Stories by Dorothy Scarborough et al.
- Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
- J. S. Le Fanu’s Ghostly Tales, Volume 1 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu / Volume 2 / Volume 3 / Volume 4
- Wandering Ghosts by F. Marion Crawford
- Great Ghost Stories by Joseph Lewis French
- The Best Ghost Stories by Arthur B. Reeve and Joseph Lewis French
- Three Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens
- The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories by Algernon Blackwood
- Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories by Ambrose Bierce
Keep Notes in a Commonplace Book
Commonplace books are an excellent tool for writing down your favorite quotes and excerpts! To learn more about commonplace books, read this post (and this post). To learn more about keeping a Halloween commonplace book, read this post.
I look forward to reading along with you. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below!