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The Best Scary Short Story Collections I Have Ever Owned

Updated on September 17, 2013

My Top 5 Favorite Scary Short Story Collections For Children And Adults

As the days get shorter and the air turns icy cold I find myself drawn into my traditional seasonal comforts. Fuzzy socks, hot snacks and good reads.

My favorite books are hardcover short story anthologies, specifically scary stories. Kindles are fine, they serve a purpose, however I know that I will always prefer a nice heavy hardcover to a thin poke and play device any day. I love the feel, I love the smell and I love knowing that it will never run out of charge. I also just plain love having my favorite things around me... someday I will most probably meet my end in a devastating crapalanche, when all of the stuff, piled around me caves in on my head.

Since I was very little I've been reading every ghost book I could get my grubby little hands on. I am now pushing 30 and have read hundreds, can't get enough. The books that I have listed below are my top 5 all time favorite collections. Three just happen to be anthologies from Barnes and Noble... What can I say... they know how to assemble an amazing anthology!

The list of books only contains 5 titles because I haven't just thrown together a list of every book I can keyword search that meets criteria. These are books which have made the journey with me overseas because they are really special. I have actually read all of them cover to cover, over and over for years and years.

Scary Stories Treasury - My favorite childhood collection - 326 pages

I've listed this book first because it was my first love. It actually consists of 3 separate books in a series of short scary stories bound into a single hardcover. (Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, More Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, Scary Stories 3) I remember when I was young, borrowing these three books from the school library repeatedly so that no one else ever got a shot and when I grew up, I bought them for myself then replaced them with the hardcover containing all three later on. I look forward to sharing them with my daughter some day.

The stories are relatively varied. As a child I thought they were rather brilliant and I would imagine that children still find them to be pretty awesome.

What really makes this collection special is the artwork by Stephen Gammell who illustrated all three books. They are profoundly eerie (just check out that cover image) and have stayed with me my whole life. The creepy feeling this man can convey in black and white is humbling and he makes the whole collection come to life in a way that it could not have achieved even remotely without his talent. The illustrations in these books are what made me WANT to be an artist.

The books have been re-released with different illustrations and the vote is unanimous from everyone who fell in love with the books as children... they simply aren't a fraction as good without Gammell bringing the stories to life with his disturbing imagery. So if you do find yourself leaning toward purchasing any of the books or this collection be absolutely sure that you get a copy featuring Stephen Gammel's work.

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  • Cook time: 3 min
  • Ready in: 3 min
  • Yields: 1


  • Just add water hot cocoa powder
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Vanilla Ice Cream


  1. 1. Locate your favourite mug
  2. 2. Put 2x the recommended serving of hot cocoa powder into the mug
  3. 3. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon powder
  4. 4. Add two tablespoons of boiling water and stir to make a gooey chocolate paste (this helps prevent those annoying powder globule floaters from forming)
  5. 5. Fill the mug about ¾ of an inch from the top with boiling water and stir to fully dissolve chocolate paste
  6. 6. Add a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream and allow it to melt slightly
  7. 7. Slirp and enjoy!
Cast your vote for Indulgent Hot Cocoa Recipe

Snuggly Blankets

The Snuzzle Slanket Blanket With Sleeves - RED
The Snuzzle Slanket Blanket With Sleeves - RED

One of these was gifted to me a couple of years ago for Christmas. I use it a lot in the autumn and winter. Totally solves the problem of not enough coverage that you get trying to cosy up with a normal blanket and allows your arms to be free for snacking and reading. Perfect!


Scary Story Reader - 174 pages

My uncle Dan bought me my first copy of this book when I was 11. We were at the bookstore, he told me I could pick out a book and there it was... staring at me with that bold skull and eyeball. I loved it to death.

I read the book multiple times and then stupidly let someone borrow it and never saw it again. Now I have a strong policy of never letting any books I am in any way attached to leave my house.

I did manage to purchase it again in hardcover inexpensively to replace the one which was never returned to me because, it's a keeper and it has a very safe place of honor in my library.

There are fewer illustrations in this book than the Scary Stories Treasury and they're not as amazing but they're alright. The stories are fabulous, they are still good enough for me to have a read through every once in a while almost 20 years later!

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100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories - 496 pages

As the title states, there are 100 stories packed into this lovely anthology. The stories were not just put together in a short timed attempt to bang out a quickie Halloween money maker featuring various authors, they span the entire 20th century and even the very oldest have withstood the test of time and are as enjoyable now as they ever were.

Barnes & Noble published this collection in 1993. I found it somewhat by accident about 10 years ago when on the prowl for inexpensive reading and what a gem! There are very well known authors featured (Lovecraft, Poe, Mark Twain) and less well known, however all are worthy of being beside one another.

The book is at a higher reading level than the previous two on my list being geared toward a more adult audience and there aren't any pictures however, I can't say that children wouldn't enjoy having some of these stories read to them.

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Popcorn? Yes Please!

Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter Popcorn - 40 Bags
Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter Popcorn - 40 Bags

Hot buttered popcorn is a favorite of mine when I'm curled up with a good book and a warm drink!


After reading through 100 Hair Raising Little Horror Stories you can imagine how pleased I was when I found 100 Creepy Little creature Stories. This collection was published in 1994 by Barnes & Noble and contains another 100 stories written all over the 20th century all focussing specifically on scary beasties.

It's just as good as 100 Hair Raising Little Horror Stories and I find the two books to be pretty interchangeable. I don't have as much to say about this one because I've said it all above!

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Horrors 365 Scary Stories - 734 pages

This book is not listed last because it is my least favourite. It is listed last because it sort of sits in a category all by its self. There actually are 365 stories and there isn't a single story within its pages that exceeds the length of one page front and back. In fact some stories are only half a page long.

Making an effective tale in such a short word count, to me is the ultimate indication of story writing talent. So besides being a great read I think it can also serve as a reference tool for writers.

Don't get me wrong, not every story is brilliant but considering there are so many there are bound to be some that aren't as good as others.

I've had it for about 10 years, it was bought at around the same time I purchased the previous two books on my list. It's another Barnes & Noble collection and I accidentally left my first copy on a boat in the rain so I now have two that is all warped and falling apart and one that is in good condition. I can't actually bring myself to throw away the half dead copy! Determined to find it a good home someday.

The stories in this book are not written for children but many are suitable to be read out loud to children, Just be aware that some adult pre-screening is required!

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So this is my list concluded. If I find any other extraordinary collections that aren't exclusively for adult audiences I may tack them on in the future.

Please note, if you click on any of the Amazon links you will see the super cheap used prices for every book. I buy all of my books these days used from Amazon and I know that some people are hesitant but I've only once had a bad experience when a book arrived from a smoking household and the stink was unbearable even after I aired it out and fabreezed it to death over the course of two weeks. On the extremely rare occasion that something is lost in the mail, independent sellers and Amazon have always been more than happy to resolve.

*Book cover image credits - artists

*All other images that are not Amazon items - Sarah Bonczek-Simpson

Do you have any scary story anthology recommendations to share?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      A special theme, I do not often see this type of book, but it is indeed a great introduction. :)

    • Stuwaha profile image

      Stuwaha 5 years ago

      @EEWorkouts: Thank you for sharing! :)

    • EEWorkouts profile image

      EEWorkouts 5 years ago

      I have a habit of leaving with a stack of books like this from Barnes and Noble - Great lens! Some that I have found include: Great Irish Stories of the Supernatural, Weird Tales Seven Decades of Terror, Dracula's Brood, Blood Thirst, and Alfred Hitchcock Tales of Terror.