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7 Books That Will Haunt You Like a Ghost


To be haunted means something: a memory, one’s past. It's a ghost that remains persistently in our consciousness, stays or lingers, visits frequently.  Here are seven books that will haunt you long after you finish the last line.

The Loney

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

Set on a stretch of desolate coastline in England known as the Loney. This intricately plotted, atmospheric story includes bad weather, ominous occurrences, legends of a local witch, well-drawn characters, and questions of faith. It’s bleak and creepy and very well written.







Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is a family drama with sweeping scope that leads the reader to ponder social issues, past and current. The story follows two half sisters, one marries a wealthy man and the other is sold into slavery. It is told from multiple perspectives. This book is impossible to put down, memorable, and effecting.





Miss Jane

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

This is Southern Gothic at its finest. Historical fiction set in rural Mississippi. A woman is born with a birth defect that renders her unable to have children, therefore, unmarriable. She lives an isolated life of hard farm labor. Most memorable are the narrator’s erotic observations of nature. This one evokes a sense of melancholy and is beautifully written. 





How To Set a Fire and Why

How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball

Living in the mind of Lucia is a pleasure; her circumstances on the other hand are not so pleasant. She lives in a garage with her aunt, her father is dead, and her mother in a mental institution. She is a razor sharp, darkly funny, clever adolescent with a manifesto about arson being a cleansing force against a ruling class and a “system that demoralizes and brutalizes the majority of living people.” Unforgettable!




War and Turpentine

War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans

Translated from the Dutch, a writer pieces together the life of his grandfather from notebooks written before his death. This nonlinear, parallel narrative tells the story of a life disrupted by circumstance.






When Watched

When Watched: Stories by Leopoldine Core

A collection of short stories, some sexy and funny, all set in modern day New York City. These are characters on the fringes and the short intimate stories take place in small interiors, mostly apartment and bedrooms. The author’s style is distinctive, spare and elegant at once. This collection is singular and the author is a talent to watch.





Sleeping on Jupiter

Sleeping on Jupiter by Anurada Roy

A group of disparate characters gather in a spiritual seaside town in India. All the characters are harboring secrets and seeking answers. The story is told from multiple perspectives and plotlines are woven together in an open-ended manner. The characters storylines expose some duplicitous aspects of Indian culture. 





We Eat Our Own

We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson

This is the closest to a true horror novel on the list. It is disturbing and violent as well as bleak and atmospheric. It’s the 1970s and an actor takes a role in a grindhouse film experimenting with “raw, scriptless realism” and being filmed on location in politically unstable Columbia. The book is based on an actual exploitation film called “Cannibal Holocaust.” Think “Hearts of Darkness” and “Apocalypse Now”, only crazier.




Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations! 


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