True Story

Spooky Nonfiction Book Lists to Topple Your TBR

Hello nonfiction lovers! This week was an exciting one here at Book Riot – we celebrated our 10th anniversary on October 3! I’m really proud to say I’m one of the original contributors to the site, which means I’ve been writing or talking about books through posts, newsletters, or podcasts for a decade. It’s been such a gratifying experience, and I know the way I read and think about books has changed so much by connecting to the writers and readers of the site.

To celebrate, we’re running a limited-edition merch line that includes hoodies, sweatshirts, totes, and more! These are available through the end of October – visit to check it out! (I’ve got a giant gray hoodie coming my way… cannot wait!)

Now that October is really and fully here (how is that happening?) I’ve found myself in the mood for spooky and creepy nonfiction reads. Luckily, spooky true stories is a popular topic over at the Riot, so I was able to pull several great articles from our archive to peruse, with a title from each one that I recommend or want to read: 

Truth Can be Scarier than Fiction: 6 Scary Nonfiction Books (2020)

Tell my horse by zora neale hurston the fright stuff

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston

I haven’t read Hurston’s nonfiction, so this travelogue written in the 1930s seems like it could be a lot of fun.

7 Scary Nonfiction Books to Titillate and Terrify You (2017)

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink – This is SUCH good reporting of a truly devastating story.

5 True Stories to Scare You Silly (2011)

Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting by W. Scott Poole – I love some university press nonfiction that takes a serious look at things that don’t always get serious treatment. 

5 Works of Nonfiction for Horror Fans (2015)

Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear by Margee Kerr – I am all here for a book looking “what it is to feel fear and why we feel compelled to search it out.:

6 Nonfiction Horror Books for Those Who Need True Scary Stories (2019)

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado – This memoir is so good and inventive and unsettling and evocative, all while illuminating the taboo and challenging topic of queer domestic abuse. 

If you can’t find a some creepy or spooky nonfiction to read from one of those lists, you can check out next week’s edition of the For Real podcast where Alice and I will have EVEN MORE recommendations. Spooky season is here!

Weekend Reading

cover image of Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef

I feel like I should rename this section “Weekend Aspirations” because I have been consistently mentioning a book I’m jazzed about and then choosing to read something totally different. But I suppose that infinite choice is just the life of a reader, right? Anyway! This weekend I’m excited to pick up a book that just came out this week, Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef. This memoir is about the trials and triumphs of Diwan, an independent bookstore in Cairo with few peers in the city. The store was opened by three young friends who learned the ins and outs of bookselling to build a successful business “under the law of entropy.” It sounds so good!

For more nonfiction reads, head over to the podcast service of your choice and download For Real, which I co-host with my dear friend Alice. If you have any questions/comments/book suggestions, you can find me on social media @kimthedork. Happy weekend!