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Five Nonfiction Books to Chill Your Bones this Halloween

When Halloween rolls around, it’s easy to pull out the tried-and-true Stephen King novels or the eerie classics like Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

But what if I told you there were real stories, ones not of monsters and witches but of history, science, and the human spirit, that could send a shiver down your spine? No, I’m not spinning a ghost tale by the campfire.

I’m dishing out some of the most tantalizing nonfiction Halloween books perfect for your All Hallows’ Eve reading binge. Grab your pumpkin spiced latte, because this ride is scarier than running out of candy on Halloween night.

1. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

Think London, and you might imagine the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, or a dapper James Bond in a sharp suit.

But rewind to 1854, and London’s streets weren’t just filled with top hats and horse-drawn carriages—they were riddled with cholera.

This isn’t your typical Sherlockian detective story. It’s a medical whodunnit.

Journey through the dimly lit alleyways as science grapples with an invisible killer. A Victorian nightmare? Absolutely. (Buy here)

2. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

Nonfiction Halloween books

Here’s some ice-cold truth for you: being stuck at home during a snowstorm is a luxury.

Imagine being trapped in the icy embrace of the Arctic for two years – the white expanse haunting your every waking moment.

The harrowing story of the USS Jeannette isn’t just about battling nature’s fury; it’s about the resilience of the human spirit. It is a tale of incredible hardship, determination, courage, and endurance. 

Any lover of adventure should read the tale. (Buy here)

3. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

Ever wondered why that creaky floorboard sounds eerily like a ghostly moan? Or why that shadow looks suspiciously witchy?

Nonfiction Halloween books

Carl Sagan, the ultimate party pooper for supernatural enthusiasts, dives deep into the realms of these beliefs.

It’s a book that’ll make you question that ghost story your friend swears is true—because, you know, they heard it from a friend of a friend.

It also tackles a recurring problem in human history: our tendency to revert to superstitions when faced with challenges to our knowledge or ego. (Buy here)

4. The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party by Daniel James Brown

Nonfiction Halloween books

GPS misdirections might land you at the wrong coffee shop, but for the Donner Party, one wrong turn led to one of the most haunting journeys in history.

A tale of perseverance, survival, and the occasional bout of cabin fever, this story will make you thank your stars for Google Maps.

The book covers not just the story itself, but also the small details such as the logistics of what life on the trail would have looked like for men and women in 1846.

A haunting, fascinating story of human endurance. (Buy here)

5. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

Let’s face it; we’ve all wondered what’s on the “other side.” Is it a never-ending buffet? An eternity of Netflix binges? Or perhaps where all our misplaced socks go?

Shockingly, studies suggest we lose up to 1,264 socks in our lifetime. Now that’s a real-life horror!

Mary Roach, with her signature blend of wit and curiosity, takes on séances, apparitions, and reincarnation stories. It’s spooky, it’s kooky, and it’s downright scientific!

Spook is a blend of humor, morbidity, and funny anecdotes that converge in a series of loosely related examinations of what, exactly, actually happens when we die. (Buy here)


Halloween isn’t just for goblins, ghouls, and those last-minute DIY costumes (you know, the one with the white bedsheet). It’s also a time to explore the unknown, question the mysteries of the universe, and perhaps delve into some true stories that are stranger than fiction.

As you prepare for the festivities, consider adding these stories of history, science, and the human spirit to your reading list. Dive in and let them bewitch you.

And while you’re here, why not share your favorite nonfiction Halloween reads in the comments below? Gear up, may your Halloween be all treats and delightful tales.

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A man reading Nonfiction Halloween books

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