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8 Haunting Books Based on Real Ghost Stories

In the mood for some truly spooktacular reading? Then I highly advise these thrilling and chilling true ghost stories... if you dare.
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What’s spookier than your average ghost story? Completely true tales about people’s experiences with real ghosts, of course. From historically haunted houses to the demonically possessed, every story on this list was inspired by a supernatural encounter in real life.

Here are 8 ghost stories that are true and their haunting books that live on. Don’t read these too close to bedtime, folks.

The Haunted

The Haunted will send an eternal chill down your spine.

Written by a priest, this true ghost story recounts the inexplicably spooky events that one devoutly religious family endured.

used copy of The Haunted sitting on marble top table
Bookshop Apocalypse/St. Martin’s Press

In the Smurl family’s undeniably haunted house, they’d hear phantom pigs squealing throughout the night, foul odors would randomly permeate the halls, and they could never escape the feeling of being watched during their most private moments. Oh, and they’d occasionally see “floating” people.

Did it just get colder in here, or is it just me?

American Ghost: A Family’s Extraordinary History on the Desert Frontier

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be connected to a famous ghost? Hannah Nordhaus experienced this unlikely scenario first hand and decided to do a little digging.

American Ghost is one tale of ghost hunting that hits close to home–but without the haunted house.

American Ghost cover with curtain blowing in teh wind in an old house
Goodreads/Harper Perennial

When Nordhaus discovered her great-great-grandmother was said to haunt a Santa Fe hotel, she decided to make contact. She set out on a quest equipped with psychics, mediums, and diviners. Her goal? Nordhaus wanted to find out how her ancestor died, how she felt, and what was making her stick around.

Grave’s End: A True Ghost Story

In 1982, the future looked bright for Mercado, her husband, and their two daughters. They’d just moved into a new house in Brooklyn and began settling in.

But their dream home turned out to be inhabited already, and the paranormal tenants were anything but friendly.

cover of Graves End depicting long walkway to house in black and white
Amazon/Llewellyn Publication

The Mercado family endured ghost-related traumas for 13 years, including maniacal laughter all hours of the night and suffocating night terrors. They did their best to stick it out but eventually brought in a medium and a parapsychologist to get to the root of what was going on. The family found out some incredibly tragic truths along the way.

The Bell Witch

Ready to lose some sleep with a really good read? Then it’s time to check out The Bell Witch.

cover of The Bell Witch depicting Bell house
Thrift Books/St. Martin’s Press

This book recaps one of the most famous hauntings in American history. Based on a manuscript written by local teacher Richard Powell, it chronicles the story of the ghost of a witch that famously tortured the Bell family in the early 1800s.

The horrifying events that transpired lead to the only documented case in the United States of a ghost actually killing a human being. Yikes.

The Exorcist

The truth may be even stranger than fiction when it comes to The Exorcist. If you haven’t read the chilling novel by William Peter Blatty, then consider making this your Halloween read.

The Exorcist book cover with face of a young girl all in red
Amazon/Harper

The Exorcist is inspired by a months-long exorcism conducted by Jesuit priests in 1949. The possessed subject was a 14-year-old Maryland boy. Priests assigned the pseudonym Roland Doe, had his story is truly harrowing. The rest is haunted history and Hollywood gold.

The Uninvited

Ever heard of “The Union Screaming House?” You’ll never forget it once you delve into the tale The Uninvited recounts.

The Uninvited cover depicting scary demonic face with glowing eyes and a covered mouth
Amazon/Llewellyn Publications

The author flees his home with his three children after the relentless spirits who live there actually kill pets and consistently lead those they encounter to be institutionalized.

There’s no happy ending with this one. LaChance returns to his former home in an effort to help others escape a foreboding fate. It does not go well, to say the least.

House of Darkness House of Light

In this memoir by Andrea Perron, she recounts her experience growing up in a haunted house for ten years.

cover of House of Darkness, House of Light with painting of house on front
Amazon/AuthorHouse

Eventually, her family leaves, but much of what transpired stays with them. Now far away from their haunted house, they’re haunted by the past. In the end, it’s a story about the resilience of the human spirit–our ability to endure, persevere, and how we all find ourselves stuck living with inescapable ghosts of where we’ve been.

The Amityville Horror

Thanks to the movies, The Amityville Horror is a well-known true ghost story that never stops spooking the masses. While Anson says every bit of it is true, some of the horrifying happenings have been called into question in recent years.

Creative embellishments aside, the story itself and the way Anson tells it all remain legitimately scary. It’s also a classic tale of “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Amityville Horror book cover in bright red with fire flames around house
Amazon/Pocket Star

The Lutz family gets a steal of a deal when they purchase a magnificent home in 1975. Or so they thought. Just one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo murdered his entire family in the Lutzes’ new home sweet home, killing his parents, brothers, and sisters.

Without spoiling too much of the very true story, the Lutz family become so terrorized that they only stay in their home for less than a month before getting the heck out of there.