Happy Hallowe’en, everyone! XOXO’s major holiday is (of course) Valentine’s Day, but even the greatest love can be exciting and a little scary at times. So today, we polled the editors here at XOXO Headquarters to find out what scary books are still haunting them. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) Read on for some suggestions…IF YOU DARE (mwah ha ha ha)!

  • I don’t read a ton of scary books really, but one of my biggest memories of being scared by a book came from nightmares I would have about the poem “Dirty Dan, the Dirtiest Man in the World” from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. Yeah, it’s a book of child’s poetry, but from the moment it was read to me as a child, it was scary to me. I used to have nightmares about the illustration accompanying it (because all of his poems had drawings), and the creepiness of the poem only amplified that.
  • Jurassic Park (I was 11). I know it’s the scariest because I remember exactly the feeling of sitting in my childhood bedroom and digging into that first chapter.
  • I’m a total wimp, so I generally try to avoid scary books! But Peter Benchley’s Jaws has left its mark–not only do I avoid any bodies of water where I can’t see the bottom, but I can still remember the passage where the first victim is night swimming, senses an odd little “tug” on her foot, only to reach down and feel BONE where her foot was! Oh, man, I can’t. (Also, don’t go night swimming. Save yourselves.)
  • I know this is a popular title, but IT is the scariest book I’ve ever read. Oh my god. What makes it so scary is the fact that it’s so well-crafted—it’s a true masterpiece. Stephen King’s details and the slow buildup of sheer terror made this one of the only books I’ve ever had to step away from because I was too scared to keep reading. I read it once, and I don’t think I’m ready to read it again. Maybe in 10 years or so! (And if that’s already been taken, you can say that my pick is from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY. Is it a children’s book? Yes. Is a story about an evil dummy that comes to life still absolutely, bone-chillingly terrifying? Also yes. This book traumatized me as a child, and led me to take all of the stuffed animals that I had on my bed and shut them away in my closet for the rest of my childhood just in case there was a chance they could be possessed too. And no, I’m not kidding. After reading that book, I never slept with my teddy bear ever again.)
  • Oh, man, it’s gotta be THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris. Sick killers, sophisticated mind games, old wounds laid bare, women in peril—so many ingredients for losing sleep!