Camp Reads: Halloween Edition

When I was a kid I had an obsession with Halloween books. Anything about ghosts, werewolves and vampires excited me (this was well before the Twilight craze, btw). I vividly remember circling all the creepy books in my 3rd grade Halloween Scholastic book order pamphlet and begging my dad to buy them all for me and then reluctantly narrowing it down to one or two choices. I frequented our local bookstore, The Lexicon, and bought all the Goosebumps and Fear Street books with my allowance. I just loved being scared. These days I am still drawn to creepy books, not the full-on horror kind, but the ones that keep me up at night because I want to finish them with my heart racing just a bit. Here are some of my favorite chilly and creepy books with an outdoor theme perfect for the season.

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The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
Oh my, this book is so good. Its the fictional story of an 18-year-old boy named Wolf who, on a cool November day, rides a gondola to the top of a mountain to end his life. But on the way he meets some unprepared hikers and the four of them become lost on the mountain. In the following days the hikers learn about each other and their secrets. This book will have you double checking your ten essentials before going out on your next hike and staying up all night reading about these fascinating characters. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year and a perfect autumn read.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Day Hike
This one goes in the day hike category since it’s just out in hardback. It’s perfect though for reading on a safe, well trodden trail with good weather and lots of extra food and gear.

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Haunted Hikes by Andrea Lankford
There is nothing better than ghost stories from the trails. Lankford, a former National Park Ranger, sets out to tell you what they don’t tell you the travel brochures, muhahahaha. These true stories of disappearances, hauntings and even murder span the country’s most famous National Parks. But be careful, it will certainly put terrifying images in your head on your next foggy hike.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
Take this book with you to read on your next autumn visit to your nearby National Park if you dare! It will be sure to send tingles down your spine and give you that feeling like someone is watching you.

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St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves & Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Karen Russell is one of my favorite authors. Her stories are dark, mystical and creepy, just what I love. I read these books a few years ago and I still have vivid images in my mind from their pages. Her stories are usually about kids and mostly take place in the outdoors – a plane crash site on a glacier, a stormy seaside or a magical Florida swamp and they are topped with just a touch of magical realism. I don’t want to spoil the stories too much, I just encourage you to go discover them for yourself.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
Warning: you may get a little scared reading these stories in a dark tent.

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The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields
Many words have been used to describe this debut novel by Spokane-based author, Sharma Shields: weird, dark, fantastical, whimsical, bizarre, surreal and spooky are just a few. The book follows the life of Eli, a young boy who watches his mother run away with a sasquatch by the name of Mr Krantz and grows up obsessed with proving the beast’s existence. There are many monsters in this book but the humans are real and their emotions are relatable. This book will stick with you in a strange, haunting and wonderful way.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
Take this book with you to trails where Sasquatch has been spotted for an extra spooky time.

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Wildwood by Colin Meloy
I adore this kids series that has been called “hipster Narnia.” Sure, it’s a little hipster, I mean, it is written by a Portland musician and all, but the story is compelling and I loved spending time in this enchanted world. On a foggy September morning Prue’s baby brother is stolen by a murder of crows and taken across the Willamette River to the Impassable Forest. She and her friend Curtis bravely follow, determined to rescue the baby. They go on to enter an unknown world full of talking coyotes, owls and eagles, and of course, an evil governess. Northwestern trees, plants and animals fill the pages, and even the pesky english ivy makes an appearance. Kids and adults alike will love these whimsical books filled with beautiful, if not hipster, illustrations.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
These 500-plus page paperbacks are a little on the heavy side for backpacking, but I tested it out by taking one on our overnight to Green Mountain and I was so happy I did. These books are meant to be read in the wilderness and my husband and I read the first book in the series to each other in the tent as the rain came down. Perfect.

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