The irritatingly very talented Neil Gaiman was recently thinking about traditions involving giving each other books – and he’s right, there aren’t that many.

(As an aside, I love the fact that instead of St Valentine’s Day, the Spanish celebrate St George’s Day by giving roses and books – seems much more sensible as roses die…)

Anyway, he came up with the idea of giving each other books for Hallowe’en. And not just any books, but SCARY books. It’s called ‘All Hallow’s Read’ and has become and instant hit with his fans and even Stephen King’s endorsed it!

The Washington Post took up the challenge too, and added a question: ‘What’s the freakiest book of them all?

I can’t decide what the scariest books I’ve ever read are. I can probably name a top 20 without much effort, but it’s a lot harder to narrow it down, but here goes.

Wasp Factory, Iain Banks – not a book everyone ‘likes’, but a total mind-blower
It/The Shining, Stephen King – I couldn’t decide between the two, the scary clown Pennywise vs the claustrophobia of that hotel… you choose.
Weaveworld, Clive Barker – the two sisters in this one make my flesh crawl
Spares, Michael Marshall Smith – weird and not beyond the realms of possibilty
Others, James Herbert – an exploration of how vile men can be to each other

While these aren’t all trad horror fiction, they definitely had/have the power to raise the hair on the back of my neck.

There’s a scene in Friends where Rachel agrees to read The Shining if Joey reads Little Women. When The Shining gets scary, Joey tells Rachel to put the book in the freezer. Of course, then he gets upset when one of the characters in Little Women dies and Rachel asks him if he wants to put it in the freezer.

Anyway, enough of that. What are your favourite scary stories? I’m off to order Gaiman’s Graveyard Book for my nephew.