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It's Aliiiiiive! This Year, Our Summer Reader Poll Is All About Horror

Editor's note: The poll is now closed! Thanks for voting.

This year's summer poll has me hiding under the bed — whether or not there's a monster there — because, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, we're celebrating horror. And I, your faithful correspondent, was scarred for life by a battered copy of Cujo I found in a summer house when I was a kid — so I hope you appreciate the sacrifices I'm making here to bring you the best of everything creepy, chilling and downright terrifying.

So what scares you? Besides clowns, I mean, because everyone is scared of clowns. Use the form on this page to vote for your five favorite horror novels or stories. Based on what you tell us, our expert panel of horror lovers (Tananrive Due, Stephen Graham Jones, Grady Hendrix and Ruthanna Emrys — more on them soon!) will curate a final list of 100 titles guaranteed to keep your spine chilled and your teeth rattling no matter how hot this summer gets.

But first, a few rules (like, y'know, don't go back in the house) proposed by our panel:

What can you nominate?

Series books: We're considering series books as a single entry — so you'd vote for Stephen King's Dark Tower series, rather than The Gunslinger, or R.L. Stine's entire Goosebumps oeuvre rather than one single book — because who can pick just one?

Short story collections: If there's a collection with lots of great stories — say, Clive Barker's Books of Blood — that's one single entry.

Single short stories or novellas: On the other hand, if there's a standout story — say, "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson — but you can't remember what-all else was in the book, feel free to nominate that one story as its own entry.

Limit yourself to five choices

But don't hesitate to nominate something you know other people already picked — we count everything up, and our expert panelists pay attention to what's popular (and yes, it's okay if all of you vote for Stephen King).

Don't limit yourself otherwise

Really, don't! If it scares the bleep out of you, we want to know about it. Just don't be too sad if your favorite doesn't make the final 100.

This callout was closed.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Petra Mayer (she/her) is an editor (and the resident nerd) at NPR Books, focusing on fiction, and particularly genre fiction. She brings to the job passion, speed-reading skills, and a truly impressive collection of Doctor Who doodads. You can also hear her on the air and on the occasional episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
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