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True Stories That Might Make You Believe in Ghosts

A supernatural reading list of specters, hauntings, and other paranormal activity.

Pocket Collections

Read when you’ve got time to spare.

We’re not going to say that ghosts are definitely real. But after staying up way too late hunting for the best nonfiction writing about paranormal activity, we’re not going to rule it out either. Read on for the best reporting from the supernatural beat, in which apparently rational, level-headed people document things that can’t quite be explained. Plus: why more Americans report believing in ghosts.

Image by David Wall

We Salted Nannie: A True Southern Ghost Story

Tom Maxwell
Bitter Southerner

In September of 2014, Tom Maxwell moved with his family into a large, historic home in Hillsborough, North Carolina. With its affordable rent and lush surroundings, it seemed too good to be true. Nine months later, they broke their lease, loaded up the truck, and ran away as fast as they could from the spirits and apparitions that had tortured them. Only afterward would Maxwell learn about the 300 years of bad mojo that had piled up in the house they called Nannie.

A Kiss Before Dying

Pamela Colloff
Texas Monthly

Forty-five years after Betty Williams was shot to death by the handsome football player she had been secretly seeing, her murder haunts her Odessa high school—literally.

The True, Twisted Story of Amityville Horror

Michelle Dean

There were haunted houses before Amityville, of course, but no one place has made as deep an impression on American pop culture in the past half century or so as the notorious Long Island home, the site of a terrible murder and then the basis of scores of books and movies.

Project Poltergeist

Saleah Blancaflor

When unexplained events terrify a young boy in 1960s New Jersey, the first purported haunting in a public housing project begins. Unearthed through original interviews and thousands of pages of archival records.

I Bought a Witches’ Prison

Jeff Maysh

In 2005, Vanessa Mitchell moved into her dream home, a former medieval jail where England’s witches waited to hang and burn. When paranormal phenomena forced her to flee, she became convinced it was possessed by evil spirits. This is her true story.