Note: This was written in 2014 with updates made in subsequent years.
A self-confessed ghost geek, I am really interested in modern paranormal phenomena of all shapes and sizes. I also love reading ghost stories, with The End of The Line being one of the best books I read in 2014. It’s an anthology of horror stories based on or around underground railway systems which I bought because the real life ghost stories from the London Underground are scary and have always fascinated me. Click on the London Underground link to watch a fascinating documentary about the ghosts.
As an investigator of paranormal occurrences I hear ghost stories all of the time from everyday people who have odd occurrences and aren’t quite sure what to make of them. They can be fascinating and fun to investigate. Yet, deep down, I am madly in love with traditional ghost stories. The stories that we share at Christmas are often a throwback to ye olde ghosts that came with warnings or lessons that shaped our moralistic view of the world, but the ghosts of today aren’t always as interesting and often seem to just wander aimlessly, or move things slightly, or make it go a bit colder.
Annually, I write a piece about the Worst Ghosts to have made the headlines each year, but I want to move away from the crap ghosts of today that live in the tabloid pages and share some good old-fashioned ghost stories with my readers this Christmas.
CHRISTMAS READING FOR THE STRONG OF HEART
A Warning To The Curious is possible my favourite story by M R James. If you like his writing you can read many of M R James’ terrific ghost stories online for free here, or if you have a kindle you can download his works for free as follows:
A new take on the tradition of M R James stories can be found in this graphic novel which adapts four James classics, Ghost Stories on an Antiquity vol 1. I haven’t read it but the comments from those who have suggest that this new take on those classic tales is superb, and check out that awesome cover art!
Additionally, I’d also recommend The Feast of All Souls by Simon Bestwick. I am about half way through this book at the time of writing and it’s pretty gripping. There’s also a paranormal investigator in this book who pretty much uses all of my research methodologies right down to the spy toys for children that I have in my kit (with permission).
If you like to debate whether turning your bedside light off is safe or not you can also download Turn of The Screw by Henry James to your Kindle for free, or Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. If you don’t have a Kindle you can read A Christmas Carol online here. I also suggest reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, or perhaps The Small Hand by Susan Hil – both favourites in my collection.
Hill has a new collection of ghost stories released in 2016 titled ‘The Travelling Bag & Other Ghost Stories‘ which I’m hoping is sitting under our Christmas tree with my name on.
Remember, there’s nothing quite like a physical book to hide behind so be sure to check out your local book shop! I always recommend visiting your local charity shops too because the books you find there are incredible and sometimes out of print. This year (2016) I found Jay Anson and Han Holzer’s books on Amytiville for £1 each – not fiction, I know, but a ghost story is a ghost story,…
CHRISTMAS VIEWING FOR THOSE WITH CUSHIONS
I own Ghost Stories for Christmas, a DVD box set released by the BBC which includes many of their retellings of traditional ghost stories. They’re old and yet they’re still pretty creepy and terrifying. Thoroughly recommended. If you can’t get hold of DVDs though, here are some recommendations for ghost story viewing online…
Whistle and I’ll Come to You, 1968
Adapted from a story by MR James by director Jonathan Miller for the BBC. A smug academic on a beach and finds an ancient whistle and recklessly blows on it, stirring more than the seagulls… (There was a modern remake of this but I still love the unnerving 1968 version)
The Woman in Black, 1989
Adapted by Nigel Kneale from the book by Susan Hill, a young lawyer attends the funeral of an elderly widow who lived alone in a house in the marshes and begins to see evidence of a ghost. Part one is below, the rest on Youtube. Sorry Daniel Radcliffe, but this version is better than yours.
Tractate Middoth, 2013
Mark Gatiss’s adaptation of The Tractate Middoth, yet another story by M.R. James, was broadcast on BBC Two on Christmas Day 2013. I personally didn’t think it could be scarier than the story, and yet…
Enjoy these Christmas ghost stories and maybe you could write your own. It’s what I did this year for the Halloween episode of The Spooktator podcast and it was great fun, but remember – a ghost is for the afterlife and not just for Christmas.