If, like me, you binged-watched Stranger Things straight through one weekend, then you’re itching for more. But we have at least another year before we get another terrifying taste of the Upside Down. Until then, however, we can satisfy that craving by reading. After all, there’s nothing more frightening than the human imagination.
Below are 10 books that can satiate your Stranger Things craving.
One of the many pleasure of watching Stranger Things is the way you can spot the tributes to many of our favorite ’80s touchstones. Night Film similarly combines horror and cinema, with eerie effect.
The movie’s titles are a definite nod to Stephen King, and while there are parts of many of his novels that can be found in Stranger Things, the show has the most in common with the book It, which is about a group of young boys (and one girl) who band together to fight a monster. While the novel is decades old, it’s incredibly enjoyable—and soon to be made into another movie.
This is one of the scariest—and most bizarre—novels we can recommend. Even trying to explain the plot of Annihilation, which is the first novel in The Southern Reach trilogy, is difficult. Amazon sums it up best:
After reading this, you’ll never look at light houses (or mother nature) the same way again.
Eleven isn’t the only little girl who saves the world!
As Bustle raves:
Clearly, this is the perfect feminist addition to a post-Stranger Things binge.
Beautifully written, The Age of Wonder is 11-year-old Julia’s story of growing up in a world that’s literally falling apart: Earth has stopped rotating correctly. As the days and nights are growing longer and longer, gravity is affected and the birds, the tides, human behavior and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. The disarray is mirrored in Julia’s own personal relationships, which become more chaotic as her parents and her friends grow increasingly frantic. Like Stranger Things, the world of The Age of Wonder is a mirror for an adolescent’s anxiety about growing up.
Like Eleven, the young protagonist of Firestarter is a young girl named Charlie who gained superhuman abilities by being experimented on by shadowy government types. Unlike Eleven, Charlie’s talents are more pyrotechnical than electricity. After Charlie and her father (also a guinea pig) escape from The Shop, they must go on the run to avoid recapture—an experience Eleven would definitely understand.
The Boys of Summer is set in 1983, the same decade as Stranger Things, and follows 13-year-old Todd Willis as he awakens from a coma to find himself living in a version of his town that looks the same, but isn’t quite right. (Sound familiar?) As Todd struggles to separate reality from fiction, he befriends a group of boys who help him discover the secret behind the darkness seeping into his world—a horror they’ll speak about to no one until 25 years later, when the evil returns. We can’t help but wonder what the boys of Stranger Things would make of these teenagers.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Talk about 80’s nostalgia. Ready Player One, which is currently being made into a movie by Steven Speilberg (who gets his own nods throughout Stranger Things), is all about nostalgia and pop culture references from the 1980s. As Barnes and Noble describes it:
Sounds like a book the kids of Stranger Things will read when they grew up.
Also set in the 1980s, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a tongue-in-cheek tale of friendship and demonic possession. And just like the creators of Stranger Things, the protagonist of the novel is incredibly obsessed with E.T. As Amazon quips, “Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches andThe Exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of ’80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.” This sure sounds like the kind of hybrid we’d want to read!