When I’m not reading scary stories, I’m always looking for the next creepy thing to read. This usually includes serial killers, folktales, and other things that get more and more scary. But sometimes I like to go even further and read about books about monsters. What people in different cultures find scary is interesting, and let’s be honest: People from long ago had some crazy ideas. The manticore is a terrifying creature with a body like a lion, a tail like a scorpion, and a face like a man. Who came up with the idea? You: Who came up with the idea of the Penanggal, which is a vampire who takes off their head and moves around as a floating head with their guts hanging down?
There are so many weird and wonderful things in the world, and I can’t help but think that only a small part of my soul believes in monsters like this. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’ve put together a list of 10 nonfiction books about monsters. Old school medieval bestiaries, books about single monsters, and books about why we think we believe in monsters in the first place are all in this group. Take a look, maybe you’ll start to believe in yourself.
The Field Guide to North American Monsters by W. Haden Blackman
It’s a good book if you want to learn about a lot of different kinds of animals. In this book, you’ll learn about animals from all over North America and what to do if you meet one. Among them are Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, the Pope Lick Monster, the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, and a lot of other things. Because I don’t know when you’ll need to look at this guide, I keep it on my bedside table.
The Loch Ness Monster: The Evidence by Steuart Campbell
No, it’s not. No, it’s not. Is it something that doesn’t make sense? People who believe and don’t believe in Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, have always been interested in her. In this book, Campbell looks at both the facts and the stories that surround the legend of the monster. He looks at films, photos, and sonar evidence to show that a creature is real. In the world, there are a lot of different books about Nessie, but this one stands out.
Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and Haunting by W. Scott Poole
As far back as colonial times, it seems that Americans have been obsessed with the idea of the monster. This includes witches, Freddie Krueger, alien invasions, and mysterious creatures in the wild. Monsters in America isn’t just about monsters. It’s also about the real people who make them. Poole talks about the threats to the cultural status quo, and how those threats give rise to new and weird monsters that no one has ever seen before. There are comic books, oral histories, films, personal papers, and a lot more in this cultural study that are all very interesting. It may sound dull, but it’s a really interesting book.
Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan
When you read Monster’s in America, you learn about the American collective social consciousness. Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite, on the other hand, learn about the science that could have led to these monsters. Kaplan is a journalist who travels the world trying to find out the history of many famous monsters. No, fossils didn’t make people think dragons were real. People first thought werewolves were real because they saw them in movies and TV shows. In vampires, what do you believe in? They were scary when they first came out, but over time, some of these monsters became less scary. This book is a mix of stories and scientific facts, and it might make you a believer, too.
On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears by Stephen T. Asma
On Monsters looks at how monsters have had an impact on people around the world and how they have changed over time. Some of the monsters Alexander the Great is said to have seen while in India are looked at in this treatise. It also talks about how Romans used to treat their “monstrous” children, as well as the stories of people who were headless and had their face on their chests in the New World. One thing that makes this book different is that it focuses on the impact of monsters that were made by humans. This includes how pregnant women’s thoughts and experiences could make their unborn children monsters, too!
Monsters: A Bestiary of the Bizarre by Christopher Dell
All over the world, there are scary monsters that look like they came from a dark place. Monsters: A Bestiary of the Bizarre is a dark picture book about them. You’ll see everything from devils and dragons to hybrid creatures in this book. Even though it doesn’t go into as much depth as some of these other books, the pictures alone will make this book worth it for you to read.
A Medieval Book of Beasts: Commentary, Art, Text, and Translation by Willene B. Clark
People who like their monsters to be a little more old-fashioned might like this medieval book of monsters, which is in English. In medieval times, bestiaries were all the rage. This “Second-family” bestiary is the most common one to be made. This beautiful book has a modernized English text, a lot of fun commentary, and beautiful illustrations from the time. If you thought your imagination was crazy, just look at the imagination of people in the Middle Ages!
The Big Bad Book of Beasts by Michael Largo
There were a lot more things in bestiaries in the Middle Ages than just lists of strange and mysterious monsters. The unicorn lived on the same page as the Narwhal, elephants and griffins all lived together. When you look at the Big Bad Book of Beasts, you can see how it modernizes the idea for the modern world. It mixes “real” and “unreal” in this fun encyclopedia of the curious and strange. You’ll also learn about the mermaid, the chupacabra, and the minotaur. You’ll also learn why cats rub against their legs, what the fastest bird in the world is, and what you would call a group of hippopotamuses, as well. The last word is “bloat.”
Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast by Jay M. Smith
1764: A young woman who was caring for her sheep in Gévaudan, France, died and some of it was eaten by a dog. Over the years, more than 100 people would be killed by a creature that would become mythic across the country. I don’t know what kind of animal it was. Why did it cut off more of its victims? Because it liked the flesh of women and children. They thought it was a pack of wolves. During the book, you’ll learn about how fascinating a series of strange events turned into a terrifying memory that still has a place in French folklore today.
The Jersey Devil by James F. McCloy
Here’s a book about a hero from my town. A strange creature called the Jersey Devil lives in the sandy marshes of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey and sometimes comes out to scare small towns in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. T he Jersey Devil is about this mysterious creature. The Devil was born in the 18th century, when a woman named Mrs. Leeds was having her 13th child. Leeds cursed her child as the labor wore on, and she wanted it out of her body. This caused the baby to become something strange and horrifying. Some people who say they have seen the Devil are just making things up, but it’s still an interesting story that is shown in this book. New Jersey is an interesting place, even if you don’t live there. This story about a local monster and how it came to be is very interesting.