My favorite Goosebumps books and how they relate to my life

Updated Oct 12 2015
Photo used courtesy of Gersberms.
Did you guys ever read Goosebumps? The series of sixty-two books was published in 1992 to 1997 to give younger readers a chance to get creeped out by R.L. Stine before their time, and I was TOTALLY ON BOARD. While I eventually graduated to the Fear Street series (and was subsequently so terrorized I was told to stop reading the books), my heart has always had a special place for Goosebumps and the bizarre-ness it holds.

Before we move forward, let me be clear: while the books seem campy now (and quite a few of them are — they're usually more mysterious than scary), I remember being positively freaked out by some of the things that happened. I made it out of my Goosebumps stint mostly unscathed, but I wouldn't suggest these books to your seven-to-twelve-year-old if he or she is a delicate flower. Another post could perhaps be devoted to asking ourselves why someone would create a series of books like this for kids… but for now, let's just all talk about the ones that freaked us out the most and the way their impact on our adult lives, 'k?

Say Cheese and Die

R.L. Stine's Say Cheese and Die.

While Welcome to Dead House is the first Goosebumps book that came out, Say Cheese and Die! is the first one I remember reading. The premise is this: this kid Greg finds a camera and proceeds to take photos with it. That's a totally natural thing to do (apart from trying to find out who the camera belongs to, I suppose), but whatever he takes a photo of changes — he takes one of his dad's car, but in the photo the car is wrecked… and then his dad actually crashes the car. We wonder: is the camera predicting the future or creating it?

Relevance to my life: considering I spend a considerable amount of my time working as a professional photographer this kind of creeps me out — I mean, seriously?! But so far, all of my clients are happy both in front of and inside the camera. So.. maybe I have a good one.

My Hairiest Adventure

My Hairiest Adventure.

Oh god. I loved My Hairiest Adventure so much that I bought it twice, as my first copy ended up destroyed because I read it all the time. In this one, this kid Larry finds a bottle of "Insta-Tan" in the trash. He and his friends think it would be so cool to have fake tans, and the bottle promises to produce results in a minute. Of course, nothing happens and they end up tossing it.

BUT THEN. I believe Larry is in school when all of the sudden thick, painful hair starts growing all over his body. On his hands, feet, fact, etc. He learn it's happening to his friends as well — and there's nothing they can do to get rid of it. I don't want to get all spoiler-ish on you guys, so I'll stop there.

Relevance to my life: I am totally obsessed with hair (I wash mine every day, it's A Thing) and I've also almost exclusively (with the exception of one very lovely fellow) been involved with guys who don't have a lot of chest hair. Could this be because of this freaky book? Maybe.

My Best Friend is Invisible

My Best Friend is Invisible.

Ooh, My Best Friend is Invisible, you're so freaky. In this one, Sammy is the child of two researchers who only believe in "real" science. Trouble is, Sammy is ALL ABOUT the "unreal" — ghosts and sci-fi. His brother Simon is the opposite, and of course Sammy thinks his parents love Simon more.

Naturally Sammy discovers he has an invisible person named Brent living in his room with him, eating food next to him, and basically just following him around — but no one believes him. It starts to become problematic when Brent starts fucking with Sammy and messing up his life.

Relevance to my life: while this person was good-natured, I totally had an imaginary friend or two. And I mean full-on friend: I talked to them, fed them, etc. I also have always kind of believed in ghosts, so the fact that this book existed at a time during which I was really exploring that idea… oooh man.

TELL ME, TELL ME: what are your faves from the Goosebumps series? I can't wait to chat it out!

  1. There was one about Werecats (I can't remember what it was called) that was my absolute favorite. But, you forgot the best kind of Goosebumps books…. the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure ones!

  2. I loved the Fear Street books more since Goosebumps didn't come to my attention until I was 12 almost 13 years old.
    But my favorite one would have to be about the house that kept souls. I can't remember the name anymore because it has been over 18 years.

    • I was the same–Fear Street was where it was at to me! But I'll always be vaguely weirded out by ventriloquist dummies because of the Goosebumps book about a haunted one. (There were a bunch, but the first one is the one that freaked me out)

      • Oh my goodness, I read that book you're talking about when I was 9 and freaked myself out so badly I had to sleep next to my mother that night. Sometimes I still have nightmares about dummies, at the age of 22. Love it.

  3. Oh my God! I never read the book, but I saw the "movie"/ episode version of The Werewolf of Fever Swamp…It scared the SHIT out of my 7 year old self. I watched it twice in a row and than never again after that. To this day I am still terrified of werewolves!

    • The TV show Goosebumps was far, far scarier for me than the books. I still get freaked out thinking about the one where the girl got the Halloween mask stuck on her face… *shudders*

  4. I was a HUGE fan of Lois Duncan and Caroline B Cooney horror-suspense-mystery fiction. RL Stein Fear Street was so good. I never got into Goosebumps, but man was I into the harder stuff.

      • I had to read the last few pages of every Fear Street book before I finished it because they terrified me and I had to know how they ended. I'd also read them with all the lights in the house on. I don't know why I kept doing it to myself when I was clearly so scared.

    • I remember reading Goosebumps but never got too scared. But MAN I remember Lois Duncan! I would try and tell my friends about her books, I found them scaring an amazing picking them up in Grade 7 and 8!

  5. favorite one was Deep Trouble. i also watched the movies when they came out, i loved watching haunted mask and night in terror tower. i have a photo of myself at 8 years old with a goosebumps sweatshirt on and goosebumps boxer shorts… i was a little obsessed lol

    • He was horrible! I read that book more times than I can remember and shit myself up so much I couldn't sleep. I think my mum took the book off me in the end, as I was just scaring myself!

  6. Oh! I specifically remember Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes because it was the first time I'd ever read a WHOLE book in one day! 😀 I also remember when they started doing the 'pick your own adventure' style Goosebumps… I think they were called Give Yourself Goosebumps? Anyway, I loved the Circus of Fear one!

  7. I think I liked Say Cheese and Die until I got older and realized that was 100% a rip off of a classic Twilight Zone!

    The scariest Goosebumps book for me was the one about the haunted ventriloquist dummy. YIKES! I think I had to write a few of my own scary-doll stories after that just to expell that fear and feel in control, haha!

  8. I can't remember any of their names, but the one with the half-skull lady half submersed in the lake freaked me out. The cover, anyway. I had to hide the book to not be scared. And any of the ones with evil toys freaked me out, cause I already thought my toys were sentient. I do remember liking the one with the eggy monster…

    All that aside, did any of you play this: Goosebumps: Terror in the Graveyard? I have fond memories of this game.

    • Haha, we had that game! I'm pretty sure we lost a crucial part to it immediately, because I don't remember us ever playing it properly.

    • I'm sure my parents still have a copy of Terror in the Graveyard at my childhood home (very much loved and sort of broken of course). We used to play it all the time!

  9. "The Werewolf of Fever Swamp" was the only Goosebump book that actual scared me. There was some part in it about hearing wolves howling in the distance that spooked me when I was reading it under the covers with a flashlight. Other than that, those books were entertaining but not scary.

  10. I loved "how I got my shrunken head". I have my whole collection of goosebumps books still, packed away in a box in the hopes my kiddies will love reading them too.

  11. Oh man, me and my little brother read every Goosebumps book ever. And coming from a family of notoriously late sleepers, the Goosebumps TV show that came on Saturdays at 7 am was the ONLY thing that would convince us to wake up that early.

  12. Stay Out of the Basement!

    I still watch reruns of the Goosebumps TV series every now and then. It's pretty campy, but brings back soooo many memories.

    That and Jem, but that's a little off topic 🙂

  13. I loved "Welcome to Camp Nightmare." The book was awesome and the made-for-TV adaption they did on Fox was pretty good too.

    Fear Street was like what you graduated to after Goosebumps – I remember that because in Fear Street, people actually DIED (in really horrible ways too). In Goosebumbs, death was less common.

  14. Oh, I LOVED Goosebumps!

    I don't know the original american (english?) titles, but my favourites was the one with the mirror and when you looked in it, you became invisible. But if you used it too much, the mirror would suck you inside and replace you with an evil twin.

    And the one where a dad had a laboratory in the basement and tried to make a plant/human hybrid and got replaced by a evil plant-man (sense a pattern here? Creepy books, but won't win an originality price anytime soon)

    They really are an Ode to the "or did it…?" genre;0)

  15. Ah! I was obsessed with Goosebumps, probably from age 9 to 11. I have all but maybe three from the original series. The ones I remember most are the books that had more than one, like Monster Blood, Night of the Living Dummy, etc. I also remember really loving Horror at Camp Jellyjam, and the Barking Ghost. Ghost Next Door really struck me, too. I remember feeling so sad after reading it.
    Thank you for posting this! I need to dig out my Goosebumps from my parents' basement!

  16. I loved goosebumps so much. I fondly remember reading monster blood II with the hamster but I had "Deep Trouble" on audio cassette and it was awesome. that one wasn't really a horror but was about kids on a ship in the Caribbean who find a mermaid

  17. Hmm. There was this one about a haunted porcelain doll…was that a Fear Street one? I made my mom take all of my dolls into her room for a long time after that. I had tons of Goosebumps and Fear Street books, but it's been quite a long time. Fear Street though…some of those books made me afraid of like, going into my locker, or walking around an empty swimming pool. Good stuff.

    • Yes!! After that episode where the girl ends up trapped in the mirror Ifhhad to cover the mirror in my room – every movement I saw in it was person trapped there!

      • I loved Are You afraid of the Dark? as well!! my favourite episode was the one with the doll house, where the girl gets turned into a doll.

  18. I was forbidden to read Goosebumps by my mother, for reasons she never explained, but it turned out that mother knew best, because when I secretly borrowed one from my friend, I was so terrified that I didn't sleep for a week and saw things in the dark. I was a really, really nervous kid.

  19. Oh my word, there was one about this orange monstrous furball in a barn that ate everything. My mother wouldn't let me read it for YEARS! Even to this day, it scares me. 🙂

  20. Did anyone else play the computer games? I believe I had two – I don't know if others were out – and I absolutely loved them when I was younger. Kinda wish I still had 'em. One was based on 'One Day at Horrorland'… 'Escape from Horrorland' the game's called. Brilliant, ha. I think it incorporated aspects of other books, as I seem to remember a part about a werewolf (possibly) and definitely a part relating to 'A Scarecrow Walks at Midnight'. (Edit: I've just been watching YouTube videos of gameplay and remembering how terrifying it was/is in some parts.) I've no idea which book the other was taken from…sad to say, I couldn't complete it :|.

    I have to agree with Stephanie about finding the TV episodes scarier than the books (says my memory, anyway). The show's theme tune was creepy enough itself. Fantastic, though. 'The Haunted Mask' and 'Stay Out of the Basement' were two that I know for certain freaked me out (particularly the former). I don't really remember it, but something tells me that (like Naomi) I loved 'How I Got My Shrunken Head'. 'The Ghost Next Door' and 'Monster Blood' also really ring a bell for me…I so wish I could better recall the books and episodes.

    I owned a couple on video, one of which was 'Night in Terror Tower'. I wonder what happened to those kids. Off to IMDb! (I've looked in the past for children who were in Goosebumps episodes and have been surprised to see several big names there. It's funny when you realise who played your old favourite characters!)

    As for 'Say Cheese and Die'…does this remind anyone else of the 'Final Destination' films? I read the original poster's description (not remembering the book myself, other than the name) and immediately thought of those movies.

    Really wish I still had the books. I'm hoping they'll be available online or elsewhere in several years, as I'd love for my niece to see if she likes them.

    Thanks to the likes of Goosebumps, I can say I'm a female who loves Horrors and Thrillers, and I'm not afraid of anything in them because I had to deal with similar and/or scarier stories when I was younger :D.

  21. zOMG, Say Cheese and Die was super creepy! I also vividly remember The Haunted School. I read a ton of those books.

  22. Oh man, I loved Goosebumps! My elementary school library had the whole collection. I would check out two of them every library day, which was twice a week. But then some parent complained that they were too scary, and suddenly my favorite books were gone. Grr.

    I can't remember any of them really scaring me, but I DO remember being pretty traumatized by an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" For a couple years, I had to have music playing while I was falling asleep, 'cuz if it was quiet, I'd replay the scary old lady screaming about the day she died!

  23. I remember reading one that had clowns in it who were really exconvicts, and it totally instilled a significant fear of clowns in me as a kid (along with that dream sequence from Brave Little Toaster and the movies It and Poltergeist).
    I remember reading the Fear Street Super Chiller series in junior high and I really liked them. The one I remember the most vividly is Silent Night 3, where a spoiled rich girl is trapped in the mall with a serial killer.

    • IT ruined my childhood. I couldnt enjoy baths, walk near gutters and a few other ridiculous things. It screwed me up for YEARS.

  24. I cannot remember the name of the book, it might have been the one where this girl finds out her teacher is an alien/monster? and her parents too. But I believe at the beginning of the story she tells her little brother that there is a monster that eats your toes if you dont cover them or something. I don't even think it had anything to do with the main story other than she liked to scare her brother. But to this day I cannot sleep without keeping my toes covered. I'm 25. Goosebumps messed me up for life! hahahaha. In general I loved the choose your own adventure ones. Always would go back and try to make sure I didn't die along the way.

  25. I was more of a 'Scary Stories to tell in the Dark' reader and 'Are you Afraid of the Dark?' watcher, but those goosebumps books were good too! My favorite was 'The Scarecrow Stalks at Midnight' and another one about summer camp. I went to summer camp every year, so I was definitely more careful after reading that! I've known school librarians that try to discourage kids from checking out these kind of 'series' books and get 'real' books (aka Newberry award type books) instead, but hey anything that gets kids reading I'm all for!

  26. Goosebumps was so amazing <3
    There's this one writer for Cracked who does spoofs of Goosebump books that make me cry, I laugh so hard. They're called Tales to Tell Round Midnight. My favorite is Now You Invisible, Now You Don't Invisible.

  27. As an elementary school teacher, I am happy to report that Goosebumps continue to enrapture and frighten young readers. This is easily the most popular series at our school. My personal favorite – "Night of the Living Dummy". So freaky!!

  28. IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SINK!
    These should be labeled with a warning: do not watch the television show. Did you SEE that sponge? Ridiculous.

    My 9 year old wanted to read these, but gets really scared. I started reading "The Haunted Mask" to him and he sits there horrified while I am thinking "this is so stupid and not scary at all." Oh to be a kid again! I read very few as a kid because they were so scary. I always borrowed them from the library and used the due date as an excuse to turn it in without reading. "Oh…I forgot!" Wuss.

  29. It Came From Beneath the Sink!!! I was trying to remember the name of that one because to this day I remember the story about the creepy sponge every time I open the cabinet under my sink (where we store the sponges). So glad someone else mentioned it because I couldn't remember the title for the life of me. I'm 27 and was prone to be terrified of things (mum never let me watch horror movies) but LOVED Goosebumps and totally read them all… thanks for reminding me of these books!

  30. I was thinking of this one too! i still can't remember the name but do you remember the one where a girl got 3 wishes,and it messed up her life…That was my favorite!

  31. ZOMG! I LOVED Goosebumps! Especially the one where the kids turned into the dogs- the Barking Ghost I think? (Had the glow in the dark creepy ass dog t-shirt, too… and wore it 'til it fell apart) They always scared the crap out of me (my mother had to point out each time I bought a new one that they were FICTION… not real… I wasn't going to go back in time, or get horrible disfigured by my hamster or turn in to a dog (although the last one would have been cool). Sigh… I miss those days…

  32. OMG I used to love Goosebumps and Fear Street! But my big favourite was Christopher Pike. I used to love his books, and i think I still have Remember Me on my book shelf!
    I've been trying to figure out the title to a Christopher Pike book I read forever ago. All I remember is that one girl dies in the showers in the locker room, because the door locks, and all the showers are stuck on boiling hot. Anyone know the book I'm talking about?

  33. My favourite Goosebumps books were Welcome to Dead House and The Cuckoo Clock of Doom. I got Welcome to Dead House out of my primary school library every other week! Watched a lot of the tv show and Are You Afraid of the Dark?

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