So it’s official: I’ve finished Nightmare Magazine’s Top 100 Horror Books, from beginning to end. It’s been almost three years; I’m working on several horror lists with MB Partlow and Shannon Lawrence, and this is one of them. Shannon’s original post tracking the project is here. (She’s doing the best job of keeping track of things; also, we rarely agree on anything, which makes this even cooler. MB and I tend to see things slightly more eye-to-eye, although I do differ with her strongly on atmosphere.)*
I’m tracking my end of things on Goodreads; my reviews are here. If I had read the book and reviewed it on Goodreads already, I didn’t reread it, but if I’d read it before 2010 (my first year on GR), I reread it.
Favorite books off the list (in the order GR threw them up?). I bolded the ones that sang to me personally.
- Night Shift, Stephen King
- Year’s Best Fantasy, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
- Audrey’s Door, Sarah Langan
- The Ignored, Bentley Little
- The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
- The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris
- The Shadow at the Bottom of the World, Thomas Ligotti
- Hell House, Richard Matheson
- The Shining, Stephen King
- Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates
- The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker
- A Dark Matter, Peter Straub
- Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin
- I Am Legend and Other Stories, Richard Mattheson
- The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
- The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty
- The Terror, Dan Simmons
- Salem’s Lot, Stephen King
- The Cipher, Kathe Koja
- Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, Ellen Datlow
- Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters, John Langan
- It’s Only Temporary, Eric Shapiro
- Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories (for The Shallow End of the Pool), Adam-Troy Castro
Of all of these, I’m going to say that my absolute favorite is The Terror–I loved it enough to study it for like eight months there, typing in an absurd amount of the text. Like, enough to make its own novel. I learned a lot about writing from that book alone, and I can only chalk up how much better I’ve gotten at novels (vs. short stories) mostly to that study. The Exorcist and A Dark Matter both hit me nearly as hard, although the styles of those didn’t ring as personally for me.
The one that’s the most under-read, in my opinion is Her Husband’s Hands. I can only describe it as reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon’s work, if perhaps a bit darker and bloodier, but filled with love, and not just the dark, sick kind of love that drags down other horror works that try to deal with the subject. I was in tears several times. Maybe I should say it’s the entry that I’m most jealous of not having written 🙂
*And a note – on a couple of short story collections, I cheated by doing extra work (because I’m a nerd and I’m cheap). Where the particular collections were more expensive but I could get more stories from cheaper collections elsewhere, I read the bigger collections to save $. Specifically, Ligotti, Adam-Troy Castro, and Lovecraft. I ended up reading all of Lovecraft.
If you liked this post, please try the books that this reading list inspired. A Fairy’s Tale came out of all the cheesy ’80s horror that I read for this list. Start with By Dawn’s Bloody Light.