Monday, December 27, 2010

The Horror Writers Association's Horror Reading List

Well, this has to be one of the longest-gestating posts in the history of this blog, but now it's finally done. What I've done here is taken the reading list from the Horror Writers Association website and put the books on it in order from most popular to least popular. Why, you ask? Well, I really like the HWA's list, in spite of some strange quirks (the absence of anything authored by Edgar Allan Poe springs to mind as one of the stranger ones), but the fact that the list is in alphabetical order drove me crazy. For a list that's supposed to for the neophyte horror fan looking to expand his or her literary horizons, it seems to me that you would want to at least rank them in terms of availability if not necessarily merit. Hence the following, ranked in terms of popularity (and correspondingly, I assume, availability) based on the number of owned by the members of LibraryThing (that's the second number you see in parentheses; the first is original date of publication).

(01) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) (16,918)
(02) Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) (16,332)
(03) The Stand by Stephen King (1978) (10,421)
(04) The Shining by Stephen King (1977) (9,057)
(05) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886) (6,090)
(06) Pet Semetary by Stephen King (1983) (5,882)
(07) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954) (5,622)
(08) Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962) (4,820)
(09) Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898) (3,065)
(10) The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka (1915)(2,708)
(11) Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (1995) (2,386)
(12) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959) (2,321)
(13) The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971) (2,016)
(14) Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (1967) (1,657)
(15) Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite (1992) (1,600)
(16) The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson (1949) (1,331)
(17) At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft (1931) (846)
(18) The Dunwich Horror and Others by H.P. Lovecraft (1963) (461)
(19) Sacrifice by Andrew Vachss (1991) (284)
(20) Dark Dance by Tanith Lee (1992) (257)
(21) Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber (1943) (249)
(22) Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon (1961) (237)
(23) Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood (1973) (209)
(24) Book of the Dead edited by John Skipp and Craig Spector (1989)(170)
(25) Songs of a Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti (1989) (161)
(26) The Hungry Moon by Ramsey Campbell (1986) (155)
(27) Dr. Adder by K.W. Jeter (1984) (154)
(28) The Between by Tananarive Due (1995) (137)
(28) Vampire Junction by S.P. Somtow (1984) (137)
(30) The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen (1907) (127)
(31) Ghoul by Michael Slade (1987) (123)
(32) Skin by Kathe Koja (1993) (116)
(33) Tales of Horror and the Supernatural by Arthur Machen (1948) (109)
(34) The Ghost Stories of M.R. James (1973) (70)
(35) Sineater by Elizabeth Massie (1992) (52)
(36) Darklands (The Dark Country?) by Dennis Etchison (1982) (47)*
(37) Dead in the Water by Nancy Holder (1994) (22)
(38) Raven by Charles L Grant (1993) (21)
(39) Phantom by Thomas Tessier (1982) (14)
(40) Lovers Living, Lovers Dead by Richard Lortz (1977) (11)

*The listing for this on the HWA site is as "DARKLANDS by Dennis Etchinson". However, having been all over the interwebs in the last few days looking for said title, I am in fact pretty much convinced that no such beast exists, and the in fact the list's authors mean THE DARK COUNTRY, Etchison's acclaimed 1982 short story collection.