For those of us who have never read even a Stephen King book, the genre of horror can seem more than a little scary. We at annabelle wanted to know where to start our literary horror journey, and asked our friend Nick Kaufmann to give us a horror primer.

My Top 10 Horror Books, A Primer by Nick:


1) THE CALL OF CTHULHU AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES, H.P. Lovecraft (Penguin Classics)

Lovecraft's highly influential stories defined "cosmic horror,"writing about mankind's ultimate insignificance in an insane, indifferent universe.

2) THE COMPLETE TALES AND POEMS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE, Edgar Allan Poe (Vintage)

The granddaddy of the genre, Poe understood, in stories like "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Masque of the Red Death,"that horror is, above all else, an emotion.

3) I AM LEGEND, Richard Matheson (Tor Books)

One of the undisputed classics of modern horror, Matheson uses sharp, crisp prose to tell the story of the last normal man in a world overrun by the undead. So influential, it inspired everything from The Omega Man to Night of the Living Dead to 28 Days Later.

4) SALEM'S LOT, Stephen King (Pocket Books)

I have a friend, a lapsed Catholic, who actually returned to the church after reading this novel. What more needs to be said?

5) BOOKS OF BLOOD: VOLUMES ONE THROUGH THREE, Clive Barker (Putnam)

Barker was introduced to his American audience with the short stories now collected in this single volume: gorgeously written, visceral, terrifying stuff.

6) TAP, TAP, David Martin (St. Martin's)

For my money, Martin is the best thriller writer out there, and Tap, Tap remains one of my favorite novels of all time.

7) NIGHT SHIFT, Stephen King (Signet)

King's first short story collection knocked me out, and his lean tales of terror influenced an entire generation of new horror writers.

8) GHOST STORY, Peter Straub (Pocket Books)

Forget the dreadful 1980s movie with Fred Astaire, this hauntingly beautiful novel, which put Straub on the literary map, is a thousand times better. (annabelle takes issue with the negitive review of the movie Ghost Story. We liked it.)

9) THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, Shirley Jackson (Pocket Books)

Without doubt, THE best haunted house story ever written. If Jackson were still with us, I'd send her roses every day until she agreed to teach me how to write as beautifully and heartbreakingly as she does.

10) THE OCTOBER COUNTRY, Ray Bradbury (Ballantine)

Bradbury, one of the best living writers in America, filled this short story collection with chillers you won't soon forget. The title story alone will break your heart and keep you up at night.

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