Sometimes a book stands out and does more than entertain. It lives beyond its pages. These are horror novels that shaped the future of the suspense genre and had the most influence on both the genre and pop culture. If you haven't read them but you're a fan of horror, suspense, and the supernatural, perhaps you should check them out. Here is your reading checklist:
1 - Dracula by Bram Stoker. It jumped from books to movies and back to books. The vampire saga is a staple now, and Dracula has a strong place in pop culture. Thanks, Bram.
2 - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was equally important to the years that came after both in movies and literature.
3 - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Written in 1954, this book set the tone for a plethora of movies to come, including: Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and I am Legend, plus The Walking Dead. Although the villains here are more vampire than zombie, they do play the same role and propel the stories forward.
4 - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. A haunted house tale told to perfection.
5 - At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft With a sci-fi/horror cast of monsters.
6 - Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin Who's child is it? At the time this was considered almost too far to go in a plot twist. Now, it's common.
7 - The Shining by Stephen King set the stage for isolation fiction and is a haunted house tale from a different perspective.
8 - The Turn of the Screw by Henry James had a big impact on stories to follow. A dozen movies have been made on this premise, including The Others (2001).
9 - The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
10 - The Omen by David Seltzer is another tale of horror centered around a child, one of the most iconic books about devils on Earth.
11 - The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was one of the first to take on this subject involving the church, or at least the first to do it successfully.
12 - Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice was important to the Vampire sub-genre.
13 - The Stand by Stephen King was arguably one of the best post-apocalyptic novels of the 70s. It's a long tome that ties up many social subjects and how we behave under pressure or in crisis. The Mist tackled the same subjects of how humans react to a social breakdown.
14 - The Store by Bentley Little has a haunting quality that inspired many other books. Mr. Little writes excellent horror, and this one stands out.
15 - The Ring by Koji Suzuki was made into movies on three continents in three languages.
16 - Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury was an early young adult horror entry. Bradbury inspired many writers that would come after him.
17 - The Bad Seed by Maxwell Anderson brings children to the forefront of horror. Up until then, it was considered taboo. Children were off limits.
18 - The Passage by Justin Cronin
19 - Nathanial by John Saul is a seminal ghost story that is nicely executed. A small prairie town is the perfect setting for such a haunting. There is also a mystery here. It comes together in a chilly conclusion.
20 - Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979) gets its place for its popularity. It runs long but did inspire a film and a few knock-offs.
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. While Hyperion is better, Summer of Night is more iconic.
Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon - While McCammon can drag on far too long in his exposition, this book does well in its narrative.
These are the most iconic books in the horror and suspense genre. They set the tone for decades to come. These books are bedrocks on which a hundred years of horror fiction was typed in the years after they were first printed. Maybe it's time to re-read them again.