Top Ten Classic Horror Novels I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read


I’m a huge horror junkie, as you might guess from my obsession with Stephen King. But there are a few classics out there that I still haven’t read that I really need to!

  1. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty. I’ve neither read this, nor seen the movies, although my mom always told me that when the original came out, it was the first (or maybe only?) movie to ever put barf bags in the theater. Yeah.
  1. Hell House – Richard Matheson. Matheson also wrote I Am Legend, which I also haven’t read, but I’m more into haunted houses than vampires or zombies or whatever it is I Am Legend is about. Also, Stephen King himself has said of Hell House that it’s “the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills.”
  1. The Best of H. P. Lovecraft – H. P. Lovecraft. I’m still astonished with myself that I haven’t managed to read any Lovecraft yet. Maybe this will be my Lovecraft year.
  1. Red Dragon – Thomas Harris. Red Dragon introduces the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and is the first in a trilogy that also includes The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. My dad still shudders when he talks about this book, which I’m pretty sure read one night as a young adult when he was alone in the house. If I recall correctly, he slept with the lights on that night.
  1. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson. Considering the fact that I grew up on Long Island less than 30 miles from where the supposed atrocities took place, I feel like I really should have read this by now.
  1. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz. I hear about this all the time—particularly on Reddit threads about scarring events from childhood—so I can’t believe this book still constitutes a gap in my horror reading.
  1. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving. I’m sure I’ve read an abridged version at some point in my life—don’t all schoolchildren get some version of this story at some point?—but I’ve never read the full story.
  1. The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe. I’ve wanted to read this ever since I read Northanger Abbey; it’s one of the heroine’s favorite books.
  1. The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin. Creepy robot ladies (or something like that)? Count me in.
  1. Psycho – Robert Bloch. This is one of the few horror movies I’ve seen where I haven’t read the book (if there was one) first. I actually didn’t know that Psycho was a book until recently. Now I can’t believe I haven’t read it!


What gaps do you have in your reading life?

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12 thoughts on “Top Ten Classic Horror Novels I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read

  1. Ah, THE EXORCIST – that brings back memories. I think I read the book, probably. Definitely have watched the movie. Linda Blair, whatever happened to her. You’ve got a good list. I’ve only read the one, but have seen movies attached to many of them.

    • I haven’t seen any of the movies, which I’m happy about because it’ll leave me a clean slate for reading. Honestly I have no plans to see the movies—I may love horror novels but I’m a huge weenie about scary movies!!

  2. I’m unfamiliar with these titles, save Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Like you, I’ve gone through an abridged version but never the real thing. On a different note, this is my first time visiting your blog, and I love the theme. As an army brat, I understand what it’s like to have a family member hard at work or even overseas, and I just wanted to give you a shout out. Anyways, I hope you enjoy all ten reads:)

    Claire @ Cover to Cover

    • Thank you! That’s very sweet. My dad was in the Air Force reserves while I was growing up, but this is my first time experiencing active duty life and it’s…interesting. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. I also need to read Lovecraft.
    Otherwise – I’ve read 1, 5 7, 8 and 9 off here – surprising actually! I think you’ve come up with the winning list this week in terms of books I’ve read!
    Lynn 😀

    • There are a few from your list I have to finish as well, namely the Song of Ice and Fire series. I made it about halfway through the fourth before giving up this past summer. Sigh.

  4. I’ve read The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and The Stepford Wives. ALL I read growing up was horror, which is when I read these, though my book group recently read The Stepford Wives and it was fun to re-read that. But I liked them all. I really should read some of the others on your list too!

  5. I have read 6 of the 10 horror novels on your list, but you are missing the absolute #1 classic weirdest horror book of all time “The Night Land” by William Hope Hodgston. I first read this story in 1972 and it eclipses everything I have read since. it is haunting, memorable and stunningly weird and realistic. This is one of the few books that will remain with you for life.” Enjoy the Book” when you can.

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