10 Books Every Goth Needs on His or Her Shelf (But Doesn't Have to Actually Read)

Categories: Books

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Having wandered around the goth scene the better part of the last decade, sipping absinthe in the homes of hosts of spooky musicians, artist, and funeral home workers, I've come to the conclusion that not having a visible library is a major gothic faux pas. Every elegant sinister figure in pop culture reads, and you have to at least imply you do as well even if you don't. And let me tell you, a lot of them don't. They use books like lawyers do... as a backdrop.

Not to worry, my literarily challenged chums, I've got your back. If you're out setting up your first apartment, free to finally explode your bats and skulls all over every inch like a Michaels in October that was hit with a bomb, you can still fill up that smart-person shelf easily. Most people will be none the wiser. If someone who actually does read comes along and starts to talk about the books, just get them a drink and take off your clothes. That usually works.

Ed. Note: This isn't a plot to get dumb people naked is it? Author's Note: You ruin all my best plans.

10. Mein Kampf: Being goth involves a lot of being interested in things that make other people uncomfortable, and almost nothing makes people more uncomfortable than Nazis. You can't just pick up some World War II books at the discount shelf in Barnes & Noble, though. That's the sort of thing your dad has. No, it has to be the insane ramblings of Adolf Hitler himself. By the way, you are completely justified in not reading this book. Historically important? Yes. Well-written? I'm pretty sure that Twitter account run by actual wild birds has better sentence structure and less offensive politics.

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9. A Thick H.P. Lovecraft Collection: If you actually want to read Lovecraft, Penguin puts out a great three-volume set edited by S.T. Joshi that is full of highly illuminating annotations. They also look very stylish, and you can borrow that previous sentence if you like. Barring that, there are plenty with bizarre covers and spines at slightly cheaper prices that serve just as well cosmetically.

8. Dante's Inferno: Luckily, Inferno gets assigned in school so you can usually pick it up for less than $5, even new. The John Ciardi translation is an easy read with a creepy cover to boot. For maximum impressiveness, though, you'll want to find one with the Gustave Dore illustrations. Speaking of Hell...

7. The Satanic Bible: Really, any pagan belief structure tome will do. You could just as easily swap in something like To Ride a Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf. Statistically you're better off going with Anton Lavey's Satanic work, as you're less likely to run into a true believer that will call you on it, plus it's cheaper. Do not under any circumstances put Aleister Crowley on your shelf without reading it. Anyone who will be excited you have a copy of The Book of the Law is intimately familiar with it.

6. Catcher in the Rye: Catcher in the Rye has been linked to so many famous murderers that there was a rumor for years that checking it out of the library put you on a government list. Salinger's novel is the kung fu grip of mentally disturbed and dangerous people. Make sure you buy it used so it looks like you obsessively go through it looking for meaning in your life. Underline a few sentences to be sure.

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13 comments
eudemonist
eudemonist

The Devil's Notebook is a far better choice than The Satanic Bible, I think.  Better yet, have both.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

"Well-written? I'm pretty sure that Twitter account run by actual wild birds has better sentence structure and less offensive politics." Bingo! Attempts at reading this magnum Oops will cure you of any curiosity.

Anse
Anse

I'm not a goth but I should think something slightly different might be good: Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. It's about a southern serial killer who happens to be a necrophiliac. Anything by McCarthy would probably work, come to think of it, if there is any such thing as a "southern/western" subgenre of goth. Some of those Southern writers have a real dark streak. Flannery O'Connor leaps to mind, too.

drusilla.grey
drusilla.grey

Or that some goths have...This literature degree holding goth only has three of the books listed. Personally I would have added Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and then some history books, and some horror books or ghost story anthologies. But, much like the topic of music, what literature is truly goth or is read by goths is very unique to each person. As long as you're reading, then that is good. Just hide your copies of Twilight and 50 Shades, because those are *not* goth and are grounds for ridicule by goths.

soraaoi
soraaoi

Also, Voltaire came out with a Goth decorator book after What is Goth?
Can't remember the name, but it was just as good.

soraaoi
soraaoi

Can you count 'The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty' and it's sequels count as 'Something Anne Rice' and 'Something S&M'?

eudemonist
eudemonist

@Anse EVERY bookshelf should have some Cormac McCarthy on it, goth or no.  Child of God is a excellent choice for this particular project, though.  But you really should read it.

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@drusilla.grey I was going to have an entry on basic Gothic (In the literary sense) lit like Frankenstein, Dracula, Dorian Gray, etc, but I decided that those are books too good to have on a shelf purely for decorative reasons. 

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@soraaoi I would sat Exit to Eden is a better choice, but sure, go ahead.

Anse
Anse

@JefWithOneF @drusilla.grey Pardon me for being so opinionated, but Dracula may make for great movies but the novel is absolutely dreadful. Really, really bad. 

deceiverofmen
deceiverofmen

@drusilla.grey I thinkit is a terribly boring book. It is historically important for using journal entries, but not done very well.  Its interesting at first, but then it drags as Stoker becomes more obsessed with setting than substance. Half the letters and journals are written by the most uninteresting characters. All the romantic  things in the movies are things the screenwriters made up and aren't present in the snoozefest of a book. But then, I think the movies are pretty gosh darn boring as well. I'd rather read Carmilla. As for Anse saying The Cask of Amontillado is laughter inducing, I was under the impression that it is in fact a comedy for most of the story. Poe was awfully bitter and sarcastic.

Anse
Anse

@drusilla.grey You know...I should own up. It's been many years since I've read it. I remember not liking it. I'll concede that likes are often personal, and I'll go further and admit that I really don't like Poe, either. Poe just...he's just trying so hard. I can't read "The Cask of Amontillado" without laughing. I guess when people say stuff like this it just sounds like somebody trying to be sophisticated enough to be dismissive, but I do come by my opinions honestly.I can't disagree on Shelley or Oscar Wilde. And dare I say that Bronte's Wuthering Heights has a rather gothic quality to it? It's probably my favorite novel

drusilla.grey
drusilla.grey

@Anse exactly what about the book is so awful, in your opinion? I personally think it is brilliantly written. I'm not trying to bait or ridicule you, but to understand why you made that comment.

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