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

Categories: Books
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5. Just the Right Amount of Anne Rice: A lot of goths started turning up their noses at Anne Rice's books in the late '90s... but then Twilight came out and we all said how very, very sorry we were. Here's the thing about a proper Anne Rice collection on your shelf. You can't just own Interview With the Vampire because it makes you look like you have no depth. You must have at least one Mayfair Witch book, one of her non-supernatural historical novels like Feast of All Saints, and one of the smut books. If you can swing it, a complete bibliography looks keen, and you can always say you're working through it if anyone asks about one of the books.

4. A Practical Guide to S&M: Goth and kinky sex are supposed to go together, even if you consider a weird position to be the foot of the bed. Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission is a nice thick book that will let the casual bookshelf-glancer know that you know which end of the whip goes where. You can also substitute real-world debauchery with The 120 Days of Sodom.

3. Something "Quirky" About Dead Bodies: There may be nothing more stereotypically gothic than a love of cemeteries. Fascination with burial and death is more or less the par. Cemetery Stories by Katherine Ramsland is full of easy to digest tales of weird graves, corpse adventures, and even a bit about necrophilia that you will want to bookmark for reactionary fun. After the Funeral by Edwin Murphy is also a good go-to collection of stories about the silly things that happen to famous people's bodies. This goes in the bathroom, by the way, not the shelf. It gives people the impression that you consider death light-hearted fare.

2. David J. Skal: Want something on old monster movies or horror actors? How about a cultural history of Halloween complete with murder and haunted houses? Vampires? All of these things have been the subject of scholarly books by David J. Skal, and each one of them is better than the last. Death Makes a Holiday is especially fun, exploring the most important date on the gothic calendar by looking at how Halloween is perceived across America.

1. What is Goth?: Voltaire is basically goth's court jester, there to both be highly placed and to mock every thing we do. As a musician his work is both satirical and surprisingly deep and nuanced, but What is Goth?, his basic guide to the more ridiculously over-the-top aspects of goth, is both hilariously and needed to show people you aren't above laughing at yourself. Might be a good idea to flip through the book and at least make sure the pictures don't look like you.

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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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