Guest Post: Mike Thorn’s 100 Favorite Books of All Time

Every book I’ve written has been a stew of influences: historical and contemporary novels, short stories, poetry, philosophy, biography, and more. I’ve drawn extensively on other texts’ narrative traditions and plot elements, but style is always what first pulls me into a book, more than story, more than genre, more than anything. It’s interesting to reflect, then: to what extent is a writer’s style “pre-ordained” or “hardwired”? Alternately, we might ask: does style arise from the concatenation of a writer’s influences? The truth is that most writers have certain innate mannerisms that arise from their subjective experiences, but also that they discover and hone and refine their voices by reading others. When assembling this list of books, I clearly saw the foundations and references for so much of the work I’ve produced. I always assert that reading is actually part of the writing process, debatably even the most important part. If I had never read Thompson, Selby, Lovecraft, and Poe, I might never have written Shelter for the Damned. Darkest Hours owes a lot to my discovery of Koja, Ligotti, Robinson, and King (among many others). A list of favorite books is always more a snapshot of a moment in time than it is some unmoving, monumental thing: if you asked me to assemble this list ten years ago, it would look a lot different, and undoubtedly it will continue shifting as I continue aging and reading and aging and reading. When compiling this list, I decided to restrict myself to one title per author. And so, here it is: organized by authors’ last names, my 100 personal favorite books as of late 2021. Happy reading.


Mike Thorn’s 100 Favorite Books of All Time

Dark Entries, by Robert Aickman (1964)

Whore, by Nelly Arcan [translated by Bruce Benderson] (2001)

If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin (1974)

The Damnation Game, by Clive Barker (1985)

Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, by Georges Bataille [translated by Allan Stoekl, Carl R. Lovitt, and Donald M. Leslie Jr.] (1985)

The Flowers of Evil, by Charles Baudelaire [edited by Marthiel and Jackson Mathews, various translators] (1857)

The Woman Destroyed, by Simone de Beauvoir [translated by Patrick O’Brian] (1967)

The Unnamable, by Samuel Beckett (1953)

Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood, by Algernon Blackwood [selected by E. F. Bleiler] (1973)

Songs of Innocence and of Experience, by William Blake (1789)

The Scarf, by Robert Bloch (1947 / 1966)

Antwerp, by Roberto Bolaño [translated by Natasha Wimmer] (2002)

Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings, by Jorge Luis Borges [translated by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby] (1962)

Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury (1962)

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë (1846)

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (1847)

Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs (1959)

The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain (1934)

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie (1939)

On the Heights of Despair, by E. M. Cioran [translated by Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston] (1933)

Underworld, by Don DeLillo (1997)

Everything That’s Underneath, by Kristi DeMeester (2017)

A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick (1977)

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (1860)

Play It As It Lays, by Joan Didion (1970)

The Obscene Bird of Night, by José Donoso [translated by Hardie St. Martin and Leonard Mades] (1970)

The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)

Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life, by George Eliot (1871)

American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

Sanctuary, by William Faulkner (1931)

The Beautiful and Damned, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922)

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (1954)

My Face for the World to See, by Alfred Hayes (1958)

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, by James Hogg (1824)

Only Pretty Damned, by Niall Howell (2019)

The Damned, by Joris-Karl Huysmans [translated by Terry Hale] (1891)

The Lost Weekend, by Charles Jackson (1944)

The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson (1959)

The Bostonians, by Henry James (1886)

Ulysses, by James Joyce (1922)

The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka [translated by Stanley Corngold] (1915)

Asylum Piece, by Anna Kavan (1940)

The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum (1989)

It, by Stephen King (1986)

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, by Gwendolyn Kiste (2017)

Skin, by Kathe Koja (1993)

Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, by Julia Kristeva [translated by Leon S. Roudiez] (1980)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D. H. Lawrence (1923)

I’m from Nowhere, by Lindsay Lerman (2019)

Autoportrait, by Édouard Levé [translated by Lorin Stein] (2005)

Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin (1967)

The Monk, by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1796)

Songs of a Dead Dreamer, by Thomas Ligotti (1986)

The Best of H . P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre, by H. P. Lovecraft [edited by August Derleth] (1963)

On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius [translated by Frank O. Copley] (55 BCE)

The Ahuman Manifesto: Activism for the End of the Anthropocene, by Patricia MacCormack (2020)

Shock!, by Richard Matheson (1961)

Melmoth the Wanderer, by Charles Robert Maturin (1820)

The Breaking Point, by Daphne du Maurier (1959)

Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy (1973)

The Running Trees, by Amber McMillan (2021)

The Seventh Mansion, by Maryse Meijer (2020)

Moby Dick; or, The Whale, by Herman Melville (1851)

Paradise Lost, by John Milton (1667)

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, by Yukio Mishima [translated by John Nathan] (1963)

Strange is the Night, by S. P. Miskowski (2017)

On the Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Nietzsche [translated by Michael A. Scarpitti] (1887)

Delta of Venus, by Anaïs Nin (1969)

McTeague: A Story of San Francisco, by Frank Norris (1899)

Zombie, by Joyce Carol Oates (1995)

Wise Blood, by Flannery O’Connor (1952)

Ariel, by Sylvia Plath (1965)

The Trial and Death of Socrates, by Plato [translated by G.M.A. Grube and John M. Cooper] (400 BCE)

Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe [edited by Edward H. Davidson] (1956)

The Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe (1794)

City of Night, by John Rechy (1963)

Voyage in the Dark, by Jean Rhys (1934)

Illuminations, by Arthur Rimbaud [translated by Louise Varèse] (1875)

The Ideal, Genuine Man, by Don Robertson (1987)

Traplines, by Eden Robinson (1996)

The World as Will and Representation, Vol. I, by Arthur Schopenhauer [translated by Judith Norman, Alistair Welchman, and Christropher Janaway] (1819)

Arctic Smoke, by Randy Nikkel Schroeder (2019)

The Demon, by Hubert Selby Jr. (1976)

Macbeth, by William Shakespeare (1606)

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley (1818)

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith (2000)

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

Dracula, by Bram Stoker (1897)

Ghost Story, by Peter Straub (1979)

Horror of Philosophy, vols. 1-3, by Eugene Thacker (2011-2015)

A Hell of a Woman, by Jim Thompson (1954)

The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien (1955)

Cane, by Jean Toomer (1923)

The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror, by Dylan Trigg (2014)

The Other, by Thomas Tryon (1971)

A History of Touching, by Erin Emily Ann Vance (2022; forthcoming)

The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells (1897)

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton (1920)

The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde (1890)

To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf (1927)



Credit: Ash Thompson

Mike Thorn is the author of Shelter for the DamnedDarkest Hours, and Peel Back and See. The Spanish translation of Shelter for the Damned is scheduled for a 2022 release through Dilatando Mentes. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, including Vastarien and The NoSleep Podcast, and it has earned praise from Jamie Blanks (director of Urban Legend), Jeffrey Reddick (creator of Final Destination), and Daniel Goldhaber (director of Cam). His essays and articles have been published in American Twilight: The Cinema of Tobe Hooper (University of Texas Press), Beyond Empowertainment: Exploring Feminist HorrorThe Film Stage, and elsewhere. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick.

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