LITERARY DARKNESS is a book discussion group on Goodreads with over 3,000 members, many of them teachers, librarians, writers – passionate readers all. As the group enters its seventh year, our knowledgeable and enthusiastic membership continues to analyze and appreciate dark literature. This annual list of notable books is in no way intended as an award, nor is it meant to imply exclusivity. It is a reading list, pure and simple. Many wonderful books are out there, and we hope to experience them all. Our goal is to help others discover them as well.

Come. Explore with us.

Some books become lights in the eternal darkness. What follows is a list of recommendations and commendations … combined with expressions of heartfelt gratitude to the many fine writers who keep readers awake at night.

Fresh Blood:
These are new titles recognized by the group as having made a considerable impact during the past year.

Sacrificial Nights by Bruce Boston and Alessandro Manzetti
The Black Room Manuscripts edited by Daniel Marc Chant
The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates
The Quarantined City by James Everington
Devil's Breath by Greg F. Gifune
Circus Philosophicus by Graham Harman
I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like by Justin Isis
Little Girls by Ronald Malfi
Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward
Aickman's Heirs edited by Simon Strantzas

These may be collections of short fiction or literary essays, anthologies or novels. All are from the recent past and all are extraordinary.

Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler
The St. Perpetuus Club of Buenos Aires by Eric Stener Carlson
Duplex by Kathryn Davis
Descent by Sandy DeLuca
Fugue State by Brian Evenson
After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones
Dreams of Shadow and Smoke: Stories for J.S. Le Fanu, edited by Jim Rockhill and Brian J. Showers
The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing by Nicholas Rombes
My Pet Serial Killer by Michael Seidlinger
Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck

Calling a book a Classic can be like entombing it. Many readers would sooner pry open the lid of a coffin than peer between those musty pages. Often this represents a sort of tragedy: some books seethe with life and emotion… and cry out to be read. These are among our favorites.

Vertigo by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
Nazareth Hill by Ramsey Campbell
Fengriffen & Other Gothic Tales by David Case
Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein
Day Dark, Night Bright by Fritz Leiber
The Bad Seed by William March
The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories by Horacio Quiroga
Passion by I. U. Tarchetti

Buried Treasures:
This is a list of titles, some celebrated, some obscure, that in so many ways evoke the finest qualities of literary darkness.

Nightmares of an Ether Drinker by Jean Lorrain
Day of the Arrow by Philip Loraine
Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte
The Beetle: A Mystery by Richard Marsh
Gifts for the One Who Comes After by Helen Marshall
Looking for Jake and Other Stories by China Miéville
The Quincux by Charles Palliser
Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
Don't Dream: The Collected Horror and Fantasy Fiction of Donald Wandrei
Descent into Hell by Charles Williams

LITERARY DARKNESS is dedicated to an appreciation of important works of literature, both classic and contemporary, that happen to fall into the category of dark fiction. We tend to avoid the big, banal blockbusters (and more lurid fare) in favor of beautifully written explorations of the unknown, many obscure, all extraordinary. In addition to maintaining hundreds of ongoing conversations – on topics ranging from favorite classics to cutting-edge subgenres – LITERARY DARKNESS features a popular group reading series. (We are currently reading THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood.) We also run a successful series of short story readings as well as a poetry series. Join us.

Over the years, we have discussed hundreds of titles and authors. In the past year, the following books were selected by the membership to be read within the group, and the links provided should help clarify some of the criteria involved.

Despair by Vladimir Nabokov
DESPAIR by Vladimir Nabokov

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
DHALGREN by Samuel R. Delany

Nocturnes by John Connolly
NOCTURNESby John Connolly

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND by Flannery O’Connor

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
IN COLD BLOODby Truman Capote

Narrow Rooms by James Purdy
NARROW ROOMSby James Purdy

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN by Patricia Highsmith

No Night is Too Long by Barbara Vine
NO NIGHT IS TOO LONG by Barbara Vine

For more information, visit the LITERARY DARKNESS group:

Come. Savor the darkness with us.
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Published on August 10, 2016 11:15 Tags: best, books, reading-list
Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)    post a comment »
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message 1: by Paula (new)

Paula Cappa Fabulous list of titles here, Robert. High-quality authors!


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Dunbar Thanks, Paula!

message 3: by Corinna (new)

Corinna Bechko I'm so glad this is here. Loading up the Kindle for an upcoming trip.

message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert Dunbar Corinna wrote: "I'm so glad this is here. Loading up the Kindle for an upcoming trip."

Oh, good. Some real treasures!

message 5: by Corinna (new)

Corinna Bechko I usually hate to fly, but I'm actually looking forward to having the uninterrupted reading time now that I've secured several of these!

message 6: by Robert (new)

Robert Dunbar Wonderful!

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