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H.P. Lovecraft
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Authors > Which of H.P Lovecraft's stories should I start with?

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message 1: by Mairéad (new)

Mairéad | 13 comments I'm going to the library tonight and I want to give his work a go and see if I like it. I already like Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley so I think I'll like him!

But where do I start?
Should I start with a volume of short stories?
Or a single story?
Or does it not matter at all because he's THAT good?

Suggestions please! (:


message 2: by Armand (new)

Armand Rosamilia (armandrosamilia) He is that good... but if they have a short story collection I suggest that...

Armand Rosamilia
Death Metal


message 3: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) I think it does matter where you start with Lovecraft because his stories do vary in quality and accessability.

If you are wondering which book to pick up by him then I would suggest The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. It is one of three volumes by Penguin that are regarded as the definitive texts on the stories they contain and also contain extensive introductions and annotations by S.T. Joshi (an authority on Lovecraft).

As for particular stories to start with, I would recommend starting with one of the medium length stories from the latter period of his career such as "Shadows over Innsmouth", "Whisperer in the Darkness", "Colour out of Space" or "Shadow out of Time". Also very good from earlier in his career are "Rats in the Walls" and "The Shunned House".

N.B. "Shadows over Innsmouth", "Whisperer in the Darkness", "Colour out of Space" & "Rats in the Walls" are all contained in the Penguin collection mentioned above.

There are plenty of other great stories by Lovecraft of course, and I'm sure you'll get many different suggestions. But that's my advice.


message 4: by Scott (new)

Scott I think you should definitely start with the shorter work. Some of his longer pieces can be a real chore to get through, especially if you're new to his style of writing.

The Del Rey editions I got my start with are out of print now, but Waking Up Screaming: Haunting Tales of Terror should still be available. If you can find the older collections, I'd recommend The Tomb and Other Tales and The Lurking Fear and Other Stories.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Mairead wrote: "I'm going to the library tonight and I want to give his work a go and see if I like it. I already like Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley so I think I'll like him!

But where do I start?
Should ..."


I would suggest "Call of Cthulhu" (if you like it, you can start reading all of the other "mythos" stories as well as related stories by other authors such as Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith, Ramsey Campbell, etc.) and "Dreams in the Witch House" (which is very creepy and one of my favorite stories). If you don't like either story, HPL may not be for you...


message 6: by Scott (new)

Scott Baker | 148 comments My favorites are PICKMAN"S MODEL and THE STRANGE CASE OF HENRY DEXTER WARD.


message 7: by Traci (new)

Traci Where a beginner should start and what the best stories are have two answers for me. Not the best and actually quite campy compared to his other work I would start with ReAnimator, it's the most accessible. My favorite is At the Moutains of Maddness but you should practice reading him first. Also don't judge him by one or two stories. Some of his short work isn't very good to me. And some are more horror than others, others more science fiction. Hope you find one you like.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree that At the Mountains of Madness is one of, if not the, best story by HPL but I would save it until the end, partly because it's a novella but partly also because it's a culmination of his themes.

by the way, the adaptation of ReAnimator is not bad either. If I'm correct, there's a full-length feature with Jeffrey Combs and David Cronenberg but also a good short film with David Warner (rest in peace) in an anthology film called Necronomicon


message 9: by Traci (new)

Traci I like the movie ReAnimator. Also the movie Unnamable that's based on the Randolph Carter stories. From Beyond. Shuttered Room is another Lovecraft based movie but it's very different than the story it's based on. The Curse is actually a good movie based on Colour Out of Space.

Another story that would be a good starting point, it was recommended to me was, Imprisoned with the Pharaohs. It's a more straight forward horror/adventure story.


message 10: by Scott (new)

Scott Most of the Lovecraft-based movies are done as horror-comedy. Some of them are fun, but they're not exactly faithful.

I saw one a couple years ago, though--The Call of Cthulhu--that was done in the style of a silent film from the 20s or 30s. It was really great and captured the atmosphere of the stories really well.


message 11: by Simon (new)

Simon (friedegg) Scott wrote: "I saw one a couple years ago, though--The Call of Cthulhu--that was done in the style of a silent film from the 20s or 30s. It was really great and captured the atmosphere of the stories really well. "

Yes, I've got that on DVD. An excellent adaptation.


message 12: by Creature (new)

Creature | 34 comments Hello:
"The Call of Cthulhu" was an excellent movie.
Good starter stories are "Pickman's Model" and "Rats in the Wall."
Have a Great Day!!!
The "Creature"


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I actually think that "Dagon" or "The Temple" make nice introductions to HPL.

For newcomers I'd also recommend:

Herbert West - Reanimator
The Call of Cthulhu
Pickman's Model
The Dunwich Horror
The Shadow Over Innsmouth

/|\(;,;)/|\


message 14: by Mairéad (new)

Mairéad | 13 comments Simon wrote: "I think it does matter where you start with Lovecraft because his stories do vary in quality and accessability.

If you are wondering which book to pick up by him then I would suggest [book:The Cal..."


Hi Simon thanks for the suggestion!
I ordered it from another library and it's on it's way to my local library now! (:


message 15: by Mairéad (last edited Jul 14, 2011 08:41AM) (new)

Mairéad | 13 comments Scott wrote: "Most of the Lovecraft-based movies are done as horror-comedy. Some of them are fun, but they're not exactly faithful.

I saw one a couple years ago, though--The Call of Cthulhu--that was done in t..."


Oooh I shall have to check that out! I love old horror movies!


message 16: by Mairéad (new)

Mairéad | 13 comments Michael wrote: "Mairead wrote: "I'm going to the library tonight and I want to give his work a go and see if I like it. I already like Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley so I think I'll like him!

But where do I st..."


I've actually read his work online!
On http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600... just to get a taste of his writing style and it's piqued my interest!!


message 17: by G.R. (new)

G.R. Yeates (gryeates) | 69 comments I'd suggest The Colour Out of Space. It's a short story and is regarded as one of his best works.


message 18: by Greg (new)

Greg | 1646 comments Horrorshow wrote: "I actually think that "Dagon" or "The Temple" make nice introductions to HPL.

For newcomers I'd also recommend:

Herbert West - Reanimator
The Call of Cthulhu
Pickman's Model
The Dunwich Ho..."


I would agree with all of your choices except "Dagon". I thought that particular story was pretty boring when I read it some time in the last century! But then I was only 21 at the time so maybe I might enjoy it if I re-read it now.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Greg wrote: "Horrorshow wrote: "I actually think that "Dagon" or "The Temple" make nice introductions to HPL.

For newcomers I'd also recommend:

Herbert West - Reanimator
The Call of Cthulhu
Pickman's Mo..."


My reasons for including "Dagon" is that (as Lin Carter once pointed out) the story represents an interesting prefiguring of themes that would later emerge in HPL's world of Yog-Sothothery. Indeed, multiple Lovecraft scholars have described "The Call of Cthulhu" as essentially a thorough reworking of "Dagon". Parallels between the two stories are obvious and numerous.


message 20: by Greg (new)

Greg | 1646 comments Horrorshow wrote: "My reasons for including "Dagon" is that (as Lin Carter once pointed out) the story represents an interesting prefiguring of themes that would later emerge in HPL's world of Yog-Sothothery. Indeed, multiple Lovecraft scholars have described "The Call of Cthulhu" as essentially a thorough reworking of "Dagon". Parallels between the two stories are obvious and numerous."

I take your point that it would make sense to read "Dagon" early on if it prefigures "The Call of Cthulhu" but as an introduction to Lovecraft, I wouldn't have recommended it based on my own reading of the tale. But as I mentioned previously, I might enjoy it better if I re-read it.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Greg wrote: "I wouldn't have recommended it based on my own reading of the tale."

Fair enough. I doubt that many would list "Dagon" near the top of their preferred HPL tales. It's a good example though of any early piece of Lovecraft's writing that had a definite "Lovecraftian" feel as opposed to say a "Dunsanian" bent.


message 22: by Philip (new)

Philip Hemplow | 31 comments I would start with The Call Of Cthulhu, frankly. It's a fantastic story with an unusual structure, some of his best writing and a fantastic atmosphere. The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Shadow Out Of Time and At The Mountains Of Madness are also good starting places. Of his shorter shorts, I particularly like The Temple (seriously, why is that not included in that lovely, big, black-bound collection they released last year or the year before?) and The Statement Of Randolph Carter, both very accessible tasters.


message 23: by Traci (new)

Traci I was intimidated by the mythos stories when I first started reading HPL. I had to get comfortable with his style first. I agree anyone could start with Call of Cthulhu but At the Mountains of Maddness? Lol. That felt like an achievement when I finally tackled that one. And I'm glad I saved it because I got to enjoy the story without trying to translate the language.
btw has anyone here read Abraham Merritt? His writting was more action than horror but still similiar to HPL to me.


message 24: by Carl (last edited Aug 10, 2011 10:16AM) (new)

Carl (azezal) | 34 comments I've just purchased Necronomicon The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft and what a beautiful presentation of a book. It's a commemorative edition and cost me £20 from Waterstones but it contains 36 HP Lovecraft tales in one including some of the best like The Call of Cthulu, The Dunwich Horror, At the Mountains of Madness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I have not been that excited at buying a book I think I whooped (see other posts in this forum - think its the Joe Hill topic!). Currently reading Stephen Kings Just After Sunset but I think I now want to drop it to read this masterpiece.
Not sure if this edition is readily available over in the US but if you live in UK, this is a must buy.


message 25: by Mairéad (new)

Mairéad | 13 comments Carl wrote: "I've just purchased Necronomicon The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft and what a beautiful presentation of a book. It's a commemorative edition and cost me £20 from Waterstones but..."

Haha yes I have had several "whoop" moments lately, after finally tracking down a few books on Amazon by horror authors that have been recommended to me! ^^
I live in Ireland so I should be able to find that collection!


message 26: by Philip (new)

Philip Hemplow | 31 comments I've come so close to buying that collection, just because of how nice it is - but it doesn't have The Temple in it! I can't get over that, for some reason. Why couldn't they make it a complete collection?


message 27: by Robb (new)

Robb Bridson I'd recommend "Call of Cthulhu", "Whisperer in Darkness", and "Shadow Over Innsmouth" as the best entry-points into the Cthulhu Mythos.
Another good starting point could be "The Colour From Out of Space" for horror fans and "Cats of Ulthar" for fantasy fans.


message 28: by Latasha (new)

Latasha (latasha513) | 10684 comments Mod
my favorites are the shadow over innsmouth & the lurking fear.


message 29: by Karl (new)

Karl Øen | 8 comments The Thing on the Doorstep...


message 30: by T.C. (new)

T.C. Filburn (tcfilburn) | 13 comments Horrorshow wrote: "Greg wrote: "I doubt that many would list "Dagon" near the top of their preferred HPL tales. "
Bit late responding to this post, but I would, as it happens. It has always been one of my favourites. In fact, I even named my dog after it!

As a starting point, though, I would probably recommend Shadow Over Innsmouth.


message 31: by L.G. (new)

L.G. Estrella | 74 comments Lovecraft's stories vary quite dramatically in both accessibility and quality. At its best his writing is almost poetic, but at its worst his writing can seem plodding and dense.

I would start with something general like Pickman's Model or The Color Out of Space, neither of which requires a great deal of knowledge about the broader Cthulhu mythos. The Lurking Fear is another good read that does not require a lot of assumed knowledge.


message 32: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Rutigliano | 136 comments For something a little meatier, At the Mountains of Madness or The Call of Cthulhu would be good. The Rats in the Walls and the Color Out of Space are probably his best two shorter works.


message 33: by David (new)

David Hambling Dunwich Horror, Innsmouth and Mountains of Madness for sure.

Colour out of space and Rats in the walls also stayed with me a long time -- HPL may not be a 'good' writer, but he is a great one.


message 34: by suavelizard (new)

suavelizard | 1 comments The most known one is obviously Call of Cthulhu, however I recommend The Colour out of Space it is quite unnerving and doesn't immediately jump into a lot of the broader mythos which will give you a taste of the style without a lot of extra.


message 35: by Mark (new)

Mark Simmons (themarkasimmons) | 6 comments Dagon.


message 36: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Hey guys have you thought to check out Amazon kindle copy of Complete Collection Of H.P.Lovecraft - 150 eBooks With 100+ Audio Book Links(Complete Collection Of Lovecraft's Fiction,Juvenilia,Poems,Essays And Collaborations) by H.P. Lovecraft Complete Collection Of H.P.Lovecraft - 150 eBooks With 100+ Audio Book Links. I ended up getting this so I could finally pick up one of his books to read.


message 37: by Brett (new)

Brett Talley | 235 comments Dagon was the first story by him I read, in The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. It was the perfect taste of what was to come.


message 38: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Cushing | 6 comments Unlike a lot of people, I didn't grow up reading Lovecraft. I didn't start reading him until I stumbled onto one of my hubbie's books in our basement.

Anyway, I started with "The Call of Cthluhu" and found it to be a good introduction. (After all, why not start with his most well-known character?)

Plus, that story starts with a paragraph of assertions that are often quoted as summarizing HPL's philosophy.


message 39: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth McKinley | 1515 comments Mod
suavelizard wrote: "The most known one is obviously Call of Cthulhu, however I recommend The Colour out of Space it is quite unnerving and doesn't immediately jump into a lot of the broader mythos which will give you ..."

I love the Colour Out of Space.

Herbert West - Re-Animator
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
At The Mountains of Madness

These are at the top of my Lovecraft Can't Miss List


message 40: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Hoping this month to finally pick up one of his books and its going to be The Shunned House.


message 41: by Chris (new)

Chris (gonetoyourhaed) | 41 comments Many have already offered great input but I'll throw mine in anyway :) I started out just grabbing one of his many anthologies and reading the selection of stories within. But after reading almost everything he's written (Amazon Kindle store has some great cheap "entire works" collections) I've got to say one of my favorites is "The Lurking Fear". It's not terribly long but I think it's one of his eerier, scarier stories.


message 42: by Latasha (new)

Latasha (latasha513) | 10684 comments Mod
audible has a collection of HPL's stories on sale for 5.95. yes, I know his work is public domain but sometimes those recordings can be rough.


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