The best books for mucking your way through the brine, slime, and darkness—literally and figuratively

Who am I?

As a fisherman, my travels have taken me to some truly outlandish places and put me in contact with nature’s most dangerous, grotesque denizens. Coming face-to-face with teeth, venomous barbs, and viscous slime has given me a special appreciation for the bizarre, which translated perfectly to horror literature. Horror takes us by the hand and forces it upon the surface of this world’s darkest and weirdest places—the natural world, the human soul, the other side, the beyond—and I am your humble guide to those places. From those places, however? No guarantees. 

I wrote...

Hell's Gulf

By Nick Carlson,

Book cover of Hell's Gulf

What is my book about?

Rowan Vane, a young writer struggling with self-definition (really though, what young person isn’t?), finds himself in the dead center of a salty, sunbleached North Florida beach town for spring break. Emboldened by the lure of inspiration and personal growth, he sets out on a spirit journey, mind ablaze with possibility. But the further he ventures into its depths, the more he comes to realize the extent of the town’s darkness, from its diabolical menagerie of monsters to its corrupt, bloodsoaked history. Can he navigate the wilds of Hell’s Gulf and emerge a better, stronger man? Or will the horrifying truth behind it all end up killing him? 

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The books I picked & why


By Stephen King,

Book cover of It

Why did I love this book?

Despite its biblical length, King’s iconic novel keeps the pages engaging, hilarious, and terrifying—often all at once. While his horror game plays out strong as ever in It, what really makes this story great is its unabashed perspective on childhood, nostalgia, and growing up, all centered in a gilded small-town atmosphere. It is the quintessential coming-of-age tome, tapping deep into the shadowy subconscious of our memories and pasts, while throwing in good old-fashioned blood, guts, and cosmic horror. For some reason I chose this book to give an oral presentation about in seventh grade (while my classmates mostly did The Hunger Games), and I swear I haven’t been the same since. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This tie-in edition will be available from 16 July


27 years later, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back...

Derry, Maine was just an ordinary town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part, a good place to live.

It was a group of children who saw- and felt- what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes…

Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Book cover of Life of Pi

Why did I love this book?

Probably one of the most unique novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, Life of Pi deftly fuses a plethora of elements that otherwise might seem incongruous: zoo culture, religious exploration, survivalism, and adventure, among others. Its attentiveness to biology, its colorful assault on the senses, and its imaginative elements of fantasy make this book a visceral experience as well as a contemplative one. Of all my assigned reading in high school, this one pulled me in with its enigmatic spell and will live forever in my mind and heart. 

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Life of Pi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his…

Book cover of River Monsters: True Stories of the Ones That Didn't Get Away

Why did I love this book?

The stories in this book may be nonfiction, but as author and television host Jeremy Wade establishes, reality is often stranger than myth. You don’t have to be an angler to become enraptured by Wade’s detailed, thrilling accounts of tracking down the world’s most dangerous freshwater fish, complete with suspense, peril, and a deadpan sense of humor. Included are Wade's thoughts on the dynamics of different cultures around the world, the importance of spirituality, and philosophical links between fishing and real life. I may be a passionate fisherman myself (and, admittedly, often fantasize about being in Jeremy Wade’s shoes), but this is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the art of storytelling and the thrill of adventure.

By Jeremy Wade,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked River Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the greatest angling explorer of his generation" ( Independent on Sunday ), Jeremy Wade takes viewers where no wildlife program has gone before. Now Wade goes truly beneath the surface, disclosing full details of how he catches each species and recounting the off-camera highlights of his extraordinary life. From his arrest as a suspected spy in Southeast Asia to a plane crash in the rainforest, every page of the Wall Street Journal bestseller River Monsters is packed with adventure. From the heart of the Congo to the depths of the Amazon, Wade reels in fish of staggering proportions and…

Book cover of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Why did I love this book?

True terror in literature is difficult to pull off in my opinion, but no novel sends chills down my spine like World War Z. Told in a series of interviews a la Studs Terkel, it recounts the darkest period of human history, when the planet was almost overrun by the living dead, and the men and women across the world who suffered through it from its beginning to end. Since the story is entirely relayed through dialogue, the characters’ voices come alive in your mind, bombarding you with accounts of body horror, psychological trauma, and existential dread. The unknown, the implied, and the lingering “what-if” hanging over my head like a knife are what scares me most; the knot in my stomach with each reread is testament to that.

By Max Brooks,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked World War Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginning of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse.

Faced with a future of mindless man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the ten-year fight against the horde, World War Z brings the finest traditions of journalism to bear on what is…

Angels & Demons

By Dan Brown,

Book cover of Angels & Demons

Why did I love this book?

It may not be the most highbrow of novels, but this slick, propulsive thriller is a brilliant exercise in pace, twists, and creativity. Dan Brown’s greatest strength is his ability to craft deliciously convoluted stories and weave the reader through them effortlessly, aided by his colorful characters, sense of humor, and wonderfully wicked scenarios. Of his thriller stock, Angels & Demons is by far his most refined, and it’s a definite recommendation for anyone looking for intensity, charm, and most of all, fun in their next read.

By Dan Brown,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Angels & Demons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

CERN Institute, Switzerland: a world-renowned scientist is found brutally murdered with a mysterious symbol seared onto his chest.

The Vatican, Rome: the College of Cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Somewhere beneath them, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion.

In a breathtaking race against time, Harvard professor Robert Langdon must decipher a labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols if he is to defeat those responsible - the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years, reborn to continue their deadly vendetta against their most hated enemy, the Catholic Church.

Origin, the spellbinding…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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