10 books like Dark Tales

By Shirley Jackson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Dark Tales. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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American Gothic Tales (William Abrahams)

By Joyce Carol Oates (editor),

Book cover of American Gothic Tales (William Abrahams)

As the best introduction to the American Gothic chosen by one of the most prolific modern masters of the genre, this anthology spans two centuries. It offers insightful context and an engaging historical road map to the current site of the genre, the weird and wounded world of the suburbs.

Joyce Carol Oates, who has written some of the most chilling contemporary examples of American Gothic fiction, dissects the shadowy heritage of our national preoccupation with the macabre themes that haunt the American Dream. From Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville through James and Wharton to Anne Rice, Raymond Carver, Stephen King, and several lesser-known writers, Oates provides readers with a provocative selection that probes beneath superficial normality to reach the dangerous psychological abnormalities of our national identity.

American Gothic Tales (William Abrahams)

By Joyce Carol Oates (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Gothic Tales (William Abrahams) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This remarkable anthology of gothic fiction, spanning two centuries of American writing, gives us an intriguing and entertaining look at how the gothic imagination makes for great literature in the works of forty-six exceptional writers.

Joyce Carol Oates has a special perspective on the "gothic" in American short fiction, at least partially because her own horror yarns rank on the spine-tingling chart with the masters. She is able to see the unbroken link of the macabre that ties Edgar Allan Poe to Anne Rice and to recognize the dark psychological bonds between Henry James and Stephen King.

In showing us…


The Virgin Suicides

By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Book cover of The Virgin Suicides

Intensely voyeuristic, The Virgin Suicides is a novel that locks the reader deep in the minds of neighboring obsessed teenage boys. They unravel the mystery of the Lisbon household with a distance that is both far and near in a way that shows Jeffrey Eugenides’ mastery of the written word. The novel is told by the collective of boys after they’ve become men, all still unable to let go. Their childish male gaze turned adult insight into the secrets that surround both the Lisbon daughters and those close to them are haunting. Also, the prose is stunning.

The Virgin Suicides

By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Virgin Suicides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing the Collins Modern Classics, a series featuring some of the most significant books of recent times, books that shed light on the human experience - classics which will endure for generations to come.

That girl didn't want to die. She just wanted out of that house. She wanted out of that decorating scheme.

The five Lisbon sisters - beautiful, eccentric and, now, gone - had always been a point of obsession for the entire neighbourhood.

Although the boys that once loved them from afar have grown up, they remain determined to understand a tragedy that has defied explanation. The…


Everything That Rises Must Converge

By Flannery O'Connor,

Book cover of Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories

Although trespassing on Faulknerian Southern gothic territory, this posthumous collection of nine demonically disquieting stories by Flannery O’Connor pits inhabitants of the New South circa 1960 against old school elemental forces of mystery and revelation.

Set in and around the suburbs of what she called the modern “Christ-haunted” south -- whether on a newly desegregated bus trip to the YWCA, in a doctor’s waiting room, or in a social worker’s ordinary suburban home, grotesque eruptions of violence are the means to startling and sometimes deadly ends. Hypocritical manners that mask ugly generational racism, false liberalism that leads to an unthinkable family tragedy, even the simple act of getting a tattoo – all have theological implications in stories that reveal O’Connor’s uniquely apocalyptic vision, presented with unwavering comic detachment.

Everything That Rises Must Converge

By Flannery O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything That Rises Must Converge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Flannery O'Connor was working on Everything That Rises Must Converge at the time of her death. This collection is an exquisite legacy from a genius of the American short story, in which she scrutinizes territory familiar to her readers: race, faith, and morality. The stories encompass the comic and the tragic, the beautiful and the grotesque; each carries her highly individual stamp and could have been written by no one else.


Ghost World

By Daniel Clowes,

Book cover of Ghost World

I don’t think I like Ghost World, but it belongs on this list. When I think of Clowes’ work I think of caricature, but the environments in Ghost World pull most of the storytelling weight. You can hear the hum of the fluorescents in the grocery store and the wind between buildings on an empty street.

Ghost World

By Daniel Clowes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ghost World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1998 Ignatz Award Winner, Outstanding Graphic Novel: The inspiration for the feature film and one of the most acclaimed graphic novels ever.

Ghost World has become a cultural and generational touchstone, and continues to enthrall and inspire readers over a decade after its original release as a graphic novel. Originally serialized in the pages of the seminal comic book Eightball throughout the mid-1990s, this quasi-autobiographical story (the name of one of the protagonists is famously an anagram of the author's name) follows the adventures of two teenage girls, Enid and Becky, two best friends facing the prospect of growing up,…


Little Children

By Tom Perrotta,

Book cover of Little Children

I love a book rich with flawed characters; this one is full of them. Perrotta’s peek into the mundane life of a stay-at-home mother at war with her lot in life is delicious. Sarah once coined herself a feminist, and now, she’s wiping noses. It’s a struggle many mothers of little children face, and while most don’t go to the lengths Perrotta’s characters explore, it’s a valiant example of losing oneself for the sake of a higher calling: motherhood. 

I first read this book at graduate school, with two babies at home. Perrotta taught me that exploring the human condition is necessary for connecting with readers. I’ve received many letters from readers citing that they connected with Veronica on the pages of Trespassing, and that’s the best accolade.

Little Children

By Tom Perrotta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Unexpectedly suspenseful, but written with all the fluency and dark humor of Tom Perrotta's The Wishbones and Joe College, Little Children exposes the adult dramas unfolding amidst the swingsets and slides of an ordinary American playground.

Tom Perrotta's thirty-ish parents of young children are a varied and surprising bunch. There's Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad dubbed "The Prom King" by the moms of the playground; Sarah, a lapsed feminist with a bisexual past, who seems to have stumbled into a traditional marriage; Richard, Sarah's husband, who has found himself more and more involved with a fantasy life on the internet…


Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates,

Book cover of Revolutionary Road

It’s the 1950s and in spite of the staid conservative culture of the times, Anne Wheeler and her husband Frank have artistic aspirations. When they move from New York City to Connecticut, they struggle to hold on to their identities. Anne is adrift, starring in amateur suburban theater and keeping house and Frank is working long days in a job he hates. When their plans to move to Paris are derailed, the result is tragic. This horror adjacent novel is single-handedly the main reason I never settled in Westchester or Connecticut—opting for a funky Hudson Valley village insteadand was a big influence on my own novel. 

Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Revolutionary Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as a masterpiece from its first publication, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary. With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April's decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy.


Holy Land

By D.J. Waldie,

Book cover of Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir

A lyrical and deeply intimate portrait of suburban Southern California in the Cold War. At once odd and beautiful, the book is a memoir, a history lesson, and an argument about how mere houses become homes all rolled into one tidy volume. Its publication nearly thirty years ago came as a surprise. Holy Land has continued to be a touchstone of the quieter and more contemplative aspects of life, family, and neighborhood in the often-overlooked ordinary places where love and loss happen just as often as they do anywhere else.

Holy Land

By D.J. Waldie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its publication in 1996, Holy Land has become an American classic. In "quick, translucent prose" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) that is at once lyrical and unsentimental, D. J. Waldie recounts growing up in Lakewood, California, a prototypical post-World War II suburb. Laid out in 316 sections as carefully measured as a grid of tract houses, Holy Land is by turns touching, eerie, funny, and encyclopedic in its handling of what was gained and lost when thousands of blue-collar families were thrown together in the suburbs of the 1950s. An intensely realized and wholly original memoir about the way…


The Quick and the Dead

By Joy Williams,

Book cover of The Quick and the Dead

Alice, Corvus, and Annabel, children without mothers, traverse air-conditioned buildings and desert landscapes, strewn with symbols and signs of mortality—from the preservation of those teetering on the brink of death at a nursing home to a wildlife museum full of taxidermies; and these teenagers are orbited by agitated, confused adults who seem wholly unaware of the strangeness—and messages—defining their lives. Joy Williams is a master at dark humor in literary fiction, and The Quick and the Dead is one of her finest achievements.

The Quick and the Dead

By Joy Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quick and the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • From one of our most heralded writers comes the “poetic, disturbing, yet very funny” (The Washington Post Book World) life-and-death adventures of three misfit teenagers in the American desert.

Alice, Corvus, and Annabel, each a motherless child, are an unlikely circle of friends. One filled with convictions, another with loss, the third with a worldly pragmatism, they traverse an air-conditioned landscape eccentric with signs and portents—from the preservation of the living dead in a nursing home to the presentation of the dead as living in a wildlife museum—accompanied by restless, confounded adults.

A father lusts after…


Paradise Under Glass

By Ruth Kassinger,

Book cover of Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates a Conservatory Garden

Sometimes you don’t need glossy colour photographs of plants to be transported to green pastures. Ruth Kassinger charts her journey from complete plant novice to houseplant addict enchantingly with stories of visits to nurseries across the US as she learns about the plants she longs for and how they are grown. Before long, her conservatory fills with treasures, each with a story to tell. You come away inspired and encouraged to follow in her footsteps to create your own green patchwork of plants even if you live in the smallest apartment in the most inhospitable climate.

Paradise Under Glass

By Ruth Kassinger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paradise Under Glass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paradise Under Glass is a witty and absorbing memoir about one woman's unlikely desire to build, stock, and tend a small conservatory in her suburban Maryland home. Ruth Kassinger's wonderful story of the unique way she chose to cope with the profound changes in her life-a book that will delight readers of Eat, Pray, Love and I Feel Bad About My Neck-is interwoven with the fascinating history of conservatories from the Renaissance orangeries to the glass palaces of Kew.


The House Next Door

By Anne Rivers Siddons,

Book cover of The House Next Door

This is a significant departure from the notion of a “haunted house” most of us are familiar with. We expect an old house, haunted by the past, far from humankind, and left to rot and fester in isolation somewhere remote. The haunted house in Siddons’s novel, however, is right in the middle of an upper-class neighborhood in Atlanta, and it’s a brand-new build. Rather than being haunted by the ghosts of the past inhabitants, the house itself is a force of evil, corrupting all who cross its threshold in terrible, terrifying, and often deadly ways.

The House Next Door

By Anne Rivers Siddons,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The House Next Door as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unparalleled picture of that vibrant but dark intersection where the Old and the New South collide.

Thirtysomething Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live in a charming, peaceful suburb of newly bustling Atlanta, Georgia. Life is made up of enjoyable work, long, lazy weekends, and the company of good neighbors. Then, to their shock, construction starts on the vacant lot next door, a wooded hillside they'd believed would always remain undeveloped. Disappointed by their diminished privacy, Colquitt and Walter soon realize something more is wrong with the house next door. Surely the house can’t be haunted, yet it seems to destroy…


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