100 books like The Exorcist

By William Peter Blatty,

Here are 100 books that The Exorcist fans have personally recommended if you like The Exorcist. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Things Fall Apart

Robert G. Parkinson Author Of Heart of American Darkness: Bewilderment and Horror on the Early Frontier

From my list on the intersection of fiction and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fiction has a way of capturing people, places, and phenomena that often elude source-bound historians. As I say in my book, you feel the weight of all the terrible things Colonel Kurtz has done in central Africa far more by his whispering “the horror, the horror” than I, as a historian, could possibly convey by listing them out and analyzing them. That feel–especially what contingency feels like–is something historians should seek out and try to pull into their craft of writing. Getting used to and using fiction to help historians see and feel the past is a worthwhile endeavor. 

Robert's book list on the intersection of fiction and history

Robert G. Parkinson Why did Robert love this book?

The idea to adapt Conrad’s Heart of Darkness came from my teaching of modern world history every semester. Later in that course, I would have students read Achebe’s novel as a foil or answer to Heart of Darkness. The Congolese in Heart are barely people: they have no names, and they are only really described by parts of their bodies.

This book presents the West African world–the communities, the customs, the emotions, the families–that colonialism destroys. While it is easy to be swept away by the story’s momentum in the last two dozen pages, take some time early in the novel to enjoy the world that Achebe lovingly paints. I think it is among the most human expressions of fiction you can read.  

By Chinua Achebe,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Things Fall Apart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of International Man Booker Prize 2007.


Book cover of A Clockwork Orange

AK Nevermore Author Of Grimdarke

From my list on motorcycles, shifters, and mayhem, oh my!.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a huge fan of paranormal and dark romance, and these books definitely check all my boxes. Great world-building, plots that engage, and in most cases, a heavy dollop of smut. They also explore the unexpected and take into account real-world concerns in a fashion where you can absolutely justify the decisions the main characters are making.

AK's book list on motorcycles, shifters, and mayhem, oh my!

AK Nevermore Why did AK love this book?

This book is probably the quintessential book of mayhem, in my opinion.

Yep, it’s super dated, and the dialect can be difficult to get into, but I thought it was worth it, especially if you read the European version, which has an additional chapter the US publisher cut out. Abruptly it goes from a novel of unrepentant chaos to one of redemption.

By Anthony Burgess,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Clockwork Orange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Anthony Burgess's influential nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, a teen who talks in a fantastically inventive slang that evocatively renders his and his friends' intense reaction against their society. Dazzling and transgressive, A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil and the meaning of human freedom. This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition, and Burgess's introduction, "A Clockwork Orange Resucked."


Book cover of Dracula

L.W. King Author Of Carrie's Legacy

From my list on supernatural with a sprinkling of realism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From an early age, I have been fascinated with anything supernatural and occult. My Aunt would read my palm, and then, as a teenager, I would visit clairvoyants to see what the future held for me. As I grew older, I found I had an ability, a gift of seership, and after reading many books, embarked on my pagan journey, from which I have never looked back, and am now studying Druidry,which is very much nature-based. I hope you love the books on this list as much as I do!  

L.W.'s book list on supernatural with a sprinkling of realism

L.W. King Why did L.W. love this book?

I read this book at the tender age of ten and instantly became ever so slightly obsessed with vampires; I love how the atmosphere builds slowly, sucking me to the point that I am genuinely afraid that the wolves might attack.

The description of the locations and the journal and letter writing are wonderful story breakers, and what a uniquely wonderful story it is. For me, it is a timeless masterpiece.

By Bram Stoker,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked Dracula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 17.

What is this book about?

'The very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years' Arthur Conan Doyle

A masterpiece of the horror genre, Dracula also probes identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. It begins when Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, and makes horrifying discoveries in his client's castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England - an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master' - and a determined group of adversaries…


Book cover of The Island of Doctor Moreau

Ben H. Winters Author Of The Bonus Room

From my list on malevolent beasts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written across genres, including mysteries like The Last Policeman and big works of alternate history like Underground Airlines. But Bedbugs—now republished as The Bonus Room—was one of my first books, and very dear to my heart. I’ve always loved books that pit a single, relatively helpless protagonist against some inexplicable force that he or she cannot begin to fathom. A force that can’t be reasoned with or bargained with. You just have to beat it. Perhaps that’s why I love these books about man vs. beast—the natural world is our friend, and animal are subservient to us…until suddenly, terrifyingly, they’re not.   

Ben's book list on malevolent beasts

Ben H. Winters Why did Ben love this book?

Wells is one of the great early masters of science fiction, creator of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, but with Moreau he was also one of the masters of what David Cronenberg fans know as body horror—the gross, startling, and menacing intermingling of the human body with exterior elements.

In this case, pumas, pigs, you name it. With characters like Ape-Man and Sloth-Man, there is a definitely campiness here, but never enough to distract from the fact that it’s deeply, resonantly disturbing.  

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Island of Doctor Moreau as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

The Island of Doctor Moreau has inspired countless homages in literature, film and television.


Book cover of Shōgun

Robert Whiting Author Of Tokyo Junkie: 60 Years of Bright Lights and Back Alleys . . . and Baseball

From my list on learning about life.

Why am I passionate about this?

They are in some sense books of self-discovery and/or discovery of new worlds. They made me want to travel and explore other cultures. And they also inspired me to write. They helped shape me as a person. I'm now a journalist and author of several books on Japan. I've lived in many different places around the world and find Tokyo Japan to be the best capital to live in. My work describes life in Tokyo and the Japanese culture in general, focusing on sports, crime, and politics. I've written best-sellers in both the US and Japan and been nominated for several prizes. Most recently I was selected winner of a 2023 Henry Chadwick Award.

Robert's book list on learning about life

Robert Whiting Why did Robert love this book?

Shōgun is a historical novel set in 17th-century feudal Japan that is based on the life of an English sailor named Will  Adams who is shipwrecked there.

He became a samurai and a confidant of a warlord based on Ieyasu Tokugawa. It is a meticulously researched and richly detailed novel that combines historical events with fictional characters and storylines, dealing with themes of honor and loyalty in a world of samurai and daimyos.

It also explores relationships between Japanese and European traders, highlighting the clash of Western and Eastern values. At over 560,000 words long, it is a spellbinding narrative that offers an encyclopedic exploration of Japanese history, culture, customs, and traditions of Japan. It started a Japan craze in the United States when it was first published.

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Clavell never puts a foot wrong . . . Get it, read it, you'll enjoy it mightily' Daily Mirror

This is James Clavell's tour-de-force; an epic saga of one Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, and his integration into the struggles and strife of feudal Japan. Both entertaining and incisive, SHOGUN is a stunningly dramatic re-creation of a very different world.

Starting with his shipwreck on this most alien of shores, the novel charts Blackthorne's rise from the status of reviled foreigner up to the hights of trusted advisor and eventually, Samurai. All as civil war looms over the fragile country.

'I can't…


Book cover of Rosemary's Baby

Chin-Sun Lee Author Of Upcountry

From my list on distressed women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I listened to scary Korean folklore and then devoured all of Grimm’s fairy tales with their themes of good versus evil, disguise and betrayal, sacrifice, and magic. It’s not surprising that as I grew older, my reading tastes skewed toward darkness, mystery, madness, and the uncanny. There’s a penitential aspect to gothic stories, with their superstitious moralism, often with elements of the supernatural manifesting not as monsters but restless spirits—the repressed ghosts of a location’s history. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a place absorbing and regurgitating the histories and sins of its occupants, whether it be a town, a house, or both.

Chin-Sun's book list on distressed women

Chin-Sun Lee Why did Chin-Sun love this book?

Most people are familiar with the movie, and I was, too, before I read the novel—which is shockingly good! Though published in 1967, the prose is modern and restrained.

Rosemary is betrayed by those she trusts, most heinously by her opportunistic husband, but she’s no passive victim; instead, she becomes ferocious. I give props to Levin for channeling the burgeoning feminist rage of the times, which he also did in his 1972 classic, The Stepford Wives. The dream/hallucination scene where Satan impregnates Rosemary and her confrontation with Guy the morning after is so well-written and horrific it made me want to stab him with a pitchfork. 

By Ira Levin,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Rosemary's Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel' Stephen King

Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband, Guy, move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and only elderly residents. Neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome them; despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband starts spending time with them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare.

As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to…


Book cover of A Head Full of Ghosts

Tyler Paterson Author Of Dark Satellites

From my list on transport to the heart of spooky season.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an October baby born during a full moon, into a small New England town notorious for their connection to the Salem Witch Trials. My house was for sure haunted growing up, I’ve had a lot of nightmares over the years, and I found solace in the horror genre. Though my true background is in comedy having studied with Second City Chicago, the experience afforded me the opportunity to explore the more pained and shadowed sides of myself as a tool to write relevant material. I learned to focus those explorations into narratives and create stories with a lot of heart that highlight my own quest to uncover inner peace.

Tyler's book list on transport to the heart of spooky season

Tyler Paterson Why did Tyler love this book?

A fellow New Englander, Tremblay took me by complete surprise with this novel. In the past, I saw horror defined by slashers, gore, and jump scares. This novel helped me understand that modern horror is a bit savvier and more nuanced, with a stronger focus on emotional suffering.

I really connected with the struggling working-class family and sympathized with their decision to let a documentary film crew create a series about their clearly struggling daughter. The film crew intended to market the girl as possessed by a demon, which the family signs off on in order to collect a desperately needed financial boost.

It expertly explores the hardships of the middle class, sibling love, and the societal hush-hush of mental illness. Plus, it’s got some twists and turns to that made my blood run absolutely cold.

By Paul Tremblay,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked A Head Full of Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The lives of the Barretts, a suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to halt Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show.Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets…


Book cover of The Hobbit

JMD Reid Author Of A Spark in the Night

From my list on fall in love with fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been a reader. In my childhood, I read Hardy Boys novels by the bucketload. I loved scholastic book fairs, pouring over the lists to find new books to read. Then my uncle gave me The Hobbit followed by giving me a hardback set of Lord of the Rings for Christmas of the 6th Grade. After that, my mother gave me Pawn of Prophecy, which cemented my love of the genre. I write fantasy because of all the books I listed. Each one led me down a path that ended with me publishing my first novel.

JMD's book list on fall in love with fantasy

JMD Reid Why did JMD love this book?

This is the first pure fantasy book I had ever read. In the summer break between my 4th and 5th Grade, while my Mom, little brother, and I were visiting my grandparents in California, I was at the pool. I loved going to the pool and swimming, but this day, my Uncle Dave lent me a battered paperback of his favorite book. Instead of swimming, I was reading this amazing story. And while it was a few more years before I was able to tackle The Lord of the Rings, this was the beginning of my love for fantasy.

The Hobbit is a fun adventure. Some danger. Some whimsy. Tragic death. I could not put this book down.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

45 authors picked The Hobbit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Special collector's film tie-in hardback of the best-selling classic, featuring the complete story with a sumptuous cover design inspired by THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY and brand new reproductions of all the drawings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End.

But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey 'there and back again'. They have a plot to raid…


Book cover of Gone Girl

Mirinae Lee Author Of 8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster

From my list on villainous heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and grew up in Seoul. My bestselling debut novel has been longlisted for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2024 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize and shortlisted for the 2024 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. My book is inspired by my great-aunt, one of the oldest women who had escaped alone from North Korea. It is available from Harper Perennial in the U.S. and Virago in the UK. The novel’s translations continue to meet readers worldwide, including in Italy, Romania, Greece, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, and South Korea.

Mirinae's book list on villainous heroines

Mirinae Lee Why did Mirinae love this book?

Many years ago, when I was sharing several chapters of my book with my then-writing group, I faced harsh criticism from some of its members, mainly due to my protagonist, Trickster.

They found her too violent, too cunning, and without remorse. I read in many of Flynn’s interviews that she had also received a lot of criticism for her vicious main character. Certain readers believed the murderous, unrepenting heroine of this book was a shame to womanhood.

In defense of my violent heroine Trickster, I quoted Flynn’s response to her critics: the notion that women are inherently good and nurturing is itself deeply sexist and limiting toward women.        

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

28 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

Anna Noyes Author Of The Blue Maiden

From my list on gothic fiction imbued with atmosphere and dread.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a tiny peninsula in Downeast Maine, an evocative and rugged place, both lovely and haunting. As a girl, walking home late down gravel roads through an encompassing darkness I’ve found nowhere else, I sensed the world’s dangers long before I knew how to articulate them. Surrounded by woods, water, and unnerving quiet broken by the fox’s scream and rustling branches, I began to write. I sought out strange and unsettling books by Shirley Jackson and Stephen King (his home just a few towns away from mine) that left their mark. Storytelling became a way to process and explore what keeps me up at night. 

Anna's book list on gothic fiction imbued with atmosphere and dread

Anna Noyes Why did Anna love this book?

For me, this is the book that started it all. When I was 10 years old, I stole it from my Granny’s shelf, curled in her BarcaLounger, and finished in one ravenous sitting.

The world I emerged into was changed: the main character Nell’s spiraling, exuberant, increasingly unhinged interiority echoed in my mind. I remember walking afterward through the Maine woods, the green more vivid than ever before, pulsing with a new sense of menace and aliveness.

Each sentence in this masterpiece about a sentient, malevolent house is electric, and if I could only read one paragraph for the rest of my life, it would be this novel’s opening. 

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

32 authors picked The Haunting of Hill House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part of a new six-volume series of the best in classic horror, selected by Academy Award-winning director of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker and longtime horror literature fan Guillermo del Toro serves as the curator for the Penguin Horror series, a new collection of classic tales and poems by masters of the genre. Included here are some of del Toro's favorites, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ray Russell's short story "Sardonicus," considered by Stephen King to be "perhaps the finest example of the modern Gothic ever written," to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and stories…


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