100 books like The Sundial

By Shirley Jackson,

Here are 100 books that The Sundial fans have personally recommended if you like The Sundial. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Ballad of Black Tom

Barbara Cottrell Author Of Darkness Below

From my list on character-driven horror with a heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been attracted to strange things. When I was a kid, I loved to picnic in graveyards and make up stories about the people buried there. I think I gravitate toward the strange because it’s an escape from the gray every day. The best horror writing fills readers with wonder, opens the door to that magical question, ‘what if?’ But being truly engaged depends on caring about what happens to the characters in a book. That’s why I chose Horror with A Heart as my theme. I like horror with well-developed characters, people that matter to me. People who I could imagine as my friends.

Barbara's book list on character-driven horror with a heart

Barbara Cottrell Why did Barbara love this book?

The Ballad of Black Tom rocked my world.

I was already writing stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft but I wasn’t sure I had a place in the genre. Then Victor LaValle took one of Lovecraft’s most racist works, The Horror At Red Hook, and produced an alternate version.

Black Tom touches on the events of Lovecraft’s original story but tells the tale from the point of view of a black musician named Tommy Tester. LaValle’s reimagining of Lovecraft is a revelation.

He showed me that I didn’t have to be like Lovecraft to write in his world. And LaValle perfectly captures the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, a world that Lovecraft’s racism prevented him from seeing, even though he lived in New York City at the time.

By Victor LaValle,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Ballad of Black Tom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn't there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father's head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic…


Book cover of Blindsight

Matt Ruff Author Of The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country

From my list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning and bestselling novelist known for writing in a wide variety of genres. My most popular work to date is Lovecraft Country, a supernatural horror novel that served as the basis for the acclaimed HBO series of the same name.

Matt's book list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare

Matt Ruff Why did Matt love this book?

I also love books that combine thrilling adventure stories with the thoughtful exploration of ideas.

The protagonists of this haunting sci-fi/existential horror novel make contact with an alien species that, while highly intelligent, appears to lack any sense of self-awareness. This leads to the scary question: Are the aliens the weird ones in this scenario, or is human consciousness a unique mutation in a universe filled with zombies?

By Peter Watts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two months have past since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us.Who should we send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn't want to meet?Send a linguist with multiple - personality disorder and a biologist so spliced with machinery that he can't feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his…


Book cover of Sarah Canary

F. Brett Cox Author Of The End of All Our Exploring

From my list on the old (and new) weird America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Greil Marcus’ phrase “the old, weird America” gave me exactly the right words for something I’ve always felt: that there is a specific weirdness to the American landscape, an uncontrollable current of strange that runs beneath the carefully cultivated surface of heroes and neighbors and shared, stable dreams. Of course, as William Faulkner observed, the past isn’t past, and America is as weird as it’s ever been. Maybe weirder. Look at the news. Look out your window. No surprise, then, that I’m drawn to such a perspective when I read other people’s stories, and seldom get completely away from it when I write my own.

F.'s book list on the old (and new) weird America

F. Brett Cox Why did F. love this book?

When talking with younger writers, sooner or later I ask them to name a writer or a book they can point to and say, “That’s the goal. That’s what I care about. That’s what I want to do.” If I asked myself this question, one of my answers would be Karen Joy Fowler’s first novel, a pitch-perfect account of 19th-century America and the mysterious title character, a weird woman whose weirdness confirms how weird everything else already is.

By Karen Joy Fowler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the Old West in 1873, a woman of indeterminate age and great ugliness appears without warning in the camp of Chinese railway workers, babbling incomprehensibly. Chin Ah Kin thinks she may be an immortal sent to enchant him - his more practical uncle sees trouble.


Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

Book cover of Conditions are Different After Dark

Owen W. Knight Author Of The Visitors

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Visionary Compassionate Imaginative Conspiracist Apophenia (or apophenic)

Owen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In 1662, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. Awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.

Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They discover their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected? They fear their choice of new home is no coincidence. Unexplained events hint at threats or warnings to leave. They become convinced the village remains cursed despite their friends’ denials. Who can they trust, and who are potential enemies?

Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

What is this book about?

In 1660, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. While awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.
Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They learn that their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected?
Faith and James fear that their choice of a new home is…


Book cover of Wisconsin Death Trip

F. Brett Cox Author Of The End of All Our Exploring

From my list on the old (and new) weird America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Greil Marcus’ phrase “the old, weird America” gave me exactly the right words for something I’ve always felt: that there is a specific weirdness to the American landscape, an uncontrollable current of strange that runs beneath the carefully cultivated surface of heroes and neighbors and shared, stable dreams. Of course, as William Faulkner observed, the past isn’t past, and America is as weird as it’s ever been. Maybe weirder. Look at the news. Look out your window. No surprise, then, that I’m drawn to such a perspective when I read other people’s stories, and seldom get completely away from it when I write my own.

F.'s book list on the old (and new) weird America

F. Brett Cox Why did F. love this book?

A stunning assembly of archival photographs and newspaper clippings from Jackson County, Wisconsin, in the last decade and a half of the 19th century, and the definitive explanation of why nobody in old-time photographs is ever smiling—and, I choose to believe, the real reason the parts of The Wizard of Oz set in Kansas were filmed in black and white. Economic privation, unceasing bereavement, disease both physical and mental—in other words, Tuesday. Was there any joy in Jackson County? Somewhere, I’m sure. What’s documented here is a stark, powerful beauty. The most real book I’ve ever encountered, and one of two on face-out display on my bookshelves.

By Michael Lesy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wisconsin Death Trip as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is about life in a small turn-of-the-century Wisconsin town. Lesy has collected and arranged photographs taken between 1890 and 1910. Against these are juxtaposed excerpts from the Badger State Banner, from the Mendota State (asylum) Record Book, and occasionally quotations from the writings of Hamlin Garland and Glenway Wescott.


Book cover of In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space

F. Brett Cox Author Of The End of All Our Exploring

From my list on the old (and new) weird America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Greil Marcus’ phrase “the old, weird America” gave me exactly the right words for something I’ve always felt: that there is a specific weirdness to the American landscape, an uncontrollable current of strange that runs beneath the carefully cultivated surface of heroes and neighbors and shared, stable dreams. Of course, as William Faulkner observed, the past isn’t past, and America is as weird as it’s ever been. Maybe weirder. Look at the news. Look out your window. No surprise, then, that I’m drawn to such a perspective when I read other people’s stories, and seldom get completely away from it when I write my own.

F.'s book list on the old (and new) weird America

F. Brett Cox Why did F. love this book?

The other book face-out on my bookshelves, in some ways almost too obvious—what’s weirder than UFO culture? This photo-laden account of the material expressions of faith that Something Is Out There (including a house shaped like a flying saucer I used to drive by regularly when visiting Pensacola Beach) seems almost innocent after the toxic eruptions of conspiracy paranoia of recent times. With its rich Kodachrome record of how a sideshow can become the main event, a perfect complement to Wisconsin Death Trip. Whenever I look at either book, I find it hard to look away.

By Douglas Curran,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Advance of the Landing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since it was first published in 1985, Douglas Curran's photographic exploration of the strange world of UFO "true believers" has established itself as a classic work not only within the New Age/UFO community, but among sociologists, psychologists, and in the art and photography communities. This new edition, with an expanded text revisiting the Roswell, New Mexico, incident of 1947, brings back this essential work in a handsome new edition. As Tom Wolfe explains in his foreword: "Douglas Curran is not only a photographer but also a reporter, and an extremely gifted one. I am tempted to suggest that he also…


Book cover of The Night Ocean

Matt Ruff Author Of The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country

From my list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning and bestselling novelist known for writing in a wide variety of genres. My most popular work to date is Lovecraft Country, a supernatural horror novel that served as the basis for the acclaimed HBO series of the same name.

Matt's book list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare

Matt Ruff Why did Matt love this book?

This book borrows its title from a short story coauthored by H.P. Lovecraft, and it starts out like a classic Lovecraft tale, with an escaped psychiatric patient sending his wife a message from beyond the grave.

But just when you think you know what kind of book you’re reading, author La Farge throws in a twist—and then he does it again and again. It’s a unique and amazing novel that defies categorization.

By Paul La Farge,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Night Ocean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author and New Yorker contributor, a riveting novel about secrets and scandals,  psychiatry and pulp fiction, inspired by the lives of H.P. Lovecraft and his circle.

Marina Willett, M.D., has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the legendary horror writer's life: In the summer of 1934, the "old gent" lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow's family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends--or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he's…


Book cover of The Dead Zone

Matt Ruff Author Of The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country

From my list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning and bestselling novelist known for writing in a wide variety of genres. My most popular work to date is Lovecraft Country, a supernatural horror novel that served as the basis for the acclaimed HBO series of the same name.

Matt's book list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare

Matt Ruff Why did Matt love this book?

It’s not the scariest Stephen King novel I’ve ever read—I’d give that honor to The Shining—but this book remains my all-time favorite.

The story of John Smith, who awakens from a five-year coma with psychic powers that are more curse than blessing, plays to King’s greatest strength as a writer: the ability to create believable characters who you really care about.

The book is also a time capsule of American politics in the 1970s—one that seems newly relevant in the 2024 presidential season.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine

A #1 New York Times bestseller about a man who wakes up from a five-year coma able to see people’s futures and the terrible fate awaiting mankind—a “compulsive page-turner” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancée married another man during his coma and people clamor for him to solve their problems.

When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he…


Book cover of Freedomland

Matt Ruff Author Of The Destroyer of Worlds: A Return to Lovecraft Country

From my list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning and bestselling novelist known for writing in a wide variety of genres. My most popular work to date is Lovecraft Country, a supernatural horror novel that served as the basis for the acclaimed HBO series of the same name.

Matt's book list on horror books that offer more than just a good scare

Matt Ruff Why did Matt love this book?

The author, Richard Price, is a street reporter trapped in the body of a novelist. He takes firsthand observation and research on life in urban America and spins it into incredibly realistic and moving works of fiction.

Freedomland, my favorite of his novels, was inspired by the case of Susan Smith, who blamed the disappearance of her two sons on a fictitious black carjacker.

Though billed as a crime novel, it is also absolutely a horror story—and it’s fantastic.

By Richard Price,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An injured woman stumbles into an inner-city hospital with a horrifying story: she has just been carjacked by a man who was apparently unaware that her son was asleep on the back seat. As a search ensues, a shrewd detective and an ambitious young reporter smell a hoax and begin to suspect that the woman is holding back a terrible truth: could she have murdered her own child?


Book cover of The Comedy Writer

Ryan Uytdewilligen Author Of He's No Angel

From my list on satire and parody on Hollywood to make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a classic Hollywood fanatic. I can name you every Best Picture Oscar Winner on command. I’ve written screenplays and seen the industry firsthand, but if I had my choice, I’d go live through the Hollywood Golden Age. I've published numerous non-fiction film history books and have a whole lot more classic-film-inspired novels coming. And I do it all simply for the single reason that writing a book is the closest thing to time travel that I can find. Immersing myself in this world with actors that have lived, and even a few that I’ve made up, is pure heaven that transports me back to the days of the silver screen. 

Ryan's book list on satire and parody on Hollywood to make you laugh

Ryan Uytdewilligen Why did Ryan love this book?

Half of the brother duo behind Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, Farrelly studied writing in the 1980s and penned a fairly forgotten novel called Outside Providence. He followed it with his second fiction work in the late-1990s, serving as a fictionalized account of himself broke, starving, and trying to break into Hollywood. I can listen to Peter talk all day on podcasts and interviews because he’s so natural and honest. Those traits translate here, with a story centering around a sympathetic protagonist trying to find his way. With real stories like how Farrelly wrote for Seinfeld and was introduced to Los Angeles by someone trying to leap from a building, any writer will instantly connect with this breezy human story about creativity in your twenties. 

By Peter Farrelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Confederacy of Dunces meets The Player in an offbeat, sidesplittingly hilarious novel about making it against all odds in 1990s' Hollywood, by the co-writer/director of Dumb and Dumber.

When Henry Halloran's girlfriend dumped him, his Boston-based life suddenly seemed pointless. He was thirty-two with a dead-end job, and nothing on the horizon. There was obviously only one place to go: Hollywood.

The Comedy Writer is the story of how Henry—armed with nothing more than a few ideas, a nothing-to-lose attitude, and the desire to be a screenwriter—joins myriad hopefuls in the City of Angels and achieves an L.A. kind…


Book cover of The # * % < ! + & Year in Review

Bob Eckstein Author Of The Elements of Stress and the Pursuit of Happy-Ish in This Current Sh*tstorm

From my list on make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love comedy and have made it my living my whole life as a columnist and writer for every major humor site and publication including MAD, SPY, American Bystander, Playboy, McSweeney’s, The Village Voice and worked with the funniest humorists in the world. My cartoons have appeared around the world as well as The New Yorker. I’ve appeared in over 100 TV and radio appearances speaking on the subject of humor.

Bob's book list on make you laugh

Bob Eckstein Why did Bob love this book?

Possibly the most underrated cartoonist in the world. Everyone knows his work from Seinfeld and The Simpsons––I’m not overstating this is a comic genius. This book attempts to make sense out of this disastrous period in our history through his unique drawings and visual puns. This book is a Master Class in modern editorial cartooning.  

By Ron Hauge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The # * % < ! + & Year in Review as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2020 was hard. 2020 hindsight is easy!

We don't have to tell you what it was like. You were there. The pandemic, unemployment, civil unrest. Trump. More Trump. Maybe a little laughter could help. What have you got to lose?!

From Emmy® Award winner Ron Hauge (The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Ren & Stimpy Show, In Living Color) comes 'The # * % < ! + & Year In Review', a retrospective collection of single-panel, full-color cartoons selected from his popular Instagram account. The year 2020 will not soon be forgotten, but perhaps we can gain a little perspective with these…


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