The best occult books

19 authors have picked their favorite books about occult and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England

An unlikely complement to Huizinga tracing the overlap between magical beliefs in religion as well as astrology and the emerging accusations of witchcraft. Deeply immersed in research about 16th-17th century England, this book offers a form of historical anthropology for baseline views of the strange ideas that drove spiritual life.

Religion and the Decline of Magic

By Keith Thomas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Religion and the Decline of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Witchcraft, astrology, divination and every kind of popular magic flourished in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the belief that a blessed amulet could prevent the assaults of the Devil to the use of the same charms to recover stolen goods. At the same time the Protestant Reformation attempted to take the magic out of religion, and scientists were developing new explanations of the universe. Keith Thomas's classic analysis of beliefs held on every level of English society begins with the collapse of the medieval Church and ends with the changing intellectual atmosphere around 1700, when science and…

Who am I?

A retired professor, an art historian who taught at Berkeley, Northwestern, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since my main interest is the emergence of Europe from the late Middle Ages and into the Early Modern period around 1500, I naturally gravitate to non-fiction books that engage with the shifting interests and values of that era, and my own books include similar efforts to discuss visual art in relation to religion, literature, politics, and wider contemporary cultural movements. Among my own books I would cite: Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain (with Aneta Georgievska-Shine); Europe Views the World, 1500-1700; and the forthcoming Art and Dis-Illusion in the Long Sixteenth Century.


I wrote...

Europe Views the World, 1500-1700

By Larry Silver,

Book cover of Europe Views the World, 1500-1700

What is my book about?

Europe Views the World examines the wide diversity of images that Europeans produced to represent the wide variety of peoples and places around the globe during and after the so-called 'Age of Exploration.' Beginning with the medieval imagery of Europe’s imagined alien races, and with an emphasis on the artists of Northern Europe, Larry Silver takes the reader on a tour across continents, from the Americas to Africa and Asia. Encompassing works such as prints, paintings, maps, tapestries, and sculptural objects, this book addresses the overall question of an emerging European self-definition through the evidence of visual culture, however biased, about the wider world in its component parts. 

Practical Solitary Magic

By Nancy B. Watson,

Book cover of Practical Solitary Magic

This is an easy-to-read introduction to magic for people who don’t want to join organized groups or participate in spiritual traditions in order to learn. It allows readers to experiment with practices and techniques on their own and includes everything a beginner needs to know about the art and craft of magic, including visualization, ordinary ethics, ritual practices, and vital safety measures.

Practical Solitary Magic

By Nancy B. Watson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Many students don't want to be tied to a particular group or spiritual tradition, but prefer to search, experiment, and grow on their own/ this book is perfect for these people. Watson discusses the principles that underlie magical practice in a veryeasytounderstand manner. She includes information on affirmations, visualization, spiritual practices, folk magic, and ritual. Safety measures and ethical considerations are stressed throughout.


Who am I?

I have been studying American styles of magic for more than 30 years. Having received a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, I have explored the idea of magic as a natural counterpart to both religious thought and scientific theory. After teaching courses on this subject to college undergraduates, I recommend these books based on what I have found to be the favorites of students and peers as the most accessible, enjoyable, and practical sources for beginners.


I wrote...

Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition

By Yvonne Patricia Chireau,

Book cover of Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition

What is my book about?

Black Magic looks at the origins, meaning, and uses of Conjure―the African American tradition of healing and harming that evolved from African, European, and American elements―from the slavery period to well into the twentieth century.

Illuminating a world that is dimly understood by both scholars and the general public, Yvonne P. Chireau describes Conjure and other related traditions, such as Hoodoo and Rootworking, in a beautifully written, richly detailed history that presents the voices and experiences of African Americans and shows how magic has informed their culture. Focusing on the relationship between Conjure and Christianity, Chireau shows how these seemingly contradictory traditions have worked together in a complex and complementary fashion to provide spiritual empowerment for African Americans, both slave and free, living in white America.

Synchronicity

By C.G. Jung, R.F.C. Hull (translator),

Book cover of Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle

Carl Jung is the person who actually coined the term “synchronicity” and was the first to recognize it as an important connecting principle between the unconscious and the outer world. He observed that such events occur when the archetypal processes of the collective and personal unconscious correspond to objective events in the real world. Here, for example, he reports the now-famous case of the patient who dreamed of a scarab beetle, a creature that represented transformation to the ancient Egyptians, only to find a similar beetle tapping on Jung’s consultation room window the next day, as the patient described the dream to him.

For Jung, virtually all authentic instances of synchronicity involve the archetypal unconscious and reflect mythic themes. This book includes a number of the first and best examples in synchronicity literature.

Synchronicity

By C.G. Jung, R.F.C. Hull (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jung was intrigued from early in his career with coincidences, especially those surprising juxtapositions that scientific rationality could not adequately explain. He discussed these ideas with Albert Einstein before World War I, but first used the term 'synchronicity' in a 1930 lecture, in reference to the unusual psychological insights generated from consulting the I Ching. A long correspondence and friendship with the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli stimulated a final, mature statement of Jung's thinking on synchronicity, originally published in 1952 and reproduced here. Together with a wealth of historical and contemporary material, this essay describes an astrological experiment Jung…

Who am I?

I am a teacher and writer, drawn to the topic of synchronicity because I have experienced so many remarkable coincidences during my life that it seems I have no choice but to study them. As a young man, I spent much time working with dreams, coming to understand them especially through Carl Jung’s explorations of archetypes, myths, and the deep unconscious. This led naturally to the study of synchronicity. I am also interested in the related topic of consciousness and have written several books about it. Out of all this I have come to see the cosmos as a strangely mysterious and wonderfully orchestrated community of beings and events.


I wrote...

Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster

By Allan Combs, Mark Holland,

Book cover of Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster

What is my book about?

Suppose you wake up in the morning with an old friend on your mind. You check the email on your cellphone and are surprised to find a letter just arrived from her. Her name is Jane. Later that morning while driving to work you stop for a traffic light and notice the license plate of the car in front of you reads, “JANE2YOU”! What are you to make of this strange coincidence? And what are you to make of a hundred other such coincides that enter your life, whispering unexpected messages from the universe?

This book explores the whole range of remarkable but meaningful coincidences, from the most insignificant and curious to rare life-transforming events that resound with mythic meaning. It tells stories of actual synchronistic coincidences, many from the lives of the authors themselves. Synchronicity touches on modern and even postmodern notions of science, while at the same time drawing us into mythological realities that speak of the subtle and surprisingly personal nature of the universe.

Nightshade

By Andrea Robertson,

Book cover of Nightshade

One of the reasons I read this genre is because so many of these stories include strong, fierce heroines and Calla Tor from Nightshade is one of the strongest. In a society and culture that imposes rules and oppression on their people, Calla is forced to test the limits and figure out who she really is and what she’s made of while still being a strong leader to her pack. This story is on my top 5 list because Calla is an unforgettable character, but so much of why you’ll love her is thanks to the world this author creates. Nightshade is another unique, fresh take on werewolves that you won’t want to put down.

Nightshade

By Andrea Robertson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She can control her pack, but not her heart ...'I wanted him to kiss me-wished he could smell the desire that I knew was pouring off me. You can't, Calla. This boy isn't the one for you.' Calla Tor has always known her destiny: graduation, marriage and then a life leading her pack. But when she defies her masters' laws to save a human boy, she must choose. Is one boy worth losing everything?

Who am I?

I've always been a bookworm. From the Boxcar Children and The Hobbit as a kid to Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele, and even Stuart Woods as an adult. None of those genres hold such a special place in my heart as Young Adult. Self-discovery, overcoming pain and trauma of childhood, making deliberate choices about love, and life, and who we’re going to be in this world—young adulthood is fraught with the elements necessary for unforgettable stories. Since I began publishing 10 years ago, my books have sold thousands of copies worldwide and won numerous book awards, but the thing that keeps me writing is being a reader first.


I wrote...

Wolf Cursed (Lone Wolf Series)

By Heather Hildenbrand,

Book cover of Wolf Cursed (Lone Wolf Series)

What is my book about?

After Ash Lawson’s nightmarish past, starting fresh should be a dream come true. But when her father’s death sends her on the run, she has no choice but to seek shelter with the only family she has left. Ash’s uncle Oscar has a bad attitude and a pack of friends that remind her of the toxic life she left behind. Cruel, sexy Kai Stone is the worst of them. But no matter how hard she fights it, something about him tugs at Ash’s soul.

The worst part is, Ash has a secret. And when Kai discovers it, she’ll have to convince him to let her stay. Worse, she’ll have to trust him. Kai has a secret too. And when Ash learns the truth, it will change everything.

Baphomet's Meteor

By Pierre Barbet,

Book cover of Baphomet's Meteor

I’ve read this book as a child, I was probably around 10 years old. I loved that a regular person was able to conquer the world given the right tools. I was also intrigued by the occult and mystical elements in this book. I found all the geographical and cultural references fascinating and I loved that it had a happy ending.

Baphomet's Meteor

By Pierre Barbet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Baphomet's Meteor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

As a child, I was fascinated by science fiction books. Later on, I’ve started reading horror as well and used to get engrossed in the books of Stephen King. As a software engineer, I’m passionate about technology, the latest innovations, and the science behind anything. However, I find a hint of supernatural equally fascinating, and such elements find their way in my books.


I wrote...

Growlers Moroi: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller

By John Black,

Book cover of Growlers Moroi: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller

What is my book about?

The story of a regular family from Eastern Europe. Life will never be the same. Neither will death…

When their relaxing family vacation is interrupted by a blackout, Andrei and Lili hope it is just a blip and power will soon be restored. But they, their seven-year-old son and Lili’s parents soon realize that the blackout was just the beginning.

The Compleat Crow

By Brian Lumley,

Book cover of The Compleat Crow

Lumley is steeped in both the occult detective and the Lovecraftian tradition, and it shows most clearly in this set of pulpy occult detective stories featuring his cerebral-yet-tough Titus Crow, and involving wild flights of fancy in time and space that also arguably show some influence from Doctor Who. We get a lovely creepy origin story here, and several vignettes, but the highlight is the longer tale of the mysteries of the wyrm, and festering, crawling things in an ancient manor house and its library. It fairly oozes supernatural evil and is one of my favorite things.

The Compleat Crow

By Brian Lumley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Titus Crow is an occult investigator, psychic sleuth and cosmic voyager. In this book 11 short stories featuring Crow are brought together. These stories were written before the "Cthulhu Mythos" novels and follow Crow as he explores beyond the frontiers where mortal man is not meant to tread.

Who am I?

Even before I found Lovecraft and Stephen King and my world turned, I was raised on Doyle, Wells, Hodgson, and Robert Louis Stevenson which gave me both a love of the "gentleman detective" era and a deep love of the late Victorian/early Edwardian historical period in general. Once you merge that with my abiding interest in all things weird and spooky, you can see where a lot of my stories come from. There seems to be quite a burgeoning market for this kind of mixing of detection and supernatural, and I intend to write more... maybe even a lot more.


I wrote...

Carnacki: Heaven and Hell

By William Meikle,

Book cover of Carnacki: Heaven and Hell

What is my book about?

This is my first (of four) collections of stories featuring William Hope Hodgspon's Carnacki: Ghostfinder. Carnacki resonated with me immediately on my first reading many years ago. Several of the stories have a Lovecraftian viewpoint, with cosmic entities that have no regard for the doings of mankind. The background Hodgson proposes fits with some of my own viewpoints on the ways the Universe might function, and the slightly formal Edwardian language seems to be a "voice" I fall into naturally. I write them because of love, pure and simple.

Melmoth

By Sarah Perry,

Book cover of Melmoth

My favorite thing about magical realism is that it is often used to discuss social and cultural issues, colonialism, the powerful and elite, environmental issues, racism, war, homophobia, genocide, and more. It can also be used to talk about social issues that are equally as important but maybe not as heavy. That’s why I love Melmoth by Sarah Perry – because magical realism is used to cover a gambit of social and historical issues. 

In the novel, Perry focuses on a mythical figure called Melmoth the Witness who preys upon people in the darkest moments of their lives. Through this mythical figure, Perry discusses everything from Nazi Germany to fear, sins, loneliness, and self-loathing with a magical lens. I loved the grit and darkness of this magical realism story and I know you will too.

Melmoth

By Sarah Perry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Melmoth: coming 2018.

Who am I?

Magical realism was created by Latin American writers, and I’m proud to continue the tradition today. I grew up reading magical stories – mostly fantasy – but there was always something missing in those books, that sense of reality that I experienced every day of my life thanks to my Mixed Latinx heritage. When I discovered magical realism, I felt at home. I’ve been studying magical realism since I was 21, so it comes as no surprise that most of the creative writing I do fall into the magical realism genre. I love helping others discover the beauty of magical realism because it is a phenomenal genre that helps readers understand their reality through magic. 


I wrote...

Half Outlaw

By Alex Temblador,

Book cover of Half Outlaw

What is my book about?

After the tragic death of her parents when she was just four years old, Raqi is sent to live with her uncle Dodge in Escondido, California. Taking after her Mexican father, Raqi immediately faces hostility from the members of Dodge's all-white, 1 percenter motorcycle club, the Lawless, and from her uncle himself. As soon as she can, she leaves the violence and bigotry behind and doesn't look back.

Years later, Raqi is a successful partner at a law firm in Los Angeles. She gets a call from Billy, the leader of the Lawless. Dodge is dead, and Billy wants her to go on the Grieving Ride. There is no way Raqi would ever attend, except for one thing: Billy promises to give her the address of her grandfather if she goes.

The Raven Boys

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Book cover of The Raven Boys: The Raven Cycle, Book 1

The Raven Boys was a huge inspiration for me and my writing—I love how setting is always used as a character, whether that’s the rural town of Henrietta or the magical, unknowable forest of Cabeswater. It’s about a group of unlikely friends come together on the hunt for a legendary dead king with the power to grant a wish, and is written in a way that feels that something strange is always about to happen (and it usually does). The friend group vibes in this book are top-tier, too!

The Raven Boys

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve,' Neeve said. 'Either you're his true love ... or you killed him.'Every
year Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the
soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them - until this year, when a
boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.His name is Gansey,
a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy
of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only
mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a…

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town myself and have always loved books that create characters from the setting. I want to feel immersed and captivated by the place, as well as the people and stories within the pages. The setting of an eerie small town is one of my favorites, because of the feeling that anything magical or mysterious could happen there. My book Starling takes place in a strange small town where odd things are everyday occurrences. There are many books that use small towns as setting for a speculative story, but these are some of my favorites!


I wrote...

Starling

By Isabel Strychacz,

Book cover of Starling

What is my book about?

Strange things have always happened in the small town of Darling... Yet Delta Wilding and her sister Bee are familiar with the peculiar. Raised by an eccentric father always on the hunt for the spectacular, they’re used to odd occurrences. But when a mysterious boy falls from the stars into the woods behind their house, nothing can prepare them for the extraordinary turn their lives are about to take. Extraordinary and dangerous.

Starling Rust is not from this world and his presence brings attention. Delta and her sister must go to incredible lengths to protect their mystical visitor—especially as Delta’s growing feelings for the boy from the stars could prove the greatest risk of all.

The Ghost Box

By Mike Duran,

Book cover of The Ghost Box: A Reagan Moon Novel

This book is another that has a similar vibe to The Dresden Files and my books. This one had a really unique take that I liked, mixing in ghosts with the other supernatural creatures and elements. The main character has some fun, memorable quirks that I enjoyed, and the plot had some great twists that I didn’t see coming. The world is really broad, and there’s a lot more to uncover about how things work, so I liked that it didn’t tell everything in the first book, so it left me with the desire to read more.  

The Ghost Box

By Mike Duran,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reagan Moon -- paranormal reporter, terminal underachiever, and staunch cynic of the human race. The only ghosts he really believes in are the ones in his own head. But his world is about to get an upgrade. When Moon is hired by a reclusive tycoon to investigate the events surrounding his girlfriend's tragic death, he learns of an impending apocalypse about to flatten Los Angeles. Seems that the Summu Nura, ancient gods from a parallel dimension, are looking for a new stomping ground. And Hollyweird is ground zero. What's worse, Reagan Moon is the only one who can stop them.…

Who am I?

I love urban fantasy and all the associated genres, like paranormal and horror. I love the question of “what if” and exploring how things would work if certain rules of magic or the supernatural were real. I love the variety and scope of world building that can be done parallel to and within our world through urban fantasy. That “what if” question is at the center of my own writing, and especially when I read non-fiction on topics like parallel universes and aliens and demons, I get so much inspiration for stories and worlds and what might be happening just beyond our view. 


I wrote...

The Breeding

By Avily Jerome,

Book cover of The Breeding

What is my book about?

Jack might be crazy, but maybe the demons in her head are real... Detective Jack Davidson thinks she went crazy the night her fiancé died in a car crash. Monsters no one else can sense torment her. Are they hallucinations, or are they somehow related to her fiancé’s last case? 

Her investigation uncovers a plot that involves human trafficking, and to save more women from being taken, Jack has to accept that the demons in her head might be real. Just as she’s getting closer to answers, her most powerful enemy targets her best friend. Now Jack must fight against the forces of Hell itself to stop her city from being taken over—but how can she stop something no one else believes is real?

Hellboy Library Volume 1

By Mike Mignola, John Byrne,

Book cover of Hellboy Library Volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil

If you know Hellboy only from the movies, you’re seeing a very limited image of the character and his adventures. Hellboy has many roots (pulp sci fi and crimefighter stories, superhero tales, Lovecraft’s mythos), but one of his earliest is in real world magic and folktale. We see this in his encounters with Baba Yaga, Hecate, and others, but also in his battle fairy creatures that are vulnerable to unforged iron.

Hellboy Library Volume 1

By Mike Mignola, John Byrne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since Mike Mignola's Hellboy first hit the stands in 1993, it has become a cultural sensation, racking up a dozen Eisner Awards and inspiring numerous spinoffs, from a novel line, to video games, to feature films. Now, Dark Horse is pleased to present the comics that started it all, collected in deluxe hardcover editions. Sized at 9" by 12", and handsomely bound to match The Art of Hellboy hardcover, each volume contains two full story-arcs - the equivalent of two trade-paperbacks. Each volume of the Hellboy Library Editions also includes extensive supplemental materials, including previously unreleased sketches and designs.

Who am I?

I love fantasy literature, because it's the what-if literature of the human spirit. Magic animates fantasy, and in the real world, magic is difficult to define; it lies somewhere on the border of the unconscious mind, the lore of our grandparents, scientific hypothesis, what the priest tells us, and what we see in social groups other than our own. In recent decades, much fantasy literature has walked away from portrayals of real-world magic, replacing it with synthetic and sterile creations euphemistically called “hard magic.” Hard magic has the form of magic, but lacks the power thereof. These books are all strong inoculations against the scourge of hard magic.


I wrote...

The Cunning Man

By D.J. Butler, Aaron Michael Ritchey,

Book cover of The Cunning Man

What is my book about?

It’s the depths of the Depression, and a mining town in Utah is shut down. Something has awakened underground, and now a monster roams the tunnels. While contentious owners squabble, poor worker families go hungry. Along comes Hiram Woolley. Hiram is a man with mystical abilities derived from the commonsense application of Scots-Irish folk wisdom and German braucher magic. He possesses an arcane Bloodstone that allows him to see a lie the moment it is spoken.

Behind the played-out farms and failed businesses are demons, curses, sorcerers, and unatoned wrongs. Bags of groceries and carpentry won’t be enough this time. The job will take a man who has known sorrow. A man who has known war. A man of wisdom. A man of magic. A cunning man.

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