Friday, March 27, 2009

Horrific Nostalgia

Paperback horror novels, especially those of Stephen King and Anne Rice, were a vital part of my introduction to independent literacy. Tommyknockers was the first Stephen King book I read, after finding a weather-beaten copy of it on a grandmother's shelf, nestled between her cookbooks and Danielle Steel romances. I read it in three days, hiding it behind my textbooks in class at school while pretending to study. Then I read it again. I was in seventh grade, and it changed my life. I followed that up with The Shining, then The Stand. Simultaneously, I found The Vampire Lestat on a different grandmother's shelf, and became hooked on Vampire Chronicles series.

Over the next few years, I found every book by Stephen King and Anne Rice that my local library owned, then moved on to Clive Barker (who is my favorite author to this day). I read voraciously: in fact, I learned words like "voracious" and "insatiable" from the very books I was consuming. As a child, then a young man, I had no interest in literary fiction, but if it was science fiction, fantasy or horror, I was hooked. Later, I read more traditional literature and mainstream popular fiction by way of the classic gothic works of Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. These days, my reading tastes are much more varied, but my roots will always be in 20th Century horror.

Imagine my happy surprise, then, when I discovered that we've been receiving a lot of new paperback editions of some of my old childhood favorites:

By Stephen King; Misery, It, The Stand and Skeleton Crew
By Anne Rice; Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and Queen of the Damned

I invite you to share my horror-heydey nostalgia, and to that end I've created a special shelf in our New Arrivals section for paperback books of all genres, horror or otherwise. Other titles on the shelf so far include Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee and The Source, by James Michener (incidentally, my great-grandmother's favorite novel). New additions to that collection will make their way to that shelf.

So what are your favorite paperbacks?


Anonymous said...

my fav. paperback are Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat

Eric said...

I think my favorite paperback is still "The Great and Secret Show" by Clive Barker.

Lindsay H said...

Great post! I just finished working on the Takoma blog so thought I would swing over here and catch up on reading this one.

I have book I of the vampire chronicles on my desk at work as I type this! Fresh off the new book cart! I totally relate to your beginnings at independent literacy and can even trace my own personal journey a little further back to juvenile scary stories anthologies and horror comics.

Roots is roots man...we have a way of remembering where we came from, no matter how diverse our tastes evolve.

Nicholas Hirsch said...

Lindsay: Yeah, I just started rereading those as well. I'm planning to review each of them separately over the next few weeks.

Anonymous: That's great! Like I was saying, you might want to check back with us in the future, when we'll be looking at the Chronicles individually.

Eric, I am a huge Clive Barker fan myself, though I started with Everville.

Everyone, thanks for your feedback, and I look forward to hearing from you in future posts.