Some Horror From My TBR List to Yours

Where do you find the books on your TBR pile? Book reviews? Recommendation lists? Randos on Twitter? Friends? Booksellers? The library shelf? Librarians?

My interest in this is multi-faceted. As a marketing professional for my day job, I want to know where I should focus my efforts to get the most eyes. But as a reader, I want to know the book reviewers with opinions close to mine, the publications that consistently publish good work, and who I should be following on Twitter, be they person or organization.

Since I follow a lot of writers and editors on Twitter, I get my fair share of promotional Tweets for new and upcoming books. Where else can I look for recommendations? (I desire all the books.)

At author readings, both in-person or virtual, I like to ask the speaker about their reading habits. What are they reading now? What is a book they recommend to everyone? What’s a book they recently read that blew them away?

lightbult and book, photo by Clever Visuals via Unsplash

There’s also newsletters, blogs, book reviewers and bloggers. At some point, Facebook knew me to be a sucker for lists of book recommendations and sent a lot of those my way. Don’t know why those stopped. Would like to see more of that cross my list. I kinda miss them.

In building the list of books below, I started to question whether I have enough diverse sources for book recommendations to add to my mountain of a TBR list.

When I thought about what I was going to write for this month, I thought it would be seasonally appropriate to recommend a lot of queer horror.

Unfortunately, I am not naturally drawn to queer horror so would have to do some research into that. I had planned to spend a lot of September and October reading horror (‘tis the season and all), but I got distracted by fanfiction for the Locked Tomb Trilogy. (I recommend this super sweet Flower Shop AU, btw.) As a result, I decided to turn to my TBR list, which I keep in a little notebook.

Instead of presenting books I’ve already read, here is a (very small) sampling of books on my TBR pile. In keeping with the original idea for this post, each book has a spooky element attached to it.

A note about my TBR pile

I keep it in a small, water-damaged notebook that is usually found in my purse. You don’t keep a notebook around for over five years without causing some harm to it, which explains the water damage.

In this notebook, I write down title, author, and why I added it to my list. For too long I kept scraps of paper with lists of titles and authors that I remember nothing about. I started this notebook so I can also keep notes about why this book is on my list and/or where it came from. Not to justify its existence there, but to be as a guide for when I feel like reading something specific.

A skull facing the light; photo by Mathew MacQuarrie via Unsplash

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

  • Described as Lord of the Flies meets Annihilation
  • Only 2 men, super briefly
  • Lots of body horror and female friendship

I don’t often record where I find recommendations, and this is the case with Wilder Girls. It’s possible it comes recommended by Nightmare Fuel, an email newsletter about horror novels. Even if it doesn’t, I recommend subscribing to Nightmare Fuel if you enjoy horror novels.

The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis

  • Gaslamp fantasy, creeptastic monsters
  • Secret society fighting the good fight
  • Bi MC with m/f romance

This recommendation comes courtesy of a Twitter thread by K.A. Doore, whose Twitter feed I delight in. K.A. Doore writes queer epic fantasy, and a lot of their Twitter feed promotes and recommends queer speculative fiction. Go give them a follow.

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

  • It’s dark, about religion, based on Egypt
  • Complicated politics

This comes courtesy of the Reading the End podcast, a delightful listen if you enjoy listening to book reviews. Additionally, N.K. Jemisin was recently named a MacArthur Fellow!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Someone on a Discord server I frequent recommended this title as a “this is the only other book I blanket recommend to everyone” (the other book being Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir). I am told it is indeed creepy and very well written. Since I did not write this in my TBR notebook, I do not have any notes for it. As you read this, it may already be in my possession and I may have already read it. Hit me up on Twitter to check in on the status of this.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

  • Collection of short stories
  • Retold fairy tales with a feminist twist
  • Gothic fiction and creepy folk tales

I don’t remember where exactly this recommendation came from; my money is on a random click-bait list that I read because I am a sucker. It’s been in my TBR notebook for years at this point, which means it is time to hunt this down.


What’s on your TBR list? Additionally, where did you hear about these books? Let me know in the comments!

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