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Ramsey Campbell's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Ramsey Campbell recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Ramsey Campbell's favorite book recommendations of all time.

This twentieth anniversary showcase includes a single story from each of the Best New Horror annual anthologies.


1989. No sharks in the Med / Brian Lumley --
1990. The man who drew cats / Michael Marshall Smith --
1991. The same in any language / Ramsey Campbell --
1992. Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death / Christopher Fowler --
1993. Mefisto in onyx / Harlan Ellison --
1994. The temptation of Dr. Stein / Paul J. McAuley --
1995. Queen of knives / Neil Gaiman --
1996. The break / Terry Lamsley --
1997. Emptiness spoke...
Recommended by Ramsey Campbell, and 1 others.

Ramsey CampbellWell, I didn’t want to give people the impression that it was just the writing published 50 years ago that was good, and there is nothing good being done now—because that is not the case. I was initially the co-editor of this series with Stephen Jones, but I found that there was so much dross to be gone through to get to the good stuff that I didn’t have the time. Now we’re on volume 22, but two... (Source)

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The Dark Descent

In The Dark Descent, hailed as one of the most important anthologies ever to examine horror fiction, editor David G. Hartwell traces the complex history of horror in literature back to the earliest short stories. The Dark Descent, which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology, showcases the finest of these ever written—from the time-honored classics of Edgar Allan Poe, D.H. Lawrence, and Edith Wharton to the contemporary writing of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Ray Bradbury.

The Reach / Stephen King --
Evening primrose / John Collier...

Recommended by Ramsey Campbell, and 1 others.

Ramsey CampbellOne of the reasons why I chose this is because it contains a couple of masterpieces of the field—for instance, Algernon Blackwood’s story “The Willows”, which I would judge to be one of the single finest tales of supernatural dread. It’s about two friends on a boating holiday on the upper Danube, who spend a night on an island which is covered with willow trees. It becomes apparent that in some... (Source)

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The Haunting of Hill House

In celebration of the Shirley Jackson centennial, a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of the greatest haunted house story ever written

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of...
Recommended by Ben Shapiro, Ramsey Campbell, and 2 others.

Ben ShapiroVery enjoyable. It is a good book. (Source)

Ramsey CampbellThis book is one of several novels in which a group of ghost hunters or psychic investigators move into a house with a reputation of being haunted, and see what they find. But what makes this the greatest single ghost novel, in my view, is that it’s at least as much about the psychological interaction of the characters as it is about the overtly spectral. There’s a superb characterisation of the... (Source)

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Collected Ghost Stories

"I was conscious of a most horrible smell of mold, and of a cold kind of face pressed against my own..."
Considered by many to be the most terrifying writer in English, M. R. James was an eminent scholar who spent his entire adult life in the academic surroundings of Eton and Cambridge. His classic supernatural tales draw on the terrors of the everyday, in which documents and objects unleash terrible forces, often in closed rooms and nighttime settings where imagination runs riot. Lonely country houses, remote inns, ancient churches or the manuscript collections of...
Recommended by Ramsey Campbell, Nick Groom, and 2 others.

Ramsey CampbellM R James is arguably the greatest master of the English ghost story. His stories are considerably grimmer and grislier than ghost stories had been up until then. (Source)

Nick GroomThis is the only literature that gives me nightmares (Source)

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The White People and Other Weird Stories

Machen's weird tales of the creepy and fantastic finally come to Penguin Classics. With an introduction from S.T. Joshi, editor of American Supernatural Tales, The White People and Other Weird Stories is the perfect introduction to the father of weird fiction. The title story "The White People" is an exercise in the bizarre leaving the reader disoriented and on edge. From the first page, Machen turns even fundamental truths upside-down, as his character Ambrose explains, "there have been those who have sounded the very depths of sin, who all their lives have never done an 'ill... more
Recommended by Ramsey Campbell, and 1 others.

Ramsey CampbellMachen was one of the first great British writers of supernatural horror fiction. He was Welsh, and wrote in the 1890s and early 20th century. He conveyed a sense of spiritual dread in a way that nobody had before. I think his greatest story is “The White People”, which is mostly in the form of an adolescent girl’s diary. Nothing is directly shown. The surface of this story is absolutely... (Source)

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