And doesn't the inclusion of unexplained phenomena and unearthly creatures immediately eliminate nonfiction?
Nonfiction with a horror angle is quite popular. Think about all of those books on haunted places or the hundreds of encyclopedias about supernatural creatures. There is no denying the high interest in horror nonfiction when we live in a world where Max Brooks' awesome nonfiction title, The Zombie Survival Guide has sold over a million copies.
But why is it so popular. In my new book, I argue that many readers like horror fiction because it validates their belief in the supernatural. Since we began telling stories as a species, our tales have included unearthly creatures from the start. Humans have strived to explain the world around us; and ironically, the more we learn and understand, the more appealing the supernatural has become.
With so little magic left in the world, the desire to find some has grown. Just look at the popularity of all things paranormal in the books, TV, and movies.
Besides the proliferation of "survival guides" like Brooks', books on real life haunted places, and supernatural encyclopedias, many horror readers also enjoy nonfiction about horror authors, horror literature, and especially, horror films. They like to read about the stories they love.
The Bram Stoker Award also includes a category for best nonfiction work. Click here for lists of nominees and winners. This is a great place to find horror nonfiction reading suggestions.
Here are some of my go-to horror nonfiction titles, in no particular order:
- Danse Macabre by Stephen King
- The New Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer
- Haunted America by Michael Norman and Beth Scott (This is a starting point. Look for haunted books for your area, ghost hunter books, historic haunted places, etc... This subject area has the most options; there are thousands of titles available.)
- Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror by Jason Zinoman
- Any nonfiction by Jonathan Maberry
- The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead by J. Gordon Melton