Essential Reading for Every Kind of Goth

Posted by Rose Moore

[source: The Addams Family, 1991, Orion Pictures & Paramount Pictures]

It’s time to break out the black eyeliner. May 22 is World Goth Day! From the early days of the subculture steeped in goth-rock, the goth world has expanded to encompass a whole range of ways to rock the black — from the cute to the historic, and the old-school to the surprisingly colorful stylings of pastel and raver goths. And of course, being the bookworms that we are, we’ll be celebrating this May 22 with the perfect literary picks for every goth, no matter your style.


Goth Newbie

So, you’re brand new to the world of goth and still figuring out how not to smear black lipstick every time you eat? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! These are some basics that pretty much every goth has read, and with good reason — they’re the spooky, the tragic, the romantic and the gleefully creepy books that go perfectly with black. You’ve probably heard of the first of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire), but this is just the tip of the introspective undead iceberg! Check out the rest of the adventures of Lestat and Louis to really get to grips with the goth aesthetic. And while you are at it, don’t forget some Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and a little Sylvia Plath to really get you going (or should that be…get you goth-ing?).


Gothic Lolita

While others embrace the punk roots of the subculture, you’ve really gone for the historical romance angle, with lots of lace, corsets, and collars — and we salute you! The goth Lolita movement takes some serious dedication (all those stays and petticoats), and it looks absolutely stunning, without ever crossing into crass. Unsurprisingly, the Lolita lovers are big fans of vampires (who are also into historical clothing), making Anne Rice an obvious choice here, too. However, Rice’s novels aren’t the only ones to tuck under a gloved arm. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture Of Dorian Grey is the perfect classic for these romantic goths, or for something more modern, check out Audrey Niffenegger’s ghost story Her Fearful Symmetry.


Raver Goth

You are pretty much the polar opposite of the Lolita crew, as one of these party animals who enjoy one of the most modern takes on goth culture, with industrial style incorporating LED lights, bright colors, vinyl, latex and plastic as well as the usual platform boots and black lacings. You definitely know that life in black doesn’t mean you can’t be the life of the party, so we’ve got some books that are bang up to date for you to enjoy (not filled with dusty old vamps and yellowing lace). Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is sure to please, with plenty of blood, booze and intrigue, or try Paul Krueger’s Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge, set in the dark nights at the bar, where booze can literally vanquish demons. For comic lovers, check out The Wicked + The Divine, about gods come to life as rock stars and pop culture icons who battle it out on the global stage.


Pastel Goth

Love that goth look, but aren’t quite into how harsh and forbidding it can be? Pastel goth is the way forward for you, with its signature blend of the usual blacks and skulls with pretty colors and sweet styles. This is what a gothic unicorn would look like, and it’s absolutely fabulous. Take down the critics who think you wear too much color with a fun reading of Voltaire’s What Is Goth, the ultimate look at the subculture as a whole, or pay homage to a woman who proves that pink and horror go perfectly together with Stephen King’s Carrie. YA loving pastel goths will enjoy Cassandra Clare’s hugely popular The Mortal Instruments series, or for something shorter, check out Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism.


'90s Goth

You can't quite believe you first swiped on your black lipstick and white powder nearly thirty years ago! You may be getting older, but at least your mom has stopped wondering if this is just a phase. You're still looking for books that bring back the spirit of those early days of goth-hood (before your black wardrobe included suits for the office). The Satanic Bible is a goth classic that is always good for a re-read, but if you are looking for something different, make sure you’ve checked out goth author Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls, or for something more recent, Joe Hill’s Horns.

What are your favorite gothic reads? Comment and let us know!