Lovecraft, where to start

Dreiko_v1legacy

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So I've been interested in getting into these books, as I like a lot of stuff that is inspired by them. I don't need a gentle entry either, just some of the best stuff to make me a fan for life. Any recommendation is greatly appreciated!
 

Shoggoth2588

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I started with Rats in the Wall and generally, I enjoyed his shorter stories (like Cool Air). His classics though are generally considered to be Shadow over Innsmouth (which is really good), Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and, At the Mountains of Madness. I would make the same recommendation with Lovecraft as I would with Discworld or any-given Comic series; just jump in wherever. There are a handful of compilation books which feature a few stories each but I believe the one complete collection is called The Necronomicon.
 

Mr.Mattress

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The good thing is that most of Lovecraft's works were actually short stories, and none of them take more then an hour to read. Another good thing is that most of his works stand on their own; while there may be one or two references to a person, place or horror, all of his works feel very self contained. Personally, I've only really read two of his works; The Colour from Outer Space and Pickmen's Model. The Colour is a great, straightforward Eldritch Horror story that might be a good starting point for you. Pickmen's Model has great atmosphere, and even though the 'twist' is a very obvious one, the way it's written makes the revelation startling even though you know what's coming. I recommend both.
 

SquidVicious

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"The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories" is a good collection of most of his famous stories and it has notes that help give you some more context and understanding . It's also available in most major bookstores so it's easily assessable.
 

Thaluikhain

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I'd recommend "The Colour out of Space".

It's also not part of his Cthullu thing, there's no references to other things in other stories, and he doesn't beat you over the head with what a terrible racist person he was.

There's also a short story about an Astronaut looking to rob people in the jungles of Venus, and who finds treasure in an invisible maze...can't remember the name, but quite different from his other stuff.
 

EvilRoy

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I read through a collection of his stories and found that generally the shorter stories were better. Not because he couldn't write at length - its just that his style of writing is very much a product of the time, so although it isn't archaic the way Shakespeare is, I found it was a little fatiguing on longer stories to get through. Like, mountains of madness is good, but if you aren't accustomed to the writing form it can easily become a slog and defang the suspense.
 

twistedmic

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I'd recommend starting with a thesaurus, seeing as Lovecraft was a verbose writer that tended to go grandiose more often than simple in his stories.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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For what it's worth I started with The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (one of his novellas), then moved on to his stories.
 

Queen Michael

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I started with "The Call of Cthulhu," and I'm glad I did. It's one of his best, it's one of his most famous, and if you don't like it it's so short that you can still finish it.
 

Fox12

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Call of Cthulu, The Dunwitch Horror, Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Mountains of Madness are his most famous stories. My personal favorite is the Music of Erich Zann. I don't think he wrote any novels, though. Almost all of his works were short stories. This is probably a good thing since, as a rule, his shorter stories tend to be his best. His prose aren't... the most fluid. It's not an age issue, his writing can just be a little stilted and long winded at times. If you've ever read Lord of the Rings then you get the idea. I like his work, but it can be a little exhausting.

Here's his collected work. It's in the public domain so don't worry, it's legal.
http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/index.html
 

fenrizz

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I actually started reading Lovecraft for the first time yesterday, and I statred with At the Mountains of Madness.

It's pretty good so far, much better thatn I thought it would be.
 

Hazy

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At The Mountains of Madness and The Shadow Over Innsmouth are both really good jumping off points.
 

GothmogII

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The commemorative edition Necronomicon is a good buy. It's sort of a greatest hits collection of his more well known works, it's quite gorgeously produced too, hardback with a leather and gold inlay effect. Pretty cheap these days, even secondhand most are excellent quality.
If you find you enjoy Lovecraft try and get the similar Conan collection, Lovecraft and R.E.Howard were friends and collaberated at times, Howard's Conan stories are more adventure and buxom women but there's a lot of mystery and delving into the horrors of the unknown. And Conan himself while certainly prone to violence is far from the dumb muscle head portrayed by a certain Austrian. :/
 

bartholen_v1legacy

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Dagon, Shadow Over Innsmouth, Call of Cthulhu, The Colour Out of Space and The Dunwich Horror are all pretty good starting points.
 

infohippie

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I started with At the Mountains of Madness, but my favourites, and the ones I'd most recommend, are The Dunwich Horror, The Color Out of Space, and The Dream Quest of Unknown Khadath.

Some of the other authors who extended the Cthulhu Mythos after Lovecraft's death are worth reading, too. I rather liked August Derleth's and Robert Bloch's works.
 

lionsprey

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i find that with lovecraft his stories are very much slow buildups that are quite dull at first but get really good towards the end. the thing is that the more buildup the better the ending is. for short "classic" stories i would recommend pickmans model, Dagon and The Tomb ( which i believe is one of his first stories)

for some of his "Dreamcycle" stories i would recommend Cats of Ulthar and The doom that came to Sarnath

and if you want some longer stuff check out Colors out of space, Call of Cthulhu (ofc), Rats in the walls, the case of charles dexter ward, quest for unknown kadath, At the mountains of madness and The shadow out of time.

personally i dont like most of the people that picked up his mythos after he died as i (and a lot of other fans on the web) feel they didn't really understand it but it could be worth your time after your done with Lovecrafts work.
oh and prepare for old English. lovecraft was born in the 19th century and you can tell not to mention that he had quite a large vocabulary.
 

the December King

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Thaluikhain said:
There's also a short story about an Astronaut looking to rob people in the jungles of Venus, and who finds treasure in an invisible maze...can't remember the name, but quite different from his other stuff.
I believe it was In the Walls of Eryx, a great story with a less cosmic horror feel.

I started with The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror, and the aforementioned Color Out of Space, which along with At the Mountains Of Madness is one of his best works.

Then, I read all of the rest, and branched out from there to read other contemporaries of his, and eventually I tried some of his major influences, like Machen. I found Machen's work quite dry overall, but sprinkled with some creepy moments, enough that I think I could see the effect it might have on a budding writer, at least.

I find the racism inherent in some of his work can be jarring, but in the end I feel it lends both the protagonists and the overall stories a sense of inperfection that makes the hero characters more human, oddly enough, as they are often ignorant of their own flaws in that regard- most of them are ubermensch shut-ins who quietly and smugly know everything.

After all, Cthulhu and the other entities don't seem to be racist. And the servants, although perhaps 'specist', will happily kill and eat any humans.
 

Cette

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As many have said just grabbing a short story collection and digging in wherever is the best way to start. I'd avoid Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath until you've read more though as that one has a lot of callbacks to other stories.

The Colour Out of Space is super solid as a starter and some good ones people haven't mentioned yet would be The Hound, The Statement of Randolph Carter and The Doom that Came to Sarnath.

Keep in mind sometimes you've got to take the time these were written into account pretty heavily in regards to race relations. That goes double for The Rats in the Walls.
 

Imre Csete

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Just throwing in 'The Horror at Red Hook' aswell, because it has some noir feel to it (features a detective on an investigation) and I don't see it mentioned that often, but I happen to like it.

I got an anthology of his original works, which includes some of his letters, he has some pretty cool stuff to say about early old-school scifi, they are insightful to read.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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Does it really matter? I've read quiet a few of them and there isn't really a coherent central narrative. Its all just a bunch of unconnected stories about blacks and Jews being evil.

Truly just pick a story and get to readin'