Over the last five years, I have spoken on about 20 panels across the United States in regards to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. One common question that I am asked it, “What are the essential books to own of the Cthulhu Mythos?” This article will list and explain my top five most essential Cthulhu Mythos books.
Before starting out, I want to point out now that there are no books listed in this selection of the top five most essential Cthulhu Mythos book that are collections of just the works of H.P. Lovecraft. While the Cthulhu Mythos stories are based around Lovecraft’s creations, one should not seclude himself or herself from the rest of the Cthulhu Mythos.
All listings have links to Amazon.
5. The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia by Daniel Harms
No matter how much of a fan of the Cthulhu Mythos you are, chances are good that you have missed some of the mutations that the stories started by H.P. Lovecraft have taken over the years. This book makes my list of the top five most essential Cthulhu Mythos books because of the way that it easily lets you catch up on everything that you have missed over the years. It also holds the most extensive Cthulhu Mythos bibliography that I have ever seen.
4. Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos Edited by Robert M. Price
While two of the other books on this list bring you the early Cthulhu Mythos tales (many of which are considered as classics), Robert M. Price gathered many stories for this volume that appeared in the middle years of the Cthulhu Mythos (1970s and 1980s). Some of the stories included border more on the literary track then most that you will find in the Cthulhu Mythos tract. As it should be in any Cthulhu Mythos, or H.P. Lovecraft library, it makes the list of the five most essential Cthulhu Mythos books.
3. The Spawn of Cthulhu Edited by Lin Carter
Coming in at the third spot on my list of the most essential Cthulhu Mythos books is the first of two books on the list my Lin Carter. The Spawn of Cthulhu collects many of the classics of the Cthulhu Mythos tract that did not make it into Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Some H.P. Lovecraft scholars that I have spoken to over the years would place this book higher on their list of the most essential Cthulhu Mythos books.
2. Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos by Lin Carter
Unlike most stories of Lovecraft’s life, Lin Carter brings the world behind the Cthulhu Mythos to life in this selection. In this book, a reader will find out what influenced H.P. Lovecraft, and his contemporaries, to create the stories that many of us have grown to love. How can you truly be a fan of the Cthulhu Mythos without finding out the deeper meanings, ideas, and ideals of the stories?
1. Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Edited by August Derleth
There is no doubt that Tales has to grab the top spot on my list of the most essential Cthulhu Mythos stories. These are the early stories that drew many of us in over the years, and kept us coming back for more. I suggest getting the newer print of this book (1998) as it hold a few stories that were not out when it was originally published.
If you are a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and/or the Cthulhu Mythos, all of the books on my list of the most essential Cthulhu Mythos books should be in your library. If they are not, make sure that you take a few minutes to place your orders now. You will be glad that you did.