Books to Read in Pairs Tag


This book tag was created by Jen Campbell. The idea is to pick out books that you think could benefit from being read close together. So let’s talk about my choices for this tag.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice & The Summoning by Bentley Little. These are both vampire stories, but they’re very different. Anne Rice was the first author to really focus in on the idea of the romantic vampire. For better or worse, the idea of the vampire as a seducer or lover became popular because of her. Meanwhile, The Summoning is about a very nasty, gross, deadly vampire with no sex appeal whatsoever. The reason I feel these work in tandem is because Rice’s vision is beautiful and still a great book to this day, but Little goes out of his way to have the characters wonder how sexy vampires ever became a thing, when their vampire is the absolute worst. I think that’s both amusing and thought provoking.

Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco & The Shining by Stephen King. This is a case of the book that came first (Burnt Offerings) and the book that followed in its footsteps (The Shining). Anything like this makes for an interesting experiment. Their stories are very similar. The former is a slimmer volume but maybe not as entertaining. The latter is more long-winded but probably more well-done overall. I wonder what similarities and contrasts could be mined by reading these close together. Or if you’d just end up totally burnt (heh) out on haunted houses and broken homes.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson & If You Could See Me Now by Peter Straub. These books are different stories, to be sure. Jackson is writing about a pair of sister haunted by their past and their own, strange minds. Straub is writing about a man returning to a place from his childhood and discovering old ghosts. But they share a tone. They also share some narrators that are so unreliable, you don’t know if you should trust anything they say. I think it’s clear that Straub was inspired by Jackson’s style of eerie storytelling, and if read closely together, that would become more apparent.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter & Red as Blood by Tanith Lee. Both of these are more adult, feminist retellings of fairy tales. Carter takes more of a hard line regarding the feminist angle, and Lee seemed more interested in the whimsy and darkness of making these tales adult in nature, but there’s a lot to compare. Lee’s romanticism versus Carter’s academia, while they’re both achieving this poetic level of prose, at the height of their powers. Also, I just love fairy tales. Read all the fairy tales at once!

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis & The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Two stories of rich people being terribly naughty. Each of them set in the most decadent decades known in modern America: the 1980s and the 1920s respectively. I believe that Fitzgerald, with his message of American dreams dashed to pieces, wealth having sadly more worth than the human heart, and debauched party-goers with no limits, was transgressive before it was cool. I don’t think Ellis and his first book could’ve had the proper gateway into literature without Gatsby. The disaffected youth and hopelessness of Less Than Zero is understandably darker, but comparisons could certainly be made.

Thank you for reading. I hope this gave you some ideas about future reading projects. As always, happy geeking!

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