Books about Zombies.
March 17, 2006 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Zombies are hot right now. Help me ride the zeitgeist by suggesting good books about zombies.
posted by ND¢ to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You don't study zombies with books, the canonical source of information about zombies is movies. Get the Dead quadrilogy by Romero, and the Evil Dead trilogy, for a start.
posted by qvantamon at 7:58 AM on March 17, 2006

Try the Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton.
posted by Ferrari328 at 8:01 AM on March 17, 2006

Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates is actually about a Dahmer-esque serial killer (written in the first person, by said serial killer) who is trying to create his own personal zombie via lobotomy for sex and love purposes. Fuckin' creepy, man.
posted by Gator at 8:03 AM on March 17, 2006

I used to be really into reading horror, and one of the best "new horror" anthologies I ever read (this was in the late 1980s at the time of the whole 'splatterpunk' craze), was John Skipp's zombie collection, "The Book of the Dead". There was also a sequel, though I don't recall it being nearly as good.

You would think that there's not a whole lot you can do creatively with zombies - and the history of zombies on film would strongly back up such an assertion IMO - but there's all kinds of weird and unexpected directions taken in these stories. Unfortunately, the book has been out of print for some years now, and it is widely recognised as being a great one, so it may be difficult to track down. Still, whenever I think of zombies, that one comes to mind.

Here's a list of the stories included:

Blossom by Chan McConnell
Mess Hall by Richard Laymon
It Helps if You Sing by Ramsey Campbell
Home Delivery by Steven King
Wet Work by Philip Nutman
A Sad Last Love at the Diner of the Damned by Edward Bryant
Bodies and Heads by Steve Rasnic Tem
Choices by Glen Vasey
The Good Parts by Les Daniels
Less Than Zombie by Douglas E. Winter
Like Pavlov's Dogs by Steven R. Boyett
Saxophone by Nicholas Royle
On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert With Dead Folks by Joe R. Lansdale
Dead Giveaway by Brian Hodge
Jerry's Kids Meet Wormboy by David J. Schow
Eat Me by Robert R. McCammon
posted by stinkycheese at 8:08 AM on March 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

This doesn't answer your question, but it might help: previously I asked this question about zombie movies.
posted by Prospero at 8:08 AM on March 17, 2006

Books, I don't know so much about.

Richard Matheson's I Am Legend springs to mind. Yeah, it's about vampires, kinda, but George Romero basically billed his original script for Night of the Living Dead as a rip off of it anyway...

Do graphic novels count?
There's loads of them now.

Walking Dead being one of the best. Up to 4 trade paperbacks now.

I do recommend watching films (Romero, Fulci et. al), as that is where the whole zombie-thing as we know it kicked off from. And once you've seen the Romero films, read these books (at least):

Zombie Survival Guide

Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
Knight of the Living Dead
The Dead Walk

I also read quite a few books on horror movies and the genre in general. Most all of them had chapters on zombie movies.

(Sorry about the film related links, did my dissertation on 'em and therefore can only recommend these books on 1st-hand knowledge.)
posted by slimepuppy at 8:09 AM on March 17, 2006

I cannot stop the phrase "zombie zeitgeist" from running through my head now.
posted by theredpen at 8:10 AM on March 17, 2006

Actually the Zombie Survival Guide works on its own as the "truth about zombies". Billed as non-fiction.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:11 AM on March 17, 2006

If you want to read about zombies, you probably won't be able to do much better than the anthology trilogy The Book of All Flesh, The Book of More Flesh and The Book of Final Flesh: All Flesh Must Be Eaten. But qvantamon is right: watching movies is much more important than reading. But don't forget to include the much-more-seminal-than-you-may-expect Return of the Living Dead, which is not officially related to Romero's trilogy but cannot be left out of any overview of the zombie genre (I'd rank it as more important to the whole gestalt than the Evil Dead trilogy, frankly). Skip the sequels, and then finish up your zombification with the two best modern additions, 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:13 AM on March 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I really like The Walking Dead, a B & W comic that has a very realistic, survivalist tone. 26 issues have been published so far, most of which have been collected in trade paperback.
You can read the first issue here (May resize your browser.).
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:14 AM on March 17, 2006

2nd for the b&w comic The Walking Dead, being done right now by Robert Kirkman. In the intro to the first trade, he explains that he's always been disappointed by zombie movies because they seem to end just when he thinks the real story's beginning. The comic explores life after a zombie apocalypse for months and months, and has stayed pretty interesting throughout. Good stuff.
posted by mediareport at 8:14 AM on March 17, 2006

so it may be difficult to track down

Bookfinder lists lots of used copies of "The Book of the Dead" starting at around 6 bucks (this may work for a while to get the current list).
posted by mediareport at 8:24 AM on March 17, 2006

i second Zombie Survival Guide..

Really, really informative. Just by typing this comment proves this book works.
posted by freudianslipper at 8:25 AM on March 17, 2006

i++ to The Walking Dead

I'll also throw some props to David Wellington's Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet novels, because not only are they free and available online, but they're awesome.
posted by Hildago at 8:31 AM on March 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

I am Legend was made into the move The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston. As you might guess, there was a lot of gunplay in the movie; more than in the book, as I recall. Even though Matheson also did the screenplay, I liked the book more.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:40 AM on March 17, 2006

Cell by Stephen King -- Cell phones turn people into zombies.
posted by grumblebee at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2006

The Walking Dead - excellent comic book, highly recommended

Cell - the first act is spectacular. The remainder of the book is a rehash of the stand. I wish I had stopped after the first act.

For other books, take a look at The Rising and City of the Dead by Brian Keene. Both are spectacular reads.
posted by Lokheed at 9:59 AM on March 17, 2006

I Second Monster Island, which is coming out as a print book soon, and is really good.

Steven King's Cell is basically a zombie novel, and I am Legend is the first zombie novel, even though it's about vampires. (they might as well be zombies)

The Walking Dead Comic is great.

There have been a spate of books recently I haven't read. Deathbringer, Day by Day Armagedon, Autumn, and some anthologies: The Undead, and Brainchild from a place called Omnibucket.

And of course don’t forget video games, Stubbs the Zombie, etc.
posted by jimmydare at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2006

Monster Island, Monster Nation, Monster Planet. Yes. Yes. Yes.
posted by Alt F4 at 10:47 AM on March 17, 2006

I love good zombie flicks, and they always remind me of Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year (1722).
posted by bardic at 10:50 AM on March 17, 2006

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore has a zombie subplot. It's not a horror story, so I don't know if it meets any of your criteria, but it's so hilarious I felt the need to add to your list.
posted by denimflavored at 11:32 AM on March 17, 2006

Zora Neale Hurston's non-fiction Tell My Horse features a few sections on "actual" zombies in Haiti, i.e. people reanimated through voodoo ritual.
posted by logovisual at 11:41 AM on March 17, 2006

Interestingly, the Zombie Survival Guide is written by Max Brooks, who is the son of Mel Brooks. I shit you not.
posted by macdara at 12:49 PM on March 17, 2006 is a cool online zombie mini serial....48 eps. i think. you can watch online, or get the dvd.
posted by TwilightKid at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2006

Walter Mosley's The Wave is a zombie novel about love and space aliens and such.
posted by bigbigdog at 2:29 PM on March 17, 2006

For the factual side of why Haitians maintain traditions of zombification (basically, it is what Haitian society does with people who are incorrigible sociopaths) I suggest either of Wade Davis' books, The Serpent and the Rainbow, but completely ignore the crap movie that was made based on that, or Davis' more nuts and bolts guide to zombie poisons Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie.

Kids: don't try this at home!
posted by zaelic at 2:30 PM on March 17, 2006

I can't believe it. 26 comments and I'm the first one to mention...

Pet Semetary by Stephen King. Oh, sure. It's mostly zombie kitties and such. But then, at the end, it's a zombie toddler.
posted by Clay201 at 5:50 PM on March 17, 2006

Gil's All Fright Diner. It's really goofy, but it has zombies. And vampires. And werewolves. And ghosts. And tentacled, Lovecraftian monster gods. Fun stuff.
posted by brundlefly at 7:02 PM on March 20, 2006

I read the Monster Island trilogy and the first issue of The Walking Dead and enjoyed them immensely. Bonus points were awarded for them being free and able to be read at work. I checked The Zombie Survival Guide and Cell out from the library, and thought they were okay. Thanks for the recommendations. I am a little over zombies right now, but I may check out some of the other recommendations later.
posted by ND¢ at 7:18 AM on June 28, 2006

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