If you like monsters, then there’s 5 books I always reach for when I’ve got the monster itch. Plus, there’s 1 author I always look to for dog men.
I haven’t ranked these in my order of preference. I love them equally. Without further ado, these books belong on your shelf:
Fearsome Creatures Of The Lumberwoods
By Hal Johnson, Illustrated by Tom Mead
This book reads and feels like a successor to “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.” In it, you get 20 tales of scary encounters with all sorts of monsters roaming the woods.
It’s a great book to have for campfire tales. But, it’s also a manual to the fearsome critters of lumberjack lore. It’s fiction but grounded in tall tales from America’s frontier.
If you like adventure pulp, you want this one. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love the stories.
The Monster Book: Creatures, Beasts And Fiends Of Nature
By Nick Redfern
Nick Redfern is likely the world’s most well-known cryptozoologist. This book lists out famous–and some not-so-famous cryptids–with stories, monster descriptions and a bit of an academic’s touch.
It also has a lot of pictures, which many monster books lack. It’s always good to see what you’re looking for, eh?
Anyway, this is one of the most comprehensive monster manuals out there. Only “The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters” by Rosemary Ellen Guiley can beat it for coverage. But her book isn’t as illustrated and it’s a dry read. So, Redfern’s book gets the nod.
Note: Ok, I’m a little biased to a fun read and pictures.
The Big Book Of Monsters, Volume 1: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Myths, Folktales And Legendary Creatures
By Chad O’Dell Roberts
Okay, remember how I mentioned I’m biased toward fun and pictures? Well, this book has both covered in droves.
Chad O’Dell Roberts made a book of exquisite pictures and concise monster descriptions. It’s not as thorough, detailed or exhaustive as the book by Nick Redfern. But, boy, this is a fun read and flip-through.
When I need inspiration to write or imagine some fantastic monsters, this is the book I reach for.
By E.B. Hudspeth
This book may find itself on your love-it-or-hate-it list, but I loved it. Hudspeth’s book is fiction, but it will feel like it really happened.
It’s actually two books in one. The first part is the biography of a mad scientist, Dr. Spencer Black. The second part focuses on the anatomy of fantastical creatures. I don’t think any book has attempted to dissect and map monster anatomy before.
Anyway, I was hooked the moment I cracked the cover. It’s probably not for everyone, especially the cryptozoologist’s looking for actual evidence of cryptids and mythical beasts. I think it’s a standout entry.
Cryptozoology Anthology: Strange And Mysterious Creatures In Men’s Adventure Magazines
Edited by Robert Deis, David Coleman and Wyatt Doyle
This is a collection of adventure pulp articles from men’s magazines. If you like pulp (like me), then you’ll love these short tales.
You’ll probably cringe at some of the covers (scantily clad ladies needing rescue), but it reflects the time. The editors also added a nice historic touch before each story begins. These stories appeared from the 1940s to 1960s.
I wasn’t familiar with most of these magazines (Male, Man’s Magazine, Sir!, Men and more), and I did get a good chuckle from some of it. But you can’t fault the editors and writers for their love of the genre and adventure tales. It’s great escapist fun.
Linda S. Godfrey, Author
Linda S. Godfrey has had a major impact on me as a monster-phile. I don’t think any other non-fiction author in cryptozoology has her writing chops. It makes sense because she was a journalist for the longest time. She broke the Beast of Bray Road story in southeastern Wisconsin in the 90s.
Anyway, she’s the first expert I use to find information about real-life werewolf and dogmen sightings. Linda’s covered far more cryptids than just those, but that’s what she’s known for.
If you ask me which of her books to get, I can’t name just one. Here’s a list of her books you gotta have:
- American Monsters
- Monsters Among Us
- The Beast of Bray Road
- Monsters of Wisconsin
- Real Wolfmen
Note: I bought all these books with my own money and there’s no expectation of a good review or endorsement from the authors or publishers.