Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 1970s Horror Novels


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. For this week’s top 10, the topic is Top Ten All Time Favorite Books in X Genre — pick a genre, and write about whatever books you love. I was drawing a blank until a friend and I ended up discussing The Omen (yes, it just happened to come up in conversation), and that’s when I decided to make my list about all those amazing 1970s horror books with awesome covers:

1) The Omen by David Seltzer


2) The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist

3) Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon

Harvest Home

4) Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta


5) ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

stephen king salem's lot signet 1976 pb

6) Suffer the Children by John Saul

Suffer the Children

7) The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

The Amityville Horror

And three more books that — while not truly horror — certainly are horrifying in their own way, and are iconic works of the 1970s:

8) Jaws by Peter Benchley


9) The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

The Stepford Wives

10) Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan

Logan's Run (Logan, #1)

What genre did you pick this week? Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

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46 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 1970s Horror Novels

  1. I love how fabulously specific this list is. I think the ’70s were the golden era for horror novels. Jaws and ‘Salem’s Lot are two of my favorites, now I’m going to have to go look up when Rosemary’s Baby and Psycho were published. Great list.

    • Rosemary’s Baby was the 60s! I was going to include it — but since the date didn’t fit, I picked a different Ira Levin instead. I was really not coming up with a topic, but when my friend and I started reminiscing about all the horrible things in The Omen, I finally got inspired! Gah, I remember thinking Jaws was so amazing at the time — but I probably read it at much too young an age, now that I think about it. Thanks for your comments!

    • I guess I was a little specific… but I like having a theme to work with! 🙂 Horror’s not for everyone, and a lot of it is way too graphic for me — but I do like a good scare once in a while. Thanks!

  2. Oh goodness some of these are so scary! I never read any of these but I recognize most of the titles. I may have to get on some of these eventually. 😀 It’s like missing out on classics, so I guess I’ll give them a go. 🙂
    Happy reading!

    • It’s kind of fun to think about what was new and horrifying back then, and realize how NOT startling the same books would be now, compared to newer horror works. Still, when I talk to people who’ve read these, it’s clear that they’ve left a lasting impression (or psychic scars… ). Thanks!

  3. I love reading books from the horror genre. I’ve listed the books you mentioned. Thank you! 🙂 I watched The Exorcist a few times and it’s one of the creepiest movies ever, in my opinion. I love the book covers too. The cover for Audrey Rose is creepy.

    • I really love all the cheesy old covers! Audrey Rose was one of those books that everyone was reading way back when (we were probably all too young, in retrospect, but I remember it getting passed around like crazy among my friends). It’s really fun to see how much horror has changed over the years, and to look back at what was considered really scary at one point — some of it is probably pretty tame by today’s standards! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. I haven’t read any of these! I really should, because I’ve discovered that while I hate horror movies, I really do enjoy the books. They’re not actually scary to me (at least the ones I’ve read haven’t been), but they’re intense!

      • I don’t know if it’s a “today’s standards” thing or not, but horror movies freak me the hell out… which is why I don’t watch them. But reading is just a different experience. I don’t know if it’s my brain filtering out the worst parts or what, but I’ve never been truly frightened by a book… and I hope I never will be.

        • Oh, I’ve definitely read books that have freaked me out so badly that I needed to turn on every light in the house! I like some horror movies — the truly scary/creepy ones that don’t have to rely on buckets of blood to make you scream. I can’t stand graphic horror movies. Ugh.

    • Gotta love a mother who’s into sci-fi and horror! 🙂 I’ve seen the movies for a few of these too — but I was actually kind of amazed, once I started thinking about these, by how much of the detail I remember about all of these! I guess I probably scarred for life by reading a few of these books…

    • Well, I almost skipped this week’s TTT because I couldn’t think of a genre I haven’t already written about dozens of times… so, I decided to play a bit. 🙂 I’d really love to re-read a few of these and see if they still hold up as scary, or if they’re just so dated by now that they’re more campy than anything. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Salem’s Lot was a pretty fantastic read. Love the looks of some of these others though. I can’t believe I’ve never read The Exorcist. Great list!

    • I loved the Stepford Wives!! The original movie was filmed in my home town, and to this day when I go back for visits, the old mansion from the movie gives me the creeps when I drive by. 🙂

    • Thank you! I was feeling so uninspired, because it felt like I’d already written multiple posts about my favorite fantasy, sci-fi, historical, etc… but older horror was so much fun to revisit! I’d love to get my hands on a copy of Audrey Rose after all these years. I remember being so scared by it, but I wonder now if it would hold up?

      • That’s the thing about old school horror, at least for me, it usually holds up fairly well. Although, I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten older that what scared me then isn’t exactly what scares me now. I think there are new levels of horror that come with adulthood that maybe we couldn’t see as kids. I dunno. But you should definitely give Audrey Rose another go and let me know what you think this time around!

    • I’ll come check out your paranormal picks! For 1970s horror, it helps if you’re *cough* of an age to have read them back in the day… 🙂 Let’s just say, I remember my friends and I passing these books around at sleepovers — we were terrified!

    • I think I might have once picked up another of his books (The Island, maybe?), but either didn’t read it or it didn’t leave a lasting impression the way that Jaws did! This ended up being a lot of fun to put together. I’d love to reread The Omen one of these days. Creepy/evil children in horror novels are just always scary!

    • Ha, a couple of people have mentioned how specific I got… and it’s mostly just because I needed something to focus on! Any other ideas I had were so broad that I kept coming up empty. Anyway, this ended up being fun. 🙂 happy Tuesday!

  6. Pingback: William F. Nolan » Blog Archive » Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 1970s Horror Novels

  7. Good list–those are some ’70s horror classics, particularly ‘SALEM’S LOT, STEPFORD WIVES, THE EXORCIST, and HARVEST HOME. However don’t stop there; plenty of other lesser-known ’70s horror novels are out there that time has forgotten (alas!):

    THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson
    THE SEARCH FOR JOSEPH TULLY by William Hallahan
    THE MANITOU by Graham Masterton
    THE AMULET by Michael McDowell
    THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons
    THE GODSEND by Bernard Taylor
    ELIZABETH by Jessica Hamilton
    THE DOLL WHO ATE HIS MOTHER by Ramsey Campbell
    THE PROGENY OF THE ADDER by Leslie Whitten

    Think of this as a sort of “alternative top 10” of 1970s horror novels. Enjoy!

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