I know that the people here really love horror, guess that isn't a surprise since this is a horror site. But I also like to read things that aren't horror and I decided to make a lit of different stories that I enjoy which don't fall into the horror category, at least not for me, some may be considered horror, but I don't feel like they are. Also, to keep this list as something that wouldn't take a long time to read, all of the stories are going to be shorts. So, let's get started.
The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. This is an amazing story that is also a bit of a gut punch. It's about a boy's relationship with his mother and how it changes as he grows older.
The House on the Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson. This could be the only one that may be considered a horror story. This is a very strange story about pig people and traveling to other dimensions.
The Man of the House by Frank O'Connor. This is a story about a man who wants ice for his water, in a time when ice was used to keep foods cold before electric.
The Chaser by John Collier. A man selling magic is explaining why some of the elixirs are more costly than others. Maybe one of the best stories that I've listed so far, or at least the funniest.
And, because this is a horror site, here's a handful of things that are more on the horror scale.
Smee by AM Burrage. A group of kids are playing a game when one of them has a ghostly encounter.
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor. A family is on a road trip when they encounter a murder that has been on the lose.
And The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. A lottery that no one wants to win.
Now, with the exception of the first story, I'm fairly certain that all of these stories are at least a hundred years old. That doesn't mean that they aren't good, most of them are and with the exception of The Lottery, I don't think too many of these are that well known. Because a lot of people on this site like weird fiction The House on the Borderlands may be well know, but that is just an assumption. If there are any stories that you'd recommend, please do. I'm always looking for a good story to read, and it doesn't really matter what genre it is.
Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a beautiful collection of short stories by one of the best authors to come out of the last century. It's big into magic realism and he reminds me a lot of Murakami. Sad, lonely, romantic, and occasionally frightening but never really horror. His writing had a big impact on me when I was younger. If I had to recommend a single story from the collection it would be, I Only Came to Use the Phone
I have been on a bit of a comedy kick lately so (when I have free time), I have been enjoying: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series (Douglas Adams), A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole), and I've been tempted to try and track down some Terry Pratchett novels, but haven't been too lucky in finding a place that ships cheaply (and Kindle hits you hard for downloading fees here).
Here are a few from my long list of suggested books. A few of these are well-known, but I suggested them anyway because there isn't much reference to them nowadays.
The original 1611 translation of the King James Bible - Not just for obvious reasons, but because it has an interesting history behind it, and it gives us a good glimpse of what medieval literature was like. They actually sell reprints of it. Ironically, I posted this on November 5, the anniversary of Guy Fawkes' arrest.
Ramayana - The ancient Hindu epic poem. One of my favorites. It centers around Prince Rama, the seventh incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, who has been unjustly banished to the forest. Aided by the vanaras (half-human half-monkey creatures) Rama fights Sri Lanka's demon king Ravana.
Mahabharata - Another ancient Hindu poem. This one is centered around two kingdoms at war. Vishnu's eighth incarnation Krishna plays a supporting role, and Hanuman from Ramayana makes a cameo.
The Epic of Gilgamesh - Another ancient epic poem. Includes what might be the first reference to zombies. Uruk King Gilgamesh goes on a perilous adventure to find the secret of eternal life after his friend Enkidu is killed by the gods.
Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor (not to be confused with Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor) - Possibly the world's first washed-up-on-an-island story.
Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en - One of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. The original Dragonball manga took inspiration from it. Tang Sanzang journeys from China to India to retrieve sacred Buddhist texts. On his way back he encounters many trials and enemies.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes - Still pretty popular today. Published in the early 17th century (part one 1605, part two 1615). A nobleman named Alonso Quixano goes insane after reading too many romantic novels and decides to become a knight. Insane, he does not see the world for what it is.
The Miracle Man by Frank L. Packard - Probably only silent film buffs have heard of this one. A group of conartists which consists of a mastermind, his girlfriend, a fake cripple, and a drug pusher try to cash in on a faith healer. I have a copy of the first edition (1914).
I have a lot more suggestions, but most of them are well known so it would be kind of pointless.
Cracker Jackson by Betsy Byars- One day, this boy named Jackson receives an anonymous message reading, "Keep away, Cracker, or he'll hurt you." Although it's anonymous, he knows who sent it because his favorite former babysitter is the only one who ever called him "Cracker" (a nickname inspired by Cracker Jacks). He goes to investigate, discovers she's being abused by her husband, and is determined to help her. The whole book blends serious and humorous moments very well and has a number of interesting and human characters.
House of Stairs by William Sleator- This is a science-fiction novel, but I would also categorize it as psychological horror. Five teenagers wake up to find they've been put in a building with endless staircases, a toilet/drinking fountain, and no escape. What ends up happening to them shows the darker side of the human psyche. Sleator does a good job of establishing the dark future these characters live in with simple dialogue. For instance, one conversation tells us that not only does this world have massive highways over eight lanes wide, but also that the urban areas are so polluted that all cars now come equipped with gas masks. It's also a little chilling when one character claims that computers are so much better than books because there are so many people today who are obsessed with technology and condemn anyone who doesn't have the same obsession.
The Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol- I've loved these books since childhood and they never get old. The characters are funny & engaging and the writing is great. Of particular interest is Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake! which is described as both a casebook and a cookbook. That's because it has a mystery and then has recipes related to the case. For instance, one case has a stolen pinata, and the section that follows has Mexican recipes. Sobol also wrote three books of two-minute mysteries, and it's interesting to compare the two series because some of them have the same mysteries/solutions, but A) they're written differently and have different scenarios and B) people straight up die in Two-Minute Mysteries while they're only knocked unconscious in Encyclopedia Brown.
Thank you guys for some of those suggestions. Empy I love Douglas Adams, he had always made me laugh and I think my favorite book of his is actually Starship Titanic. He died far too soon, his contributions to writing aren't appreciated enough.
Ned, I have read most of those books, mainly because you've talked about religious texts, and that has been something that I've been interested in my entire life. I love religions and they have always been something that I've studied. If you like the dogma, you may also like folklore. If you do, check out Dr. Bob Corran, he has a good deal of folklore stories that just tell about the fairies and monsters from different cultures. Also the more famous monsters get a book of their own, so vampires, werewolves, and strange unknown places are just some of the things that he has written about.
Christian, I haven't read that book yet, so it'll be going on my list. Thanks. Raidra, I haven't read any of the ones that you've mentioned either, so again more that will be going on my reading list. Always looking for something new to read, and it makes me happy to see so many books that I haven't been recommended before.