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I would reccomend The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. It's my favorite and the one I cut my teeth on. Most of my books are older and it seems that Lovecraft's stories are regularly repackaged, but if you are looking more for his short stories look for a collection that includes "Call of Cthulhu." I reccomend this only because Cthulhu has such an impact on the gaming community.

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Read "Call of Cthulhu" first. The compilations I've got are pretty good. The one with "Call" is Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabe. Then go to pretty much anything. I take that back. "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "Dunwich Horror" should be next. Then go crazy. Those three stories cut to the heart of the Mythos.

 

My personal favorite though is "The Whisperer in Darkness."

 

Ia! Ia!

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I would say wait on The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. (Same for At the Mountains of Madness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward or Herbert West – Reanimator). Unless you have read a lot of older serial pulp fiction, his stuff can take some getting used to. Instead, I'd recommend starting with some of these shorter works:

 

The Call of Cthulhu

Pickman's Model

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The Whisperer in Darkness

 

 

Hrm. . .been a while since I read Lovecraft. I'm going to have to reread some in order to add to the list. I remember The Shadow Out of Time as being interesting, but don't recall how long it was.

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At the Mountains of Madness is the coolest and spookiest of them all, but the other stories listed above all have something to recommend them. The Dream-Quest stuff is long and convoluted, I thought, and not particularly horrific.

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The lists so far are very good, and mostly connected to the core mythos. However, if you have time for a few pages (I don't remember exactly how long, just that it's very very short), I would strongly recommend reading The Hound. It's a nice short piece. It stands alone, and you get a quick feel for his writing style. It's the first Lovecraft I ever read, and I read it many times when I was younger before I could get my hands on any of his other work, so that might explain why I'm so fond of it. Anyway, it's a nice short horror story.

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I think my favorite Lovecraft is "The Dunwich Horror". It, and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" are good places to start, IMO. You don't have to have a really strong mythos background to follow what's going on.

 

Don't get discouraged by the density of the language, give several stories a try, the quality of what's been published really varies - some of his very early stuff (initially rejected by publishers?) is pretty weak, IMO.

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Don't get discouraged by the density of the language, give several stories a try, the quality of what's been published really varies - some of his very early stuff (initially rejected by publishers?) is pretty weak, IMO.

 

I've always thought that Lovecraft's use of language helped give his writing the feel it has. I'm quite certain that if the language had been thinned out his stories would not have made the impact they did.

 

Yes, some of his early work is weaker, but this is true for many authors. I happen to like this because you can watch his growth as an author.

::):

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