Book Lists, Young Adult

Top Five Vampire Reads

I love vampires. There’s something just so mysterious and alluring (and sometimes sparkly!) about them. Vampires have overtaken my life in a few ways: first, by invading my TikTok For You Page with an abundance of Edward Cullen videos. Second, through my constant rewatching of The Vampire Diaries.

It was actually my eighth grade English teacher who introduced me to vampire literature through lending me a copy of Twilight. Nothing could’ve appealed to thirteen year old Julia more than mysterious and romantic immortal teenagers like Edward and Alice Cullen.

I immediately became kind of obsessed with vampire myths, and this is something I still carry with me as a college student. Last semester I studied the literary tradition of vampires to see how these stories have evolved over time and learned a lot about what the symbol of a vampire means.

Now there are a lot of different interpretations, but I tend to lean towards the idea of vampires being a symbol of perverseness. They are strange creatures, predators that walk around in skin that makes them look human. The danger of a vampire is rooted in the fact that they go against normal human behavior. By drinking blood, they go against the expected behavior of what a figure who looks like a human being should do. We cannot initially detect them as dangerous creatures, which makes their threat to us even greater

Some vampire stories lean into the blood drinking monster angle more than others, and by seeing the level of focus that the author puts on the vampire’s perverse behaviors we can start to analyze the messages of the stories.

As I said, I love many vampire books. Since it’s almost October, we’re coming up on the perfect time to dive into a new Vampire novel! I’ve decided to share my top five favorites with you, but you can always check out my vampire reads (among other books) on my Goodreads or my Instagram!

5. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is a classic. This book feels the most like ‘horror’ out of my top picks, and love watching the mystery unfold. The character of Dracula embodies all of the classic vampire stereotypes. My biggest complaint is that all of the female characters fall one-dimensional. Other than that, Dracula is a great and classic read.

4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Seriously, you can’t talk vampires and not talk Twilight. Edward is an iconic symbol of vampires everywhere. Twilight hits all of the beats expected in a vampire novel and a classic YA romance. It is definitely worth the read for YA fans who love vampires.

3. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

I picked up this book on a whim and loved it. Holly Black puts an apocalyptic twist on the classic vampire story, showing a society where vampires are locked away in their own cities separate from uninfected humans. This book will surprise you in a good way!

2. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Admittedly this entire series is a guilty pleasure of mine. Vampire Academy has some of my favorite worldbuilding of any vampire novel. The series dives into intense discussions of class structures and the vampires feel much less like mysterious monsters and much more like people. Plus, there is barely any interactions with normal humans in Vampire Academy. The story is all vampires, all the time.

1. Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

I don’t want to spoil anything about Carmilla considering that I adore this story and its messages. Carmilla was released in 1872 but feels far ahead in the commentary on gender politics and sexuality that bleed (haha) into the storyline. Do I consider Carmilla a feminist text even though it is a vampire story? Absolutely.

These five stories are only a small portion of popular vampire works available. While I love them dearly, there are so many others to be appreciated! Let me know what your favorite story involving vampires is.

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