Tuesday 22 May 2018

Lucky Thirteen: The IVM guide to... The Gothic Reading List

As it is World Goth Day the question that always comes up time and time again from mainstream journalists and the average person in the street is... “Just what exactly is Goth anyway?”. And even though the question may be the same, the answers are usually different.

Is it a fashion? Is it a musical genre? Is it a literary genre? Is it an artistic aesthetic? Is it an architectural movement? Is it an ancient tribe of Germanic people who sacked Rome? Is it a youth culture?

Well it's all of the above and more. It's a lifestyle. Goth as a subculture tends to permeate into all areas of life from the films, bands and books you like, to home décor and fashion choices. It's all mutually entwined. However if that isn't any more illuminating, then here are thirteen books on the subject of Gothic that are a good starting point for anyone trying to understand what the hell Goth actually is.

And while you're at it, why not have a listen to our World Goth Day Playlist: 'Goth 101' on Spotify...

  1. 'Oh My Goth' – Aurelio Voltaire
    Not exactly a deep look into the evolution of the Gothic subculture, but a damn fine example of the kind of humour that is often found within it.

    “A supreme being named Hieronymous Poshe arrives on Earth. His mission? To find signs of intelligent life and keep his species from turning the entire globe into a colossal landing strip. Instead, he's found time and again how pathetic humans can be! Aliens, vampires, teenagers, the Goth scene itself...everyone's a target in this hilarious book! Loaded to bear with satirical dark humor by the world's leading authority, Goth rocker Voltaire!”

  2. 'What is Goth?' – Aurelio Voltaire

    “What Is Goth? is a humorous, self-deprecating look at Goth culture from the inside out. Imagine The Preppy Handbook colliding with Charles Addams. Then add a lot more melancholy and a lot more spooky.

    What Is Goth? dispels the false stereotypes and reinforces the true ones surrounding Goths and Goth culture. "To the mundane," Voltaire writes, "Goths are weird, black-clad freaks who are obsessed with death; they are sad all of the time. Take a closer look at the Goth scene, however, and you will find a rich tapestry of ideas and practices and a menagerie of colorful characters. Oh, dear. I said colorful."

  1. 'Worldwide Gothic: Chronicle of a Tribe' – Natasha Scharf

    “This is the first book to look at the impact of the goth scene worldwide, from its origins right through to the present day. From the UK's sprawling post-punk scene, Japan's highly visual movement, the USA's deathrock explosion and Germany's extremely popular Schwarze Szene, Worldwide Gothic explores how they all came about and the influence they've had on contemporary music and fashion. Spat out of punk at the tail end of the 1970s, goth became a major subculture in the UK with bands like Siouxsie And The Banshees and The Sisters Of Mercy scoring Top Ten hits and its fashion inspiring catwalk collections. After the scene died down in the early 1990s, it spread out to Europe where it attracted hundreds of thousands of followers and became assimilated with other muscial genres. This book also looks at how goth is now returning to its roots now with the emergence of dark rock and indie bands who pay homage to gothic greats like Bauhaus and Joy Division.”

  2. 'The Art of Gothic' – Natasha Scharf

    “Dressed head-to-toe in black, often with extreme make-up, the gothic look has been a popular once since the 1980s. Gothic art is about more than just album covers and ephemera; it's about fashion, book jackets, cinematography, computer graphics and fine arts. And its influence frequently seeps through into mainstream culture.The first ever English language collection of gothic images available. Features 224 pages of gothic photography and artwork. Contains up to date references that encompass the modern gothic movement as well as the original movement that came from punk. Gathers imagery from around the world, including previously unpublished photographs and artwork. Each chapter includes two special features, including profiles of influential artists or styles. Features articles on the work of well-known artists such as Anne Sudworth and Roman Dirge as well as graphic design teams Parched Art, Leisure Process and 23 Envelope.”

  3. 'Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace' – Andi Harriman and Marloes Bontje

    “It was a scene that had many names: some original members referred to themselves as punks, others new romantics, new wavers, the bats, or the morbids. "Goth" did not gain lexical currency until the late 1980s. But no matter what term was used, "postpunk" encompasses all the incarnations of the 1980s alternative movement. Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace is a visual and oral history of the first decade of the scene. Featuring interviews with both the performers and the audience to capture the community on and off stage, the book places personal snapshots alongside professional photography to reveal a unique range of fashions, bands, and scenes. A book about the music, the individual, and the creativity of a worldwide community rather than theoretical definitions of a subculture, Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace considers a subject not often covered by academic books. Whether you were part of the scene or are just fascinated by different modes of expression, this book will transport you to another time and place.”

  4. 'Goth Chic: A Connoisseur’s Guide to Goth' – Gavin Baddeley

    “Goth Chic is the first book to properly explore Gothic culture in the modern world. Gavin Baddeley unearths hidden gems from the underground alongside better-known manifestations, including horror comics, fetish clubs, Goth-rock superstars and vampire cultists. The result is a book that provides a peerless primer for Gothic culture novices and an incisive analysis to challenge and compel even the most seasoned veteran of this dark underworld.”

  5. 'Goth: The dark Subculture' – Gavin Baddeley

    “Goth is the subculture that never dies, influencing fashion, TV, movies, and alternative rock music. Goth: The Dark Subculture is a visual history that draws on a rich photographic archive. Spanning the entirety of the scene's existence, the book vividly evokes the past, present and future of Goth.”

  6. 'Music to Die For' – Mick Mercer

    “The ultimate resource for readers struggling to cope with the bewildering variety of alternative sub-genres, covering: ambient, cabaret noir, deathrock, goth, gothic metal, horror punk, melodramatic song, post-punk and psychobilly. Packed with discographical information, web addresses, line-ups and often contributions from the bands themselves, this is the first edition of a book that will be turned to again and again. Fully illustrated with over 130 pages of band photos.”

  7. 'Hex Files: The Goth Bible' – Mick Mercer

    “An illustrated guide to the world-wide Goth scene, which also includes research on the worlds of Pagan, Fetish and Vampire scenes. It features information on bands, records, shops, clothes and jewellery, and discusses the cross-overs between the individual cults.”

  8. 'Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture' – Paul Hodkinson

    “Goths represent one of the most arresting, distinctive and enduring subcultures of recent times. The dedication of those involved to a lifestyle which, from the outside, may appear dark and sinister, has spawned reactions ranging from admiration to alarm. Until now, no one has conducted a full-scale ethnographic study of this fascinating subcultural group. Based on extensive research by an 'insider', this is the first. Immersing us in the potent mix of identities, practices and values that make up the goth scene, the author takes us behind the facade of the goth mystique. From dress and musical tastes to social habits and the use of the internet, Hodkinson details the inner workings of this intriguing group. Defying postmodern theories that claim media and commerce break down substantive cultural groupings, Hodkinson shows how both have been used by goths to retain, and even strengthen, their group identity. Hodkinson provides a comprehensive reworking of subcultural theory, making a key contribution to the disciplines of sociology, cultural studies, youth studies, media studies, and popular music studies. Readable and accessible, this groundbreaking book presents a unique chance to engage with a contemporary, spectacular culture.”

  9. 'The Goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined' – Nancy Kilpatrick

    “The Goth Bible explores the traditions and history of a popular subculture often misrepresented as homicidal, suicidal and sociopathic, with non-goths such as the Columbine High School murderers held up as representative of the movement. Nancy Kilpatrick bridges this gulf in understanding, providing a lifestyle handbook for today s creatures of the night. This authoritative study is drawn from hundreds of interviews with bands, artists, designers, and goths from all walks of life.”

  10. 'Gothic: The Evolution of a Dark Subculture' – Chris Roberts, Hywel Livingstone, Emma Baxter-Wright
    “Goth-inspired chic is very much a part of contemporary culture--especially for a cool young tribe with a penchant for black. But it also has a long history stretching over centuries, becoming a distinctive narrative form that encompasses everything from art and architecture to literature, fashion, film, television, digital media, graphic novels, and music (Marilyn Manson). Marvelously adaptable, the gothic aesthetic has proven fertile ground for endless imaginative reinvention, and this collection provides the first fully illustrated introduction to every aspect of the phenomenon--one that is truly without boundaries and ever-evolving.”

  11. 'The Gothic: A Very Short Introduction' – Nick Groom

    “The anatomy of the Gothic is richly complex and perversely contradictory, and so the thirteen chapters here range deliberately widely. This is the first time that the entire story of the Gothic has been written as a continuous history: from the historians of late antiquity to the gardens of Georgian England, from the mediaeval cult of the macabre to German Expressionist cinema, from Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy to American consumer society, from folk ballads to vampires, from the past to the present.”

There are many other interesting titles out there, both humorous and academic, that deal with all facets of the Gothic subculture. But we hope this list will provide anyone looking to go into more depth on the subject with a solid starting point.

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