Personally, I think for Tolkien to be fully enjoyed, one needs to read The Children of Hurin, the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, etc. as well 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings', as it is so much more beautiful as the long and sprawling sagas of a rich and detailed world; a level of history and world-building that makes it seem like it could almost have been real. I went as far as trying to 'learn' - or at least piece together as much as can be learned, because Tolkien never really completed the endless task of compiling his languages, and all the lexicons are partial and the grammar left in a state of construction - various forms of Elvish, but I am a very, very nerdy nerd.
I had to include at least one Gothic horror from the genre's hey-day. I doubt that the novel requires much introduction to the readers of this blog, what with it having become ingrained in popular culture through various film adaptations. It is the tale of the mad-scientist who builds a person by re-animating the re-assembled parts of several corpses, and the results and ramifications of this act. Mary Shelley wrote the novel when she was only 18, and it was a work of inspired genius.
This is mostly a detective story, but it is an unusual one. For a start, it is set in a medieval monastery, but this is not a Brother Cadfael mystery. In many ways, this novel works a bit like the sort of Gothic horror where all the supernatural horrors turn out to have a rational explanation, and the isolated mountain-top monastery certainly gives it a claustrophobic and labyrinthine setting - with the library's arrangement of rooms being a deliberate puzzle/maze and the architecture itself quite a feature of the novel (the prominence of atmospheric setting of this nature is a classic feature of Gothic horror), and the deaths in their strange and gruesome manner again give the novel a macabre twist that makes the whole situation seem like it borders on the demonic, as does the story being told from the perspective of a very religious Medieval novice monk. It's quite a deliberately intellectual novel, and it is one of those books where erudite readers will probably catch who the murderer is pretty quickly from clues within the story, something I can find a little pretentious at times, but it is still a very enjoyable book, and certainly one for those who enjoy Gothic novels but not necessarily supernatural tales.
For those who are interested in the architecture in the novel, it was inspired by ::this:: real life remote monastery in Italy.
Another honourable mention goes to Michael Moorcock's Elric novels - the sadistic, terrifying and yet beautiful Melnibonéans, something akin to elves with the personalities of vampires, are creatures that I thought very fascinating for the same reasons I love reading about vampires. I wasn't so keen on Eternal Champion books set in other periods and worlds, but the almost dream-like surreal high fantasy worlds of Elric really captured my imagination. Elric's cursed sword Stormbringer that drinks the souls of those he slays, the immortal knight who longs for death, the ancient, beautiful and decadent city falling into ruins, all common tropes in modern Gothic fantasy (and all with much older literary histories - Stormbringer brings to mind both Kullervo's sword and the myths about swords with evil spirits from Japan), but when the Elric books came out these were much fresher, and when I read them they were new to me, plus Moorcock's style made me feel like I was travelling with the doomed Lord himself. Elric is somewhere between a Byronic anti-hero - full of angst, introspection and both tragic and heroic.
There's a few books I enjoy reading that didn't make it to this list - Jim Butcher's 'Dresden Files' series, 'The Brutal Art' (a tragic tale of murder, ableism, and abuse - half detective novel, and half family saga) and Robin Hobb's 'Farseer' novels, and of course J.R.R. Martin's 'Game of Thrones' saga... I hear he also wrote a vampire novel, so I'll have to track THAT down. I like high fantasy nearly as much as I like vampire novels and dystopias.
My guilty pleasure is reading spy/assassin/international intrigue thrillers; the stuff action movies are made of. Some of them are actually good books, many others I just read to pass the time and while exciting, are quite terribly written, and I don't care! It is like eating chocolate - sometimes it is luxurious and delicious, perhaps a twist in a familiar recipe, perhaps a decadent desert... but sometimes it's a cheap chocolate bar from the corner shop, an unhealthy indulgence that is enjoyable nonetheless!