I Am Legend - Richard Matheson I originally heard of this short novel when I was in junior high. I have also seen all three movies based on it. However, only now have I actually gotten around to reading it and I wonder what took me so long. Richard Matheson is a master of contemporary horror fiction and this is his masterpiece. The modern suburban setting and the natural explanation of vampirism were areas he pioneered when he wrote this in 1954. The novel can be unrelentingly grim and you should expect a more somber ending than the films portrayed but no one in the horror genre can pack quite a literary wallop. Stephen King states that Matheson is one of his biggest influence and that is easy to see when you read the book.

In the edition I'm reading (Orb Books, 1997), there are also 10 short stories along with the 170 page novella. They are an excellent sampling of Matheson's expertise in short fiction and includes "Prey", probably the scariest short story you will ever read.