The Scariest Books I've Read

I don’t read a lot of horror but I have read some. Stephen King? Not so scary. The scariest books I’ve read are few and likely different than yours. And I can’t even remember the titles of all of them. Ready? Here they are, presented in chronological order for me, that is, the order I read them in.

Everything by H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells, I would so write you a letter for ruining my childhood if it weren’t for the fact that you were dead. Plus, being dead there’s always the slim chance you might haunt me—further compounding my suffering. You see, growing up, I was quite sure there were Morlocks in my closet. That little black circle on the calender, the new moon, made me want to cry. Plus, The Red Room! Good grief! Who let me read The Red Room when I slept in a red room while visiting my Grandmother? And while The Invisible Man wasn’t quite so scary I really didn’t need to know that vivisecting cats was a necessary step in discovering invisibility.

Unremembered Horror Titles

When I was in grade six, and eleven or twelve years old, someone brought their parent’s collection of Horror novels to school. I read two of them. One was called The Sandman, I think. I probably read it because I thought it might have something to do with Spider-Man. But both were written in what I presume follows The Amityville style (I don’t really read Horror remember so forgive me if this is completely wrong). A realistic account of a family’s haunting, building from small visitations up to full-on demonic experiences that are so far-fetched they can’t be believed—unless you’re eleven. I didn’t get a lot of sleep that year. Plus, these two books are personally notable for me developing my odd theory that ignorance of religion kept you safe from hauntings; the ghosts seemed to only bug religious folks.

1984

If I can’t communicate essential human ideas because the tools to do so have been taken away from me, am I still human? I still remember vividly my initial shock from first reading 1984. Of course it’s not just frightening but incredibly sad and it’s overwhelming hopelessness and negativity is somewhat inspiring, that is: don’t let this happen to you. I rarely think of it as a science-fiction showpiece (sci-fi geeks love pointing at 1984 in defense). It’s horror for me.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

And lastly, one of the stupidest books I’ve ever read, a kid’s book, is also one of the scariest. The idea that someone thinks boring, terribly written garbage is somehow acceptable for kids fills me with Lovecraftian dread (speaking of, it’s the idea of unknowable whistling octopuses from beyond we Lovecraft fans find frightening—not the actual thing itself) . Here’s a sample page I saved before it hit the trash.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Yikes! Papa Bear’s feeling stabby again.

More Scary Stories for Halloween

There’s two days left till Halloween. If you’ve got any scary stories yourself why not blog about them and link back here so we can read them or post a comment. I can’t be the only guy around still afraid of Morlocks can I?

18 thoughts on “The Scariest Books I've Read

  1. I’m with you on 1984. I thought Perfume was also pretty scary (perhaps “disturbing” or “unsettling” is better).
    My other top scary or disturbing reads are:
    Coin Locker Babies–Ryu Murakami
    Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids–Kenzaburo Ōe
    Blindness–José Saramago

    The last one, Blindness, is one of my all-time favourites; a wonderful, wonderful book.

  2. Reading quotes in which H.G. Wells and other enlightened liberals of his generation talk cheerfully about the extermination of non-whites or disabled people has always frightened me. It’s horror non-fiction. I guess I put a lot of stock in reason and intellect, and it’s disturbing to see how those can be led as badly astray as emotion, intuition and the spirit can.

  3. I’ve wanted to look at Blindness for a while but—talk about horror!—the punctuation! I can’t see any! I should probably try and read it before I watch the movie though.

    Luckily, Elliot, we had Gilbert Kitty Chesterton. The big, fat, laughing light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. Sorry, Ian – I don’t recall ready any books that I found to be scary.
    http://www.itsaboutmakingbabies.com/2007/10/29/about-scary-books/

    Granted, I read mostly SF and Fantasy. I did mention a couple of ghost stories, etc.

    About Goldilocks – remember, that was from the Grimm Brother’s collection of stories we now call ‘Fairy Tales’. Originally the stories were collected folk tales told to caution children about dangers – like running off, getting into someone else’s property, running away (Hansel and Gretel). As I recall reading, the books sold better than expected – and the clamor was for more gore and fantastically horrible bad ends to envelop the unwary. So the stories morphed from simple cautionary tales to lurid excursions of fantasy about monsters and witches, etc.

  5. I think I need to read Dracula again, Heather. I may have put it down in Junior High. I definitely didn’t finish it.

    And Frankenstein, yes! I’ve been meaning to read that for a while, Circle Reader. I think that’ll be a good winter read.

    BTW, Circle Reader, thanks for contributing a post. I tried to comment over there but my comment had a fatal error. The Horror! I started off with, “I think I love this post.”

    It might be a problem with comments.php or something. A perfect time to upgrade to the latest Sandbox, I think. 🙂 It could just be WordPress too though.

  6. hey i am a 16 yr old pupil doing my gcses and i was browsing through the net because i am currently studyin h.g wells the red room foe my gcse litreture exam i had a look trough your site and found that it was usefull keep up the good work stay cool armani shef

  7. How is Goldilocks scary – the bears, dude, the bears! Also, having someone else eat your porridge.

    By the way, Brad K’s “origin of Goldilocks” up above is completely wrong. It’s not from the Grimm brothers, but from the poet Robert Southey. The characterization of Grimm’s Fairy Tales is also inaccurate.

    The wikipedia entry on Goldilocks and the Grimm brothers cover this pretty well.

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