Friday, October 24, 2008

A love letter to books that scared me silly

Since Halloween is a week away, let’s talk scary books - books so unsettling that they give you nightmares. I don’t read a lot of horror, so most of these books I came upon by accident.

It by Stephen King

You can’t make a list of scary books and not include Stephen King. My favorite books by King are actually the less scary ones, like The Green Mile, On Writing, Carrie and The Stand. But It was the first King book I read and I read it WAY too young – at 13. It completely freaked me out and I’ve never looked at a clown - or a sewer drain - the same way again.



Under the Skin by Michel Faber

This novel starts out normally enough. Isserley, a tiny female driver with big coke bottle glasses drives around picking up hitchhikers with big muscles. But to what end? For me to tell you anymore about this amazingly strange and utterly terrifying novel would be a shame. So I won’t, except to say it’s one of my favorite all time books and I recommend it to anyone with an appreciation for darker novels.


Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

At first glance, a Tom Clancy novel might seem like a weird choice for a scary book list. But this over 1300 page book, which predates 9/11, is scary not only because the entire government is taken out by terrorists flying a 747, but also because the terrorists are disseminating the Ebola virus. Death by Ebola seems to be one of the worst ways to go, so yeah, this novel had my poor heart beating wildly.




1984 by George Orwell

Orwell’s dystopian classic is frightening enough with big brother controlling society. But the icing on the terror cake is room 101 where your worst fear materializes. My room 101 might hold killer demonic clowns, crazed Ebola infected monkeys, or old potatoes wiggling their copious potato eyes. I really don’t want to find out.





Entombed by Linda Fairstein

Oh yeah, have I mentioned I’m extremely claustrophobic? Being buried alive might even be worse than the whole Ebola thing. In fact, it scares me so much, I can’t even bear to read about it. Entombed has been sitting on my shelf for years, unread, but giving me nightmares. Now that’s a scary book!

What books made you sleep with the light on?

31 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I'm not into horror, either.

Lenore said...

Yeah, I guess my only pick that would be classified as horror is It. Reality is scary enough for me usually!

Alea said...

I love these posts! I don't do horror really either. I read Stephen King's Firestarter for a project I did once and just remember it being boring, probably wasn't even horror! I think I remember you talking about Under the Skin before, does sound interesting. And I do hope to read 1984 someday!

Lenore said...

Thanks Alea. Never read Firestarter but the movie was quite campy!

Alea said...

You know come to think of it I think I saw the movie too, probably before I read the book! Haha.

Violet said...

I don't read a lot of horror either. I read Stephen King once, but I didn't like what i read.

The recent book i read was Rosemary's baby which was horror in a very peculiar way.

Chain Reader said...

I love 1984--very gripping.

Dar said...

I do love a good horror once in a while. I have to admit IT freaked me out. That could be why I still don't like clowns. Another of Stephen King's that freaked me out was Salem's Lot. I could not read that one at night. lol.

caite said...

Oh, I like a scary book. Not so much straight horror in the King vein, but I think I will have to check out Under The Skin...we will see...

Lisa said...

It's funny the way something will scare one person and hardly bother another. IT is a great scare, and there are a few other King books that fall in that category. I often see "Under the Skin" on scariest book lists and I thought it was just silly. Different strokes and all that. I think I'm going to have to peruse my bookshelves and see what scary gems I have waiting there.

Lenore said...

Violet - Haven't read that either, but the movie sure creeped me out.

Chain Reader - agreed.

Dar - I started Salem's Lot and promptly put it down. WAY too scary.

Caite - You should!

Lisa - Silly? Really? I've never heard that said about it. But yes, please share your gems :)

Kathleen said...

Hmm oddly enough I've never read any King, although I did see the movie "It"!

When I was younger though, R.L. Stine freaked me out with his 'goosebumps' books.

Jessica said...

Oh, I will never forget the part in "1984" with the starving rat!

Ali said...

Nice summary. I rarely read anything that scares me, I'm not a fan of horror. The Gone-Away World, with its disappearing and weirdly evolving people, probably scared me the most of anything I've read this year. It wasn't really scary, but kind of mind boggling if you think about it a certain way.

P.S. Love the latest pic of Emmy!

Lenore said...

Kathleen - I don't think I ever read any of that series, but Christpher Pike and Lois Duncan were pretty scary reads.

Jessica - Oh no, I won't either.

Ali - I really, really need to get to that one.

Dawn said...

I don't read horror any more, but I was a big Stephen King fan back when I had more nerve :)

I was in school and working at a department store part-time when *Christine* came out. The store closed at 10, it was dark, and I walked way around the cars in the parking lot on the way to mine. He had me spooked!

Marie said...

what a great idea for a post! I love that you picked 1984- fitting but unusual choice! :-)

Fyrefly said...

I read most of my horror in grade school/junior high, before I figured out that I didn't actually like being scared. The House on Hackman's Hill by Joan Lowry Nixon scared the heck out of me - I couldn't even sleep in the same room as the book, in case the monster got out and attacked me. I also had The Encyclopedia of Ghosts, which terrified me, because they were ostensibly true stories of hauntings and poltergeists and such.

Lenore said...

Dawn - That's hilarious. I've done stuff like that before!

Marie - Thanks. It was one of the first that came to mind actually.

fyrefly - Yeah, It pretty much showed me I didn't like being scared either. Which is why most of my scares are accidental these days.

Cathy said...

Two thumbs up for It and Executive Orders. I also had a very funny but very scary experience while reading Salem's Lot late one night.

Jeane said...

I'd forgotten about room 101. I don't even want to think about what would be in there. Definitely keep me from sleeping. Which is why I don't usually read horror- because it really does horrify me.

Gabbi said...

I'm a major claustrophobic, too. Whenever I'm in a small room, and the door is closed (even if it's unlocked), I'm also planning escape routes in my head. I.e. how quickly could I open that window? Could I jump out of it without dying?

Linda J said...

I have to agree with IT - but honestly, it's not one of King's best. His earliest stuff is the best.

Linda J said...

p.s. I loved Firestarter, Cujo, The Dead Zone and Salem's Lot (all King)

Lenore said...

Cathy - Do tell!

Jeane - Gives me shivers every time.

Gabbi - I especially hate small bathrooms that are completely enclosed, like those on planes.

Linda - You're right of course. It is not a great novel, but it is a scary one!

Luanne said...

Oh - you've got me hooked with your description of Under the Skin!

J. Kaye Oldner said...

LOLOL! I can't remember the last time I was scared to that point. Guess it's because I started out early reading.

Thinking back, the last book to cause me to lock my doors was an audio book, it was the Dexter series - the first book. I was listening to the book waiting for my son to finish his night class. The book had me looking over my shoulder and rolling up the windows...lol!

Lenore said...

luanne - I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

J Kaye - I love the Dexter tv series and I'd like to try one of the books.

Alea said...

I just watched disc one of Dexter Season Two last weekend! I love that right now the main case is his handy work.

Lenore said...

Alea - Season two was awesome. We watched the whole thing in like 3 days :) I am very much looking forward to season 3.

Alea said...

There is a "Long Wait" on disc 2 right now on Netflix, I hope i don't have to wait more than a week or so!