If you look through my website, you will potentially notice that there is not one single book review of a horror book! So, not being a fan of creepy books, I didn’t know where to start when trying to compile a Scariest Books of All Time list. So, I put it out the those who know ~ my friends, family, and readers! What I got back is a list of 13 (curious that I got back 13!) creepy books to scare your pants off!
So, if you enjoy reading creepy books until every noise you hear scares you ~ you’ll love this list!!
Why we Read Creepy Books
In doing my research for this article, I got to wondering why some people really enjoy reading horror stories. I love this quote from Lou Morgan in her article “Why do we Read Scary Books?”:
“We’re a peculiar lot when you think about it: we work so hard to make our world, our environment safer… and then we actively seek out things that will make us afraid. Horror movies, urban legends, ghost stories. We hunt down the darkness and we revel in it. Why? Because, this way, we can control it.”
The thought is that we like reading scary books because we can face our fears in a controlled environment, so to speak. So, you can face your fear of creepy clowns without actually having to deal with a creepy clown yourself.
I remember when I was working in an elementary school library being surprised at how many children enjoyed reading the scary books. We were continually on the hunt for more age-appropriate creepy books! Author R.L. Stine was always a great gateway for kids into the world of scary. And from there, some moved on to some of the scarier, more realistic books.
It seems that reading horror stories is kind of a right of passage for all of us, especially in our early teen years. Through horror stories, we are able to learn a lot about ourselves and the world by reading these creatively crafted stories. And, for children especially, there is now a reason and an acceptable way to talk about some of their biggest fears with their friends. It helps them to understand and relate to each other in a new way.
How Our Body Responds to Fear
Along with the life lessons that can come from reading horror stories (stay out of the basement!), there are responses that happen within our bodies too! According to research, about 10% of the population are what might be called adrenaline junkies. And for some, the adrenaline “high” can come through horror entertainment (books, movies, TV shows, etc.).
In her article, “Psychology of Fear: Exploring the Science Behind Horror Entertainment“, Tricia Hussung writes:
” Horror entertainment can trigger the fight-or-flight response, which comes with a boost in adrenaline, endorphins and dopamine while viewers are in a safe space. The brain can process surroundings and conclude that the experience isn’t a true threat.”
So, in the process of getting your pants scared off, because your brain can process that you are in a safe spot, you can enjoy the rush of the chemicals coursing through your body.
But, for some of us (myself included), apparently the brain doesn’t signal quickly enough (?) and we definitely don’t enjoy the adrenaline rush that some get. I have noticed that I tend to stay in the fight-or-flight mode and am not able to move on. I am definitely not part of the 10% I talked about earlier!
Many though, enjoy and continue to come back to horror stories. The racing heartbeat, the quickening of the breath, the intense emotions that come along with reading a well-crafted horror story keeps them coming back for more!
Our Scariest Books of All Time
So, when I put it out to the masses, or at least my friends, family and readers, I was happy to see that a great variety of them enjoyed creepy books. Or at the very least, they had a scary book make an impression on them at some point in their life!
Now, these are not in any order. But, here’s our list of books we think are the Scariest Books of All Time!
- Pet Cemetery by Stephen King
- It by Stephen King
- Carrie by Stephen King
- Misery by Stephen King
- The Shining by Stephen King
- Tick Tock by Dean Koontz
- Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
- The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
- Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
- Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
- Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
- Still Alice by Lisa Genova
- Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
Now obviously, this list is not all inclusive! I’m sure there are many, many more creepy books that could make the Scariest Books of All Time list! But, if you are looking for a good scare, these books will certainly get you started.
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