Whether You Like or Despise the Spooky, Macabre, and Grotesque, What Are the Most Unsettling Books You’ve Read?
House of Leaves gave me the heebie-jeebies when I first read it. But I couldn't finish Lolita; I got as far as the break between parts I and II and the overwhelming sense of utter devastation and despair was too much for me.
When I finished Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid of Earth, I wasn't disturbed in a Halloween-creepy kind of way, but the immense loneliness of the title character weighed heavy on my heart for a week afterwards. That book is powerfully honest and truthful, and I was left with the sense that there are many men all over—even in my own neighborhood—who experience crushing loneliness like that.
Nonfiction? My in-laws are both doctors. Once, at their house, I was idly flipping through their bookshelf and came upon a medical text called "Atlas of Skin Diseases" . . . and I shouldn't have, but I looked. It was full of pictures. I didn't need to see those.
Absent in the Spring by Agatha Christie
Nothing more disturbing than Joan being offered that glimpse of the truth about her life and what she’s really done to her family and watching her slowly settle back into the shell of her life.
Disturbing in a good, self reflective way.
Also the fact that Christie said it was the only book she’s ever been satisfied with and she wrote it in three days- inspired
Blood Meridian. Hands down.
1984. Read it as a teenager. Never saw that super depressing ending coming.
Perfume! It was originally a German book. The man character Grenouille becomes obsessed with making perfume out of people he kills in search of the ultimate scent.
Orwell's 1984. I read it when I was in eighth grade, because David Bowie's "1984" from his Diamond Dogs album was on the radio all the time. I wasn't prepared for Orwell's nightmarish dystopia.
The Collector by John Fowles. It haunted me. I first read it as an impressionable 15 year old snd literally threw the book across the room when I finished it. I felt so panicked and wanted to contact someone to warn a character in the book. There was literally a brief moment where I completely forgot it wasn’t real. I’ve re- read it several times since and it always impacts me- similarly and yet also differently each time.
McCarthy is indeed shaking. I will never read The Road again, despite it's over arching theme of hope. I was a night security guard once and took King's IT with me to pass the time. Big mistake.
Isn’t life itself disturbing enough without spending one’s free time reading disturbing books?
Most traumatizing thing I ever read was John Steinbecks “The Pearl”. I had to read it for school and the ending horrified me so much I have refused to read Steinbeck ever since.
As an adult the most traumatized I have been by a book was “God is a Bullet” by Boston Teran but I love it. In fact I’m due for a re-read.
Flowers in the Attic and anything with cannibalism in 🤦🏼♀️
The Road to Wigan Pier, by George Orwell, was harder for me to read than Lolita. The daily lives of British miners was scarier than any Stephen King novel. Almost turned me into a Socialist. Almost.
Most disturbing book ever: The Mandibles (2016) by Lionel Shriver. I have a finance background and her financial dystopian novel was uncomfortably plausible. I don't think it got the praise and publicity it deserved; It probably got lost in the melee of all the other dystopian novels.
It really stressed me out!
My Dark Vanessa was very disturbing, yet I felt so pulled into the story - the writing is gripping.
Not having read Child of God, it’s Blood Meridian hands down. Scarier than even vintage King. Nightmare fuel.
Descent into Hell, by Charles Williams for fiction. Perhaps The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl, by David Kherdian, for nonfiction -- even though it's a YA book.