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  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2017/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , bentley little, bird box, blindness, , carrion comfort, , , , dathan auerbach, dawn, , exquisite corpose, , ghost story, , hell house, , , , jack ketchum, jose saramago, josh malarian, koji suzuki, lionel shriver, , , , , , penal, , peter straub, poppy z. brite, ramsey campbell, , richard matheson, ring, rosemary’s baby, scott smith, , something wicked this way comes, , the face that must die, the girl next door, , the ruins, the walking, , , we need to talk about kevin, william golding   

    25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever 

    Literature can be a moving, beautiful artistic experience. Skilled writers can bring us face to face with scenarios and emotions we might never encounter in real life, expanding our understanding of both the universe and our fellow man.

    It can also scare the living daylights out of us. Horror novels don’t always get the respect they deserve; just because something is scary doesn’t mean it’s not “literary” or well-crafted art, but if the core purpose of a story is perceived to be “making you soil yourself in fear” for some reason that story won’t get much respect. Of course, a story can be terrifying without necessarily being great art. If your goal is to be so terrified of a book that you put it in the freezer and book a hotel room for a few days, here are twenty-five books that might not necessarily be the best horror novels, but are certainly the scariest.

    Literally Everything Edgar Allan Poe Wrote
    Poe had a knack for infusing everything he wrote with visceral dread. His characters and narrators tend towards the mentally fragile and the insane, people who are haunted by things that might be literal or might be manifestations of their unsound thought processes. Either way, stories like The Tell-Tale Heart or The Cask of Amontillado retain their power to petrify more than a century-and-a-half after their publication because Poe tapped into the fundamental fear we all have that the world and people around us are not what they seem.

    House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
    Put simply, House of Leaves is one of the most frightening books ever written. From a fairly standard horror premise (a house is revealed to be slightly larger on the inside than is strictly possible) Danielewski spins out a dizzying tale involving multiple unreliable narrators, typographic mysteries, and looping footnotes that manage to drag the reader into the story and then make them doubt their own perception of that story. It’s a trick no one else has managed to such dramatic effect, making this novel more of a participatory experience than any other work of literature—which, considering the dark madness at its core, isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience.

    Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
    The film adaptation has supplanted the novel in pop culture, but the novel was a huge hit for Levin—and the film actually sticks to the plot and dialog so closely you really do get a feel for the novel from watching it. The story of a young woman who becomes pregnant after a nightmare gets its terror not from the well-known twist of the baby’s parentage (hint: not her husband), but from the increasing isolation Rosemary experiences as her suspicions about everyone around her grow. So many threads tie into the terror, from the emotional and economic uncertainty of a struggling young couple to the simple fear any mother has for their child, all expertly knotted into a story that will keep you awake at night.

    The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
    When you think about clichés in horror fiction, the haunted house is at the top of the list, an idea done so often it’s frequently an unintentional parody. Shirley Jackson, however, was no ordinary writer, and she takes the concept of the haunted house and perfects it. The Haunting of Hill House is simply the best haunted house story ever written. The scares come not just from the malevolent actions of a house that seems sentient and angry, but from the claustrophobia we experience from the novel’s unreliable narrator, Eleanor, whose descent into madness is slow and excruciating and only begins after we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by the seeming relatability of her early persona.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    The great sage Pat Benatar once sang that hell is for children. Golding’s account of children stranded on an island without supplies or adult supervision is absolutely terrifying for one simple reason: there’s nothing supernatural going on. It’s a story about insufficiently socialized humans descending into savagery because that’s our fundamental nature. You look into the abyss at the center of this novel and the abyss looks back.

    We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
    Another story centered on the terror of children, the horror inherent in this story comes from the fact that the human beings we create eventually become their own people—and possibly strangers to us. Not everyone has a close and loving relationship with their parents, and while the idea that your own kids might grow up to be criminals isn’t pleasant, most people assume they will at least recognize themselves in their kids. But what if you don’t? What if your child—your child—is a blank monster?

    Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
    In the Internet Age it’s pretty easy to fall down a rabbit hole of pop culture obsession, and there are still dark areas of culture that haven’t had a wiki created around them. Pessl’s story about a mysterious underground filmmaker whose movies may or may not contain hints of dark power and horrific events and the journalist who becomes obsessed with him asks the reader how you can be certain there’s a clear line between fact and fiction, then, once that wedge of doubt is established, presents a terrifying fiction to fill that space.

    Ring, by Kōji Suzuki
    The novel that inspired the horror films of the same name, the premise is well-known: anyone who watches a mysterious videotape of creepy images is informed that they will die in seven days—and then they die. The investigation into the tape and how to avoid this grim fate leads to what remains an incredibly shocking backstory involving rape, smallpox, and a forgotten well. Technology has shifted, but the terror never really relied on VHS tapes—it’s the concept that ideas can be deadly, that simply by experiencing something you can be doomed, that’s so horrifying.

    Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach
    Pivoting on the idea that we’re often blinded by the details we can see, making it impossible to see the bigger picture, Auerbach’s debut began life as a series of creepypasta stories on the Internet. The episodic nature of the story is ideal for the effect he achieves; the narrator tells of being a young boy and sending a penpal request attached to a balloon with his classmates, including his best friend Josh. He doesn’t receive a response until nearly a year later, and his life takes a turn for the bizarre shortly afterwards. A series of tragic and strange things happen to him and everyone around him, building a sense of dread that is only increased when the truth is revealed.

    Carrion Comfort, by Dan Simmons
    Simmons’ novel follows several groups of people who have The Ability, a psychic power that allows them to take control of others from a distance and force them to perform any action. When one of their puppets murders someone, the person with The Ability is invigorated and strengthened. Simmons doesn’t shy away from the implications of this power on history and the future, and the book will destroy any sense of security you have in the world around you, revealed to possibly be simply a worldwide board game for those who can control us all like pawns.

    Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
    Several of King’s books could be on this list, but he frequently blunts the terror of his stories with the richness and humanity of his characterizations and the sprawl of his narratives. Pet Sematary manages to be his most terrifying novel by dint of its simple, devastating concept: a magical cemetery where buried things come back to a sort-of life—but aren’t quite what they once were. From that simple idea King ramps up to a climax that gets under your skin in a fundamental way most horror stories fail to.

    The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum
    Horror often pivots on the corruption or warping of societal norms and rules; once you feel like you can’t rely on the natural social order, literally anything is possible. Ketchum’s disturbing novel about the unimaginable abuse suffered by two sisters when they are forced to live with their mentally unstable aunt and her three savage sons is based on real events, but it’s the central theme of an adult giving official sanction to the atrocities that makes this story so utterly horrifying.

    Blindness, by Jose Saramago
    Helplessness is a key factor in a lot of horror; most people labor under the delusion that they are in charge of their destiny and their lives, and horror is often effective simply by reminding us how little control we actually have. An epidemic of blindness leaves an entire city’s population secluded in a mental institution as society within and without crumbles. The brutality and descent into animalistic madness is all too realistic, and Saramago manages to capture the terrifying confusion and helplessness experienced by people in a society that no longer functions.

    Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
    McCarthy’s entire writing style and technique is terrifying; the man could write a grocery list that leaves the reader dripping with dread. This tale of extreme, ruthless, and pervasive violence in the American west emerges from under a sheen of the unreal to become all too real, and the greatest trick McCarthy manages here is by making the single most terrifying aspect of the story—the main character’s death—the one act of brutality he doesn’t depict, leaving the terrors contained within that scene to our imagination—which is infinitely worse than anything he might have conjured.

    Exquisite Corpse, by Poppy Z. Brite
    Brite’s most famous novel follows two serial killers who initially aim to kill each other but, upon discovering a fellow traveler, instead engage in a spree of horrific sex and murder. The matter-of-fact way the pair concocts a plan to kidnap, torture, and then consume a beautiful gay man named Tran is the sort of stuff that could simply be shocking, but Brite continuously considers the value of existence and what we could all be doing with the time we have left—time we too often imagine to be infinite when, of course, we’re all going to be consumed someday by something.

    Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
    Bradbury’s epic rumination on childhood and adulthood tells the story of a magical circus come to a small town, offering the residents dark gifts they weren’t aware they wanted—most notably the carousel that can change your physical age, making boys who yearn to be adults grow older, and middle-aged men and women who yearn for their lost youth to grow younger. Bradbury knows the worst horror in the world is losing the natural order of your life, and perfectly captures the combination of dread and excitement everyone experiences as they crack the mysteries separating them from adulthood.

    Hell House, by Richard Matheson
    What Matheson taps into in this classic haunted house story is the universal fear that we are already lost, already broken. Hired to investigate the existence of an afterlife by exploring the notoriously haunted Belasco House, a team moves in and slowly succumbs to the influence of the entity within—an entity that only uses their own weaknesses and secret shames against them. Their descent into the depths of horror is too close for comfort as a result—for everyone reading the book knows all too well that they have weaknesses, and secret shames, as well.

    The Face That Must Die, by Ramsey Campbell
    Campbell wrote a number of books that are absolutely terrifying, but this one stands out in the way he forces the reader to completely inhabit the mind of a very sick man, Horridge. As he fixates on an overweight man living in his neighborhood, the reader is forced to see the world consistently through his eyes. Everything is off-beat, everything drips with ominous meaning and horrific intent. Horridge sees the entire world as a horror that must be destroyed, and for a while the reader is carried along on that uncomfortable point of view, leaving them exhausted and terrified.

    Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Told in alternating chapters that depict a group of aspiring writers voluntarily secluded in an unusual writer’s retreat and the stories they’re writing, Haunted not only contains one of the most disturbing short stories ever published (“Guts,” which caused several people to faint when Palahniuk read it in public) it’s also a deep dive into madness as the reality-TV obsessed characters start sabotaging their experiment in a quest for fame. The sense of suffocating dread that Palahniuk applies grows so incrementally you don’t notice it until you suddenly realize you’ve been holding your breath for five pages.

    Dawn, by Octavia Butler
    Although technically science fiction, this story of the human race centuries after a devastating apocalypse is straight terror in many ways. Lilith is one of the last surviving humans, awakened on an alien ship. The aliens, three-sexed and many-tentacled, offer Lilith a deal: they will help her repopulated the Earth, but their price is to breed with humanity to gain humanity’s “talent” for cancer (and the creative possibilities it offers) while blunting their self-destructive tendencies. The horror imbued in each page is subtle, but it exerts tremendous mental pressure as you progress through the story.

    The Walking, by Bentley Little
    Far from just another tale of zombies, Little’s story of a man whose father rises from death after a stroke sizzles with a sense of doom long before the reader understands what’s at stake. Discovering that many families are hiding zombie relatives, and have been for some time, private investigator Miles Huerdeen digs into the mystery—and what he finds is easily the scariest stuff about zombies you’ll ever read. If you watch zombie movies and shows and laugh at their shuffling, mindless threat, this book will change your mind.

    The Ruins, by Scott Smith
    Smith’s story is deceptively simple: a group of tourists in Mexico go off in search of an archaeological site where a friend has set up camp; they find a pyramid covered in odd vines, the land around it salted and barren. Once on the pyramid, they discover the dead body of their friend, covered in the vines, and that the nearby villagers have arrived with guns to force them to remain on the pyramid. The vines are one of those simple monsters that seem so easy to defeat at first blush, yet the inexorable doom that descends on the characters slowly, grindingly proves otherwise.

    Bird Box, by Josh Malerman
    Malerman’s intense story of a world that slowly crumbles as people go murderously insane after seeing mysterious creatures—referred to simply as The Problem—is so scary because the reader only has the information that the characters have, and that’s not much. The world collapses and the survivors can only seal themselves off from the outside and try to avoid the worst, leading to a torturous wearing down of hope that leaves the reader defenseless against the horrible images Malerman conjures.

    Ghost Story, by Peter Straub
    A good old-fashioned ghost story is designed to terrify and entertain, and Straub’s breakthrough novel does both. Five old friends gather regularly to trade ghost stories, but when one of them dies mysteriously and the survivors begin to dream of their own deaths, a secret from their past is revealed—and the simple pleasures of a ghost story are explored to their most frightening ends by a master of the form.

    Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    If you don’t think of Beloved as a horror story, you haven’t been paying attention. Morrison’s skill as a writer is in full effect as she draws the reader into what is assuredly one of the saddest and most horrifying stories committed to paper. There’s no more terrifying sequence than the long slide into madness as escaped slave Sethe, convinced the young woman calling herself Beloved is the daughter she murdered in an attempt to keep her safe from slavers come to reclaim them, grows steadily thinner and weaker as she gives everything she has—including food—to Beloved, who grows steadily larger.

    Did we leave off any truly terrifying books? Let us know in the comments.

    The post 25 of the Most TERRIFYING Horror Books Ever appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Diana Biller 3:30 pm on 2015/06/11 Permalink
    Tags: anita shreve, , gary paulsen, , nigel farndale, william golding   

    5 Books You Shouldn’t Read on the Plane 

    There are a lot of things you shouldn’t do on a plane. You shouldn’t kick the seat in front of you. You shouldn’t be rude to the flight attendants. You shouldn’t load your oversized carry-on into the overhead storage compartment and take up all the space.

    But one thing you really shouldn’t do is start reading a book about the dangers of air travel. Suddenly every patch of turbulence, every change of altitude, and every mysterious noise will assume the proportions of a major disaster, and you really don’t want to be the person who freaks out several thousand feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Here are five books you definitely shouldn’t buy for your next flight.

    In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume
    Blume’s latest novel, written for adults, is her first in over 15 years. Over the course of two months during the winter of 1951 –52, three planes crashed around Elizabeth, New Jersey (where Blume herself grew up). The novel uses these real-life tragedies as its backdrop, taking the reader back to the 1950s in stunning detail: the era’s technology, music, culture, and politics are all brought to vivid life. Written with all of Blume’s trademark warmth, In the Unlikely Event has already received significant critical praise.

    Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
    This classic of young adult survival tales, written by the master of wilderness adventure and coming of age stories, follows 13-year-old Brian after the single-engine plane he’s taking to see his father crashes in the Canadian wilderness. He’s stranded alone for over a month, with nothing but the clothes on his back and—you got it—a hatchet given to him by his mother before the trip. A recipient of the Newbery Honor, Hatchet is a great book to give a young person in your life…just not right before they hop on a plane.

    The Pilot’s Wife, by Anita Shreve
    This beautiful, emotional story follows Kathryn Lyons after her pilot husband’s plane explodes off the Irish coast. Reeling from the loss, Kathryn is immediately bombarded by the public revelation of his secret life—a secret life that only grows more and more complex as the novel progresses. As she tries to unravel the deceit he left behind and come to terms with the truth, the reader is swept along on a passionate and startling journey. The Pilot’s Wife was an Oprah’s Book Club selection.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    Perhaps one of the most terrifying novels ever written, Lord of the Flies follows a group of young British boys marooned on an island after their plane crashes. The boys’ worst impulses quickly surface, and savagery, mayhem, and brutality abound. A cruel and vivid portrait of the most frightening parts of human nature, Lord of the Flies is essential reading, but under no circumstances should you do so on an airplane. Believe me, you don’t want to have that kind of behavior already in your head when the guy in front of you extends his seat-back all the way into your lap (or, worse, the kid behind you starts kicking you).

    The Blasphemer, by Nigel Farndale
    When zoologist Daniel Kennedy and Nancy, the woman he loves, are in a plane accident en route to the Galápagos Islands, Daniel chooses to save himself, pushing her out of the way. Although he returns to rescue her, the act continues to haunt both him and their relationship. The Blasphemer weaves in multiple tales from over the decades around this central plot, including the story of Daniel’s great-grandfather in WWI. A fierce, elegant novel that was widely praised upon its release.

  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2015/05/11 Permalink
    Tags: , forgive me leonard peacock, , , , , missing parents, , , , , , , william golding   

    6 Books in Which the Parents are MIA 

    Parents complicate things. They force you to change clothes, insist you come home before curfew, and demand to meet the people you’re heading out with for the evening. In other words, it’s hard to have adventures, fight crime, start a revolution against a dystopian government, or go on a killing spree when your parents are involved.

    And writers know this, which is why they frequently delete parents from stories that involve characters who are really too young to be gallivanting about falling in love, blowing things up, or discovering they’re The One destined to save the universe. The fact is, many novels with young main characters have either missing or absent parents, or parental characters who are so ineffective they might as well not be there in the first place. Here are six novels proving that when it comes to stories about kids, parents just get in the way.

    Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    While it isn’t the first novel about kids to feature no parents, it is the most horrifying, as it takes the concept to its most extreme conclusion. This book’s entire world is devoid of adult influence after a shipwreck in which the only survivors are kids, who find themselves on a deserted, uncharted island. That the children quickly devolve into savages, their existence defined by violence, bullying, and other terrifying behavior, is likely no surprise to anyone who has ever been to a children’s birthday party, and this classic remains the gold standard when it comes to stories about a world free of adult influence.

    Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    The original modern story of a teenager who has agency because his parents are nowhere to be found, Salinger’s classic novel creates the template followed by so many modern novels about kids: teenage protagonist simply ignores the existence of his parents and heads off into the evening to have an adventure. Writers have been using this template ever since, to varying degrees of success, to explore what happens when a kid tries to live an adult life without the requisite experience and emotional maturity. For Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, the experience leads to a breakdown and institutionalization, but even in subsequent novels where kids head out into the evening without parental supervision and manage to survive (and even thrive), the key remains locking the parents up somewhere for the duration.

    The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
    Absent parents aren’t just a feature of gloomy stories involving emotional breakdowns, savage children, and a bleak worldview. In modern times even the most successful novels in the world have found it necessary to delete some parents. While there are parents (and parental figures) in Harry Potter, most of the adventures focus on main characters Harry, Hermione, and Ron acting on their own. If Harry’s parents were alive, or if Hermione’s weren’t Muggles, the struggle against Voldemort would likely fall to them instead of their kids. In order for Harry and his friends to be the center of the story, the adults have to be useless—or altogether missing.

    The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    In modern times, parents are often not only absent, but also somewhat villainous. At first glance you might be tempted to point out that Mrs. Everdeen is certainly present in Collins’ incredibly popular novels. Mr. Everdeen isn’t, but Katniss’ mother plays a role throughout the trilogy. It’s a tiny role, however, and in the first installment it’s made very clear Mrs. Everdeen is not the most effective or present parent in the world. In fact, she’s so useless Katniss is the one who holds the Everdeen family together, at least until she offers herself as Tribute and plunges into a world where the adults are only present outside the arena, pulling strings and setting traps the children must navigate alone.

    The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
    Even Pulitzer Prize–winning literary novels often find it necessary to delete parents in order to give their young main characters enough agency to navigate their stories. In The Goldfinch Donna Tartt uses Theo’s mother’s death as the instigating incident that sets his whole life in motion, and later makes his father such an absentee parent Theo actually has more adult supervision and influence after his father’s death. The middle section of the novel is set in an adult-free bubble in Las Vegas that feels almost dystopian in its complete lack of parental figures, allowing Tartt the space to let Theo define himself, for good and ill.

    Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick
    Sometimes absent parents are simply plot necessities. Matthew Quick’s 2013 novel about a boy who brings a gun to school intending to kill himself and his former best friend is powerful and riveting owing to Quick’s mastery of Leonard’s voice. A troubled mind, Leonard restlessly loops through his reasoning as he delivers presents to the few people he respects and makes his way through what he expects to be his final day, deserted by his burnout father and barely remembered by his self-obsessed mother. With just one parent paying attention, the tragedy of Leonard’s life might have been avoided or at least reduced—but that would have made for a very different, and likely much shorter, novel.

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  • Chrissie Gruebel 4:30 pm on 2014/09/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , little red riding hood, , martin handford, mary o'hara, , , , william golding   

    11 Books That Were Banned for Completely Ridiculous Reasons 

    Happy Banned Books Week! In honor of this glorious celebration of our freedom to read what we want, let’s pause for a sec and remember there are people out there still trying to take this freedom away for dumb reasons like not wanting their kids to read the word “nipple.”

    Actually, now that we think of it…it’s kinda quaint that people still think they can ban books at all, right? It’s the most ineffective power trip in the world! The U.S. government can’t even keep their top-secret spy stuff from the public—how does anyone expect to keep The Adventures of Captain Underpants away from a kid who is basically made out of internet? So let’s all get together and laugh in the face of censorship. Here’s a list of books that were banned and/or challenged based on…well, based on basically nothing.

    Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
    Why: Because she SPIES (and lies and curses and sets a bad example for kids or whatever)—basically, because she does exactly what Louise Fitzhugh promises in the title. If anything, this is a lesson in honesty and truth in advertising. She could’ve called it Harriet, the Perfect Child but she didn’t, did she? Plus, show us an 11-year-old who isn’t lying and spying and making mischief from time to time, and we’ll show you that this 11-year-old is a cyborg in human skin.

    Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
    Why: They called it “sexually offensive,” “immoral,” and “profane,” but let’s be honest here: the real answer is “TOO MUCH PERIOD.” Hey, tween gals on the cusp of lady-dom? Don’t panic! Don’t panic even though you live in a world where no one likes to acknowledge that this happens to you! Forget Judy Blume and turn your attention toward these tampon commercials where women do nothing but turn cartwheels on a beach. Yeah. Thiiiiis is reality. Shhh.

    Where’s Waldo, by Martin Handford
    Why: Side boob. Seriously. Yes. In this hot mess of a book that’s supposed to make it difficult for you to find anything, someone managed to pick out an errant side boob in the beach scene of the 1987 version. Because, per usual, women’s bodies—even the cartoon ones—ruin everything and start wars and stuff. Avert your eyes forever.

    Little Red Riding Hood, by Brothers Grimm
    Why: In the 1987 version, which was adapted from the original fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood was shown carrying a bottle of wine in her basket. But, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we ask you this: What’s honestly the most disturbing thing about Little Red Riding Hood? Is it the fact that there’s a sentient wolf in her grandma’s pajamas? The fact that said wolf probably mauled said grandma to death? Oh, it’s the WINE? Really? Not the fact that the Brothers Grimm were always setting up scenarios where children might get eaten? Ok, as long as you’re sure. Glad everyone has their priorities straight.

    Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
    Why: The only reason there could possibly be: promoting cannibalism, which is something we all remember from our childhoods, right? Shel Silverstein wanted us to eat other humans. Oh, and some people who really care about their plates also got mad because Shel told kids to break dishes instead of washing them, and we have to keep our little indentured servants in line, right? We can’t have a bunch of whimsical poetry giving them any ideas.

    The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
    Why: Vulgar language—but we kinda understand this one because, as all historical documents indicate, the Great Depression was named in jest.
    In reality, it was a time of widespread singing and dancing and feasts. Everyone had a really great time. So Steinbeck got it wrong with all that tenant farming and unemployment and hardship. It’s just not accurate. Why would anyone need vulgar language when the world was so awesome?

    Other good ones:
    The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger: Pornographic.
    My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara: Uses the word “bitch” to describe a female dog when we ALL KNOW what the word “bitch” is really for.
    The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank: “Too depressing” in one case, and in another case, she talked about genitals for a second and people got mad.
    • Lord of the Flies, by William Golding: Implies that man is nothing more than an animal (as in, the point of the whole book).
    • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin Jr.: Banned because an author with the same name as this book’s author (Bill Martin, no relation)—who, to be clear,  is an entirely different person—was a Marxist who wrote a different book about Marxism and people don’t know how to check their facts.

    What books do you love that were banned for silly reasons?

  • Ginni Chen 5:00 pm on 2014/08/01 Permalink
    Tags: alvin schwartz, , , , , , , , , , patrick mccabe, scary stories to tell in the dark, , stephen gammell, , the butcher boy, , , william golding   

    Beat the Summer Heat with 8 Bone-Chilling Books 


    I grew up in Japan, where, in addition to fireworks and temple festivals, it’s a cultural tradition to tell scary stories during the humid summer months. Spooky stories are popular during that time of year for a couple different reasons. First, Japanese Buddhists believe that spirits return to their ancestral home during the month of August, so it’s the prime time to tell ghost stories.

    Secondly, there is a cultural belief that scary stories will both figuratively and literally “chill” you in hot weather. After all, when you’re frightened, the hair on your neck stands on end and chills run up and down your spine. Thus, theoretically, your body’s physiological response to fear effectively cools you off and you don’t feel the heat anymore.

    To test it out, here are 8 bone-chilling books. Give them a read and see if the creeps keep you cool!

    Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy
    By far the most disturbing book I’ve ever read, but also one of the most beautifully written. In a mere 200 pages, McCarthy takes you through one social outcast’s descent into isolation, violence, and depravity in the deep South.

    The Butcher Boy, by Patrick McCabe
    I couldn’t sleep after finishing this ghastly masterpiece about a young Irish boy. It’s narrated from the point of view of Francie Brady, the only child of an unstable mother and a drunken father. Like all young boys he loves comics, candy, and his best friend, Joe. He’s also a monster.

    The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
    Nobody can give you goosebumps like the Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. I get shivers imagining the dungeons in “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” even when it’s a blistering 90 degrees outside.

    In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s nonfiction book is based on his own investigation into the murder of a Kansas family and interviews he conducted with the convicted murderers. There are innumerable true-crime novels out there, but something about Capote’s classic will haunt you long after you finish it.

    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz
    These stories might be for kids, but mark my words, they’ll make an adult’s hair stand on end, too. I still get the heebie-jeebies from these classic tales, especially when they’re accompanied by Stephen Gammell’s creepy, drippy, oozy illustrations.

    Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Though not in the vein of classic ghost stories, Palahniuk’s collection of short stories will nonetheless make your blood curdle. The premise? A bunch of writers think they’re on a retreat, then realize they’ve signed up for something much more sinister. What they do in response is incredibly unnerving, gory, and entertaining. You’ll get pangs of phantom pain alongside the shivers.

    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
    Shelley’s classic never fails to make me shudder while still pulling on my heartstrings. Frankenstein’s monster has been a ubiquitous and influential character in pop culture, but he’s become increasingly less scary over the years. Go back to the original Frankenstein and get properly frightened, the good ol’ Gothic way.

    The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
    It’s not a ghost story, it’s not a horror story—it’s even written for young adults to read. It’s nonetheless one of the most brutal, ominous books I’ve ever read. So far this reading list has been about murderers and monsters, but I’ve added one cult classic about a band of British schoolboys, stuck alone on an island with a conch shell. Why’s it on this list? If you haven’t already, just read it and see.

    What books have given you the chills?

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