What Spooks You?

I was born seven weeks early, meaning my birthday is actually supposed to be in October. Not that that's particularly creepy or anything, it's just the month of scary stuff and - if I'm being honest - it's my favorite. Horror books and movies abound, it's the perfect time to play a good scary video game, you get pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather, and haunted houses...what's not to love about October?

I woke up earlier this month to cold, dreary weather -- October weather -- and I've been jonesing for a good spook ever since.

I'm currently working as a librarian, so you think it'd be easy to get my hands on a good scary novel, right?

Well...not really. I looked through what my library's collection has vs. all of the "must have" horror literature lists and I came back with Peter Straub - who I read and hated - and Shirley Jackson, my favorite as a preteen who just cannot capture my attention the way she could then. There are some people who would consider Neil Gaiman a horror writer, he was on a list, but I don't think I "get" the person that made that list.

So I went deeper.

I have the power of the internet and free interlibrary loans, surely I'm gonna find something to read, right?

I discovered that horror literature is about as varied as the people who read it because, as it turns out, horror is a blanket term for "whatever scares you." And what scares you may not scare me. Murderers? Not super scary, these are often psychologically ill people, so I'm more interested in what makes them tick vs. reading about their crimes. Their crimes don't scare or shock me anymore - look at the world we're living in. Our children participate in active shooter drills, as adults we're all living under the impression that we might be shot for walking out our front door...this is America. We're no longer safe here, if we ever were to begin with. Clowns? I was traumatized at an early age, so sure, they're creepy to me. Black Eyed Children? Cannibalism? Alien abduction? All varying levels of scary, but mostly an eh from me.

When it came down to it, I couldn't really decide on what "scares" me. What makes my skin crawl, what gives me goosebumps...fear isn't something that's repulsive to me, it's not like there's anything that I just won't "touch" in this vein of literature and film. The movies I end up watching that get to me usually have a supernatural element to them, like demonic possession or...well, mostly demonic possession. Perhaps it's because spirituality is a thing that's up in the air for me at best.

I think it's the fear of the unknown that gets to me the most - if you feel like you know your deity, then you may be more afraid of human beings than you are of spiritual possession, I don't know your life. I've discovered that there's just so much to wade through in regards to genre authors, from Stephen King to Nick Cutter, it's hard to know what's going to be good and what's not. I picked through every "you must read this in the horror genre" and "these are the most emotionally disturbing books" lists and I managed to compile a list of fifty with four additional titles I stumbled across after the fact.

My  goal is to read them and talk to you guys about them, tell you whether they were scary or not and why, which I feel is the most important part of this project. It does me no good to make this list and then be like "well that sucked" and not explain why it sucked, you know?  I guess we'll file them under book reviews, I don't know if I'll do the description justice, but we'll give it a go anyway.

And if you're curious about my list, here it is:


1.       Story of the Eye – Georges Bataille
2.       Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller
3.       Oryx & Crake – Margaret Atwood
4.       I’m Not Sam – Jack Ketchum
5.       Tender Morsels – Margo Lanagan
6.       The Watcher in the Wall – Owen Laukken
7.       The Hellbound Heart – Clive Barker
8.       Naked Lunch – William S. Burroughs
9.       The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
10.   Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk
11.   The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
12.   We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
13.   Beside the Sea – Veronique Olmi
14.   Night Film – Marisha Pessl
15.   Penpal – Dathan Auerbach
16.   The Face That Must Die – Ramsey Campbell
17.   Bird Box – Josh Malerman
18.   Snuff – Chuck Palahniuk
19.   The Illuminatus! Trilogy – Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
20.   A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick
21.   House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski  (REREAD)
22.   Last Exit to Brooklyn – Hubert Selby Jr.
23.   Blood Meridian – Cormack McCarthy
24.   The Dead – Mark E. Rogers
25.   Jigsaw Man – Gord Rollo
26.   Urban Gothic – Brian Keene
27.   The Story of Junk – Linda Yablonsky
28.   The Dark – James Herbert
29.   Sorry – Zoran Drvenkar
30.   Survivor – J.F. Gonzales
31.   Living Dead Girl – Elizabeth Scott
32.   Only Child – Jack Ketchum
33.   Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ – Mendal W. Johnson
34.   COWS – Matthew Stokoe
35.   The Summer I Died – Ryan C. Thomas
36.   The Seven Days of Peter Crumb – Johnny Glynn
37.   The Last Victim – Jason Moss
38.   Amphigorey – Edward Gorey
39.   Through the Woods – Emily Carroll
40.   Beautiful Darkness – Fabian Vehlmann
41.   A Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay
42.   The Petals of Your Eyes – Aimee Parkison
43.   Come Closer – Sara Gran
44.   Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
45.   The Road Out of Hell – Anthony Flacco
46.   Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
47.   The Troop – Nick Cutter
48.   A Choir of Ill Children – Tom Piccirilli
49.   A Dark Matter – Peter Straub
50.   The Burn Journals – Brent Runyon
BONUS
Her Body and Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman – Aimee Parkison
The Vegetarian – Kang Han
Nightingale – Amy Lukavics
The Merry Spinster – Mallory Ortberg

The common denominator for all of  these was pretty much me reading the description and saying "I can see why that would spook somebody, but will it spook me?" This is what we're here to find out. If you want to read along with me that'd be great, then you can jump in on the post for the book you chose and tell me why I'm wrong, since that's what the internet is for. And if you have any suggestions, please feel free to send them in, I'm always taking them.