Has a book ever freaked you out?

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Thread: Has a book ever freaked you out?

  1. #1

    Has a book ever freaked you out?

    Have you ever had to put a book down because it freaked you out/upset you/unsettled you in some way? What book, what was it that caused you to put it down, and did you go back to it?

    I'm reading - well, I paused - House of Leaves by Mark Danielewsi. It's pretty interesting and I enjoyed it in it's weirdness but after reading it late at night the text suddenly started to seem a little too on the nose. Like I would have a worry or thought and the next sentence would encapsulate that exact thought. To be fair it probably says more about my sleep-deprived, oversuggestible 2AM mindset than the book, and I will go back and finish it, but I didn't need that just then. I guess there must have been horror novels that did it too, but not for a long time.

    Another was a non-fiction book - The History of Torture. It was just too horrible. Couldn't justify continuing.

    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge

    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    - Propaganda, "Duel"


    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

  2. #2
    A friend and former WFer (who is into some pretty graphic stuff) sent me a book about six or seven years ago. I don't remember the name or the author, and I only read the first chapter. However, the amount of it I read was so disturbing, I don't think I'll ever forget it. The book opens up with a woman, whose hands are nailed to the floor, being raped. After the rape ends, her assailant then slices chunks of flesh off of her hips and thighs to go cook and eat. So ends chapter one, and while I'm not a big fan of literally throwing books in the garbage, guess where that one went?

  3. #3
    Member JBF's Avatar
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    Jul 2020
    South Dakota
    There was one...

    I don't know why I bought it; some perverse sense of nostalgia, I guess. It was all the rage in those days. Lousy story, bad drama...horrible editing. A detailed record of bad times, missteps, and mistakes. The worst were the profiles in the back - the smiling faces of one's tormentors that promised even if you got out, they'd still be there. Still loose in the world. Still warping others who wouldn't have any more recourse than you did.

    But... then I graduated. Haven't had cause to buy another yearbook since.

  4. #4
    Yes, it was ages ago... a Stephen King book (wouldn't you know), it think it was 'It'. There was a scene where kids had gotten into a water tank intending to take a swim. My memory is poor, so I'm telling it badly. A couple kids had died there years ago when they couldn't get out of the water tank, their ghosts appeared in rags with their waterlogged skin hanging/falling off their bones.

    It freaked me out, but I never set the book aside.

  5. #5
    I read a book once where the opening scene involved a serial killer murdering a father and young son who are tied to a chair.
    It wasn't the murder that upset me...it was that I felt it was a cheap shot.
    The writer was using pure shock value rather than just writing better.
    Twas only my dedication as a reader that got me through the whole book. It was one of those unbelievably smart serial killer stories where the killer was smarter than a NASA engineer, and killed simply because he liked it.

  6. #6
    Yes, often. Probably the scariest experience was reading A Voyage to Arcturus. This had a lot to do with the context--it was a book recommended by C. S. Lewis; I presumed it was Christian or at least pagan. I was also reading it quite late at night, and read it almost all at once.

    I was utterly absorbed into it, with almost zero detachment, completely surrendered to the will of the author. I watched as he dismantled the worlds of innocence, Nietzschian will-to-power, etc., wondering eagerly where he would take me in the end. Wondering, who was Surtur? Who was Crystalman? Who, in the world of Tormance, was God?

    There was a certain point, I can't remember exactly when, where an unconscious uneasiness appeared in the back of my mind. Then, in a deep, cold cave, I was introduced to three statues representing God ("ah, the Trinity," I thought). The sun rose. The faces of the Trinity turned to cold, grinning mouths. It was like a wave, cresting, had fallen; I was beginning to see the author's vision.

    I read on, in unease and a little desperation; I walked up the stairs of a high tower and the author showed me his god. It was Crystalman, that evil, grinning thing, who had made the world in idleness, and caused all to suffer. What then? I cried. What else? And he took me into the Outer Darkness and said, Nothing. There is nothing else.

    I looked up from the book. It was four in the morning. I read reviews and learned it was a Gnostic allegory, and that C. S. Lewis, though he liked it very much, thought the conclusions were, "almost diabolical." Darn right, I thought, and tried to go to sleep. All night I dreamed I was fighting black shadows, explaining to them that Crystalman was good, really, he only smiled like that as a joke. I repeatedly woke up into new dreams, with machine-gun rapidity, countless times. I had mostly recovered by morning, but resolved that A Voyage to Arcturus was a very (artistically) good book with very (spiritually) bad underpinnings. Of course, there are many things the book expresses truthfully -- even devil-worshippers understand that worshipping the devil leads to Nothing. But to be dragged (bodily, it felt like) into that Nothing, was one of the creepiest experiences of my life.
    Last edited by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord; February 28th, 2021 at 11:15 PM.
    In my mouth, if there be sweetness,
    It has come from my Creator;
    If my hands are filled with beauty,
    All the beauty comes from God.
    ~ from The Kalevala (paraphrased)

    Whom have I in heaven but You?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.

    ~ Psalm 73:25

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.

  7. #7
    Anything featuring child abuse, pretty much. Yet on the contrary to finding it too much, I find it the very purest and most cathartic form of writing. Ultimately, this is about getting a response, isn't it? If it's well written, I will stay.

    - A Child Called It
    - The Girl Next Door
    - Certain Stephen King scenes, I can't necessarily pick one right now -- It comes to mind, but there are definitely others.
    - The Cement Garden
    - The Lovely Bones
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    A Child Called It
    This one.

    I read the whole thing (and the end was a relief) but I wished I could stop reading sometimes.
    What comes after the NaPo storm of poetry?
    Hidden Content
    Send your potential partner a fruit basket and start begging!

  9. #9
    I never finished Lolita and have not read anymore of his work after feeling uncomfortable with that novel...
    The only one who can heal you is you.

  10. #10
    My school report is the only thing I've read that disturbed me.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

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