Books Aren’t Scary

Books aren’t scary. Fact. I know some of the top authors today are horror writers. But that doesn’t mean the work is actually scary.

Watching a movie is rarely a frightening experience. Which means reading a book is less so, in my opinion. You’re lying in bed or you’re sitting on the couch reading. What’s scary about that? I’ve cried reading books. And I’ve been on the edge of my seat. But I’ve never been frightened. That’s just weird. It’s a book. There’s no one lurking in your closet. Unless there is, then oh well.

I think horror stories could easily be described as something besides scary. But what do I know? Have you ever been frightened while reading a book?

30 thoughts on “Books Aren’t Scary

  1. I used to agree with you but only because it had never happened to me. It has now though. I’m not one to seek out scary fiction, so the first time I was frightened while reading, it was actually by a short story, and I wasn’t expecting it. It was a short story called “Proving Up” in the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. Her work varies a lot (very good, worth checking out) so I had no idea what genre even to expect from the story. Wound up loving the experience, though I still don’t generally seek out that type of fiction.


  2. Yeah, I can get freaked out by books. Not often, but it does happen, especially since I’m always visualizing the story (though it’s probably freakier in my brain :P). I get more scared watching horror than reading it, though. Probably because there are actual visuals in a movie. I guess some people just aren’t easily scared….and then there’s the rest of us. 😝


  3. I actually been frightened by books that I had nightmares for weeks. One book I remember being so frightening that I couldn’t finish it–in fact I got rid of the book, was It by Steven King. It wasn’t even a book that I wanted to read, it was for a school assignment.

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  4. I get terribly frightened not just buy freaky books but even when I start thinking about something creepy/paranormal or I remember a horror movie I watched. My mind is quick to escalate to a paranoia and anxiety especially at night! Books aren’t scary exactly but I definitely do freak out if they are creepy!


  5. I used to read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger. I don’t think a lot of his work is scary so much as suspenseful. I will say the scariest thing I ever read was in his Dark Tower series, in the first book. I was so disturbed I couldn’t finish the story and the image still haunts me today over 12 years later.

    Movies these days aren’t that scary. Usually they’re just a big disappointment. I like a good jump scare. It can be really fun. I base a good horror movie on how well it made me jump and how many times.

    However, the scariest fiction isn’t a book or a movie. I also enjoy video games and the old Silent Hill games were wonderfully creepy and scary. If I had to walk though the dark house at night I would get chills wondering if Pyramid Head was going to come up behind me, dragging his giant sword. I’m sad that games today don’t offer that same level of disturbed creepiness.


  6. Dude – try the first chapter of The Hot Zone if you think a book can’t scare you, or at least disgust you. That entire book is a TRUE account of a near miss Ebola outbreak in Virginia in the 80s. I think the fact that it’s based on real events is the most terrifying part, but the way the author describes the effects of Ebola are not exactly cheerful either. And it really leaves you with the thought of “America came so close to being screwed.”

    House of Leaves is pretty creepy. Especially if you’re an analytical type who needs reality to add up sensibly. But it’s not nightmare inducing or anything. Funny enough, I think it makes a scarier book than it would a movie though. All the horror in it is psychological rather than visual.


    • I can’t really see a true story scaring or disgusting me. I read a book on the BTK killer in college and it detailed every one of his ten murders. And Sven what he did after murdering basically a whole family. Pretty bad stuff. Not scary. Or disgusting. Just a book.


  7. Only once. I was reading 1984 and they were talking about getting rid of certain words because they weren’t relevant and making an utterly ridiculous word to substitute. As a writer and a lover of words, that was terrifying.


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