Standing on my Soapbox: Why I Won’t Read Scary Books

This has been my theme this week: I hate scary stuff. In fact, I can’t wait for this whole month of October to be over. Everyone is blogging about “Books perfect for Halloween!” and it’s made it really hard to comment and find good books because I just can’t get into any of them! I know I’m whining, and the blogosphere isn’t here to serve me, but it’s just like… Halloween is not that special, is it??

I’ll give you a picture of me: Supernatural has scarred me for life. I watch it because I love the Winchesters and the overall story arcs, but some episodes scared me so bad that I have to check my closet every night and I run from the bathroom to my room at night because I swear something is following me and I jump into bed because a hand is going to grab my ankle and I’m going to die. Not to mention the fact that no matter how hot I might get, I have to have my feet to shoulders covered by blankets. Because then nothing can get you then, right? Right. Other than Supernatural, the scariest thing I’ll watch is Criminal Minds, and even then I cover my eyes at the awful bits. I can’t stand seeing needles be stuck in people, torture of any kind, hear the screams… It’s just awful. I’m getting the willies just typing this right now.

Actually, I’m writing this right after I went through all the Top Ten Tuesday posts (where people show off the scariest covers they can find), and I just

Nope roll out capAnyway, now to my point: why won’t I read scary books? If I can handle Supernatural, I should be able to read scary stuff, right? The answer is no, and here’s why: the mind and imagination is much more powerful than a tv show. If I’m watching something, that’s it. I see the image and I can turn away if I want. But with a book, you create it in your mind. You don’t just see the image, you hear the screams, you feel the prickles in your skin, and whatever you imagine is probably 1000x more grotesque than the author intended. The mind is a powerful thing, folks. Which is why I dedicate my imagination to fantasy and sci-fi, because I can totally get behind developing those worlds and ideas.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t read scary stuff – in fact I have. And this may also have contributed to my latent scaredy pants syndrome.

When I was fourteen, I got really into Stephen King. I bought stacks of his books from my used bookstore, and sat down to read them all. I started with Pet Sematary.

Bad idea.

I stayed up till 3am because I was so terrified. It still is to this day the most horrifying thing I have ever read. And then I read more of his books after that, and then Dean Koontz’s What the Night Knows (scary, scary, scary). And a few other thrillers to top it off. After that, I was done. I resigned from the entire thriller/mystery/horror genre for good, and I maintain that to this day.

One exception will be made, however: Edgar Allen Poe. But even then I mostly read his poetry, and I consider those gothic rather than horror. My favorites are Annabel Lee and The Raven, if you’re wondering.

Oh and since it’s Halloween today, I’ll share my plans with you all. I’m going to my church, parking my green bug that may or may not be decorated like Shrek (because I’ve named her Fiona), filling up my trunk with candy, and letting the kids come and “trunk or treat.” It’s a tradition at the church, and I’m super excited to be a part of it this year. I’m going to have blankets, Panera soup, and a Starbucks. And possibly a book in my hand 😉 I’ll be home by 9, in my pjs, watching Spongebob Squarepants.

So what about you? How do you feel about scary books? What are your plans for Halloween? 

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25 thoughts on “Standing on my Soapbox: Why I Won’t Read Scary Books

  1. I got a little scared as I was reading this… so you can just imagine what a scary book does to me! Hairs stood up on my arms and neck when I read the words Pet Sematary… aaaand it just happened again as I typed it…

  2. Oh I totally agree! I can do mystery and crime, but not blatant horror. (And give me a moderately happy ending, please!) I never have been in a haunted house – and I’ve actually never dressed up as something scary for Halloween.
    And yes, Poe is the great exception! 🙂 (But I avoided him for years, since he was branded with the “horror” title. I finally read some of his stuff last summer and I’m so glad I did.)

    ~Sophia

    • I’ve never been in a haunted house either! Unless you count The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland… All my friends wanted me to go to Knott’s Scary Farm – I told them they were insane!

      Oh I’m glad you read some of his work! It can be a bit creepy at times, but his poetry is especially beautiful.

  3. Haha, this is so funny to see, because I’m the opposite! Scary movies give me nightmares and it’s horrible, but I don’t mind reading books. It’s really the visual part that makes me scared and I can shut those books out of my mind. But when it comes to books, I’d rather go with fantasy and stuff like that 😉

    • I do love my fantasy books 🙂 I have two friends who keep trying to get me into the contemporary fiction genre, but I just can’t grasp onto it like a good fantasy or sci-fi book!

      At least you can handle tv! That’s one out of two – not bad 😛

  4. I definitely do not read scary books. I get what you mean about the power of the mind, and I don’t like getting any ideas. I have not read any horror books and I never plan to. And I totally hate Halloween too. It gives people an excuse to post all kinds of scary stuff. I’m afraid to even scroll through my news feed.

    My mom loves watching Criminal Minds. There was this one time she kept the TV on at night and the sounds went into my dreams so I dreamt that I was shot. I’m really not into suspense, thrillers, and all that. But I do watch them sometimes.

    And that sounds like a fun tradition.

  5. I’m the exact opposite 🙂 Horror novels don’t bother me at all, but horror movies will keep me up at night. For me, it’s the immediacy of the images that frightens. In a movie, you don’t know what’s going to happen until you see it. In a book, you have to comprehend the words before your mind can conjure images to match, and by the time that happens, you’ve already discovered what’s going to happen.

    Then again, we might be talking about a different kind of fear. The kind of fear I’m talking about is startlement. But I have read books that have given me an uneasy feeling at night, because of the things it made me imagine as I was falling asleep.

    • I hadn’t even considered that distinction! Books are for the slow burn of uneasy suspense, but a lot of movies aim for the burst and startle, then fade quickly.

      Sadly I’m an easy victim for both…

  6. I agree with you; I can’t do scary books either! I don’t watch scary movies either, and while some people might find some of my TV watching moderately scary, like you said it’s nothing compared to what can happen in my mind from a scary book! I can look away and focus on the big story of a TV episode, but something that lingers with all the scary suspenseful feelings… ehhh… not a fan.

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  8. Haha, I love scary books! And I also love watching the Criminal Minds TV show 😀 Admittedly, I do get scared when I read horror books/watch horror movies and shows, but when I get scared, I usually only get scared for a moment and then it wears off of me. Another thing that helps me sleep when I am terrified is that I’m used to being terrified….

    You see, when I walk around my house at night or am just lying awake in my bed, I always somehow find myself thinking up the scariest things. A bloody dude at my doorway, a witch in my bathroom, JEFF THE KILLER UNDER MY BED! So yeah, I’m used to it O_O

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  10. HAHAHA I have this love-hate relationship with scary books! I mean, when I’m actually reading them, I get such a thrill and its so exciting, but after I’ve finished reading, that’s when all the horrible notions catch up to me: I suddenly feel as if there’s a boogey monster under my bed, or someone with a knife is right outside my window and is poised to kill me and every single rustle I hear at night is someone trying to break into my bedroom. D: I love Halloween though! I don’t dress up as anything scary (I went as Isabella from Phineas and Ferb this time XD), but that’s just because I’m really not feeling festive about the whole horror mood. So yeah, I’m with you Kayla!

    • OMG I would have loved to see that! I totally faked it and said I was an undercover SHIELD agent 😉

      I just love all the free candy, to be honest. Though I’m trying to quit cold turkey off sugar (thanks to these headaches that won’t go away…) and the big bowl of Reese’s is not helping!

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