What is the scariest book you ever read? (Title already used almost 15 years ago)

This is a thread on a different board (there are others but none as good as this one) and I wanted to see what you guys would say.

For me, beyond a doubt, the scariest fiction book I read has got to be 'Salem’s Lot. It’s been damned near 40 years since I read it and I’m still haunted by the son from The Dick Van Dyke show floating by the one kid who lived’s window. I dunno why this scary vampire boy is fixed in my head as DVD’s son but he is.

As for non-fiction, it was either Killer Clown or Buried Dreams. I don’t remember which book about John Wayne Gacy it was. All I know is I’d read a bit, he killed a kid and I put the book down vowing to never read another page and then I’d pick it up again. In my head I kept thinking: these are real boys. This really happened. I can’t read about another person’s horrible last moments. But I did. I needed to see that fucker fry.

The Haunting of Hill House, for sure. It still freakin’ scares me!

One time I was on a camping trip. I woke up in the middle of the dark, dark night and for some reason, started thinking about the events of Hill House. Pretty soon I was lying there petrified with fear. My husband was lying asleep right next to me, and I wanted to reach for his hand, but due to the scene I’d been thinking of, I couldn’t! :ghost:

Yes, 'Salem’s Lot was scary. So was IT.

Not exactly scary, more like deeply disturbing, was We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Watched (and then read) Audrey Rose when I was a kid, and that left an impact, too.

For non-fiction, probably “The Hot Zone”, about an ebola outbreak in a primate research facility in Reston VA back in the late 80s. That ebola’s some scary stuff!

Pet Sematary did it for me, as did SK’s short story called Jerusalem’s Lot (NOT Salem’s Lot).

Harlan Ellison’s Shatterday. Cheating a little because it’s a short-story collection, but that collection includes “Flop Sweat” and “All the Birds Come Home To Roost,” the Top 2 on my “Scary Story” list.

I remember this book! It read almost like an action movie. Didn’t they make a movie of it? Or am I thinking of Outbreak?

OK, just looked it up. The fictional movie Outbreak was based on the non-fiction book The Hot Zone. Had to have been loosely based because I do not remember the events in the movie being too much like the events in the book.

The original Fail-Safe. No monsters of any kind. Not even any evildoers. Just a totally believable computer bug.

(I’m sure many people will point out that the scenario in the book cannot actually happen. My response would be to tell that to a victim of identity theft. Call me paranoid, but I think that at least some of the computers we rely on nowadays are far less secure than the ones in use when this novel was written in 1962.)

Yeah I tried to quote the Wikipedia article but ran into some copy/paste issues on my phone. Basically a producer who lost the bidding for the rights to The Hot Zone just decided to make his own movie (Outbreak) which then just pretty much killed the effort to film The Hot Zone.

Oh, yeah.

Peter Straub’s Ghost Story scared the crap out of me the first time I read it in my late teens. As in, I’m going to keep reading even though I’m tired because I am NOT turning out the lights, not because of the dark, but because I would have to get out from under the covers and cross the room to the light switch and return.

Funny thing is, I reread it about 10 years ago, and found it still creepy, but not nearly as terrifying.

Fatal Vision, about the Jeffrey MacDonald murders back in 1970. I read it over one weekend 30 years ago and was so disturbed I couldn’t sleep without having nightmares.

Mary Poppins comes in a close second. The scene at the zoo really freaked me out, alone in my apartment at 2:00 in the morning!

Books that kept me up at night because I read them faaaaar too young. The Amityville Horror and The Exorcist. I especially remember The Exorcist because I was 9 and all my aunts (who I lived with) went to see it, including my sister/aunt who was only 5 years older than me. I was also forbidden to read the book but nobody checked on my reading material.

I remember The Exorcist vividly because I’d read it in the day time, scoffing at how scared it made me at night and vowing to NOT be terrified while I lay in bed at night. And then in the dark in my bed I could feel myself levitating and every stomach rumble or gas growl was FOR SURE the devil inside of me.

This is the guy who wrote A Simple Plan, which was also made into a movie. It’s the only other book he wrote!

Oh, hell yeah!

Helter Skelter. Didn’t help that when I read it, I was living alone in a basement apartment of an old house that had lots of noises. I never could re-read it.

My favorite author is Franz Kafka, and two of his novels, “The Trial” and “The Castle” are nightmarish horrors of a dreamy/realistic kind, but his most scary story is “In The Penal Colony”. It incorporates and anticipates all the horrors of the 20th century.

The Painted Bird, by Jerzy Kozinski. Not something I should have read when I was eight.

I love Scott Smith! I wish I could write two books that good.

I read The Amityville Horror when I was twelve or thirteen years old. I had to take it out of my room in the middle of the night and shut it in the bathroom.