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

I wish to thank @Sam_Stone, @ArtBeforeScience, and @DocCathode for helping me thicken up my To Be Read pile! Also @Biggirl for this most excellent thread.

A couple of books that scared the crap out of me as a kid:

Ghosts and More Ghosts by Robert Arthur. I checked this out of the Lauderhill Public Library again and again as a kid. I could never remember the annoyingly generic title, but I always remembered the creepy cover! I also encountered the scariest story in a different collection when I was an adult, under the title The Believers.

High marks also to John Bellair’s The House With a Clock in Its Walls. I shivered as I read this on a hot summer day.

When I was in elementary school, every once in a while (every quarter?) students could order books and magazines (this was the company that brought us Dynamite magazine). One was a book of short stories that had a tale about a girl who’s home alone at night and starts doing a jigsaw puzzle. As she puts more and more of the puzzle together she discovers the picture is of the very room she’s sitting in. The last piece reveals a horrible face looking in the window. I believe this is the same book that had the story about the girl with the velvet choker and one about someone (a kid?) who can hear this scraping sound and it turns out it’s the sound of an axe being sharpened. I have no idea what the title of the book is but it messed me up for a few weeks. I mean seriously creeped me out in only the way an eight year old can be creeped out.

I’ve said that the movie The Ruins is a documentary about my Forsythias.

What was that one story where the police were sure that someone was murdered and they knew who did it, but couldn’t find a body? All they knew was that the murderer was doing a lot of manual labor. At the end the police detective said - the murderer was laboring to WORK UP AN APPETITE. It was considered shocking when published.

Sorry to bring up another medium, but I have to mention the movie “On the Beach” with Gregory Peck. The last scene of a deserted world was very disturbing.

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Cave on Earth - by James M. Tabor.

Non fiction.

I’m a certified SCUBA diver, the idea of cave diving scares the hell out of me.

I read these books years ago, but these parts still stick with me:
Pet Sematary - when the little boy’s coffin falls
'Salem’s Lot - the floating vampire kid
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon - when he sees the doughboy’s legs

Needful Things
The Omen

Have you read “Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson. GREAT book/story (true), and it will put you off wreck diving. (If it doesn’t, then read “The Last Dive” by Bernie Chowdhury)

Not those two, but man, I don’t know if I can read those anymore.

I’m trying to remember one about a dive to ridiculous depths (I think 800 feet) to retrieve another diver that died. I think it was in Mexico.

Both books are great insight into the obsession that can take hold of some wreck divers. Since you’re a diver, I’d highly recommend “Shadow Divers”. It’s really a good read - very gripping. They’ve made documentaries about the story.

With the title “The Last Dive” you already know how it ends. But it is a good study on how cave and wreck diving take hold of this guy. How he died was pretty much inevitable, it was just a matter of “when”.

Scariest fiction: The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp.

Scariest nonfiction: Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar. Though to be honest, I don’t think it’s necessary to read the book. The Wikipedia page on the incident has all the creepy details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyatlov_Pass_incident

I avoid books that are actually scary, but before I realized I just didn’t like them the scariest book I read was The burning court by John Dickson Carr. I read it in bed until like 2am trying to finish it because it felt too scary to stop, but then I started nodding off and had to give up. Finished it the next day outside in the sunshine.

  1. Scariest thing I ever read.

I had this book when I was eight or nine. I couldn’t sleep if it was in the same room with me.


I must have been four (!) when I read this one. The first couple of pages were enough to give me nightmares!

King’s “It” is pretty scary, but a lesser known work from another writer is Chet Williamson’s “Second Chance”. https://www.amazon.com/Second-Chance-Chet-Williamson/dp/0843950609 Some really scary stuff in that one.

Yes I remember reading Earth Abides years ago and it still haunts me.

Cosmic Horror, when done right, scares the hell out of me. Lovecraft just never did it for me, but I have lasting brain scars from Laird Barron’s The Imago Sequence And Other Stories and Danielewski’s House of Leaves.

Yeah, that looks like the good stuff for sure!

Oh yeah… House of Leaves. That will mess with your head for sure.

I was 10 or 11 when my big brother bought a used paperback copy of Dracula by Bram Stoker. Naturally, as soon as he finished it, I had to read it. Scared the absolute bejesus out of me.

That’s the best way to read such a classic. Freshly and without any preconceptions. With ten years, you’re not already spoiled by the thousands of vampire memes, and you can read it as an original story. I first read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” after having seen and absorbed vampire and Dracula lore till I got 25 or so. But it still was a good read.