There are books you adore, books you hated (high school curriculum anyone?), books that bore you to tears and books that changed your life forever. Novels so horrifying that, even though they can make you physically ill, you just can’t put them down. But you just wish you had. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you a list of the most disturbing books ever written. And we’re not talking about B-series zombies, shock-for-shock-value cheap literature. This is the scariest type of horror, horror of the heart. We’re talking intense, profound, lesser known literary gems. But be warned. It’s not for the faint of heart or the squeamish.
10. Salo or 120 days of Sodom by Marquis De Sade
Made into a classic transgressive horror film by Pier Paolo Pasolini, De Sade’s book is way more disturbing than the movie can ever be. And the movie is just sick. You know the word sadist, right? Guess where it comes from? De Sade. That kind of sums it up.
9. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
Oh, boy. What a ride this is. And it’s even more disturbing since it was inspired by a true event. It tells the story of a girl who gets kidnapped, tied up in the basement and tortured to death by her aunt and cousins. It’s never gratuitous, but always a blood-curdler.
8. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
What is more disturbing than an evil kid? An extremely diabolical evil kid in a psychological/philosophical novel. This award winning novel (also a successful movie) deals with the dark side of maternity, parenthood and what it means to raise a deeply difficult offspring.
7. Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates could make a top ten most disturbing books only on her own. Known for writing intellectual horror, this prolific author has written over forty novels and short story collections that deal with heavy matters. In Daddy Love she dissects the terrifying mind of a serial child murderer and the devastating consequences of losing a child. Joyce Carol Oates did it again.
6. Spider by Patrick McGrath
Reinventing gothic horror is not very easy but Patrick McGrath does a terrific job with Spider. Few others writers have managed to get inside the schizophrenic head so accurately and realistic. A must read if you’re into psychological/psychoanalytical novels with a very unpredictable twist. Also a made into a movie by cult director David Cronenberg.