11 Scariest Books Ever Written.

Some time in grade six in between learning how to whistle with two fingers and french braiding my friend’s hair I managed to fit in reading The Amityville Horror.

For the life of me I can’t understand why my mother would let me read The Amityville Horror in grade six but she did.  She also let me watch Jaws and the Exorcist around the same time.

I have a feeling my mother was drunk a lot while I was in grade 6.

It was the first really grown up book I remember reading and it stuck with me.  Not because it was a grown up book, not even because it was terrifying, but because it was true.  Or so everyone was told.

The basis of the book, the fact that the house was home to a monstrous suburban bloodbath is fact.  In 1974, 18 year old Butch DeFeo, murdered his entire family in the home they lived in on 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York.   A few months later a new family moved into the house.

They fled 28 days later.

They said it was because the house was haunted.  That horrible paranormal things happened.  These accounts were never proven true and in fact were often proven false.  I didn’t know that in grade 6.

For this last weekend before Halloween I have a list of the 11 (10 seemed so predictable) scariest books of all time.

 blogger rebecca1

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The Exorcist Cover 1
Salem New 1
Dracula Book A- AT-10-151
Dollanganger 01 Flowers In The Attic 1
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Thomas Harris The Silence Of The Lambs 1
Hell House Book 11
The Shining Hardback (1 )1




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  1. candace says:

    Ah, nice! I remember watching The Shining in middle school, and then getting pretty into Stephen King books. That movie has aged well, it’s still totally scary to me and I love it!
    I’d say Helter Skelter is the scariest book I’ve read…I read it in 6th or 7th grade and that crap still haunts me.

  2. Abra says:

    I’m glad you included Dracula and The Haunting of Hill House.

    When Alien came out I was pregnant with my daughter. I remember thinking that only a man would have written the scene where something is growing in the guy’s body and then comes out. While the writer clearly thought it was the scariest thing he could think of, I was currently living that scenario!

  3. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I am with everyone who said Stephen King’s “It”..Don’t like them scary clowns..nuff said ;-)

  4. Theresa says:

    Oooooooh, those that I’ve read are definitely scary. I’ll have to check out the others. One of the scariest books I ever read (that’s not on the list) was “IT” by Stephen King.

  5. Karen says:

    Bahaaaaaaaww. My hubby is laughing at me, while I am laughing reading your post on the way to mammoth…..you crack me up.

  6. SK Farm Girl says:

    Flowers in the Attic – I LOVED the series; so twisted, so bizarre, so intriguing! Does that make me weird?! Amityville Horror : there was an old farm yard with an abandoned house near where I grew up and we called it the “Amiteyville Horror” house. It was a big ol’ two-story; one bedroom had dead flies all over the window sill and the floor; big dead trees all around the house; I mean really, it WAS the Amityville Horror House!!! To this day, if I awake in the night, head down-stairs for a drink of water or to the lou and it’s 3:08 AM, I get the heeby-jeebies and run back to bed and cuddle up to my fella! Yup after all these years, 3:08 AM still freaks the bejesus out of me! OMG I am writing this at 3:08 PM . . .

  7. kate says:

    at the top of my list would be “Psycho” by Robert Bloch. When it came out one of the couples I babysat for bought it and after the kids were put to bed I sat down to read; sat in the living room in a wingback chair in a corner with a floor lamp to the right. I could not take my eyes away from the book; the only movement I made was to turn the pages. I was terrified; I did not get up and check on the children, I just read on. I finished the book but continued to sit still in the chair until they got home. I was frozen with fright. They came home very late – I knew they’s be late -they’d told me they’s be very, very late. That’s the scariest book I ever read.

  8. Paula says:

    The Haunting of Hill House! What a great choice. “God, God – whose hand was I holding?” That was the scariest passage in the book, and made my blood run cold! Such great writing.

  9. Linda says:

    BAAAHAAHAAAAA!!! Snookums!

    For me: “Struwwelpeter” a German picture book of child misconduct and the consequences…I still have nightmares of thumbsucking children having their thumbs being cut off by giant scissors!!!

  10. Nikki Kelly says:

    I’ve actually stayed at The Stanley hotel (the shining) in room 217 even! That’s the room Dtephen King stayed in when he was inspired to write the book. My bf said he didn’t sleep well, I guess he was a little scared, but I slept like a baby. Oh, and I did not experience one ounce of hauntedness in that whole hotel.

    Nikki Kelly @ the ambitious procrastinator

  11. rktrixy says:

    Ahhhh! Snooookkkiiiiiiiii! EEEEEEEK! Seriously, that whole “Jersey” thing just makes me sad. Which is horrible, but not horrifying.

    Horror books: “Let the right one in”. OMG! “The Passage”. EEEEEEK! We are Screwed! “The Strain”. We are screwed even more!

    Lately, picking up the newspapers to hear grey-haired men define rape is my definition of horror. I swear, they should play the “Psycho” screech (EEEE! EEEE! EEEE! EEE!) in the background when showing the video of these guys!

  12. Brenda says:

    I just reread Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Not too bad. And I don’t do “scary” any more. “Amityville Horror” still creeps me out. My college roommate was from Long Island and when I went home w/ her for a visit, she took me to the actual house. CREEPY! But my all time scariest book is Stephen King’s “It”. I hate clowns, but Pennywise made it that much worse. I have shielded myself from all things “Snooki” and “Jersey Shore”. Although, she does scare me….

  13. Patti says:


  14. Mary says:

    I forgot to mention that I was about 10 or 11 at the time; prime age for impressing scary thoughts. Now as an adult, when I am alone in the house, and either hear a weird noise or ‘feel’ something’s not right, I can easily remember many sorts of scary scenarios and just freak myself out. Like imagining there’s a scary vampire sort of thing on the other side of my back door, just waiting for the right time to enter and kill me.

    Good times.

  15. Mary says:

    I loved reading Salems Lot, and The Shining multiple times. Once I knew what the scary stuff was, and at what point it would happen, I could handle reading it. But eventually I would creep myself out so bad that I would slam the book shut, hide it under the bed, and go downstairs and watch some inane tv show (like Three’s Company or Mr. Belvidere) to get the scary stuff out of my head so I could sleep.

  16. Netmiff says:

    I was living for a week in the apartment of a friend of a friend in Brussels, all alone, about 18 years old, and the only book in the place in English was Rosemary’s Baby.

  17. felicity says:

    It is amazing what we were all allowed to read in 6th grade, I also read the flowers in the attic series and a bunch of stephen king. I read the twilight series before allowing my 12 year old to read them and they were certainly very tame compared to flowers in the attic. Yikes!

  18. Marion says:

    bahaha, I just started laughing out loud at my desk at Snookie!

    great list though! perfect for a relaxing Halloween weekend, snuggle up with a good book and a bottle of blood (i.e. red wine :)

  19. Brenda J. M says:

    Great line-up. BUT…for a scare The Little Girl that Lived Down the Lane.

  20. Melody Madden says:

    Salems Lot was one of the scariest books I’ve ever read … The Shining as well.

  21. Vicky Smith says:

    Back in ’78 we’d been married for about 1 1/2 months and deer hunting season came along 11-15-78. My new hubby was an avid hunter so off he went and I went to the bookstore to get ‘Salems Lot. By the time Dave got home, I had garlic over all the windows and never took my cross off!

  22. Shannon says:

    Wahahaha!! I was leaning right into the screen when that horror popped up. Well played Karen, my Friday chuckle!

  23. Auntiepatch says:

    I was working the graveyard shift for the police department and on my “day off” I sat reading “The Exorcist” in my living room at about 3 am. Just as her head started spinning I heard a crash from the kitchen and literally threw the book into the air. Not knowing what I would find, I creeped into the kitchen with a baseball bat. A glass had fallen into the sink from the dish drainer. Cleaning up the broken glass gave me time to jump-start my heart so that I could go back to finish the book!

  24. Jodi T. says:

    Ahahahahahahahha… Shhhhhhh. I am at work and just guffawed. Will definitely be adding some of these to my list…. I’m still trying to get through Geek Love. It’s disturbing and I needed a little happy in between. I am surprised it didn’t make your list. It’s pretty damned scary. To me at least.

    • Karen says:

      Jodi T – Geek Love didn’t actually scare me. I just found it fascinating. Slightly disturbing, but not frightening. I’m not sure what that says about me. ~ karen

  25. Darla says:

    snort,hee hee!

    Rosemary’s Baby is another good one – or was at the time,anyway.

  26. ev says:

    That last one scared the hell out me–the cover, that is. I have read most of the other ones. Good choices, Karen! “Passages” (Cronin) is worth reading, also.

  27. Jamiek says:

    One that still remains one of the scariest to me is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Made the mistake starting it one windy, Friday summer night. I read straight through the night because I was afraid to go to sleep (that’s was back when no one locked their doors).

  28. Ann says:

    Silence of the Lambs is #1 for me. Then Rosemary’s Baby. But honestly, I can read any book and it does not really scare me. But see a movie of the same book and I am terrified. Must be that visual and aural element.

  29. Jenny says:

    When my sister and I were in fifth or sixth grade someone gave us a box of books they didn’t want–included were Stephen King’s “it”, “Dolores Claiborne”, “insomnia” and The Bachman Books. I was actually reflecting last night that our mom and dad were obviously not paying attention to the books we read at the time. :)

  30. Caroline B says:

    I just laughed so hard I have tears streaming down my face. I have read several of the books listed (Salems Lot having left the biggest impression on me) but when I came upon the Snooki book I about fell out of bed I was laughing so much. Thanks for the great wake up giggle!

  31. Kim says:

    I remember “The Reincarnation of Audrey Rose” too! Ugh, very creepy book for a teenager to read! But my all-time scariest book I read was “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote. That book left a loooooong impression on my brain because we lived out in the country. I had a second-story bedroom overlooking the driveway, and anytime I heard a noise at night I had to look out the window to make sure a car full of vicious murderers hadn’t pulled into the driveway.

  32. Debbie says:

    @Jasmine – I remember that book. I think it was called My Sweet Audrina??? That book still freaks me out if I’m up too late and alone!

    And Flowers in the Attic – really? I read a bunch of them and yeah they’re twisted but I’m the biggest wimp ever and I don’t remember them being scary, just really disturbing. Were they scary????

  33. gogothrift says:

    I loved scrolling down and wondering what the last book would be (thought it would be Jaws) and then seeing Snookies bun…..HA so funny!!!!!!

  34. Karol says:

    I actually had a hard time reading Jaws. It scared the crap out of me, even though it didn’t have the famous sound effects that were in the movie. I saw the movie, if you count hiding behind your hands with eyes tight and trying to somehow simultaneously plug your ears with your thumbs so you don’t hear that awful “da-dum” noise.

  35. Tisha says:

    Oh the last one scared me the most! So much so that I’m afraid to actually read it.

  36. Holly says:

    Ok, so I Google mapped that address, you knew we would do that, right? It surprised me that the houses are so close together because everyone knows that haunted houses are always set on large secluded properties behind black wrought iron gates, and that neighbors never hear anything and never come to your rescue. Unless your neighbors are Buttheads who don’t mind a lot of screaming and bloodshed. They probably didn’t have an HOA, because you know all that broken glass and brain matter all over the lawn would be reason for a strict letter. In fact, they probably didn’t even need an exorcism, they just needed to get the HOA involved, they put a stop to those things immediately.

  37. Mary Werner says:

    You never disappoint – I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the list since I knew it would be a thriller! Thanks.

  38. Laura Bee says:

    I read Cujo when I was way too young. I think by the time I was 18 I’d read everything Stephen King had written.

  39. carey says:

    Yup, even Snooki’s hairstyle is haunted! You’re just asking for it if you pick up that book!

  40. Elle says:

    I used to love VC Andrews as a teenager! Now as a mother these books really creep me out.
    I also read the entire Poldark series as a teenager. Those were the days.

  41. Court says:

    Ooh! Snooki! BEST thing about that book are the Amazon reviews (check em out for a good laugh).

    Onto actual horror, if you like it gory and suspenseful, Jack Kilborn (aka JA Konrath) has some real doozies. “Trapped” gave me some serious nightmares.

  42. Pati Gulat says:

    I’ve got a story about Salem’s Lot. Back in the day when my late hubby and I first married,we were too poor to do anything BUT read so we got Salem’s Lot and I read to him,aloud. SCARED the living DAYLIGHTS out of us…we were all of 19 yrs old. Went out straight away and got cross necklaces ! LOLOL !!!

  43. Heather B. says:

    Lol snooki!!

    This reminds me… Did you hear about the incident at the movie theaters? Where a bunch of children and their mothers ( fathers, guardians, babysitters, cousins twice removed) were seeing Madagascar 3. Well the night before the last movie to be shown was Paranormal Activity 4. Yep you guessed it (or did you?). They forgot to switch out the reels and a movie theater full of children and their drivers were traumatized with the opening scene (SPOILER ALERT) of a bloody body being slammed into the screen. Free tickets and a free screening of Madagascar 3 were offered in an apology.

    I know, I know, I shouldn’t laugh but well… I AM! I am mainly laughing at how the theater now has to deal with all those angry mothers.

    So, yep had to share.

    • Sera says:

      Hahahahaha! You’re not alone, I find that hilarious! Although if paranormal activity 4 is as scary as the first one, I can see how there would be some trauma. My husband and I both had nightmares for a week after watching it. Haven’t gotten to the second one. Supposedly it’s all creepy basement, and I have a creepy basement that I don’t want to be afraid of.

      And snookie is the scariest, by far!

  44. Pati Gulat says:

    The last one is so scarey that I was barely able to look at it !!

  45. Karen says:

    Silence of the Lambs is in my top All Time Scariest Books.
    Pet Cemetary and a lot of other Steven Kings books are on that list, too.

    • Karen says:

      I’m in the middle of a book right now, but I’d LOVE to put it down to read Silence of the Lambs. I may just do it. Eep! ~ karen

      • Deb J. says:

        My husband LOVES Silence of the Lambs – says it makes him hungry. I haven’t read it but have heard bits as books on tape. Gives me the total creeps and I can’t continue. And I’m not usually a wimp.

  46. Jasmine says:

    I remember one called “The Reincarnation of Audrey Rose” (I think that was the title). Anyway, it was around the same time I read ‘Jaws” and I don’t know that it was a great idea. I think it was the last scary book I read-freaked me out that much!

    • Pati Gulat says:

      Audrey Rose was a great book ! I think V.C. Andrews wrote that as well as Flowers in the Attic, which I’ve also read. Loved them both but they scared the crap out of me ! lol

  47. Nicole says:

    I agree, its the last one, I am afraid to touch that one.

  48. eileen ovaclosa says:

    AHHHAAHHHH….runnnnn….it’s SpoookkkyyySnooookkkiiieee………………

  49. Jean says:

    definitely the last one!

  50. Oh God – Flowers in the Attic – I read a whole lot of those books in middle school before I really realised how completely twisted they were.
    I’m too much of a fraidy-cat to even crack the spine on the last one – I can see why you included it ;)

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