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.

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Thomas Harris The Silence Of The Lambs 1
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  1. ET says:

    I’ve read several of the mentioned books, but two I read in my early twenties are Helter Skelter, about the Charlie Manson murders. Reading about the group breaking into houses and “creepy crawling” around the beds of sleeping people freaked me out. Also, The Exorcist, before I saw the movie.

  2. Vanessa says:

    My daughter wanted to watch Silence of the Lambs, I believe in 6th grade, I told her she had to read the book first. My thinking was at least then she is reading. Well, she read it, and we watched it, my husband came home from work while we were watching and had a fit! (One of us may have been drinking) So I said “She read the book” thinking that would smooth things over and explain why it was so reasonable to then watch the movie. to which he said (it may have been more of a shout) “What?!? You let her read that thing????” In my defense, she loved that book and that movie, she has gone on to graduate with honors from high school and is interested in becoming a writer of both novels and films. So, who wasn’t so drunk now?

    • Karen says:

      LOL. See? Sometimes books that are bad for you are good for you! I find the same holds true for french fries. ~ karen

  3. Leslie says:

    I was staying with this guy – ok, this boyfriend – when he was reading ‘Pet Sematary.’

    I will read anything – I am always oicking up books other people are reading and finishing them before they get them back – so I picked it up and started on it. Got really engrossed.

    Did I mention this guy had two cats?

    Did I mention that one of them was. . .wait for it. . .he was oroginally the runt of the litter, named Runty, and really timid as all his litter mates picked on him.

    As runts often do he grew up to be twice rhe size of other cats: he was HUGE.

    So here I am glued to this book, absolutely rivited, when I see movement out of the corner of my eye. I look over to check it out, and it’s Runty.

    Did I mention that Runty is a LARGE, GRAY CAT?


    The book flew out of my hands straight up into the air. I was HYPERVENTILATING. Oh my GOD.

    And that was the end of reading that book.

    And poor timid Runty was so scared by my shriek of terror (and the projectile book) that he ran and hid under the couch for the rest of the day!

    Then there is Intensity.

    I read a lot of Dean Koontz’ books and loved them, but NOT that one. All the good people die in the first five minutes and it goes DOWNHILL from there.

    And to top it I was living alone (hubby was working out of town) with two small children in a town right ON highway 101!

    I was so rivited I had to finish it but it was such a downer I felt betrayed by Koontz and will not read him any more. I also warn everybody I can against that book!

  4. Maggie O'C says:

    I know I’m late to this party but I love lists.

    I would add The Dead Zone by Stephen King and Ghost Story by Peter Straub.

    I have to read Rebecca, I’m rather disgusted with myself that I haven’t.

  5. Sandi says:

    I read the Amityville Horror in high school (coupla years ago. . .) ;) . I remember sleeping on the floor of my sister’s room for a month because I was afraid to be alone.

  6. Heather says:

    I was so psyched when I saw Rebecca at the top of the list — it’s one of my favorites (and, incidentally, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favorites, too). The scariest book I’ve read is Capote’s In Cold Blood. So compelling but so creepy!

    And Snooki…the stuff of nightmares, for sure!

  7. Trysha says:

    AAAAGGHHH!!! Snookie!! I’m scrolling scrolling down thinking “oh, number 11 is going to be really good. I can’t wait to see what Karen put on her li-gahhhhh!”

    I never read Flowers in the Attic. I don’t know why…just never made my list.
    I do remember reading Silence of the Lambs around sixth grade. Didn’t really scare me, but I had already watched the movie.

  8. karenagain says:

    My creepy daughter makes me read aloud to her “The Raven” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter” every Halloween. She is 23. She says, “do the voices”. “Ohhhh oysters come and waallkk withh usssss…” And then she tears up when, “They’d eaten every one.” OMG!!!

  9. kelliblue says:

    OK I’ve read nearly all of those, what does that say bout me? I love Stephen King’s short stories too – “Graveyard Shift” was full of amazingly creepy goodies!

    One of the most (ha) intense and scary books I’d ever read was Dean Koontz’ “Intensity.” Weird, wild and a real nail biter, as are all of his books.

    and just in time for this political season is a book I once read in my 20s called “the Hell Candidate” which was both political AND scary (actually written around the 1980 elections) It’s stuck with me all these years later! :(

    • KR says:

      kelliblue – “The Hell Candidate” by Graham Masterton (first published under the name “Thomas Luke”) is one of my favorite horror novels.

  10. Janet says:

    You know I never read Jaws, only saw the movie..but at age 49 I can be laying on my raft in my pool and start thinking about the movie and have to get out!!!…I’m in a swimming pool for God sake…our imagination can truly scare the crap out of us!!! Boy I love Halloween…I can scare myself out of the shower because of Pyscho too!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. Nancy Blue Moon says:

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 . . .

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!!!

  20. 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

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