Monday, October 26, 2015

TTT: A Handful of Bookish Scares

This week's Top Ten topic is the truly timely "Halloween Themed Freebie."  As always, we are graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Some people think haunted houses are fun.  That would not be me.

I was going to skip this week's theme, but decided to challenge myself.

Have I mentioned that I hate horror?

That I dislike being startled?  (Almost didn't make it through the first season of Buffy because they kept doing the "sudden jump from behind a dark corner" thing.)

That when the spooky music starts, I cover my face in my hands and peek between the bars of my fingers, because that allows me to maintain the "it's just a story" distance I need to survive the experience?

And yet--I have always loved mysteries, and I'm don't mean "Cozies."   Buffy became one of my all time favorite shows.  I live for the shocking twist, and I like it when my protagonists are in high stakes situations.

I think the main thing is, I don't mind reading about people in terrifying situations, but I myself don't want to be terrified.

That being said, here are seven  book-related frightening moments, because that's all I could come up with.

Seriously, the cover is freaking me out.
1.  I didn't read Stephen King's It because, like I said, I hate horror.  But I distinctly remember the girl on my hall who read it freshman year in college, and how jumpy she was the whole time she was reading it.  It really reinforced that this genre was not for me.

2.  I once made the mistake of reading a Patricia Cornwall mystery about a serial killer who was stalking young women who lived alone--when I was a young woman living alone.  Bad idea.

3.  On a similar note, I only tried true crime once.  I need that barrier of fiction in order to handle scary stuff.  It was Anne Rule's Ted Bundy biography, and probably empirically no more messed up than half the mysteries I've read.  But it was real (and local), and it freaked me the freak out.

My best friend in high school moved our senior year, but was able to keep attending our school.  I'd drive her home, past another local high school, and she'd want me to pick up the cute boys hitchhiking outside.  "Ted Bundy was good looking, too!" I'd tell her.

4.  When I was sixteen and a new driver, I was reading a chase scene set on hairpin curves in the Alps, and I realized that I was gripping the book harder and harder.  I may or may not have been trying to brake with my foot as well.  I believe the book was a Simon Templar "The Saint" book, but I have no idea which one.  I know that's not Halloween-scary, but fear is fear.

On the other hand, it was hard to find a cover
for this book that really captured its creepiness.
5. I was talking with my 20 something nephew a few years ago. The conversation was about how I hate horror but like paranormal stuff and thrillers and mysteries, and also how I can read about things I could never watch.  He suggested Let The Right One In, a Scandinavian vampire novel set in the bleak 1980s.  His dad expressed interest, and my nephew was all, "I don't think you would really get it, Dad."  So then I was super pleased with myself that he thought I was cool enough to read it.  It was extremely creepy, but good.  Not too scary for me.  I guess I like my horror like I like my spicy food--enough for flavor, but not so much it makes me cry.  (And people that like the "real stuff" think I'm a complete wimp.)

6.  Back to Stephen King (naturally)--in middle school I did read a book or two of his short stories, and I STILL remember the one where the guy is looking for his girlfriend, and hears a news report about a serial killer who's attacking young women, so he's kind of worried about her safety, and then he finally sees her and runs up to her BUT IT'S NOT HER AND HE'S SO SHOCKED AND DISAPPOINTED THAT HE MURDERS HER and you realize that HE is the killer, and that he's absolutely nuts, and then he wander off, all "I'd better go find my girlfriend before something bad happens to her."  I often look at books on my "read" list on Goodreads from a year ago and have no recollection of having read them, but I've remembered that story for over 30 years.

Really, any time you're in the mind of a killer it's kind of freaky for me.  Except maybe Dexter.  His brand of madness makes sense.

7.  I maintain that Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of the most terrifying characters ever created.  In part because she's such an evil bitch, but even more so because she has complete power over her charges.  It goes beyond life and death--she controls their sanity, which is horrifying.  I was also extra freaked out because my mom did a rotation at the Oregon State Mental Hospital (where the  book is set) during her nurse's training in the early 1950s, and she said the book was pretty damn accurate.

This is what Halloween means to me. 
Okay, that's all I've got.  Happy Halloween! I'm going to eat a bunch of candy and not watch a single scary movie.


  1. I'm not a huge fan of the horror genre either. I much prefer creepy/psychological reads if I want to be disturbed!

  2. I would not want to read any of these books, but I love your descriptions! Hilarious.

  3. I think Haunted Houses are creepy but I am so fascinated with horror films. Although I can never watch it alone :D

    Here's mine I hope you check it out :) MY TOP TEN TUESDAY

  4. Let the Right One In was so good!

    Check out my TTT and my Halloween Giveaway.

  5. I hate horror too! LOL "Ted Bundy was good looking too!" Nice one!
    My TTT

  6. I love horror movies/TV shows, but I don't read a lot of horror NOVELS, funnily enough. It's strange. And you watch Buffy? Have you finished it? Because I must know: do you ship Buffy with Spike or Angel? I ship her and Angel but I think Spike is awesome.

    Thanks for stopping by Writing on a Vintage Typewriter!

    1. Do I have to choose? The Angel storyline was so romantic, but there was always such a spark with Spike, even when he was just a random bad guy.

  7. Hahah I feel you, I am not much into horror myself. BUT, I do love a psychological thriller- which it sounds like that Stephen King short story was. I love that whole idea, but it also scares the hell out of me that an actual human mind comes up with this stuff ;) Serial killers also fascinate me. I will watch documentaries about them and then not be able to sleep hah.

    And that you compared it to spicy food? SO on point. Because when food is spicy, I want ALL the spicy. And when a book is supposed to be scary, it had better deliver! ;) LOVE your list, thanks for the happy looking candy at the end too!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight


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