What’s the Most Disturbing Book You’ve Read?

21 Feb

I found this post on The Guardian about books that have shocked readers and (thankfully?) there were none on the list that I recognized. Well, just one, The Lovely Bones but it’s been so long since I read that I’ve (thankfully) forgotten the really odd twist, though I remember that it had one.

There are times in a book that I’ve been horrified by something. The starvation in Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy comes to mind. But I can’t think of a book that was overall so horrifying or disturbing that I had to put it down and walk away.

I did something no one should ever do and read the comments. One post brought up Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love which was the first book I read for one of my book clubs. It’s a wonder I kept going to that group. I didn’t find the book disturbing, however, just weird and I didn’t like it. I’ve read other books like that (The Children’s House) but I still don’t think I’d describe them as disturbing.

What disturbs one person might not disturb another. A commenter mentioned Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go which is a favorite of mine. Maybe it’s a matter of how you view the book. I saw this one as fantasy so it didn’t bother me. Other commenters mentioned true crime books as disturbing. It’s never done too much for me.

Now I’m trying to find a disturbing book and read it just to see how emotionally dead I am. Does anyone have a particularly disturbing book to wish upon me? Maybe something that would be best in October when it’s time for spooky/creepy reads?

Until next time, write on.

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34 Responses to “What’s the Most Disturbing Book You’ve Read?”

  1. Becky Ross Michael February 21, 2019 at 10:40 AM #

    Helter Skelter about Charles Manson. DON’T read it:(


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 5:51 PM #

      Oh geeze, that sounds terrible! I’ll pass haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Incessant Bookworm February 21, 2019 at 10:59 AM #

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood! Interesting physical/romantic relationship. haha


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 5:52 PM #

      Hm, sounds like you have to be in a certain frame of mind to read that. Might not be for me then. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Incessant Bookworm February 21, 2019 at 6:27 PM #

        Yea we were not ready in our book club for this type of book. Definitely had some good conversation though which a good book should do!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. nickimags @ The Secret Library Book Blog February 21, 2019 at 11:48 AM #

    The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman it took me about a year to finish it, because it was so upsetting.


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 8:21 PM #

      Geeze, I wonder who is publishing these books! Happy reading.


  4. Robyn February 21, 2019 at 12:09 PM #

    I liked Never Let Me Go too – I felt the same way about it as you did – that it was more fantasy so it was okay. The most disturbing book for me was The Amityville Horror (the original one). I read this beat up book when I was in grad school and was so freaked out about it – and the realness of it that I threw it out when I was finished. It just felt evil. Also, I should mention I was so freaked out by it that I wouldn’t throw it out in MY trashcan – I took it outside of my apartment complex and tossed it right in the dumpster.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 12:46 PM #

      That’s amazing. I’ve never felt that strongly about the contents of a book before. I’ll be avoiding that one. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. cassidygott February 21, 2019 at 12:30 PM #

    The first chapter of In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson disturbed me enough to not read further. It was so descriptive of the torture this man went through and since I visualize as I read, I couldnt do it.


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 8:22 PM #

      I read that book a few years ago and, funny enough, I don’t remember that part! I remember the daughter of the ambassador best. Happy reading!


  6. anovelglimpse February 21, 2019 at 1:21 PM #

    Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn was disturbing but addictive. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma was disturbing but well written.


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 8:22 PM #

      Sounds like you were still able to enjoy them. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • anovelglimpse February 22, 2019 at 6:54 PM #

        I loved Nine Minutes. It’s a great audiobook, if you’re interested. The other was not my thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Diana @ Thoughts on Papyrus February 21, 2019 at 1:33 PM #

    The most disturbing book I’ve ever read is “The 120 Days of Sodom”, but I will never recommend it to anyone for a read. People recommend “Never Let Me Go”, but I think the implications of Kazuo Ishiguro’s debut novel – “A Pale View of Hills” are even more disturbing that the unsubtle concept of “Never Let Me Go”.


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 8:23 PM #

      I have that one on my shelf so I’ll look forward to it! Happy reading.


  8. macsbooks311 February 21, 2019 at 1:37 PM #

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas affected me deeply. I had to read it in stages. Generally, I read the good, the bad and the ugly. Books like Helter Skelter, which I read when it was first published, didn’t bother me nearly as much as the actual murders did and The Lovely Bones is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I actually love that book and think of it often. Is it because of the abuse? Isn’t it interesting how different people read a book differently, no two people actually read the same book.


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 8:25 PM #

      I saw the movie of Boy in the Stripped Pajamas and can understand how the book would strike an even stronger emotion. I think we all have a bias. Happy reading!


  9. thepturnersbookblog February 21, 2019 at 3:26 PM #

    AMERICAN PSYCHO is probably the most disturbing and grim book I’ve ever read… but I absolutely LOVED it!! Not sure what that says about the author and me…. ha!


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 9:39 PM #

      Haha that’s awesome. Disturbing doesn’t have to be bad! Happy reading.


  10. Ryan February 21, 2019 at 6:08 PM #

    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov comes to mind, though I wasn’t abjectly disturbed by it. It’s more that it’s the most conceptually unsettling example that I can immediately think of.

    In terms of body horror The Troop by Nick Cutter was pretty effectively gross.


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 9:39 PM #

      Good point about Lolita. It was disturbing in a different way. I hated that I almost liked the narrator. Almost. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lilyfae February 21, 2019 at 6:15 PM #

    Never let me go was heartbreaking, the Lovely Bones was difficult, but the book that had to go ‘in the freezer’ was Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls… she just went too far with the horrific torture and violence against young girls and their bodies- normally her books are a bit dark but this took the biscuit.


    • Sam February 21, 2019 at 9:40 PM #

      Yikes! And great Friends reference with ‘in the freezer’ lol. I was thinking of that when I wrote this post. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. reviewerpj February 21, 2019 at 6:27 PM #

    ‘The Butterfly Garden’ by Dot Hutchinson. I really liked it despite the disturbing parts. I feel like it’s because of the MC’s calming personality, but it’s really good overall, and very recommended for what you seek.


  13. singerofstories February 22, 2019 at 8:27 AM #

    None of your links are working for me =[ Is it just me? Anyway, I did find The Lovely Bones a bit disturbing, but I was young when I read it. Like, maybe teenage-ish. So it really freaked me out personally. Devil in the White City also disturbed me, but I was in college IN the city of Chicago at the time I was reading it, so I was pretty much looking for H.H. around every corner.


    • Sam February 22, 2019 at 10:01 AM #

      Thanks for letting me know, I’ll fix them shortly! That one freaked me out a bit, too! I’m actually headed to Chicago now so I’ll have Holmes stuck in my head the whole time lol. Happy reading!


  14. Dead Deer February 23, 2019 at 2:09 PM #

    It is not the sort of book I usually read, and I’m not sure why I did. But i could not sleep for weeks after reading ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by SJ Watson. It spooked me so badly I have no idea how I even managed to get through it. I did enjoy it, but I am just so squeamish, or easily scared it was horrible.


    • Sam February 23, 2019 at 2:42 PM #

      Books like that are the worst but it’s also a testament to how well written it was. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dead Deer February 23, 2019 at 3:05 PM #

        Yes it must be – I still remember the menacing sense of dread every time I picked it up to read (usually in bed, which in retrospect was probably foolish). It stayed with me for SO long that did. Urrggh I can feel it coming back! Thanks and happy reading yourself, just finished The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald and about to start The Rider by Tim Krabbe – two books I should have read YEARS ago, not sure why I didn’t.


      • Sam February 23, 2019 at 3:26 PM #

        Enjoy them both!! There are a lot of books I should have read years ago. Happy reading!

        Liked by 1 person


  1. Friday Favorites – Novel Lives - February 22, 2019

    […] takes on the World of Words takes on What are the Most Disturbing Books You’ve Ever Read? A Fantastic topic! If you have not yet had a book send you into the fetal position? You are doing […]


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