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My Top 5 Creepy Reads for Friday the 13th

If you're staying home to avoid bad luck this weekend, you should have a few good books on hand. And please chime in with your Creepy Top 5 in the comment section!

#5 The Shining by Stephen King
The book is so much scarier than the movie! Why? Because the characters are so real, the dialogue so dang familiar, you really go there and get sucked into the madness.

#4 The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
I read it under my desk in 6th grade -- parochial school, no less, where we were taught to live in fear of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. I was terrified for weeks, and 30something years later, I still haven't found the courage to see the movie or revisit the book.

#3 Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Grandmama of all Gothics. Spine-tingling, beautifully written, intricately plotted, and an education for writers. Time, place, storytelling, world-building, characters -- it's all there.

#2 Wuthering Heights (Norton Critical Editions) by Emily Bronte
My first Bronte, and it scared the living you-know-what out of me the first time I read it. Unfortunately for my sister Jas, this was when we were still sharing a room, and I woke up screaming more than once. (We had lilacs outside our bedroom window, and -- well, it could have easily been a wraith! C'mon!) This Norton Critical Edition traces changes in the text since the book was originally published in 1847. Fascinating for writerly readers. And the chick clawing at the window is still dead scary.

#1 In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Nothing terrifies me more than the human capacity for cruelty. This book is psycho-thriller, slasher flick, true crime, campy irony, and gut-wrenching human drama all in one. As Truman Capote himself predicted, it changed the way books are written -- both fiction and nonfiction. This masterwork is both an education and a cautionary tale for writers. Prepare to sleep with the lights on.


All of those are fantastic, Joni--and among my all time faves. In fact, your top 4 are among my favorite books of *any* kind. I'd also like to add the classic Gothics we just finished reading in class: Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, and, of course, Dracula. Dracula may start off a little slow, but boy by the time a certain person is bitten, there's some serious creeping going on. And of course, who can forget Poe?

I'm also so glad to see some love for In Cold Blood. What a gem of a book.
Outstanding list! I still remember reading The Exorcist at 13. Half of my terror was derived from the fear that my fire-breathing Baptist grandmother would catch me reading it and immediately summon the Angel of Wrath to cast me into the Eternal Lake of Fire.

To this I want to add a modern thriller classic, the highly-original, highly-terrifying HEARTSICK by Chelsea Cain - about the twisted relationship between a police detective and the female serial killer (the unforgettable Gretchen Lowell, who might make Hannibal Lecter wet his pants) who captures and tortures him.

I get shivers just thinking about this book. The psychology of their relationship is what makes it really work.

And speaking of Hannibal Lecter, Thoman Pynchon's SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is another classic, along with what was (to me) the scariest of Stephen King books, PET SEMATARY.

Yikes! I'm giving myself goosebumps!

Great list, Joni!
Mylène said…
Great list. About the same time some of these books were coming out, the novel "Sibyl" (a fictionalized version of the life of Shirley Mason) appeared, and scared the beejeezus out of me. There is something about the idea of multiple identities that completely freaks me out. I see the cover of that book, and still shiver.
Angi Morgan said…
"The Shining" has always been at the top of my list of scariest reads. I was by myself, read it through the night, back to the headboard and pillows piled on each side of me. Absolutely the most thrilling read.

Nothing else compares.
A new reader,

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