The Five Scariest Books I've Ever Read
To give you chills on hot summer nights...
1. World War Z by Max Brooks: Mr. Brooks' fictional account of the zombie apocalypse is told though the interviews of various survivors around the world. While some of the stories veer a little to the far-fetched/hookey side, the book gave me some serious willies with its realistic portrayal of the panic and chaos that would naturally engulf the world in the zombie epidemic. A couple of times, I had to put the book down for fear of bringing on a panic attack.
2 and 3. Skeleton Crew and Night Shift by Stephen King: I have been a King fan since the fourth grade when I started reading my parent's collection of paperbacks. (See? Now you understand why I am so twisted.) His work within the last 10 years seems to be mellowed with his age and that near-tragic accident from a few years back. But these two early short story collections (IMO, the short story being his best medium) are King at his balls-out edgiest. Giant rats, hungry goo floating on a lake, the bogeyman masquerading as SIDS, Lovecraftian beasties slumbering in a New England ghost town, deadly mist, alien viruses, a demonic laundry machine. It's pure King awesomeness. Anaïs Nin once wrote that she created her best work when she was poor, starving, and paid a dollar per page. The same could be said of Stephen King who, in his pre-fame days, sold many of these stories to "men's magazines", and to me, they are his scariest.
4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver: Not a horror book per se, but still some of the creepiest stuff I've ever read. Without giving too much of the story away (and Shriver really relies on building suspense in the narrative), it's the fictional story of a high school-age mass killer as told by his mother. She is recounts story of his life, beginning with conception. Once I finished reading this book, I had almost completely made up my mind to never have children.
5. Ghost Story by Peter Straub: Hands-down, the scariest book I ever read. When I first read this book in high school, it scared the bejeebus out of me. It didn't help that I read it one night while home alone. Once I finished the book, I turned on all the lights in the house and refused to go to bed until my parents got home. Don't rent the movie adaptation from the early 80's; it's wretched.