Posted in Book Talk

8 Disturbing Books That Show How Things Could Be Worse

Hello there! For those of us who find comfort in the mindset of “Well, things could be worse!” — this list is for you. Here we have books that are shades of scary, disturbing, unsettling, and graphic. I typically prefer books that make me laugh, but sometimes you’ve gotta fight fire with fire. So take a look at the list, read one of these books, and come out of it thinking that in comparison, maybe you’re doing okay.

True graphic horror

Seriously. I cannot give a big enough warning for this one. This scarred me. So of course, I have to share it here. It is incredibly brutal and graphic and disgusting and horrifying. But it is also so good because of that.

2 sentence summary:
A bioengineered parasite is infecting people across America and turning them into raving murderous lunatics. Bitter ex-football star Perry is becoming one of them, and the war he must wage on his own body may impact all of humanity.

The perils of tech

So maybe we’re heading towards this reality in our own way. But at the moment, we’re not there yet, so thank goodness for that. If you don’t recognize Michael Crichton’s name already, prepare to be mesmerized.

2 sentence summary:
Microbots programmed as predators have gained intelligence and are on the hunt. And they’re evolving more by the hour.

Scarily Believable Twist of Fate

I knew this book would be something quite special, and delayed reading it until I was perfectly ready for it.

I was never going to be ready for it.

2 sentence summary:
Girls suddenly develop the power to cause extreme pain to the point of death. The world is rewritten and the matriarchy becomes a frightening legacy.

A Disaster World

A classic story arc of one change shifting everything about how we live and the unbelievable ways humans can adapt when the alternative is death. This read haunts you with how possible it feels.

2 sentence summary:
The moon is smashed closer to the Earth by a meteor. Global chaos of nature and humans ensues.

Scary Because It’s Real

This one is different because this is actually reality. No matter how hard it is to believe that. These are real people, some of whom are still alive, mourning the ghosts of their pasts and themselves.

2 sentence summary:
A series of life stories from those who lived in and escaped from North Korea over the course of many years. Written like fiction, reads like fiction, but is terrifyingly not fiction.

This Gets Ugly

Don’t come to this for a tidy, satisfying story. Don’t come to this for revenge and justice. Come to this for the ugly truth, and the rage that often follows.

2 sentence summary
Karen comes home to strangers destroying her house and is thrown down the stairs and into a coma. Her sister is reeling, one of the boys responsible is crushed with guilt and fear, and the Avenger rages and seeks vengeance.

F*ck Your Fairy Tales

If you’re willing to ruin your image of characters you think you know and love, pick this up. A slower burn, this story is insidious and gets under your skin before you can quite realize what’s happening until its too late. Don’t presume you know how this one ends, or begins. One word: “lifeblood.”

2 sentence summary:
Jamie joins Peter on his island of youth where swords and scars are toys and souvenirs. Then, with every next death of a friend, Jamie starts to recognize how Peter’s love looks more like neglect.

Goodbye, sleep

When I first read this book for a class, I struggled a lot. Because this book messed me up. I couldn’t sleep. I was on edge, always. I came to somewhat dread the required chapters for each assignment. And it lingered.

2 sentence summary:
Nick’s perfect wife Amy is suddenly missing, and his innocence is not airtight as cops dig into their life. But Amy’s diary is a dark, dark place, and now we don’t know who to trust.

What kind of horror sets you on edge?

Whether it’s physical, psychological, disgust, anticipatory, fear of the known, or any other kind of horror, now might be the time to indulge. I mean when better than Quarantine-o-ween?

While I really do hate the graphic stuff of mutilation and body horror, the ones that are realistic and psychological tend to linger with me for a while as well. I started and ended my list above with the two that messed me up the most. What type of horror/thriller affects you the most deeply? Comment with your own top-scare read or your experience with one on my list! (I’ll be honest, I probably won’t read them, but I appreciate knowing what ones to be prepared for if I do!)


Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

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