8 Horror Books That Will Definitely Keep You Up At Night, According To Reddit Users

There are books that are scary — maybe they have a ghost, or a witch, or a zombie, and when you read them late at night, alone, they give you the chills. And then there are the books that are straight up terrifying. The ones that get under your skin. The ones that haunt you. So what's the scariest book you've ever read?

It's a question that goes over great with book clubs, and, apparently, great with Reddit's Books crowd. "I don't mean a story that might make you feel uneasy but something that absolutely terrified you," asked Craw1011.

Overnight, over 100 people weighed in, sharing their favorite books to read and, subsequently, be absolutely terrified of. There was a lot of Stephen King, predictably. A lot, a lot. And Scary Stories to Read in the Dark, the children's compendium of scary short stories, has clearly left an entire generation of '90s babies obsessing over that one story that kept us up for a week in third grade. Which brings us to another question: why, oh, why do we freakin' read horror stories?!

Humans have been consuming literature that freaks us out since, well, literature. And so often, a culture's underlying fears become embodied in the works of literary horror it produces. Aliens? Ooh, I bet there's some serious xenophobic sentiments going around. Witches? Hmm, someone fears women possessing indescribable, uncontrollable powers. Vampires? Zombies? The "undead," caught between two worlds, hit at the worry that living forever maybe isn't the best thing after all. Maybe we're all meant to die, in the end. Maybe that's an inescapable truth.

So what do you find scary? The scariest? And, more importantly (and horrifyingly)... why?

'And Then There Were None' by Agatha Christie

Amazon

A classic horror from "The Queen of Mystery," And Then There Were None has a plot you almost certainly recognize. Ten people, in a giant, spooky mansion on an abandoned island. The host never shows. What happens next is... chaos.

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'Cycle of the Werewolf' by Stephen King

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An isolated town in Maine. A blood thirsty beast stalking its prey among the shadows. A perfect mix of gore and thrill, guaranteed to completely heckin' freak out kiddos who, uh, "borrow" a certain book they're not supposed to.

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'Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark' by Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell

This compendium of scary stories for kids (who almost certainly bought their copies at the best event of the year, the Scholastic Book Fair) was one of the most popular books in the Reddit feed. And it totally makes sense. The stories were designed to make us freak out, big time.

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'Kindred' by Octavia Butler

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A Black woman in 1970s California is suddenly, inexplicably ripped from her family and home and transported back in time - to a plantation in Maryland. Butler's classic feminist sci-fi thriller book is, more than anything, nightmarish.

"She writes villains that read like sociopaths (in the few I've read thus far) and I love it," wrote SomewhatVerbose. "Can't read it in the middle of the night though."

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'Penpal' by Dathan Auerbauch

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This book began as a series of connected short stories, all centered around a man character, a man, trying to investigate the various tragedies and mysteries and traumas of his childhood and tie them together, posted on an online horror forum, before it was adapted into a horror novel.

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'I Would Find a Girl Walking' by Diana Montane and Kathy Kelly

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User isayfuckalot12099 cited this book's distinction as true crime for its visceral level of horror. A story drawn from interviews with lead investigators, victims' families and the actual serial killer, Gerald Eugene Stano, this is not a book to read while home alone.

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'The Stranger Beside Me' by Ann Rule

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Another true crime book, The Stranger Beside Me, plants the truly terrifying thought that your close ones - like a friend you make as a young adult - could secretly be, oh, I don't an infamously prolific serial killer. Yes, that happened with author Ann Rule and Ted Bundy.

"The idea of it and the fact that it's true is horrifying," wrote eastofreaden.

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'Beloved' by Toni Morrison

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And Toni Morrison's Beloved, first published in 1987, isn't necessarily known as a "horror" book, either, though at its core is a deeply upsetting story of slavery and loss, as it manifests for Sethe - born into slavery, escaped and living in Ohio - her daughter, and their life.

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