Flavorwire put out their 50 scariest books of all time list. It by Stephen King; Piercing by Ryu Murakami; The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty; Ghost Story, Peter Straub; American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis; Hell House, Richard Matheson; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood; H.P. Lovecraft’s The Best of H.P. Lovecraft; The Turn of the Screw by Henry James are the top ten!
I have to admit that I haven’t read any of the top 10- I loved Poe (he is 22) in high school and I think all his stories are pretty scary: Tale Tell Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Cask of Amontillado.
I also read The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski but don’t remember it being THAT scary and it came in 25. Maybe I need to reread it? I also read #45 In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I found it more gory than scary which is often the case for me where American “horror” is concerned.
The scariest thing I ever read was the first scary adult book I remember. It was called Stories that Scared Even Me, ed. Alfred Hitchcock; the first among many of Hitchcock’s works (love his movies!) that I would come to love. Stories selected by Mr. Hitchcock include: Casablanca by Thomas M. Disch, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, Camera Obscura by Basil Copper, A Death in the Family by Miriam Allen deFord, Men Without Bones by Gerald Kersh, Not With a Bang by Damon Knight, Party Games by John Burke, X Marks the Pedwalk by Fritz Leiber, Curious Adventure of Mr. Bond by Nugent Barker, Two Spinsters by E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Knife by Robert Arthur, The Cage by Ray Russell, It by Theodore Sturgeon, The Road to Mictlantecutli by Adobe James, Guide to Doom by Ellis Peters, The Estuary by Margaret St. Clair, Tough Town by William Sambrot, The Troll by T. H. White, Evening at the Black House by Robert Somerlott, One of the Dead by William Wood, The Real Thing by Robert Specht, Journey to Death by Donald E. Westlake, Master of the Hounds by Algis Budrys, The Candidate by Henry Slesar, and Out of the Deeps by John Wyndham.
All I remember is that I was up at night, staring into the dark, hoping no murderers were lurking behind closed doors.