The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
H. P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft knew that his readers’ imaginations were so much more vivid than any concrete description he could provide of the horrifying monsters in the Cthulhu Mythos. But that means that you must actively engage with his tales of unspeakable dread, cosmic horror, and monsters who would drive you mad with just one look. So, what are you waiting for?
House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski
Claustrophobic? Frightened of the dark? Feel even the slightest shiver when you pass a dilapidated old house? Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? If you didn’t already experience any or all of these phobias before reading Mark Z. Danielewski’s postmodern book about a living house and its efforts to oust its inhabitants…you’ll have to face these fears anyway.
The Fear Project
Jaimal Yogis didn’t set out to write a book about fear; first, he penned Saltwater Buddha, a memoir about running away from home and picking up surfing and Buddhism. But on his book tour, he was wracked with anxiety, frozen with fear. The Fear Project came out of his journey to eliminate those fears, through interviews with experts and exposure therapy.
The Haunting of Hill House
If what you fear is fear itself, then why not face it head-on? For the book equivalent of sitting through a horror movie, pick up anything by Shirley Jackson—in fact, The Haunting of Hill House has been adapted to film multiple times. What makes Jackson a master of the genre is that she uses terror rather than horror to elicit responses.
Walden & Civil Disobedience
Henry David Thoreau
Many fears boil down to being alone—so why don’t you dive into the memoir of a man who chose to live in isolation? Part social experiment, part satire, Walden is overwhelmingly a tale of self-discovery and spiritual reliance. While you don’t have to follow Thoreau’s example and relocate to a remote cabin, Walden makes a keen manual for life.
Books make you laugh and cry, they warm your heart…and some give you the space and the tools to confront your greatest fears. Trivial or debilitating, specific or universal, every fear is worth facing—and these books will assist you in doing just that. Some of the titles in this list tackle the problem head-on, through literal pop-up phobias and frank discussions of mental health. Others immerse you in haunted houses or place you into a post-breakup funk in order to work out your fears. It’s OK to be scared of these books, but know that by the time you reach the last page, they will have helped you fight through at least some of your terror.
Bookshelf curated by Natalie Zutter. Image credit: Hopeful.ya/Shutterstock.com
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