How often do you find yourself perusing the horror section at the library or bookstore? When do you find yourself wanting to read something that disturbs and unsettles you? Unless you’re like me, with a sick desire to be forever scarred by the literature I consume, the answer is probably “not often.” And why is that? 

A lot of us only find ourselves dusting off our spooky stories and checking out horror novels around Halloween—which makes sense. Autumn is the perfect time of year to get lost in a good, creepy book, thanks to the nights getting longer and the air getting chillier. Pair that with the obvious—Halloween, and its spirit of fright and darkness—it feels like the universe is telling you it’s time to get scared. So why wouldn’t you crack open that Stephen King book, or your favorite collection of horror stories? 

As much as I would love to ramble forever about my love for autumn and Halloween, that’s not the main point here. In my opinion, the general population doesn’t consume enough literature designed to frighten and disturb, for a variety of reasons. Whether it feels like the wrong time of year, or if the genre just doesn’t seem to ‘click’ with you, there are a lot of reasons we stray away from horror. If you fall into this category, consider for a moment why you avoid the genre, and keep this in mind as you continue reading. Hopefully, by the time you’re through, I’ll have convinced you otherwise.

“Horror is too dark! I want books that cheer me up, and make me happy!” Well, my friend, allow me to introduce you to the sub-genre horror-comedy. Not every horror novelist is out only to scare you—a lot of them want to make you laugh along the way! While there are many different types of comedy, and all of them have been integrated into horror at some point, the genre most commonly makes use of black comedy. Through black comedy, also referred to as dark humor, authors take a dark, twisted situation and help us find a reason to laugh at it. With comedy, authors can shift the tone of their work from something grim and serious into something more playful and fun. From a writing perspective, comedy is an important tool for horror because of its ability to make a dark concept or scene more palatable to the reader. There’s a horror-comedy out there for everyone—if dark humor isn’t your style, there’s horror-satire, and parody, too!

“It’s not the right time for a horror book!” Going back to my original statement about horror and Halloween season going hand in hand, a lot of us are less inclined to pick up horror novels throughout the year because it simply doesn’t feel right. Thanks to mainstream horror franchises making a point to release their movies around October, and their popular characters being recognizable and festive Halloween costumes, we have a deeply ingrained association between the holiday and the genre. However, if you take a closer look at the genre, especially from a literary perspective, you’ll find that a lot of horror is better suited for different times of the year. Take Ring by Koji Suzuki. The Japanese novel laid the foundation for the well the well-known American movie franchise under the same name, but the two have drastically different themes. One of the primary themes of the novel is that of birth, and new life, making it a perfect read for springtime, when the flowers are beginning to bloom and wildlife returns. The short story “Hot Potting from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Haunted is a horror story revolving around frostbite, and bitter winter nights in the woods—just right for reading on a freezing winter night. There are horror novels, as well as short stories, that are very seasonal without taking place during autumn. Try taking a horror story with you to the beach this summer—I can guarantee you’ll find something that feels just right for the occasion.

“I just don’t like being scared. I don’t want to read something graphic and terrifying.” Fortunately for those of us who don’t like feeling afraid, there are a lot of novels that are creepy, but not outright scary. Sometimes, the best place to look for that perfect scary story isn’t within the horror genre at all. In fact, the fiction shelves are full of novels that are dark, unsettling, and spooky, but not to the extent that they can be considered horror. If the genre seems daunting, start with something a little gentler, like mystery or thriller novels. While not technically horror, the genres have a lot of overlap, specifically with their themes of suspense. If you’re not looking to feel terrified and disgusted, but still want to give the genre a try, look for novels that fall into the thriller category as well—you’d be surprised how many works fit into both!

Although I likely haven’t convinced you to become a total horror junkie like myself, I sincerely hope you’ll give the genre a try next time you’re picking up books at the library. The world of horror is full of incredible, unforgettable stories and novels just waiting for you to read them!

Meet the blogger:

Lily Gibbs.LILY GIBBS is a Creative Writing and Education major who hopes to someday publish her own horror novel. When she’s not writing, she spends her time making jewelry and playing with her cat, Venus.  

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