By Charlie Jones
TSJ ain’t on team Eat, Pray, Love when it comes to your holiday reading needs.
The media has done a wonderful job convincing everyone that the world is full of crazy people and other monstrosities ready to murder your balls and/or ovaries at a moment’s notice. But it’s always important to remember that, however bleak this planet might seem, it always could be way, WAY worse.
So this Thanksgiving season why don’t you give thanks for not having to live through the events of…
13. The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
Have you ever watched The Walking Dead and thought that the show was way too cheerful and optimistic? Then you will definitely “enjoy” this book as it details the struggle of a father and his boy in a savage, unforgiving world full of desperate killers, cannibals and dismal depression so profound that the book’s subtitle might as well be “Man, fuck hope.”
12-7. Books of Blood (Clive Barker)
Barker’s six volume horror series is a veritable one-stop nightmare destination for all your flesh horror needs. It has humans being butchered like animals to feed underground monsters, it has faces being bitten off by demons, why, it even has wonderfully-detailed scenes of drug-induced murder-rape. The only thing it doesn’t have is a way to stop the nightmares you’ll start having after reading these books.
6. The House on the Borderland (William Hodgson)
Hodgson’s works were basically Lovecraft before Lovecraft was Lovecraft, and fans of the latter will definitely recognize the familiar themes in The House on the Borderlands: Elder demonic beings, physical passageways between worlds and a slow, insanity-inducing corruption of both body and mind. The book also kills a dog at one point because Hodgson apparently hated the very idea of joy or happiness.
5. The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)
Even if the title of this book doesn’t ring any bells, chances are you already know the story: A professor leads a group of people into a supposedly haunted mansion where weird shit starts blurring the line between the paranormal and the protagonists’ slowly deteriorating psyche. Sound familiar? It should, cause it’s the basis for the movie The Haunting, both the ’63 version and the ’99 remake, not to mention a fantastic idea for an edgy Scooby-Doo remake.
4. American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis)
American Psycho deals with the life of the homicidal Patrick Bateman as he goes through, observes and criticizes the culture of the American 1980s. What really gets you about the book is that it offers wonderful insight into a powerfully psychotic mind which bizarrely doesn’t differ that much from the minds of the people around it. Once you read it, you’re left with this uncomfortable feeling that the supposedly rock-solid line between regular people and insane murderers is thinner than a pair of hooker panties.
3. It (Stephen King
There are many ways to approach horror in fiction. You can go the supernatural route with demons and possessions. There is also the more psychological approach with mind control, teenage angst, puberty, homophobia etc. You could also be lazy and just write about a killer clown. Well, Stephen King’s It has all of those, for no other reason than King waging a holy war on the notion of undisturbed, late-night sleep.
2. Skin (Kathe Koja)
In this book Kathe Koja mixes two of the most frightening literary horror tropes imaginable: female sexuality and transcending the limits of the human body through mentally-scarring bodily mutilation. The author’s ability to make simple scenes of cutting and piercing sound creepier than all of the Saw movies combined is a real testament to Koja’s ability as a horror writer. But what’s even creepier is that nowadays she has decided to focus that energy on writing young adult fiction.
1. Haunted (Chuck Palahniuk)
Here’s everything you need to know about this collection of stories from the author of Fight Club: It features a scene where a teenage boy has to chew through his own anal intestines and it’s all somehow related to masturbation. Allegedly 73 people have so far passed out during the public readings of Haunted. Also: there were public readings of Haunted? What the fucking hell, Palahniuk, you sick bastard?