Reading Fear

We’re not talking about Stephen King, people. I’m talking about being afraid to face a book because it’s too real.

I shy away from (ok, avoid like the plague) any book that seems too close to home. Do you understand what I’m saying? I have fears and paranoias locked away that I don’t want to admit I have or face head on. Whether it’s losing a loved one, watching my marriage unravel, losing my job, facing a terminal illness, or society collapsing in a very obvious way, I struggle to pick up a book knowing these things are inside.

The author already knows what I’m afraid of and seems to have an intimate understanding of my life, so there are far too many similarities for me to ignore. Suddenly, I’m looking straight at a worst-case-scenario nightmare.

Obviously, whatever I’m reading isn’t my reality. But that doesn’t make it any less disturbing.

I try to add challenging reads to my list. I buy them, they sit on my bookshelf, I pick them up occasionally.

There’s important literature out there that’s important because it has this effect on readers. It makes you think about things you’d like to pretend don’t exist, couldn’t happen to you. It’s real and beautiful and terrifying. A description from this list of “Incredibly Tough Books” does it justice. It notes that some of the books have “intense or upsetting subject matter but blindingly brilliant prose”.

Seriously. Joan Didion is judging me from across the room right now.

So tell me: what are you afraid to read?

2 responses to “Reading Fear

  1. I feel… I don’t know how to put it… apprehensive/scared (?) when I read books / watch films about the riots that happened during India’s partition. That would be the primary reason why I haven’t read Khushwant Singh’s A Train To Pakistan.

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