5 Books That Broke My Reading Slump
or (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Horror)
All my life, I've been a reader. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading Hardy Boys books to me before bed. As a teenager, I devoured Michael Crichton and Clive Cussler's adventure books. In my 20s, I started to read books that I thought I was supposed to read, even if I sometimes didn't enjoy them. As my 20s progressed into my 30s, I began to read less and less. During most of that time, I had untreated depression. At some point, I just kind of stopped reading. Anyone that has had depression knows the frustration of not enjoying the activities and hobbies that you know you enjoy. The disconnection that comes with doing something you love and just feeling like you're going through the motions. That was me with reading. A few books found me during those dark times that I loved and still love. The Martian by Andy Weir, The Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson, 14 and The Fold by Peter Clines were bright spots in my reading drought. But there were entire years where I never picked up a book. I started to think that maybe I wasn't a reader anymore. I didn't like that, I didn't like that at all.
Then, horror fiction happened. I don't know what made me pick up a horror book for the first time. I can't remember how I discovered these books. It's not like most of them are on the shelves in Barnes and Noble (though they should be); I probably saw them recommended on Twitter. Once I read the first book on this list and LOVED it, I discovered the online horror book community. I started following and reading reviews from folks on Twitter, so I am quite sure that's where the recommendations for the other books came from. Most of these books are not the first horror fiction that I read, but they are the ones that convinced me that I do still love reading, I'm just into some darker stuff now.
Without further ado, here are the five books that broke my reading slump and made me into a fan of horror fiction. Needless to say, these books all have my highest recommendation.
The Switch House by Tim Meyer
The Switch House was the first book that kept me up at night because I was so freaked out by what I had just read. There is not a lot to say about this book that wouldn't be spoilers, and that's part of Tim Meyer's strength as a writer. Tim can tell a story in 150ish pages that would take other, lesser authors, over 400 pages. Every page, every word is vital and all his books, but especially The Switch House, take you places that you did not expect to go.
Buy The Switch House here: https://amzn.to/35W2gzH
Creature by Hunter Shea
Creature by Hunter Shea showed me what horror can be. Too many people think that horror is a one-dimensional genre with little literary value. I challenge anyone that feels that way to read Creature. This is perhaps the most emotional book that I have ever read. The characters are so well written, and Kate and Andrew's marriage so thoroughly explored that the reader can't help but love them. Shea plays on fears that we all have, not only what lurks in the dark, but fears such as being so sick you can't carry your own weight, that you need to be supported, and that you will feel like a burden to those you love. Creature is a beautiful, meaningful, remarkable story that also happens to be absolutely terrifying on multiple levels.
Buy Creature here: https://amzn.to/2ocyo0R
Broken Shells by Michael Patrick Hicks
Broken Shells wiggled into my brain. The back of the book dangled (no pun intended) just enough details for me to NEED to know more. Hicks is a very skilled writer that uses the entire breadth of our language to horrify. This was my introduction to gore in horror and I while I know that there are much bloodier, gorier books but had this been more over the top, I might not have loved it as much as I did. Broken Shells went riiiiiiiiiiight up to the line for me in the revulsion department. This novella is genuinely horrifying. I loved it.
Buy Broken Shells here: https://amzn.to/32EBdXy
Savages by Greg Gifune
That cover! Honestly, that's why I bought this one. The cover is so pretty and reminds me of a movie poster. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, but Savages is an incredible piece of fiction. The set up is right in my sweet spot, stranded on a mysterious deserted island is a trope that I've always loved. Imagine if the tv show Lost was a horror movie and didn't get dumb in the end. That's Savages. Any more information at all is going to spoil things for you. Still, if you're into well crafted scary stories with plenty of twists and turns, relatable characters, and plenty of violence, then you need to buy this book.
Buy Savages here: https://amzn.to/2qx57yz
Kill Creek by Scott Thomas
Kill Creek is the book that started me on my horror journey. I honestly don't know that I would be the reader I am right now if it hadn't been for this book. It remains one of the best horror books that I've read, and I'm still shocked that it was a debut novel. I like to think that I would have found my way eventually, but who knows. Kill Creek is the story of four horror authors that are invited to spend the night in one of the most infamous haunted houses in the country. You can probably guess that events do not go as planned and that something in the house on Kill Creek doesn’t appreciate visitors. Kill Creek absolutely blew me away and made me want to read more books like it.
Buy Kill Creek here: https://amzn.to/362sBMb
Matt is a middle school math teacher. He's originally from Kentucky but currently lives in Arkansas with his beautiful wife and 2-year-old son. In addition to reading dark fiction, he also enjoys board games and Disney World.