How to Trick Your Friends and Family Into Experiencing the Joys of Horror in 3 Easy Steps.
“Trick” may seem to be a strong word. I could go with “snooker” or “hoodwink”, but trick seems to be the most straightforward term. Horror has a reputation for being the bad boy of literary genres. Given the amount of horror covers with blood oozing down the front, it’s not hard to see why! People who think of themselves as intellectual readers write off horror as pulpy trash. Those who enjoy light, uplifting stories imagine never being able to sleep again. It’s quite a chore if you go about outright trying to convince them horror is a diverse genre with something for everyone, which is why I do not suggest doing that. While we’re on the subject of what not to do, avoid mentioning Stephen King at all costs. DO NOT MENTION KING. I cannot stress that enough. Pennywise will pop into their brain, their eyes will glaze over and your argument will float away for good. Let’s discuss my three-step approach for tricking others into reading horror.
- Identify your target. Choose someone who loves to read, but rarely ventures out of their favorite genre. We are picking our battles. The battle is to introduce someone to the joys of horror, not the joys of reading in general. It’s best if they already enjoy reading
- Familiarize yourself with their preferred genres. Have a peek at the books on their night table, coffee table, in their book bag or especially the book in their hand. Do you notice a general trend? Believe it or not, your task is much easier if they have a favorite genre. Many genres already have horror books with similar themes! If you cannot notice an obvious preference, talk to the person. Ask them for some of their favorite books and then go from there.
- Have a recommendation in mind for every genre. I suggest using lesser-known authors, to avoid some of the setbacks associated with the horror genre in general. You don’t want them to immediately realize you are recommending a horror book, hence the whole “trick”.
I have a few scenarios below to give us some practice.
Dad- When dad is not looking at Star Trek on tv, he is usually reading a book by Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Dick. He is a great target because he loves reading and he has a clear preference for sci-fi. Suggest “The Girl With All the Gifts” by MR Carey. Zombies are a classic horror element, but this book is very heavy in scientific aspects. It is compelling and fast paced, the perfect crossover for dear old dad.
Mom- Mom cries at Kleenex commercials. She enjoys reading sappy tear-jerkers and non-smutty love stories. Her night table has “The Notebook”, which she has read four times already. Enough is enough! Mom is an emotional reader. She will love Chad Lutzke. Lutzke’s books are not very long, but they pack an emotional wallop. I suggest she start with “Stirring the Sheets”, which is a beautifully sad story about a heartbroken old man. She will probably use most of a box of Kleenex before she finishes this novella, but just in case, have “Out Behind the Barn” on standby.
Big Sis- Your Big Sis is so cool she doesn’t say lame things like 'cool'. She is always reading something secretly but laughing just loud enough for you to ask her what’s so funny. All this is so she can roll her eyes and smirk. You cannot see what she is reading, since entering her room is punishable by death. You take an educated guess that she likes humor books. Multiple layers of black eyeshadow tell you dark humor is a safe bet. The John Dies series by David Wong is a great recommendation for her. If you want to go darker, Grady Hendrix ups the ante a bit. She’ll blow you off and pretend she won’t read it, but she will. She may even admit it in a decade or two.
Granny- All grannies love smut. If you are thinking “Not my Nana!”, then you clearly haven’t looked at her library history. Vampires are the bridge that unites smut and horror. I suspect grandma may already read horror smut, especially vampire smut, so you can broaden her horizons and suggest werewolf, zombie or witchcraft erotica. If she insists on playing innocent, just gift her a nice set of Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles and call it a day.
There you have it! A foolproof method to recommend horror to those who avoid it. You will not only be broadening horizons, but you will be helping to destigmatize a whole literary genre! Talk about mercilessly crushing two birds with one gore-splattered stone!
Beth Griffith lives in Maryland with her husband, three children and a pathetically small herd of cats. She enjoys reading smut and gardening. You can watch saucy smut reviews, read salty book reviews and keep tabs on her questionable life choices on instagram @mrsbeverlygibbs .