Has a book ever scared you sleepless?

Killingkind_lSo I had the apartment to myself for the last four days while my husband took a skiing trip, and that meant I spent many blissful hours lounging around in my pajamas, blaring the music of tragic ’80s divas, and reading. Good stuff, except for the fact that I happened to choose John Connolly’s The Killing Kind, a book my sister loaned to me over the holidays, to while away the lonely hours. I guess the Washington Post‘s quote on the cover — "Unfolds with the force and logic of a nightmare" — should have tipped me off, but I kid you not, certain passages freaked me out so badly, I had trouble sleeping.

Cut to me, hiding under my comforter in the dark, wondering if I forgot to lock the deadbolt, imagining weird sounds coming from the kitchen, whimpering with the knowledge that The Killing Kind‘s spider-loving baddie Mr. Pudd was coming to send me to an arachnid-driven demise. Shudder.

So here’s what I need to know: Have any of you ever experienced reading-driven insomnia, and if so, which scary book(s) gave you trouble sleeping? (Yeah, I’m gonna be taking notes because apparently I’m a little masochistic like that.)


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  • Christa

    The Ruins. The whole time that I was reading it, I was fine. I kept thinking, “Why is this supposed to be so scary?” Then, I finished it, and I guess I was still in denial. Until I went to bed than night. And I was convinced that (scary thing in the book, no spoilers here) was going to happen to me in my sleep.

  • daisyj

    This one was kind of movie-assisted, but after reading Jurassic Park and seeing the trailer for the movie I found myself hiding under my blankets absolutely convinced there was a velociraptor outside my bedroom window.
    Which is why this cartoon kind of speaks to me:


  • Suz

    Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. There’s a part involving handcuffs that is so gross and disturbing, I couldn’t get the image out of my head. Kept me up a few hours past my bedtine.

  • bg 17

    ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King when I was in high school. Nothing like vampires floating up to second floor windows to make me have to move my bed into the middle of the room and sleep with one eye open.

  • VileEvilCat

    This shows how big a wuss I am, but after reading the original Dracula, I was sure he was crawling up the side of my house to get me. In Cold Blood was worse, tried to avoid being alone in the house for about two weeks.

  • Erin

    Stephen King’s “Christine” I know that sounds dumb cause the movie was so stupid. But the bood terrified me!

  • Tabitha

    Bentley Little. Oh my GAWD. There’s a book of short stories by him called The Collection and there were several that had me throwing the book across the room and running AWAY from it.

  • mgt

    “ten little indians” by agatha christie. i was in sixth grade, but even if i read it now i’m sure i would be terrified all over again

  • Ep Sato

    Maybe not sleeping, but Haruki Murakami’s Underground scared me out of riding the DC Metro.
    Underground recaps the sarin gas attacks that terrorized the Tokyo Subway in the 1990s.
    The book creeped me out so much that I had to buy a car. Of course, a few months later the building I worked in got hit with Anthrax, proof that sometimes bad things happen no matter what precautions one may take.

  • J

    It by Stephen King (still the scariest book ever)
    The Historian (I must have been reading a particularly creepy part before bed)

  • movcritic

    I realize these may sound bad now, but I have two: “10 Little Indians,” the Agatha Christie mystery (also known as “And Then There Were None”) was probably the first actual, grown-up mystery I read as a kid — I think I was maybe 10. And it just freaked me right the hell out. And, OK, yes, “Flowers in the Attic,” the VC Andrews book about the woman who locked her children in the attic and fed them arsenic-laced cookies or something. And the oldest brother and sister had sex. I was completely freaked out about the whole thing … which, incidentally, I stayed up until 6 o’clock in the morning to finish reading.

  • Silv

    While regular fiction can be scary – Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and It and Blatty’s The Exorcist, the scariest for me was the non-fictional Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi.

  • FabK

    I barely even started Intensity by Dean Koontz before I decided I couldn’t take it. I love that Christie’s Ten Little Indians has been mentioned. I read that when I was young and remember it freaking me out as well but I liked it so much that I read only Agatha for a while.

  • Elliott

    I was reading the book Stiff: The curious lives of Human Cadavers, while on vacation. I was at the chapter about plane crashes and what happens to your body when it has been through a plane crash. Since I was about to get on a plane in a couple of days. I decided to finish the book when I got home.

  • Deanna

    I have to say ‘The Shining’ and ‘It’ by Stephen King scared the begeezes out of me. ‘It’ when I was about 12 (I would not go in our basement for months) and ‘The Shining’ at 22. . . perhaps some things do not change as you get older.

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