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I definitely will be more easily scared by a movie, but I think one of the scariest books (or play) I've read to date is The Bacchae by Euripides. Books are scary to me because they explore a profoundly disturbing idea, as opposed to showing something disturbing or graphic. The Bacchae mainly focuses on the process of going completely insane, and the horrible things that you can be compelled to do after you've completely lost control of your mind. Possession is probably one of the most terrifying motifs for me, so if you're similarly creeped out by that type of stuff, I would suggest giving the play a go.
 

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A couple I read recently were "The Imago Sequence and Other Stories" and "Occultation" by Laird Barron, both short story collections that regularly scared the crap out of me. Very influenced by Lovecraft, but more modern, and to be honest a better writer than Lovecraft. I probably liked Occultation a little more than Imago Sequence. Before that the last thing I read that I would say genuinely freaked me out was the short story "N." from Stephen King's Just After Sunset collection. Reading that one on a late night alone in a big old creeky Victorian house was a harrowing experience.
 

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Oh and if you like your horror a little weirder and more existential I highly, highly recommend Thomas Ligotti. His short story "Gas Station Carnivals" from his book Teatro Grottesco has probably cost me more sleep than any piece of fiction I've read in my adult life.
 

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I definitely will be more easily scared by a movie, but I think one of the scariest books (or play) I've read to date is The Bacchae by Euripides. Books are scary to me because they explore a profoundly disturbing idea, as opposed to showing something disturbing or graphic. The Bacchae mainly focuses on the process of going completely insane, and the horrible things that you can be compelled to do after you've completely lost control of your mind. Possession is probably one of the most terrifying motifs for me, so if you're similarly creeped out by that type of stuff, I would suggest giving the play a go.
You were moved by pity and terror!

The Bacchae
is a superb play, beautifully constructed. Euripides's psychology is startlingly modern, concerned with the interiority of individuals, unlike Aeschylus or Socrates, who are more grandiose. The irony and double meaning (double vision) of the play is brilliant, culminating in Agave triumphantly bearing home the head. It's also arguably a response to Aristophanes's Thesmophoriazusae (The Poet and the Women), Euripides parodying Aristophanes parodying Euripides (c.f. Daniel Mendelsohn, "A Wild Night in the Park", New York Review of Books, 22 October 2009).

There are several plays that present a world of horrifying corruption: the works of Seneca, Euripides's Orestes, and Jacobean dramatists like Webster.
 

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Frightening books:
The ghost stories of M.R. James
E.F. Benson (especially "The Room in the Tower")
Arthur Machen
Sheridan LeFanu

Oh. Yes. SALOME (by Oscar Wilde & with music by Richard Strauss). Getting back to tragedy. THIS:

Which sends shivers down my spine. It's both beautiful and horrifying.
 

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If you experienced this from a book, feel free to post the title here.

Looking for some genuine hardcore horror books in this thread :)
Not from personally reading a book, I don't think but I read this damn creepy story from an article which was positing that stories from authors' books sometimes crossover into the real world. Its on par with any creepypasta I've ever read.

Consider how back in the late 1970s the prolific comic-book writer Doug Moench found himself writing out the real in a work of fantasy a few seconds before it became the real, in fact. I sat down with Doug in the spring of 2009. Here is the story he told me. Moench had just finished writing a scene of a Planet of the Apes comic book about a black-hooded gorilla named Brutus. The scene involved Brutus invading the human hero’s home, where he grabbed the man’s mate by the neck and held a gun to her head in order to manipulate the hero. Just as Doug finished this scene, he heard his wife call for him in an odd sort of way from the living room across the house. He got up, walked the length of the house, and entered the living room only to encounter a man in a black hood with one arm around his wife’s neck and the other holding a gun to her head: “It was exactly what I had written…it was so, so immediate in relation to the writing and such an exact duplicate of what I had written, that it became an instant altered state. The air in the room congealed, became almost like fog, and yet, paradoxically, I could see with greater clarity. I could see the individual threads of his black hood.” Doug’s emotional response to this series of events was a very understandable and natural one. He became obsessed with the black-hooded intruder for months, then years.
 

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Actually thinking of it, I kind of prefer the sci-fi genre over horror for getting me scared. But it can be a more subtle kind of frightened, the kind of way Phillip K. Dick's plot twists mess with your sense of reality within a novel and cause an uneasy kind of tension.
 

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Hake Talbot's Rim of the Pit, a hardboiled mystery / ghost story. Its strength comes from the way in which it violates the norms of the genre. Plus it gave me nightmares - I woke up thinking there was a wendigo outside my bedroom window... (I was twelve.)
 

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I find Stephen King books frustratingly scary. The way the narrative moves from the mundane to the sinister is like that moment when you think there's another stair and your foot drops.

There was one book that did threaten to mess with me. A teen fiction book of all things! It's called 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' and it's the first in the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. In the book, people produce "Noise" which is all the random thoughts and visions in ones mind. There's a point where everyone except the protagonist takes a pill to suppress their Noise, so he can't tell what others are thinking but he's constantly an open book. Shudder.
 
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When I was eleven or so, I went into the basement and found a whole pile of Stephen King novels, which I proceeded to read. Goddamn, I still have nightmares. Misery was the one in particular that freaked me right out. Couldn't read more than a paragraph at a time. I'd get that creepy-crawly feeling where you feel like the actions in the book are happening to you. So gruesome, but still a very awesome book.
 
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