27 Disturbing Books That Will Make Your Chest Hurt And Stomach Churn

Warning: If you haven’t read these disturbing books from Ask Reddit yet, be careful, because they might unhinge you.
Girl reading disturbing books
Unsplash / Aziz Acharki

1. The Long Walk

“You are one of 100 boys in a race. You must walk at or over 4 mph, or you are killed by gunshot after 2 warnings. The race ends when one boy is left.

SPOILERS: You start walking. You’re terrified, but you lie to yourself saying you have a chance of ending the race in one piece. You get tired and hungry, and your feet are in pain. You keep walking. Eventually you get very tired and hungry, and your feet are in the worst pain they have ever been. You keep walking because you are strong. Then, you end up in a state of absolute misery. You are in excruciating pain and your body’s signals tell your brain with utmost urgency that if you keep walking, you will die. You keep walking because you know if you stop walking, you will die. Then you get your foot ran over by a half-track and you die.” — Synthesis9819

2. Unwind

“Unwind: teens/kids that misbehave too much get sent to a camp where the get cut up for spare parts. This is done by their parents, added note: they’re awake while being dismembered.” — daisybobaisy

3. Haunted

“Guts made me physically sick. I had too sit down for five and down a glass of water after. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, and I can’t really remember any of the other stories too well, but that one will always stick with me.” — flannelshirt22

4. Suffer The Children

“SPOILERS: It’s about a girl who is possessed by her ancestors ghost (who was raped and killed by her father who committed suicide shortly after) and takes to kidnapping neighborhood children, trapping them in a cave, and forcing them to act out her own sexual abuses on a dead cat while her mute sister (who is mute because their father raped her) is forced to silently watch.” — zoddledoddleoddle 

5. Shadowland

“One of my favorite books. I like to describe it as Harry Potter, if it had been written by Stephen King.” — mouse-chauffeur

6. White Noise

“White Noise by Don Delillo. That book fucked me up in high school. I’d never been afraid of death because I had never really thought about it. But White Noise made me think about it a lot and made me actually terrified of it. I don’t even remember much of the book but I remember how desperate and insignificant it made me feel.” — gmsdancergirl

7. Horns

“Horns by Joe Hill. Dude is Stephen King’s son, and it shows. Full of murder, rape, and disturbing imagery. The best book I will never read again.

Also has an okay movie adaptation starting Daniel Radcliff.” — Springwood_Slasher

8. The Adventures Of Arthur Gordon Pym 

“The Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe. It literally made me so anxious I couldn’t finish it, it feels like a friend is telling you a very scary story since everything is in suspense for the most part, now I get why one of my teachers said that you’re blessed if you haven’t read Poe.” — atomictartar

9. Gerald’s Game

Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. I read it ten years ago when I was 16 and it still haunts me. That didn’t keep me from watching the movie adaptation though. I watched it with my boyfriend and we had to pause the film at one point because he started feeling physically sick and dizzy.” — ProudlyOffended 

10. Lolita

“I can handle horror, genocide, death, destruction, and mayhem. I can not handle the rape and sexualization of a little girl.” — Phate4569

11. Tiger, Tiger

“Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso.

The story of an abused child’s relationship with a 51-year-old, written by the child…. Who seems oddly okay with it.

It’s deeply unsettling how she justifies what happened, how the ‘love’ she received from her abuser was the most love she’d received in her life.

It’s profoundly depressing.” — LeatherMushroom

12. The Trial

“The Trial by Franz Kafka, or anything by Franz Kafka. We read some of his works in school like short stories but the Process was so surreal and like crazy that you first thought it didn’t make sense but it did make sense in some way, but it was truly disturbing to see the character struggling against an unknown force and all the people in power.” — coolrainythoughts

13. Blood Meridian

“Blood Meridian had its disturbing moments, such as the tree of dead babies.” — CaptainBroverdose

14. Man’s Search For Meaning

“Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl

Vikor Frankl was a detainee in a concentration camp. He describes his experiences in the book.” — regdayrf2

15. The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood.

SPOILERS: After having sex with Nick, Offred whispers her real name into his ear. It’s more private and intimate than anything else she can offer him, including her body. When the book is closing, she doesn’t know if Nick is saving her or turning her in. We’re left in limbo whether she was right to trust him with something so sad and simple as her identity. She doesn’t know if she should trust Nick, and we don’t either. And we want to, but we can’t. It’s heartbreakingly sad and depressing.” — SeeMeRollinUpPops

16. Piercing

“Piercing by Ryu Murakami is up there. If you’ve read that book then you know about that bathroom scene. That walk into the bathroom scene. I had to shut the book and step away for a moment when it came up because my head would not stop screaming, ‘NO! NO! NO! NO!'” — inksmudgedhands

17. We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch. An intense, gut-wrenching account of the genocide in Rwanda. While I’m certain that there might me a more fucked-up fiction book, this one takes the cherry in my opinion: You sit there, read and feel your bone marrow go cold while remembering that all that really happened. For Christ’s sake, not even the Nazi had a large part of their population in the streets for an orgy of bbq, beer and mutilation with machetes.” — confuciusbundy

18. Naked Lunch

“Naked Lunch has some unforgettable descriptions of sexual torture that are beyond comprehension. Burroughs had some serious issues.” — elquenuncahabla 

19. The Rape of Nanking

“The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang. It’s a non-fiction, documenting the Japanese atrocities in the Chinese city of Nanking during WW2. There’s also a section in the middle with photos of said atrocities. Believe it or not, but the text is even more gruesome than the pictures.” — the-cartmaniac

20. 120 Days Of Sodom

“It wasn’t even the disgusting sexual fetishes that were the most shocking. It was the absolute moral depravity of the book, sadism and disregard for human life and suffering.” — SelfishAndTooYoung

21. Night 

“Night by Elie Wiesel. It’s about a teenage boy’s first-hand experience at the death camps with his father during World War II. It’s horrifying. I read it in grade 9 and I still remember some passages from the book that will likely stay with me forever.” — Jillian0424

22. Carrie

“Carrie by Stephen King. The movie doesn’t do it justice. The interactions between Carrie and her mother made my stomach turn. I did like it though.” — tattooedteacup

23. American Psycho

“American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is pretty fucked up. I only read it once, back when it first came out and you had to ask for it at the book store because they wouldn’t display it. There’s a lot of stuff that isn’t in the movie. The imagery sticks with you.” — nolasagne 

24. Anatomy Of A Lynching

“Anatomy of a Lynching by James McGovern. I was a history education student and one of my classes required this book be read.

I couldn’t finish it.

I emailed my professor and asked him for advice, as the graphic GRAPHIC content of the book literally caused me to feel ill.

His advice back is still among the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given.

He told me to keep in mind that as MLK said, ‘We are not where we should be, we are not where we are going to be, but thank God we aren’t where we were.’

I’ve held that piece of advice close to me ever since.” — Petrol_in_my_eyes 

25. The Girl Next Door

“The Girl Next Door. The movie is disturbing, but man the book…” — Amanda4433

26. I, Zombie

“I, Zombie (not the comic) by Hugh Howie, the basic premiss is it’s your standard zombie apocalypse but the zombies, while behaving like traditional zombies retain their human minds as riders that are completely unable to act or influence their bodies, the book is told from the POV of several of these zombies.” — seanprefect

27. Generals Die In Bed

“It’s about a man’s experience in the trenches in WW1. See when you’re in school learning about WW1, they tell you it was awful but gloss over a lot of details and give you numbers and statistics. What they don’t tell you about is how they had to try and cook the lice out of their clothes, or how sugar was a commodity, or how the solders who had been at the front for a while placed bets on which newbie would be killed first. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in WW1.” — jetpuffedpanda TC mark

Juliet Lanka

Hater of love. Lover of horror.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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