The best books to make you feel uncomfortable

Why am I passionate about this?

Books that make me feel uncomfortable are usually the ones that have stuck with me most over the years. There’s just something so alluring to me about an author who can effectively bring out that feeling in readers. When I started writing stories, I wanted to make my readers squirm – I wanted to layer the guts and gore with underlying psychological themes that made the violence and trauma that much more impactful. These books that I mentioned acted almost as study guides on how to blend shocking violence with themes of loneliness, depression, and rage. If you layer these correctly, you’re going to effectively be able to make your reader uncomfortable and your stories memorable.  


I wrote...

The Third Parent

By Elias Witherow,

Book cover of The Third Parent

What is my book about?

No one knows where he came from. No one knows what he wants. No one dares ask about his strange physical abnormalities. For a quiet suburban neighborhood, things are about to change. And it starts with a knock at the door. Follow his rules. Don't call the police. Listen to his lessons. That's what Jack and his family were told. Held captive in their own house, they must face a growing storm of mental and physical trauma as they try to just stay alive.

But even if Jack can survive the horror of his childhood, will his tormentor ever leave him alone? And who is he really? Who is Tommy Taffy?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Slowly We Rot

Elias Witherow Why did I love this book?

This isn’t a zombie book. It’s a book about isolation, depression, rage, and escapism. This is the book I continue to come back to and is always the first one I recommend for someone looking for a new book to read. There’s a slow ramping of violence in this book, married perfectly to the main character’s evolution – resulting in some truly bleak scenes.

By Bryan Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slowly We Rot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Shocking, emotional, and punctuated by moments of brutal savagery, SLOWLY WE ROT contains some of the most frightening scenes in recent horror fiction. If you enjoy zombie stories, you’ll love this book. If you believe there’s no life left in the zombie subgenre, Bryan Smith is about to prove you wrong. SLOWLY WE ROT is a searing, stunning triumph.”--Jonathan Janz, author of The Nightmare Girl and Savage Species

Long after the zombie apocalypse wiped out most of the human race, a young man named Noah resides in a remote mountain cabin. Several years have passed since he last saw another…


Book cover of Less Than Zero

Elias Witherow Why did I love this book?

I could argue that this is the bleakest horror book on the list, though the horror doesn’t come from your typical tropes. Drug addiction, sex, emptiness, and despair are all present themes here and the way Ellis writes his characters – the way they interact, react, and what they value – is haunting in a way that’s very unique and at times, downright chilling. The end of this book will never leave you.

By Bret Easton Ellis,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Less Than Zero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The timeless classic from the acclaimed author of American Psycho about the lost generation of 1980s Los Angeles who experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age. • The basis for the cult-classic film "Possesses an unnerving air of documentary reality." —The New York Times
They live in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money in a place devoid of feeling or hope. When Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from his Eastern college, he re-enters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porsches,…


Book cover of High Life

Elias Witherow Why did I love this book?

This book is a character study about a man who will go to any lengths to be famous. The horror comes from his complete disregard for his actions and the separation he builds mentally, detaching himself from some of the sick things he’s willing to do to achieve his goal. It’s a depressing, beautifully written noir that will leave you feeling gross and uncomfortable. In a good way. 

By Matthew Stokoe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked High Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hollywood. The City of Dreams at the end of the nineties. Jack has one ambition – to get famous. He doesn’t care how. He just wants to be like the people he sees in tabloid magazines and on TV: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Tom and Nicole, Arnie, Bruce, Sly.... But the desire for fame has a dark side and he finds himself in a world of drugs and crime, whores, snuff shows, incest, deceit and despair. When his wife is found dead – murdered and disemboweled – and the search for her killer leads him to the femme fatale of…


Book cover of Teeth and Tongue Landscape

Elias Witherow Why did I love this book?

This is a truly bizarre novel that can be read in one sitting, but it’s worth every page. Dripping with creativity, this book is a tour of a truly imaginative world unlike anything else I’ve read. The characters and locations will stick with you long after you finish it and the loss the main character feels resonates in a way you’ll never expect. 

By Carlton Mellick III,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Teeth and Tongue Landscape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a world made out of meat, a socially-obsessive monophobic man finds himself to be the last human being on the face of the planet. Desperate for social interaction, he explores the landscape of flesh and blood, teeth and tongue, trying to befriend any strange creature or community that he comes across.


Book cover of The Pig

Elias Witherow Why did I love this book?

Forget everything you know about the horror genre. This book is one of the most overwhelming, disgusting things I’ve ever read, and physically gagged multiple times while reading it. If you’re not familiar with extreme splatterpunk, brace yourself. Nothing can prepare you for the all-out gore, guts, and absolutely insane depravity found in this book. There’s one scene in here that will never leave me. You’ll know it when you get to it. Oh, and it’s kind of about a pig. 

This book is not currently available.

By Edward Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pig as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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Exchange Student

By Michael R. Lane,

Book cover of Exchange Student

Michael R. Lane Author Of The Gem Connection

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid reader, I read a wide variety of books. Of the fiction genre mystery and suspense remain my favorite. From the classics to the gritty, a well-told mystery is a literary gem. As my mystery palette has aged—like my taste in wine—so are my demands of what makes a good mystery novel. The best mysteries for me contain more than a serpentine journey toward the hidden truth. They have intriguing characters, crisp dialogue, interesting settings, formidable foes, and of course indispensable heroes or anti-heroes. My writing goal is aimed at achieving the same level of literary penmanship of the mysteries I enjoy reading so much.

Michael's book list on African American mysteries

What is my book about?

Daniel “Dan” Bluford is the Director of Polar City Single Organism Research Lab Facilities. A business he helped to create. The world’s leading architect of sustainable, ecologically conscious products for energy, manufacturing, water treatment, waste management, and environmental clean-up equipment. A company whose mission statement read in part, “Better environment through industry.”

Unable to stay awake on his drive home after work, the loving husband and father stopped for coffee at a familiar coffee shop. The place was empty, aside from a lone barista. A young woman with a sacred Maori chin tattoo and an infectious smile. Shortly afterward, Dan…

Exchange Student

By Michael R. Lane,

What is this book about?

Daniel "Dan" Bluford is the Director of Polar City Single Organism Research Lab Facilities. A business he helped to create. The world's leading architect of sustainable, ecologically conscious products for energy, manufacturing, water treatment, waste management, and environmental clean-up equipment. A company whose mission statement read in part, "Better environment through industry."

Unable to stay awake on his drive home after work, the loving husband and father stopped for coffee at a familiar coffee shop. The place was empty, aside from a lone barista. A young woman with a sacred Maori chin tattoo and an infectious smile.

Dan decides to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in pigs, femme fatale, and zombies?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about pigs, femme fatale, and zombies.

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