The best books to make you feel uncomfortable

Elias Witherow Author Of The Third Parent
By Elias Witherow

Who am I?

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?

The Books I Picked & Why

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Slowly We Rot

By Bryan Smith,

Book cover of Slowly We Rot

Why 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.

Less Than Zero

By Bret Easton Ellis,

Book cover of Less Than Zero

Why 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.

High Life

By Matthew Stokoe,

Book cover of High Life

Why 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. 

Teeth and Tongue Landscape

By Carlton Mellick III,

Book cover of Teeth and Tongue Landscape

Why 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. 

The Pig

By Edward Lee,

Book cover of The Pig

Why 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. 

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