Most Disturbing Books

American Psycho

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Gruesome murder, a disregard for human life, and extremely graphic torture sex...but the most disturbing aspects of this book are the all to honest descriptions of our superficial society. 

Whether you read it as satire or a magnified peek at American reality, it's bone-chilling. 


Naked Lunch

"Naked Lunch" is the unnerving tale of a monumental descent into the hellish world of a narcotics addict as he travels from New York to Tangiers, then into Interzone, a nightmarish modern urban wasteland in which the forces of good and evil vie for control of the individual and all of humanity. By mixing the fantastic and the realistic with his own unmistakable vision and voice, Burroughs has created a unique masterpiece that is a classic of twentieth century fiction.

“Did I ever tell you about the man who taught his asshole to talk? His whole abdomen would move up and down, you dig, farting out the words. It was unlike anything I ever heard. 
Bubbly, thick, stagnant sound. A sound you could smell. This man worked for the carnival, you dig?"


The Wasp Factory 

The polarizing literary debut by Scottish author Ian Banks, The Wasp Factory is the bizarre, imaginative, disturbing, and darkly comic look into the mind of a child psychopath.
Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least: 

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim. That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again. It was just a stage I was going through.

It's one sick, twisted book. But, there are a few good lines worth remembering. 


To the Lighthouse 

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is not disturbing in the same way as the other books on this list. It's a dark, depressing book focused on what it means to feel stuck in one place. Sometimes, reading about the troubles within a family can be even more torturous than reading about serial killers and rapists in Manhattan. 

The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf constructs a remarkable, moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflict between men and women.




“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” ― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

So begins, Kafka’s strange and classic tale of a man who becomes an insect. The Metamorphosis is a probing look at society, self, and above all, what it means to be human.

Reading about Gregor forces the reader to examine his own happiness. Does he enjoy working, pretending to be civilized, subduing his more carnal desires? Or, deep down, does he feel like a bug? 


And Now... An Assortment of Disturbing Titles that Need No Explanation

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