Readers Advisory: Disturbing Novels, Psychological Thrillers

disturbingWhile most of my work posted on this blog explores my work with children, I also do adult readers advisory and research.

If you’re like me, sometimes you just need to feel a little disturbed, creeped out, distressed by what your reading. You want a little of  the thrill of misfortune, twists and turns that get your blood pumping. Whether its delving into a life beyond what you could ever imagine happening to you, watching people overcome impossible odds, or just the urge to cry a little– these books will do the trick.

For me, these can help me move past a hard time in my own life– after-all someone has it worse.

Psychological Thriller/Horror

My Reads:

Those in this list are fantastic examples of real life events gone terribly, terribly wrong. The serial killers, kidnappers, and generally twisted fill this list.

gonegirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

My Review: One of the most popular reads of the summer of 2012, this thriller rushes you through, drawing you into one of the least healthy relationships I can imagine– and causing you to question everyone’s motivation.


 theneverlistThe Never List by Koethi Zan

My review: Gripping from the first page, this tells the story of the girls who have thought of everything to keep them safe… and learned the reality that sometimes, despite everything you do… everything can go wrong.


Room_coverRoom by Emma Donoghue

My review: Told from the perspective her five-year-old son, this book chronicles the life of an abductee, his Ma, and the Room where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. The child-like voice adds an extra ounce of creepy as you come to understand the reality he is describing from his naive standpoint.

girlwiththedragontatooGirl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This book hit the world by storm, originally published in Sweden by the title  Män som hatar kvinnor, “Men Who Hate Women”. The title was changed for an American audience, but I’d say its a more accurate description of what is within. Follow a brilliant set of flawed characters, struggling to get through a world filled with depravity and solve a case before it pulls them all in.

sharp-objects-book-coverSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn


Delve into the disturbing childhood and family life of Camille Preaker, and explore just why it is she has carved the words that haunt her into her flesh. She returns to her hometown to face her hypochondriac mother, and eerily cheerful teenage sister to cover a news story of a series of recent disappearances. You’ll have to read to see whether she can escape before the story and the town swallow her whole. Of the novels Gillian Flynn has written, this was by far my favorite.

Other popular suggestions:

girlonthetrainThe Girl on the Train

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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