Dear readers, if you believe that reading horror fiction is-
- utter waste-of-time and
- taking your cat out for a walk would be a greater use of that precious hour, then don’t read any further.
In case, you’re teetering-on-the-edge about- whether to pick up “that’ neglected-for-many-months gothic/contemporary horror book from your TBR list, to round up 2018 reading challenge, then go ahead.
1. It teaches you horror ≠ ghosts
….in another sense, it would broaden up your horizon.
what should they know of England who only England know?
Rued Rudyard Kipling in his poem “The English Flag”.
As a connoisseur of fine horror literature, I want to paraphrase it-
“What should they know of horror who only horror know?”
This in respect to the constant flak that the horror genre of fiction perennially seems to receive from the coterie of critics and elite readers-alike.
In case you’re one of them, you’re doing a blunder, my friend.
Horror comes in many forms and the bogeyman is not one of them.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” speaks about a horror when women don’t have the right over their wombs.
Pick up any cli-fi novel like “The Road”, and the horror of what ravaging nature would beget throttles you.
2. It lays bare societal hypocrisy
I love those horror settings when a trouble occurs in a quaint town/suburbia and all the skeletons tumble out of the closet.
As if it only takes a flick of toe to turn the carpet over and let the dirt pop out – where the civilians start falling prey to zealots, casting aspersions and fighting for resources (“The Mist”).
Instead of lifting each other up.
Or the monster human arrogance could lead into in the guise of the invention (“Frankenstein”).
3. It depicts valor in face of adversity
A good horror book (remember, just like the proof of the pudding, the benefit of reading a horror book lies in its “”quality), shows the readers the human resilience at the darkest of the hour.
Whether it’s saving your children from the fatality of a demon-haunted world (“Bird Box”)
how love for humanity and passing on the knowledge to future generation is the only way to reboot humanity (“The Girl with All the Gifts”)
– a standard horror novel cements the fact of endless human possibility.
Almost on a spiritual level.
4. It challenges your preconceived notion
Horror for the lack of better words is fear of unknown.
And in a way, it challenges you.
And springs up surprises from unexpected corners (not in a good way, obviously).
And my favorite of them is- shattering the functional family myth-thus nullifying the irritating coinage called “dysfunctional family”.
Be it unmasking a lovey-dovey murderous spouse (“Rebecca”).
cash-strapped parents encashing daughter’s schizophrenia and leading to family tragedy (“ A head full of ghosts”).
religious fanaticism turning jolly villagers into ruthless killers ( the bone-chilling “The Lottery”).
5. It proves substance > cheap thrills
We all are li’l too adult and fucked-up to piss in pants when a ghost appears on screen, baring fangs and oozing fake blood out of its sockets.
Horror book can teach you to differentiate between “atmospheric horror”/subtlety and cheap thrills.
P.S. – Sometimes it can teach you a thing or two about surviving skill too. As Stephen King elucidated-
“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”
6. It helps you to identify “femme fatale” tropes(& others)
Even the best horror story is not devoid its tropes.
What’s is with converting woman into femme fatale-cum-bloodsucker of men, women and innocents-alike (recently finished off Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story”. And sadly, this otherwise-gripping story is not bereft in imagining a beautiful lady bedding and sucking the blood out of “honorable” men).
In case, reading books and thinking about them is one of your priorities in life, then you won’t be able to overlook this hypocrisy (back to point number #3).
Another trope is a child or children-trapped-in-adults’ bodies stopping the mayhem, defeating the ghost (“IT”, “The Passage”, “ ‘Salem’s Lot”…the list is long).
If nothing else, reading horror books teaches you to be an armchair literary-critic.
Do you like reading horror books? What are the reasons you prefer this genre? What are your favorite horror fictions? Let me know in the comment section.
Related post: Your Halloween “spooky-reads”…sorted