The temperatures are dropping, the pumpkin patches are doing brisk business, and when spooky season rolls around, I love nothing more than curling up with a soft blankie and reading a good scary book! Not just any genre will do, however. I love to scare myself silly with a spinetingling suspense novel or a white knuckle thriller. Apparently, I’m not the only one! Studies show that people enjoy reading thriller and scary books for various reasons. Here are some possible explanations:
- Artificial “fight or flight” experience: Scary stories allow readers to experience artificial situations of “fight or flight,” which can be exciting and stimulating, without real world consequences. These scenarios, whether real or imagined, get the body ready for action and can provide a thrilling experience.
- Familiarity: Many readers have been enjoying scary stories for years and have a list of favorite authors. They enjoy the anticipation and the adrenaline rush that comes with reading these stories
- To feel strong emotions: Scary stories can evoke a range of emotions, including fear, surprise, and terror. Some readers enjoy the intense emotional experience that these stories provide
- Uplifting effect: Contrary to popular belief, tales of terror can actually be uplifting when written with that purpose in mind. They can help readers work through fear, trauma, and anxiety in a safe and controlled environment
- Exercise for the brain: Reading, in general, has many benefits for the human brain. It exercises the imagination, increases empathy, and promotes self-awareness
Horror novels may provide a unique opportunity for cognitive development and perspective-taking.
- To learn how to deal with the real world: Scary stories can help children and adults alike learn how to cope with fear and other negative emotions. They provide a safe space to examine what we’re afraid of and to talk about it
- To challenge oneself: Some readers enjoy the intellectual challenge that comes with reading complex and thought-provoking horror stories. These stories can push the boundaries of what we think we can handle and can provide a sense of accomplishment when we finish them.
Check out some of my favorite spooky season scary book reads!