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Old 02-21-2020, 08:21 PM   #31
FizzyWater
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I wouldn't say that it traumatized me but it sure scared the heck out of me: The Exorcist by Blatty. I couldn't stop until I finished it which was about 3 AM.
I read this at 12, and heck yeah, it scared the heck out of me. My friend and I went to see the movie and laughed through most of it. Hollywood of the time could not come CLOSE to our imaginations.

I didn't list this at first because I was trying to think of something from a younger age. But this is the one that keeps coming to mind when I see this thread.
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:41 PM   #32
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Thinking back, the first book that disturbed me was "Helter Skelter" which is about the Manson family trial, which I read when I was about 16. I think up until that time, I didn't realize just how terrible some people could be in real life. To put this into perspective, I was reading books like The Exorcist at that point and while scary, it was fiction.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:04 PM   #33
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Reading Black Beauty was also traumatic--again, even in a child's picture book version. When I read the full story some years later, I was retraumatized; some scenes are still in my head all this time later.
Oh gosh yes. I read a bunch of Stephen King as a child, but that stable fire in Black Beauty nearly broke me. That and The Little Match Girl (I had a large-format illustrated hardback).
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:46 PM   #34
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Thinking back, the first book that disturbed me was "Helter Skelter" which is about the Manson family trial, which I read when I was about 16. I think up until that time, I didn't realize just how terrible some people could be in real life. To put this into perspective, I was reading books like The Exorcist at that point and while scary, it was fiction.

I was forever clueless in grade school, junior high, and high school. During the Manson trials or leading up to them there was a girl in my history class and the teacher was always letting her skip classes and not do homework and he'd say vague things about the hard time she was going through. Turned out that she was Sharon Tate's younger sister. I still wonder if I was the only one who had no clue.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:36 AM   #35
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I was forever clueless in grade school, junior high, and high school. During the Manson trials or leading up to them there was a girl in my history class and the teacher was always letting her skip classes and not do homework and he'd say vague things about the hard time she was going through. Turned out that she was Sharon Tate's younger sister. I still wonder if I was the only one who had no clue.
I was living in California when the Manson Murders happened. I still remember hearing and seeing details and everyone I new followed the trial. I also remember how small he appeared to be, in photos and news reels, when compared to the people surrounding him.
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Old 02-24-2020, 11:15 AM   #36
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Kafka, Metamorphosis. I've read a lot of Kafka since then, and think he's a genuinely exceptional voice. But Metamorphosis! The idea of waking up and finding that you'd turned into a giant bug! Absolutely terrifying. I've never gone back to it.
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Old 02-24-2020, 11:38 AM   #37
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I have a feeling that I would probably give up reading if I had to completely read Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:34 PM   #38
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Uels' avatar (see post #29) would have scared me as a kid!
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:37 PM   #39
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Definitely Hans Christian Andersen when I was little. I was a teenager when The Exorcist came out, so stupidly tried to read it. A few scenes in, I was convinced that my dresser would start shaking every time I turned my light out. That was it for me - I’ve never picked up another horror book.

But I had free reign to read whatever was in the house as a child and read many adult books. I remember trying to puzzle out Of Human Bondage when I was nine or ten, and having to go to my mother with various questions about relationships. I’m grateful to them for that.

Last edited by Victoria; 02-25-2020 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:28 AM   #40
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Kafka, Metamorphosis.
Ah, that reminds me of another book from my early childhood. I didn't read it myself then but we had it read out loud in class by a school teacher (in math, actually). A Danish author, Villy Sørensen, who was heavily inspired by Franz Kafka. The story (Blot en drengestreg / Just mischief) is about two young boys who amputate the leg of a third, younger boy because he has bruised his shin. As one of the boys' uncle had died from blood poisoning allegedly caused by germs, they decide to save the poor kid and attempt to cut off his leg with a hobby saw. It is absolutely horrendously bloody and may appear to be a poor choice of reading for 9-10 year old school kids but Villy Sørensen and this anthology in particular, did become a mainstay in our bookshelves. I must admit, though, that it did paint some vivid pictures in my mind's eye at the time.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:06 AM   #41
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I read Edgar Hilsenrath "Nacht" ("Night") when I was 14. It's about a 15 year old boy (Hilsenrath's alter ego) living in a Rumanian ghetto. People did unspeakable things to survive and so does the boy.

I never forgot this book. When my literary group wanted to read it about a decade ago (I am 56 now, so I would have been in my mid-40s) I wasn't able to participate. The thought of re-living all the horrors was still anbearable. And I only read about it in a book...

Yet, Hilsenrath who had lived and endured all of it was said to be a shy, soft spoken, friendly man. I wonder how he did this.
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Old 03-03-2020, 05:17 PM   #42
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I read both It and Handmaid's Tale when I was around 12 but it was a book about a dollhouse I read several years earlier that tramuatized me. I think there were bad mice, if I recall. LOL. That disturbed me for some reason. I read the original Grimm's and the Greek Myths at a really young age without freaking out.
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Old 03-03-2020, 06:32 PM   #43
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I don't remember exactly how old I was, maybe 10 or 12, and I picked up a book of short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. "The Monkey's Paw" scared the bejeepers out of me and it was a long time before I made another wish

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Old 03-03-2020, 06:59 PM   #44
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I don't recall any books scaring me when I was young. I do remember being disturbed by The Pearl when I was 13 or so. Never really got over it...

I read Helter Skelter when I was 14 or so. It was certainly appalling, but I think at that age I was very removed from that kind of horror, and hadn't seen enough of the real world yet to really get it.

As an adult, it's much harder for me to read such things. I had to put For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet's Journey Through a Chinese Prison aside because it was so brutal.
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Old 03-04-2020, 02:26 PM   #45
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Oh my. Ghost stories of an Antiquary had me hiding under the bedclothes.

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