7 Books Guaranteed to Make You Feel Uncomfortable ...

Ellie

Novels are there, essentially, to make you feel something. They'll make you fall in love, break your heart, make you laugh and much more. But then there are the novels you almost have to look away from, like you would a gory scene in a film. Of course, that doesn't help because the words are already wriggling in your head. I really admire authors who write like this - I think it's an extraordinary skill to make a reader feel like that just through words alone. So, if you're looking for an uncomfortable but powerful read, try one of these.

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1

Eat My Heart out by Zoe Pilger

Eat My Heart out by Zoe Pilger This is actually very tame compared to the other books on this list. Set in present-day London, it's a frank, very honest look at the life of a young woman unsure what she wants and who she is. The majority of the book is fine but there are a few scenes - horribly inappropriate one-night stands and animal murders - that left me feeling like I needed to close the book and walk away for a while.

***

Eat My Heart Out represents a raw, unsparing exploration of contemporary femininity through the eyes of its protagonist. Despite the humorous moments, Zoe Pilger doesn't shy away from exposing the darker, twisted side of her character's journey. Boldly confronting themes of sexuality, identity, and the pressure to conform, this narrative forces readers into an uncomfortable introspection about the complexities of modern relationships and the often-grim realities behind them. It's uneasy reading, challenging societal expectations and personal delusions with a narrative that oscillates between the disturbing and the all-too-real.

2

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Tampa by Alissa Nutting You've probably seen the cover of this one - google it if not; graphic, but an example of just how powerful a good jacket design can be! It tells the story of a female teacher with a penchant for pre-pubescent boys and her affair with a student at her school. It doesn't spare any detail, but the most off-putting thing is the protagonist's total inability to see that she's doing anything wrong - and the way we, as a society, treat an attractive, young woman who is also a paedophile.

3

The End of Alice by a M Homes

The End of Alice by a M Homes I found this when I was much younger (too young) in the classics section of a Waterstones in an airport and happily took it with me as a beach read. It is truly horrendous - easily the most disturbing book I have ever read. The protagonist is in prison and the story of why he's there unfurls gradually - A M Homes reveals his monstrous nature so slowly that the ending, when we find out what exactly it is that he did, is even more shocking. It's a testament to her great writing that the reader feels sorry for him, and then is left feeling horribly guilty for that by the end.

***

I stumbled upon this dark treasure far earlier in life than I should've. Nestled among the supposedly tame titles typical of airport bookstores, I could never have guessed the content would haunt me for years to come. A.M. Homes crafts a narrative that tears at the edges of comfort, leading us through a psychological labyrinth with enough twists to make your stomach churn. The slow reveal of the protagonist's heinous acts is both masterful and manipulative, ensnaring us in a sickening sympathy before snatching it away. It's a book that blurs the lines between disgust and curiosity, making it an unexpectedly potent read.

4

Guts by Chuck Palahnuik

Guts by Chuck Palahnuik A friend told me to read this and to be prepared to feel a little ill. Palahnuik isn't exactly known for mincing his words and this short story, part of a larger collection called Haunted, is tough-going. It'll only take you a minute to read, but don't do it over lunch. Apparently, people actually had to leave during a reading of this because it was too much for them. Don't say I didn't warn you.

***

Guts by Chuck Palahnuik is a short story that is part of a larger collection called Haunted. This story is not for the faint of heart. Palahnuik is known for his frank and honest writing style, and this story is no exception. It's not for the faint of heart, and it's definitely not for reading over lunch. In fact, when Palahnuik read it at a book reading, some people had to leave because it was too much for them.

The story is about a young boy who is dared by his friends to put his hand in a carnival game. He does it, and the consequences are dire. He ends up in the hospital and has to have his hand amputated. The story is a powerful exploration of the consequences of taking risks and the power of peer pressure. It also speaks to our culture's obsession with taking risks, no matter how dangerous they may be.

5

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks There are so many things wrong with the protagonist of this book that I'm not sure where to start. It follows the story of Frank, a teenager living on an isolated island with his father. As we read, we learn that he's probably murdered two people before reaching the age of ten, and makes a habit of torturing animals. He also has a brother who's escaped from a psychiatric hospital. And wait 'til you find out what the wasp factory is.

***

Iain Banks' "The Wasp Factory" is a grim tale that forces us to peer into the mind of a character whose morality is as stark and desolate as the Scottish island he inhabits. This novel, suffused with dark humor and chilling moments, exposes us to a warped family legacy and bizarre coming-of-age rituals. Frank's unsettling inner world, replete with symbolic violence, is constructed with a strange logic that turns the stomach while piquing morbid curiosity. Few stories disturb on such a visceral level, ensuring that the impression it leaves is as indelible as it is distressing.

6

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle If you read any book on this list, make it this. I don't think this has ever received the acclaim it deserves, and it remains one of the best books I have ever read. It tells the story of Constance and her sister, Merricat, following the deaths of their entire family by arsenic poison. It's a murder case that was never solved, and now the sisters live alone in the isolated house, hated by the townspeople. It's Merricat that's the truly unsettling thing about this book, though - you'll get the sense straight away that's there's something a little...off.

***

Shirley Jackson's uncanny ability to weave psychological unease into narrative is on full display here. As you delve deeper into the Blackwood sisters' bizarre routines and rites, the atmosphere of the novel thickens with a palpable sense of dread. The story masterfully unfolds, revealing the layers of trauma and secrecy that bind and isolate them. We Have Always Lived in the Castle blurs the lines between victim and perpetrator, leaving you questioning the nature of innocence and guilt throughout. Jackson's nuanced storytelling will leave you with a lingering discomfort long after the final page.

7

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

Perfume by Patrick Suskind The beautiful, lyrical quality of Suskind's writing makes a very dark story easy to read in Perfume. It's about a man born with no smell of his own, but a heightened ability to smell others. So, he sets out to create the perfect scent by murdering young, female virgins.

So, I'm not suggesting you take any of those on your summer holidays this year. But whether you enjoy them or not - and I'm not sure 'enjoy' is the right word - you'll certainly remember them. What books have you read that have disturbed you?

Feedback Junction

Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

Possible trigger warming, but does anyone else think 50 shades of grey or Lolita should also be on here? I mean...rape and sexually abusive relationships not to mention the mental and physical manipulation...Talk about uncomfortable. I almost threw up

I have read perfum ar school... Everybody was.

Definitely going to read all of these !!!

Life isn't all Disney and fairy tales. There's nothing wrong with exploring other realms. Its a book, it's not your life. Some people need to get a grip.

And why exactly should we put outselves in the situation of reading them? Just to explore how far & beyond the human mind can go? No thanks, I prefer Disney. World has enough of cruelty, despair, sickness & sadness. Surround myself with positivity & harmony is my only interest.

Sound weirdly interesting.

@Anna I agree I love Disney and positivity bc of the world we live in today. To have some of these authors push their imagination beyond just the fairy tale ending is insanely hard to do it takes a vast imagination to come up with something like these stories. It's not only the awesomely great writing ability that these authors have but their imagination that we celebrate! Just like Disney was odd and different in his age so are these authors. I am not asking you to read them just rethink the talent and credit this author for giving ppl options of storytelling. Keeping ppl in one frame of mind and not allowing them to explore their imaginations will only liken back to dictatorship. It's great that free speech is here and we can use this but please when posting think of the author who wrote the article for they are brave for placing their loved books and their feelings out there for many to see. Please continue to express yourself just remember to be kind. Sry for the soap box.

Ugggggg who would read these books it's disgusting

Not my cup of tea. I don't enjoy the unsettled feelings that I'm sure these books produce and I definitely don't want to read about murder or evil.

American psycho..... It was grotesque yet super powerful!!

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