I’ve read that horror appeals to those who fear dying, and at some point around 6 I had the realization that some time (and I hoped far in the future) there would be nothing and I would be dead. Adrift with no knowledge in the void. It terrified me, and that was when I started watching and reading whatever horror I could get my hands on.
While my parents didn’t let me watch horror movies on TV (although I saw a good many that I wasn’t supposed to), they were very permissive with books, and I was allowed to read anything I wanted to. And I dove into horror. An older woman that I had dance class with leant me a book of short stories by H. P Lovecraft that same year, and I was hooked, even though I did have to use a dictionary for some of the stories. I escaped with Randolph Carter to Kadath, ran from Cthulhu, marveled at Herbert West, and longed to know more of Miskatonic, Arkham, the Necronomicon, and the madness that dwelled within.
What scared me the most about Lovecraft was his ability to tap into my imagination. He’s one of the few authors I’ve ever read who, with the way he described what something was not and hinted at the horrors that drove men insane, managed to conjure unimaginable horrors in my mind. And what I could imagine was far, far worse than any author could describe or any movie could show.
After Lovecraft came Stephen King. While I do love to read his books, only the Shining really scared me, with its what if? moments and creeping horror that film was unable to catch. Reading about the fire hose when I was 10, in a dark room lit only by a table lamp, made me afraid to turn out the light and go upstairs to bed.
I’ve never stopped reading horror, and Clive Barker, Dan Simmons, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and Koji Suzuki are among my favorites.
It isn’t only horror that I read – in fact, I’ll read almost anything except straight-up romance (Harlequin left a bad taste in my mouth) and westerns. I love science fiction (Frank Herbert’s Dune was a book I read early read often), mystery (Rex Stout and Erle Stanley Gardner are my favorite), espionage (Robert Ludlum tops my list here), thrillers (Jeffrey Deaver and Thomas Harris), comedy (Elmore Leonard has made me laugh out loud), and erotica, as well as some non-fiction that catches my eye.
I prefer to read actual books, although the Kindle has its uses. There’s just something about actually turning the page that appeals to me.
Is reading important? I think it’s crucial. Reading a book can transport you to new worlds, broaden your horizons, and teach you about things you never even dreamed about. Without reading, life would be dull.