How to Take Charge of Your Reading Fears


As an avid horror reader in my teenaged years, my mother would often caution me about how much of “that trash” I read, to be careful I didn’t fill my head with horrors so terrible that it tainted my soul. My mother is quite religious and thus the “taint your soul” aspect of her cautions were almost inevitable. Her argument was that we become what we fill our hearts and minds with. Thus if I read too much horror stories, I would become horrible myself.

I guess there might be a certain amount of logic in that. Lately, I have been devouring a large portion of vampire literature and thus my imagination produces all sorts of blood-drinking horror scenarios to entertain me in those empty moments. (Tangential observation: I cannot ever claim to be bored because when the hands and eyes no longer have stimuli, my imagination begins to run wild.)

Still, I have been reading Stephen King-esque stories since I was 16 years old and I don’t believe that there is anything horrible about me. I am probably the most mild-mannered, easy-going soul you ever met. And while I recognize that my story and my experience is anecdotal at best, I have to say that a conviction that you become what you read has to imply a lack of awareness and self-control on the part of the reader.

You are in the ultimate control seat for yourself and your mind and what you think about. So instead of being fearful of taking on a particular genre, or author, or anything else for that matter – give it a try at least once. And with an open mind.

Always been skeptical about romances? Give it a try – you might find that instead of being a mushy mess, it can actually be entertaining. Scared of that horror author everyone is talking about? Borrow a copy from a library and give the first chapter or two a whirl. If it gets overwhelming, close it and take it back. Religious novels give you a feeling of horror, think they are all about being preachy and not about telling a story? Try one – you just might like it.

The only thing I would insist you do before you give any of these a try is to make sure you have a favorite author or genre by your side so that if you absolutely hate it, you can switch to your beloved volume for a quick read-to-purge after you decide.

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  • Hostmaa

    Very good advice…

  • mimi

    This sooo amazing I’m reading your story and it’s like i reading about my self. right down to the religious mom who actually banned my reading Stephen king until I went away to high school (this is late 1960) I have read his book by moon light, under a sheet,all night in the bathroom …16 hours straight (Under the Dome) and now every time I hear his name or one of his books called I feel the need to read his books, and I’m so blessed I have all of them in hard copy and now digital as well. Nice to know we are all kindred spirits all over the world. T
    Thanks for sharing your/my story and yes!! step out read something different. it must just surprise you.

  • James

    As a voracious teenage reader, I quickly became a Stephen King junkie. There were many times while I was reading in bed at night, that I just had to take a break before I became so scared, that ‘wetting’ the bed was a real possibility. I must admit though, my favorite Stephen King novel is not very big on horror. That novel would be, “The Stand”, King’s post-apocalyptic drama/adventure novel that is instead big on the human condition.This is not to say that his horror stories have not had an effect on me, though. As a child I was never really comfortable with clowns. However, thanks to the character ‘Pennywise’ from his novel “It”, I now fear clowns much more than I ever did as a child. I see real pet cemeteries and not only do I wonder why it isn’t spelled
    semetary, but I also wonder why someone would dare bury their pets there
    and the take the chance on what might come back. I cannot see a restored Plymouth Fury without thinking, “Christine”, and I look for a ‘High toned Son of a Bitch’ bumper sticker on every black Oldsmobile Toronado I see. Obviously, I risked ‘tainting my soul’ on numerous occasions. Yet, I feel only gratitude to Mr. King and the other authors of my youth for their consistent entertainment and the constant expansion of my literary world. It is these authors and the availability of their work that I credit for my love of reading, and my constant quest for knowledge.

    • tim elliott

      “The Stand”…best King Ever! Tho’ 11/22/63 a close second.

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