Which books terrify you?

I battle with books that involve torture, cruelty and suffering. This presents a few problems; while it is easy enough to avoid the obvious whodunit type of thrillers, I can’t possibly stay away from my love of African history, and that means coping with a LOT of suffering.

Think Rwanda, Idi Amin, and worst of all, King Leopold of Belgium.

Books like We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, and King Leopold’s Ghost should be compulsory reading for anyone living in Africa.

Any books with a theme of child abuse, child rape or child molestation.  I get this churning feeling in my stomach because I picture these things happening to my own children and how it would kill me if it did.

I just can’t do it.

I know that these things happen in real life and is very much a part of the world but I just can’t get past it, it rips me to think of an innocent child living through such hell, it makes me sick to my stomach and I am left with a sense of great fear for my own children and a hatred towards the people who do things like that in real life.

All in all, it leaves me pained for weeks after reading it and stays with me forever.

Ever since my son was born in 2010, I can't read anything that has to do with child abuse or neglect, especially of little boys.  I recently started reading some old books I discovered; The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb.

Somewhere in the beginning of book one, the story is told of one of the minor characters, she was on a slave ship with her little boy who got very sick, but no amount of begging got anyone to help her help him and he died and was thrown overboard.  I know this is a completely fictional story but still I can't get myself to continue reading it.

I actually read my "no-go" book - Dis ek, Anna.  And every time I see it on book shelves the bile still rises in my throat. That is why I will never read the sequel "die staat vs Anna Bruwer". Maybe the 2nd book is not that bad but I'm just too afraid.

The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams and Shardik by Richard Adams. I read both these books as a teenager and forced myself to read them right to the very end. Both contain disturbing accounts of animal cruelty. I cannot read anything that contains cruelty to animals in any form.

Nowadays when I see a copy of one of these books on a bookshelf I feel physically nauseated. I can tolerate murder, crime, any kind of people abuse but animal abuse is my one big no-no.

The books I don't shy away from are centred on abuse i.e. A child called It and It's me Anna and on the not so stable individuals in our society - Micki Pistorius' Catch Me a Killer is a case in point.

I too want to understand the psychology behind why people do what they do and how the "victims" find a way to move past what has happened to them. (I place victims in inverted commas because I think they should be renamed heroes or heroines!!)

On the other hand, the books I do shy away from not for fear of the effect the content will have on me but simply because I just don't "get" them, are the self-help books.

I know that these types of books definitely have a place (on store shelves:-) ) but I can't connect with them.

If I do want something along those lines I opt for Jonathan Livingstone Seagull or The Alchemist or The Prophet. But the How to be an Effective Leader in 5 easy steps! / Start a Successful Business in 7 Days! / Lose 30cm in 60 Minutes! ...blegh! Simply can't do them.

And you? What books do you consider no-go areas? And what books, in spite of their content, did you end up reading anyway?

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