Disturbing books - find your limit

Reading allows us to take risks and enter spaces and lives which can be frightening and threatening. Reading disturbing books gives us both permission and opportunity to walk in the shoes of both the sinister perpetrator and the distressed victim. This is a great opportunity as it’s ultimately completely safe, you are in your bedroom or on your sofa  when you finish up with your heart still beating fast.  Readers often get a real buzz from the disconcerting in fiction – especially if our real lives are sedate and relatively trouble-free. We relish the sense of foreboding and the tingle of fear of impeding doom. If things get too real – too explicit or distressing – we have a get out clause, a safe word which allows up to close the book and move away from this dark and unsettling experience until we feel ready to return, or not. You must be the judge of your own limits – explore the covers, absorb the comments and sample the extracts before you make your choice from this selection.

Search for books by Mood & Emotion

Skylark Farm

Antonia Arslan

Blue Ticket

Sophie Mackintosh

The White King

Gyorgy Drogoman


Amanda Berriman

The Right Madness

James Crumley

Tram 83

Fiston Mwanza Mujila

The Blind Rider

Juan Goytisolo

The Year of the Flood

Margaret Atwood

The Secrets of the Lazarus Club

Tony Pollard

All Our Names

Dinaw Mengestu


Heather Lewis

What I Did

Christopher Wakling

True Murder

Yaba Badoe

An Untouched House

Willem Frederik Hermans

The Stalin Epigram

Robert Littell

The Distance

Helen Giltrow

Fifty Shades of Grey

E L James


Henry Flesh

The Devil All the Time

Donald Ray Pollock

Monkey's Birthday

Simon Crump

The Countenance Divine

Michael Hughes

The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

Then She Was Born

Cristiano Gentili

The Skin Palace

Jack O'Connell

Miles From Nowhere

Nami Mun

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Karen Joy Fowler

After Such Kindness

Gaynor Arnold

The City Always Wins

Omar Robert Hamilton

The Vagrants

Yiyun Li

The Girl with all the Gifts

M R Carey

The Dew Breaker

Edwidge Danticat

The Fountain at the Centre of the World

Robert Newman

Pig Iron

Ben Myers

Whatever You Love

Louise Doughty

A Thread of Grace

Mary Doria Russell

The Blue Edge of Midnight

Jonathon King


Iain Banks

All Woman and Springtime

B W Jones

Repeat it Today With Tears

Anne Peile

In This Way I Was Saved

Brian DeLeeuw

Sealed in Stone

Toni Maraini

A History of Forgetting

Caroline Adderson

The Ministry of Pain

Dubravka Ugresic

Kelly and Victor

Niall Griffiths


Jaspreet Singh

White Chrysanthemum

Mary Lynn Bracht

The Guilty One

Lisa Ballantyne

Jimmy Corrigan - The Smartest Kid on Earth

Chris Ware


Leϊla Slimani


Anouar Benmalek