SPOILER ALERT: Somehow, By The End Of This Post, I Will Have Convinced Myself I Have Schizophrenia

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You see, I’ve been in a little bit of a situation lately when it comes to what I consider, “entertaining reading material.” As in, “entertaining reading material” apparently, to me, is “horrifically sad and disturbing reading material, which makes you rethink who you are as a person entirely.” You should know that this post will include some spoilers to books I’ve read, but you shouldn’t stop reading here, because what I’m trying to say is that you should not read any of the books I’ve subjected myself to. Essentially, you should thank me for spoiling these books so you are not tempted to do anything crazy like read them.

See, I’m what one might call a wimp. When The Sixth Sense was out in theaters, I made the crippling mistake of watching it and then could not sleep without a light on for at least six months. I don’t enjoy the occasional slasher film, nor do I understand any of the reasoning or excitement behind gory movies such as the Saw series. Netflix Instant keeps recommending I watch this movie called The Human Centipede, which includes this in its brief synopsis: “The plan includes removing their kneecaps so they must walk on all fours, then surgically connecting them to a Japanese man to create a bizarre human chain.” How do I politely say to Netflix, “NOT FUCKING INTERESTED EVER EVER EVER STOP IT”?

What I’m saying is that I don’t like things that aren’t pretty. I like my media like I like my men: hot and uplifting. And yet. These books I keep picking up? First it was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, which were so intense/horrifying/gripping that, by the time I was able to put them down, I couldn’t sleep for fear that anyone similar to the terrifying male characters that frequent the books might suddenly have some business to attend to in my apartment. Highly unlikely, but not improbable and now we’ve found the source of my fear. It’s like, I know it’s not likely to happen, but I can’t logically and, with certainty, ascertain that it won’t happen which, pardon my fucking French, leaves me kind of screwed.

So, after finally ridding the Stieg Larsson trilogy from my life, my friend Jenn insisted that I read The Hunger Games series, which she convinced me I would love. Tap tap, add to my Kindle. Halfway through the first book, I wondered if Jenn was trying to eliminate my ability to sleep all together or if she had the impression that I may be a disturbed person. This series is about how North America collapses, turns into twelve districts where everyone is starving and, once a year, each district has to choose two minors that will literally kill each other in order to win food and a semblance of wealth.


Needless to say: THESE BOOKS ARE HORRIFYING. Poignant and subtly making some pretty fantastic political points, but jesus, if it fell onto a spectrum where Disney was on the right and Saw was on the left, it would be a little too close to Saw. And now, it’s taking all my willpower not to read the third, and last, book because it’s like, I want to, but I’M ALL SET. I get way too into the books and I think, “What would I do if I had to kill people in order to survive? HOW TERRIBLE WOULD THAT BE?” And my mind is just too vivid because I start imagining it then reenacting it and it all just needs to stop because, no, I don’t want to ever have to be put into a position where I need to kill someone with a trident. That just doesn’t sound like a thing I’d like to do.

Am I serious with these books? Come on, Me. Do I subconsciously have a sick obsession with death? My reading choices would really point to the clear fact that I am, in fact, kind of a disturbed human being.

I also watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire movies, even though they were both in Swedish and I had to deal with subtitles and with seeing all the disturbing things I had just read about, because, oh, I’M A MASOCHIST and I’d very much enjoy being paranoid that everyone is a sadistic serial killer. Yeah, that’s hilarious. Also, fun.

And, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, I’m going to see The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest and if The Hunger Games were ever turned into a movie, I’d see those, too. Of course.

In related news, I think I have a serious problem.

Anyone have the number of a good shrink? Like, one who deals with people who are sabotaging their own ability to genuinely believe that other people are not trying to kill her or steal all her organs*?

Shit, did I just describe a textbook schizophrenic? Oh. No. Guys, this is bad. SEND HAPPY BOOKS. STAT. OR HAPPY PILLS. OR METH. EITHER ONE AT THIS POINT.

*Yes, in an attempt to find something happy, I mistakenly read a book about clones who are brought up to only be organ donors. Real positive and uplifting stuff there. Kill me.

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36 people added their two cents. Add yours.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 emmysuh November 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I do not understand why anyone would ever willingly watch a horror or slasher film. The idea of watching Saw or Hostel or anything like that is honestly last on my list of Things I Will Do Willingly and Without Being Blackmailed or Held Hostage, below attending a Miley Cyrus-Ke$ha Duet Concert.

You know what? No, they are not even on that list, I would hate to watch those movies.

Haven’t read either of those series — I prefer my books just to be terribly but realistically sad, where the characters realize everyone dies and life is sad and fleeting. HOORAY!


2 Jamie Varon November 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm

@emmysuh: I prefer my books just to be terribly but realistically sad, where the characters realize everyone dies and life is sad and fleeting.

That sounds quite emotionally healthy. Kudos! I mean, my favorite movie is Stepmom, so I guess I can’t talk.


3 Arina November 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Well, I don’t know, but for some reason in my education I’ve come across Stephen Kings’ “Why We Watch Horror Movies,” more than 4 time, and it’s a little article about keeping the creepies at bay in our heads by watching all this stuff, and not actually re-enacting it all because we don’t have an outlet for it.

I have to say, I kind of agree with him. I used to watch the SAW series in high school, but it started disturbing me more and more that people are actually dreaming this stuff up and putting it up for mass consumption. This is gore porn at its finest. But we all know it happens, we all know horrible, horrible things happen in other, different, far-away places in the world that are much worse (because they’re real) than any writer could write up.

So I don’t mind the gore, the violence, the creepy books and movies, because, (I reason), firstly: we all have those dark parts. Not just the funny parts, but the dark ones too, that linger in your head regardless of whether we’re generally a happy person or not. Secondly: I’d rather see those dark parts and understand and relate to them in a book than in real life. Our world is too perfect here to see the dark parts for real, so we replicate that part of our psyche in movies etc. (There’s other reasons for writing dark things, but I’m just saying).

I like the dark, the horror, the creepy things. But, really, I feel like at this point we’re all just a level of crazy away from each other, so what’s the difference?

Great post, though. I can’t wait to read those books you so lovingly “ruined” for me, hehe.


4 Jenn November 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I WARNED YOUUUU! haha I had the craziest nightmares while reading those hunger games books but I would fall asleep reading it and wake up to read it again. Craziness. And totally absurd. And like, who are these authors and what is wrong with THEM?!

But anyway, when you’re done with those and want something else bizarre, I found a series about life in 2315 or something where everyone gets plastic surgery at 16 to make them beautiful so everyone is even and the government controls life. It’s pretty awesome.

(Maybe pass me the number of that shrink you’re looking for?)


5 Clare November 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm

a) Love the re-design!
b) I detest scary movies / gore / zombies too.
c) I just read all 3 Stieg books as well AND the first Hunger Games book and couldn’t agree more. Sleep with one eye open.
d) Get thee to the closest Nicholas Sparks section of a bookstore, swiftly.


6 Jamie Varon November 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

@Arina: You make some really valid points, but I’m still going to stick to my uplifting shit. ;)

@Jenn: When I steal you from KYLECOOPER, we’ll read horrifying books and go to couple’s therapy together.

@Clare: Even Nicholas Sparks’ books are horrible, but in that, EVERYONE YOU LOVE DIES, way.


7 john November 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I have Hunger Games on my Christmas list and I pretty much only read zombie/post apocalyptic survival stories in my books or dystopian future scifi stuff. Not because I’m mentally unstable (wait would I even know if I wasn’t…?) but I think the character stories that come out of those situation are about how people react in the worst possible situations. It’s when a persons real characteristics come out. I could probably go on for hours about this stuff.


8 Marie November 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm

You are so funny. I love reading your blog.

I also hate horror movies. I don’t really like depressing books, either. I’d rather spend my time reading something uplifting. So…here are my suggestions:

*Three Cups of Tea – about a man who helps build schools in Afghanistan. It starts off slowly about his mountain climbing, but picks up after that.

*The Right Stuff – by Tom Wolfe. About the start of the U.S. space program. It’s not uplifting, per se, but neither is it a downer. It IS fascinating.

*Growing Up – by Russell Baker. About the writer’s life growing up in the Great Depression. I read it years ago and it has stuck with me.


9 Meg November 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

So, we apparently read THE EXACT SAME books. Only difference being that I loved them all. Even the clones. Depressing all around, for sure.

Here are some ideas for less soul-crushing reads: Water for Elephants, The Help, Olive Kitteridge, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, The Mercy of Thin Air

Ok. That’s a good selection. None of these made me want to cry myself to sleep or forced me to contemplate the lengths I’d willingly go to save my own life.


10 nicole antoinette November 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm

So, you’re saying I need to start replacing all of the books you buy with children’s books from now on? Got it.


11 Susan Pogorzelski November 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I read the Hunger Games series after a recommendation from a fellow blogger and couldn’t put them down. It was simultaneously horrifying and intriguing because it made you think: what if? And, truly, how much of a stretch could it be? Could we really be capable of such coldness, such horror? And it made you wonder what the future could possibly hold. That’s why I love dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction — makes you think that anything really is possible (I wrote more about this and what an impact it had on me recently on my blog — glad it had an impact on you, too…Maybe that’s to say that it can never actually come to pass).

Might I suggest some Jane Green books to cleanse your palette? =P

Jenn: Is that the Uglies trilogy? FANTASTIC.


12 Chase Night November 30, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I haven’t really been ok since I read “Let the Right One in” last week. But I still added it to my Netflix Queue because I too am a glutton for punishment.

“Never Let Me Go” made me die a little inside.


13 Ben November 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Dude – I needed DAYS to recover from the movie Never Let Me Go. DAYS.


14 Cassandra November 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Can I recommend my favourite book? (Yes I know I put a “u” in there, but I live in Canada and random u’s is just how we roll.) Anyhow the book…

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, it’s written as a children’s story and the language is beautiful and poetic. It’s out of print now, but you can find it in used book stores, not sure if you’ll be able to download it on your fancy-shmansy Kindle though.

As a writer you’ll enjoy it because it is about words and stories and where they come from. It is a tale of Good vs. Evil and without giving too much away, it sounds like you’ll be happy with the ending.

I have to read it after every depressing book, and twice after I finished The Road.

Note: do not read The Road, I really wanted to just end it all when I finished.


15 Vanessa November 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm

hahaha loved this post. I have a weird morbid fascination with scary things like haunted houses. But ‘SAW’ imo = stupid. I do enjoy well made zombies films, though. Yet, like you, they totally freak me out and then I can’t be outside at night because I think a zombie is going to come from nowhere and try and eat me. And most of the synopsis of the film freak me out about the end of the world being caused by a zombie outbreak. DON’T WATCH ‘THE CRAZIES.’

Thanks for the laugh. I was thoroughly entertained :P


16 Suburban Sweetheart November 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I’m obsessed with The Hunger Games series. OBSESSED. I read them all in the month of November. ALL. Obsessively. And LOVED them. So if you’re schizo, am I a sociopath…?!


17 Adam November 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

See slasher films can’t do anything new. If you’ve seen one you’ve practically seen them all. Similarly with torture-porn films (e.g. Saw, Hostel, etc) are nothing particularly interesting for the same reason (although I feel Hostel did it best). Horror movies as a whole are on a downward slide for the simple fact that (almost) no one can think of anything new.

In terms of books that wont leave you questioning your sanity:

If you haven’t yet, read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Then you can always read Anansi Boys but American Gods should be read first (both by Neil Gaiman), however, American Gods tends to be more on the serious side than Anansi Boys.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is also a good read and is in many ways similar to but also very different from Castaway (the Tom Hanks film).

As well there is the obvious, Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglar Adams.


18 Katie November 30, 2010 at 9:17 pm

But Nicole, The Hunger Games IS a children’s book!

Well, young adult, but still.

Also, I recommend anything by John Green or Maureen Johnson. They may not all be happy books, but at least none of them are particularly terrifying.


19 Rahul November 30, 2010 at 11:29 pm

I like my beer like I like my women.


Wait, I think I did that wrong. Anyway, I saw The Exorcist remake in the theater. I still have not slept.


20 Taylor December 1, 2010 at 2:21 am

Saw = NO. The human centipede = FUCK NO. Seriously, have you seen that trailer? Most disgusting movie idea ever.

But girl with the dragon tattoo was badass and I loved the hunger games too! :D


21 Callie Michelle December 1, 2010 at 4:58 am

Pssst. They’re making a Hunger Games movie. ;)

I don’t exactly know how they’re going to do that… I mean, you buy the books from the Young Adults section of the bookstore.


22 Gregory December 1, 2010 at 7:01 am

The Human Centipede is garbage. It scares me that A.) Someone Actually thought up this idea B.) Someone said let’s make a movie out of it C.) Someone bankrolled it (ie: they thought people would go see it and it would make money) D.) People DID go to see it AND it DID make money.

It really is a disturbing look at the human condition. Don’t we have enough atrocities going on in the world, and THIS is entertainment? So wanted to recommend a good book, not uplifting in a my-little-pony-sunshine-and-rainbows sort of way but good. My favorite book of all time is “Welcome to the Monkey House” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Twenty-five short stories that resonate. Have fun.


23 Wangari M December 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

I loved the hunger games, just finished the last book. And although it may be a big mistake you have to read it. How can you not know how it ends? Also they are making the hunger games into a film…


24 Monica O'Brien December 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

Two things: #1 – The Hunger Games movie is in production. They are casting right now, so get excited :) #2 – The first two books in THG are like playing with fluffy, doe-eyed kittens compared to the third one. I read Mockingjay the first day it came out and it literally sucked the life out of me. I felt empty, hollow, and depressed for a good day or two after reading it. But I’m so glad I finished the series.


25 Ivy December 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Instant remedy – watch Odette Toulemonde. And Happy Go Lucky. And Amelie, if you haven’t seen it yet. Read Forrest Gump but read it rather than watch it. Also, burn all those evil books. Maybe take pictures and post them on your blog, because that will totally convince us of your sanity again.


26 Jhay December 1, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Now I’m really curious to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, not that I’m a masochist or anything but just to satisfy my curiosity. Besides, I’ve had enough mushy love books for now.


27 KT December 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm

So I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to watch The Human Centipede based on this review:


The Millenium trilogy was awesome. I couldn’t stop reading them….but didn’t have nightmares about the books like you.

They are casting for The Hunger Games movies right now. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gossip/2010/10/the-hunger-games-casting.html


28 katelin December 2, 2010 at 6:55 pm

it’s ridiculous, i do that to myself to but more with TV shows. i mean i can’t stop watching Criminal Minds or SVU and yet most episodes make me double check the locks and flinch at the slightest sounds, it’s a horrible cycle i tell you. and Hunger Games is totally on my to-read list, but who knows if i can make it through now, haha.


29 Ask Alice December 3, 2010 at 8:17 am

I don’t watch scary movies because then I can’t sleep, like, at all. Ever. So I imagine reading these Hunger Games books would make me curl into the fetal position and never face the outside world again. Now that I’ve heard of them though, I’ll have to read them. Maybe we are all a little sick inside…?


30 Toe December 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I figured the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was based in Sweden so that was too far away to actually happen in the grand ol’ US of A. It’s a distancing technique to deal with the scaries.

Book suggestion Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – totally awesome kinda scary but good ending book.


31 Sally December 4, 2010 at 4:12 am

When I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I was living on a rice farm in Malaysia. I, too, became convinced that serial killers were after me. This theory is pretty unlikely in my regular life (seeing as I abide by a strict policy of not hanging out with creepy people who own basements), but this was even more unlikely given the fact that I was surrounded by 10 acres of rice and a group of relatively benign rice farmers. (Although, you never can tell about those farmer types… besides, I always figured a rice paddy would be a great place to hide a body.)


32 Katie December 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I accidentally read the organ donor clone book too! I was in Greece and picked it up in a book shop – looks like an adorable book about British school children right? Oh, how wrong I was…also, I think this is a movie too and I want to see it even if it will be torture.


33 Kerri December 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

OK, ironically, while I was going to the bathroom this morning, what looked like a freaking HUMAN sized centipede ran practically across my feet, and I froze. Completely froze. It scuttled (is that even a word?!) under the door and straight into my dining room. I looked for it (after I put my underwear back on, of course) but no cigar…my stupid carpet is the same color as a centipede (I have taste, I swear) so go figure…it’s out there on the loose, building a little cozy home in the fibers of my bland berber carpet. Anyways, I digress, it’s just that your post totally reminded me of my own horrific, real-life centipede experience. I do have a point – rather, a great book recommedation!

Highly recommend Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. It’s about relocating “back home” after a long, long while and a series of unfortunate but hysterically conveyed events in a woman’s life, and her own path to “re”-self-discovery (if that’s even a term…if not, I lay claim to coining it!).



34 Kocinera December 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Okay, I seriously have to thank you for warning me about the whole “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series. I had heard that it’s great and was thisclose to reading it. However, I, like you, cannot handle all this book violence. I was scarred enough in high school from having to read Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” If you’re not familiar with the book, it chronicles the murders of an entire family, in beautifully (read: Makes-you-sleep-with-your-tv-on-the-home-shopping-channel-for-six-months) descriptive detail.

The Kite Runner totally freaked me out, too. Don’t read it. Spark Note it if you must, but don’t read it.


35 Cynthia LaLuna December 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

If you love historical fiction and romance (real, “I don’t mind when she farts” romance, not Fabio on the cover romance) – go with Diana Gabaldon. Start with Outlander, the first book in the series. FREE on Kindle, because they know you’ll be unable to stop reading the rest of them.

I did love the Stieg Larsson books, but some of the sexual violence in particular made me cringe. It’s my understanding that he was a feminist, however, and trying to make a point.

I like Die Hard-type movies, Lord of the Rings fantasy movies, and other things that are on the “lighter” side of violence. Horror films about the true evil that lives in the heart of man – no – y’all can keep that to yourself.

Wimps and positive-thinkers of the world unite!


36 Kathryn January 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is scary? It’s next on my list!


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