Top Ten Tuesday: Five Categories of Fear – Ten Books

Another week, another Top Ten Tuesday!  This is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish which challenges bloggers to create lists on the weekly topic. In anticipation of Halloween this week’s topic was: “Halloween related freebie: ten scary books, favorite horror novels, non-scary books to get you in the Halloween/fall mood, bookish halloween costumes, scariest covers), scary books on my TBR, etc.”

There is a lot of room for creativity within this one, too much almost. So, as I was brainstorming ideas I got to thinking about the basic kinds of fear. Which generally can be confined to five categories: extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation, ego-death. Pretty much any work of horror can be categorized within these genres.

So, I decided to narrow my choices to find two of my favorite scary books that fit into each of these categories. Some were more challenging than others (possibly because I don’t read much horror) but still it was fun to place different novels into their respective categories. Let me know what you think!

  1. Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist, the fear of death. The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans.
    1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (post-apocalyptic horror)
    2. Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe (American gothic)
  2. Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
    1. The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh (crime thriller)
    2. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (science fiction horror)
  3. Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it’s commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
    1. Vegetarian by Han Kang (realistic horror)
    2. Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (zombie horror)
  4. Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; ofbecoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The “silent treatment,” when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on its target.
    1. Dark Song by Gail Giles (young adult horror)
    2. The Displaced Person by Flannery O’Connor (southern gothic)
  5. Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
    1. Genesis by Bernard Beckett (dystopian horror)
    2. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (gothic)

P.S. I recognize not all of these are pure horror, but I wanted to have some variation of the types and ways books can be scary. So I’ve included genres with the titles 🙂





  1. Wow! I like how you organized the books based on the type of fears they are based on. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a list like this before. I’ll have to check out Dark Song some time 🙂


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