Overcoming a Book Phobia

March is reading month and I’m going to be issuing challenges. Wheee! Check out the last two: Read a Series and Read Something Different


When I was a kid there was one book that haunted me. The cover looked nothing short of sinister. A boy holding a lantern and an ax peers into the dark woods. Something bad was in those woods, I knew it. But that wasn’t why I was terrified to read the book. It was because of what was with the boy.


Dogs. Two of them.

All dog books end with the dog dying. All. Of. Them. Even at a young age I knew that.

So, yeah. No thank you.

I successfully made it to my 37th year without having read Where the Red Fern Grows. That’s right. I skipped on by it, figuring that I could live the rest of my life without it.

See, here’s the thing. I was an emotional child. I couldn’t make it through National Geographic nature movies without breathing into a paper sack because the mean old lion killed a gazelle or whatever.

That’s not to say I didn’t read emotionally charged books. I did. In fact, books in which the characters struggled were my favorites. They made me feel less alone. I have always liked a story with grit.

But not when the grit had anything to do with a dog suffering. That was just too much for me.

So, I didn’t read it. And I felt perfectly fine about that. Until a few weeks ago.

That’s when my husband discovered, with shock and disgust in his voice, that I’d never read it. It, apparently, is one of his favorite books. So, I gave myself a challenge. I read a book that scared me.

I have to say, the book was completely different from what I’d expected. I mean, some things I’d predicted did come to fruition. But it was a beautiful story. Truly. Loyalty, friendship, family, faith. A boy growing into manhood (even though he did cry a lot).

And, can we just take a moment to talk about Old Dan and Little Ann? Because, seriously, that was some good characterization. Also, if a dog shelter is trying to market dogs, they need to give out free copies of this book because I suddenly have a strong NEED for a dog or two.

There are other books that scare me. Not in the Stephen King kind of scaring (I don’t tend to shy away from his novels).I mean books that intimidate me. Books that were off limits to me when I was a kid because I was in the lowest reading level (I know…I know…it all started because I was being a picky reader and my teacher thought I struggled to read…). Books that I fear I’ll hate, even though everyone else loved them. Books I’m afraid to love because everyone else hated them. Books that might push me to the emotional limits.

Books that might just force me to change the way I view others in the world.

As I learned as I read Where the Red Fern Grows, the reading is worth the risk.

What will you read? What book scares you? Why? I’d love to hear from you!

6 Comments on “Overcoming a Book Phobia

  1. I didn’t read the Chronicles of Narnia until I was in college, not because they scared me, but because they were books that my older brother liked. I had one of those unwritten rules of siblinghood that said that if my brother liked it, I must not. I was glad that I grew out of that phase (mostly).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I understand the sibling thing. I, however, did everything my big sister told me to because I wanted her to think I was awesome.

      I’m glad you eventually gave Narnia a try. It would be sad to live life without a little Narnia.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have also never read Where the Red Fern Grows, not because I didn’t want to, but because I skipped eighth grade English (I also missed Johnny Tremain, Sounder, etc.). Someday, I do still plan to read it. I remember in elementary school reading A Dog Called Kitty and bawling my eyes out at the end (because, of course, the dog dies, right?). I was a big National Geographic watcher and was in the video club (I still have about fifty VHS tapes of NG specials) and those deaths never bothered me because I didn’t have a personal connection with the animals (they weren’t “characters” to me). One of my favorite books as a kid was Island of the Blue Dolphins. I started reading it to Zach (we used to read aloud to each other at night for quite some time) but he didn’t want to go on because her brother dies and it was too sad. I had never really thought of it as all that sad (callous much?). My main favorite as a kid was Watership Down, which is CHOCK FULL of death (of cute little rabbits, no less).

    I don’t think there are any books I’m afraid to read. HOWEVER, I do not like horror movies. They always make it into my dreams. When I Am Legend came out the previews made it look like an adventure movie, so I was very unpleasantly surprised when it became a horror movie. We were in the theater, so I didn’t leave, but those rage-virus-addled-hivey-zombie-people messed with my head for over a week. Also, I was pregnant at the time and I was worried (irrationally, I’m sure) that all the fear chemicals in my brain might affect the baby. I dunno… :/


    • I was assigned Watership Down in a contemporary lit class in college. My grandmothers had both died a few weeks before (yes, they died the same week…it was AWFUL). Anywho, I couldn’t make it through because the bunny deaths got to me too much. It’s one of those books on my “I’m scared, but I’ll have to read it anyway” books.

      Zombie movies seriously creep me out. They give me horrible dreams. I’m with you there.


  3. This post reminds me of Old Yeller. I just hated the movie – and i bet the book isn’t any different. (Gee, it still brings tears to my eyes.)


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