How to Take Charge of Your Reading Fears


As an avid horror reader in my teenaged years, my mother would often caution me about how much of “that trash” I read, to be careful I didn’t fill my head with horrors so terrible that it tainted my soul. My mother is quite religious and thus the “taint your soul” aspect of her cautions were almost inevitable. Her argument was that we become what we fill our hearts and minds with. Thus if I read too much horror stories, I would become horrible myself.

I guess there might be a certain amount of logic in that. Lately, I have been devouring a large portion of vampire literature and thus my imagination produces all sorts of blood-drinking horror scenarios to entertain me in those empty moments. (Tangential observation: I cannot ever claim to be bored because when the hands and eyes no longer have stimuli, my imagination begins to run wild.)

Still, I have been reading Stephen King-esque stories since I was 16 years old and I don’t believe that there is anything horrible about me. I am probably the most mild-mannered, easy-going soul you ever met. And while I recognize that my story and my experience is anecdotal at best, I have to say that a conviction that you become what you read has to imply a lack of awareness and self-control on the part of the reader.

You are in the ultimate control seat for yourself and your mind and what you think about. So instead of being fearful of taking on a particular genre, or author, or anything else for that matter – give it a try at least once. And with an open mind.

Always been skeptical about romances? Give it a try – you might find that instead of being a mushy mess, it can actually be entertaining. Scared of that horror author everyone is talking about? Borrow a copy from a library and give the first chapter or two a whirl. If it gets overwhelming, close it and take it back. Religious novels give you a feeling of horror, think they are all about being preachy and not about telling a story? Try one – you just might like it.

The only thing I would insist you do before you give any of these a try is to make sure you have a favorite author or genre by your side so that if you absolutely hate it, you can switch to your beloved volume for a quick read-to-purge after you decide.

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