Apparently lots of stress is kind of bad and can kill you, which is why we love stressful books.
It honestly makes sense why most people in history are DEAD right now and also why dragons are much less likely to be spotted burning the southern isles and stealing sheep, fair children, and that super epic box of glitter you’ve been keeping for a special occasion because stress is wiping them out. Obviously there’s such a thing as “good stress” because if you were too chill all the time you’d fall asleep and never wake up. This is what happened to Sleeping Beauty. Then she got kissed — BOOM, STRESSFUL LIFE IS BACK.
But with all the stresses of everyday life * does it make sense why we bookworms do so love a good super-anxious-inducing-stressful book???? No, sir, no it does not make sense.
And don’t come @ me with “oh it’s CONTROLLED stress, Cait!” because heck no it’s not controlled by us in books. Just go park yourself in Game of Thrones or pick up an Adam Silvera book or take a stroll through VE Schwab’s novels — THERE’S NOTHING CONTROLLED ABOUT IT. THEY’RE HERE TO MAKE YOU SUFFER.
But here’s the thing:
GOOD BOOKS = UNKIND ON OUR NERVES.
It’s the rules. And we love it. I love it! You love it! I can see it in your dead eyes!
Today I want to write a list of 10 books I’ve found monstrously stressful and how great that is — but before we get there…here is a concise but knowledgeable list on WHY we love books that will end with us having nervous breakdowns:
* Examples include: dealing with humans, managing money, trying to exist when the earth is slowly dying, surveying American politics, trying to figure out how many cupcakes you can eat in a day before you die, and trying not to fall in the void while you scream into it.
- Because being too stressed can kill you, and LET’S LIVE ON THE DANGEROUS SIDE WOOOO.
- It’s also exciting, a kind of adrenaline boost.
- Even though a good book will seem super real, you know that if it gets TOO stressful you can always beat it with a small teaspoon and send it to time out and therefore regain your chill and control of the situation.
- We like stressful books because we’re stupid.
- We’re REALLY STUPID.
- Why be in pain once because your toast is burnt? Read The Book Thief too.
- Books that stress you out ALSO equal books that have given you feelings and emotions. Good or bad, that’s still really cool to know a dead tree covered in
kraken bloodink has moved you.
- Things are boring when they’re too easy.
- Plus real life is stressful and while we look to books for an escape, most of us don’t want unrealistic fluff. (Thought that’s totally okay to read too.)
- We are also stupid.
Now ONWARDS to 10 examples of books I’ve found super stressful.
Some for have reasonable explanations. Some are because I’m a fragile pineapple frond and honestly need to be protected. And also I totally recommend finding a nice book to shoot through your nerves, turn your hair grey prematurely, and drive you to eating more chocolate to recover.
As they say in Harry Potter: IF YOU’VE GONE THROUGH A TRAUMA, HAVE SOME CHOCOLATE.
1. THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END BY ADAM SILVERA
Now this is technically EVIL to be posting about since it doesn’t come out till September. But (1) you need to add it to your TBR, wishlist, grocery list, and also in that letter to your true love you’re currently writing, and (2) HEY IT STRESSED ME OUT AND I NEED TO ADD IT HERE.
No spoilers! Don’t worry! I may be evil, but I’m the kind of evil that will steal your chocolate, not spoil your book.
Basically the entire PREMISE of the book is two boys, Rufus and Mateo, are destined to die today. Everyone gets a phone call on the day they’ll die (which is enough freaking reason to die already ughhhhhh I hate phones) and so dear Rufus and Mateo get to go through the whole. horrible. day wondering when/if it’s going to happen.
I was stressed okay? I was so so so stressed.
2. A CONJURING OF LIGHT (#3) BY VE SCHWAB
I mean, of COURSE it was stressful. Epic series finales should be stressful. But it was made 10000 x worse by the fact I hadn’t read a Schwab finale before and I cared WAY TOO FREAKING MUCH for the cinnamon brothers that are Kell and Rhy.
Me, sitting there, clutching my hardcover long into the night on the very day it arrived in the mail: PLEASE DON’T HURT THE MAGICAL CINNAMON SONS HELP HELP HELP HELP HELP.
After finishing this tome, I found my first grey hair and realise I’d taken 17 years off my life.
3. LADY MIDNIGHT & LORD OF SHADOWS BY CASSANDRA CLARE
Introducing Julian Blackthorne, who will do LITERALLY ANYTHING to protect / save / keep his little siblings together. Holy yes and no, Julian, YOU ARE LITERALLY KILLING ME ONE PAGE AT A TIME with your wily decisions that are going to catch up and destroy everything I love. Someone please protect my Mark. I adore Mark. MARRRRRK.
The stakes are just SO HIGH in this series the entire time that you feel your heart slowly leave your chest. But that’s ok. We didn’t need heartbeats anyway.
I swear, I am way too invested in this series.
Sometimes I think about actually getting a life and then??? Eh, no. Let me just reread these painful books.
4. ALLEGEDLY BY TIFFANY D. JACKSON
This book is actually ridiculously underrated and I wish to PROTEST LOUDLY. Maybe even protest loudly twice. Because it’s so good. So so so so good. It’s actually quite slow paced but it’s about this girl who, when she was 9, allegedly murdered a baby. She’s now 16 and out of jail and living in this mOST HORRIBLE HORRIBLE group home where everyone is cruel to her. And then she gets pregnant. And just there’s this agony on every single page over whether someone is going to (a) try to kill her and her baby, (b) take her baby away because she’s an “alleged” murder, and (c) wonder if she will get EXONERATED.
People just try to destroy her life at every turn and I cannnnnn’t even.
Every time a character breathed, I needed to lie down.
5. THE PROVIDENCE OF FIRE (#2) BY BRIAN STAVELEY
Okay so I am a YA blog and I’ve already cheated twice on this list with adult books but they have young protagonists, okay!??? So they’re like cross-overs. Kind of like how my eyes cross-over as they lay me upon the soft bed of dirt in mY GRAVE because I’m so so soooo freaking sTRESSED over these darn books.
Honestly I’m a mess. There’s still a finale to this trilogy but I. AM. SO. FREAKED. OUT that I haven’t even touched it yet. The writer part of my soul is cheering, because I’m this mean to my characters too and I feel kinship with Brian Staveley. However. The reader part of me?
Yeah. That’s me on the floor. The puddle? Hmm, yes, that’s me.
I CAN’T SAY MUCH FOR FEAR OF SPOILERS: but basically it’s about 3 royal siblings who have no chill and are figuring out how to get/keep the emperor’s throne + torture + super darkness + everything going wrong + pain.
6. HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE BY JENNIFER NIVEN
Okay this is a silly one!! This book is NOT stressful. It’s emotional, but overall quite nice actually…so why were you freaking out, Cait?
Well. Have you read All The Bright Places? Hmm?
BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE THEN YOU UNDERSTAND.
So the thing is, bookworms are twice traumatised and cursed: firstly, because authors like to damage them on occasion, but secondly, because authors don’t damage them every time…so your reading life is a perpetual POND OF TEARS not knowing if this book is going to rip your heart out or not.
7. HERE LIES DANIEL TATE BY CRISTIN TERRILL
So this is about a boy who steals the identity of a “missing boy” and ends up impersonating him while trying to have a chill life with this random rich family. EXCEPT IT ALL GOES VERY BADLY. And he discovers there’s a big chance this family are hiding like skeletons and, um, maybe even BODIES in the closet. Say hi to rich messed-up American families.
And okay, wow, no, I didn’t put the book down ever. I even had to go sort out an uprising amongst my dark forces, but I kept reading while I did it.
When the con artist (so arguably the villain) is the protagonist and HE is the one in danger????? Then I’m just going to worry and perhaps, I don’t know…
….is screaming too much?
(ALSO THAT ENDING, HOLY CAKE. PEOPLES. THIS BOOK. THAT ENDING. GO NOW.)
8. GOODBYE DAYS BY JEFF ZENTNER
This will teach me for complaining that contemporaries aren’t “exciting enough” because this was hECKIN’ STRESSFUL, OKAY. The entire premise is a boy sent a text to his friends who were driving and — they died in an accident. ALL HIS FRIENDS. And the book is the aftermath, so not only (a) is it so so so so sad and Carver is like falling apart with anxiety and grief, but (b) one of the dead-friend’s parents wants CARVER IN JAIL FOR IT AND HE’S LITERALLY WAITING TO SEE IF HE’LL GO TO JAIL AND I JUST —
I JUST —
Everything is unfair and stressful and I think the moon just fell on me and now I am squashed and upset.
9. THE WINNER’S CURSE SERIES BY MARIE RUTKOSKI
Since this has some lovely star-crossed lovers who’s people will literally kILL THEM ALL of they find out they have a thing…I’m just going to state the obvious: it was anxiety inducing. And especially when Arin and Kestrel’s #1 strength is “COMMUNICATE INEFFICIENTLY YES!” I honestly just wanted to bake them both into a pie and be very very put out.
Look would you two just talk??? Instead of chasing each other around and making bad decisions and making me eat my paperbacks because I’m so freaked out??
I love them too much for this. HELP.
10. ILLUMINAE AND GEMINA BY JAY KRISTOFF & AMIE KAUFMAN
I mean…OBVIOUSLY. This is so painfully obvious we’re probably all just laughing quietly to ourselves and then crying. These authors like to kill things and then kill them twice. And then they like to explode planets and infect everyone with horrible diseases inside spaceships and then have a cool, calm, and collected AI murder everyone else.
ILLUMINAE: Here are characters you will love.
ILLUMINAE: Everyone will probably die.
ME: Haha aw that’s cute that you’re threatening to–
ILLUMINAE: *EXPLODES PLANETS*
ILLUMINAE: *EXPLODES SPACESHIPS*
ME: okAY can we talk about this before–
ILLUMINAE: *EXPLODES YOUR FEELS*
ME: just stahppph STAHPPPH *SCREAMING* STAHHHHP
We all love it.
And if you haven’t seen the black masterpiece that is Obsidio (the finale’s) cover then yOU NEED TO GO DO THAT. It is the kind of cover that says: “HEY. EVERYTHING YOU LOVE IS ABOUT TO DIE.”