The books on this list are disturbing and unsettling. There is no winning when you read a book like this. If you don’t finish it, you’ll lose out, and if you do finish it, you’ll feel like you’ve lost. But, whatever doesn’t kill you surely makes you stronger. So without further ado, here are the most depraved, gruesome, and violent books ever written.

1. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis

Gruesome Violent Books

Ellis is a literally genius and American Psycho is a work of disturbing brilliance. The protagonist Patrick Bateman, who is at the pinnacle of power on Wall Street, has a minutely unpleasant ritual of raping, torturing, and murdering people in his spare time.

2. Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West – Cormac McCarthy

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Blood Meridian is the book in which McCarthy makes crystal clear the one theme that runs through all of his writing: the undeniable presence of evil in the world. The book takes place in 1847, is loosely based on actual events and is the story of a fourteen year old boy. Drifting through the American Southwest, the boy joins a disparate and bloodthirsty band of Indian-hunters-for-hire led by a mysterious and learned man called, Judge Holden.

3. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist

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John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let The Right One In is a haunting, and atmospheric story about the unique friendship between a young boy and a vampire child. His spare prose has a haunting poetic edge even in the violent scenes, and is littered with moments of pure creepiness and beauty.

4. Snuff – Chuck Palahniuk

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An over-the-hill porn star wants to go out with a (gang) bang. She arranges for a world record effort with 600 stout and hearty fellows, brave and true. A few of this cast of hundreds are there for more than their allotted 60 seconds of, “contact” with the legend. She has deep ulterior motives, as do each of the featured characters, and all of their twisted narratives come together as the story unravels.

5. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

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A brilliant walk inside the mind of a most highly unusual character, it’s tightly plotted and very deftly written. Iain Banks paints a somewhat absurd, but extremely entertaining portrait of a 17 year old named Frank.

6. Naked Lunch – William S. Burroughs

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(Featured in The 10 Most “Mind Fuck” Books Ever Written post)

This book was the last work of literature to be banned in the US. Naked Lunch is truly a trip to the dark side. Dream, hallucination, reality and drug visions blend and merge and disperse. Naked Lunch allows you to put yourself inside the tormented and confused mind of a drug addict as he loses lucidity and visits demons.