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Thriller books are one of the most popular genres of literature, providing readers with a mix of suspense, danger, and excitement. However, what makes these books so appealing? Why do we love to feel scared when reading them? We will explore the art of fear and how thriller books keep us hooked and terrified.

The Psychology of Fear

Before diving into the world of thriller books, it’s essential to understand the psychology of fear. Fear is a primary human emotion that is designed to help us survive. When we perceive a threat, our brains activate the “fight or flight” response. It prepares us to face danger head-on or flee from it. It is an evolutionary trait that has been hard-wired into our brains that has helped humans survive for thousands of years.

However, in modern times, we don’t often face physical threats as our ancestors did. Instead, we experience emotional and psychological stressors that can activate the same “fight or flight” response. For many people, reading thriller books provides a safe way to experience fear and satisfies the brain’s need for the fight-or-flight response.

The Art of Suspense

One of the critical elements of thriller books is suspense. Suspense is the feeling of anticipation or anxiety the author creates through language, pacing, and plot development. The author may use cliffhangers, foreshadowing, and other techniques to keep the reader guessing and engaged in the story.

A study published in the journal Brain and Language found that suspenseful stories activate the same parts of the brain involved in processing real-life threats. The researchers found that when reading suspenseful stories, participants had increased activity in the amygdala, the brain region responsible for processing emotions. Meanwhile, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision-making and executive function.

The Role of Horror

While thriller books may not be classified as horror, they often include elements of horror that contribute to the feeling of fear. Horror is a genre designed to scare the reader or viewer, often including supernatural or paranormal elements.

According to Journal Media Psychology’s published study, horror movies provide a cathartic release for viewers, allowing them to release pent-up emotions and anxiety in a safe and controlled environment. The same could be said for reading horror or thriller books.

Thriller books have become a staple literary of the world, providing readers with a thrilling and often terrifying experience. The art of fear is complex, with authors combining suspense, horror, and psychological techniques to keep readers hooked and terrified. By understanding the psychology of fear and the role of suspense and horror, we can better understand why we love to read thriller books.

If you’re looking for a must-read thriller book to keep you up at night, consider checking out After Midnight.

After Midnight: A Collection of Classic Halloween Stories for Adults by Louisa C. Wade is an anthology of classic horror stories from history’s famous writers.

It’s out on Amazon and Kindle now!

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  1. […] The Art of Fear: How Thriller Books Keep Us Hooked and Terrified […]

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