Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book review: "Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear" by Margee Kerr

I don't think Margee Kerr and I would spend a lot of time together. She seeks out scary places, and I spend most of the time (on the rare occasions) that I watch scary movies between my fingers and very tense.

Our author studies fear, and so in the book she experiences old haunted prisons, haunted houses all over the place, a forest where people go to commit suicide in Japan, and more places that I will spend the rest of my life avoiding. (Though, the suicide forest in Japan is super interesting, I'd read a book about that. At home. With people. With lights on. Because duh.)

So here's some interesting facts from the book to intrigue you:

-When she visits the suicide forest place in Japan she discusses the country's curiously high suicide rate. It's "consistently ranked among the ten counties with the highest suicide rates in the world". Which is interesting because it has a really low death rate. Suicide is the number one cause of death death for men between the ages of twenty and forty four. (In the US, it's "unintentional injuries" which means accidents, which I bet includes a lot of motorcycle accidents, but that's just me editorializing.)

-This is just a random fact I thought was interesting - "Over 300,000 people were killed by big cats through the 1800s on the Indian subcontinent alone - and they had guns!" (Meaning people had guns, not the big cats. The number would have been higher then!)

- She talks about "dark tourism", which is something that I'd vaguely hear of before. It's discussed by The Atlantic here and it's ick and interesting and all kinds of things that I don't know what to make of it.

- Also, this is totally conjecture on my part, but if you read between the lined in the book and in the acknowledgments I feel like she fell in love with someone that she was talking to at one of the places she investigated.

In general I found the book fine, it scratched an itch I needed for a super specific work of nonfiction (because you guys know, that's my jam) but I don't think it's something I'd read over and over. So I guess a 3 out of 5!



  1. I visited the 'suicide forest' this past spring. If it helps, it was less creepy than you might expect! It really is a beautiful forest. But, it is indeed very silent... Just started reading the article in the Atlantic you linked. Ick indeed.

    1. Oh interesting! The pictures of it do look really pretty! I think that it's interesting that there's such a mystique around it. Whereas, the most popular place to commit suicide in the US is the Golden Gate bridge, but there's not scary movies about that. There's no people telling scary stories about a bridge. It just makes me curious.

  2. There's a movie coming out about the suicide forest, and that made me interested to learn more about it - although only similar to you, as in safely at home with lights on. :) This book sounds fascinating - does it delve into the science then? Is the science of it more biological or psychological?

    1. It's less biological and more of a psychological and cultural type of thing. Like when she compares haunted houses in the US and Japan. In the US we have big elaborate houses with lots of things popping out all the time and gore and constant threats. But in Japan, they can be a lot more story based and involve less people and special effects. (And also in Japan the spookers can run straight for you where as in America they don't because we as a country have a tendency to punch and kick when feeling threatened, HA!)


Thank you so much for your comment. I'd love to talk books with you!