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  • Writer's picturealisonkilian

Why We Love Thrillers (It's Not Just About the Adrenaline)

Some readers dismiss the thriller genre as adrenaline-pumping fluff, designed only to shock and awe. I think it goes deeper.

As a writer, I consider reading part of my job. One way to hone your craft is to learn from others. That said, I do get into reading slumps. When I’m not feeling motivated to read, there’s only one thing that can rescue me: a thriller.

I’m not alone. The thriller genre is a perennial favorite, captivating readers with its pulse-pounding narratives and spine-tingling suspense. Thrillers consistently rank as one of the most commercially successful genres in the publishing world. In 2021, thrillers were the third largest-selling book category, totaling 14.1 million units (print and eBooks). The year prior, thriller sales were even bigger, according to data from NDP BookScan.

Thrillers seem to have an enduring appeal that keeps readers coming back for more. The genre taps into our innate desire for excitement. The gripping plots, high-stakes conflicts, and relentless pacing create tension that keeps readers turning the pages.

Some people may write off thrillers as adrenaline-pumping fluff, designed only to shock. However, I think there’s more to the genre than that. I think thrillers are a safe space to explore the more sinister side of humanity—which captivates many.

Thriller readers are often drawn to the darker aspects of human nature. Exploring the darker side of humanity provides a sense of catharsis and allows readers to safely engage with their own fears and anxieties. By experiencing these dark scenarios vicariously through the pages of a book, readers can navigate their own demons, providing a sense of relief and closure.

Additionally, delving into the dark aspects of human nature can offer a deeper understanding of the human condition. Thrillers often explore complex psychological motivations, morally ambiguous characters, and the choices people make when pushed to their limits. By examining these aspects, readers gain insights into the complexities of human behavior and the consequences that arise from it.

Last but not least, thrillers can also act as cautionary tales, warning readers of the potential dangers and consequences of certain actions. By exploring the darker aspects of human nature, thrillers shed light on the consequences of crime, deception, manipulation, and other morally dubious behaviors. This awareness can serve as a reminder to readers about the importance of empathy, ethics, and personal responsibility in their own lives.

Or maybe I’m making it too complicated—and it’s really just about the excitement of the read. Psychological thrillers are my favorite and I adore the twists and turns they tend to feature. I never try to guess “whodunnit” or crack the code of the plot, because I want to be shocked by whatever twist the author inevitably has in store for me. That said, my top three picks are:

  1. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn: This psychological thriller took the literary world by storm, weaving a twisted tale of marriage, secrets, and duplicity. If you haven’t read it, you’ve probably at least seen the movie.

  2. "The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides: This book revolves around the story of Alicia Berenson, a well-known artist who seemingly has the perfect life until she’s found guilty of murdering her husband. Following the crime, Alicia refuses to speak another word, and her silence leads her to be committed to a psychiatric institution.

  3. “The Perfect Marriage” by Jeneva Rose: This one delivers all the twists and turns you could possibly ask for. The final plot twist took me by surprise, although a lot of readers claim they saw it coming.

Got any psychological thriller recs for me? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading my blog! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.

NOW that that's done... I'd love to hear from you about this blog post in the comments!

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