Hey folks! Top 10 Tuesday time again!
This week’s topic?
April 8: Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read (maybe the MC was really different, maybe it was the way it was written, a very unique spin on a genre or topic, etc.)
- A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers
This memoir (of sorts) is one of my favourite books of all time and introduced me to a totally new way of writing. Eggers moves from seemingly first-hand accounts of this particular period in his life, to musings on life in general. He breaks the fourth wall, freely admits within the pre-textual material that large portions of the story are compressed, dramatized and fictionalised to suit his narrative, often catching the reader out. His prose is vivid, exciting and expresses a totally unique voice.
- Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger
This is a novel often imitated, but nothing I’ve read comes quite close to matching Salinger’s existential, thoughtful story with an unforgettable protagonist in Holden Caulfield. Holden is reflective, unusual – not always likeable – and makes the story linger long after it’s done.
- The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
This is hands down one of the strangest and most confusing books I’ve ever read. …Lot 49 is often referred to as a novella, due to its short length, but manages to pack a lot into a short space. It is – ostensibly – about the uncovering of a long-standing rivalry between two mail companies in the US. Our main character bears the unusual name of Oedipa Maas. (Really). She’s a Californian housewife who gets involved in this mystery through some strange stamps and one of the postal services is secret…or something. It’s really odd, but somehow compelling at the same time and I can safely say I’ve never read anything else like it.
- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
I heard a lot about this book before I read it, as it is always hailed as one of the ultimate dystopian novels. In absolute honesty: I didn’t enjoy it much. However, I found its exploration of the importance books and knowledge have in this world really interesting and refreshing. Its examination of information overload and the way the characters spend their lives staring at screens is spookily accurate in today’s world.
- All My Friends are Superheroes – Andrew Kaufman
This is another novella. In this story, our protagonist, Tom, is a normal man who happens to fall in love with a super-heroine, The Perfectionist. In this world, superheroes are common and well known, although they generally don’t become involved with ordinary people. Due to a jealous ex, Hypno, at their wedding The Perfectionist is hypnotised and can no longer see or hear Tom. This story really turned around the idea of superheroes, who they are, how they live and how we might relate to them in reality for me. It’s stuck in my mind ever since.
- The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde
The first in a very popular series of novels, this is the inaugural story about literary detective, Thursday Next. That sentence alone should sell it as something different. Someone interferes with the tale of Jane Eyre and our heroine must go into the story herself to solve the mystery and fix the story. Full of great names, quirky characters and enough literary references to satisfy all book geeks; this is a bookish book and detective story rolled into one. Sometimes the references and inside literary jokes get a bit much for me, but the story is always surprising.
- The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark
Easily the darkest book I have ever read (and amazingly, is yet another novella). The Driver’s Seat is a weird, creepy novel, exploring some pretty horrible aspects of human nature. But, in terms of uniqueness and originality, it’s definitely in a league of its own and is very hard to forget. Despite being quietly appalled while I read much of the book, it was strangely compelling to read. Spark called it a ‘whydunnit’ – you know what fate will befall the main character, Lise, from fairly early on, you just have no idea why or how.
- The Ned Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
In terms of narrative and voice, this is one of my favourite novels. Carey writes a fictionalised account of the formation of the Ned Kelly gang, their activities and eventual demise. The novel is told as if by Ned to his (fictional) daughter. Carey breathes life into a charismatic historical figure, making him even more vivid and intriguing. The prose is riddled with spelling mistakes and devoid of virtually all grammar, adding an authenticity to the narrative voice. I can’t recall another book that so totally inhabits its narrator.
- Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
On the surface, this teen romance doesn’t seem like an especially unusual book. However, the teens Rowell chooses to depict, the individuality of their voices and the frank, unsparingly honest way Rowell chooses to tell their story makes it stand out for me.
- The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler – Gene Kemp
This is a novel I read as a child at school; it was one of those books the whole class had to read. …Tyke Tiler stands out to me, of all the books I read as a child, not because it was an especial favourite (at the time, I hated reading it) but because it is so different to most other children’s books and tales about life at school and is consistently inventive and surprising. Tyke Tiler is our protagonist and narrator, a bolshie, outgoing 12 year old, who has a reputation for being a troublemaker. Tyke’s adventures and relationship with best friend Danny are the focus of the book and the ending is pure delight.
What are the most unusual and unique books you’ve read?