We live in strange times, so discussing about the strangest books I’ve ever read seems to fit in the picture 🙂 This topic was inspired by Holly from Nut Free Nerd, who wrote about her top 10 strangest books earlier this year.

The 10 books I selected are strange from different point of views. I mention them based on the degree of strangeness – first the really weird-freaky books, then the strange-but-interesting books. All links lead to detailed reviews on this blog, if you want to read more about a specific book.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

This is a very very strange book. On one hand, the story of a family on a nine-day journey to bury the dead mother (who was carried during the journey) is bizarre to say the least. On the other hand, the streams of consciousness make reading more challenging. It was my first encounter with this narrative style, and it certainly made the whole story a lot more difficult to digest.

Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Another very strange story. There is a group of shipwrecked people who become the only surviving humans on Earth. Over time, people evolve into furry animals resembling sea lions. Oh, and there is also a ghost that narrates the story. The dark dystopia is written as a social satire, but it was way too weird for my reading preferences.

photograph of Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut in the park

The Magus by John Fowles

In terms of tricks and unreliable narrators, “The Magus” is a good reference. There is an eccentric rich and old man on a Greek island, and an English teacher who gets involved in psychological games. And parties where everybody wore animal masks, if I remember correctly. Quite spooky!

The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse

The odd aspect of this story is the fictional world where the action takes place. Castalia is a province in Europe inhabited only by intellectuals. Castalians, the most elitist layer of the society, have only 2 missions: to run schools for boys and to play and develop the Glass Bead Game.

The books offers an interesting metaphor for the future, and the story itself is quite interesting. Once you get used to the idea that the Glass Bead Game is THE thing in Castalia, all is good 🙂

Not 100% sure that this is “The Glass Bead Game”, but it is a nice picture though 🙂

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Oh, the classic “Crime and Punishment”! I added it on the list because even after 4 years I still remember how difficult it was to read it – the sadness of the story and the psychological tumult were influencing a lot my mood while reading. I read other sad stories, but this one really had an impact on me!

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I consider “Mrs Dalloway” a strange book because it was my second encounter with streams of consciousness (first one was “As I Lay Dying”). The most weird part is that the narrator “jumps” abruptly from one character’s thoughts to another’s – sometimes even in the same paragraph. It is an interesting story though, now I would like to try other books by Virginia Woolf (I have “To the Lighthouse” waiting for me on the shelf).

Flowers for Mrs Dalloway. Perfect match for her party 🙂

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

This is the most recent read of the list, and it is bizzare from multiple points of view – we have a social experiment that promises stability in exchange for freedom, and also weird topics such as Elvis sex robots and headless chickens.

However, the book is very readable and it provides an interesting story. It’s a book I would recommend if you’re interested in social experiments gone wrong.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Reading “The Diary of a Young Girl” is a strange experience because it feels a lot like fiction! While reading the book I had to remind myself from time to time that what I was reading was actually the reality of Anne and her family.

This is a book I recommend reading, it’s a touching story that shows a different type of “lockdown” – Anne’s family was hiding from German soldiers during WWII.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This dystopian story is one of my favourite books. However, it is quite sad and austere. The strange aspect is related to the inescapable fate of the main characters – I remember a persistent feeling of emptiness after I finished reading the book. Strange and thought-provoking!

I read part of this book during a holiday to Italy (Lake Como in the picture)

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

I think Murakami is a master of weird happenings, but it is a type of strangeness that I enjoy a lot – “1Q84” is actually one of my favourite books of all time! Parallel worlds, two moons on the sky – impossible, still all make sense in the story. You just have to be open to the Murakamian universe and the strangeness turns into magic.

Lucky me – I received 1Q84 as Christmas present back in 2017 ❤

Do you enjoy reading weird books or you prefer to stick to the classic / safe options? What are the strangest books you’ve ever read?

If you would like to buy books or other (non)bookish things, please consider using one of these links: Amazon | Waterstones | Carturesti. Thank you!

‘Till next time … happy reading!


PS: I’d like to show you one more strange book, though it is not usual type of reading material – the 360° Mount Fuji book I received as a souvenir from Japan ❤

Pictures of 360 Mount Fuji Book from Japan

Cover photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “Strange books for strange times – Top 10 strangest books I’ve read

  1. Can I just say I love your selection of books?

    I enjoy a good, weird book. One of my favorite books of all time so far is Hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world by Murakami. Reading it was like dreaming and I absolutely loved it! Another book I consider weird is The trial by Kafka. At first I did not get it. I was too young, not yet experienced with the world we live in. Now, after many close encounters with the bureaucracy, public administration and state institutions, I can say it’s very close to my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! 😀
      I plan to read more books by Murakami, I’ll check the ones you mentioned! Apart from “1Q84”, I also read “Norwegian Wood”, “Kafka on the Shore”, and “A Wild Sheep Chase” … still many more to discover!

      Regarding “The Trial” – I’m not sure whether I read it a long time ago and I don’t remember much OR I imagine that I read it because I heard so much about it … Anyhow, I would like to (re)read it at some point soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot!
      Honestly, I do not recommend reading all books from this list – for example, the first two are really risky, from the “love or hate” category … I would prioritize the books from the bottom of the list 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great idea for a post! I couldn’t help laughing at your description of Galapagos, it does indeed sound bizarre. Agree with Mrs Dalloway, I found it hard work to get used to the style, but ended up loving it. As it happens I also have To The Lighthouse waiting for me.

    I loved Never Let me go and even if I had haven’t read 1Q84, I’d say Murakami is pretty much the definition of strange (in a good way, most of the time).

    Interesting, that you classify Crime and Punishment as strange. Hopefully, I will get to that later this year and I’m really looking forward to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing!
      These exchanges of thoughts about books we read (or plan to read) is what keeps me hooked on the blogging community 🙂

      Looking forward to hearing your opinion about Crime and Punishment! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this is such a fantastic post!! There are so many great books on here, as well as several that I really want to read soon (especially IQ84). Thanks so much for mentioning my post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your souvenir from Japan is very cool! What an interesting collection of books. I saw – Never Let Me Go at the used book store yesterday and started to pick it up. But I am not in a good place for sad books right now and might consider it later. Thanks for this list and info on the “strange books” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, “Never Let Me Go” is best for a neutral/happy period of life. I tend to be affected by the stories I read (as it happened with “Crime and Punishment” from this list), so I also try to pick them based on my life moments.

      Thanks a lot for passing by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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