Step into the Surreal: My Top 5 Picks for Books that make you go “wait, what?”

Are you tired of the same old books with predictable plots and boring characters? Do you want something that’ll make you scratch your head and say “wait, what?” Well, my friend, you’re in luck. I’ve put together a list of my top five picks for strange, surreal, and spine-chilling books, guaranteed to leave you feeling delightfully confused and utterly entertained.

I’ve also kept to the personal rule of not adding any of the same authors in the top 5. However, I slightly broke this rule by adding one to the honourable mentions instead. Oopsie. Technically not breaking the rule… but still.

So, before we get to the Top 5 let’s give some love to some honourable mentions:

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

This short but sweet novella is about a boy trapped in a library by a creepy old man. The book is full of eerie illustrations and a surreal plot, making for a delightfully unsettling read.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

This, I have not read yet, however, given its reputation as a difficult and unique read, I’ve added it to this list of honourable mentions.

This experimental novel is (supposedly…) like nothing you’ve ever read before. It’s a dizzying exploration of a house that’s always changing, with footnotes, appendices, and unusual formatting galore. You might need a PhD to fully understand it, but hey, who doesn’t love a good intellectual challenge? or at least that’s what I’ve been told…

Now, on to the top five:

Kafka On the Shore by Haruki Murakami

First up, we’ve got the king of weird himself – Haruki Murakami. My favourite book on the list and my favourite book ever. Murakami’s surreal trip through the minds of two very different characters – a teenage runaway and an old man who can talk to cats will leave you baffled at every opportunity. It’s full of bizarre twists and turns that’ll keep you hooked until the very end.

The Human Chair by Edogawa Rampo

This classic Japanese horror story is not for the faint of heart. It’s about a writer who receives a letter from someone trapped inside a chair. Yes, you read that right – a chair. It’s creepy, unsettling, and just the right amount of bizarre. A masterclass of short story horror that left me standing for the rest of the day.

The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker

This one’s a strange one, but hear me out. It’s essentially a monologue about a man’s trip up an escalator, with plenty of philosophical musings and random observations thrown in. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for something offbeat and experimental, give it a try. This was the inspiration for this article, and the most recent book I have read.

Uzumaki by Junji Ito

The only manga on the list, and although I could have added most of Junji Ito’s works to this list I stuck with this one. This manga is a true masterpiece of horror, with twisted and grotesque imagery that’ll leave you feeling equally fascinated and horrified. It’s a story about a town cursed by spirals, and the madness that ensues as the curse takes hold. At the end of this read, you may look at snails far differently.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep by H.P. Lovecraft

Don’t let the title fool you – this is not a book about napping. In this classic horror tale, a young man is plagued by vivid nightmares that he believes are connected to a mysterious, comatose patient in the asylum where he works. As he delves deeper into the patient’s mind, he discovers a terrifying otherworldly realm that threatens to consume him. It’s a haunting and surreal story that will leave you feeling both intrigued and deeply unsettled. One of the first H.P. Lovecraft stories I’ve read and one that I talk about whenever I get the chance.

Knowing what I am like this list will change overtime, however at the moment these were the books that popped into mind.

So, there you have it, folks – my top five picks for books that’ll make you question reality and leave you with a healthy dose of existential dread. Happy reading!

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