Literature’s 13 most unusual books

Bijal A Shah
12 min readJun 29, 2018
Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash

In general, well-known works of fiction compel us to celebrate the creativity of the writer. The books listed here, however, take creativity to a whole new level, particularly Henry Darger’s eccentric manuscript on the Vivian Girls beautifully analysed and explained in John M Macgregor’s Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal (only a genius or otherwise truly bizarre mind can drum up the content he crafted over decades), Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore with its stupendous world of talking cats, spirits that make love or kill and oedipal fantasies, Margaret Atwood’s disturbing dystopia, Oryx and Crake and Catherine Dunn’s fascinatingly odd Geek Love.

Nonetheless, these highly imaginative and unique yet strange works should be read, celebrated and shared.

These are literature’s 13 most unusual books. This list becomes more bizarre as we descend it (with the best saved for last). I do note that these are not for the faint-hearted and if you are not the type to explore highly unusual content, then be warned these might not be your cup of tea. If you’re curious and love novel things that may or may not be considered controversial, then you have come to the right place.

If there are other books that should be added to the list, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

  1. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Born. Dead. Born again. Dead. Reborn….This is the narrative of Atkinson’s book where the book’s heroine, Ursula Todd, initially born in 1910 to an English banker and his wife, undergoes a series of terrifying and unfortunate deaths followed by hopeful reincarnations (for want of a better word). Each reincarnation is better than the last through better life choices and decisions as a sense of déjà vu persists throughout.

Ursula witnesses two World Wars and continues to build stronger bonds with the same characters that present themselves in each life. Some relationships survive even the boundaries of time. This book is like marmite — you’ll either love it or hate it. It gets better with each life so don’t be too quick to dismiss it. You’ll be glad that you stayed until the end.

Grab your copy:

Bijal A Shah

Bibliotherapist, author, poet & founder of Book Therapy - therapy using the power of literature: and