Tuesday, April 11, 2017

10 Of The Most Unique Books I've Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is unique reads. The books below are unique for various reasons -- format, plot, narrator -- and for the most part they're all novels I'd recommend. What's the most unique book you've read?

unique books

1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders This much-hyped new book is unique in two ways. The plot, which is about a grieving (and haunted by the war) Abe Lincoln visiting his son Willie's grave, involves a bunch of wacky ghosts stuck in purgatory. And the format is by far the most unconventional I've encountered. Chapters with dialogue are written almost like a play script, and other chapters are full of excerpts from primary sources (like other books, first-hand accounts, etc.) -- except some of them are made up, and there's no way to tell which are true and which are fiction!

2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi "Homegoing" was my favorite book of 2016 and I urge you to read it! I really enjoyed the format of this generational saga. The first two chapters introduce readers to two half-sisters (unaware of each other's existence) in 1700s Ghana. One is captured into slavery and the other is forced to marry a white man. The subsequent chapters alternate between each sister's descendants, with one chapter each per generation -- basically, vignettes that capture a moment in time for each family. It's a bit hard to describe, but it just worked so well and was so perfect for the (amazing) story Gyasi was trying to tell. (my review)

3. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins Weird, weird, weird -- but fascinating -- plot! Definitely not your typical "librarians"! (my review)

4. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal I've never read a novel before in which the story main character is not the focus of the book. Only one of the eight chapters is written from her perspective; the rest are told by people around her. Definitely a unique way of telling a story, and I enjoyed it. (my review)

5. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey Along with "Homegoing," this was one of my favorite books last year. It's about an expedition to Alaska in the 1800s and told in journal entries, articles and letters between Lt. Col. Forrester and his wife, who's back in Washington state having adventures of her own. Bits of Native American mythology is woven into the tale, which was interesting, and the book also featured a handful of photographs and illustrations, which is always a delightful enhancement to the story. (my review)

6. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
Gods Apollo and Hermes make a bet about whether animals given human intelligence could possibly die happy, and the story follows the fifteen dogs kenneled at a Toronto vet who are the subjects of the bet. It's told from the suddenly-much-smarter-dogs' perspectives, and as a dog owner I found it to be fascinating! (my review)

7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
"A Monster Calls" is about a teen boy coming to terms with his mom's breast cancer with the help of a monster who takes the form of a yew tree. It's an illustrated novel (not a very common thing!) with pictures every few pages and the black and white artwork perfectly complimented the sad story. It's illustrated by Jim Kay, the artist behind the new illustrated Harry Potters, so it's no surprise that the artwork makes the story. I know I wouldn't have liked it nearly as much without the pictures. (my review)

8. Boo by Neil Smith Eighth-grader Oliver "Boo" Dalrymple is at his locker one minute, and the next he wakes up in "Town," a quirky version of heaven just for 13-year-old Americans. This is a totally under-read book -- it's funny, it's sad, it's wholly original! (my review)

9. Room by Emma Donoghue I'm sure, between the book and the movie, most of you are familiar with the plot of "Room." What made it special for me was that it's narrated entirely by a young child, and Donoghue somehow managed to make that work.

10. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs The reverse of creating illustrations to compliment the story, this eccentric book is based around actual old, strange photos the author collected. (my review)

Honorable Mention:
11. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (epistolary novel + aliens!)
12. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (alternate-universe travel!)
13. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel + star-crossed lovers + interplanetary travel + an adorable little girl + lots and lots of wonderfully bizarre stuff!)
14. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (the first book I ever read narrated by a dog)
15. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips (addicting + creepy + short enough to read in one sitting; not my favorite, but must be mentioned when talking about unique books!)


  1. Man I totally forgot about The Library at Mount Char - it totally goes on this list. I remember as I was reading it I kept thinking I didn't really like it however, when it was finished, I really loved it. It was a very strange book and I still think about it from time to time - yet apparently not when making this list :)

  2. Great list! I included Miss. Peregrine in my top ten list as well. I haven't read any of the others you mentioned, but I will have to check them out.

    My TTT: http://jacquesbooknook.blogspot.com/2017/04/top-ten-tuesday-most-unique-books-i.html

  3. Lincoln in the Bardo would be at the top of my list, too!

  4. I have a few of these on my TBR - Homegoing, Kitchens of the Great Midwest and A Monster Calls. I did enjoy Room even though it was heavy. Great list!!

  5. The Library at Mount Char is on my TBR. I've been on the fence about Miss Peregrine's. Your description makes me want to jump off the fence and read it. :) Great list! My TTT.

  6. I agree about Room and The Art of Racing In The Rain - I thought of both of those when I saw this category.
    My list here: https://runwright.net/2017/04/11/unique-reads/

  7. I've just heard about a few of these books recently and I now I really wanna check them out hearing how good they are. Thanks for sharing such a great list!

  8. Great list! I forgot about Miss Peregrine and it is definitely one of the most unique books I've ever read. I loved the photographs. The Library at Mount Char is on my list though I've heard it is definitely weird and that's interesting about Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  9. Well, I've heard about most of these, but I haven't read any of them yet. Miss Peregrine has been on my radar for a while, though. And I'd really like to read the Saga series of graphic novels. Good choices, and helpful write-ups!

  10. Great list! I loved Kitchens of the Great Midwest! I loved the way each character was connected to the next. Definitely unique!

  11. Good list. The Room and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children have been on my TBR for a while, but I never seem to get around to them.

    My TTT: http://books.thetechchef.net/top-ten-tuesday-20/

  12. I tried so hard to like Miss Peregrine's Home, but just couldn't get into it.

  13. I haven't read any of these, but I really liked the movie of A Monster Calls, so I'd like to try the book.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/top-ten-tuesday-102/

  14. The Library at Mount Char is on my list too! I didn't think of Room, but that's a great one too - definitely a unique perspective.

  15. Great list, Lindsay! All of these definitely fall into the unique category. I have only read The Room, so far. And one of our honorable mentions, All Our Wrong Todays. Many others though are ones I've heard of and would like to read.


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