I love strange and weird books, mostly because I, myself, am strange and unusual. (Okay, you got me – I wrote this list just so I could quote Beetlejuice.)
Seriously, though, I love strange books. So whether there’s something just a little different about the story, or the book is full-on bizarre, here are 100 wonderful weird books I have read and highly recommend.
Some of these weird books are funny. Some of them are strange books that are a bit disturbing. Some of them are both of those things. And they are all amazing!
These were just the first 100 weird books that popped into my head. I am happy to talk about more unusual books – and to learn about them! Please tell me about your favorite unusual books in the comments!
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: In the future, for starters, people will have blue butts.
Bear vs. Shark by Chris Bachelder: A young boy wins an essay contest and gets to take his family to Las Vegas to see a bear wrestle a shark.
Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis: Like Edward Scissorhands. But with dogs.
The Vaults by Toby Ball: Intrigue surrounding an archive, set in the dystopian 1930s.
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks: *insert emoji for “OH GOD MY EYES” here*
The Incarnations by Susan Barker: The many variations of lives of two people in Beijing.
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry: So, John Lennon is on an Irish island in 1978…
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman: This has my favorite ending to any book ever.
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell: A man swallows his unborn fetus – like you do – and it whispers dark secrets to him from inside.
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry: Bizarre dystopian detective noir.
The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier: People begin bleeding light from their wounds.
Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov (Author), Michael Glenny (Translator): A dog implanted with the glands of a human criminal becomes a bureaucrat.
The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell: What if Satan wasn’t a bad guy? HAHAHAHAHA. But no, really.
Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey: About a group of eccentric misfits living in an apartment building.
Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr: These sharks are not just limited to water, the big toothy jerks.
The Vorrh by B. Catling: I cannot succinctly explain it, nor did I understand it, but I definitely loved it.
The Daughters by Adrienne Celt: A family curse predicts a daughter will steal the voice of her mother.
Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns: A quaint village begins experiencing a rash of gruesome deaths.
An Exaggerated Murder by Josh Cook: If Sherlock Holmes and Ignatius J. Reilly had a baby, that child would be Trike Augustine.
Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland: Richard’s pregnant comatose girlfriend’s reawakening may bring about the apocalypse.
Being Dead by Jim Crace: The story of a couple’s murder, told backwards. Like Memento, in book form.
Duplex by Kathryn Davis: If you understand this book, please explain it to me. Or not. I still thought it was rad.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn: NONCONFORMISTS FTW! This book is the BEST.
The Wilds by Julia Elliott: Weird Southern gothic stories that include robot legs, levitation, and bizarre spa treatments.
Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue (Author), Natasha Wimmer (Translator): Bizarre historical tennis.
Zeroville by Steve Erickson: This has my other favorite ending to any book ever.
Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre: If David Bowie wrote historical fiction.
The Blue Girl by Laurie Foos: About a blue girl, who eats moon pies full of secrets.
Prodigies by Angélica Gorodischer: This book scratched my Muriel Spark/Barbara Comyns itches, with an extra side of the unusual.
After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones: My first takeaway from this horror story collection: Don’t tattoo dead people.
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall: A shark made of text actually follows you through the book.
Delicious Foods by James Hannaham: One of the narrators of this book is crack cocaine.
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway: My favorite. The hardcover jacket is velour. It’s the only book I own that I clean with a lint brush.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins: This melted my brains. It’s my current book obsession.
Fram by Steve Himmer: Employees of a fake government agency get sent on a real mission.
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson: Conjoined twins, now separated, whose father is the celestial demigod of growing things.
Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossain: Bonkers war novel featuring jinn and an ancient librarian.
Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt: A religious fanatic runs an orphanage where some of his charges can channel the dead.
The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Author), Lola M. Rogers (Translator): The mysterious disappearance and society revolving around a famous children’s book author.
The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving: SO many weird things going on here. The woman who lives in a bear costume, for starters.
Half Life by Shelley Jackson: Nora looks into a secret organization that might help her get rid of her twin. Er, her conjoined twin, that is.
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen: Poor Louis could be a character in the Ghaslycrumb Tinies.
Pym by Mat Johnson: An English professor searches for an island described in an Edgar Allan Poe novel, bringing along bones and Little Debbie snack cakes.
The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits: A woman attending a school for psychics goes in search of the truth behind her mother’s death.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang: A woman’s decision to stop eating meat has dark and violent consequences.
The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka: A madcap quest to find a legendary cricket bowler.
The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour: A boy raised in a birdcage is rescued by a behavioral analyst and befriends a man who claims he can fly.
The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd: Weirdness at art school. (Is that redundant?)
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King: Invisible helicopters, naked men in the bushes like it’s no big thing, and a girl who swallowed herself.
Radio Iris by Anne-Marie Kinney: The receptionist at a company doesn’t actually know what the comany does. (See also: The Beautiful Bureaucrat.)
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman: This is the kind of weird that might make you weep because it’s not too far off from being reality.
Alligators of Abraham by Robert Kloss: Alligators roam the world like humans during the Civil War. (I first read this when I had a fever, then read it again to be sure I hadn’t hallucinated any of it.)
Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace: Ghosthunters, supersoldiers, and goddesses, oh my!
The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich: It’s like a Burroughs vampire novel that might not actually be about vampires.
Big Machine by Victor LaValle: A bus porter is invited to join a group of paranormal investigators.
Long Division by Kiese Laymon: Time travel in the post-Katrina deep South.
Disquiet by Julia Leigh: Sometimes it’s really hard to let go. *shudders*
Just Like Beauty by Lisa Lerner: Futuristic beauty pageants, mutant grasshoppers, and suicide cults.
As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem: Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl to a void in space.
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link: SHE IS THE QUEEN. Read everything she has written. Right now. I’ll wait here.
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan: A future where the world is mostly water and people are web-footed.
Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail by Kelly Luce: Short stories, including one about a toaster that can predict when people are going to die.
The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli (Author), Christina MacSweeney (Translator): Three guesses what the main character likes to collect.
Remainder by Tom McCarthy: Have you seen Synecdoche, New York? It’s a lot like that, but in book form.
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken: A librarian becomes involved in the life of a boy who can’t stop growing.
The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie: Science! Romance! Squirrels! These things are not mutually exclusive.
Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet: Mermaids are real, and they’re being exploited for financial gain.
Slade House by David Mitchell: Five different Halloween nights, five different times people shouldn’t have gone in Slade House.
Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe (Author), Alexander O. Smith (Translator): A boy seeking to change his fate enters the magical world of Vision.
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers: It’s like Roald Dahl had a baby with Terry Pratchett.
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison: A woman begins experiencing weird changes to her body when things in her life start going wrong.
The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosely: A white man pays a black man to keep him locked in a cage in his basement.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami: Madness surrounding a particle accelerator, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, librarians, thugs, and more.
Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer: A woman struggles at home while her husband is on a mission to populate the moon with robots.
The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman: In a future America, people don’t live past the age of twenty.
What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn: What’s behind the unexplained images on the security camera at the mall?
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor: A famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier walk into a bar…
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi: A bloodthirsty author is taken to task by one of his own characters.
Version Control by Dexter Palmer: I don’t know if I’d like the President having the ability to pop ’round whenever he likes.
The Bees by Laline Paul: A novel set inside a beehive, starring – what else? – bees.
The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips: Josephine works entering endless strings of numbers into a computer, but she has no idea what they’re for.
Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis: A crackpot religion is founded based upon the lost city of Atlantis.
Waiting for Gertrude by Bill Richardson: The spirits of famous people visit a Parisian cemetery in the form of cats.
Dendera by Yuya Sato (Author), Edwin Hawkes (Translator), Nathan A Collins (Translator): A group of elderly women form a utopian community. Plus bears. (There’s a lot of bears on this list.)
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil by George Saunders: Inner Horner is a country only big enough to hold one resident at a time.
Jamestown by Matthew Sharpe: A resettling of Jamestown, post-destruction of Manhattan.
Cat Country by Lao She: Cat men on Mars! I repeat: Cat men on Mars!
A Jello Horse by Matthew Simmons: The narrator embarks on a road trip to visit America’s bizarre museums and roadside attractions.
The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks: Short stories, including one about two orphans who take up taxidermy to help with their grief.
Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon: The life of soldier George Smith, presented in letters and documents surrounding his case.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente: Three words: Stalinist house elves.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer: Expeditions investigate Area X, an unknown area that appeared over a section of the country.
Zazen by Vanessa Veselka: A young woman may or may not be behind a series of anarchistic bombings. She’s not actually sure.
Slapstick or Lonesome No More! by Kurt Vonnegut: It’s about the last president of the United States. May be read as fact soon.
Paper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters: It had me at “a photo album inhabited by a predatory ghost.”
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead: Elevator operators in a parallel universe.
Damnificados by JJ Amaworo Wilson: 600 squatters take over an abandoned tower, complete with wolves and ghosts.
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson: Serious Royal Tenenbaum vibes.
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson: Napoleon! Venice! More web-footed people! And a woman who is trying to retrieve her heart from a locked box.
The Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor: The protagonist is a walking, talking, saxophone-playing bear.
What are your favorite strange and weird books? Want even more weird? May we introduce the New Weird genre?