Every week over at The Broke and the Bookish readers are given a theme for a Top Ten list. This week the theme is ‘Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read’. This can be anything that stood out from the herd. Style, characters, plot and/or structure – it all counts. Many of the books I’ve listed below aren’t necessarily completely unique, but at the time I read them I’d never seen or experienced anything similar. So here’s my Top Ten.
The Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read
- In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje. This was probably the first postmodern novel I’d ever read. Once I got over the choppy structure and confusing changes in point of view, it made for a very rewarding read.
- The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, by Randolph Stow. For an Australian, I don’t actually read all that much Australian literature. Randolph Stow wasn’t just Australian; he also lived in the city where I live, and part of this book is set there.
- Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. I had never read Hardy before, so Jude the Obscure came as a shock. I was used to Victorian novelists who wrote about good, put-upon central characters who ended up living happily ever after. The flawed characters in Jude the Obscure came across as both unpleasant and intensely real. Finishing the book was actually quite a harrowing experience.
- If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, by Italo Calvino. One of my favourite books ever. Stories within stories, unfinished and confusing… I’ll discuss it when I post my review of the novel, but suffice to say it is a very Clever Book.
- Brick Lane, by Monica Ali. The story of a woman who migrates from Bangladesh to the UK in the 1990s. Most of the novels I read about England are either set two hundred years in the past, or focus on middle to upper-class British households. It was very interesting to read this beautifully-written novel, which gave me a different, rather less rosy, idea of London and the experiences of people who live there.
- The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, by Angela Carter. This collection of short stories is based on well-known fairytales, but written from a feminist perspective. The language is incredible, and the imagery Carter uses very disturbing. I’d never thought of those old, beloved stories from such an angle before.
- Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton. Another author whose novels are set in our home state, Winton’s style is absolutely beautiful. Cloudstreet tells the story of two families over the course of several decades. I’d never seen anything like Winton’s amazing use of language when I read it three years ago.
- The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. When this novel was first released, it caused a sensation, especially after it was adapted into a film. The Name of the Rose is a murder-mystery that draws on history, literature, and Eco’s work in semiology. It’s no easy task cracking through the layers of symbolism and hidden meaning, but it was a fascinating read nonetheless.
- The Female Quixote, by Charlotte Lennox. I originally read this because it was supposedly one of the novels that inspired Austen while she was writing Northanger Abbey. Lennox’s novel is a parody of Cervantes, and is both weird and strangely enjoyable.
- Istanbul, by Orhan Pamuk. I’m not really a big reader of autobiography or memoirs; I definitely prefer fiction. But Pamuk’s fascinating book is both the story of his early years and the troubled city he grew up in. It’s beautifully written, and the first Turkish fiction I’d ever read.
And that’s it! You can find the official page for Top Ten Tuesday here. In the meantime, are there any unique books you could recommend? I’m always on the lookout to expand my reading experiences!
Main Image: Charlotte Lennox. (Image Source)