The 4 Most Unique Books of All Time...

When you let the human imagination run wild, there are some pretty incredible things we can come up with. These books test the limit of ingenuity and break the rules of writing all together. Crafted in a way like no other, they range from jaw-dropping to completely astonishing. Let's take a look at some of these books and what makes them so special.


1. Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

There are two ways to read this book. One is to read chapters 1-56 straight through, and when you reach the end of chapter 56 the story has ended, and you can regard chapters 57-155 as expendable. Or you can follow the instructions to hopscotch, or jump around, the chapters in a seemingly bizarre and random way. The book centers around Horacio Oliveira, who is an Argentinian living in Paris and Buenos Aires. The novel has no chronological order that bounds it to a set period of time like most books, rather the collections and reflections of Horacio's life make up the jumble of this book. The book is very philosophical, exploring notions of love, liberty, and life. It also carries heavy allusions to jazz and political interests. All in all, the book's weird structure is a celebration of perception and the way we view different points in time.


2. Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright

No, this is not The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Admittedly, that's what my mind automatically referred to when I heard of this book. However, Gadsby is very different, and it's unique because it refrains from using the letter "E". The entire 50,000-word book does not use the letter "E" once. And this was no easy feat, considering "E" is the most commonly used word in the English language. This one-of-a-kind lipogram follows the story of Gadsby and his efforts to save the dying city of Branton Hills along with a youth organization. According to some sources, the author said he tied down the "E" key of his typewriter so every time his finger would go for that key, he couldn't. So no using the words "the" "he" "she" "they" "have" "eat" and common words like that. Nor could the author use "ed" for past tense verbs. The author had to also get creative and find other ways to describe common objects such as "cake". As such, the story is not entirely grammatically correct and the narrative is messy, but the book still achieves its purpose and is a unique blend of creative solutions to avoiding the letter "E".


3. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

This book is about you trying to read the book. Yes, it's about you trying to read the story. But you are constantly getting distracted by a wide assortment of other novels that keep popping up. The novel's rich postmodernist writing and also its satirical and sarcastic humor really stand out. The genius and creative spin on the book are what truly makes it unique. The book opens with you picking out the book and sitting at home to read it. Once you read the first chapter, you feel intrigued to read on and you are compelled by the mystery that surrounds the book. But as you go on to the next chapter, you realize that the second chapter is missing. And a series of delightful adventures pan out, playing off ideas of modern literature and shattering common conceptions about reading, authors, and our daily lives. This is an extraordinary book and I recommend it to anyone who is up for a challenging but fun read.


4. Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce

From prolific author James Joyce comes Finnegan's wake, a book considered by most to be one of the hardest books ever written. The book is so complex and mind-boggling that no one can agree on what it's 100 percent about. There is no "basic plot" because the whole book is a series of inter-connected metaphors and allusions. There are jokes on every page too, and many references and callbacks to history. The book dives deep into theology, geography, and psychology. Many consider the whole book to be one long joke, and maybe that's true. But others consider it to be a masterpiece weaving the dream world with real life. The book wants you to realize that history repeats itself. To showcase that, the book starts and ends with the same sentence. But if you want to gain any wisdom from this book, you'll have to understand it first. Especially because that first sentence is "Riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs." And that might be the easiest sentence in the whole book!


Honorable mentions:


Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age - A book written in just one very long sentence


Gödel, Escher, Bach - A book about interlocking systems and about thought, told through puzzles, diagrams, thought experiments, stories, and more


S. - A book about two young adults leaving notes for each other in a book's margins and trying to solve the mystery of an author's disappearance


Codex Seraphinianus - Not really a published book but more like a puzzle no one has been able to solve. The book is filled with strange drawings and written in a weird language no one can decipher.


In conclusion, there are some pretty bizarre books out there that have been written by extremely creative people. Maybe reading them will enlighten you. Or maybe reading them will give you a headache. Whatever the case, let them be an inspiration and a model for craftsmanship, effort, and ingenuity.

Thanks for reading!