1. House Of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)
Put it this way: You’ve never read anything remotely like Mark Z. Danielewksi’s House Of Leaves. Essentially two books in one, the eccentric and mad genius author’s 2000 debut takes the age-old haunted house setup, rips it apart, and then pieces it back together as a kind of Frankenstein’s monster of a novel. And the final product is both invigorating and mind-blowing enough to make reading another novel the same way again impossible once page 709 is done.
Splicing the two narratives within one another, Danielewski pulls off some amazing literary gymnastics. On one front, House Of Leaves is a lengthy description of a documentary called “The Navidson Report,” about a home whose interiors constantly change in dimensions, cry out in agony, and drive residents to homicide; on the book’s other side, Johnny Truant, a sex-crazed, good-for-nothing tattoo artist, reads said description and frequently goes off on morbid and drug-infused tangents.
Got all of that? Frankly, our heads hurt just trying to streamline House Of Leaves’s “plot.” We haven’t mentioned how Danielewski translates the house’s altering size by presenting the novel’s text upside-down, sideways, and, at times, in one-word-per-page increments. You’ll need a hard drink once the book is finished, but you’ll also have just experienced sheer brilliance.