The best books with intelligent, demented characters

Brandon Swarrow Author Of The Thrillplex Theater
By Brandon Swarrow

The Books I Picked & Why

The Scarlet Letter

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Book cover of The Scarlet Letter

Why this book?

The Scarlet Letter is dripping with diction. Nathaniel Hawthorne chooses his words so carefully during certain descriptions that my language-loving self feels jealous about his precision. This classic explores sin, as well as the dark side of the soul. A vengeful old scholar is an unusual villain, but Roger Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter is so smart and evil. 

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By Chuck Palahniuk

Book cover of Haunted

Why this book?

Haunted is Chuck Palahniuk at his best. Of course, it is deranged, but it is also magnificently written. I loved every short story and/or poem that came from this "writer's retreat." Haunted is filled with strange characters and fascinating subplots that provoke deep thought about our current direction as a society. 

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Sharp Objects

By Gillian Flynn

Book cover of Sharp Objects

Why this book?

While reading Sharp Objects, I wanted to remove anything sharp from my immediate surrounding area. The roots of my teeth ached. I craved whiskey. The scent of raw pig flesh pervaded my nostrils. Upon completion, I felt an overwhelming urge to take a shower. This fiction tale is a shocking, stinging, sickening kind of filth…and I loved everything about it. Gillian Flynn has left a permanent bite mark on my brain.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ott

Book cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Why this book?

This book was amazing...I think? Pure genius...I think? Upon completion, I wished to be born in the sixties, I no longer trust food unless it is prepared by me, and Shirley Jackson was either crazy or on potent drugs (but, Wow! What an awesome writer though!). This is definitely an unforgettable read, with some unexpected characters.

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Nine Stories

By J.D. Salinger

Book cover of Nine Stories

Why this book?

I enjoyed "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" and "De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period," but the real gem here in Salinger's Nine Stories is "Teddy." "Teddy" is one of the most bizarre (yet thought-provoking) stories I have ever read. I loved reading and exploring all of the possible themes in this short compilation of tales. It seems like Salinger was truly able to portray mental struggles with his characters. 

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