100 books like House of Leaves

By Mark Z. Danielewski,

Here are 100 books that House of Leaves fans have personally recommended if you like House of Leaves. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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By Philip K. Dick,

Book cover of Valis

Mike Russell Author Of The Exploding Book

From the list on experimental stories that have a unique form.

Who am I?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on experimental stories that have a unique form

Why did Mike love this book?

Blimey. Even by PKD’s standards, this is an unconventional read. VALIS is a story which seeps into the author’s real life, or vice versa. It includes autobiographical elements as well as science fiction and philosophy. Its bravery impresses me. This is art written with the utmost passion, honesty and perhaps even desperation, as it details the author’s mental illness and unexplained experiences and tries to make sense of them. And yet it also manages to be great fun. Really. 

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Valis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It began with a blinding light, a divine revelation from a mysterious intelligence that called itself VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System). And with that, the fabric of reality was torn apart and laid bare so that anything seemed possible, but nothing seemed quite right.

It was madness, pure and simple. But what if it were true?

The Stranger

By Albert Camus,

Book cover of The Stranger

Daniel Damiano Author Of Graphic Nature

From the list on exploring solitary characters.

Who am I?

As both a playwright and novelist, I tend to gravitate to complex characters with an internal struggle. Graphic Nature, my second novel, touches upon a particular character, Edmond de Capitoir, who while considering himself a well-meaning member of society, has kept himself at arm’s length from life in many ways – not the least of which is due to his commitment to his profession as an executioner in 1913 France. Much of the work I've recommended touches upon these similar protagonists who are somehow emotionally closed off and perhaps have developed a certain guilt about their actions by what they experience through the course of these stories – even a need for love.

Daniel's book list on exploring solitary characters

Why did Daniel love this book?

Camus’ 1942 classic short novel, The Stranger, focuses on a protagonist who, not unlike other protagonists in this list, has certain emotional limitations.  However, in the character of Meursault, Camus’ main character has a particular desensitization from tragic events in his life, which culminates when he is tried for shooting a man, otherwise referred to in the book as “the Arab”. 

The emotional removal that Meursault exhibits throughout this unusual and engaging character study becomes the ultimate focus of his trial, as others reflect on his emotional disconnection from various aspects of his life, including his own mother’s funeral, to which he had displayed little more than apathy. 

The Stranger is astonishing in its depiction of a traditionally “unlikable” character who nevertheless we follow in the hopes of some sort of catharsis.  

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Stranger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the intrigue of a psychological thriller, The Stranger—Camus's masterpiece—gives us the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach. With an Introduction by Peter Dunwoodie; translated by Matthew Ward.

Behind the subterfuge, Camus explores what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd" and describes the condition of reckless alienation and spiritual exhaustion that characterized so much of twentieth-century life. 

“The Stranger is a strikingly modern text and Matthew Ward’s translation will enable readers to appreciate why Camus’s stoical anti-hero and ­devious narrator remains one of the key expressions of…

Book cover of The Things They Carried

Donald B. Stewart Author Of Past Medical History: Recollections of a Medical Miscreant

From the list on surviving a life-changing challenge.

Who am I?

When life’s experiences fall dismally short of expectations, many of us find ourselves lost at a crossroads. When my path to becoming a doctor began to exact an unacceptable toll, I had to find a way out; discharging myself from the hospital was the solution, and by far the best clinical decision of my brief medical career.  As a result, I’m still fascinated by choices others make when faced with what seem like impossible obstacles, and where those decisions lead. Following the medical dream from age five, it wasn’t easy to change my life’s course, but that crucial choice allowed me to grow in ways I couldn’t imagine.  

Donald's book list on surviving a life-changing challenge

Why did Donald love this book?

Choices, choices, choices. The Things They Carried chronicles in piecemeal, fictionalized format the journey of an army veteran, from an injured spirit focusing on the shortest space between actions necessary for survival, to the expansive vision of a celebrated author.

For me, a creative making his first, furtive attempts at writing, O'Brien’s book gave me permission to experiment with short stories, and to strive for the truth, no matter the amount of fiction required to communicate a reality.

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…

Invisible Cities

By Italo Calvino,

Book cover of Invisible Cities

A. David Redish Author Of Changing How We Choose: The New Science of Morality

From the list on across the boundary of poetry, science, and society.

Who am I?

I have long been fascinated by what makes us human. Great art is about the human condition. We are very quick to reject art that gets that human condition wrong. I’m a poet, a playwright, and a scientist.  While my science has found itself at the center of fields such as computational psychiatry and neuroeconomics, I find myself turning again and again to the insights from great novels to understand the subtleties of the human condition. So to complement the scientific questions of morality (because morality is all about the human condition), one should start with great novels that ask who we are and why we do what we do.  

A.'s book list on across the boundary of poetry, science, and society

Why did A. love this book?

Marco Polo at the court of Kublai Kahn tells of the fantastical cities that he has seen on his journey. 

Each city, told in a vignette of a page or two, each more amazing than the last is another reflection on the universal city – the way humans come together to build something larger than themselves. And through these views, one comes to see how we construct societies and the bonds that hold us together.

A masterwork of poetry and vision.

By Italo Calvino,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Invisible Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A subtle and beautiful meditation' Sunday Times

In Invisible Cities Marco Polo conjures up cities of magical times for his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, but gradually it becomes clear that he is actually describing one city: Venice. As Gore Vidal wrote 'Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvellous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant.'


By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of Beloved

Jodi Lynn Anderson Author Of Tiger Lily

From the list on walking the line between real and imaginary.

Who am I?

As a kid I felt the unseen magic in the things around me: it seemed as obvious as breathing, particularly when I was out in nature. These are books that brought me back to that… reminding me that being ‘realistic’ doesn’t mean ignoring what’s unseen. These stories have inspired me so deeply and driven my passion as a writer: which is basically to try to reach out to readers and say, hey, we are surrounded. There is more. This is not all there is. 

Jodi's book list on walking the line between real and imaginary

Why did Jodi love this book?

It feels presumptuous to even try to describe this novel…I can only say that to me, it is a story about a truth so painful that it can only be viewed indirectly and magically, from all the many vantage points its characters (and ghosts) offer.

A spiraling, heartbreaking explosion of a book, brilliantly structured, beautifully written, with a secret at its center. 

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked Beloved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…

The Three-Body Problem

By Cixin Liu, Ken Liu (translator),

Book cover of The Three-Body Problem

Nicholas Agar Author Of Dialogues on Human Enhancement

From the list on how technology could change humanity.

Who am I?

I’m a New Zealand philosopher who’s written a lot about the human enhancement debate. Philosophers are well known for their willingness to defend unpopular conclusions against all critics. Sometimes they engage in what I call “philosophical shit-stirring". You may think that’s a profanity but it’s actually a technical term. I’ve advocated some deliberately unpopular shit-stirring conclusions in the past. One of these is liberal eugenics - the idea that you can turn an evil like eugenics into something good by prefacing it with the feel-good term “liberal”. These dialogues are the beginning of a philosophical stock-take on what we should or might become.

Nicholas' book list on how technology could change humanity

Why did Nicholas love this book?

I’m awed by Chinese sci-fi author Liu Cixin’s imaginative daring in depicting barely conceivable challenges to humanity. Cixin takes us from a China making first contact with an alien civilization through an increasingly bewildering series challengings into a barely comprehensible future.

Humanity has faced some nasty surprises of late. Cixin’s series is a breathtakingly imagined depiction of futures in which the real challenges are not those we’ve been expecting and preparing for, but barely imagined ones. One of the themes of my book is that we must make the most of our species’ imaginative resources if we are to cope with the future’s surprises. If humanity follows the path of radical enhancement we’re going to have to prepare for a lot of the crazy weirdness described by Cixin.

Netflix is releasing a series based on the novel. Please let them capture some of the craziness of Cixin’s imagination.

By Cixin Liu, Ken Liu (translator),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Three-Body Problem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the award-winning, critically acclaimed, multi-million-copy-selling science-fiction phenomenon - soon to be a Netflix Original Series from the creators of Game of Thrones.

1967: Ye Wenjie witnesses Red Guards beat her father to death during China's Cultural Revolution. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.

Four decades later, Beijing police ask nanotech engineer Wang Miao to infiltrate a secretive cabal of scientists after a spate of inexplicable suicides. Wang's investigation will lead him to a mysterious online game and immerse him in a virtual world ruled by the intractable…

A Clockwork Orange

By Anthony Burgess,

Book cover of A Clockwork Orange

Jane Gilmartin Author Of The Mirror Man

From the list on science fiction that use an invented drug.

Who am I?

When I wrote The Mirror Man, I found that I needed a “tool” that would allow me to work within the world I had created. Specifically, I needed a way for a person’s consciousness to be transferred into the empty mind of a clone. I created Meld (a nod to the Vulcan Mind Meld in Star Trek). The drug took on a life of its own. I devised different ways to use it, touched on illegal street use, and it grew to a larger societal presence in the novel. Meld also encapsulates the essence of what I was exploring: What would it feel like to see yourself exactly as others see you? 

Jane's book list on science fiction that use an invented drug

Why did Jane love this book?

This is the book that got me into Science Fiction in the first place and it remains, perhaps, my favorite novel. The setting is a near-future dystopian society where a subculture of young, roving gangs control the streets through extraordinarily violent antics (ultra-violence). This violent behavior is enhanced by “milk plus,” a drink laced with synthetic drugs available at the Korova Milk Bar, which is where we first encounter our main character, Alex, a 15-year-old gang leader.

When Alex is arrested for murder, he is selected to undergo an experimental therapy (The Ludovico Technique) designed to wean him off violent behavior forever, after which his sentence will be commuted. During these treatments, he is injected with (yet another) drug called Serum 114. This drug induces extreme nausea while he is made to watch horribly violent films. Utterly changed, Alex is released back onto the streets to a world in which…

By Anthony Burgess,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked A Clockwork Orange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Anthony Burgess's influential nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, a teen who talks in a fantastically inventive slang that evocatively renders his and his friends' intense reaction against their society. Dazzling and transgressive, A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil and the meaning of human freedom. This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition, and Burgess's introduction, "A Clockwork Orange Resucked."


By Bram Stoker,

Book cover of Dracula

Essie Fox Author Of The Fascination

From the list on inspirational and eerie Gothic.

Who am I?

As a writer of dark historical novels, I'm always drawn to other books that reflect my gothic themes. I think this interest first began when I read Wuthering Heights, soon afterwards studying the Victorian Sensation novels at university. These vividly described and densely plot-driven stories, often with shocking twists and vivid casts of characters, would thrill and entrance me. Afterwards I'd look out for any newly published books by contemporary writers dealing with similar ideas. I can't describe how it felt when I wrote one myself and saw it on the bookshop shelves. 

Essie's book list on inspirational and eerie Gothic

Why did Essie love this book?

Another book I've read so many times and never tire of.

The structure is very clever, being told through the means of letters, diaries, and newspaper accounts - something I also like to incorporate in my own Victorian novels. Drawing on previous works that contain vampiric themes, this turns the genre into a rip-roaring sensation. It really is a masterpiece that deserves its success - as eternal as the vampire living across the centuries.

By Bram Stoker,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Dracula as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years' Arthur Conan Doyle

A masterpiece of the horror genre, Dracula also probes identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. It begins when Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, and makes horrifying discoveries in his client's castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England - an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master' - and a determined group of adversaries…

Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm Author Of The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences

From the list on to shatter the myth of modernity.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning historian and philosopher of the human sciences. But I got here by means of an unusually varied path: working for a private investigator, practicing in a Buddhist monastery, being shot at, hiking a volcano off the coast of Africa, being jumped by a gang in Amsterdam, snowboarding in the Pyrenees, piloting a boat down the canals of Bourgogne, playing bass guitar in a punk band, and once I almost died from scarlet fever. Throughout my journey, I have lived and studied in five countries, acquired ten languages, and attended renowned universities (Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford), all while seeking ways to make the world a better place.

Jason's book list on to shatter the myth of modernity

Why did Jason love this book?

I couldn't resist recommending one of my favorite novels.

The period following the French Revolution has often been described in terms of the birth of the modern nation-state and the globalization of the domination of nature, but Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, despite being a work of fiction, does a better job than many works of history in undermining these myths and portraying popular attitudes toward fairies and magic in the early 19th century.

When many people think of fairies, they imagine Tinker Bell and little winged creatures, but cutesy fairies were a Victorian invention, and Clarke preserves the ambiguities of early fairy lore. Magic, too, was understood by many of its practitioners as a practical craft, similar to how Clarke depicts it.

All that is to say, this novel explores fascinating themes and is also a cracking good read.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of…

The Only Good Indians

By Stephen Graham Jones,

Book cover of The Only Good Indians

Anne-Marie Ormsby Author Of Purgatory Hotel

From the list on scaring the bejesus out of you.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by ghosts and the unexplained ever since I was a small child, we would have copies of the magazine The Unexplained on the shelf and I would pore over them for hours, looking at old ghost photos and reading stories that blew my mind. My fascination has never waned, I have grown up reading books by amazing classic writers and then more recently to the contemporary writers who were inspired by them. Is there anything more enticing than a haunting? All of this has fascinated me since I was a child, and these books all have their own take on this theme.

Anne-Marie's book list on scaring the bejesus out of you

Why did Anne-Marie love this book?

They say never judge a book by its cover, but I was drawn by the elk illustrated cover and the blurb. You are taken on a very authentic cultural journey by Jones as he invites the reader into the Native American world and shows how tradition and contemporary life come together. While it is a true literary gem it is also a bona fide horror dripping with non-gratuitous gore and menace as a group of young men are hunted by something otherworldly, haunted by an event from their youth. I was very taken by the Native American spirituality when I became interested in it as a teenager, this book was both frightening and enlightening.

By Stephen Graham Jones,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Only Good Indians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Thrilling, literate, scary, immersive."
-Stephen King

The Stoker, Mark Twain American Voice in Literature, Bradbury, Locus and Alex Award-winning, NYT-bestselling gothic horror about cultural identity, the price of tradition and revenge for fans of Adam Nevill's The Ritual.

Ricky, Gabe, Lewis and Cassidy are men bound to their heritage, bound by society, and trapped in the endless expanses of the landscape. Now, ten years after a fateful elk hunt, which remains a closely guarded secret between them, these men - and their children - must face a ferocious spirit that is coming for them, one at a time. A spirit…

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