The most recommended surrealism books

Who picked these books? Meet our 129 experts.

129 authors created a book list connected to surrealism, and here are their favorite surrealism books.
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Book cover of The Dedalus Book of Surrealism: The Identity of Things

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

Some of the stories in this collection, like my own stories, use surreal metaphor, expressing poetic imagery in prose form; others are more about the thrill of absurdity. Though surrealism existed before the term or movement existed (in visual art and literature e.g. Lewis Carroll, Hieronymus Bosch, etc.), Andre Breton and his mates really went for it. Here you can read works by Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Louis Aragon, Leonora Carrington, and more. What I love about all of these artists is their obvious joy in discovering the surreal or poetic image, a joy I know well, and their absolute passion for the importance and potency of expressing such imagery. 

By Michael Richardson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dedalus Book of Surrealism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Comprised of works by authors from 17 countries, these volumes provide the most extensive assemblage of surrealist writing, much of which is here translated into English for the first time. "The Identity of Things" introduces surrealism's reworking of the fairy tale and the Gothic novel, its essays in the myths, desires and mysteries underlying modern reality.

"I went to fetch my car, but my chauffeur, who has no sense at all, had just buried it', writes Leonora Carrington in this captivating collection of tales from 17 languages."
The Observer


Book cover of Wittgenstein's Mistress

Kieran Setiya Author Of Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way

From my list on finding solidarity in suffering.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I work on ethics and related questions about human agency and human knowledge. My interest in adversity is both personal and philosophical: it comes from my own experience with chronic pain and from a desire to revive the tradition of moral philosophy as a medium of self-help. My last book was Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, and I have also written about baseball and philosophy, stand-up comedy, and the American author H. P. Lovecraft.

Kieran's book list on finding solidarity in suffering

Kieran Setiya Why did Kieran love this book?

Wittgenstein’s Mistress is a novel by David Markson that takes the form of a journal written by a woman living on a beach who believes she is the only person left on earth. It is made up of short paragraphs—often no more than a sentence—that record her lonely travels, like a surrealist Robinson Crusoe. At the risk of spoiling a conceptual twist, what begins as a metaphysical examination of language and the self turns out to be a study of grief and betrayal. If you are lonely, Wittgenstein’s Mistress is wonderful company: captivating, playful, intellectually rich, and unexpectedly moving.

By David Markson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wittgenstein's Mistress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wittgenstein's Mistress is a novel unlike anything David Markson or anyone else has ever written before. It is the story of a woman who is convinced and, astonishingly, will ultimately convince the reader as well that she is the only person left on earth.

Presumably she is mad. And yet so appealing is her character, and so witty and seductive her narrative voice, that we will follow her hypnotically as she unloads the intellectual baggage of a lifetime in a series of irreverent meditations on everything and everybody from Brahms to sex to Heidegger to Helen of Troy. And as…


Book cover of The Drunken Boat: Selected Writings

Rosanna Warren Author Of Max Jacob: A Life in Art and Letters

From my list on France modern art, culture, and political conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a poet, literary critic, translator, and biographer, and I grew up partly in France. I became obsessed with Max Jacob when I was twenty. Max Jacob—mystic, poet, painter, and suffering lover—took hold of me, and I found myself writing poems to him, in his voice, in my sketchbooks. They were among my first published poems: he redirected my life. A few years later I stumbled into writing his biography, never imagining that it would take thirty-five years: it came out from W. W. Norton in 2020, along with my most recent book of poems So Forth. I teach Comparative Literature in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Rosanna's book list on France modern art, culture, and political conflict

Rosanna Warren Why did Rosanna love this book?

Rimbaud is the inescapable, volcanically talented, revolutionary poet of late 19th century France, the boy who had mastered the classical idioms and forms of the art by the time he was fifteen, and by age eighteen was reinventing poetic language both in the prose poems of Illuminations and in visionary irregular lyrics. He stopped writing poetry at age twenty, but the poems he left behind helped to open the door to modern poetry around the world.

By Arthur Rimbaud, Mark Polizzotti (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Drunken Boat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new translation of the best and most provocative work by France's infamous rebel poet.

Poet, prodigy, precursor, punk: the short, precocious, uncompromisingly rebellious career of the poet Arthur Rimbaud is one of the legends of modern literature. By the time he was twenty, Rimbaud had written a series of poems that are not only masterpieces in themselves but that forever transformed the idea of what poetry is. Without him, surrealism is inconceivable, and his influence is palpable in artists as diverse as Henry Miller, John Ashbery, Bob Dylan, and Patti Smith. In this essential volume, renowned translator Mark Polizzotti…


Book cover of The Incal

Andrew MacLean Author Of ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times

From my list on graphic novels for a big imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe comics are one of the very best storytelling mediums for stories with big imagination. Prose and film are amazing, but comics have artwork for every single moment of the story, artwork not bound by space, time, or budget. I’ve written and drawn 5 graphic novels published in 11 different languages. I’ve dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of imagination. The books I’ve recommended have given me endless enjoyment and inspiration, I hope they can do the same for you too.

Andrew's book list on graphic novels for a big imagination

Andrew MacLean Why did Andrew love this book?

The Incal follows John DiFool, an everyday goofball, as he is swept away on the most metaphysical, surrealistic, galactic adventure possible. Written and drawn by two of the wildest, most ingenious imaginations to ever grace the page, Jodorowsky and Moebius guide the reader gracefully to the edge of existence and back – without confusing or pandering to its audience. 

This book works so well because, first, Moebuis’ art is an absolute delight to look at, and second, because using the common-man-character of DiFool as the protagonist, the reader can learn alongside the story in a way that feels smooth and natural – in a world that would otherwise be beyond the understanding of mere mortals.

By Alexandro Jodorowsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Incal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Moebius' and Alejandro Jodorowsky's Sci-Fi masterpiece collected in one epic volume. Lose yourself in the in the story that inspired many legendary filmakers including George Lucas and Ridley Scott.

John Difool, a low-class detective in a degenerate dystopian world, finds his life turned upside down when he discovers an ancient, mystical artifact called "The Incal." Difool's adventures will bring him into conflict with the galaxy's greatest warrior, the Metabaron, and will pit him against the awesome powers of the Technopope. These encounters and many more make up a tale of comic and cosmic proportions that has Difool fighting for not…


Book cover of Duet for the Devil

David L. Tamarin Author Of Hurting My Toys: Spiritual Suicide

From my list on extreme horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

My experience and expertise – I am not only a reader of horror, in particular extreme horror, but I am a published writer with several hundred writing credits. I have had hundreds of stories and articles published on many websites, magazines, and anthologies including a story in Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 5. For eleven years I wrote articles on the bizarre and morbid for Girls and Corpses magazine. I have been consistently writing for 20 years, and have also helped write several independent horror films. I have written many reviews and interviews as well, most recently in Phantasmagoria Magazine.

David's book list on extreme horror

David L. Tamarin Why did David love this book?

Two of the top voices in extreme horror fiction unite to create a surreal road trip to hell. Loosely based on the crimes of the Zodiac Killer, as well as several other serial killers, Duet for the Devil pushes all possible boundaries and stands as a monumental achievement in Extreme Horror. Featuring hundreds of pages of brutality and disturbing criminal behavior, the book is not one to be forgotten.

By T. Winter-Damon, Randy Chandler, Edward Lee

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Duet for the Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

DUET FOR THE DEVIL is a brutal and grim tale of The Zodiac Killer, serial slayers, drugs, dark gods, black magicks, detectives, and a dog-a road trip to oblivion. You've never read a hardboiled crime/erotic horror novel anything like this before- DUET FOR THE DEVIL completely redefines the meaning of extreme...and shatters, once and for all, the perceived limits of hardcore horror...


Book cover of Drawing in the Dust

Margaret Duarte Author Of Between Will and Surrender

From my list on metaphysical themes that plunge you into the surreal.

Why am I passionate about this?

Books have the power to do so much more than to simply entertain. I believe it’s my job as a fiction writer to condense research of complex subjects into understandable language and then play it out in story. My Enter the Between fiction series introduces readers to the world of metaphysics—the bridge between the seen and the unseen, science, and spirituality—which serves as a key to understanding consciousness, death, and the meaning of life. I’ve spent twenty years researching contemporary paganism, holistic theory, quantum mechanics, and transpersonal psychology to come up with stories that bridge science and spirituality with paranormal, supernatural underpinnings, and contemplative messaging that aims toward a kinder, wiser, more peaceful world.

Margaret's book list on metaphysical themes that plunge you into the surreal

Margaret Duarte Why did Margaret love this book?

I’m drawn to novels that combine the ordinary with the extraordinary, the mundane with the spiritual, and Drawing in the Dust does both. By turns, suspenseful, mysterious, and thought-provoking, this transformative story provides insight into the world of biblical excavation—with a twist! Archaeologist Page Brookstone discovers the bones of prophet Jeremiah locked in an embrace with the bones of a mysterious woman. Amazing stuff, especially for me, who has loved archeology since my days in college. I categorize Drawing in the Dust as visionary/metaphysical fiction, the genre I write and most love to read, a genre that bridges science and spirituality with paranormal and supernatural underpinnings.

By Zoe Klein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drawing in the Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

UNFORGETTABLE DEBUT NOVEL IS A RICHLY EVOCATIVE AND BOUNDLESS LOVE STORY THAT REVERBERATES FROM BIBLICAL TIMES TO THE MODERN WORLD.

Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone has toiled at Israel's storied battlegrounds of Megiddo for twelve years, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed deliver the life-altering message she craves. Which is why she risks her professional reputation when a young Arab couple begs her to excavate beneath their home. Ibrahim and Naima Barakat claim the spirits of two lovers overwhelm everyone who enters with love and desire. As Page digs, she makes a miraculous discovery-the bones of the deeply…


Book cover of Everything Is Totally Fine

Scott Semegran Author Of To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel

From my list on surreal, bizarro, funny fiction fix.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer of humorous fiction living in Austin, Texas. I enjoy writing novels about unusual friendships and the healing power that comes when people just shut up and listen to each other. Many of my stories have the odd-couple dynamic on full display and I love to explore what would happen if people with very different backgrounds and opinions are forced to deal with each other. I do have a couple of novels that wouldn’t seem to be humorous on the surface, but there is an element of humor or comedy that runs through all of my work. My next novel, The Codger and the Sparrow, will be published by TCU Press in 2024.

Scott's book list on surreal, bizarro, funny fiction fix

Scott Semegran Why did Scott love this book?

Ranging from very short to very bizarre, these stories are out there. One story is about a melancholy octopus who travels to the White House. Other stories are about ants, mice, birds, dogs, sharks, and whales doing mundane things or experiencing existential crises. Weird, surreal, and whacky, Zac Smith is on a mission to have fun with his stories. This book may not be for everyone. But, if it does tickle your fancy, then you’ll be glad you immersed yourself in Zac Smith’s unique mind.

By Zac Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything Is Totally Fine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everything is Totally Fine is a collection of surreal and inventive stories ranging from six sentences to eight pages. Even though its main themes seem to be despair, depression, boredom, confusion, and fear, readers may find themselves smiling, laughing, excited, startled, moved, and inspired while reading it.

Animals in this book include ants, mice, birds, dogs, octopuses, sharks, whales. Settings include kitchens, bathrooms, camping grounds, gas stations, graveyards, rocket ships, golf courses. Activities include driving, converting files, setting things on fire, eating pizza, showering, planking, and visiting the White House.


Book cover of Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye

Alexandre Lacroix Author Of Dragons in Love

From my list on bedtime stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the happy father of five children, born between 2000 and 2017. So in my adult years, I have quite constantly lived in the company of young children, and I’ve started inventing stories for them. I have now six albums published in France, all of which were originally imagined for my kids just before we switch off the light for sleeping. Born in 1975, I live in Paris, I’m the chief editor of Philosophie magazine (a monthly publication with 50 000 readers), and I’ve published twenty novels and essays alas not available in English. I’m the president and co-founder of a creative writing school located in Paris, Les Mots.

Alexandre's book list on bedtime stories

Alexandre Lacroix Why did Alexandre love this book?

Claude Ponti is now in charge of the answers to the children's questions in Philosophie Magazine. Maybe less diffused in the Anglophone world than Ungerer, he’s clearly a great artiste, one of the biggest, with an extravagant and surrealistic imagination, and this album, in particular, is a masterpiece.

By Claude Ponti, Alyson Waters (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Claude Ponti’s nimble wordplay and punning, combined with his phantasmagorical and joyful illustrations, create an endearing gem of a book, bound to be a bedtime story favorite.

From one of the world’s most beloved children’s book authors comes a story of a high-spirited flock of friends building an unusual birthday cake. 
A rabble of soft, golden “chicklets” are awoken one morning to a startling proclamation: they only have ten short days to prepare for their best friend Bertha Daye’s party. It’s time to get to work building a larger-than-life castle cake to house and feed the revelers. Made of chocolate…


Book cover of Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Jean Abernethy Author Of Fergus and the Greener Grass

From my list on read-aloud fun for little folks and big folks together.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a farm in a musical, artistic family. Poetry, music, animals, and laughter were the fabric of daily life. I happened to be gifted with the ability to draw. With a particular passion for horses, I eventually earned my art degree and created the cartoon character Fergus the Horse. I truly believe that when extraordinarily skilled illustrations are combined with extraordinarily skilled writing to create a published work, then the projected age recommendation for readers becomes irrelevant.

Jean's book list on read-aloud fun for little folks and big folks together

Jean Abernethy Why did Jean love this book?

Like Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss is one of my illustrating/writing heroes. Every verse, every page takes you to an unexpected place.

I like this book also because of its whimsical philosophy: “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can take yourself any  direction you choose…”

This book reminds readers of all ages to lighten up, laugh, and keep going. 

By Dr. Seuss,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Oh, the Places You'll Go! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrate life's ups and downs in this exquisite slipcase and hardback edition of the bestselling Dr. Seuss classic!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

For more than thirty years, this Dr. Seuss classic has carried us through life's ups and downs - from fun times and triumphs, to lurches and slumps!

Take an entertaining look at the adventures life has in store for all of us in this very special slipcase and hardback edition of the beloved classic.

The perfect gift for every moment in life, from graduations, weddings and birthdays, to…