As a literature student and a total book worm, I have come across many books that I adore, and some of them have extremely unusual story lines. But some of those books also happen to be my favourites, because they simply make the best books, so I’ve created a list of my top five books, that I think you should read (if you haven’t already) because of their spectacular storylines. I have to stress this is not in order.

1. Life of Pi – Yann Martel:

Question, how does a boy end up with a hyena, an Orang-utan, a Zebra and a Bengal Tiger on a life boat and survive for 227 days? I’m not going to tell you, but it is a fascinating story of a shipwreck that lands Pi Patel in this situation. Not only does Pi have to survive with such animals, but he endures horrific weather conditions, days without fresh water or food and encounters a land which turns poisonous at night. It is a fantastic story, and would also recommend the film, as the special effects are rather spectacular.


2. Coraline – Neil Gaiman:

For a children’s book, I did find this quite scary at some points myself (especially the illustrations) but the storyline is brilliant. A mysterious door that one minute, when opened shows nothing but a brick wall, and the next leads to a tunnel which will take you into a world where everyone you know in the real world is the opposite way round in this world and have their eyes covered with buttons instead, and is almost too good to be true. Oh and you can’t forget about the cat that doesn’t have a name. My favourite character, a sarcastic cat, love it. But Coraline learns fast that the almost perfect world is not, as Coraline’s ‘other mother’ is quite a nasty piece of work. But I took a lot of inspiration from this book, learning that in order to be brave, sometimes you have to be scared, but that’s ok. There is a film of this too which I have seen, and although quite creepy, still excellent.

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3. Riddley Walker – Russell Hoban:

The most difficult book I have ever had to read for one reason, and that is because it is written in English which has not been spoken, the language itself represents the breakdown of the English language itself in the future. This is a tale of how Riddley Walker, a twelve year old boy shares his life-style, living in a post nuclear holocaust Kent, where technology no longer exists and living in an iron age, going back to the days of hunting and where iron is salvaged from broken machinery. But not only that, Religion has been converted into the story of St. Eustace and half-forgotten facts of the nuclear war. The storyline itself is simple, when Riddley turns 12 he officially becomes an adult, we find out his dad has died during a salvaging shift and so Riddley takes his place as the ‘connexions man’ which means he has to try and find connections between events in order to try and understand the world in which they live. But this is a story which shows finding out too much can be dangerous. Personally, thought it was very clever, and would try reading it if you can, it is challenging, but that’s what I enjoyed about it.


4. The Way You Look Tonight – Richard Madeley:

Yes, the author is Richard off of Richard and Judy, and when my sister first bought me this novel, I assumed it was a romance and didn’t bother to read the blurb. Oh how wrong I was and how shocked I was when I found out it was pretty much the complete opposite. Stella Arnold has a degree in psychology and is on the plane to Boston to pursue a doctorate at a top American university. We learn that it was her father who was a killer that influenced her to study psychology in the first place, so when scenes of terror are unfolded in Florida Keys and she is asked by the Whitehouse to help out, how can Stella refuse? This book is both quite creepy but also one you can’t put down. We get perspectives of the murderer and of Stella’s knowledge, and when you link them together it does make sense. I recommend reading it, *coughs* there is a little romance in there too if that persuades you.


5. Limitless – Alan Glynn:

Imagine there was a pill that could make you fully function and then you became addicted to it, and then your sanity started to chip away. This is exactly what happens to Eddie Spinola when he starts to take the drug MDT-48. Basically a drug that redesigns your life, before taking the drug Eddie is suffering from writers block with a deadline dooming. Whilst he completes his work and even starts to test his ability on the stock market, his intellectual ability increases. But soon Eddie starts to suffer with a drug addiction, and then has black-outs and not remembering things. This book for me is surreal because we as readers also have no clue what Eddie has and hasn’t done and we are curious to find out, but also nervous for Eddie’s sake.


Of course, there are many books that have strange and wonderful plots, feel free to share your top weird/surreal books if you wish!

Claire McGowan