Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read
Perdido Street Station
An early example of the so-called “New Weird" current of fantasy, Perdido Street Station is unique both for its imagination and its creation of atmosphere. A steampunk novel before steampunk was popular, Perdido Street Station presents an industrial city filled with amazing races, characters and magic. If you want a single example of why this book is unique, consider the fact that one of the races who live in New Crobuzon is a race of sentient cactuses!
An Instance of the Fingerpost
Unique for its complex plot, but also for the intriguing way that Pears presents it. Told through four different points of view, An Instance of the Fingerpost unveils the same events again and again and again. As each character tells his story, we realise that what we thought we knew is not in fact the truth. It is not until the final tale is told that we realise who is actually behind the crime and why. A classic whodunit told in a totally unique way.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel
Another fantasy inclusion on the list, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel does not have the most original plot, but where it stands out from the rest is in the clever use of footnotes. What should have been of secondary importance becomes vital to the novel, providing not only verisimilitude to the alternate history that Clarke has developed, but also giving key information to understanding the plot.
A sci-fi classic, Dune is unique for its combination of awe-inspiring SF vistas, amazing worlds but also the philosophical ideas that Herbert allowed to seep into his prose. While telling a great adventure story with everything one could hope for from an epic tale (intrigue, betrayal, sword-fights, space ships, drugs, giant worms!), Dune also has a hell of a lot to say about honour, family and fear.
The Dark Tower Series
Cheating a bit for this one, since this is a series and not an individual book. Still, this is one of the most unique on this list for so many reasons. A fantasy epic set in a quasi-Old West world, The Dark Tower combines so many elements that it is difficult to choose one. However, for me what makes this so unique is the fact that through this seminal series, King was able to bring together his entire oeuvre in one huge tapestry that includes a mind-warping journey to our own world where our heroes encounter... Stephen King, a writer who is imagining them all at the same time!
I have been engaged in a reading project since 2012 whose objective is to read a book about every single American President in the order in which they served. This project began with this unique book that traces the lives of the twelve last presidents and does so in the style of Suetonius' Twelve Caesars. What makes it so unique is the way the writer focuses on the different facets of these men - their public lives on one hand and their private lives on the other.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Not so much unique for its storyline or characters, Miss Peregrine's School's marked difference lies in the clever use of photography throughout (as you can see in the cover above). Not one to listen to as an audiobook, the charm comes from the photos that Ransom Riggs inserts into the novel, all of which harken back to the strange, unsettling early days of photography when it seemed that people could fly and ghosts hovered at the edges of view.
The Weird Sisters
The Weird Sisters has one of the most unique narrative voices I have ever come across. Told through the eyes of the three eponymous sisters, the novel is told in a plural third-person, as if all three sisters are telling the story at the same time, which from time to time moves into a singular third-person, as one of the sisters takes over. It seems confusing, but it is surprisingly easy to follow, aided by a great plot and fantastic characters.
The Reason I Jump
A non-fiction look into the life of an autistic child, The Reason I Jump is both unique and life-affirming. Unique because it is one of the few times that we get a first person look into what it is like for an autistic child day to day, life-affirming because of the strength, courage and empathy displayed by this amazing boy.
Life After Life
Although there are a couple of books that have done similar things before, Life After Life was the first book I read that dealt with the idea of living the same life multiple times. A fantastic story told in a unique way, as we cycle through Ursula Todd's lives again and again and again, as she attempts to "get it right" both for herself and those around her.
Which Books Are Most Unique On Your List?