Sometimes a book is just different. It surprises you, it confuses you, it makes you think, and perhaps leaves you scratching your head. But most of all it captures your attention and provides a unique reading experience. I love books like this. Looking at my bookshelf, there are five books that standout to me as odd and quirky reads that were surprising and confusing in all the best ways.
1. The Room by Jonas Karlsson
A story about a man named Björn who discovers a small, secret room that becomes his refuge from the open floor-plan office space and his co-workers. An amusing and wonderfully unique story.
2. The Blue Girl by Laurie Foos
Told through alternating perspectives of three mothers and three daughters, it tells the story of a time when a mysterious girl with blue skin was saved from drowning. After which, the mothers take turns visiting the blue girl and feeding her moon pies that contain their secrets. An odd concept but one that is very well executed.
3. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
Josephine is hired as one of many bureaucrats entering an endless amount of numbers into something only known as “The Database.” Her new position and her husband’s increasingly odd behaviour begins to take its toll, leading to an unsettling discovery.
4. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
A unique book with elements of magical realism, fantasy, and science-fiction. Patricia is a witch with a deep connection to nature, and Laurence is a genius when it comes to science and technology. They find friendship in the challenging times of their youth, but end up going their separate ways only to reunite as adults, at a time when the world is descending into chaos.
5. I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Told from the perspective of an unnamed woman who is taking a road trip with her boyfriend, Jake, to visit his parents’ farm. The woman is unsure of her new relationship and is thinking of ending things. However, the trip doesn’t go as she thought it would and things take a strange turn during an unexpected detour. Creepy and unsettling.
What are some of your favourite odd and quirky reads? 🙂
“What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess?”
Jonas Karlsson is back with another interesting story that follows a similar structure to his debut novel The Room. Endearing and charming in its delivery, The Invoice tells the tale of a man who leads a seemingly unremarkable and predictable life. He works part time at a video store, has a few friends, one noteworthy relationship that ended years ago and a routine that he enjoys and finds comfort in. When he receives an invoice from a bureaucratic agency in which he is billed an absurd amount, he figures it is a ridiculous and rather funny mistake. However, he soon learns that he is not the only one as people all over Sweden are being billed based on assessed happiness. Considering the basic facts of his life, how can his bill be such a large amount?
The Invoice is a lovely tale with some sweet and thought-provoking moments, that brings up the question of what signifies happiness and what it is worth. As with the author’s previous novel, the writing style is beautiful in its simplicity and straight-forward nature, delivering a story that examines life in some form while giving the reader something to think about. The unnamed protagonist is endearing in many ways and following his experiences and reactions is at times quite amusing. I very much enjoy Jonas Karlsson’s way of writing and would recommend his work to those looking for a simple, easy, and interesting read.
*ARC provided by NetGalley. Publication date: July 12, 2016.
“The first time I walked into the room I turned back almost at once.”
The Room is a story about a man named Björn who was recently transferred to a job at a place called “The Authority.” He is intent on succeeding and develops a plan that includes carefully timed breaks. During one of his breaks he discovers a small, secret room that becomes his refuge from the open office space and his co-workers. When he is in the room, Björn feels a great sense of calm, relaxation and focus. The problem is that no one else can see this room. All they see is a dazed Björn staring at a wall. Finding this very strange and creepy, they want to put a stop to this bizarre behaviour and have him fired. Björn however, is not going down without a fight and uses his secret room to turn the tables in an attempt to be the one that is proven right.
Written by Swedish actor Jonas Karlsson, The Room is an interesting and strange little book. At just under 200 pages it is a very quick, easy and entertaining read. The story is entirely set in the office environment of “The Authority”, where we are introduced to a number of characters that are representative of the types of people found in a typical office. Main character Björn is a curious choice of protagonist. He is not interested in making friends and believes he is smarter than everyone. While he does not always come across as particularly likeable, his situation makes us want to root for him. The Room has been described as a take on corporate culture and conformity, giving us a glance into office interactions and the culture surrounding the office workspace. The addition of the secret room makes the story quite compelling as it creates a level of intrigue and mystery. The author’s writing is beautiful in its simplicity and directness and provides us with an amusing and wonderfully unique story.
Favourite quote: “Inhibited people don’t see the world the way it really is. They only see what they themselves want to see. They don’t see the nuances. The little differences.”