Books Like House Of Leaves – 5 Weird Reads To Capture Your Imagination

When House of Leaves was released in the year 2000, it quickly became one of the strangest books that readers can buy.

Both a horror novel and a strange genre-bending piece of postmodernist fiction, it has captivated readers ever since.

Books Like House of Leaves - 5 Weird Reads To Capture Your Imagination

If you’ve recently finished House of Leaves, then you’re likely to find yourself at a loss as to what to read next, especially within the horror genre, due to its utterly unique plot and characters. 

House of Leaves is a story within a story, following the life of Johnny Truant as he discovers an essay about a strange documentary known as ‘the Navidson Record.’

The Navidson Record follows a family that moves into a house, only to find that it is slowly expanding from the inside.

As they begin to investigate this strange phenomenon, they find a labyrinth unfolding within their house, and a terrifying tale of darkness unfolds. 

If you loved House of Leaves, then you’re going to be captured by our list of 5 weird novels to change your perspective on life.

Check below for an exploration of books like Infinite Jest, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, Cloud Atlas, IT, and Haunting Of Hill House.

We’ve also included a short Frequently Asked Questions section to help answer anything else you may be wondering about.

Themes In House Of Leaves

House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition

One of the difficulties when it comes to searching for books like House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is the sheer scope and complexity of it.

House of Leaves is a thick book with a lot of different themes. We’re going to explore some of the most obvious ones so that we can compare it to other books.

The first theme that’s important to explore is the concept of fear, horror, and terror. All of these words can be used synonymously to explain some of the creepiest aspects of the book.

Although House of Leaves is not strictly a horror novel, it uses aspects of horror novels in order to evoke emotion from the reader.

‘Haunted House novels’ have been a staple of the horror genre since its inception, and House of Leaves uses this idea and then stretches it as far as it can go without breaking.

A second central theme of House of Leaves is the idea of family.

You can see this not only with the Navidson family—who are the most obvious example—but also with the character of Johnny Truant, who has a distinct lack of this in his life and is yearning for closer connections.

Family is thoroughly explored throughout the course of the narrative and often pitted against some of the darker aspects of the book.

The final important theme to discuss is the idea of meta-fiction and meta-narratives. This is a staple theme of postmodernist fiction and one that Danielewski uses to maximum effect in House of Leaves.

He does this through extensive footnotes and multiple narratives happening at the same time. 

Books Like House of Leaves

1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas: A Novel

First off, we’ve decided to go with the most successful novel from one of the strangest popular authors out there today.

David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’ is a novel that makes use of some strange literary devices and human themes to tell a tale of human resilience.

Cloud Atlas is broken up into several different stories each with completely unique time settings and different conventional genres.

Although at first, the stories seem disconnected, the further you delve into the worlds created by Mitchell, the more you begin to see the similarities.


We’d recommend Cloud Atlas to any reader of House of Leaves who fell in love with its rich characterization and strange literary techniques.

Although there are big differences in tone between Cloud Atlas and House of Leaves, both novels offer an alternative story that will feel like nothing else out there! 

Pros 

  • Variety: Lots of different styles and stories throughout.
  • Rich and Complex: A mind-bending read quite like House of Leaves.

Cons

  • Genre: Does not fit into the horror genre. 

Themes: Tribalism, Nationality, Technology, Slavery, Greed, Power, Free Will and Fate, and Religion. 

2. IT by Stephen King

It

Next up in our list we have IT by Stephen King. This is a book that is a perfect fit for anybody who is looking for something to read after enjoying the horror and epic qualities of House of Leaves.

At over 200,000 words in length, IT by Stephen King is an incredible novel that sees its cast of characters taken on an odyssey of horror.

The Loser’s Club is a group of kids who are preyed upon by an evil, shapeshifting clown who likes to eat children. Across the course of this time-bending novel, we see them as kids and as adults. 

Although IT is a much more traditional novel than House of Leaves, it shares a lot in common in terms of theme and overall ‘epic’ quality.

It’s similar in length and can act as a great horror palate cleanser after some of the more complicated aspects of House of Leaves.

However, if you’re looking for the same strange prose and literary techniques just know that you won’t find them in IT. 

Pros

  • Scary: An iconic horror novel that’s very unsettling at times.
  • Epic: Long book at over 200,000 words!

Cons

  • Dark Content: Very explicit content, darker than House of Leaves at points.

Themes: Childhood, Growing Up, Trauma, Youth, Summer, Horror. 

3. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House

Perhaps you’re interested in some of the direct ancestors of House of Leaves.

Although—as we’ve already discussed—it’s hard to pigeonhole House of Leaves into any specific ‘type’ of  genre, it’s clear that it in part follows the form of a haunted house novel.

This is something that has a rich history throughout literature, and one of the most notable examples of this genre is ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ by Shirley Jackson.

This novel sees four characters coming to a haunted house, each for their own reason. What they find is a house that very much has a mind of its own.

Equally scary as it is illuminating, this is a novel that has defined the haunted house area of horror since its release in 1959 and is a great example of an ancestor of House of Leaves.

It’s also a great read if you want something short and quick to read after the long word count of Danielewski’s masterpiece.

Pros

  • House Story: If you’re looking for a classic haunted house story, this is a great bet.
  • Prose: Gorgeous prose throughout the novel.

Cons

  • Standard: A standard book that doesn’t experiment like House of Leaves.

Themes: Houses, Family, The Past, Horror, Ghosts. 

4. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

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Infinite Jest is a novel that is almost as strange as it is long. If you liked the post-modernist aspects of House of Leaves, then this is going to be a great book for you to read next (see also “Books Like Senlin Ascends – 5 Gripping Reads To Add To Your Collection!“).

The late David Foster Wallace is considered to be a literary genius, and his novel takes the reader on a journey through a philosophical journey. 

One thing we have to point out is that Infinite Jest is much more of a comedy than House of Leaves, and the two mostly share aspects of style, rather than story.

However, if you’re looking for another sweeping novel that does things very differently, then this is a great choice for you. 

Pros

  • Inventive: A unique, inventive book that stretches what is normal in literature.
  • Comedic: Much lighter than House of Leaves.

Cons

  • Length: A very long, difficult book to finish. 

Themes: Addiction, America, Passion, Family.

5. If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller… by Italo Calvino

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

If you’re looking for a book that’s even weirder than House of Leaves, then look no further than ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler’ by Italo Calvino.

This is a book that really stretches the boundaries of what a novel can be. The narrative is all about the reader—that’s you, by the way—trying to read a book named ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller.’

As you can probably tell, this is a book that becomes very strange the further you go. 

We would recommend this book to you if you’re looking for something unique and challenging.

It’s a great exploration into the world of postmodernist literature, and a good extension of some of the literary techniques of House of Leaves.

There’s a good chance that this book had at least some influence on the work of Mark Z. Danielewski. 

Pros

  • Experimental: This is a very strange and inventive book.
  • Postmodernism: One of the most iconic works of postmodernism.

Cons

  • Readability: Not the most ‘fun’ book to read. 

Themes: Meta-Fiction, War, Literature, Fate, Language. 

Final Thoughts

So that was our list of the 5 best books like House of Leaves for you to read once you’re done.

House of Leaves is a remarkably difficult book to compare to others, but we hope that our list has given you some similar reads to enthrall you.

 If you still have some questions, check out our short Frequently Asked Questions section below.

Best of luck with your reading journey, we hope that you’re able to find other books that are as transformative as the work of Mark Z. Danielewski.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is House of Leaves A Hard Book To Read?

House of Leaves is certainly a difficult book to read because of its odd structure, length and horror scenes.

It’s a fun book in parts, but does require a good grasp of the English language to properly appreciate. 

What Genre Is House Of Leaves?

Although House of Leaves is often called a horror novel, it can easily be placed in a lot of different genres.

Author Mark Z. Danielewski believes that genre is best used as a marketing tool, and that it might not be that important to place House of Leaves within a specific genre.

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Gawonii Chubbuck