Pale Fire is a novel in the form of a poem, with notes and commentary by a crazed would-be academic. Nabokov’s humor and cleverness are on full display. It’s an essential read for anyone who enjoys his books.
The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu)
Science fiction dealing with physics is unusual, and the book’s cultural setting (China immediately after the Cultural Revolution) is quite interesting. For me, the most striking part of the novel (besides the fact that half the physicists are women) was a virtual reality video game where physicists must decode the rules of a seemingly arbitrary planet.
“House of Leaves” is an academic text concerning a (perhaps nonexistent) film, the manuscript of which is discovered by a lonely tattoo artist, who adds his own copious footnotes and commentary. The novel’s form most closely resembles Pale Fire, but the mood is entirely different. Pale Fire is satire, sometimes even burlesque, but House of Leaves is a creepy story about a house that is bigger inside than it is outside.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
This fast-paced mystery begins with the suspicious death of a famous filmmaker’s daughter and quickly becomes a tale full of ambiguity and eerie events.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
A list of weird cool books wouldn’t be complete without this experimental classic, which tells of a family’s decline through four memorably eccentric points of view.