10 outstanding books that will capture your attention with a unique format

A woman sitting in a window and reading a book.

Since Gutenberg invented the printing press, over 100 million books have been published worldwide. This vast selection of fiction from every genre and country can provide hours of entertainment, but it can also make deciding on your next read difficult.

Luckily, some of these novels stand out from their companions due to their unique format. If you’d prefer to try something new, pick up one of these 10 fantastic epistolary books.

1. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

When Amy took the job at ORSK, she didn’t expect the store to be haunted. Strange occurrences are causing unexplainable damage to the flatpack furniture overnight, and the management is desperate to find a solution. Three staff members volunteer for a dusk-til-dawn shift to get to the bottom of the mystery, but the store holds secrets more powerful than they ever expected.

Designed to resemble an IKEA catalogue, Horrorstör delivers a terrifying haunted house narrative in a ridiculous but disturbing setting. Including advertisements for flatpack furniture between chapters with increasingly unnerving descriptions and utilising a sparse Scandinavian writing style, this peculiar but horrifying novel is one you won’t regret reading.

2. The Appeal by Janice Hallett

A local theatre group is struck with disaster after their director’s daughter is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. As the cast rallies together to raise money for her treatment, tensions begin to grow as doubts arise about the effectiveness of the medicine and they begin to question the intentions of those involved. Then, the day after an explosive dress rehearsal, a dead body is discovered.

Two lawyers are tasked with sifting through the evidence before the trial. As they read through the emails, letters, and texts that the book is composed of, you must solve the mystery alongside them and find the killer before an innocent person is convicted.

3. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

The first letter addressed to Red reads, “Burn before reading”. A forbidden correspondence between two agents on the opposing side of a war that spans all of time and space begins, and the two women start to forge a relationship that will become more powerful than the loyalty their commanders’ demand.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone wrote the letters that make up this novel without conferring, meaning that their character’s reactions to the breathtaking plot capture their genuine emotions. With gorgeous prose and a fascinating setting, they illustrate the beautiful tragedy of star-crossed love.

4. S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S. is not just one story, but two. The Ship of Theseus follows a man with no past as he is taken on a disorientating and harrowing journey across the ocean. The true story, however, is nestled in the margins of the novel. Two university students pass the book back and forth, exchanging opinions on the mysterious author and the coded messages that he hid in the footnotes, and slowly start to fall in love.

A collaboration between the award-winning writer Doug Dorst and the famous filmmaker J.J. Abrams, the several overlapping narratives in S. establish a complex and intriguing tale that can be read again and again.

The intricate and thoughtful design of the novel is also stunning, as the story moves from handwritten notes to postcards and even a map drawn on the back of a napkin. This experimental book is absolutely one of a kind, and well worth a read.

5. Replica by Lauren Oliver

Two girls set off on dangerous journeys with no idea that their lives are going to change forever. Gemma wants to investigate the conspiracy surrounding the mysterious Haven Institute, while Lyra – a newly-escaped clone – only wants to leave that place in her past.

Although their stories may seem separate, the two girl’s fates are intertwined. Written in two halves, both narratives reveal critical information about the other girl’s mirrored journey. You can choose to alternate between the dual perspectives by flipping the novel over, or you can read all of one story before switching to the other.

6. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

While riding her bike in the forest, 11-year-old Rose Franklin falls into a mysterious hole in the ground. When her rescuers pull her out, they find her sitting in a gigantic metal palm, and so starts a conspiracy that will follow Rose for her entire life.

17 years after the initial discovery, Rose is a highly-trained physicist doing her best to unlock the secrets of the buried hand. Written as a series of interviews with an enigmatic interrogator, Sleeping Giants explores humanity’s response to the unknown as the characters determine whether the cryptic creature will save the world, or end it.

7. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

How can you define all of the nebulous emotions that accompany the idea of “love”? The narrator of The Lover’s Dictionary attempts to do so in 185 alphabetical dictionary entries. Accompanying the words is the story of his complicated relationship, as he falls into love, deals with the betrayal of his partner’s infidelity, and the subsequent effort to rescue their relationship.

Levithan’s choice to tell the story non-chronologically means that the highs and lows of the narrator’s relationship are revealed at the same time, taking you on the emotional rollercoaster that he calls love.

8. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Laurel’s English teacher tasks the class with writing a letter to a dead person. What starts as a writing exercise becomes routine as Laurel begins writing her letters more frequently, addressing familiar figures such as Amy Winehouse and Amelia Earhart in an attempt to come to terms with the loss of her sister.

The winner of a Goodreads Choice Award, Love Letters to the Dead is a moving portrayal of grief, told entirely through Laurel’s unique letters as she slowly learns to deal with her emotions and accept her sister’s tragic death.

9. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

Kady assumed that breaking up with her boyfriend would be the worst thing that could happen to her today. And then the world ends.

Stuck on a spaceship in the middle of an intergalactic war, Kady’s only hope of surviving evil artificial intelligence and cruel biological warfare is to hack into the ship’s mainframe to learn more about her attackers. Unfortunately, doing so also draws her into the biggest conspiracy that the universe has ever seen.

Told entirely through the documents she hacks into – including medical reports, emails, and interviews – follow Kady as she digs deep into the mystery that threatens the lives of all of the remaining survivors.

10. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones is a gorgeous singer rising to fame. The Six are a band growing in popularity. One producer decides to combine the two, and the group proceeds to make rock and roll history.

Set in the 70s, the novel is made up of interview transcripts with the stars and their acquaintances as the mystery of why they broke up is finally unravelled, years later. Thanks to the unique format, the story is perfect for fans of audiobooks.

And if you want more Daisy Jones & The Six content after finishing the novel, it has recently been turned into a series, which you can find on Amazon Prime.

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