35 of the Most Favorited Obscure Books of All Time
Treat this list as the exact opposite of the likes of super popular titles such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones or any top rated books you’ll recognize even by looking at the book cover a couple of miles away. Obscure books are those that are not super popular and probably not many people have heard of. You can call them the “underdogs” in the literature world if you may, hidden treasures or just simply uncharted territories of new adventures. Looking at the big picture, they may be obscure for being mediocre or weird as well, but the collection presented herein will only cover those that are interesting and worth exploring.
Understandably, every list such as this one is very subjective to one’s reading tastes and choices, and 35 is definitely a very small number to cover a more thorough and complete list. Regardless, we do hope that at least one or more of the books listed here could spark an interest in your next selection, ultimately pushing them further out of the obscure category.
In no specific order, please do find 35 of the most favorited obscure books of all time for your reference. Do take note that this is not our typical “free ebook” compilation post, but more of a “What to Read” kind of post. However, a link will be provided should the book is freely and legally available. Feel free to scout ahead and digest the information accordingly. Happy reading!
The Book of Disquiet
“The Book of Disquiet, if not unique, is close to it. It is a little like a novel, often like a collection of prose poems, and often like a series of aphorisms and philosophical reflections. The heteryonum that is Soares enables Pessoa to communicate a disciplined, definite vision of the world, necessarily limited in scope, but intensified and concentrated. In this sense, it resembles Roman and English satire, its authorial mask as carefully crafted and resonant as those of Horace and Juvenal, Pope and Swift. Soares, however, takes no interest in vice, let alone the reform of humankind; in fact, he seems to care little about humanity in general, or people in particular.” – Bill Kerwin
The Opposing Shore
The great maritime state of Orsenna has long been lulled by settled peace and prosperity. It is three hundred years since it was actively at war with its traditional enemy two days’ sail across the water, the savage land of Farghestan – a slumbering but by no means extinct volcano. The narrator of this story, Aldo, a world-weary young aristocrat, is posted to the coast of Syrtes, where the Admiralty keeps the seas constantly patrolled to defend the demarcation between the two powers still officially at war. His duties are to be the eyes and ears of the Signory, to report back any rumours of interest to the State. Goaded, however, by his mistress, Vanessa Aldobrandi, he takes a patrol boat across the boundary to within cannon-shot of the Farghestani coastal batteries. The age-old undeclared truce is no more than a boil ripe to be lanced.
In the darkening embers of a Communist utopia, life in a desolate Hungarian town has come to a virtual standstill. Flies buzz, spiders weave, water drips and animals root desultorily in the barnyard of a collective farm. But when the charismatic Irimias – long-thought dead – returns, the villagers fall under his spell. Irimias sets about swindling the villagers out of a fortune that might allow them to escape the emptiness and futility of their existence. He soon attains a messianic aura as he plays on the fears of the townsfolk and a series of increasingly brutal events unfold.
It is a novel of dazzling intricacy, absorbing suspense, and the highest ambition: to redeem the great claim of paranoia on the American psyche. In trying to figure out just who is so threatened by an innocent piece of cinema verit filmed in collaboration with a friend, Cartwright finds himself at the heart of a mystery stretching from New York and London to Corsica and Stonehenge.
With each new fact he gathers, both the intricacy of the syndicate arrayed against him and what his search will cost him become alarmingly clear.
The Woman in the Dunes
The Woman in the Dunes, by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense and the existential novel. After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seashore, an amateur entomologist is offered lodging for the night at the bottom of a vast sand pit. But when he attempts to leave the next morning, he quickly discovers that the locals have other plans. Held captive with seemingly no chance of escape, he is tasked with shoveling back the ever-advancing sand dunes that threaten to destroy the village. His only companion is an odd young woman. Together their fates become intertwined as they work side by side at this Sisyphean task.
The Lime Twig
An English horse race, the Golden Bowl at Aldington, provides the background for John Hawkes’ exciting novel, The Lime Twig, which tells of an ingenious plot to steal and race a horse under a false name. What happens when a gang of professional crooks gets wind of the scheme and moves to muscle in on this bettors’ dream of a long-odds situation. Worked out with all the meticulous detail, terror, and suspense of a nightmare, the tale is, on one level, comparable to a Graham Greene thriller; on another, it explores a group of people, their relationships fears, and loves. John Hawkes makes terror rather than love the center of his work, knowing all the while, of course, that there can be no terror without the hope for love and love’s defeat.
The Street of Crocodiles
The Street of Crocodiles in the Polish city of Drogobych is a street of memories and dreams where recollections of Bruno Schulz’s uncommon boyhood and of the eerie side of his merchant family’s life are evoked in a startling blend of the real and the fantastic.
Most memorable – and most chilling – is the portrait of the author’s father, a maddened shopkeeper who imports rare birds’ eggs to hatch in his attic, who believes tailors’ dummies should be treated like people, and whose obsessive fear of cockroaches causes him to resemble one. Bruno Schulz, a Polish Jew killed by the Nazis in 1942, is considered by many to have been the leading Polish writer between the two world wars.
The King in Yellow
Robert W. Chambers
The King in Yellow is a premier collection of horror fiction consisting of 10 short stories with similar styles or concepts shaped by early mythology. Half the tales highlight an infamous play that’s rumored to invoke fear, paranoia and madness within its readers. The first four stories feature a ‘yellow’ theme tied to the play, a specific symbol or supernatural force. ‘The Repairer of Reputations,’ ‘The Mask,’ ‘In the Court of the Dragon’ and ‘The Yellow Sign’ have a strong connection due to a shared motif and macabre tone. The book’s other entries subvert expectations by shifting focus to less mythical topics like war and romance. Each setting varies with action occurring in either America or Europe. More than 100 years after its release, The King in Yellow is considered an essential work of horror fiction. Chambers’ chilling prose and intricate world-building has made it a favorite among scholars and genre fans alike. Its reach spans multiple mediums including television and film, making it one of the most influential books of all-time.
Billy Chaka Series
Meet Billy Chaka, ace reporter for Cleveland’s hottest-selling Asian teen magazine. He’s brash, savvy, and prone to hair-trigger fits of karate. Billy’s in Tokyo to cover the 19-and-Under Handicapped Martial Arts Championship and meet up with his friend Sato Migusion, the international renowned director of such cult film classics as Sex Up the Hotrod, Baby! But Sato never shows. Instead, the girl of Billy’s dreams stumbles into a dive bar with tatooed Yakuza mobsters in hot pursuit. Then Billy will start brawls in swanky corporate sex clubs, be offered a golf club membership by a secret religious order, meet a dog trained in the ways of the Samurai, and race stolen motorcycles through the neon-choked streets of Tokyo. Packed with enough over-the-top fists action to make Jackie Chan cry, and featuring the most lovable uncool hero since Austin Powers, this hilarious send-up is a pop culture potpourri of sub-epic proportion.
The Forge and the Crucible
Primitive man’s discovery of the ability to change matter from one state to another brought about a profound change in spiritual behavior. In The Forge and the Crucible, Mircea Eliade follows the ritualistic adventures of these ancient societies, adventures rooted in the people’s awareness of an awesome new power.
This a very anthropological account of alchemy as discourse and its evolution from tribal manifestations to present yoga traditions of all paths and cultures.
Death of the Necromancer
Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. On the gas light streets of the city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for vengeance the murder of Count Montesq. Montesq orchestrated the wrongful execution of Nicholas’s beloved godfather on false charges of necromancy–the art of divination through communion with spirits of the dead–a practice long outlawed in the kingdom of Ile-Rein.
Walks Away Woman
A remarkable story of an ordinary woman driven to an extraordinary decision. Overwhelmed, overwrought, and overweight, an everyday housewife walks into the Sonoran Desert to die. But there’s more to a desert than sand or death. There’s thorns, venom, claws, heat, thirst, other people-and unexpected adventure. Until she woke up at the bottom of an arroyo with a lot of surviving to do. And all she had was her purse. It wasn’t much to face a desert with, but Mrs. Warner, born Molly Brock, was in a fight for her life, the life she didn’t want until she was just about to lose it. What’s an everyday housewife to do? In Molly’s case, a lot. And every bit of it changing her from ordinary to extraordinary.
Life: A User’s Manual
One of the most dazzling and ingeniously contrived works of twentieth-century fiction, an entire microcosm brought to life in a Paris apartment block. Serge Val-ne, one of the inhabitants of the apartment block, has conceived the idea of a painting which will show in exact detail the inside of each apartment within the building, every person, every object. As he thinks of his picture, he contemplates the lives of all the people he has ever known or heard about in sixty years living there. Chapter by chapter, room by room, the narrative moves around the building, revealing as it does so a marvellously diverse cast of characters in a series of ever more unlikely tales, which range from an avenging murderer to an eccentric English millionaire who has devised the ultimate pastime…
The Second Girl
He’s a good detective, with a bad habit. Frank Marr knows crime in Washington, DC. A decorated former police detective, he retired early and now ekes a living as a private eye for a defense attorney. Frank Marr may be the best investigator the city has ever known, but the city doesn’t know his dirty secret. A long-functioning drug addict, Frank has devoted his considerable skills to hiding his usage from others. But after accidentally discovering a kidnapped teenage girl in the home of an Adams Morgan drug gang, Frank becomes a hero and is thrust into the spotlight. He reluctantly agrees to investigate the disappearance of another girl–possibly connected to the first–and the heightened scrutiny may bring his own secrets to light, too. Frank is as slippery and charming an antihero as you’ve ever met, but he’s also achingly vulnerable. The result is a mystery of startling intensity, a tightly coiled thriller where every scene may turn disastrous. THE SECOND GIRL is the crime novel of the season, and the start of a refreshing new series from an author who knows the criminal underworld inside and out.
The Life of a Stupid Man
Autobiographical stories from one of Japan’s masters of modernist story-telling. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions. It is the recollections and anecdotes of a man’s descent toward suicide, a collection of very depressive and melancholic short stories.
A blend of autobiography and fiction, this is the story of a young girl’s experiences growing up in Pakistan in the late 1960’s, as the narrator recalls the motley group of eccentrics who fashioned her upbringing, and the father who, following his death in 1972, was apotheosized to near sainthood. The memories of her childhood – comic, sad, and always touching – build toward the concluding story, with its revelation of her father’s other life. Combining a rich and evocative depiction of Karachi life with an absorbing portrait of a remarkable household, 38 Bahadurabad is a first novel with an original and affecting voice.
The Books of Pellinor
Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She doesn’t yet know she has inherited a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the noble School of Pellinor and enables her to see the world as no other can. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true identity and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now, she and her mysterious teacher must embark on a treacherous, uncertain journey through a time and place where the forces of darkness wield an otherworldly terror.
Three Men in a Boat
Jerome K. Jerome
Three Men in a Boat, published in 1889, is a humorous account by English writer Jerome K. Jerome of a two-week boating holiday on the Thames from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford and back to Kingston. The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history along the route, but the humorous elements took over to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages seem a distraction to the comic novel.
One of the most praised things about Three Men in a Boat is how undated it appears to modern readers – the jokes have been praised as fresh and witty.
Bridge of Birds
Bridge of Birds is the first in a series of stories chronicling the adventures of Master Li, an ancient but irreverent Chinese sage, and Number Ten Ox, his good-natured sidekick. The story takes place in Tang dynasty China, where the children of a village get suddenly ill, and Ox is sent out to find help in the big city. Master Li takes on the case, which begins as the machinations of some local fraudsters but eventually elevates to the dealings of a corrupt duke and the fulfillment of a heavenly prophecy. Despite the serious nature of the problems, the book really revolves around its humor. Li and Ox can easily be paralleled to Holmes and Watson–with Li as the inveterate puzzle solver and Ox (who narrates the book) allowing the reader to relate. Here, though, Li is a bit of a trickster himself, and often defrauds people who definitely deserve it, often to comic effect. While Hughart is a Western writer in a Chinese setting, his work is obviously well-researched.
The Moonstone was published in 1868 and is considered by most people to be the first detective novel. Given the novels place in the history of the genre, that alone should put this book on most people’s reading lists. To sweeten the pot, the plot is compelling. In 1799 a British soldier steals a large yellow diamond from a Hindu statute in India, ruthlessly killing three Indian men protecting the statue, and earning himself a curse from one of them in the process. He gets a bad reputation as a result and is shunned by his extended family in England. So when he dies, he leaves the Moonstone to his niece Rachel, knowing he’s leaving her not only a 30,000 pound fortune in the jewel, but also a load of potential trouble.
Between the mountains and the sea, between the sea and Fairyland, lay the Free State of Dorimare and its picturesque capital, Lud-in-the-Mist. No Luddite ever had any truck with fairies or Fairyland. Bad business, those fairies. The people of Dorimare had run them out generations ago–and the Duke of Dorimare along with them.
Until the spring of his fiftieth year, Master Nathaniel Chanticleer, Mayor of Lud-in-the-Mist and High Seneschal of Dorimare, had lived a sleepy life with his only son, Ranulph. But as he grew, Ranulph was more and more fond of talking nonsense about golden cups, and snow-white ladies milking azure cows, and the sound of tinkling bridles at midnight. And when Ranulph was twelve, he got caught up with the fairies, and Nathaniel’s life would never be the same.
From fall to spring, J.A. Baker set out to track the daily comings and goings of a pair of peregrine falcons across the flat fen lands of eastern England. He followed the birds obsessively, observing them in the air and on the ground, in pursuit of their prey, making a kill, eating, and at rest, activities he describes with an extraordinary fusion of precision and poetry. And as he continued his mysterious private quest, his sense of human self slowly dissolved, to be replaced with the alien and implacable consciousness of a hawk. It is this extraordinary metamorphosis, magical and terrifying, that these beautifully written pages record.
The Blackwater Series
Elinor Dammert was rescued from her room in the flood-isolated hotel. What strange mission brought her there? How did she survive her isolation? Why was she in the Alabama town of Perdido that Easter morning in 1919? These questions would never be answered because larger and even more terrifying ones would be asked. She soon would become a strange presence in the wealthy Caskey family and their town. Horrors, virtually unspeakable and nearly indescribable, follow.
The Secret Circle Series
L. J. Smith
A dangerously exciting tale of love, witchcraft, and the supernatural. Cassie’s life is far from ordinary. Her best friends are a coven of witches and her relationship with her boyfriend, Adam, is written in the stars. As the leader of the Secret Circle, it is up to her to keep them safe. But then Cassie’s evil half sister surfaces, determined to take Cassie’s place in the Secret Circle. And a band of powerful witch-hunters begins targeting the group, determined to destroy them. Will the circle remain intact despite the powerfully evil magic that has infiltrated their ring? And will Cassie survive this ultimate battle between good and evil?
The House of Night Series
P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
The House of Night series from bestselling authors P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird’s world, vampyres have always existed. In the first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire–that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny…
Fourteen-year-old Jessica is chosen to go the moon on the International Youth Space Trip, but the spaceship inexplicably misses its destination and sends the crew on a mysterious voyage through space, time, and the mind itself, transforming them all in the process. Here is spiritual sci-fi at its best a witty, fast-paced novel that explores the inner realms as well as the outer ones. The author is as much at home with astro-physics and elementary particles as she is with Western mysticism and Kashmir Shaivism.
Brog the Stoop
The Source of Light is failing…And for the Stoop who inhabit Drabwurld, the encroaching darkness brings a terrible danger. Their mortal enemies the Gork, led by the vicious Redeye, grow ever stronger as the Light fades slowly away. And it is only a matter of time before the Stoop are utterly destroyed. But there is one Stoop, who will not accept defeat. For Brog has the brave heart needed to find the Source of Light, and restore it to its former glory. And as he sets off on his perilous question, the Stooplord, Klan the Golden, leads the Stoop in a final, and possibly fatal, battle against the Gork…
Shanara decides to reveal her history to Score, Helaine, Pixel and Jenna in her own unique way – by creating a realistic illusion from her memories. But a powerful sorcerer hijacks her spell and transports the five of them back into the past instead.
Now instead of seeing Shanara’s troubled story, they are forced to live it. But if they change anything, anything at all, they might wipe out the future, including themselves.
Alan Aldridge and Steve Boyett
This is a fantasy novel with an awareness of and feeling for the environment. Fungle has to brave the Human world, to attempt to recover a lost Stone, the possession of which would determine the fate of the world. Naturally, however clever and powerful he may be, things go awry and Gnole meets Humanity in unexpected ways. Aided by friends, new and old, he follows a tortuous route to the final climax of his mission. Success or failure, the outcome for Fungle looks like being anything but happy.
It takes place in a future where all plants have died except genetically modified corn that can survive the weather and the locusts the main character is a 17 year old tree builder and his father that use scrap metal and thrown away parts to make ‘forests’ for rich people who want to see something other than the desert. His father gets kidnapped one night and he hasn’t seen him for months when he finds a picture of him chained up to a real tree and he goes in search of him.
The Clockwork Three
Matthew J. Kirby
Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom. Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements and Frederick is the talented and intense clockmaker’s apprentice. Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.
The Settlers of Catan
The year is 850. In the seas of northern Europe, the small coastal village of Elasund falls prey to marauding neighbors. Their food stores pillaged, women and children stolen, livestock destroyed, the villagers are left to barely survive the harsh winter–and contemplate a drastic solution to their recurring hardships: leaving the only village they have ever known. Foster brothers Candamir and Osmund lead their people on an epic quest to a mythic island home, but without knowledge of exactly where the island is, they must trust the gods to deliver them safely. Lost at sea and set adrift, an extraordinarily violent storm washes them ashore the island famed in pagan lore: Catan.
Ulrich Haarburste’s Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm: Plus Additional Stories
Just as the avant-garde artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude employed cloth to drape prominent buildings, Ulrich Haarburste has adopted plastic wrap – or clingfilm – as his medium. His focus, however, is no inanimate landmark; it’s the popular music icon Roy Orbison. In this singular novel, Haarburste relates a series of encounters with the legendary musician that culminate with the former wrapping the latter from head to toe in clingfilm, to the author’s immense satisfaction.
B. F. Skinner
This fictional outline of a modern utopia has been a center of controversy since its publication in 1948. Set in the United States, it pictures a society in which human problems are solved by a scientific technology of human conduct. If you want an intellectual exploration of a Utopian world ruled by behaviorism, this book may be for you. Walden Two is an intellectual treatise disguised as a novel. Once you know that, feel free to take it or leave it.
The Moosepath League Series
Under the wise and jovial leadership of their chairman Mister Tobias Walton and the shrewd and gallant Sundry Moss, The Moosepath League has foiled pirates and kidnappers, joined a hobo army to save a burning village, bumped into the supernatural, and even successfully treated a depressed pig. Return now to the early days of this Portland gentleman’s club as members Ephram, Eagleton, and Thump take it upon themselves to deliver a letter.
It turns into a surprisingly complicated mission of befuddlement, made only worse by Mrs. Actonia Mint, whose best friends are invisible to the world and whose family is one embarrassment away from having her committed. Meanwhile Mister Walton travels to Sundry’s homestead, where folks are by turns, warm, memorable, eccentric, and irascible. The travelers deal with romantic entanglements and get wind of a ghostly visitation, even as league members climb up and down Portland’s social ladder in search of the elusive Walter.