House of Leaves isn’t a book. It’s an experience.
Before starting House of Leaves I read that some people skip the footnotes and just read the story. Don’t skip the footnotes. You’ll cheat yourself out of the experience.
It’s tough to describe House of Leaves to someone who hasn’t read it yet, or attempted to read it. It took me a little while to get into a rhythm with this book because you don’t read this book like any other book that I know of. It’s almost 700 pages long, but from page 529 – 704 it’s Exhibits and an appendix. While reading you’ll find footnotes that point you to the back of the book. Sometimes it’s an article, a photograph or letters. Sounds simple, right? Well you can spend hours examining, decoding and reading this portion of the back of the book. The amount of time that must have been spent compiling all of this information is pretty astounding. It’s very detailed.
Some of the articles and information can be very dry. It almost feels like you’re reading a textbook instead of a horror novel. While sometimes it goes overboard with information that isn’t really necessary, it’s still relevant to the story and sometimes gets referenced later.
If you flip through the book you’ll notice some pages have very little text or upside down text, weird formatting or scientific articles. It sounds like a gimmick, but when you’re reading the story this formatting comes into play and is very effective in making you feel a certain way or immersing you into the story. Speaking of the story, there are two that we follow and they are connected. In a nutshell House of Leaves is about a house that strange things are happening in. Sounds like every haunted house story you’ve ever read, right? Nope. The less you know about this story the better. It’s scary, heartbreaking, funny and disturbing.
Reading this book was frustrating at times, but when I finished and had a minute to think back on the experience I had to smile. It’s so ambitious and detailed that you can’t help but appreciate the fact this book even exists.
This is a book you really have to take your time with. Don’t rush through it, enjoy the ride. You can read this book over and over and still find details you missed. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth giving it a try.
The video below is our discussion for House of Leaves with @Ashley/ReadNowSleepLtr & @Lauren ~ Paperback Empire. The spoiler section is noted on the video, but we do have a non-spoiler section at the beginning. We talked for almost 2 hours but could have talked for a lot longer.