14 Books that Defy Definition

If you've never read a novel in sonnets or a memoir co-narrated by a dead dog, you're missing out.

Books Defy Definition

Some reads are wonderful because they greet us like old friends: Raymond Chandler fans know they’re in for gruff, pithy imagery when they crack a Philip Marlowe mystery; Jane Austen’s admirers can anticipate sharp social observation and drawing-room drama in her novels; and Haruki Murakami’s repeat customers settle into dreamy tales of cats, jazz, and pasta. These books, on the other hand, are fabulous mutants: their hearts and limbs aren’t where you think they’d be, and plucking one from the shelf is a bit like encountering a new species. Expect the unexpected when you pick up one of these 14 titles that bend genre and resist classification.


Featured image: Anil Ghawana / Alamy Stock Photo

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About Lauren Oster

Lauren Oster

LAUREN OSTER is a freelance writer and editor. Her second-grade teacher let her sneak out of class to read old mysteries in the library. She now lives on New York City’s Lower East Side with her husband, two cats, and a fog machine. Her work has been published by Redbook, McSweeney’s, National Geographic, HGTV, and others; she tweets about culture, smuggling fireworks, and plastic animals at @lmo_nyc.