Read-A-Long: House of Leaves
House of Leaves
Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
Published: March 7, 2000
Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth—musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies—the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.
Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.
The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story—of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.
House of Leaves was selected as our second book for a read-a-long. It was suggested by Beccie and I went with it. We had 10-11 people participate in the read-a-long (which is a good number), and unfortunately all but one loved the novel. Some still have not finished it but are trying.
There will be other’s thoughts whom participated in the read-a-long, including Kim who had to DNF it.
The next book has been selected for the read-a-long and immediate plans were for June, but due to certain events that have affected us all, we will have to see if that will be re-scheduled.
Until then, check out the reviews for House of Leaves:
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
Dates Read: February 15- March 4, 2020
House of Leaves (HOL) is a book that I am glad I read, but will NEVER read again. Reading HOL was more than just reading a book, it was an experience. HOL is not a typical novel, there is color to words (the word ‘house’ is blue in English and other languages), photos, and non-linear format. There are appendixes, footnotes, you read back and forth in chapters, and there are some pages with just a few words on them. And even on those said pages, the words can be non-linear. I applaud the author for his hard work and accomplishment on having a unique novel like this published however….HOL is not a book for most readers, even the most serious readers, myself included.
HOL is a very difficult and frustrating read in many ways. We have the main story of the family that lives in this house that is bigger on the inside than the outside… And it keeps growing. (When I first heard of HOL I jokingly referred to it as a Tardis!). There is also Johnny’s story (which I honestly did not care about at all) and he has discovered an old man’s notes on the house.
HOL just did not work for me. All I was interested in was the house and the family and even they lost my attention. The novel became tedious and I have to admit I scanned through a lot of it, I know I missed some things. The only ‘light in the tunnel’ for me was Tom. By the time I got to the ending I really did not care about what happened.
Though not for me, it might be for someone out there!
Kim’s Thoughts (We can’t really say review as she DNF’d):
What a weird book. I can’t really give it a rating since I didn’t finish it … which I am totally ok with, cuz dang that is a weird book! I’m a big horror fan so I thought that I’d enjoy the story. It has tons of potential with that creepy underbelly of the house and the weird growls and all. And had it been just the story of the house, I probably would have finished it and liked it! But everything else, the old man, Johnny who literally has sex with every woman he meets, all the philosophy and theology and snooty cinematic criticism and over analyzing!!! How boring and confusing and exhausting! I finally couldn’t take it and decided to just DNF it. I gave it to Adam, my cinematic, super nerdy friend and I hope he reads it and loves it! I’m sorry, I didn’t!
Beccie’s Rating: 1.5 stars
Beccie is the creator of the Bookies Facebook page and yes, it was her suggestion to read House of Leaves, but I went with it!
I heard about this book on Booktube and it sounded so good. A guy finds some notes about a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside and the family who struggles to figure out what to do about their house; that sounds so good. I even knew going in that this book was uniquely structured and I was all for it. The author obviously put a lot of effort and time into creating this novel so props to him on that.
The introduction section was an intriguing start and once I got to the part of the story introducing the Navidson family and their bizarre home it was fascinating. Sadly, shortly after they discover this mysterious hallway and the father takes to exploring it with his brother and other friends it got boring very quickly. Every “expedition” into this hallway was just the same boring thing over and over and over again with slight dimension changes. Thank God a lot of this book was made up of pages with very little wording on them because those were the pages that got me through this book. I will say my favorite character was Tom. He was the bright spot in this otherwise boring AF story. He brought the humor that I needed in order to get through. In fact, I actually laughed out load a few times at his jokes and sense of humor.
Oh, but let’s not forget that this 700+ page book isn’t just about this family living and exploring this house. No, there is also the narrative of Johnny who has discovered this deceased old man’s notes about this house. I followed Johnny’s narrative up to the point where his mother sends him letters but after that I just didn’t care one little bit about his story. I literally skimmed over his parts because I just didn’t care. His narrative is told as footnotes to the Navidson story, which was annoying to have a story that I kinda liked be constantly interrupted to hear about Johnny’s experiences or thoughts or memories. On top of Johnny’s footnotes, there are also footnotes that will lead you to other pages in the book to look at drawings, pictures, letters, etc . That was all fine UNTIL you would reach a footnote that was for a completely made up book. What is the point of that!! There is no point, that’s what. Oh but wait, even more footnotes will direct you to evidence in the back of the book to which you stop reading to go find said evidence and all you get is….”evidence or exhibit not found” WTF!!!! Why.. WHY!!!!
So all that annoyed me to a frustrating level and then I finish this damn book and start discussing it with Yami and she informs me that Johnny isn’t even real. Which let’s remember, I skimmed a lot of his story so I asked for examples that led her to this conclusion and after going back and reading parts that I missed, her conclusion makes every sense to me and if that isn’t THE BIGGEST WASTE OF TIME. This book could have easily been cut by 300 pages had all the mostly empty pages been condensed and a stupid index of every freaking word mentioned in the book wasn’t included. Seriously when was the last time you read a book and wondered, “I wonder on what pages the word “so” are on.”
**END OF SPOILER**
I give this book 1.5 stars. 1 star because I forced myself through this because here’s the kicker….I SUGGESTED WE READ THIS POS!!! The .5 goes to the author’s dedication to creating this story. I hated this book. I DO NOT RECOMMEND!!! I’d like to formally apologize to anyone who purchased this book to participate in this read-a-long. I’m so sorry I led ya’ll wrong. I’m normally not one for violence against books but if I had a fireplace this book would have been used for kindling.
Beccie also gives her video review/rant on her YouTube Channel:
Yami’s Rating: 2.5 stars
Yami also has a Facebook page where she reviews the books she reads:
Let me start off by saying, I really liked the Navidson story and sometimes Johnny’s story. I also give credit to the author for how the book was put together. With that being said, I didn’t care for the book and I would not be reading it again. I felt myself drifting off a lot through this book because of how really boring most chapters were. When I got to the end, it left me so confused. I don’t know if who I think was the actual story teller of this story is true or not and I know a lot of people have their own opinion on who it was. And with the actual author not saying who the real story teller was in the book, you are left forever in a guessing game. Even though this book wasn’t for me, it doesn’t mean it won’t be for you.
So there you have it, House of Leaves was not for any of us, but it will be for others out there. This is one of those books where it is love it or hate it.
Amazon UK (Only available via third party vendors- You would get it cheaper buying via the Amazon US site, yes, you would have an extended wait, but it is MUCH cheaper otherwise).