family book club: house of leaves

house of leaves by mark danielewski

A house with a dark secret. A creeping sense of foreboding. A story told through documents, footnotes, and scraps of paper.

House of Leaves is like nothing I’ve read before. How this story is told is as much a part of the experience as the story itself. In a committed storytelling device, we meet our narrator–of a sort–Johnny Truant. Johnny has come across a trunk full of documents and photos after a man he knew, Zampano, died mysteriously at home.

The book wades through these documents as a story unfolds about what Zampano was studying through all this information: a house with a deep, dark, twisty universe inside it and the family who lives there.

Think Poltergeist + Paranormal Activity + the Labyrinth.

The text itself tells a story. How it’s laid out on the page feels like wandering through a maze. The footnotes take you on a different path that can leave you confused, a bit lost. It’s a trip (figuratively of course) to read, but during family book club we felt talking about it was more fun than actually reading it. It was a lot of work to wade through this book, but the payoff is there, if you want to delve in (much the opposite of the house itself). There are secrets on secrets on secrets to learn, if it interests you. Unfortunately, it didn’t interest us too much.

But storytelling always interests me. How we do it, and why. So much of our lives are digital now, this book might look very different if it came out today instead of 2000. So what story does your life tell, only looking at scraps of paper, images collected, messages sent here and there? Here’s some from my life. Nothing unusual.


notes from iphonetextsnotes4notes3email

As I said, nothing unusual.

Our next family book club book is Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King (Kindle here). We’ll be able to do this book club in person when we are all together for Christmas. Won’t you join in?

(I bought this book on my own and am not being paid to write about it. But I am a part of the Amazon affiliate’s program, so if you buy through my links I’ll make a little bit of money off of it.)


  1. Wade says:

    *I* liked HoL… though I understand its not for everyone’s taste. I just finished Hunger Games #2, both to get ready for the movie release, and as a palate cleanser. Needed something fluffy after HoL.

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