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on 22 January 2016
I think this is a great book. It was challenging but rewarding to read. Make sure to buy it in paper version to enjoy the way the text wraps around itself with footnotes becoming a story of their own.

Without spoiling anything I can say I've never read anything like it. It's hard to tell where the narration ends and the story begins.

A word of warning though - it is a very dark book. I would not reccomend this to anyone feeling low as it I personally found it quite depressing.
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on 12 May 2017
An excellent book!. This has earned its place as a firm favourite.
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on 29 May 2017
Awesome book, very inventive, though a pain to read
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on 27 April 2017
Bizarre but intriguing. Not an easy read but unforgettable.
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I'm not sure what I can say about this tremendous novel that hasn't already been said. It's genuinely chilling despite nothing much actually happening - the interweaving layers of commentary, analysis and gradual descent in madness are executed beautifully, with even the layout of the book itself becoming part of the tale.

It's not an easy read - dense and thickly annotated with a vast number of real and invented references, and a Byzantine, tightly interlinked series of footnotes and appendices. All of this is part of the execution though for the book is only part novel... it's also part code and part puzzle. There are hidden messages and secrets contained throughout the text, some of which are comical and others which hint at darker truths and revelations. Indeed, like the two protagonists in the book, you could easily go mad trying to dissect the winding and twisted passages within.

I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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on 31 August 2016
I first read House of Leaves (HoL) when I was 20 at University over 8 years ago, consuming it in around three weeks (or is that the other way around?). Upon the first reading I pored over many parts slowly to try to truly understand them and take in the beauty and depth of the prose. Some of it it literary poetry; some of it is literally poetry. I've since returned to the House a few times; it's one to revisit for sure. The D(evil) is in the details, as is G(o)od. It is a bit of a tome but I would say it's worth it...

Note: there may be minor accidental spoilers here so read on at your own risk (of boredom).
Also note, and not to be elitist here, but a keen mind and breadth of general knowledge can certainly help unlock the depths of this work and thus it's effect on the reader. Alternatively you may find yourself stopping to look things up to understand the context or a particular reference, which slows the impetus of the book down.
Though maybe this isn't such a bad thing; Zampano is meant to be pretentious, and a beacon that a college education or a doctorate has no effect on one's potential or ability. The veracity of his story of the House to Truant and it's effect on him doesn't seem to be affected by this pretention, however...Always remembering that Johnny is pretentious also and puts together Zampano's morass of paperwork as he found it in a mess. Who's work is HoL, really? Old man Z's or Truant's? How much has Truant edited it?

Concerning darkness: many have mentioned the dark and sombre tones within HoL. And yes, there is a solemn resonance, a violent and grisly presence in places from both Zampano's creation (the House) and perhaps even more so in Truant's life. And the picture painted seems so clear to me, despite the ethereal/dream-like nature of the story-telling in place (alas the power of books/imagination; it puts a certain tint over your eyes while reading, and afterwards). However, I would posit that the book's obvious dark tenebrosity and heaviness is offset with LIGHT, humour and an ethereal energy. An alchemy of which can make for an overwhelming read. It would also make it incredibly difficult to make into a film. Muted tones and big on hi/lo dynamics would be the order of the day. And perhaps, like Inception, a different cinematography for Truant's life ('awake') and Zampano's story ('fiction') to distinguish between the two...

Suffice it to say, aside from the clear narratives of Navy and Johnny Truant there is room for interpretation of HoL in several places.
I've found it can inspire long, spiralling, edifying conversations with like-minded friends about the nuances of what certain things mean, or if there even is an intended meaning (for example, the numerous codes hidden in the book - some seem to be just that, clever codes. Search them and decide for yourself).
In any case HoL seems to stir debate around both the deepest and most arcane, as well as most light-hearted and trivial things. What was affirming is that despite the complexity in the delivery and style, the vast majority of what was understood and apparently felt was the same, while the fringes remain more hazy and interpretative. Case in point, do you believe a monster inhabits those ashen walls, or is this just human irrationality?

In any case, the LIGHT mentioned before appears 'hidden' in plain view. In the relationships between Navidson and his family, of love and hope, examined heavily through the enlightening off-shoots into philosophy, Greek/Norse mythology (e.g. the 'minotaur', Yddrasil etc etc), religion and myriad religious references (Cain and Abel as a trope for Tom and Will Navidson, the H*ly tape), science and reason (professor Billy Reston, Navidson's recordings and the scientific instruments trying to understand the House), the sense of journey, awe and adventure into the unknown (Holloway and the team's exploration into the labyrinth) - and of course the ending in some ways. If one understands these depths and levels, there is lots of light even down in the fathoms of the House. A bit like 'negative space' seen in some artworks, any absence of darkness can be seen as light.

In another sense of enlightenment, we know the truth of what happens in the story; of the heroism and anti-heroism, of it's gravity if it were to be a true story, not just a dark fairytale. The expansive picture we are drawn (however dark in the House) is enlightening; the way it is written is congruent with a feeling of privilege to be one of the few to come across the story. Or to 'see' the film captured by Navidson.
In sum, Light, dark - and the greyness in-between - is a core theme of the book: "Some people reflect light, some people deflect it, you by some miracle seem to collect it".

If you allow yourself to get into the depths, however, you should come out smiling on the other side. "Non sum qualis eram" - you will not be what you once were, hopefully in a good way. You may come to a more deep, 'truthful', multi-faceted way of looking at things (just as we have the bird's eye view from Zampano's story; an insight into all the characters' traits and thoughts as the story unfolds through a film verite-like direction)....but I guess the outcome for the reader depends on what kind of person you are, how you're feeling at the time of reading, level of cognitive ability, EQ etc etc, the same as many other books. But multiplied in this case.

It would be remiss to omit a word or two on the atypical typography within HoL - words strewn all over the place as the story unfolds, the footnotes giving authority and dual narrative. These directional qualities becoming more a factor, and more intertwined (and perhaps disjointed) later in the book, as the labyrinthine House shows itself for what it is (or isn't?). But you soon get used to this with a bit of patience; it isn't so arduous once you come up with a system/order of reading...

What's more, this under-used typographic quality adds another dimension and texture to the book. It is not a gimmick used just to mess around with the text, nor is it devoid of reason or feeling. At times it helps set the pace of the book, giving it a film-like quality. At times it allows context or switching between the two main narratives. It raises questions about it this was Zampano's style or the work of Truant's drug-addled mind (he seems almost as much of a savant at spinning a yarn as old man Z). Finally, this format also makes it almost impossible to issue an electronic version. Something I rather like. The Book itself in a sense is the House of Leaves; it is the story of the House, the burden of pages that Truant finds, puts together and weighs heavy on him due to his upbringing and his character. The book cannot be contained on a backlight screen; it needs to live in leaves, in pages. (Sounding as pretentious as old man Z here perhaps. But not without intention).

A lot of wisdom and strength is there for the taking within HoL. Living vicariously through Truant's 'real' struggle or Navidson's 'fictional' struggle with a power which seems uniquely divine, or perhaps the part doorway to 'hell' or elsewhere; somewhere 'uncanny'. Depending on how you want to read it. "The ruminations are mine, let the world be yours".

It's no surprise that it took apparently a decade to complete the drafting of this book. And despite the number of novels my eyes have taken in, it is the greatest story I have come across.
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on 19 June 2013
Wow, what a book.

The introduction on this book starts with describing Zampino's appartment and his writing and how he was found. It continues talking about the Navidson record, which is a movie Zampino talked about in his notes. The footnotes are Johnny Truant's work, adding about his life as he is putting together Zampino's notes on the Navidson record. It seems a little confusing as you first start reading, but makes sense as you go along. The Navidson record is pretty creepy in places too.

It is about a guy called Navison and a few other peoples trips inside the never ending hallway within the house. It's kind of creepy, being lost inside a house, all the psychological torment it causes to the people who enter it. The way it is written as you are reading about the house is kind of odd, but in a good way. The words themselves, are not creepy, it's the way it's put onto the page, it makes your heart race. It may look confusing at first, as you flick through the page, but isn't too bad and sometimes, when it is confusing, the confusion adds to the book in a good way. Makes you feel how they feel as they are in the house. I think the pages with sometimes as little as one letter on a page actually were some of the best parts of the novel itself. It was those that helped build up the suspense and it was done with such great skill that it left me needing to stop and catch my breath at the end, my heart was in my mouth at these times in particular.

The first point I really started getting into the book was on page 26, they way Mark z. Danielewski writes it is amazing. It really made my skin crawl, my eyes water, my hair to stand on end and my breath to quicken. I felt at that moment that I was there, that it was happening to me. It was a that point I really started to want to read more, and from then on I struggled to put it down and when I wasn't reading, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I can totally appreciate the amount of work it must have taken to write a book like this, but in my opinion, it totally paid off. I did find some parts a little boring and wondered a few time where he was going with it, but it does make sense later on in the book why those parts were included. Without them, I don't think it would have been as good to read.

The book caused so many different emotions when I was reading and it actually scared me and caused me to get emotional in places too, not many books instill those emotions within me, but this one did.

I am totally glad that I bought this book, it was a long read, but well worth the time and effort as well as the money. It is definitely worth reading this book.
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on 3 January 2017
There are times throughout a person's life when certain imagery and narrative concepts stay with them. Often, I have found that these concepts are more than the vessel in which they are delivered. An example would be a nonsensical song that moves you every time (Stairway to Heaven stands as one of the most influential pieces of modern music, and yet the lyrics make very little sense).
I personally cherish these abstract thoughts and concepts. The Dark Tower by Stephen King has left me with a lifetime (so far) of images and thoughts of free standing doorways, roses, black monoliths in a blood-red sea of flora; not to mention the city of Lud and the characters within (who can forget Blaine?). Whilst the story is immensely enjoyable and possibly one of my favourite books, objectively, the writing loses itself and meanders more than it should.

In a similar fashion, House of Leaves has probably some of the most intensely written, addictive and engaging concepts I have come across. Impossible spaces, paranoia, repetition, bleakness and insanity all roll together in this tale to create an incredible ride that just will not let go.
I've read this book a number of times now, and still dip in and out for the descriptions that Danielowski masterfully creates. What is so fantastic about this book is that it is almost pure concept. The story exists so tightly with the narrative that there is very little filler, very little spills out as excess.

What I particularly enjoy is the pacing. Presenting the primary tale as a cold, disconnected academic paper suits the feel of the story perfectly, and while another author would be tempted to hold onto his/her cards for as long as possible in order to spring twists and traps on the reader, Danielowski is almost entirely up front with every aspect of what is happening. The foreshadowing he uses throughout the essay consistently spoils these could-be twists by assuming a prior knowledge of the subject matter: the Navidson Record.
Of course, the fact that we as readers are experiencing the Navidson record for the first time vicariously through these words serves only to heighten that "need to know" feeling. Removing big build ups to plot twists in this way means that, unlike many stories in the genre, you are not arriving at these reveals with it already figured out (what is worse than a twist that is so obvious by the time you get there so as to be a "so what" moment?).
In a strange way, this style reminded me a little of the film Natural Born Killers, in that almost all of the information you need is handed to you on a plate within minutes of the film starting - then its just up to you to enjoy the ride! It's refreshing, innovative and assumes a modicum of intelligence with its readers.

This will appeal to different people in different ways, and the abstract presentation will put some readers off, I am sure, but for me, this was just absolutely incredible. Buy it, read it and explore it. Then never look at your house in the same way again.

Wait... was that door here yesterday?
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on 8 December 2016
I do not hate the book. I HATE THE EDITION. JUST DO NOT BUY IT. Get some more money and buy the full coloured edition. I was going to let it go, but I've just discover that in this edition some important elements (like the tick mark on page 97) are missing. What I dislike the most is that the sellers, Amazon in this case, don't warn readers about the other editions. If you haven't read about it, you don't even know that you are buying a semi-product. It's not just that it is cheaper. IT'S INCOMPLETE. The book is master piece. Buy the full coloured edition and enjoy the trip.
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on 21 September 2017
I just put it down. I don't think I will ever read a book quite like it. I loved "The raw shark texts" and I loved "Gödel, Escher, Bach". This one is not at all like them, and yet still it is. I don't think I got a percentage of it. It's so much, and so much itself at the same time. I don't know how to describe it other than: It's a trip. It's not pleasant, but stay with it. You won't regret it.
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