10 of the Weirdest and Most Repulsive Books Ever Written

We talk a lot about “disturbing” media, whether we’re discussing books or movies (but especially movies), people love to dive into things that really challenge them. Recently, a Redditor narrowed things down a bit more, requesting suggestions for “the weirdest or most repulsive book you’ve read.” They gave examples of some of their favorites including Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love and Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke as guideposts, and others took it from there. 

1. 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade

Two respondents suggested what may be the most famously repulsive book of all time by the man who may be the most controversial author of all time: The 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade. The story follows four men who are seeking the limits of pleasure by taking a group of teenagers as well as four madams to an isolated castle and forcing the teens to engage in a variety of horrifying acts. One of the Redditors making the suggestion added, “Gotta warn you, though, this one has, like, every trigger in the WORLD on [sic] it.”

2. Filth by Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh is likely most famous as the author of Trainspotting, but many of his works push the envelope. In fact, three books (including Trainspotting) by Welsh appear in the suggestions, but only one appears twice: Filth. Filth follows detective sergeant Bruce Robertson as he engages in a multitude of cruel and salacious acts, against the people around him and on himself. The novel’s all the more upsetting because it’s told in first person, one of the Redditors recommending it said “I was not OK after reading that.”

3. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite

Two comments suggested the novel Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite, but the only description either gave was “vile stuff.” It seems like a reasonable enough description of a novel that follows a serial killer who’s also a cannibal and a necrophiliac. Despite that though, Brite (who now goes by Billy Martin) has described it as “a love story.” 

4. Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

One commenter, perhaps in direct response to the requestor’s specification of Choke as one of their favorites, suggested Rant also by Chuck Palahniuk. The novel is a fictional oral history of the titular character nicknamed “Rant” and his impact on the people in his life. A life that included playing with animal organs, seeking out bites from rabid animals, and destructive games focused on crashing cars. 

5. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

Three different respondents highlighted Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs as one of the weirdest and most repulsive books ever written, but none gave any more information about why. It may be that the novel’s reputation precedes it, something the movie adaptation from 1991 likely helps with. The novel is told in chaotic vignettes largely focused on sex and drugs as relayed by the character William Lee who is making his way through the fictional space known as “Interzone.”

6. Veniss Underground by Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer is perhaps best known as the author of Annihilation, which was itself picked as one of the most disturbing science fiction stories, but he’s written over a dozen books. One commenter highlighted Veniss Underground as the “weirdest book I’ve ever read” and it’s not hard to see how that would be the case. The novel draws from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as well as Dante’s Inferno but places these classical inspirations into a dystopian world full of mutilated and horrifically transformed cybernetic humans. 

7. Gone to See the River Man by Kristopher Triana

One respondent went as far as they could, at least with their description, by recommending what they called the “f***ed the f*** up” Gone to See the River Man by Kristopher Triana. The novel follows a young woman who is obsessed with a sadistic serial killer and is thrilled when he gives her a task: to deliver a key to “The River Man.” The journey takes her through various horrifying experiences that certainly earn the description offered by the Redditor. 

8. Lapvona by Otessa Moshfegh

Several people agreed that Lapvona by Otessa Moshfegh, which was only released in 2022, already counted as one of the most repulsive books ever written. The story follows a disabled thirteen year old boy during medieval times who is given to the sadistic lord of the town after he commits a crime. While that may not sound like the set up for anything good, one commenter called it a “great book” and their “favorite of 2022.” 

9. The Troop by Nick Cutter

In a somewhat hilarious but perfectly reasonable move given the suggestions requested, one Redditor suggested a book that they said they did not finish: The Troop by Nick Cutter (pen name of Craig Davidson). The novel follows a troop of Boy Scouts who, in an attempt to put their survival skills to the test, have journeyed to an isolated island and cut themselves off from the mainland. It doesn’t take long though before they realize there are more than the cold and hunger that are dangerous as they come into contact with deadly tapeworms and discover that one of their own is homicidal. 

10. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

One Redditor said that there was an “easy” answer to the question: The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. The cult classic novel centers on teenager Frank who lives with his father on a remote Scottish island and fills his time with rituals and animal abuse, and as the story goes on we learn that he’s done far more than hurt animals. It’s a novel that’s been controversial since its release in 1984, not least because it places the reader in Frank’s point of view. 

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.