On page 465 of the hardcover edition of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, it's mentioned that Will Navidson brought one book on his "Exploration #5" into the house on Ash Tree Lane: A book itself called House of Leaves.

Because of the book's nature I only own a physical copy which is hard to search through, it's very hard to google this, and there are several other books-within-the-book in this novel.

What is this eponymous book? Was the book mentioned before Exploration #5, and I just missed it? Are its contents discussed, and where?

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    My guess is that it's the book you're reading. IIRC, the different plotlines interacted in ways that weren't actually possible, one of which is relevant here: Johnny Truant was editing Zampano's notes on the Navidson Record to put together the book that apparently already existed in the Navidson Record.
    – Izkata
    Feb 12, 2017 at 21:44
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    @Izkata You're right, it must be. I re-read the part after Exploration #5 (where the book is mentioned), which also talks about the book, but without mentioning the title. It doesn't offer much more, but it says the book hsa 736 pages, the same number of pages the actual HoL has (at least my HC edition).
    – tobiasvl
    Feb 13, 2017 at 12:27
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    @Izkata If you wish, make that an answer. Otherwise I'll do it myself and self-answer with the relevant passage :)
    – tobiasvl
    Feb 13, 2017 at 12:28
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    Yeah, it's long enough ago that I wouldn't have been able to put together an answer like you managed
    – Izkata
    Feb 13, 2017 at 15:09
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    I wholeheartedly approve of your use of hyperlinks. Feb 25, 2017 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


First of all: The actual book House of Leaves itself, although ostensibly written by Mark Z. Danielewski (whose name only appears on the book's cover), consists in-universe of material written by Zampanò under the title The Navidson Record, with introduction and notes by Johnny Truant (both characters in the book). The book contains notes by Johnny Truant on how he catalogued and compiled Zampanò's notes after his death. This is made clear on the book's title page and colophon, which does not carry Danielewski's name. So the book itself is, from the title page, metafictional.

The book's title is also mentioned in the aforementioned "Exploration #5" (on page 465 in the hardcover edition), which is part of The Navidson Record written by Zampanò:

As Navidson indicates on the recorder, he is slowly becoming more and more disoriented. He suffers from surges of nausea, “like I’ve got a bad case of the spins.” Questions plague him. Is he floating, falling, or rising? Is he right side up, upside down or on his side? Eventually, however, the spins stop and Navidson accepts that the questions are sadly irrelevant.

Taking a tiny sip of water and burying himself deeper in his sleeping bag, he turns his attention to the last possible activity, the only book in his possession: House of Leaves. “But all I have for light is one book of matches and the duration of each ma—” (for whatever reason the tape cuts off here).

In the passage immediately following "Exploration #5", it becomes clear that this is indeed the same book. Zampanò explains how Navidson could have read the book in the dark by burning the pages he had read to make reading light for the new ones. He mentions that the book had 736 pages, and that some of them took longer to read than others because the text on them was arranged in peculiar ways – both of these facts hold true about the actual book!

Either Johnny Truant secretly re-wrote parts of The Navidson Record to include references to his completed encompassing work House of Leaves; Johnny named his book after this book-within-a-book and padded his notes to make the final page count fit; or Zampanò actually originally wrote about Navidson reading a book which did not at that point exist yet. Which case is true is up to the reader to decide. (As well as, of course, whether or not Navidson actually existed and did read any book at all while exploring the supernatural house.)

Navidson's copy of the book is not mentioned anywhere else in the text (thanks to @Valorum for confirming that, and for providing the relevant quotations in his answer), but Johnny encounters another copy of it when he attends a concert where the band plays a song with lyrics that reference it, and the band members show him their copy (which is apparently one of several):

“Take a look for yourself,” he said, handing me a big brick of tattered paper. “But be careful,” he added in a conspiratorial whisper. “It’ll change your life.”

House of Leaves
by Zampanò

with introduction and
notes by Johnny Truant

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    You might want to make a note in your answer that the word "House" in "House of Leaves" is always stylised in blue by the author. It just looks like you've got a bunch of dead links otherwise.
    – Valorum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 13:40
  • +1 for a more complete answer. I've deleted my stub.
    – Valorum
    Feb 13, 2017 at 13:40
  • @Valorum Hehe, yes. It's actually explained in the tag wiki for house-of-leaves, but I'll make a note.
    – tobiasvl
    Feb 13, 2017 at 13:44

I read House of leaves ages ago, but I am sure the book you are reading is the book he is reading, here is why.

The first page of the book, the one usually left blank has the words

[This is not for you]

Printed on it.

Why is it there? Navidson burns each page to read the next page in the dark. He needs to start with the blank page in order to read every book with text on it. Therefore anyone who can read the words on the blank page, does not need it. Only someone in the dark who needs a page to burn, would use it. They could not read the words "this is not for you" because it is for them.

So the book he is reading is set up exactly for the situation he is in. Therefore I think that is is the exact same book as the one published and read by us.

  • Although interesting, this doesn't answer the question asked.
    – Valorum
    Jan 17, 2020 at 17:35

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