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14 Books Like American Psycho

Books Like American Psycho

Are you a fan of the chilling, provocative narrative found in ‘American Psycho’ by Bret Easton Ellis? 

If so, you’re in for a treat! 

Today, we’re diving into a curated list of books that share similar themes, tones, and gripping storytelling reminiscent of Ellis’ iconic work. 

From psychological thrillers to dark satires, these reads are sure to captivate and intrigue fans of ‘American Psycho’ seeking their next literary obsession.

Books Like American Psycho

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club” is a novel that dives deep into the psyche of the modern male, exploring themes of identity, consumerism, and self-destruction. 

The narrator, suffering from insomnia, finds solace in an underground fighting ring that evolves into a much larger, anarchistic enterprise. Through a gritty narrative and shocking twists, Palahniuk critiques societal norms and the quest for meaning in a materialistic world.

Major Similarities: 

Like “American Psycho,” “Fight Club” offers a dark, satirical look at society, focusing on male identity and the extremes to which individuals will go to feel alive or rebel against societal expectations. 

Both novels are known for their controversial content, psychological depth, and their critique of consumer culture and the emptiness of modern life.

2. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

“Less Than Zero” is another creation of Bret Easton Ellis that delves into the lives of affluent, disaffected youth in Los Angeles

The story follows Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas break, as he navigates a world filled with drugs, sex, and a profound sense of alienation. Ellis’s minimalist style captures the ennui and moral ambiguity of the 1980s youth culture.

Major Similarities: 

“Less Than Zero” shares with “American Psycho” its author, Bret Easton Ellis, and his characteristic exploration of nihilism and detachment in the context of affluent society. 

Both novels scrutinize the vacuity of their characters’ lives and the societal decay that surrounds them, using a cold, detached narrative voice that enhances their critical view of materialism and moral disintegration.

3. The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

In “The Rules of Attraction,” Ellis takes us to the campus of Camden College in the northeastern United States, where students navigate a lifestyle filled with drugs, sex, and aimlessness. 

The narrative rotates among various characters, offering a kaleidoscopic view of their intertwined lives and relationships. The novel’s fragmented style mirrors the characters’ disconnection from themselves and each other, painting a bleak picture of youth culture.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “American Psycho,” this novel also focuses on the themes of excess, nihilism, and the search for identity in a materialistic society. 

Both books offer a critique of the emptiness and aimlessness of the lives of their protagonists, showcasing Ellis’s distinctive narrative style and his preoccupation with themes of alienation and moral ambiguity.

4. Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

“Glamorama” explores the dark side of celebrity culture through the eyes of Victor Ward, a model entangled in a sinister terrorist conspiracy amidst the glitz and glamour of the fashion world. 

The narrative is filled with Ellis’s trademark satirical edge, critiquing the obsession with fame, beauty, and the superficiality of the entertainment industry. The plot thickens with unexpected twists, blurring the lines between reality and illusion.

Major Similarities: 

Like “American Psycho,” “Glamorama” delves into the psyche of its protagonist, presenting a world where the surface appearance masks a much darker reality. 

Both novels are marked by Ellis’s sharp critique of consumerism and the vacuousness of the elite, employing a blend of satire and horror to explore the consequences of a society obsessed with surface over substance.

5. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

“Lunar Park” is a pseudo-memoir that blurs the lines between reality and fiction, where Ellis narrates as a fictionalized version of himself. 

The novel starts as a satire of Ellis’s own celebrity lifestyle but morphs into a haunting tale involving a mysterious creature and unresolved past traumas. It’s a reflection on fame, fatherhood, and the ghosts of the past, both literal and metaphorical.

Major Similarities: 

“Lunar Park” shares with “American Psycho” the exploration of a protagonist’s inner turmoil and the consequences of a life led in pursuit of superficial values. 

While “Lunar Park” veers more into the territory of horror and self-reflection, both novels engage deeply with themes of identity, reality versus illusion, and the critique of a culture obsessed with appearances.

6. Psycho by Robert Bloch

“Psycho” is a thriller novel that introduced the world to Norman Bates, a mild-mannered innkeeper with a dark secret. 

The story, which inspired the iconic Alfred Hitchcock film, delves into the psychological horror stemming from Norman’s fractured identity and his deeply troubled relationship with his mother. Through suspenseful narrative and shocking twists, Bloch explores the depths of human psychosis and the terror it can unleash.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “American Psycho,” “Psycho” provides a deep dive into the mind of a protagonist living a double life, marked by superficial normalcy on the outside and profound psychological disturbance within. 

Both novels offer a critical look at their characters’ dual existences, blending elements of horror with a keen psychological insight to explore themes of identity, madness, and the hidden darkness within the human psyche.

7. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History” tells the story of a group of classics students at an elite college in Vermont, who explore morality beyond the boundaries of the law, leading to tragic consequences. Tartt crafts a compelling narrative around themes of beauty, decadence, and the consequences of intellectual arrogance. 

The novel delves into the psychological and moral complexities of its characters, exploring the dark side of human nature and the pursuit of aesthetic beauty at any cost.

Major Similarities: 

Like “American Psycho,” “The Secret History” deals with themes of elitism, moral ambiguity, and the consequences of living in a detached, insular world. 

Both novels feature protagonists who navigate through environments of privilege and decadence, with their actions leading to dark and unforeseen consequences. Tartt and Ellis both craft narratives that challenge readers’ perceptions of morality and the human condition.

8. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

“Trainspotting” is a raw and vivid portrayal of a group of heroin addicts living in Edinburgh, Scotland. The novel is celebrated for its authentic dialect, dark humor, and unflinching exploration of substance abuse and its impact on individuals and their relationships. 

Welsh’s narrative is fragmented, told through a series of interconnected stories that provide a window into the lives of its characters, marked by moments of joy, despair, and profound introspection.

Major Similarities: 

While “Trainspotting” and “American Psycho” emerge from vastly different social settings, both novels explore the themes of addiction—whether to substances or to consumerism—and the resulting alienation from society. 

They offer gritty, unapologetic insights into the lives of their characters, characterized by a sense of disillusionment and a critique of their respective social milieus.

9. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

“Invisible Monsters” revolves around a disfigured former fashion model who embarks on a road trip with a transgender woman named Brandy Alexander, seeking revenge and identity in a surreal, twisted narrative. 

Palahniuk’s novel is a commentary on beauty, identity, and the fashion industry, presenting a satirical and critical view of society’s obsession with appearances and the lengths to which people will go to find meaning and acceptance.

Major Similarities: 

Both “Invisible Monsters” and “American Psycho” satirize the extremes of societal obsessions—beauty and consumerism, respectively. Palahniuk and Ellis use their narratives to dissect the superficiality of the cultures they explore, presenting deeply flawed characters whose quests for identity lead them down dark and violent paths. 

The novels share a focus on the destructive nature of societal expectations and the elusive search for self in a materialistic world.

10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

“A Clockwork Orange” is a dystopian novel set in a near-future society and follows the story of Alex, a delinquent youth who revels in acts of violence and ultraviolence. 

The novel is renowned for its inventive language, a blend of Slavic and English, and its exploration of themes such as free will, the nature of evil, and the possibility (or impossibility) of redemption. Burgess presents a grim critique of both the individual’s propensity for violence and the state’s attempts to control it.

Major Similarities: 

“A Clockwork Orange” and “American Psycho” both delve into the minds of protagonists who engage in extreme violence, exploring the psychological underpinnings of their actions and the societal influences that shape them. 

Both novels raise ethical questions about the nature of evil, individual responsibility, and the impact of societal norms on behavior, offering no easy answers but instead presenting a complex, layered examination of their characters’ lives and choices.

11. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

“Bright Lights, Big City” is a novel that captures the essence of New York City’s 1980s yuppie culture through the eyes of an unnamed protagonist struggling with his aspirations, disillusionments, and a cocaine addiction. 

The narrative is famous for its second-person perspective, drawing readers directly into the chaotic life of the protagonist as he navigates through a landscape of parties, editorial offices, and the underbelly of the city’s nightlife. 

McInerney’s prose is sharp and immersive, offering a poignant critique of the search for meaning in a world obsessed with surface and excess.

Major Similarities: 

Like “American Psycho,” this novel delves into the excesses of 1980s consumer culture and the existential crises faced by young, affluent professionals in a metropolitan setting. 

Both novels explore themes of alienation, substance abuse, and the quest for identity in a materialistic society, portraying their protagonists’ descent into a void of emptiness despite—or because of—their seemingly glamorous lifestyles.

12. Filth by Irvine Welsh

“Filth” is another gritty, provocative novel by Irvine Welsh, centered around Bruce Robertson, a corrupt, misanthropic police officer navigating his way through a haze of drugs, sex, and deceit in an attempt to secure a promotion. 

The novel is characterized by Welsh’s distinctive narrative style, blending dark humor with a critical look at the depravity and moral decay within both the individual and the institutions meant to uphold society’s values. 

“Filth” examines themes of power, corruption, and the search for redemption in a world that seems increasingly amoral.

Major Similarities: 

Both “Filth” and “American Psycho” offer a dark, satirical view of their protagonists’ inner worlds, filled with debauchery and a profound sense of disillusionment with societal norms. 

The novels are unflinching in their depiction of the darker aspects of human nature, exploring the consequences of living life devoid of genuine human connection or moral compass, making both compelling studies of characters on the brink of self-destruction.

13. The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis

“The Informers” is a collection of loosely interconnected short stories set in 1980s Los Angeles, showcasing a cast of characters that embody the vacuity and moral disengagement of the time. 

From movie executives and rock stars to vampires, Ellis presents a bleak, fragmented view of a society consumed by superficiality and hedonism. 

The narrative style varies across stories, but the overarching themes of detachment, nihilism, and the search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world are consistent throughout the book.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “American Psycho,” “The Informers” critiques the superficiality and moral vacuity of affluent society, using a range of characters to explore the various facets of existential ennui and detachment. 

Ellis’s sharp, minimalist prose and his focus on the themes of alienation and the dehumanizing effects of consumer culture resonate across both works, offering a stark, unsettling view of the lives of the rich and disaffected.

14. American Tabloid by James Ellroy

“American Tabloid” is a novel that delves into the underbelly of American society and politics in the late 1950s and early 1960s, blending historical facts with fiction to explore the conspiracies and machinations leading up to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Through the lives of three central characters—a former FBI agent, a mob hitman, and a corrupt police officer—Ellroy exposes the dark, interconnected webs of crime, politics, and power. 

The narrative is dense and complex, characterized by Ellroy’s signature concise prose and moral ambiguity.

Major Similarities: 

While “American Tabloid” and “American Psycho” are set in different eras and focus on different aspects of American culture, both novels are united by their critical examination of the American dream gone awry. 

Ellroy and Ellis dissect the corruption, greed, and moral bankruptcy that lie beneath the surface of the American success story, presenting a vision of a society where the pursuit of power and pleasure leads to violence and despair. 

Both authors use their narratives to question the very foundations of the society they depict, challenging readers to look beyond the surface glamour to the darker truths beneath.

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