What are the best existential fiction books?

asked by Anonymous
247 contributors
19 solutions
  1. 26

    #1The Metamorphosis

    The Metamorphosis
    Gregor Samsa was a regular traveling salesman who one night transformed into a cockroach-looking animal. As his whole family despises him, this book uses Samsa's transformation to talk about human feeling of acceptance and guiltiness, as his new condition brought poverty to his family. 


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    Dorothy Nelson
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "This is a very strange book. I did want to keep reading it but it was different."
  2. 24



    Siddharta is a spiritual fiction novel written by Herman Hesse. It was published January 1, 1982 by Bantam publishing. It narrates the story of a young man's journey to spiritual enlightenment.


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    Martín Garza
    Written on May 4, 2018
    "Siddhartha may be fiction, but it is so real too. I enjoyed reading about the enlightenment experienced, and I was able to take a lot of those things and apply them to my own life. That is pretty good when a work of fiction can make you do that!"
  3. 22

    #3Notes From Underground

    Notes From Underground
    In Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky tells the story of an unnamed narrator who retreated underground, fully isolating himself from society. It exhibits Dostoyevsky's thoughts on society and the human condition.

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    Andrea Schneider
    Written on April 2, 2018
    "Notes From Underground was one of the best existential fiction books that I've ever read. While the book was somewhat short, each word on the page had purpose and movement. This book makes you think and it also makes you unable to put it down. "
  1. 22


    Candide is a satirical novel by Voltaire. It provides social criticism by telling the story of Candide, who delivers a blow against optimism in the face of life's hardships as he struggles to reunite with the love of his life.

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  2. 20

    #5Fahrenheit 451

    Fahrenheit 451

    Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel wherein a totalitarian regime has ordered the burning of books in order to suppress the spread of subversive ideas. It preaches about the power and role of knowledge to see beyond the surface.


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    Rebecca Bennett
    Written on May 7, 2018
    "This classic novel is an amazing existential fiction book. It should be on everyones to read list if they haven't already read it."
  3. 17

    #6One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    This is one of the most imports novels of the 60's and from American history. The unforgettable story of a mental ward and the people living there and the tyrannical Nurse Ratched and McMurphy.

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    Daisy Wen
    Written on April 25, 2018
    "The classic One Flee Over the Cuckoo's Nest is Ken Kesey's finest piece of ecclectic 1960"s literature. The character's thay co-havitate in a psychiayric institution will have you laughing, crying, and especially wondering at the shocking end to the story, reminiscent of psychiatric reality of decades gone by."
  4. 16



    1984 is a utopian and dystopian fiction written by George Orwell. First published in 1949, it is included in the NPR Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books.


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    Adam Wilson
    Written on May 11, 2018
    "I read this book back in high school and it continues to be one of the best sci-fi fictional books that I've ever read. I believe that everyone should have a copy of this book, it is a true reflection of what United States could become under a fascist dictatorship. This is easily one of my favorite books in my collection and I continue to read it to this day."
  5. 14

    #8The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye is J.D. Salinger's 1951 classic about teenager Holden Caulfield, who was used as an icon of teenage angst and rebellion. The controversial book has caused debates, mainly because of its vulgar language and themes.


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    Richard Daniels
    Written on April 21, 2018
    "A lot of people find this book a classic and while it is well written, I thought it was just an okay book. I like his different views on different people and situations as it can be thought-provoking although I also found it a little hard to follow sometimes. I found the vulgar language unnecessary and really distracted from the book."
  6. 13

    #9Thus Spoke Zarathustra

    Thus Spoke Zarathustra

    The most accessible and influential work of Nietzsche, the most influencer philosopher of the 19th and 20th century. In this book, Nietzsche explains the basis of provocative and utterance 'God is dead'.


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    Dorothy Wallace
    Written on March 26, 2018
    "Friedrich Nietzsche is indeed a book that is for broad thinkers and with open minds. This book forces you to think. The translation is really good but the edition could be better."
  7. 11


    Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler is the first book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series. It tells the story of an anorexic 17-year old girl who is struggling to fight hunger. This book about eating disorder will touch the lives of many teens.


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    Dorothy Gibson
    Written on March 29, 2018
    "Hunger is a detailed book that helped me visualize how eating disorders affect a lot of people. The series did a great job at bringing light to this."
  8. 10

    #11The Brothers Karamazov

    The Brothers Karamazov

    The Brothers Karamazov is Fyodor Dostoyevsky's final novel. It tells the story of four brothers―Dmtiri, Ivan, Alyosha, and Smerdyakov. Dostoyevsky writes about 19th-century Russian life and talks about religion, ethics, and morality.


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    Evelyn Butler
    Written on April 25, 2018
    "Maybe not your usual existential book but this book does make one think about existence. It is a classic of literature and has been praised for years so I will agree that it is an amazing book that suits a lot of genres of book."
  9. 10


    Steppenwolf is a novel by Hermann Hesse originally published in Germany in 1927. It is a mix of autobiography and psychoanalysis, as well as a critical view of the intellectual hypocrisy of the period.

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    Edward Sanchez
    Written on April 23, 2018
    "A good story written in the Hesse style many are drawn to, but not one of his best. Worthwhile for Hesse fans."
  10. 9


    This is one of the greatest plays of all times and this edition is the groundbreaking Cambridge School, established by Rex Gibson. This is the story of the tormented prince of Denmark confronted with the evidence that this uncle murdered his father. 

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    Emily Hansen
    Written on May 1, 2018
    "Shakespeare has always been a fun read for me. I don't like the language or prose bother me because I find it very enlightening compared to today's prose and language. This is a dark story, but a great read. I highly recommend it for even those who do not like to read heavy materials. The plot far outweighs everything else!"
  11. 7

    #14Unbearable Lightness of Being

    Unbearable Lightness of Being

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a philosophy fiction novel written by Milan Kundera which tells the story of a young woman in love with a married man. 


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    Joe Perry
    Written on April 16, 2018
    "I love to read. In my opinion, one of the best existential fiction books out there is "Unbearable Lightness of Being". A great love story centered around the Russian occupation of the Czech Republic. Intense, did not know it was a descriptive romantic novel at times, but it is still one of the greatest books I have read."
  12. 4



    Nausea is a dramatic existentialist modern novel written by the philosopher, critic, and novelist icon, Jean-Paul Sartre. It was originally released in 1938 and won the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature.


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    Dennis Herrera
    Written on May 2, 2018
    "I am always looking for great fiction books, and upon finding Nausea I was pleasantly surprised that I missed a book with such an award attached to it."
  13. 2

    #16Crime and Punishment

    Crime and Punishment
    Crime and Punishment is a classic of Russian literature by Fyodor Dostoyevsky published in 1866. It tells the story of ex-student Rodion Raskolnikov who plans to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker to liberate himself from poverty.


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    Jacqueline Stephens
    Written on April 30, 2018
    "As an existentialist and Russiaphile, this book is one of my favorites. It's a classic for a reason, and it's great reading as a novel, even without the existential perspective, which elevates it into something else entirely."
  14. 1

    #17Veronika Decides to Die

    Veronika Decides to Die
    Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho is a fictional novel originally published in 1998. It tells the story of a young and beautiful woman named Veronika who seems to be living a perfect life until she decides to commit suicide.


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    Juan Griffin
    Written on March 21, 2018
    "This book hits on some really sensitive topics and I wouldn't suggest it for everyone. However I think the story is incredible and it really gets the reader to think. I'd think this book would hit home if anyone has ever debated ending it all, even if it crossed their minds for a second. While I like the book, I'd recommend people thinking about the purchase tread carefully."
  15. 0

    #18Black Spring

    Black Spring
    Black Spring is a post-modern literary work authored by Henry Miller. It was first released in 1994. It tackles a wide array of topics, from Virgil the poet to venereal diseases.

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  16. 0

    #19The Sound of the Waves

    The Sound of the Waves

    The Sound of the Waves is a speculative fiction novel written by Yukio Mishima. This book's original title was Shiosai and it was first published in 1954. The English translated version was published by Vintage Books.


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    Helen Wong
    Written on May 2, 2018
    "I read this book well over 20 years ago at school and when I saw it online I had to pick it up again. Where the story may come off as a little cliché at first, it truly is a love story in every sense of the word. Mishimas poetry jumps off the page and memories I had when reading it before came flooding back. It’s a story of forbidden love, but told in such a way that it really is just a metaphor for life. The details of what life was like in Japan really gives you a glimpse into that world and is a great way to re-look at your own struggles. Take your time reading this one to let each of the well chosen words sink in."


Best What are the best existential fiction books
1The MetamorphosisBooks 26 Paid
2SiddharthaBooks 24 Paid
3Notes From UndergroundBooks 22 Paid
4CandideBooks 22 Paid
5Fahrenheit 451Books 20 Paid
6One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestBooks 17 Paid
71984Books 16 Paid
8The Catcher in the RyeBooks 14 Paid
9Thus Spoke ZarathustraBooks 13 Paid
10HungerBooks 11 Paid

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