8 Best Books Like The Stranger Update 05/2022

Books Like The Stranger

There is so much more to books like The Stranger than their plots. It’s no surprise that so many people are searching for more books like these, which reveal new meanings and raise new questions as you read.

Meursault, the main character in Albert Camus’ famous 1942 novella, is depicted as cold and uncaring. Because he refuses to shed a tear at the funeral of his own mother, is apathetic toward marriage, and exhibits little remorse for the senseless murder he committed, he is sentenced to death for breaking the “rules” of society.

Two parts of The Stranger explore the mind of Meursault, a rebel against society who has no remorse for anything he does. Camus writes beautifully in this haunting rumination on morality in this novel that has been deemed an exploration into the absurd touching on philosophy and existentialism.

What follows is a list of books that are similar to The Stranger in terms of cryptic characters, questions, and themes. They are all thought-provoking and definitely worth a few reads. It’s a good time to ponder!

Books like The Stranger

The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger

To begin this list of books like The Stranger, we have J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, which has a well-known protagonist in Holden Caulfield. Caulfield recalls events from a few crazy days he spent underground in New York City from a presumed institution.

In the wake of his expulsion from boarding school, Holden sets out to find a sense of belonging, identity, and meaning in the big city, only to discover that the world is full of even more “phony” people, pain, and disappointment (a realisation which only furthered his particular brand of teenage angst).

It’s hard to believe that such a short story can touch on so many important issues, such as mental health and the isolation that comes from feeling rejected by society. There are many reasons why The Catcher in the Rye has become a classic, one of which is Holden Caulfield’s multifaceted and melancholy persona.

Already know this classic coming-of-age novel? Take a look at our selection of similar books to The Catcher in the Rye!

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

From a protagonist like Meursault who consciously knows and avoids conforming to society to the character of Esther Greenwood in our next novel, The Bell Jar, who feels an immense pressure to fit in, so much so that it slowly turns her insane. To the outsider, Esther Greenwood has it all. However, beneath the surface she appears to be in perfect health, she is in fact deteriorating.

Acknowledging the social expectations of a young woman; to have a career, get married and care for children. To get her “head straight,” Greenwood is committed to a mental health facility after a string of failed suicide attempts. She undergoes psychotherapy, electric shock therapy, and a variety of other treatments.

As a literary masterpiece, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar brilliantly depicts the darkest corners of the human psyche, highlighting the detrimental effects of social pressure. The Bell Jar is a sobering read for anyone looking for more novels like The Stranger. It was written shortly before Plath’s own untimely death and is said to be part autobiographical.

Has this book already been read by you? These books are similar to The Bell Jar!

The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka

While Franz Kafka’s works often cover a wide range of subjects, his absurd novella The Metamorphosis is no exception. It has since become one of the century’s most widely read and influential works of literature.

Through the guise of a man, Gregor Samsa, turning into an enormous insect, Kafka mediates on the human condition, alienation, feelings of inadequacy and guilt. In the same way that Gregor is transformed, so too is the way the world sees him, making him an object of disgust to those closest to him.

Camus and Kafka are often compared because of their focus on the plight of modern man and their exploration of hidden meanings. However, Camus once claimed that Kafka provides a glimmer of hope for the reader, whereas he believes he does not.

Reading The Metamorphosis is an enjoyable experience for anyone who enjoys books like The Stranger.

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

Books like The Stranger make you consider all sorts of things, in William Faulkner’s influential novel As I Lay Dying we are prompted to consider life and death.

When Addie Bundren died, her nine-day journey to Jefferson, Mississippi where she had requested to be buried was chronicled in this story.

Narrated by different members of the family, and some characters they meet along the way, we see the difficulties they encounter en-route to the burial site including broken bones, fires, navigating floods, misplacing the coffin among others.

We learn how Addie’s death affects each member of the family as they ponder and attempt to make sense of the nature of existence through a variety of narrative styles, such as stream of consciousness and interior monologue.

Just a few of the many reasons why As I Lay Dying has become a literary classic include its focus on morality as well as the novel’s structure, style, and dramatic content.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Some books, like The Stranger, have censorship issues, while others, like our next book, The Alchemist, are celebrated for their esoteric content. As of 1988, Paulo Coelho’s enthralling novel about a boy, his dreams, and his travels has been read by millions of people around the world.

As a young Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago makes the long journey from Spain to Egypt in search of a treasure he has no idea what it is. He only knows it exists and that he must find it.

Along with the various people Santiago meets, the novel shows the various obstacles he must overcome as well as the various people who help him in some way on his journey.

Though dazzling in its simplicity, The Alchemist is a powerful story which not only highlights that “treasure” can be found within but also the importance of listening to your heart, following your dreams and evolving personally.

Are you already a fan of this book? Find more books like The Alchemist on our list!

Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is our next novel like The Stranger that explores society’s perception of those who are different from us.

An experimental trial on a laboratory mouse has never before been performed on a human being. Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled man who is pursuing intelligence, participates in the trial. Algernon, the mouse, is the name he gives him.

At first, the experiment works, and Charlie’s intelligence grows and he exceeds the doctor’s expectations, like Algernon’s did before him. However, the experiment does not work as well as Charlie had hoped. Charlie’s future may be in jeopardy as Algernon’s condition deteriorates over time.

Anything but heartbreaking is Keyes’ poignant portrayal of humanity, whereby we should not be measured by our intelligence or looks but rather by kindness, by how we communicate with each other and love.

Flowers for Algernon is a thought-provoking novel that belongs on this list of contemplative reads.

Is this a book you’ve read before? We’ve compiled a list of books that are similar to Flowers for Algernon.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

On the surface, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gripping story about a man’s deal with the devil, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a philosophical exploration of aesthetics and morality that makes it a great alternative to The Stranger.

Basil Howard’s enduring muse, Dorian Gray is a young, handsome and charming society painter. Lord Henry Wooton and Dorian become fast friends while Basil is painting Dorian one day. Lord Henry impresses Dorian with his hedonistic outlook.

As a result of Lord Henry’s influence, Dorian soon comes to the conclusion that the only things worth pursuing in life are beauty and pleasure, and so he sells his soul in exchange for the promise that he will never age, but Basil’s painting of him will. For a brief moment, we get a glimpse of the libertine lifestyle Dorian has been lured into, but things don’t end well.

The Picture of Dorian Grey, despite initial censorship concerns, is now widely regarded as one of Wilde’s most popular works.

Is this your first time reading it? More books like The Picture of Dorian Gray can be found here.

The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus

A philosophical essay by Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, is an excellent companion to The Stranger and other works that explore the absurd.

Even though the universe remains silent, Albert Camus cites many of his philosophical influences, such as Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, to describe the philosophy of the absurd as a fundamental human need.

Camus uses the Greek myth of Sisyphus to illustrate the absurdity of our need to give meaning to everything: he is sentenced to push a boulder all the way to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back down again.

As a result, anyone who enjoys thought-provoking works like Albert Camus’ The Stranger or his plays will want to read The Myth of Sisyphus as well.

While books like The Stranger can be enjoyed simply as enjoyable stories with interesting characters, once you start thinking about what you’ve read, it’s difficult to put down the book.

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