10 Joyce Carol Oates Best Books Update 05/2022

Joyce Carol Oates Best Books

It has been said that Joyce Carol Oates is one of the best-known and most controversial living American writers today. At least 60 novels have been written by Oates over the course of seven decades. There have also been a lot of short story collections, plays, essays, and poems written by Oates as well. When you look at her work, you’ll see that she likes to make things that are both dramatic and embarrassing. Her characters don’t seem to be very cool at all. As soon as they see something funny, they jump right in with pounding hearts and blood that sings. She looks at and celebrates disaster as more than just an event that starts things off. She sees it as an important part of life. If you want to look through her many books, we’re here to recommend the 10 best Joyce Carol Oates books.



Oates won the National Book Award for them in 1969 with his book. It’s part of her “Wonderland Quartet” of books. One of her most popular books is based on a real family. It’s a story about how hard it is to make money and how hard it is to make money and how hard it is to make money in the United States. Story: Loretta Wendall’s life and the lives of her children are told from the 1930s to about the late 1960s. The novel is a slow-moving tragedy that uses sharp observation and realistic language to make a world that feels real and important. It also makes the reader question the American Dream.

High Lonesome

In this collection of short stories by Oates, you’ll find the all-time favorite, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.” The story of a teenage girl and the older man who slowly but surely wears her down is worth the price of admission on its own. It’s scary and open to interpretation. The short stories in High Lonesome are also very good. Love and relationships can be violent, and religion and worship can be very appealing. Oates looks at these things and many other things in stories that don’t fit into one category.

We Were The Mulvaneys

In her 1996 novel, Oates shows off her supernatural ability to X-ray modern American life. Michael and Corinne Mulvaney, their sons Mike Jr., Patrick, and Judd, and their daughter Marianne, are rich and happy in the mid-1970s. They have a lot of money and a lot of fun. Obsessed with their social status, their lives seem perfect and their futures are safe, but this isn’t true. When Marianne is sexually assaulted, the violent moment pulls on the thread that holds the Mulvaneys together, and things go downhill from there. A lot of the pretenses of wealth and status in Oates’ book We Were The Mulvaneys turn out to be meaningless. They don’t protect the family from grief or their own flaws.

A Garden of Earthly Delights

A Garden of Earthly Delights

Oates’ second book, the first in her unofficial Wonderland Quartet, is a favorite of many people. A Garden of Earthly Delights is the story of Clara Walpole, who is beautiful but poor. She wants a better, more independent life, but keeps getting stuck with men who aren’t as good as her. Even at this early point in her career, Oates was a master of understanding people. Her characters have a lot of energy and self-destructive desires that make them even more interesting to read even though you can see where their paths are going. In some ways, this is two books in one. In 2003, Oates made a lot of changes to the novel, and the new edition has a different feel even though it tells the same story. It’s worth reading both to see how they compare.

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart

It became more interesting to write about things other than the struggles of the poor and the excluded in our society as Oates got older. All of Oates’ characters seem to be stuck in a bad situation. The main characters in Because It Is Bitter and Because It’s My Heart, Jinx, a talented black athlete and Iris, a beautiful blonde-haired girl, are stuck in a bad situation, too. Even though Oates used to write very simple stories, now there’s a lot more subtlety about the things that make them tighten and choke. A body is found in a river near Iris and Jinx’s upstate New York town. Their forbidden love draws them into racial violence, even though it was already forbidden. There is a slow, steady push for them both to go down dark and twisting roads together.

Lovely, Dark, Deep

Joyce Carol Oates’ work is often set in a time-warp, mid-century bubble as she looks at how the American Dream has turned bad. Her short story collection Lovely, Dark, Deep, which was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, looks at death. It includes 12 short stories and a novella that talk about death. These stories feature people whose lives fall apart in different ways. The best is the novella, which has become an instant classic and features an aging Nobel Prize winner and his daughter who takes care of everything he wants. A lot of electricity comes off the page when the aging literary lion meets a much younger woman. Oates’ dark, sarcastic humor is like electricity.

The Falls

The Falls

In Oates’ 2004 book, everyone who was in it seems to be going to die. Another thing that makes this book stand out is that it doesn’t have to end in disaster. When Ariah’s new husband kills himself on their wedding night, she thinks she’s cursed. In the beginning, she is very happy when she gets a second chance at happiness in the form of a happy, rich man named Dirk Burnaby. But she can’t believe in her luck. When she thinks that she’s going to die, she poisons everything around her. Her good-hearted husband does his best to help. The Falls is one of her best-read and most fun books, even though it’s dark. It’s quick and clever, even though it’s dark.


When this book starts, it is the best writing ever done by the author, Oates! Even if the rest of Wonderland (the fourth and final entry in her unofficial Wonderland Quartet) was a disappointment, it would be worth reading for the sequence where young Jesse Vogel flees into the woods as his father is busy killing the rest of his family—and then himself. Then, Oates follows Jesse as he grows up in the 1930s and 1940s as a refugee from a horrible place. Because of that terrible night, Jesse always runs away from his father. This is a dark and beautiful look at how trauma can change people for the better.


Oates tells the story of Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, which is both a biography and a piece of fiction. He doesn’t care about the truth. As always, what she is worried about is how a character will die. Her favorite actress is Marilyn Monroe, so she chose her as her subject. She is very good at portraying a mercurial and fascinating version of Monroe. The choice to use initials and euphemisms for some of the other celebrities in the story might seem like a cheap trick at first, but it adds to the sense of paranoid terror that Marilyn feels. From the time she was born, she was abused and talked about all the time. Even her fame and money can’t save her. Some of Oates’ best work came out of this.

Black Water

Oates always talks about how things went down in the middle of the 20th century in his work. In Black Water, she tells the story of the tragedy and scandal of Chappaquiddick through the eyes of a story. Elizabeth “Kelly” Kelleher is pretty, smart, and a little afraid. When she meets a charismatic, middle-aged senator at a party, she thinks that her political hero has chosen her to be his partner. This means she lets herself be swayed by the idea that she’s finally being recognized as special. Because of Oates’s powerful writing, you can almost feel the unfairness of it. A woman who trusts someone she shouldn’t, who is punished for being too passive, and who you will remember.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.