Emilija Manevska/Getty Images
This article is updated twice a year with our latest picks.
If you love entertainment that makes you laugh out loud while highlighting the absurdity in issues that are actually pretty serious, then you're probably a big fan of satirical fiction.В Even if you aren't already, theВ reading list we compiled of the best 15 satirical books will definitely convert you. Think dark humor, plenty of irony, and exaggeration veering onВ fantasy,В all in the name of critiquing problematic political structures, societal norms, and figures. The goal is toВ hyperbolize what we accept as normal and expose its underbelly, while alsoВ helping us keep our sense of humor (albeit a dark one) along the way.
SatireВ is a mode, a mood,В a mockery, and so much more.В Here are our picks for the best satirical books to add to your collection.01 of 15
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh NguyenViet Thanh Nguyen The Sympathizer $10Shop
InВ The Sympathizer, A half-French, half-Vietnamese double agent relocates to America after the fall of Saigon, and betrayal, both personalВ and political, unfolds.В At once a love story, spy novel, and period piece about theВ legacy and evils of colonialism, the Vietnam War, and ensuing refugee experience in the U.S., you won't be able to putВ down this Pulitzer Prize winner.
Aside from beingВ satirical, sharp, suspenseful, and poignant, it's also a greatВ way to study the history of the VietnamВ War outside of aВ textbook. When he's not writing fiction, Nguyen is researching and teaching as a professor of English, American Studies and ethnicity, and comparative literature at the University of Southern California. If you likeВ this book,В pick upВ his nonfiction counterpart next,В Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War.02 of 15
Infinite Jest by David Foster WallaceDavid Foster Wallace Infinite Jest $11Shop
ReadingВ Infinite JestВ is a life-changing experience, each page containing at least one sentence that'll teach you to a truly propheticВ lesson. Finishing it, on the other hand, is arguably harder than running a marathon. It's about aВ dysfunctionalВ but lovable family whose members are all in the pursuit ofВ happiness. Classic, right? As to be expectedВ from David Foster Wallace, it'sВ hilarious, brilliant, and very, very long-winded.В03 of 15
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary ShteyngartGary Shteyngart Super Sad True Love Story $16Shop
For a more science-fiction approach to satire, tryВ Super Sad True Love Story. GaryВ Shteyngart takes us to the bleak United States of the near future, which is toiling in financial ruin. Given the rather somber content, the hilarious tone is a welcome surprise. It follows a Russian immigrant with "an absurdly low-and embarrassingly public-Male Hotness rating" as he falls in love with a Korean American woman. In short, take the title at face value, and expectВ what the title defines it as.В04 of 15
Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao LinTao Lin Shoplifting from American Apparel $13Shop
If you want something short, though not exactly very sweet, pick upВ ShopliftingВ from American Apparel. Tao Lin's novella is a semi-autobiographical, following a young writer with "a cultish following," though it's also about much larger issues, like class, culture, and art in the digital era. Like the rest of his work, this book features Lin'sВ notoriously deadpan and dark, yet strangely seductive, voice. It's also about how the selling of a book (aka the cover and the title) has nothing to do with what it's actually about.В05 of 15
Homo Zapiens by Victor PelevinVictor Pelevin Homo Zapiens $12Shop
Do you like reading fiction that's straight-upВ weird?В Victor Pelevin's novel about life in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union will definitely do the trick.В Here's a hint:В theВ protagonistВ is Che Guevara's ghost. It'll also make you think about marketing and consumerism with a much more discerning eye, and consider the ways in which we define our own culture by distinguishing it from another.В06 of 15
Fight Club by Chuck PalahniukChuck Palahniuk Fight Club $1Shop
This classic satire book explores the different representations and expectations around American masculinity, and it's also just a really fun book to read if you love humor, action, and feel like venting about consumerism. It's also a great window into the mindset of the mid-1990s and the frustration with the monotony of conventional life, as well as the futility of pop culture.В07 of 15
The Sellout by Paul BeattyPaul Beatty The Sellout $12Shop
Part period piece, part comedic masterpiece,В The SelloutВ is about a young man whoВ reinstates slavery and segregation in schools when his town is removed from the map since it only brings the state embarrassment. At times disturbing and dark, it'll also make you laugh at least once a page with its biting observationsВ about our culture's depravity.В08 of 15
American Psycho by Bret Easton EllisBret Easton Ellis American Psycho $13Shop
AВ serial-killing yuppie with a dry sense of humor is definitely not a winning combo in real life, butВ if you'd like to step inside the mind of one without actually getting too close, here's your chance. Patrick Bateman will make you cry, scream, and analyze consumer culture like never before as he unabashedly confesses his violentВ tirades and crimes against women. You'll love to hate him.В09 of 15
Brave New World by Aldous HuxleyAldous Huxley Brave New World $13Shop
This dystopicВ classicВ was written in the 1930s, though it still feels extremely topical today. It takes place in a future iteration of the world, where humans are genetically bred and medicated to be docile, and prop up a totalitarian regime. Though it sounds far-fetched, it's very much rooted in familiar places and narrativesВ around the absence of free will, originality, and personhood.10 of 15
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria MachadoCarmen Maria Machado Her Body and Other Parties $10Shop
Each short story inВ Her Body and otherВ Parties is a modern reinterpretation of a scary legend, iconic pop culture product, or a scarilyВ realistic sci-fi experiment.В And though that's interesting enough on its own, they're also written with such beauty that you'll find yourself hungry for more on the last page of each one. Some areВ eerie andВ some are erotic, while some teeter on the absurd and satirical,В butВ each of them isВ an emotionally impactfulВ feminist feat.В11 of 15
Diary of an Oxygen Thief by AnonymousAnonymous Diary of an Oxygen Thief $11Shop
The Diary of an OxygenВ ThiefВ spotlights another deeply misogynistic narrator you'll love to hate. He's so hideous a character, indeed, you might even wonder if you're reading some alternative horror novel. And interestingly enough, the author remains anonymous, evenВ 12 years after it was published. The most infuriating part is that he's smart and wry, forcing the reader to see their own role in the dynamic of "hurt people hurt people." If that doesn't convince you, theВ Amazon review compares it a theoretical "novel in which Holden Caulfield was an alcoholic and Lolita was a photographer's assistant, and somehow they met inВ Bright Lights, Big City."В What a treat.В12 of 15
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutKurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse-Five $12Shop
If you didn't already have to read this growing up, definitely give it a chance now. Kurt Vonnegut is a master novelist, and this science-fiction book is one of his best. At once full of funny,В touching, andВ eye-opening,В Slaughterhouse-FiveВ is also a disturbing war story full of time travel and alien interference when a veteran re-experiences his life out of chronological order and sometimes simultaneously.В13 of 15
Boomsday by Christopher BuckleyChristopher Buckley Boomsday $13Shop
Our 29-year-oldВ protagonistВ is nothing but likable and charming. That is, until she ever-so-politely proposes the idea that Baby Boomers over the age of 75 kill themselves in the name of reallocating funds. What starts out as a totally absurd idea starts to gain more momentum in this dystopic satirical novel.В14 of 15
Animal Farm by George OrwellGeorge Orwell Animal Farm $7Shop
Though you had to or will have had to read this for an eight or ninth grade humanities class, it'll always be a fun, classic read. Published in 1945,В this allegorical andВ satiric fable aboutВ "society's blind march toward totalitarianism" and the Russian Revolution is still just as relevant today.В15 of 15
1984 by George OrwellGeorge Orwell 1984 $13Shop
Another Orwell classic, this one takes place in the totalitarian state of Oceania, where someone is always watching you and the Thought Police can read your mind. It's Big Brother at it's most terrifying, and shows a fantasy of a political future that was meant to magnify and examine the present.
Up next: 24 banned books throughout history you'll love to read.