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20 Darkly Thrilling Books Like “American Psycho” For Noir Aficionados

Delve Into The Psyche With These Unsettling Books Similar to "American Psycho"
by The Blinkist Team | Apr 23 2024

20 Intense Books Like American Psycho: Dark Thrills Await

“American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis has left a lasting impact on the thriller genre, offering an unflinching look into the mind of a sociopath masked under the veneer of yuppie affluence. Its blend of sharp satire, psychological depth, and graphic content both horrifies and fascinates readers, igniting a hunger for similarly dark and complex narratives.

If you’re captivated by the exploration of the human psyche’s darkest corners and society’s underbelly, this list is tailor-made for you. Here are 20 books that resonate with the themes of “American Psycho”, promising a deep dive into narratives that unsettle and provoke thought.

Top 20 best books to read if you liked “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis


1. “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk

The story unfolds around an insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker, plunging into themes of identity, consumerism, and self-destruction.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • A critique of consumer culture and male identity.
  • Dark, gritty narrative style.
  • Exploration of psychological depth and violence.


2. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

A wealthy family mystery unraveled by journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander unveils deep-seated corruption and depravity.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Complex, troubled characters.
  • Themes of societal corruption and violence.
  • A dark, compelling mystery.


3. “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis

Ellis’s debut novel dives into the lives of disaffected rich teenagers in Los Angeles, exploring themes of nihilism and moral vacuity.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • A satirical take on affluent society.
  • Detached, minimalist prose.
  • Depiction of excess and emotional disconnection.


4. “Zombie” by Joyce Carol Oates

Through the eyes of a serial killer, Oates explores the darkest impulses of the human mind, creating a chilling narrative of violence and obsession.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • First-person perspective of a psychopathic mind.
  • Themes of isolation and the craving for control.
  • Graphic content and psychological exploration.


5. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

A group of classical students at an elite college explores morality beyond the boundaries of the law, leading to tragic outcomes.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Themes of elitism and moral detachment.
  • Exploration of the dark aspects of human nature.
  • A gripping narrative with complex characters.


6. “Glamorama” by Bret Easton Ellis

A model’s journey into international terrorism blurs the lines between image and reality, critique on the obsession with surface and fame.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Satirical look at celebrity culture.
  • Themes of identity and reality versus appearance.
  • Dark and complex narrative.


7. “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” by Patrick Süskind

Set in 18th-century France, this novel chronicles a perfume apprentice with a superior olfactory sense and his morbid quest for the ultimate scent.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • The protagonist’s obsession-driven crimes.
  • Vivid sensory details and descriptions.
  • Dark exploration of human desires and morality.


8. “Filth” by Irvine Welsh

A corrupt policeman’s life spirals out of control, revealing his depravities and psychological turmoil in this gritty narrative.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • A protagonist living a double life of outward respectability and inner corruption.
  • Dark humor and graphic content.
  • Intense psychological and societal critique.


9. “Invisible Monsters” by Chuck Palahniuk

A disfigured former fashion model navigates a journey of bizarre revenge and self-discovery, challenging conventional beauty standards and identity.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Sharp societal satire.
  • Themes of identity, transformation, and the pursuit of authenticity.
  • A dark, twisted narrative.


10. “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy

Set in the 1850s, this epic Western follows a teenage runaway joining a group of Indian hunters, delving into themes of violence and existentialism.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Graphic depictions of violence and brutality.
  • Exploration of the dark side of human nature.
  • A bleak and powerful narrative.


11. “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski

This unconventional novel explores the psychological disintegration of a family and challenges the very form of storytelling.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Non-traditional narrative structure.
  • Themes of obsession and the unraveling of reality.
  • An unsettling, deeply psychological tale.


12. “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh

The lives of a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh are depicted in raw detail, exploring themes of addiction, poverty, and friendship.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Dark, gritty realism and graphic content.
  • Critique of society through the lives of its outcasts.
  • Complex characters with psychological depth.


13. “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver

Exploring the nature vs. nurture debate, this novel delves into a mother’s recount of raising her son, who would go on to commit a school massacre.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Exploration of psychopathy and societal fears.
  • A deep dive into complex familial and social issues.
  • A dark, compelling narrative.


14. “Lunar Park” by Bret Easton Ellis

Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, Ellis’s pseudo-memoir dives into a haunted past, substance abuse, and fatherhood.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Metafictional elements and satirical tone.
  • Themes of identity, reality, and redemption.
  • A complex narrative exploring personal and societal darkness.


15. “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis

Implicitly included for its thematic resonance and as the benchmark for this list, Ellis’s controversial novel explores the abyss of the human psyche through the life of Patrick Bateman.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Graphic violence and satirical critique of consumerism.
  • Deep psychological exploration of the protagonist.
  • A narrative that questions morality and identity.


16. “The Wasp Factory” by Iain Banks

A disturbing look into the life of Frank, a teenager with a history of violent behavior, living on a remote Scottish island.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • The depiction of a deeply disturbed protagonist.
  • Dark themes of violence and identity.
  • A chilling narrative that probes the nature of evil.


17. “Tampa” by Alissa Nutting

A controversial exploration of desire and taboo, focusing on a female teacher who preys on her middle school students.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • A protagonist with sociopathic tendencies.
  • Themes of lust, manipulation, and societal masks.
  • A provocative narrative that challenges comfort zones.


18. “The Killer Inside Me” by Jim Thompson

A small-town sheriff’s psychopathic tendencies emerge in this noir classic, revealing the darkness lying beneath his charming facade.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • First-person perspective of a sociopath.
  • A blend of crime, drama, and psychological depth.
  • Examination of the duality of human nature.


19. “Exquisite Corpse” by Poppy Z. Brite

This novel dives into the minds of two serial killers, exploring their twisted psyches and dark desires in graphic detail.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • Graphic depiction of violence and deranged psychopathy.
  • Themes of death, obsession, and the search for beauty in darkness.
  • A deeply unsettling narrative.


20. “Psycho” by Robert Bloch

The classic that introduced Norman Bates, exploring his dual personality and the murders at the Bates Motel.

Elements in common with “American Psycho”:

  • A protagonist with a fractured psyche.
  • Iconic exploration of violence and identity.
  • A foundational work in psychological horror and suspense.

In wrapping up this chilling tour of the human psyche’s shadowy recesses, remember that these narratives, while darkly captivating, are not for the faint-hearted. Each book on this list delves into complex themes of identity, societal critique, and psychological depth, akin to “American Psycho”.

Whether you’re fascinated by the intricacies of the human mind or the moral ambiguity within society, these books promise thrilling, thought-provoking reads. Happy delving into the darkness!


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