Catch 22 by Joseph Heller refers to the infamous rule that an insane soldier cannot fly more missions. All he has to do is ask to be grounded based on being insane. However, he cannot be insane and fly by evaluating his mental state. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn’t have to. But if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to. This illogical logic runs rampant throughout the novel as a result. It’s ruthlessly funny and satirical, so you should read it.
A young man given the same three names by a father who thought he was funny was immediately promoted from a private to a major due to a computer error. But more importantly, the third primary reason you should read Catch-22 is that it’s a serious novel. It’s an anti-war novel, but in a way that’s different than others. This is because it’s difficult to argue against World War Two morally.
Books like Catch-22 offer a satirical critique of various aspects of society, such as war, bureaucracy, and societal norms. They use humor and irony to expose the absurdities and contradictions within these systems. By reading them, you gain a fresh perspective on the flaws and follies of human behavior, inviting you to question and challenge societal conventions.
10 Books Like Catch 22 (Literature Fiction)
In the book Catch 22, the fact remains that many innocent people are going to die, and many of them will be poor. As the main character, Yossarian, points out, it doesn’t make a difference who wins the war to someone dead. So, Hitler’s problem is that many unwillingly drafted men would die while colonels get promoted, so many businesspeople make money.
So while the novel is funny, Heller uses that humor to lull you into a false sense of security to surprise you with tragedy. Now, I am going to talk about ten books similar to Catch-22. These books’ clever wordplay, sarcasm, and sharp observations provide entertainment and intellectual stimulation. Let’s go!
Slaughterhouse-Five is about a man at the bombing of Dresden during World War Two because Brazil was a tiny little town. But it was considered making warheads, so the Americans bombed it to smithereens. The author Kurt Vonnegut was there. He was captured during World War Two, and they took all of them to Slaughterhouse-five. They put them down on the meat lockers in the basement. So when they bombed Dresden off the map, the few people in this meat locker were the only survivors.
Kurt writes about this in this book, and it’s his way of getting those demons out of his head. So he writes it as this man who is in the bombing of Dresden. He gets unstuck in time when he comes out, so he sees the rest of his life non-chronologically. He’ll be on his honeymoon, and then he’ll be seeing one of his children and playing catch and then losing his virginity at 17.
So everything’s out of order, and it’s about him trying to pretend everything’s normal. Like Catch 22, there’s an exciting thing in this where every time people die. So it goes every time there’s good or bad.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Humorous Science Fiction, Classic Humor Literature Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD
2. The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye focus on the themes of identity and authenticity. This book’s story is told by a boy named Holden Caulfield. He’s a rebellious teenager with a few psychological issues, and he tells us about the three days he spent in New York after being kicked out of his third school. He is a typical conflicted teenager with manic-depressive tendencies who doesn’t know where he belongs in this world.
The main topic is Holden’s disgust with human behavior and social standards. Two types of people have read this book. The first type is those who enjoyed it because they could connect with Holden’s emotions and feelings.
The narration is conversational, exactly how Holden would speak, which is very unpleasant. He repeats himself repeatedly, and it was so frustrating reading this. Like every other sentence, the kid takes the Lord’s name in vain and is centered around harmful activities like prostitution and illegal drinking. The main character belittles women all the time. If anybody disagrees with him, he explains how stupid these people are. The amount of cursing is entirely insane. The historical aspects are very similar to Catch 22.
Author: J. D. Salinger
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Classic American Literature, Literature & Fiction
Available: Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback
3. The Grapes of Wrath
The Grapes of Wrath is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel considered a masterpiece of American literature and a powerful portrayal of the hardships faced by migrant workers during the Great Depression. Like Catch 22, it’s a classic, and many readers bring much information to the table with them. This book was published in 1939, written by the American and Californian extraordinaire John Steinbeck. He won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer, and then primarily responsible for Steinbeck, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
The story focuses on one Oklahoma family the jobs during the Great Depression. They’re forced to move from Oklahoma to California because of the Dust Bowl, and their small family farm hurt. The family is large. It’s three-generational, but they pile into one car and head west for the Promised Land of California. What happens next?
Above all else, the author talked to the organizers to get the workers together to earn a living wage. The plot of this book is based on the harvest of gypsies. These chapters are usually shorter, and instead of focusing on specific characters, they focus on people. They seem historical at times and are often biblical or poetic.
Author: John Steinbeck
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Classic Literature, Historical Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle
4. The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby was written in the 1920s and is also set. To be precise, we are reading the book from the perspective of Nick Carraway, who moves from Long Island to West Egg. He rents a small house and ends up living next to Jay Gatsby. People don’t seem to know a lot about Gatsby. He’s pretty mysterious, but he’s wealthy and throws fabulous parties. The other people involved in the story are Daisy and Tom Buchanan. They are also rich, and Daisy is Nick’s cousin. A lot of these characters aren’t enjoyable, like Catch-22.
During the dinner party, we discover that Tom has a mistress. The rest of the story is set partly in New York, partly at Gatsby’s house. During some of his fabulous parties and in some of the other character’s houses. There’s a lot of intrigue and unexpected situations.
Also, the story of The Great Gatsby seems to be present in the collective cultural consciousness. Once you’ve read it, you’re in the know, and you’ll understand all the jokes and all the references.
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Average Rating: 4.4/5
Category: Classic Literature, Viking Historical Romance
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback
5. The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926. Though it was Hemingway’s first novel, it established a place among great American writers. He’s an American writer living in Europe post-World War One, and he’s broken and aimless and very much a representation of Hemingway’s lost generation. The story takes us out on the town in Paris in the nineteen twenties, and we get to experience the roaring nightlife and travel to Spain for violent bullfighting.
Along the way, we’re accompanied by a group of disillusioned American men and the beautiful, flamboyant, and heartbreaker Lady Brett. Through this motley crew of lost, carefree souls, we experience the helplessness of the lost generation.
There are dancing, drinking, and love affairs that keep the pages turning, but Hemingway’s simplistic writing style that I found the most impressive writing style and classic elements similar to Catch 22. He doesn’t hide behind any flashy technique or piles of metaphors. It’s a conversational telling of his earliest years in Paris as he struggled as a young writer and married his first wife and great love.
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Average Rating: 4.3/5
Category: Classic Literature & Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback
6. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A Confederacy of Dunces is a comedic and picaresque novel in New Orleans. The story follows an eccentric and self-proclaimed intellectual. He faces the absurdities of the modern world. He is an unforgettable character whose misadventures and encounters with various oddball personalities create a hilariously chaotic narrative. Toole satirizes societal conventions, consumerism, and the clash between highbrow intellectualism and lowbrow culture.
7. Something Happened by Joseph Heller
Something Happened explores disillusionment, bureaucracy, and the complexities of human existence. The story follows Bob Slocum, an ordinary middle-aged businessman. He struggles with the banality and absurdity of his corporate life.
Heller’s narrative style is characterized by dark humor, internal monologues, and repetitive phrases that underscore the monotony and alienation experienced by the protagonist. You can examine the emptiness and meaninglessness of modern existence, presenting a scathing critique of corporate culture and the pursuit of success.
8. The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek
The Good Soldier Švejk is a satirical novel set during World War I. The book follows the misadventures of an ordinary and bumbling soldier who struggles with the chaos and absurdities of war with his unique brand of passive resistance and subversive humor. Hašek’s novel satirizes the military bureaucracy, blind patriotism, and the irrationality of war.
9. Catch-18 by Joseph Heller
Catch-18 is a lesser-known work by Joseph Heller sharing thematic and stylistic similarities with his more famous novel, “Catch-22.” In this absurdist satire, Heller presents a series of interconnected vignettes that revolve around the theme of the arbitrary and contradictory nature of authority.
The stories feature characters involved in bureaucratic and absurd situations, highlighting the illogical rules and paradoxes that govern their lives. This book nicely covers signature dark humor, wordplay, and keen observations of human behavior,
10. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho is a darkly satirical novel that explores the excesses and emptiness of 1980s consumerist culture. The story follows a wealthy investment banker by day and a sadistic serial killer by night. Ellis’s novel covers narcissism and the shallowness of society. Through his twisted perspective and graphic descriptions, the book exposes the dark underbelly of the American Dream.
These books share similarities with “Catch-22” in their satirical tone, dark humor, and exploration of the absurdities of war, bureaucracy, and human existence. Each book offers a unique and thought-provoking reading experience, filled with memorable characters, biting social commentary, and a blending of humor and existential contemplation.
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