Columns > Published on October 12th, 2020

Chuck-alikes: A Chuck Palahniuk Read-alike List Part 2

Chuck-alike definition: Books like Chuck Palahniuk’s. [Click here for Chuck-alikes: Part 1]

Chuck’s books attract people who don’t always enjoy the books they were assigned in school, the books that hit bestseller lists, the books that you find in book clubs. Which means Chuck's fans have to be a little more clever when we're looking for other great books.

Here’s a HUGE list of Chuck-Alikes, non-Chuck books that might please the Palahniuk fan.

They’re divided up into categories, because a Chuck-alike can be a lot of different things, all with some sort of that Chuck-y goodness.

Books That Have Influenced Chuck

Interviewers, please, for the love of god, unless you’re interviewing an author who is brand new to the game, check and see if there are readily-available answers to the “Who are your influences?” question before asking. Like these:

"The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan

Calling Fight Club a read-alike for The Joy Luck Club is weird, but it's a weird world. Wear a helmet.

Get The Joy Luck Club at Bookshop or Amazon


"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut

Style, the mixture of darkness and humor. This one is a big influence.

Get Slaughterhouse-Five at Bookshop or Amazon


"Carrie" by Stephen King

Most of the writers who came to prominence in the 90’s hid their Stephen King influence, but now that literary reputations don’t work the same way, most have come forth with the King book that influenced them.

Get Carrie at Bookshop or Amazon


"Rosemary’s Baby" by Ira Levin

Chuck even wrote an intro for this one.

Get Rosemary's Baby at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another one that a lot of people don’t love, but the structure and sequencing of events are definitely something Chuck has spent a lot of time thinking about and dissecting.

Get The Great Gatsby at Bookshop or Amazon


Books that READ Like One of Chuck’s

Titles that might give you a glimmer of reading a shiny new Chuck.

"Frisk" by Dennis Cooper

From the author:

I present the actual act of evil so it's visible and give it a bunch of facets so that you can actually look at it and experience it. You're seduced into dealing with it. ... So with Frisk, whatever pleasure you got out of making a picture in your mind based on ... those people being murdered, you take responsibility for it.

Get Frisk from Bookshop or Amazon


"The Loop" by Jeremy Robert Johnson

JRJ has a lot of books that have a feel akin to Chuck’s different books. They’ve both worn a lot of hats, and they both deliver, big time.

Get The Loop at Bookshop or Amazon


"Post Office" by Charles Bukowski

The “K-Mart Realism” bible. Bukowski’s been dragged through the mud, mostly because of so many imitators doing bad impressions. But what most people don’t understand about dragging Bukowski through the mud, he’s been there all along. Doesn’t bother him a bit.

Get Post Office at Bookshop or Amazon


"I Miss The World" by Violet Levoit

People describe this one by comparing it to being punched in different parts of the body. Depends on the reviewer and their experiences with being punched, I reckon.

Get I Miss the World at Bookshop or Amazon


"I Am Legend and Other Stories" by Richard Matheson

There’s some Matheson in Chuck somewhere, especially in his horror stuff and short stories.

Get I Am Legend at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Troop" by Nick Cutter

Nick Cutter wrote a Fight Club knockoff as Craig Davidson (or at least a book that was marketed that way), but The Troop does a better job walking that line of almost pushing the reader away but somehow compelling them to keep coming back.

Get The Troop at Bookshop or Amazon


"A Head Full of Ghosts" by Paul Tremblay

A fine, contemporary use of a non-fiction device to tell a fictional story.

Get A Head Full of Ghosts at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Sarah Book" by Scott McLanahan

Imagine a sort of rural Palahniuk.

Get The Sarah Book at Bookshop or Amazon


"Wraiths of the Broken Land" by S. Craig Zahler

Palahniuk and Cormac McCarthy had an ugly, violent-as-fuck baby.

Get Wraiths of the Broken Land at Bookshop or Amazon


"Ablutions" by Patrick DeWitt

I recommend this story to anyone who will read it, but with the caveat that nobody else do the second-person novel, ever. DeWitt did it, but reading the attempts of others is painful.

Get Ablutions at Bookshop or Amazon


Gerry’s Kids

Editors mean a lot. Gerry Howard, Chuck’s longtime editor, has edited a lot of other big names and big books in his time. Here’s just a few.

"The Broom of the System" by David Foster Wallace

Howard could probably be credited with “discovering” Wallace.

Get The Broom of the System at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Subject Steve" by Sam Lipsyte

The master of the sentence.

Get The Subject Steve at Bookshop or Amazon


"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

Well it’s depressing, and it was a HUGE hit.

Get A Little Life at Bookshop or Amazon


"White Noise" by Don DeLillo

This one probably fits in with a lot of categories, but Don’s definitely one of Gerry’s Kids.

Get White Noise at Bookshop or Amazon


Recommended By Chuck

Whether these are like reading a Chuck book depends from title to title. But there is no shortage of gems here.

"The Ice At The Bottom of the World" by Mark Richard

The king of the short story.

Get The Ice at the Bottom of the World at Bookshop or Amazon


"Jesus’ Son" by Denis Johnson

Also the king of the short story. It’s a type of fiction, not a country. There can be two kings.

Get Jesus' Son at Bookshop or Amazon


"Heartburn" by Nora Ephron

Might be a bit of a surprise here, but with its structure and use of objects, it’s a good read. There’s a reason Nora Ephron wrote like a hundred hit movies.

Get Heartburn at Bookshop or Amazon


"Miles From Nowhere" by Nami Mun

Wonderfully dark and depressing, it feels like a book that could’ve come out in the early 90’s along with a lot of Chuck’s contemporaries.

Get Miles From Nowhere at Bookshop or Amazon


"Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford

A Hunter S. Thompson type of embedded, gonzo journalism that takes quick turns from entertaining to vile.

Get Among the Thugs at Bookshop or Amazon


"Knockemstiff" by Donald Ray Pollock

Damn you, Donald. You kept that idea going, that mystique of the undiscovered writer genius working a factory job somewhere. Speaking of...

Get Knockemstiff at Bookshop or Amazon 


"The Pugilist at Rest" by Thom Jones

Jones was working as a janitor, I believe, and was only discovered later in life.

Get The Pugilist at Rest at Bookshop or Amazon


Left Fielders

When you learn how to recommend books in library school, a good teacher will tell you to recommend one title that’s almost exactly like the one a reader enjoyed before, a second that’s similar but not exactly the same, and a third that’s a left field, gut feeling. Here are my left field Chuck-alikes.

"Raised in Captivity" by Chuck Klosterman

Very short “fictional non-fiction,” which is fictional stories written as though they were real. The journalistic sensibility will appeal, and the premise of each story is unique and fascinating.

Get Raised in Captivity at Bookshop or Amazon


"The Grip of It" by Jac Jemac

The style is really different, but there’s something about the story taking the stage in front of the characters...I don’t know, just my gut.

Get The Grip of It at Bookshop or Amazon


"Us" by Michael Kimball

A very plain story told in a plain, almost obsessive way. The style is the star, and it shines.

Get Us at Bookshop or Amazon


What do you think? Enough to hold you over? Got any recommendations of your own?

About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: