Best Existential Fiction
Novels, novellas, short stories, plays
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 67,219 ratings
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 326,018 ratings
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 107,985 ratings
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 82,558 ratings
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 45,216 ratings
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7
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 270,668 ratings
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8
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 182,707 ratings
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9
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 82,119 ratings
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10
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 438,911 ratings
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11
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 131,753 ratings
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12
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 56,145 ratings
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13
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 36,046 ratings
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14
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 69,210 ratings
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15
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 300,842 ratings
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16
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 406,058 ratings
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17
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 1,619,678 ratings
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18
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 22,244 ratings
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19
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 18,386 ratings
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20
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 865,637 ratings
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21
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 168,121 ratings
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22
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 110 ratings
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23
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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 220,859 ratings
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24
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 95,663 ratings
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25
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 294,935 ratings
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26
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 116,094 ratings
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27
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 5,215 ratings
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28
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 56,480 ratings
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29
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 83,780 ratings
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30
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 682,614 ratings
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31
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 1,161,946 ratings
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32
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 463,822 ratings
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33
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 9,323 ratings
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34
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 497,965 ratings
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35
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 114,655 ratings
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36
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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 969,579 ratings
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37
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 1,701,907 ratings
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38
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4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 104,596 ratings
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39
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 42,586 ratings
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40
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 1,489,632 ratings
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41
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 15,676 ratings
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42
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 95,684 ratings
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43
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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 807,405 ratings
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44
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 126,597 ratings
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45
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 7,308 ratings
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46
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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 58 ratings
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47
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 17,812 ratings
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48
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 331,540 ratings
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49
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 172,324 ratings
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50
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 38,082 ratings
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51
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 210,498 ratings
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52
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 5,534 ratings
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53
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3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 39,369 ratings
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53
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 69,969 ratings
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55
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 2,550 ratings
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56
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 4,973 ratings
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57
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 3,731 ratings
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57
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 32,708 ratings
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59
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 105,412 ratings
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60
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 157,627 ratings
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61
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 5,825 ratings
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62
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 14,989 ratings
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63
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 8,036 ratings
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64
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 60,864 ratings
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65
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3.48 of 5 stars 3.48 avg rating — 49,290 ratings
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66
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 28,644 ratings
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67
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 46,991 ratings
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68
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 330 ratings
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69
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 7,084 ratings
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70
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 53,665 ratings
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71
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 20,270 ratings
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72
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 4,907 ratings
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73
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 38,618 ratings
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73
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 2,244 ratings
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75
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 3,203 ratings
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76
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 55,097 ratings
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77
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 64,339 ratings
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78
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 18,338 ratings
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79
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 10,967 ratings
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80
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 132 ratings
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80
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 18 ratings
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80
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2.95 of 5 stars 2.95 avg rating — 22 ratings
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80
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 4 ratings
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80
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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 1,422,929 ratings
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80
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 44 ratings
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86
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 8,620 ratings
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87
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3.48 of 5 stars 3.48 avg rating — 2,196 ratings
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88
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 6,659 ratings
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89
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 15,158 ratings
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90
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 12,205 ratings
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91
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 4,141 ratings
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92
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 9,000 ratings
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93
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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 820 ratings
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94
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 10,933 ratings
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95
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 4 ratings
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95
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 38 ratings
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95
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3.24 of 5 stars 3.24 avg rating — 55 ratings
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95
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4.5 of 5 stars 4.50 avg rating — 12 ratings
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95
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 648 ratings
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95
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 211 ratings
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198 books · 358 voters · list created December 16th, 2008 by Ashley (votes) .
232 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Ashley 272 books
27 friends
Lindsay 677 books
43 friends
Cody 190 books
45 friends
Adam 463 books
12 friends
jo 1939 books
236 friends
Jennifer (aka EM) 1119 books
188 friends
Jessica 1261 books
1068 friends
Matthew 72 books
30 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by jo (new)

jo i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!


message 2: by Vivian (new)

Vivian my favorite is richard wright's the outsider.


message 3: by Stef (new)

Stef Where's Milan Kundera on this list? Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment"? "Waiting for Godot"? "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"? Etc...?


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Nothing by Janne Teller


message 5: by Rob (new)

Rob Risimini When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom (an existential psychotherapist)


message 6: by Momina (new)

Momina Masood I really didn't know that The Alchemist could be called an existential fiction. o_0


Sentimental Surrealist I'd personally put Native Son on this list; it has so much in common with the Stranger that I'd be surprised if Camus wasn't drawing from Wright.


message 8: by Sara (new)

Sara Why on earth (and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong) are there so few female existential writers? Does the existential struggle not resonate as strongly with women? The women that do write in this genre are notoriously polarizing...

Any advice on women in this genre or men who write about the female experience?


message 9: by J. Matthew (new)

J. Matthew Why are there so many works of non-fiction on this list?

Where's the rest of Dostoyevsky? At least The Possessed...


message 10: by Florencia (new)

Florencia Good lord, The Alchemist is on this list...


message 11: by Susannah (new)

Susannah Bell I wonder if it's significant that so many of these have made brilliant movies.


message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 3 books removed.


message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Removed 18 non-fiction titles.

As a general observation, this list is weakened by the fact that the list originator doesn't offer a definition of 'existentialist'. As a result, many of the books listed have only the vaguest connection to existentialism as it is commonly understood.


message 14: by J. Matthew (new)

J. Matthew Yay Paul! Very strong!


message 15: by Bamawalt84 (new)

Bamawalt84 I must say I am glad to see fight club on this list after not seeing any works by palahniuk on the list of best satirist novels. I am so sick of reading analyses of fight club that only focus on the homoerotic undertones or the critique of consumerism that I feel the movie made too prevalent and kind of missed the point of the novel. The character of tyler durden is existentialism and absurdism incarnate. Also, kudos on including bret easton ellis and cuckoo's nest, also absent from the best satires list. I can't say that I agree with on the road and tropic of cancer being included though. Those books are nothing but tasteless drivel. I never really noticed the existentialism in catcher in the rye before, hut it makes sense. The metaphor of holden wanting to save children from falling of a cliff as they play in a rye field while in reality he was the one who needed saving from himself perfectly sums up the futility that is the basis for absurdism. Great list! Really got me thinking.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of people interacting with their worlds from a experiential stance. Mostly with a 'working out their existence' feel, with emotional responses to angst, death, responsibility, loneliness and connectedness. Basically any story that makes you think of existence.


message 17: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of people intera..."

"Basically any story that makes you think of existence." Way too vague: this could be said of almost any book at all.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of ..."


Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!"
Stories of ..."


You're right. Suppose existentialism is an attempt to give life meaning without God.


message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Eric wrote: "Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentialist-authors!..."

Or more generally, an investigation of the meaning of life in the absence of authoritative rules and meanings supplied from outside the self. This allows for the possibility that, without God, life is actually 'meaningless', in the common-language sense of the term: any meaning it may seem to have being a provisional one that we have to supply for ourselves.

Another possibility would be to limit it historically: but then people would disagree on what was the first existentialist writing. Do we go back as far as Kierkegaard, or Dostoevsky, or Nietzsche, or Heidegger? Or do we have to wait for the term 'existentialism' to come into common use, with Sartre? And when does it become meaningless to speak of existentialism as a coherent movement? Sartre died in 1980: but many people would say that existentialism's creative period was already long in the past by that point, and essentially limited to the period 1929-1960.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "Paul wrote: "Eric wrote: "jo wrote: "i would love a definition of existential fiction, other than fiction-by-existentialist-authors-or-fictions-the-looks-like-the-fiction-of-existentia..."
no Kierkegaard or Nietzche = no Satre. Philosophy or ways of thinking develop. I would think existential themes are mostly, like all other ideas, found in movies. Like some Coen brother movies. They use a lot of existential themes. It goes deeper than thinking and into feeling. Also, there is a lot of existentialism in therapy, thanks to Rollo May. But as a movement, probably that 1929-1960 mention, I think.


message 21: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 1 book removed.


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