Become a fan of the best psycho books! Would you like to feel the nerve-wrecking suspense of American Psycho again?

When I read American Psycho, I was in utter shock. What I found most intriguing about the novel was how it maintained a high ambiguity level from the contradictions and mistaken identity. Bateman’s murders increasingly became complex and sadistic. They went from stabbings to necrophilia, cannibalism, mutilation, and rape. His mental state and sanity started to slip and kept deteriorating.

What I also learned during the years, that books about psychos aren't necessary psychological thrillers. Hence both genres has a lot to do with mental illnesses, psycho books are going one step further.

Books like American Psycho are canonical works of social satire. They draw much attention because they are damning critiques of cultural consequences and depict how soft sadism can shade in utterly violent behavior.

Fight Club is also a classic story, full of psychoanalysis and discussions of mental state. Did you know that Edward Norton during the preparation for his role in the 1999 Fight Club film stayed awake for five days straight. For the role of a man with insomnia, it was essential that Norton experienced the condition himself.

American Psycho and Fight Club made me a fan of psycho books, and if you are like me, I think the books below are must-reads.

What Are The Best Psycho Books? 

Bad Kids, by Franklin Dean (2022)

Bad Kids is a must-read for anyone who loves fast-paced books with a haunted hayride. The book is set in a small town in which a youth feels like no longer playing by everyone’s rules.

Two teenagers, Eli Matterson and Calvin Owens, unknowingly vandalize a horrific murder scene- the two break into their school gym, where they find a dead body. That is how they find themselves entangled with an infamous young couple. Eli and Calvin hope that this couple can solve this crime and eventually clear them from any wrongdoings.

But there is something unusual about this couple. The couple has antisocial motivations to help Eli and Calvin initially, but they do not seem pure. But the boys still take the ride.

As the mystery about all the events continues to deepen, Eli and Calvin will discover that these new friends are truly dark and dangerous. They will be prodded into a drug underworld, vigilantism, and first-world anarchy.

The Shining, by Stephen King (1977)

All Jack Torrance wants is to get away. Any place will do, provided it brings him peace. He wants to forget about getting fired for violent assault, excessive drinking, resenting his wife, and how he broke his son’s arm due to uncontrolled anger.

A job as a caretaker at the incredibly empty and supposedly haunted Overlook hotel seems just about right. Finally, he may get the chance to write a novel. He might finish his lengthy gesturing play or start fresh with his family.

Jack’s idyllic location becomes more sinister and remote as harsh winter sets in. The only person who notices the terrible and unusual forces around the hotel is Danny Torrance, who has a supernatural gift, The Shining. But the hotel is also feeding off Danny’s gift. So it is now a battle for survival.

Jack is uncomfortable in his world, and his intelligence and high opinion of himself are at odds. He can neither accept nor recognize his deep, fatal flaws. He only accepts his family as a necessary inconvenience to seem like a normal human being. His well-practiced outward projection of someone ordinary sets him apart from homicidal killers.

But Jack is hiding something from his past, and it's dangerous and deadly.

A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (1972)

This is a terrifying fable about what human freedom means and good and evil. It confronts the dreaded questions about how humans are capable of violence and our nature. It is dark and twisted, as told by unfolding events.

Alex, a teenager, tells the story in A Clockwork Orange. He talks in an inventive slang called Nadsat that evokes his and his friends’ intensive reactions against society. Alex has an attitude that makes him want to get anything he wants through any means necessary, no matter who it hurts.

The first section of this book depicts how Alex and his friends wreak havoc in their community. They commit heinous crimes like robbery and rape and attack and beat a library patron. In the second section, readers find Alex having been arrested and in prison. There, he undergoes radical rehabilitation, which conditions him against violence.

In the third section, Alex is out of prison and is allegedly cured of his violent disposition, and then he faces the victims of his crimes.

As you read this book, you get to see how Alex comments about the world’s meaninglessness which is the way to understand the central themes.

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (1999)

Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, and it is a sci-fi novelistic approach to what people in today’s world would call post-traumatic disorder. This psycho book portrays how war events can significantly impact someone who survived and experienced it.

Billy is a time traveler, a veteran of the Second World War, a prisoner of war, and is in his later stage of life. He willingly and unwillingly experiences all the events he knows randomly and at times simultaneously.

Billy is traumatized by Dresden’s bombing, which happened when he was in prison, and he drifts through his historical events as a witness or is sometimes profoundly implicated.

To add to his mental torture, Billy is surrounded by Kilgore Trout and his abductors, the Tralfamadorian aliens who oversee his life. They all constantly remind him that there is no order, causation, or motive for existence. Unfortunately, for Billy, his aliens may also be as real as the Dresden bombing.

As Billy struggles to find life’s purpose, meaning for humanity, existence, and order, he meets Montana Wildhack. She is as mysterious as she is beauteous. They bear a child together and drift on a supernal plane. Eventually, Kilgore Trout, the aliens, Montana Wildhack, and the Dresden ruins stop merging and disperse in all forms of existence planes.

Tender is the Flesh, by Agustina Bazterrica (2020)

Marcos is an employee in a local processing plant that slaughters humans. However, nobody calls them humans anymore- they are ‘special meat.’ These are humans created and used for meat processing. Special meats are grown, processed, and packed to be taken to the butchers for further distribution.

His life is in shambles- his father has dementia, his wife left him, and an infectious virus has spread. The virus is only lethal to humans and has infected every animal, fish, and bird. As a result, the government brings about the “Transition” that has paved the way for legal killings, inhumane medical experiments, human trafficking, and ‘special meat’ consumption with no retaliatory acts.

Marcos is the processing plant’s manager, and he tries to confine all his thoughts to stocks, consignments, and units. Cannibalism disgusts Marcos, but not his cruelty toward other living humans.

The nature of his job has eroded his morals, but one supplier brings him a female unit as a business incentive, and it has the finest quality. Marcos knows that any contact is forbidden with the species on death pain, but he begins to treat her like a human. Within no time, he begins to get tortured by all that has been lost and what is savable.

Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes (1959)

What would you do if you received an operation that turned you into a genius and then introduced you to heartache? To begin imagining such a scenario, you have to read Flowers for Algernon. This book addresses the treatment issues for those who appear different, family complexities, and emotional and intellectual growth.

In the book, Charlie Gordon was born with an extremely low IQ. He is also everyone’s laughing stock, but he always thinks people are not laughing at him but with him. But Charlie is about to start an unprecedented journey.

Researchers choose him as the perfect subject for a surgical experiment. The experiment aims to enhance Charlie’s intelligence through a tested and successful trial on Algernon, a lab mouse.

When Charlie undergoes the operation, his intelligence increases, giving him an extremely high IQ. It even surpasses the level of the doctors who came up with Charlie’s metamorphosis.

The procedure is a scientific breakthrough and is of utmost importance until Algernon begins to deteriorate unexpectedly. Then, it dawns on Charlie that he will soon undergo the same thing. He doesn’t know the time it will take.

Can he be recognized as a human being and not a lab experiment?

Dead Inside, by Chandler Morrison (2020)

Dead Inside mirrors how some people purposefully live outside the ‘normality’ realm with no will to boringly live as they center their lives on gory criminal acts for self-actualization.

This story is about two hospital employees exhibiting aberrant behavior- a male security guard and a female obstetrician. They work in the 36th best hospital in Ohio, the last place anyone probably gets a chance at employment.

The two characters unexpectedly meet at the hospital’s morgue. That is when they realize that they have strange proclivities and perceive each other as kindred spirits. The security guard has a disturbing taste in women, while the maternity doctor has a horrifying and unusual appetite for ‘unique delicacy.’

After meeting, they start a journey of self-discovery, but they navigate it while engaging in destructive and abnormal behavior and shattering societal norms. Finally, they help each other make out a world they don’t belong to but eventually start to realize the true meaning of being alive, which is not always necessarily a good thing.

The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks (1998)

This is the story of the Cauldhames family that lives on a tiny Scottish island. Old Angus had three children Eric, Frank, and Paul. Angus is somehow a scientist fixated on healthy food and measurements.

Frank murdered Paul when he was only five. He then went on to kill two cousins, Blyth and Esmeralda, birds, animals, and insects. According to Frank, his actions were just a stage, and he didn’t mean for any animosity to prevail. On the contrary, he hoped his victims took none of it. These murders were more or less on a whim. After his murders, Frank intends not to commit any other murders.

Eric is now crazy due to what happened and is in a mental asylum, and Frank is always maimed by the truth about Frank’s death which was blamed on Old Saul, the family’s dog. Frank lives with Angus, and their mother abandoned them many years ago.

When Eric escapes and comes back home, several shocking secrets about their father and Frank’s past will be revealed, changing Frank forever.

This story shows how left unchecked; people can create broken souls and monsters. It also considers the question of whether extreme initial suffering justifies villain acts. It's one of the best books like American Psycho.

I am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells (2010)

John Wayne Cleaver knows he is dangerous. He has tried to do his best not to reach his potential all his life. He really doesn’t want to become a serial killer. However, he is obsessed with them. He enjoys being at the family morgue, and his mother has noticed that he has too much interest.

Since he doesn’t want to become a serial killer, he has made himself rules to live by for his sake and the protection of those around him. He has rigid rules and practices a normal life like it is a private religion capable of saving him from damnation. He doesn’t want to act on his murderous impulses.

For John, dead bodies are a norm, and he particularly likes them because they don’t expect or demand empathy he can’t offer. This is possibly what gives him some objectivity when a dead body is found at the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat. He observes that there is something different with this body and wants to appreciate the meaning of the difference.

Cleaver sets out to find the serial killer. He is convinced he is the only one who can stop him. But John is even more drawn and distracted by this killer. The killer’s emotions make his acts feel more human to John. Can he keep his tendencies and fantasies about killing people in check? Could it be okay to kill the serial killer and take the edge off?

Best Psycho Books Conclusion 

Books like Fight Club and American Psycho give readers a grotesque fascination, drawing them to unsettling and horrifying subject matters, making them unique. If you are a fan, the psycho books on this list are worth your time.

If you are looking for more psychological books check our favorite thriller and psychological thriller books.

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