Books about Social Criticism

  1. A Confederacy of Dunces

    by John Kennedy Toole
    A satirical tale of an eccentric slacker's misadventures in New Orleans.

    Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found, here, "A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles ... (Goodreads)

  2. A Christmas Carol

    by Charles Dickens
    A timeless tale of redemption and transformation, set during the Christmas season.

    The book is divided into five chapters, which Dickens titled " staves ". A Christmas Carol opens on a bleak, cold Christmas Eve in London, seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge 's business ... (Wikipedia)

  3. Bleak House

    by Charles Dickens
    A social commentary on the English legal system, exploring themes of inequality, injustice and corruption.

    Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually ... (Goodreads)

  4. The Caves of Steel

    by Isaac Asimov
    Detective story set in a distant future, where humans and robots coexist.

    A faction of Spacers have come to the realization that Spacer culture is effete, stagnating due to negative population growth and longevity. Their solution is to encourage further space exploration ... (Wikipedia)

  5. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

    by Henry Fielding
    A story of a young man's adventures and misadventures in pursuit of love and fortune.

    The novel's events occupy eighteen books. The book opens with the narrator stating that the purpose of the novel will be to explore "human nature". The kindly and wealthy Squire Allworthy and his ... (Wikipedia)

  6. Winesburg, Ohio

    by Sherwood Anderson
    Portrayal of small town life, exploring its inhabitants' inner struggles and struggles with conformity.

    Winesburg, Ohio depicts the strange, secret lives of the inhabitants of a small town. In "Hands," Wing Biddlebaum tries to hide the tale of his banishment from a Pennsylvania town, a tale represented ... (Goodreads)

  7. The Labyrinth of Solitude and Other Writings

    by Octavio Paz
    Investigation of Mexican culture, challenging traditional values and exploring ideas of solitude.

    Octavio Paz has long been acknowledged as Mexico's foremost writer and critic. In this international classic, Paz has written one of the most enduring and powerful works ever created on Mexico and ... (Goodreads)

  8. Mrs. Dalloway

    by Virginia Woolf
    A day in the life of a high-society woman, delving into her inner thoughts and feelings.

    Clarissa Dalloway goes around London in the morning, getting ready to host a party that evening. The nice day reminds her of her youth spent in the countryside in Bourton and makes her wonder about ... (Wikipedia)

  9. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

    by Nikolai Gogol
    Collection of humorous and dark stories exploring the absurd and surreal.

    Hailed by Nabokov as "the greatest artist that Russia has yet produced," Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) left his mark as a playwright, novelist, and writer of short stories. Gogol's works remain popular ... (Goodreads)

  10. Villette

    by Charlotte Brontë
    A young woman's journey of self-discovery in a foreign land, overcoming societal constraints.

    Villette begins with its famously passive protagonist, Lucy Snowe, age 14, staying at the home of her godmother Mrs. Bretton in "the clean and ancient town of Bretton", in England. Also in residence ... (Wikipedia)

  11. Notes from Underground

    by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    A portrait of the struggles of a troubled man, exploring his inner turmoil.

    The novel is divided into two parts. Serving as an introduction into the mind of the narrator, the first part of Notes from Underground is split into nine chapters: The narrator observes that utopian ... (Wikipedia)

  12. L'Assommoir

    by Émile Zola
    An exploration of poverty and alcoholism in the Parisian working class.

    The novel is principally the story of Gervaise Macquart, who is featured briefly in the first novel in the series,, La Fortune des Rougon, , running away to Paris with her shiftless lover Lantier to ... (Wikipedia)

  13. Vanity Fair

    by William Makepeace Thackeray
    A story of social climbing and ambition, set against the backdrop of 19th century England.

    A novel that chronicles the lives of two women who could not be more different: Becky Sharp, an orphan whose only resources are her vast ambitions, her native wit, and her loose morals; and her ... (Goodreads)

  14. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

    by Hunter S. Thompson
    A wild journey through the 1972 US presidential election, tackling issues of politics and power.

    Hilarious, terrifying, insightful, and compulsively readable, these are the articles that Hunter S. Thompson wrote for, Rolling Stone, magazine while covering the 1972 election campaign of President ... (Goodreads)

  15. Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

    by William Deresiewicz
    Critique of Ivy League education and its impact on students' personal growth and career prospects. Offers alternative paths to a fulfilling life.

    As a professor at Yale, Bill Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation’s brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think ... (Goodreads)

  16. The Overcoat and Other Short Stories

    by Nikolai Gogol
    A collection of humorous, satirical tales, exploring the human condition in 19th century Russia.

    The story narrates the life and death of titular councillor Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin (Russian: Акакий Акакиевич Башмачкин), an impoverished government clerk and copyist in the Russian capital of ... (Wikipedia)

  17. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 8: Dirge

    by Warren Ellis
    A journalist's mission to restore truth and justice in a futuristic, dystopian world.

    Transmetropolitan created by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. ... (Goodreads)

  18. Botchan

    by Natsume Sōseki
    A young Tokyo graduate takes a teaching job in a rural town, where he faces challenges and learns valuable life lessons.

    Botchan (young master) is the first-person narrator of the novel. He grows up in Tokyo as a reckless and rambunctious youth. In the opening chapter he hurts himself jumping from the second floor of ... (Wikipedia)

  19. The Stepford Wives

    by Ira Levin
    An unsuspecting woman discovers a sinister conspiracy in her seemingly perfect suburban town.

    The premise involves the married men of the fictional Fairfield County town of Stepford, Connecticut and their fawning, submissive, impossibly beautiful wives. The protagonist is Joanna Eberhart, a ... (Wikipedia)

  20. Herland

    by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    An exploration of a utopian society composed entirely of women, questioning gender roles.

    The story is told from the perspective of Vandyck "Van" Jennings, a sociology student who, along with two friends, Terry O. Nicholson and Jeff Margrave, forms an expedition party to explore an area ... (Wikipedia)

  21. Ghosts

    by Henrik Ibsen
    A family's struggle to face the consequences of their past and present.

    Helen Alving is about to dedicate an orphanage she has built in memory of her late husband. Despite his affairs, Mrs. Alving stayed with him to protect her son from the taint of scandal and for fear ... (Wikipedia)

  22. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

    by Winifred Watson
    An unemployed governess embarks on a day of transformation in 1930s London.

    Set in London just prior to World War II , the film is about a middle-aged, straitlaced vicar 's daughter and governess Guinevere Pettigrew ( Frances McDormand ), who has been fired from her fourth ... (Wikipedia)

  23. Rhinoceros

    by Eugène Ionesco
    A surrealist play about a town succumbing to mass political conformity.

    The play starts in the town square of a small provincial French village. Two friends meet at a coffee shop: eloquent, intellectual and prideful Jean, and the simple, shy, kind-hearted drunkard ... (Wikipedia)

  24. The Misfortunates

    by Dimitri Verhulst
    A coming of age story of a boy dealing with poverty, drugs, and family strife.

    In De helaasheid der dingen keert de schrijver terug naar zijn geboortegrond in Reetveerdegem. We maken kennis met zijn vader, Pierre, die zijn paar uur oude zoontje in een postzak op zijn fiets ... (Goodreads)

  25. The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain

    by Mark Twain
    A collection of humorous and satirical short stories that showcase Mark Twain's wit and storytelling abilities.

    For deft plotting, riotous inventiveness, unforgettable characters, and language that brilliantly captures the lively rhythms of American speech, no American writer comes close to Mark Twain. This ... (Goodreads)

  26. The Way We Live Now

    by Anthony Trollope
    A satirical tale of greed and corruption, set in the world of high society.

    Augustus Melmotte is a financier with a mysterious past. He is rumoured to have Jewish origins, and to be connected to some failed businesses in Vienna. When he moves his business and his family to ... (Wikipedia)

  27. Ward No. 6 and Other Stories

    by Anton Chekhov
    Collection of stories depicting the struggles of life in late 19th century Russia.

    Ward No. 6 and Other Stories, by Anton Chekhov, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics (1899), as well as several lesser-known works, no less masterful in their composition. David Plante is a ... (Goodreads)

  28. Welcome to the Monkey House

    by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
    A collection of short stories exploring the absurdities of human life.

    Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Atlantic Monthly , ... (Goodreads)

  29. Capital

    by John Lanchester
    An exploration of the lives of a group of characters in London, revealing the dark side of modern capitalism.

    Celebrated novelist John Lanchester (author of The Debt to Pleasure ) returns with an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time. It’s 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and ... (Goodreads)

  30. The Way of All Flesh

    by Samuel Butler
    A satirical novel that critiques Victorian society and its values through the story of a young man's struggle against his oppressive family.

    The story is narrated by Overton, godfather to the central character. The novel takes its beginnings in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to trace Ernest's emergence from previous ... (Wikipedia)

  31. The Twelve Chairs

    by Ilya Ilf
    A comedic tale of two men's quest for hidden jewels in a chair with a secret compartment.

    In the Soviet Union in 1927, a former Marshal of Nobility , Ippolit Matveyevich "Kisa" Vorobyaninov, works as the registrar of marriages and deaths in a sleepy provincial town. His mother-in-law ... (Wikipedia)

  32. Omon Ra

    by Victor Pelevin
    A satirical novel about a Soviet astronaut's journey to the moon, exploring themes of propaganda, identity, and the absurdity of the Soviet system.

    The book is narrated in the first person. It is a coming-of-age story, or, Bildungsroman, . The protagonist is Omon Krivomazov, who was born in Moscow post- World War II . The plot traces his life ... (Wikipedia)

  33. End of the Game and Other Stories

    by Julio Cortázar

    Final del juego es una de las colecciones de cuentos más importantes de la segunda mitad del siglo XX. Empeñado en transgredir las leyes de la narrativa convencional, en estos dieciocho relatos Julio ... (Goodreads)

  34. They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

    by Horace McCoy
    A group of desperate individuals participate in a grueling dance marathon during the Great Depression, with tragic consequences.

    The story follows the narrator, Robert Syverten, a naive young man in Hollywood who dreams of being a film director. The story begins with Robert's sentencing for murder. He confesses that he "killed ... (Wikipedia)

  35. The Misanthrope

    by Molière
    A comedic satire of the French social and political elite, exposing their hypocrisies and vices.

    The Misanthrope or Le Misanthrope ou l’Atrabilaire amoureux is a comedy of manners in five acts and in verse. It is one of the best of Molière's plays — and one of the greatest of all comedies — ... (Goodreads)

  36. Both Flesh and Not: Essays

    by David Foster Wallace
    A collection of essays exploring various topics, including tennis, literature, and language, with Wallace's signature wit and insight.

    Brilliant, dazzling, never-before-collected nonfiction writings by "one of America's most daring and talented writers." (,Los Angeles Times Book Review,). Both Flesh and Not gathers fifteen of ... (Goodreads)

  37. Scoop

    by Evelyn Waugh
    A humorous and satirical look at journalistic misadventures in Africa.

    Lord Copper, newspaper magnate and proprietor of the "Daily Beast", has always prided himself on his intuitive flair for spotting ace reporters. That is not to say he has not made the odd blunder, ... (Goodreads)

  38. The Maias

    by Eça de Queirós
    A romantic family drama set in 19th century Portugal, exploring the decline of traditional values.

    The book begins with the characters Carlos Eduardo da Maia, João da Ega, Afonso da Maia and Vilaça in the family's old house with plans to reconstruct it. The house, nicknamed "Ramalhete" (bouquet), ... (Wikipedia)

  39. Look Back in Anger

    by John Osborne
    A young man's disillusionment with post-war Britain and his stagnant marriage. A scathing critique of the British class system.

    Electrifying in its urgency, cauterizing in its wit, this play blasted a gaping hole in the conventions of British drama. Jimmy Porter plays trumpet badly. He browbeats his flatmate, terrorizes his ... (Goodreads)

  40. Sex Object: A Memoir

    by Jessica Valenti
    A candid memoir about the author's experiences with sexism, objectification, and harassment as a woman in modern society.

    Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny and bracing memoir, Valenti explores the ... (Goodreads)

  41. A Woman of No Importance

    by Oscar Wilde
    Satirical tale of societal expectations of gender roles and class in Victorian England.

    Oscar Wilde's audacious drama of social scandal centres around the revelation of Mrs Arbuthnot's long-concealed secret. A house party is in full swing at Lady Hunstanton's country home, when it is ... (Goodreads)

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