Let’s Play a Game!

I’ll name a famous book, and then recommend a lesser-known book you should read if you enjoyed it. Ready? Let us begin.

a-confederacy-of-dunces@2xIf you like A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole…

…then you should read Incomplete Works, by Noah Goats.iw

The influence of Toole’s legendary comic novel on this book is clear. While the plot isn’t as intricate and the cast not as large, the intelligent, snobbish protagonist of Goats’ novel is definitely a unique character, much like Ignatius J. Reilly.



HWRIf you like H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West–Reanimator series….

…then you should read The Friendship of Mortals by Audrey Driscoll.

All right, so this is kind of a layup since the latter is based on the former, but if you are familiar with Lovecraft’s interesting but thinly-sketched serial, you have to read Driscoll’s reimagining, in which she fleshes out Herbert West and his world.




AnnihilationBookIf you like Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer…

…then you should read Ocean Echoes, by Sheila Hurst.

Ocean EchoesNow, you might think this is an odd comparison, especially if you only know Annihilation from the movie adaptation, which is much more sci-fi horror. The movie is very good, but also extremely different than the book. Ocean Echoes isn’t as dark as Annihilation, but both are about a biologist who ventures into the unknown while battling mental demons and scars of past relationships. And both are haunting and beautifully-written.



TheJungleSinclairIf you like The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair…

…then you should read Eating Bull, by Carrie Rubin.

Okay, confession time here: I don’t like The Jungle. I like Sinclair’s concept of a novel with a social commentary on the meat industry, but the book itself is boring, repetitive and preachy. It’s a neat idea, but it doesn’t work.

eatingbull-book-cover-by-lance-buckleyEating Bull, on the other hand, totally does work because it’s a gripping page-turner of a killer thriller, and the social commentary is woven into the plot, so it feels natural and organic. So, I guess what I’m saying is, if you read only one novel driven by a social comment on Big Food, make it Eating Bull. Also, it’s a bit more timely, being published more than a century after The Jungle.




Now it’s your turn! Name me some famous books, and then some similar, lesser-known book that you think deserves more attention. And yes, it’s completely fair game if you want to list your own books. Go for it.


  1. This is a great idea, Berthold. I’ll have to give it some thought. As always, when I want to pull something apt from the old brain library, I can’t do it right away. And while I can think of several books that deserve attention, I’ll have to find some well-known read-alikes.

  2. I’m filing this idea away for a future blog post. So creative.

    And I loved Annihilation, so I’m going to keep an eye out for Ocean Echoes for sure. My library doesn’t have it yet, but I’ll send in a request as soon as their site allows me to.

    1. Thanks! I can’t wait to see your post. 🙂 And yes, I hope the library gets Ocean Echoes soon. It’s a wonderful book.

  3. This was a challenge for someone whose reading has always been fearful limited in subject matter and of late has been very lazy.
    As the USA and the UK approach the 11th November a day of reflection (not celebration) on the horrors we expect others to experience for us to make up for a government’s mistakes.
    If you have read Michael Herr’s ‘Despatches’ a journalist’s contemporary commentary on the Vietnam War with a particular sympathetic view of the ‘grunt’ not as a noble hero, but as a poor guy caught in something he didn’t sign up for, or for someone who has gone so far in he will never come back…..
    And should this leaves you wondering if this and books about experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest there was a tougher generation in WWII…Then I would suggest ‘The Sharp End’ by John Ellis which documents to experiences of the infantry man in WWII.
    You will then realise that War, whenever, wherever and involving whoever is sheer hell and those still living from WWII know exactly what those who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan went through.
    And how relevant the lyrics of ‘Fortunate Son’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival will always be.

    1. Thank you! I’m always interested in reading military books, so these recommendations are much appreciated.

      1. Herr said some of ‘Despatches’ was more based on impressions than fact….considering amount of self-medication taken we can give him a free pass on that. But the poignancy for what he lovingly calls ‘The Shit-Faced Grunt’ is achingly strong.
        ‘Sharp-End’ at the end every chapter you could well be saying ‘Oh My God’ in horror.

  4. The only book on the list I’ve read is The Jungle and I’m not interested in reading another book on the subject as I was a night security guard at a sausage plant. I have read a few of the Herbert West books by Audrey and they are good.

    1. Thanks, Pat! I’ve been driving most of the day, just now saw your emails and replied. Thanks again.

  5. Ha, it took me awhile, but if you like, ‘Little Women,’ you might like, ‘The Secret Life of Bees.’

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