Vonnegut Junior was born on the 11th of November, 1922, in Indianapolis that would become the setting for a large number of his works. He was an American novelist, a satirist, and even dabbled in graphical artistry. Between the years 2001 and 2003, Kurt was acknowledged as the New York State Author.
During his college years, Kurt attended Cornell University. Additionally, Vonnegut was trained as a chemist, worked as a journalist prior to his joining of the United States Army, and served in the Second World War. Post-War, Kurt attended the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology while working as a police reporter.
Best Kurt Vonnegut Books
|Slaughterhouse-Five||9.94/10||275 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|Mother Night||9.88/10||282 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|Cat's Cradle||9.72/10||179 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|The Sirens of Titan||9.64/10||224 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|Welcome to the Monkey House||9.58/10||352 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
Soon, he left Chicago and moved to Schenectady, New York where he worked in public relations for General Electric. His unadorned style of writing was attributed to the reporting work he’d done.
Vonnegut was a self-professed humanist, socialist, and a fervent supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Vonnegut’s body of work consists of blending black comedy, science fiction, and satire into one. Let’s now take a look at what the best Kurt Vonnegut books are about.
Vonnegut’s first book on our list is no other than Slaughterhouse-Five. The title of one of Kurt Vonnegut’s best novels of all time might suggest something gruesome or eldritch, but it is actually one of the most thought-provoking, stimulating books of the 20th century. The book is made up of science fiction elements, including extraterrestrial life, extra-dimensional time travel, and things of thereabouts.
Its literary merit is only helped by the nonlinear way of telling the story, while we follow Billy Pilgrim through various moments of his life. We see him during the World War, then we see him abducted by aliens – ones that are unbound by time and by space –, and then we see how all of these things affect the grief of man. Truly, a wonderful piece of art.
Kurt deals with many themes in this 275-page novel, and the narrative features a unique outlook and experiment on war. But it is much more than just that. The innovative shape by which the structure of the novel is tangled with the story is peculiar, yet all the more remarkable.
By going back and forth through the life of the protagonist, we learn how the past is, essentially, an irresistible force, one that cannot be overlooked, especially if it’s at the center of a large part of our individual experience as a human being. If it does not sound like the best Vonnegut novel in our Vonnegut book reviews, we do not know what does. It is also one of the best-selling Vonnegut books.
Mother Night represents a riveting recollection and a thorough look at the criminal actions carried out by the Nazis during the course of the Second World War. It is thought-provoking, as all books of Kurt are, and you’ll find yourself questioning your own views on morality and the right and wrong dualism we all hold. If we ranked Vonnegut’s books from best to worst, it would be one of the greatest Kurt Vonnegut books to read. Perhaps even one of the very best books by Vonnegut for many of his fans.
Howard W. Campbell Junior
While Kurt is not nearly as known for this novel, it is a worthy contender for being one of his best ever written. A tale of intrigue and moral befuddlement is interspersed through a more straightforward story of empathy, love, and care. Howard W. Campbell Junior, the protagonist of this story, is found sitting in a prison in Israel, a whole fifteen years after the war, preparing for his confession.
His transgressions: his war crimes as a spy during the war. It is not a secret that the readers might find themselves reluctant to form a connection with someone accused of such things, but the perspective and outlook on life engendered by Howard is brooded upon and we learn of his reasons for doing what he did.
Readers oftentimes, almost always, in fact, struggle with the justification of morality that he breathes, in spite of the fact that they want to like him as a character. We see the lines between good and evil blurred, and we are made to look at the Nazi war criminal, at hand, in a new limelight.
We Are What We Pretend to Be
The moral of this novel is, and this quote is regarded as one of Kurt’s most wonderful and acute – We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Scarcely is any writer as loved as Kurt is, when taking into account the themes that he writes about. Everyone loves a good comedy, but the black-comedic, absurdist writing of Kurt is what readers stick to. From the list of all Vonnegut books, it is one of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels ranked as the best-selling.
A Long Time
Cat’s Cradle is one of the best novels written by Kurt Vonnegut and one with a remarkable history. Initially, the idea of writing a book with the themes expressed here was given to acclaimed science fiction author H. G. Wells, then to others.
But eventually, it was passed to Kurt, who delivered the first six chapters of the story in a few months, but then the progress of the narrative was stunted. It is worth mentioning that Vonnegut rated his own books and Cat’s Cradle along with Slaughterhouse-Five were the only ones that received A+.
John the Writer
By the time that the book had been written and published, 1963 had rolled around – a full six years before Kurt’s premier best book was published. The story follows mundane, run of the mill writer John. John bears interest in the peculiar, odd, and generally abnormal progeny of Felix Hoenikker – the fictional inventor of Atomic Bomb. John’s interest takes him to an island in the Caribbean filled with weird people.
Though the story in and of itself isn’t really normal, the progression is singularly natural, not losing anything to rushing. Even plot points unlinked and, at first, unrelated flowed nicely together. An occasional splatter of poems isn’t lacking here, with Vonnegut’s distinct prowess always present. Deservedly Cat’s Cradle remains to this day one of Kurt Vonnegut’s best books, and, almost universally, his most peculiar one.
Sirens of Titan
Throughout Time and Space
Sirens of Titan might not be one of the most famous Kurt Vonnegut books, but it remains in the hearts of millions of readers throughout the world – or as Kurt would argue, throughout time and space – their favorite. The slapstick, absurdist humor present in any of his works, is the norm all the more here. The story concerns with the supreme revelation that the purpose of civilization is at the heart of the cosmos.
It is as wrong as any premise prior to it. A humorous, absurdist slap across the face is placed by Kurt as he giggles at this thought. But, even this isn’t quite the point of the book. The true aim is to poke fun and to laugh at what we regard as truly significant in our lives, the things that we take seriously. Be it monetary success, patriotism, beauty, even love or religion.
Searching For Meaning
This is all in line with the way Kurt has always written, as he makes fun and ridicules anything considered sacred – everything and everyone serves as a matter of laughter, but it also makes us ruminate on the notion of why anything would be or has been considered as sacred or paramount.
Kurt knows and hopes that his conscientious readers are aware that the search for meaning isn’t novel, but one to which rituals, ceremonies, stories have been attributed. But even though he acknowledges that it is an inborn trait of humanity to search for meaning, he bears a skeptical air about the things that are imbued with meaning and asks of us to have the same attitude, and when haven’t we listened to Kurt? Make sure to add this gem to your list of Kurt Vonnegut’s must-read novels.
Welcome to the Monkey House
This book is a collection of short stories that features some of Kurt Vonnegut’s best works. You really see the audacious sense of humor he has, as well as how extraordinary his range of creative vision is. The stories range from vaguely romantic and mockingly dystopian to normal, everyday life scenes. However, every one of them has an undertone of dark humor and bitter irony.
Vonnegut has a really unique writing style, and it is one that I enjoy reading immensely. I find myself laughing one minute and then taking a beat to think about what I just read the next. There is also a great variety of themes covered. A really good story in this collection is ‘D.P’, about a little boy living in an orphanage in Germany after WWII.
A Different World
‘Harrison Bergeron’ was another one that I really enjoyed and found to be quite interesting. Everyone in the world is handicapped so that everything is fair, and no one is better than anyone else. The titular short story is brilliant too, about an “ethical birth control” that is mandatory because the world is overpopulated, but it doesn’t prevent children altogether.
A mind like Kurt Vonnegut’s is something to behold because he views the world in such a unique way. His imagination is outrageous in the best sense because he has all these ideas about how the world could be and it can be crazy to think about. There are 25 short stories in total and I promise you that this is a book you will want on your shelf.
A Man Without a Country
Another collection from Vonnegut, this one is filled with essays that are introspective, funny and incisive. He covers everything you could possibly think of, like sex, politics, art, and the state of America’s soul. He talks about his own coming of age story in a country like America, his war experiences that played a big role in forming who he became as an adult, and his life as an artist.
This book is Vonnegut doing what he does best, and that is just being himself. It’s a very intimate insight into the mind of this brilliant writer, and the scope of his life’s passions. The essays are fairly short and easy to read, and I always love books like this because you don’t have to read them all in one go.
The Mind Behind The Man
The one thing I have noticed while reading Vonnegut’s works is how they all comment on the human condition. He seemed to have a fascination with why people are the way they are, and why the world is the way it is. He has his own (often hilarious) opinions based off of observations he has made, but he always approaches it with a genuine sense of compassion for what it means to be a human being.
If you have never read any of Kurt Vonnegut’s books, then I would say this would be the best place to start. With the wide range of topics covered, you really get an idea into how his mind worked, and then it makes sense when you read his full-length novels how someone could come up with the stories he wrote.
Breakfast of Champions
Goodbye Blue Monday
Breakfast of Champions or Goodbye Blue Monday is the third entry in our reviews of the top Kurt Vonnegut books. In only his eighth novel published, Kurt dabbles, in the intrinsically ironic and satirical way he is wont to write, with all of life’s facets. Adult movies are made to seem like any old plumbing, brutality is seen like being intimate, being innocent, or pure is taken as pure, unadulterated evil.
The complaints present during the time of writing – but all the more needed to be read during ours – in the United States of America are wheeled out, one by one, with Kurt not holding the least bit. The racism, sexism, any -ism in general, the selfishness, the destruction of language, is made to seem guffaw worthy, funny, outrageous, hilarious, hateful, and endearing.
Pictures are present on the pages, plain, rough, but seductive in the peculiar way that anything Kurt makes an endeavor in is persuasive. One wishes that the stories of all the characters were fully fleshed out novels by the end.
Kurt’s marked prowess and writing capability made him rise in the genre he has made his own. The novel is as gripping as any work by our favorite writer of satire and one of the most popular books written by Kurt Vonnegut.
Right off the bat I will say that I absolutely loved this Kurt Vonnegut book and it deserves to be one of his best rated works. The whole concept is very clever, and I was instantly hooked just from reading the synopsis. That can be dangerous sometimes because, you know, you can’t judge a book by its cover. But I just knew this one would be good, and I was not disappointed.
This is the fictional autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, who decides at the age of 71 that he wants to be left alone (I have days where I feel the same way). Rabo just wants to exist on his Long Island estate without getting bothered by anyone, ensuring that the secret he has hidden in his potato barn stays locked up tight.
What’s In The Barn?
One day, a young widow is somehow persistent enough to get Rabo to tell her his life story. In turn, Vonnegut tells the tale of the simplest truth: how man has a careless fancy to create and destroy the things he loves. This book is an autobiography and a mystery all wrapped in one, and if you want to know what Rabo is keeping in his barn, then you’ll just have to give it a read.
I have found that people all seem to have different favorites of Vonnegut’s works, but I think ‘Bluebeard’ is mine. I enjoyed every second of reading it and I know that I am going to pick it up again and give it another go, because the story is just that good. It is full of Vonnegut’s famous dark humor, but with a deeper message woven throughout.
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Eliot Rosewater is a wandering, semi-crazed millionaire who goes all over the country searching for heritage and philanthropic outcomes, seeking to put his fortune to some good use. He is trying to do some good in this world filled with cynicism and corruption. Kilgore Trout, a science fiction writer, acts as Rosewater’s conscience and terrible example.
Rosewater finds himself wandering into a science fiction conference, an annual event that takes place in Pennsylvania. It is at this conference where Rosewater delivers a monologue that has now become well-known amongst other science fiction writers. But the thing about Rosewater is that he is not driven by money (he has plenty as it is), but rather, he is driven by his outrage at the human condition.
The Human Condition
I know that this review is vague and doesn’t give a lot away, but with a character like Eliot Rosewater, you do want to go in a little bit blind because he is just like no other character you will have read before. This is a novel, but it is told through a collection of short stories, following Rosewater’s interactions with other people and revealing the different hypocrisies of humankind, in a very dark humor manner.
This best book by Kurt Vonnegut was so well received that it got adapted into a musical in 1979. The characters raise many poignant questions and I kept finding myself stopping to think about what they were actually saying. It’s a hilarious read that has some heartwarming moments and you cannot help but find yourself drawn to the character of Rosewater.
Man V Machine
This is the chilling tale about an engineer named Paul Proteus, who is trying to figure out a way to live in a world that is dominated by a supercomputer which is run entirely by machines. Take a minute to let that sink in because with the way technology is going today, it sometimes feels like the world being run by machines could become a possibility.
Man creates machines in his image and of course, the machines take over. But Paul rebels against this. In his world, there is no God, or any other deity to worship. Everyone has to worship the corporate personality. And this faith has its own ten commandments, that everyone has to follow, no questions asked.
Ruled By Machines
The biggest standout in this novel is how it depicts automation and the negative impact that it can have on the quality of human life. With machines doing everything, human laborers aren’t needed, and there are conflicts between the upper classmen, those who keep society running, like engineers, and the lower classmen, whose skills have been replaced by machines and are no longer of value to society.
This was Kurt Vonnegut’s first book and I am so glad it was not his last because he is a writer that I simply cannot get enough of. The humor is subtle and dark (obviously), and there are many important issues that are discussed. Vonnegut shows us what the world would be like if everyone thought the same way and there was nothing unique about anyone.
Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)