In today’s sense of the word, it is difficult to call any book on this list a “novel,” so I’m using the term loosely. In any case, the works on this list are my favorite examples of existential literary achievement (so far). Everyone should read these.
1. The Fall (1956) – Albert Camus
This is probably Albert Camus most underrated and misunderstood novel. As the polar opposite of The Stranger’s Meursault, Jean-Baptiste Clamence thinks too introspectively about life. Meursault did not think introspectively enough.
2. The Metamorphosis (1915) – by Franz Kafka
In Franz Kafka’s most famous work the first line says it all:
“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin” (or “gigantic insect” depending on your translation).
3. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (1883-1885) -Friederich Neitzsche
Friederich Nietzsche at one point claimed his own Zarathustra as “the greatest gift that humanity has received so far.” That claim alone makes it worth reading. It is also a great introduction to Nietzsche’s philosophy. I think the fictional arc is really fascinating as well.