The best satire books of all time with nothing in common, except for one thing

Who am I?

I consider myself not only a student of satire, but also as a master practitioner with an innate and instinctive aptitude for it—like those born with perfect pitch or hand-eye coordination, kind of like an idiot savant, only hopefully without the idiot part. Satire is the perfect literary platform because it allows both the writer and the reader to explore the landscape of the human experience, the absurdity, the grandeur, the mystery, the horror—not with a sermon or a polemic or a sigh, but with a laugh and a nodding smile of recognition.

I wrote...

Dog Logic

By Tom Strelich,

Book cover of Dog Logic

What is my book about?

Hertell Daggett has just discovered a time capsule. Only this one is full of people, and they've been living beneath his failing pet cemetery since 1963 due to some bad information they got about the end of the world. Hertell leads the duck-and-cover civilization into the glorious, mystifying, and often dismaying modern world. What could possibly go wrong?

Silver Winner Foreword INDIES Book Of The Year Award - Science Fiction; Bronze Winner Readers' Favorite Award - Literary Fiction; Finalist National Indie Excellence Awards - Contemporary Novel.

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The books I picked & why

Don Quixote

By Miguel De Cervantes, Edith Grossman (translator),

Book cover of Don Quixote

Why did I love this book?

It was a gift, a 2-inch thick, 5 lb. gift, that I had no interest in reading because everybody has already read it – the first modern “novel,” the best-selling novel of all time, etc., so it sat for years on an end table where it served two functions: it gave the room a literary cachet, and it was also a good coaster for coffee cups and such.

But then for some reason, perhaps guilt, perhaps fate, I flipped it open, read a few lines, and then laughed. I was hooked. It was fantastic, funny, and timeless – not just the windmill stuff, but a bunch of other totally outrageous, but totally in character events (e.g., he chops up a puppet show with his sword).

Highly recommended even if everybody has already read it.

By Miguel De Cervantes, Edith Grossman (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Don Quixote as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY HAROLD BLOOM. Widely regarded as the world's first modern novel, and one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote de La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. Unless you read Spanish, you've never read Don Quixote.

Book cover of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Why did I love this book?

Because it was not only a thick* book, but it proved that you can think a book is crap one day, and absolutely love it the next**. 

I was going to have an impacted wisdom tool chiseled out and wanted a book for my convalescence. It had a great cover, so I flipped open to the first page and read the opening line—something like, “Amoebas don’t have bones…”.

I bought it and had the wisdom tooth removed, which evidently actually removed the wisdom needed to appreciate the writing.

Time passed, and I gave the book another try—evidently the wisdom had returned because what had once been chaotic and confusing and stupid, was now delightfully random and effortlessly insightful, and really really fun. I loved this book.

* At least it seemed thick to me at that age.

** Actually, it wasn’t the next day, it was actually about a year or so later.

By Tom Robbins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Even Cowgirls Get the Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Starring Sissy Hanshaw-flawlessly beautiful, almost. A small-town girl with big-time dreams and a quirk to match-hitchhiking her way into your heart, your hopes, and your sleeping bags...

Featuring Bonanza Jellybean and the smooth-riding cowgirls of Rubber Rose Ranch. Chink; a lascivious guru of yams and yang. Julian; a Mohawk by birth; asthmatic aesthete and husband by disposition. Dr. Robbins, preventive psychiatrist and reality instructor...

Follow Sissy's amazing odyssey from Virginia to chic Manhattan to the Dakota Badlands, where FBI agents, cowgirls, and ecstatic whooping cranes explode in a deliciously drawn-out climax...

The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War

By Jaroslav Hasek, Josef Lada (illustrator), Cecil Parrott (translator)

Book cover of The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War

Why did I love this book?

It was thick book, a satire, and new translation from Czech, and I loved the illustrations, the setting, and that the new translation was restoring all of the salty language excised from the original/bowdlerized translation.

It’s the story of a simple dog breeder, presumed to be an imbecile (an acceptable term at the time), drafted into the army and his adventures making his way to WWI—always outwitting his (imbecilic) superiors and betters along the way.

It’s satirical, hilarious, often scatological, and the best part is that the book ends (because the author died) before he gets to the actual war, so we get to imagine Švejk surviving the war and moving to Florida in the ‘20s to raise Greyhounds or whatever.

It’s really good, in fact, I might just read it again.

By Jaroslav Hasek, Josef Lada (illustrator), Cecil Parrott (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiration for such works as Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Jaroslav Hasek's black satire The Good Soldier Svejk is translated with an introduction by Cecil Parrott in Penguin Classics.

Good-natured and garrulous, Svejk becomes the Austro-Hungarian army's most loyal Czech soldier when he is called up on the outbreak of the First World War - although his bumbling attempts to get to the front serve only to prevent him from reaching it. Playing cards, getting drunk and becoming a general nuisance, the resourceful Svejk uses all his natural cunning and genial subterfuge to deal with the doctors, police, clergy and officers…


By Voltaire,

Book cover of Candide

Why did I love this book?

I was crazy about a girl who’d dated an English Lit professor.

She was (or at least seemed) very well-read and literary and used big words like “jejune” and “bedizened” and was always inserting Voltaire or T.S. Eliot into casual conversation.

I was an oafish illiterate by comparison, but fate stumbled in and dropped a tattered and stained copy of Candide in the parking lot a few feet from my Fiat 128. It wasn’t a thick book this time, but with it, I could now win her heart. It was wry, savage, wise, caustic, subtle, over-the-top, scathing, sublime, cynical, and sweet.

I’d never ever read anything like it, and I was forever changed; nevertheless, she dumped me for a guy she met at a Renaissance Faire, but I began writing, with Voltaire as my North Star.

By Voltaire,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Candide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Enriched Classics offer readers accessible editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and commentary. Each book includes educational tools alongside the text, enabling students and readers alike to gain a deeper and more developed understanding of the writer and their work.

A classic work of eighteenth century literature, Candide is Voltaire's fast-paced novella of struggle and adventure that used satire as a form of social critique. Candide enlists the help of his tutor, Dr. Pangloss, to help him reunite with his estranged lover, Lady Cunegonde. But the journey welcomes many unexpected challenges, and overcoming or outwitting the…

The Fall

By Albert Camus,

Book cover of The Fall

Why did I love this book?

The author’s voice captured me.

Once again, I’d never read anything like it before. He was having a conversation with me. I was now a character in an Amsterdam bar with him, the war had just ended, we were smoking cigarettes and drinking gin.

He would respond to my silent questions, and wax and wane philosophically, metaphysically, morally, ethically, and occasionally comically. 

And the beauty was that it had happened so randomly—a roommate had thrown the book in the trash, declaring it to be “bullshit.” I knew the lad to be an imbecile (an acceptable term at the time), so I fished the book out of the trash, read the first sentence, and loved it.

It was the quantumly entangled counter particle to Candide: one particle from the age of reason, the other particle from the age of existentialism.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing Little Clothbound Classics: irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world's greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith

Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.

Jean-Baptiste Clamence - refined, handsome, forty, a former successful lawyer - is in turmoil. Over several drunken…

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Interested in satire, knights, and Czechoslovakia?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about satire, knights, and Czechoslovakia.

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