best kurt vonnegut books

List Of Best Kurt Vonnegut Books That Everyone Should Read [In Reading Order List]

by Rey Sagar

Have you ever tried to find the best Kurt Vonnegut books ranked, especially in reading order, then we are here to give you the best Kurt Vonnegut books in order for you.

Which will help you decide which one to read first.

If you don’t know about Kurt Vonnegut that much, He is an American author best known for the novels Cat’s Cradle,’Slaughterhouse-Five‘ and ‘Breakfast of Champions.’

He is known for his satirical literary style, as well as the science-fiction elements in much of his work.

Vonnegut is considered one of the most influential American novelists of the twentieth century.

He blended literature with science fiction and humor, and the absurd with pointed social commentary.

Vonnegut created his own unique world in each of his novels and filled them with unusual characters, such as the alien race known as the Tralfamadorians in Slaughterhouse-Five.

Kurt Vonnegut was an absolute, humanist who cared deeply about people.

A lot of his writing was shaped and informed by his life as a soldier in the Second World War.

Top 15 Best Kurt Vonnegut Books In Order Of Reading

Now, it's time to see the list of the best Kurt Vonnegut books to start within ranking order, which is very helpful for all the readers like you.

Especially, If you don't know which book that you want to pick first.

Before I give you the list, let's know what makes Kurt Vonnegut such an outstanding satirist?

It seems to me that Vonnegut's satire comes not from an intellectual superiority, but from a deep-felt love of humanity and frustration at all the different ways humans can find to kill each other.

He's not doing it out of mischief so much as bewilderment.

Maybe that's why people love his books and himself so much. So before I tell you more things about him, let's see a list of best Kurt Vonnegut books in order.

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1. Slaughterhouse-Five

Most popular kurt vonnegut book

I’d to say, hands down, Slaughterhouse-Five is the Best Kurt Vonnegut books to start with.

Yes, Cat’s Cradle has the majority of his themes, but it’s a bit looser and specific to his style/quirks than Slaughterhouse.

Which is a fantastic novel in every sense, and probably the most accessible to people who wouldn’t gravitate to some over playfulness of novels like Cat’s Cradle or Breakfast of Champions.

On a side note, a personal favorite of mine that never seems to get named when talking about Vonnegut is God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.

If you’re interested in the idea of people-being-kind-to-one-another, that’s an incredible book to check out, which I’ll talk just in a bit.

So, you got what Kurt Vonnegut book to read first, now let’s move into the second.

2. Cat's Cradle

Best kurt vonnegut book list second choice

Who doesn’t like Cat’s Cradle?

Most people have read Cat’s Cradle, right. Did you say you hadn’t read it? Well, what are you waiting for? This isn’t Ulysses, you know, it’s short and funny! 

It introduces themes which permeate much of the author’s work–the pitfalls of technological hubris, the need for artificial extended families, social and political hypocrisy, and the end of the world.

It is also a quick, linear read. Furthermore, it is good fiction with enough basis in reality to have served as the author’s Masters in Anthropology thesis.

3. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Best kurt vonnegut book ranked third

One of the more outright funny novels by Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is a scathing social satire about greed, hypocrisy and good, though misshapen intentions.

One of the most starkly telling scenes for me is near the end when Elliot has taken up tennis and lost all the weight, and it is as though he has awakened from a long sleep.

First published in 1965, Vonnegut shares the story of Eliot Rosewater, an heir to a rich estate who is restless and looks to find his way amid various philanthropic misadventures, helping the poor, becoming a volunteer firefighter, etc.

4. Mother Night

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Vonnegut says in the preface that this is the only one of his books where he knows what the moral is. You are what you pretend to be, so be careful about whom you pretend to be.

For my money, Vonnegut’s four-best book, running after God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, very close.

It’s not just me – The great Doris Lessing also wrote once that she couldn’t quite understand why this book wasn’t more famous.

Her speculation was that the literary world simply refuses to take anything seriously that is first published in paperback.

Now that she’s finally received the Nobel Prize, maybe people will listen more carefully

5. Player Piano

Kurt Vonnegut very first book

This book is very good, but I believe it would be better savored by readers that already enjoyed other works by the author.

This is his first novel and his fragmented writing style and satire is not fully developed.

The humor is more subtle and some plot is a bit dated. That why I started with Slaughterhouse 5 and continued with The Cat’s Cradle. That order was fine for me.

Player Piano imagines a world where most jobs became obsolete due to the extensive use of machines to replace the use of less productive humans.

There are many important issues discussed here, but the ones that seemed most in tone with the current world were about the corporate personality and about the pitfalls of standardizing the evaluation of people in schools/jobs or as human beings.

6. The Sirens of Titan

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The Sirens of Titan is the 5th novel I’ve read by Kurt Vonnegut, so you can say I am a fan.

While it does not compare with Slaughterhouse-five and the Cat’s Cradle, it was still good, and I enjoyed returning to the humor of the absurdity that I love.

In Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, we accompany Malachi Constant on adventures through time and space. He is unlike any other hero you’re likely to read about; Malachi “was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.”

The plot, which seems ridiculous and completely random (like those series of accidents), takes on visionary proportions in Vonnegut’s hands.

Especially in this novel, I thought about how much Vonnegut had influenced Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

7. Breakfast of Champions

Best Kurt Vonnegut books vintage style

This was an interesting book. It was layered with black humor, only the way Kurt Vonnegut could write. There really is no plot, but the reading is unique and paints a picture for the reader.

The structuring is simple: simple sentences, simple syntax, and simple dialogue that gives way to big ideas.

I felt Kurt Vonnegut immersed himself in the story as the Creator of the Universe. His purpose was to purge and cleanse himself in some way.

Maybe his emotions, or things built up over the years, who knows.

In the end, he released his characters from the story.


8. Galápagos

Kurt Vonnegut books in order to million years back

Galápagos is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical tribute to Charles Darwin.

The narrator of the tale is a ghost, existing for a million years and witnessing everything from the beginning to the end.

In “Galápagos” I really like the unique idea of modern (in this novel the late 20th century) humanity’s brains being “too big” and thus a bad thing.

It is an intriguing motif, which Vonnegut weaves the book around.

“Galápagos” makes me feel irritation and great love (at the same time) for those things about us that make us so wonderfully human.

9. Deadeye Dick

Kurt Vonnegut book on dark secret

It is primitive that you read “Breakfast Of Champions” before tackling “Deadeye Dick”.

Deadeye Dick is a one more proof that Kurt Vonnegut was an inimitable maestro of dark social satire.

There is always a darkness to Vonnegut that is masked by his humor and his nonchalance.

You often forget that there is an actual 1000-foot canyon beneath Vonnegut as his prose dances on the line of absurdism, death, and inhumanity.

In this novel, you don’t forget. That is part of the act, see?

Vonnegut is pointing out the bodies on the rocks below and blaming the audience a bit. Still, it is pretty damn good stuff.

10. Slapstick

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Vonnegut’s most farcical, most absurd, but also one of the more scathing satires.

Here Vonnegut takes on universalism, and totalitarianism, but on a grander scale than he allowed in Harrison Bergeron; but also this is more surreal.

His genius, though, as seen in other novels, is to creatively intersperse pockets of stark realism to accentuate and to highlight the circus like theme.

Vonnegut also uses elements of grotesque to further illustrate his none too subtle rebuke of egalitarianism. This is thought-provoking, though, in terms of his over the top humanism and decidedly liberal politics.

A good read, and a must-read for a Vonnegut fan.

11. Jailbird

Best kurt vonnegut books after top 7

Not one of the better known Vonnegut novels, and significantly different from most of his other collection. This is perhaps his most serious work.

Jailbird lacks the absurdist bent characterized by so much of his other satire, and is conspicuously somber throughout most of the book, though it still features Vonnegut’s fast style and light approach.

This might also be his most politically dogmatic work, eschewing his ubiquitous humor and playful wisdom with a staid, thoughtful passion for rights needing to be championed.

All the same, he tackles some heavy subjects and embraces the themes with a mature, though still wry humor.

12. Bluebeard

One of the best kurt vonnegut books

From beginning to end, Bluebeard has Kurt Vonnegut written all over it. His irreverent tone, summed up in the quote- “Everything about life is a joke. Don’t you know that?” 

Along with his concomitant exploration of what it means to be human, brings together familiar themes in Vonnegut’s work.

Bluebeard is the mock autobiography of abstract expressionist painter, Rabo Karabekian, a character who first appeared in Breakfast of Champions.

This is a book about what art is and what it can do in a society in which, according to Karabekian, “the young people of today seemed to be trying to get through life with as little information as possible.”

13. Timequake

Last kurt vonnegut novel on the list

Timequake is a semi-autobiographical work by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. published in 1997.

Marketed as a novel, the book was described as a “stew” by Vonnegut, in which he summarizes a novel he had been struggling with for a number of years.

Kilgore Trout serves again as the main character, who the author declares as having died in 2001, at the fictitious Xanadu retreat in Rhode Island.

Vonnegut explains in the beginning of the book that he was not satisfied with the original version of Timequake he wrote.

Taking parts of Timequake One and combining it with personal thoughts and anecdotes produced the finished product, so-called Timequake Two.

Many of the anecdotes deal with Vonnegut’s family, the death of loved ones, and people’s last words.

14. Welcome to the Monkey House

One of the best kurt vonnegut books

Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut is a collection of short stories from the 50s and 60s and demonstrates Vonnegut’s tremendous range as a writer.

Every short story is finely crafted. Many have humor, many have heartbreak, many have subtle romance.

Almost all have commentary on society, especially American society, that is as relevant today as it was in the 1950s.

What are these stories missing?

You reader. It’s missing you to unlock their meaning and beauty.

15. Complete Stories

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Now, we already completed the list of books that we can recommend you by Kurt Vonnegut.

But we don’t want to let you go without telling about this awesome book.

This is, for the first time, the complete short fiction of one of the twentieth century’s foremost imaginative geniuses.

More than half of Vonnegut’s output was short fiction, and never before has the world had occasion to wrestle with it all together.

This is really a long book, so keep in mind you have to put ton of efforts to read it, but it’s totally worth it. Which is a great compilation of Vonnegut’s works.

And lastly, if you ask me what is Kurt Vonnegut’s best book to get all the vibes from the previous journey, I don’t mind recommending this one.

Worth to check it out.

Last Thoughts

So you got the list of the best Kurt Vonnegut books. There is no perfect way to rank the order, It's just my opinion to set it out from my own experience.

So if you have anything on your mind and want to have any suggestions in the order of the list of the best Kurt Vonnegut books.

Then let me know in the comment section below, I'm happy to know your thoughts on it.

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