Books Like The Great Gatsby (3 Book Recommendations)

When up-and-coming author F. Scott Fitzgerald released The Great Gatsby at a time when America was experiencing the roaring 1920s, little did he know that it would go on to become one of the most beloved and well-received classics of all time.

And this is not only down to Fitzgerald’s fluid and easy-to-understand writing style that makes each page more intriguing than the last, but also for just how many relevant ideas and themes are packed into this intense, dramatic, and at times, very humorous story.

Books Like The Great Gatsby

While books that we consider “classics” are usually held up as one-of-a-kind, there are still many books that share similar concepts and themes to this fantastic story that you need to check out if you’re on the hunt for more stories that are similar to Fitzgerald’s magnum opus.

Whether it’s the lively and exuberant aesthetic of 1920s America that grabs your attention most in the Great Gatsby, or if it’s the tremendous amount of symbolism and the incredibly well-written characters that keep you reading, there are a few authors who also experiment with these themes and concepts that all put their own unique spin on Fitzgerald’s writing style.

From classic authors like Oscar Wilde to more modern authors like Jillian Larkin, there are plenty of stories centered around love, loss, and everything in between that are just as gripping as this fateful tale.

Themes In The Great Gatsby

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Rekindling Lost Love

There’s a reason The Great Gatsby has been analyzed in schools to this day, and it’s down to just how many concepts, ideas, and themes are packed into the book, with love and marriage being the biggest ones, and more specifically, how we can never go back to a love that once meant everything to us.

Gatsby tries to rekindle his relationship with Daisy by reinventing himself, becoming a charismatic and powerful figure within a hedonistic 1920s America, throwing luxurious parties solely for the purpose of seeing her again.

This is often portrayed by the green light which Gatsby gazes at for hours from his own house which can clearly be seen but is too far away to actually reach.

Class

Fitzgerald portrays the hedonistic nature of 1920s America perfectly in The Great Gatsby, making a clear distinction between the well-off businessmen, alcohol bootleggers, those born into old money, and those who have been cast out by a society that prioritizes money and tangible rewards over everything else.

Morality

People sacrificing their moral ethics in order to pursue an idealized version of their life, whether it’s Gatsby with Daisy or Tom with his many affairs, is another popular theme within the book.

Many attentive readers say that the big blue eyes of Doctor T.J. that can be seen on the billboard multiple times throughout the book represent God looking down on these selfish acts being committed by the characters and judging them for their actions.

American Dream

While it may have been coined by James Adams in the 1930s, claiming that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone”, this American dream of gaining happiness from riches and making a name for yourself was already becoming understood by the 1920s, and Jay Gatsby personifies this, demonstrating it as a flawed idea in practice since he struggles to remain hopeful and happy, even with all his luxurious riches and his status.

Books Like The Great Gatsby

The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray

While the romantic aspects of Gatsby are much less prevalent in The Picture of Dorian Gray, due to the much more reserved Victorian period Oscar Wilde was writing in, it still tells a fascinating story of a boy trying to create an idealized version of his life with all the excitement and unpredictability that many young men strive for, only to become tangled in a life of sin.

While many acknowledge Dorian as being beautiful on the outside, his heinous acts eventually show themselves on a portrait that was painted of him which keeps degrading and changing appearance the more evils he commits.

Themes of idealization and the cost this can have on our morality are very prevalent in this book which makes Jay Gatsby and Dorian similar in many ways, and while they are based in different periods, the themes of class and the prejudice that comes along with it are as noticeable in this Victorian-period story as they are in Gatsby, making this an excellent book to jump into if you’re looking for a book with similar ideas and concepts, along with that more traditional writing style that so many of us love.

Pros

  • Incredibly complex and well-written characters that are never predictable
  • Great insight into the social norms and prejudice of Victorian society which creates parallels to 1920s America
  • Intriguing themes of idealization and throwing away morality to achieve a “better” life

Cons

  • Missing a lot of the romance that is included in The Great Gatsby
  • Weak secondary characters outside of the main trio

Themes: Idealization, class, morality, sinning

Ingenue By Jillian Larkin

Ingenue (The Flappers Book 2)

If it’s the setting of Gatsby that intrigues you the most, with everyone surrounding themselves with money and luxury to escape from their personal worries and fears amidst the economic boom of 1920s America, you’re going to love Ingenue which follows Gloria Carmody, a seventeen-year-old girl who moves from Chicago to New York which is also set in the roaring 1920s and dives deep into the all the joy and hopefulness, but also deceit and disillusionment that became so prevalent at this time.

Alongside the luxurious cars, prohibition, gangsters, and socialites, this book also features a troubled interracial relationship between Gloria and Jerome, putting a unique spin on the Gatsby and Daisy relationship where the couple tries to live their idealized life, but this time, it’s the harsh and oppressive society around them preventing them from doing so rather than their own actions.

There are even appearances from significant figures of the period such as Al Capone and musician Louis Armstrong to add even more historical flare to this flashy, intense, and gut-wrenching story.

Pros

  • Fascinating depiction of a luxurious and money-hungry 1920s New York
  • A very well-written female lead who has satisfying development throughout the story
  • Lots of historical references and figures
  • Easy to read and understand writing style

Cons

  • Pacing can be quite slow, to begin with before the move to New York

Themes: Classism, hedonism, morality, racism, idealization

Brideshead Revisited By Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited is all about coming to terms with modernity and trying to escape from our own nostalgia for how the world, and our own lives, used to be as we follow the well-educated and charismatic Charles Ryder who becomes disillusioned with the people around him and the state of the world after his military service as he grows closer to the Flytes family, a family of wealthy English Catholics who many readers have said is supposed to symbolize the English Aristocracy itself, and Charles’ longing for those times where his life was the way he envisioned it would be on his return.

There’s plenty of unrelenting romance in this book which is surrounded by Catholic norms and demands which make it hard for Charles and the other characters, including Sebastian who is implied to be homosexual, to live in a world that seems to be growing more opposed to them and their idealized way of life as the years go by.

There are also so many plot twists in this book that it’s hard to ever get a read on what is going to happen next, making for a gripping story from start to finish which is a perfect read if you enjoyed the themes of an idealized vision of the world and a longing for the past which was so prevalent in Gatsby.

Pros

  • Plenty of plot twists to keep the story engaging and unpredictable from beginning to end
  • Despite there being many characters, all are well-written and given time to develop
  • The compelling romance between multiple characters
  • Fascinating historical period and setting

Cons

  • The ending can seem rather unsatisfying to many readers

Themes: Religion, nostalgia, taboo love, modernity, coming of age

Summary

While there’s no doubt that The Great Gatsby is a unique book in its own right, it has also helped to inspire many similar stories that share common concepts and themes of love, class, power, and everything in between to create a compelling and intense tale which are all just as fantastic to read.

Be sure to try out a few of these books and authors after you’re done reading Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Zelda Fitzgerald’s Books Similar To Scott Fitzgerald’s?

The wife of Scott Fitzgerald only wrote a handful of books in her lifetime, but many of them retain the classy and romantic nature of her husband with some politics mixed into the stories too such as in her famous Save Me the Waltz.

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Noah Burton