Top 10 Psychological Novels You Need to Read

The best psychological novels will make you think and analyze them long after you finish reading. They all tackle different topics like: mental illness, the human mind, and psychological trauma.

Below is a list of ten of the best psychological novels written by famous authors who won prestigious awards for their writing; it also includes some lesser known but equally brilliant writers. Their books are all gripping reads that are sure to have readers turning pages late into the night.

10. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk [1999]

This novel has become one of Chuck Palahniuk's most recognized works since its publication in 1999. The book starts with an unnamed protagonist who is working mundane jobs just to keep up his apartment whilst suffering from insomnia. After he meets Tyler Durden, everything changes. The book is full of psychological insights and explores the dangerous allure of anarchy and violence.

9. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver 

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a novel that was first published in 2003. It tells the story of a mother, Eva Khatchadourian, trying to come to terms with her son's massacre at his school. The novel looks at nature versus nurture and how much either one truly matters in the shaping of a person's life. 

8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

Gone Girl was first published in 2012 and became an instant success both commercially and critically. The novel tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne who have gone missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The novel is told in alternating perspectives by the two main characters and has been praised for its unputdownable, page-turning narrative. 

7. Ordinary People by Judith Guest 

Ordinary People is a novel that was first published in 1976. It tells the story of the disintegration of the Jarrett family following the death of their oldest son, Conrad. The novel looks at grief, mental illness, and suicide and was one of the first novels to explore these topics. 

6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 

In Cold Blood was originally published as a non-fiction book in 1966. However, it was later reworked into a novel in 1967. The book tells the story of the Clutter family who were brutally murdered in their home in Holcomb, Kansas. The book is often credited as being one of the first true crime novels and has been praised for its groundbreaking narrative style. 

5. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult 

My Sister's Keeper was first published in 2004 and became a New York Times bestseller. The novel tells the story of 13-year-old Anna who was born to be a donor for her older sister Kate who suffers from leukemia. When Anna learns that she could die if she continues to be a donor, she sues her parents for the right to refuse treatment. The novel explores the difficult topics of parental rights, medical ethics, and human cloning. 

4. The Shining by Stephen King 

The Shining is a horror novel that was first published in 1977. The novel tells the story of the Torrance family who are hired to care for the Overlook Hotel during the winter. The hotel has a dark and violent past, and it isn't long before the family members are being terrorized by ghosts from the past. The Shining is often considered to be one of Stephen King's best works and has been adapted into a movie starring Jack Nicholson. 

3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger 

The Catcher in the Rye was first published in 1951 and tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a teenager who is kicked out of a prestigious boarding school and decides to run away from New York City. The novel has been praised for its honest portrayal of teenage angst and has become a classic of American literature. 

2. Psycho by Robert Bloch 

Psycho was first published in 1959 and was later adapted into an Alfred movie in 1960. The novel tells the story of Norman Bates, who owns the Bates Motel alongside his mother. When Marion Crane goes missing after checking into the motel, it isn't long before everyone suspects that something is wrong. Psycho has become an iconic part of pop culture and inspired sequels, TV shows, and movies. 


1. The Stranger by Albert Camus 

The Stranger was originally published in 1942 and tells the story of Meursault. After attending his mother's funeral, he becomes embroiled in a conflict with an Arab man on the beach. When he kills the man, he is sentenced to death for his crime. It isn't long before Meursault realizes that the only thing worth living for is love and he begins to look forward to his execution date. The novel has become one of the most influential pieces of French literature ever written. 

So there you have it - 10 best psychological novels you need to read!