If you’ve already picked this one up, you might be looking for more books like My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
In this novel, we meet our unnamed narrator, an American heiress who, on the outside, has it all. She’s young, beautiful, and slender; she lives in a luxurious Manhattan apartment that’s paid for by her hefty inheritance.
But this lifestyle can’t prevent the darkness from invading her soul.
Struggling to find happiness, the young woman decides to hide away from life in the 2000s by abusing the mixture of drugs prescribed to her by her terrible psychiatrist. Her aim: to have a year where she sleeps away twenty-three hours of her day in a drug-induced coma.
Hibernating in her apartment without much contact with the outside world, the narrator’s story is one of loneliness, grief and the ups and downs of one’s mental health. A dark yet humorous novel about the struggles of everyday life in the modern age, this book is a must-read.
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10 Books like My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Bunny, by Mona Awad
In Bunny, we meet our protagonist, Samantha Heather Mackey who is a student on the highly selective MFA fiction writing programme at Warren University.
Samantha feels the odd one out amongst her peers at the college, having worked hard to earn a scholarship to pay her way through her years at Warren. The girls around her are running amok on their parents’ money, calling each other “baby” and seem to flock together like sheep.
That all changes when she is invited into the Bunnies’ Smut Salon, where off-campus rituals – or ‘workshops’ as the bunnies call them – and other strange occurrences become her norm.
Having ditched her only true friend, Samantha feels utterly alone, unsure of what is and isn’t real. This is a modern story of friendship, isolation and the longing to fit in amongst your peers.
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is a book that deals with the serious topics of mental health, friendship and the trauma life can deal you.
The novel follows Esther Greenwood through an immense breakdown. Seemingly poised and successful on her exterior, Esther is unravelling within. With every day, her thoughts become more insane, and to her, more rational and realistic.
This is American classic is a story for the ages. Packed with bleak truths and topics usually shied away from, Plath tells a dark yet witty story.
Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of books similar to The Bell Jar!
Conversations with Friends, by Sally Rooney
Frances is a college student and aspiring writer, who is drawn into the life of Melissa, a journalist who spots her and her best friend/school lover, Bobbi’s potential at a spoken word gig.
Brought into Melissa’s house, she is impressed by her home and her impossibly tall and impossibly handsome husband. When Frances and Nick’s flirtation gives way to an odd intimacy, Frances struggles to keep her life and the relationships in her life under control.
Conversations with Friends is a smart book that explores being young and the relationships one has with people and the world around them.
Love Sally Rooney? Check out our list of books to read after Normal People!
Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata
In this novel, the author explores the struggle to fit in and the pressure of society. Convenience Store Woman is the perfect novel for readers to pick up after reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
Keiko has never felt like she fits in, at school or in her family. But when she starts working at Smile Mart at eighteen, there is finally purpose in her life.
Being able to play the part of a ‘normal’ person by following the rules of social etiquette in the store, and copying the way her colleagues dress and talk, she is happy.
But there is pressure coming from all around her to find a husband, get a proper career… Keiko is crumbling under the nagging.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
In a small backstreet alley in the depths of Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving the best coffee for over a hundred years. This café is not an ordinary coffee stop, however, as it also serves the opportunity to travel in time.
Those who visit the establishment, have the opportunity to revisit a moment from their past but there are rules for the customers who wish to do so. They must sit in a particular seat, they must not leave the café and most importantly, they must return before their coffee goes cold.
A story that touches even the coldest of heart about regrets and things not said, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is the perfect book to pick up next.
Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton
If you are a reader who enjoys a bit of non-fiction every now and then, especially a memoir, then why not try picking up Everything I Know About Love?
From her first time getting drunk or her first time getting dumped, Dolly Alderton recounts the ups and downs of learning to be an adult and the lessons that she has learned along the way.
Full of wit and humour, Alderton is open and honest about how scary and uncertain those early adulthood years can really be.
Boy Parts, by Eliza Clark
In Boy Parts, Irina takes to the streets of Newcastle to scout for average-looking men willing to pose for her portfolio of explicit photos.
After being put on sabbatical from her job at a bar, she is scouted and offered an exhibition place at a London gallery to bring her art career back to life.
Desperate to leave her drug and alcohol-fuelled way of life and make a success of herself, Irina takes the plunge. We watch our artsy protagonist fall into a series of events where she learns the truth about our place in the twenty-first century regarding gender roles and sexuality.
Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo
This novel follows twelve different characters through their lives and their struggles with their families, relationships and friendships.
Set across various locations in Britain and various time periods, these characters – mostly British black women – are brought to life within the pages.
Girl, Woman, Other is a vibrant and celebratory novel that readers will devour. This story explores race, sexuality, history, gender and more, seeing how all of these intertwine to define the experiences of each character within the pages.
Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of books to read after Girl, Woman Other!
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
Much like our narrator in My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Eleanor Oliphant is a woman struggling against the pressures of everyday life.
She wishes there was someone who could tell her all the right things to say, do, what to wear and what to eat. Her social skills are lacking and her thoughts seem to pop out of her mouth without any regard to their consequences.
But when she meets Raymond from IT whilst saving an old man from a fall, the three become inexplicably intertwined with one another. Unbeknownst to the other, each has been living a life of isolation that they have all saved each other from.
Eleanor begins to realise that life can be more than just fine, it can be simply incredible. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a great novel that readers will love!
Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of books similar to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine!
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a wonderful contemporary fiction book about acceptance within a family and the power of love between a mother and daughter.
Planning a family trip to Antarctica at the request of her daughter, Bee, Bernadette Fox realises it should be exciting – fun, even. But tired of living a life in Seattle that she never wanted to live, she is on verge of a breakdown.
When a school fundraiser falls apart at her hands, Bernadette goes missing, leaving her family searching for a sign of where she went. Bee puts together a variety of evidence: emails, invoices, magazine articles, school memos and more.
Putting the nuggets of information together, Bee realises her mother is hiding a secret past for years. The book is written in the form of these documents Bee finds, interspersed with Bee’s own narration.
A fresh and unusual format for a story that will have readers flying through the pages.
Books like these show the pressures of modern society and learning to fit in – or realising you don’t have to. The books above are entertaining yet poignant stories that we can all learn from.
Are you looking for more books similar to My Year of Rest and Relaxation? Have any recommendations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!