John Updike

John Updike was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic, and literary critic. He is widely recognized for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, having published more than twenty novels, numerous short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. Updike is perhaps best known for his 'Rabbit' series, which chronicles the life of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, a middle-class American man, over the course of several decades. His work is known for its detailed reflection on the American middle class, exploring themes of desire, mortality, and the passage of time. Updike's style is notable for its rich descriptive language and deep psychological insight. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice, among many other accolades.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. Rabbit, Run

    The novel follows the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball star, who is dissatisfied with his current life. He impulsively leaves his wife and son and embarks on a journey in the hopes of finding a more meaningful existence. His decisions, however, lead to a series of tragic events that impact the lives of those around him. This mid-20th-century novel explores themes of freedom, responsibility, and the tragic consequences of impulsive decisions.

  2. 2. Rabbit Is Rich

    The book follows the life of a former high school basketball star, who is now in his mid-forties and has inherited a Toyota dealership from his father-in-law. He is living a comfortable life with his wife and son in Brewer, Pennsylvania during the late 1970s. The story unfolds as he navigates through his midlife crisis, dealing with his rebellious son, his longing for his old mistress, and his own insecurities and dissatisfaction. The narrative provides a deep dive into the protagonist's thoughts and feelings, offering a detailed examination of middle-class American life during this era.

  3. 3. Rabbit at Rest

    The novel is a final look into the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a former high-school basketball star, now in his mid-fifties, overweight and grappling with several health issues. Despite his success in business, his personal life is in shambles, with his wife addicted to alcohol and his son to drugs. Harry, struggling with his mortality, is trying to understand his past and make sense of his future, while dealing with the changing American society and the consequences of his own choices.

  4. 4. Rabbit Redux

    The novel is a sequel in a series following the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a middle-aged man living in a small Pennsylvania town. When his wife leaves him for another man, he finds himself alone and struggling to make sense of the rapidly changing world around him. In his loneliness, he takes in a young runaway and her racially divisive boyfriend, leading to a series of events that force Rabbit to confront his own prejudices and fears. The book is a vivid portrayal of the American social and political climate of the 1960s.

  5. 5. The Poorhouse Fair: A Novel

    The novel revolves around the residents of a poorhouse (a government-run facility for the destitute and elderly) in a small town. The narrative primarily focuses on the interactions between the residents and the young, ambitious prefect during an annual fair. The book is a profound exploration of aging, memory, dignity, and the clash between the old and new generations. The fair becomes a battleground where different philosophies of life and attitudes towards progress are debated and tested.

  6. 6. The Witches Of Eastwick

    In a quaint Rhode Island town, three divorced women discover their shared supernatural abilities and form a coven of witches. Their lives are upended with the arrival of a mysterious and charismatic stranger who seduces each of them, stoking their powers and ambitions. As the women navigate their complex relationships with this man and each other, they confront the conservative mores of their community, leading to a series of conflicts and transformations that challenge their notions of female independence and power. The novel explores themes of sexuality, feminism, and the dynamics of social conformity through the lens of magical realism.

  7. 7. The Early Stories

    "The Early Stories" is a compilation of short stories that provide a vivid depiction of post-war America. The narratives cover a wide range of topics, including love, marriage, death, and faith, all told through the experiences of the ordinary middle-class citizen. The stories are praised for their insightful exploration of human nature and the complexities of everyday life.

  8. 8. The Centaur

    The novel follows the life of George Caldwell, a high school teacher in a small town in Pennsylvania, who is struggling with feelings of disappointment and failure. He is constantly compared to his father, a mythological centaur, symbolizing the conflict between the mundane and the extraordinary. The narrative alternates between the modern world and the mythological realm, exploring themes of identity, disillusionment, and the struggle between the human and the divine.

  9. 9. Self-Consciousness

    "Self-Consciousness" is a memoir that delves into the personal life of a renowned author, exploring his childhood, his relationship with his parents, his struggles with psoriasis and stuttering, as well as his religious beliefs and views on death. The author's reflections on his life are deeply personal, introspective, and filled with a sense of vulnerability, providing an intimate look into his experiences and thought processes. The book offers an insightful exploration of the author's self-consciousness and how it has shaped his life and work.

  10. 10. The Coup

    "The Coup" is a satirical novel that tells the story of Colonel Hakim Félix Ellelou, the ruler of a small, fictional, underdeveloped African nation. The narrative, delivered through Ellelou's first-person perspective, explores his anti-Western sentiments, his struggles with modernity and development, and his complex personal life, including his relationships with his four wives. The novel presents a critique of both Western imperialism and African dictatorships, using humor and wit to examine the complexities of global politics.