American writer and novelist Charles Bukowski dedicated his life to distinguished writing; he spent a life rich in wonderful moments from 1920-1994 as he was one of those who promoted so popular pulp-fiction in the middle of 20th century and he has created lots of well-known novels. Some of his masterpieces became popular both in the USA and outside its borders. This allows readers everywhere to enjoy this review of the best Charles Bukowski books ever. Continue reading to find out the best 10 selling books, both the top ranked and the worst copies.
Top 10 Charles Bukowski Books
|1||The Last Night of the Earth Poems||Check Here||1992||405||9.9|
|2||Love Is a Dog from Hell||Check Here||1977||307||9.8|
|3||The Pleasures of the Damned||Check Here||2007||557||9.6|
|4||Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame||Check Here||1974||232||9.5|
|5||The Most Beautiful Woman in Town...||Check Here||1983||240||9.4|
|7||Ham on Rye||Check Here||1982||350||9.1|
|9||Notes of a Dirty Old Man||Check Here||1969||204||8.8|
The Last Night of the Earth Poems
Bukowski’s style of writing can really resonate with everyone. In fact, if someone has something in common with main characters from The Last night of the Earth Poems they might think that it’s all about them. Especially since it concerns someone who faced living in the city, because the description is unique.
Bukowski’s way of thinking concerning existential principles deserves particular mention. Furthermore, he even arranged and transferred his feelings and emotions to his readers through the poems, which is done amazingly, despite not every poet taking the liberty to bring them to the world’s attention.
Poetry can play the role of something that calms you down and brings you balance when you are reading and getting into an emotional tornado. Unfortunately, nowadays, people unjustly neglect reading poems because they consider it old-fashioned.
The most important and obvious fact, which is present through the whole book, is that this copy was being written until his death. This significantly influenced his style of writing, as he described the piercing and frank emotions of getting old. However, the author tried his best to bring an idea to readers – that death is natural and as is the fear of death.
- Easy to read because of the form of writing
- Contains lots of moments which make the reader re-read
- Poems are full of wisdom
- Not the whole book is full of interesting moments
- Some of the poems can’t be fully understood by readers
Love Is a Dog from Hell
Bukowski put a significantly huge part of his soul into the book of poetry Love is a Dog from Hell. Consequently, it’s not a surprise that this item became the most famous book among his creations during his lifetime. Presumably, this success was achieved by the significant things that happened to him during this particular period of life, which promoted his desire to transfer powerful thoughts into his poetry.
Those who read copies for the first time might not always take him seriously or, even more, they may think he’s out of his mind. Step by step, poem by poem, readers literally allure themselves with his brutal approach of describing man’s wit, play on words, and outspoken emotions.
Unlike the previous participant in the review list (The Last Night of the Earth Poems) where he described his attitudes toward life and death, Love is a Dog from Hell might be obvious explanation of his great disappointment in love. However, this work is really hot and full of emotional ups and downs, where cruelty and passion are not the least.
- Full of vivid stories
- The best book to start with in order to explore Bukowski’s books
- Too much debauchery
- The poetry is read like you are in a drug-like state all the time
The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems
We know already that Charles was a gifted writer who had unique but valuable talents: his own philosophy and skills speak loudly and aptly. Thus, nobody who is familiar with his works is indifferent after reading; however, some of them felt disgust while the others felt sorry or even revived after those particular emotions were described in the text.
These verses are distinguished from others, as in fact, they are collected during his life till his death. Hence, the reader can watch his development from his years of maturity until the fading out. Thus, these were significant influencers of his disappointments, problems with health, and continuous binge drinking — these have adversely affected his poems. All his fails and success, his inner world is perfectly described through The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems.
However, the most important thing about this edition is that John Martin acted as an editor, which made these verses even more popular since he revealed the almost secret side of Bukowski’s soul.
- Honest and truthful literature
- This sample is worth being a bedside book
- No apparent Bukowski pattern
- No dates and not chronologically ordered
Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Poems
Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame: Poems is another sample which shows Bukowski’s fantastic wordplay and describing trivial things in a somehow astonishing way. There is no exception for booze and women, and for sure, not every person will enjoy reading such works. Furthermore, each of his books has to be the most favorite. But definitely, this book is worth being on the shelf with other works of his.
One of the reasons is that Charles was a master of telling stories and not like the usual writers who tried to make the reader think about particular episodes. He aims masterfully to leave an aftertaste of reading, and he made firm statements in both poems and prose, which were captured in readers’ minds eternally.
- This is a fine replacement/alternative to romantic poems
- It contains some poems from non-published editions
- Most of the poems are early works, which are not as good as what he wrote while getting older
- Poems contain metaphors and stylish elements which do not seem to be Bukowski’s
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town…
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town is full of Bukowski’s things – as the others, it has lots of scenes of alcohol, sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. However, all of them have their own fun of the fair. Particularly, the beginning of the book is deep and likely the most favorite for lots of readers.
However, the rest of the poems which are included in this collection seem to be quite repetitive and have similar plots. However, they are deprived of logical consequence between each other, and it’s quite predictable, since they were published at different times and in different publishings. But there is one thing which appears throughout the whole book, and that is that the plot takes place in Los Angeles.
As you might have already guessed, this is another copy which shouldn’t be read in one sitting in order to get into the infected Buk’s pessimistic world. It would be better to divide the copy into several portions for enjoying such terrific language of contemporary literature.
- Great stories, full of details which make the reader a part of those stories
- Book absorbs and can be read in one shot
- There is no logical order between the stories
- The plot is similar in all the stories
The Factotum novel describes a person (Henry Chinaski) who has a trivial life and who changes his jobs like gloves in order not to be fired from them. And of course, he spends his time boozing and having sex with random women. But aside from these statements, Chinaski desires to be a writer.
In fact, in Bukowski’s second novel, the writer asserted his similarity to the main character. Thus, some episodes where Henry applied for jobs and then he drank some alcohol and screwed with some colleagues at work – are no exception; they are real episodes from Charles’s life.
- This is a better novel as compared to others
- There are wonderful quotes which are applicable to life
- There is no obvious upshot
Ham on Rye
Ham on Rye became the fourth novel in a chain of stories about Henry “Hank” Chinaski. As we already know, Hank was the alter-ego who depicted the author, thus some stories were true. This part was written about the years of adolescence and the problems which usually appear at this age.
One of the characters who wasn’t deprived attention was Hank’s dad, who was always annoyed and furious. And, it’s no wonder that the victim of the dad’s anger was, of course, Hank. Besides all those rude episodes, Hank finds out the real world and behavior of managerial staff and girls’ ignoration.
Despite those fails and scenes of rudeness, the novel is fantastically mixed with Buk’s language; thus, it’s best read in one shot.
- This novel full of contradicting scenes, which always keep reader reading
- There is not much plot in the novel, just stories without any common idea
Hollywood is a continuation of the well-known Factotum, and after its success, the author decided to show the backstage of film creation in Hollywood. The main character, Hank, is asked to create a screenplay for a movie to be filmed.
As with all the previous works, this one is also overflown with sex, alcohol, and abuse. And Hank is struggling to reveal all the intrigues behind the scene. However, it seems that author has lost his muse after depicting all those characters in the story – they were each deprived of their own individuality.
- Intriguing love affair between Hank and Sarah
- Hollywood is not so full of wordplay as previous novels
Notes of a Dirty Old Man
Well, Notes of a Dirty Old Man is something unusual among those which were described earlier. As the title suggests, this is a collection of stories which were published in various newspapers and magazines. However, the main character is still here, the author’s alter-ego. These stories are also not deprived of his branded style of writing, thus there are still lots of scenes of vulgarity and endless booze.
However, the most important goal of this work is to depict man’s struggling against the system and unwillingness to be like others, the man who wants freedom.
- The stories are unedited, so they come with original language (no vulgar words nor abuse was skipped)
- This is a collection of unrelated stories
Besides being an inimitable realist with his own style of depicting the real world with its filth and disgust, but truly wonderful at the same time, Charles has created another well-known detective masterpiece entitled Pulp. However, since it is written in low quality language, Pulp was valued by genuine fans only, rather than readers who prefer reading the popular author Agatha Christie.
The story is about private detective Nick Belane who works in Los Angeles, and he received an appointment from a lady in red – and here is where the pulp fiction begins. As the title suggests, the plot is really strange for everyone who has never read pulp fiction: there appear aliens, something ridiculously strange happens to the detective, and other very weird stories.
- Really funny novel
- Author plays with readers’ minds
- It has wide open gaps in the text
Cool Facts About Charles Bukowski
This author had a really bizzare life, thus there are plenty of cool facts about him.
- His last wife arranged Bukowski’s funeral, thus a Buddhist handled the funeral process. No one knows why Buddhists were involved, since Charles was indifferent to religion.
- His headstone says Don’t try, and this is Charles’s quote which he said when someone came to him for advice about writing.
- Charles has only one child – a girl, Marina, with Frances Smith.
- Charles could have been a journalist, however the employer didn’t hire him.
- He adored cats, and one of his poems, On cats, was dedicated to his beloved animal.
- Some of his besties were Bono from U2 and Sean Penn.
- Charles detested Mickey Mouse, especially his 3 fingers
- Micky Rourke had the role of Bukowski’s alter-ego – Hank Chinaski in Barfly. Despite being handsome and smiley, Rourke perfectly depicted the gloomy Hank.
Charles Bukowski is extraordinary personality with his own style of writing and depicting trivial things. Some readers might skip his books because of his rude and vulgar way of writing; however, he has a legion of fans who always will be loyal to his style. Start reading some of his works, and for sure, you’ll be absorbed.Want to get more similar reviews follow BooKKooks!
- Charles Bukowski, American Author – https://bukowski.net/
- What Is the Best Order to Read Charles Bukowski’s Novels? – https://www.quora.com/
- Recommended Bukowski Books for Newbie – https://bukowskiforum.com/
- Best Charles Bukowski Book – https://www.reddit.com/
Must be his wife was too upset with his death that she arranged Buddhist ceremony, unknowing or in desperate, that he was atheist.
I understood she knew about it.
At least, she has a sense of humour, or whatever it is: “Don’t try”.
Emma, thank you for such review! I’m so pleased to read this overview of books written by my favorite writer, who probably, was misjudged by society, because of his frank and unrefined lexis and way of describing things that are around us. Besides, this is just the one article that is well-written without any feeling that the author was biased against him, I even haven’t found anything related to him on Reddit. Well done! As for me, I read his books not just once, in addition, I always listen to audio books.
Emma Robinson says
Thank you, for your kind words, Judy. You may also want to read another article on my web-site https://bookkooks.com/fear-trump-in-the-white-house-review/. Would be glad to receive a feedback.
I’m not a fan of his works, I think they are pretty rude to read, at least I don’t quite understand his feelings and emotions. Who knows, maybe I’m not in the mood as he was? However, I’ve read this article, and I think I’ll buy one of his book, since the last one was something similar to his work and I was surprisingly amazed.
Emma Robinson says
Thank you Kathleen, probably when you finish this book you would be interested in this one https://bookkooks.com/where-the-crawdads-sing-review/
Does anybody know any sources of his books with free pdf online? Would be glad if someone can share.
Emma Robinson says
I’d recommend you to purchase one of them, you can also purchase on Amazon, eBay etc.
Why only Amazon?
Emma Robinson says
CoolB, I suggest you to have a look on Amazon, but you can buy everywhere you want:) Sometimes, such online stores have books for sale, I believe, it is a great opportunity to have on of desirable item.
I’ve this article, and I’d like to read one of his books. Can anybody tell me which one should I start with?
When I got acquainted with his works I started with ‘The most beautiful woman in town’. I liked it!
If you love poems I assume you’ll love ‘Love is a dog from Hell’.
I believe, no matter what you will start with, all of them have own spirit. In order to discover Charles Bukowski’s inner world, you should read each book, and only after this you’ll complete the puzzle of his odd personality.
Definitely, Factotum, you can also watch the film based on this book.
Bob Hill says
I think the quality of his work became better by getting older, like whiskey is better over the years. Thus, I strongly recommend you to start with Notes of a Dirty Old Man.
Start with reading about Frank Chinaski. This is a autobiographical novel, so you will understand the author by his text.
I don’t know why, but I was so excited about Pulp!
A few years ago I faced the book Ham on Rye. In fact I had no idea who the author was and nothing about his life. I read and almost throw it away, then my wife brought other parts without knowing that I have already read one of them. Then, I read all of them and now I’m a big fan of Bukowski. He turned my world vision upside down and now I want to read more and more his books. Unfortunately, there is a limited number of them.
I agree with Kerry, try The most beautiful woman in the town.
It’s too difficult to name just one book, since he wrote, in my opinion, lots of masterpieces, and none could even reach his level of writing. Just take one book and try to feel what he was writing about.
I’m glad I’ve found this platform with reviews on the books. Your way you describe them is unique. Go on, I will follow your reviews!
Emma Robinson says
Thank you for your kind words! I will continue, I have lots of ideas that I will implement here. I will try my best to make happier my readers:)
His books always remind me that I should stay away from my previous way of life. It’s too awful and sad at the same time.
classic Bukowski book of poetry. This collection contains not only some of Bukowski’s very best poems, it contains some of the best poems ever written. A must read.
I have never read something similar to books of Bukowski…
Henry Miller, Barry Miles, William Golding