Obsessed With Saltburn? Here Are 8 Books That Nail The Same Vibe

You won't be able to put them down!

Warning Spoilers.

So. You’ve finally watched Saltburn. Bathtub-licking, grave f***ing and murdering aside, it’s undeniable the movie is something special. Not only do Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan give some of their best performances to date alongside an all-star cast, but Emerald Fennel perfectly encaptures the summer of 2007, with a stellar soundtrack full of nostalgia and styling that throws us right back to the year of Harry Potter, oxford shirts and digital cameras. 

While we could patiently wait for the instantly iconic film to hit Prime Video so we can watch it again and again, there is another way to delve into the gothic and dark academic mood of the movie. 

The answer is easy. Books. It’s clear the flick was heavily reliant on the styles of its literary counterparts and was influenced by the mood of some of our favourite genres to create a tone that was dark, tense, twisty and well, weird. 

Even the movie itself is full of literary easter eggs. The college-aged students devour the latest Harry Potter release during their summer break in the movie and filmmaker Emerald Fennell has listed The Go-Between by L.O Hartley (1953) and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938) as texts that inspired the film. 

“It’s the perfect example of the genre: the British gothic country house [story of] romance, friendship, class, envy, sex,” Emerald told The Face about The Go-Between.  “When I read it as a teenager, I was very preoccupied with yearning. That very British, restrained love that can’t ever find resolution.

There’s a reason why Alfred Hitchcock kept going back to du Maurier’s books [to adapt them],” she tells the publication when speaking of Rebecca. “She’s so deviant. So fascinating. Every time that I read her, my sympathy lies with a different character.”

saltburn jacob elordi
(Credit: Prime Video)

Classics aside, we’ve also rounded up the perfect list of books that encapsulate the spirit of Saltburn – from the Gothic and satirical to the envious and extreme.

Books To Read If You Enjoyed Saltburn 

books like saltburn

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

A gripping and psychologically intense novel that delves into the lives of a group of eccentric and intellectually gifted college students studying at a small, elite Vermont college. The story revolves around the protagonist, Richard Papen, as he becomes entangled in the lives of this exclusive group led by the enigmatic classics professor, Julian Morrow. As Richard becomes increasingly drawn into their tight-knit circle, he discovers their obsession with ancient Greek philosophy and rituals takes a dark turn, leading to a shocking event that changes their lives forever.

Buy The Secret History, Here
books like saltburn

Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

A raw and unfiltered portrayal of a group of disenchanted and disillusioned college students navigating the tumultuous landscape of love, sex, and relationships at an affluent New England liberal arts college. Ellis paints a stark picture of the 1980s college experience, capturing the hedonism, emotional detachment, and self-destructive behaviours of a generation grappling with apathy and uncertainty. Through the intertwined lives of characters like the emotionally troubled Sean Bateman, the jaded Lauren Hynde, and the manipulative Paul Denton, Ellis crafts a narrative that explores themes of alienation, identity, and the search for meaning in a world marked by superficiality and aimlessness. 

Buy Rules of Attraction, Here
books like saltburn

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

A gripping psychological thriller that follows the captivating and morally complex character of Tom Ripley. Set in the 1950s, the novel introduces Ripley as a charming but impoverished young man who becomes embroiled in a world of deception and crime. When given the opportunity to travel to Italy to persuade a wealthy shipbuilder’s son, Dickie Greenleaf, to return home to America, Ripley becomes enamoured with Dickie’s luxurious lifestyle. As their friendship intensifies, Ripley’s admiration transforms into a dangerous obsession. 

Buy The Talented Mr. Ripley, Here.

books like saltburn

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

A captivating and morally complex novel that explores the consequences of vanity, hedonism, and the pursuit of eternal youth. At its heart lies the story of Dorian Gray, a young and handsome man whose portrait is painted by the talented artist Basil Hallward. After Dorian expresses a desire to remain youthful and unblemished while his portrait ages instead, a supernatural pact is inadvertently made, tying Dorian’s fate to the painting. As Dorian indulges in a life of decadence and pleasure, his portrait bears the marks of his moral corruption and debauchery while his outward appearance remains flawless.

Buy The Picture of Dorian Gray, Here.

books like saltburn

Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh

Jacob Elordi himself has revealed he read the book to prepare for his role in Saltburn. It’s a poignant and evocative novel that follows the life of Charles Ryder, an aspiring artist who becomes entangled in the lives of the aristocratic Flyte family. The narrative is framed by Ryder’s recollections of his time at Brideshead Castle before, during, and after World War II. His friendship with the charming and enigmatic Sebastian Flyte introduces him to a world of wealth, privilege, and complex family dynamics. As Ryder becomes deeply intertwined with the Flytes, particularly Sebastian and his devoutly Catholic sister, Julia, he witnesses the clash between sacred religious convictions and worldly desires. 

Buy Brideshead Revisited, Here
books like saltburn

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

A gripping and atmospheric novel that delves into the complexities of friendship, obsession, and the blurred lines between art and reality. Set within the confines of an elite arts college, the story revolves around a close-knit group of Shakespearean acting students whose lives become entangled in a web of jealousy, ambition, and tragedy. The narrative unfolds as Oliver Marks, one of the students, is released from prison after serving a ten-year sentence for a crime committed within the group.

Buy We Were Villains, Here.

books like saltburn

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep follows the life of Lee Fiora, a teenager from South Bend, Indiana, who attends the prestigious Ault School, a New England boarding school. The story is narrated from Lee’s perspective as she navigates the challenges of fitting in and finding her place in the elite environment of Ault. As an outsider among wealthier classmates, Lee grapples with feelings of isolation, insecurity, and the complexities of social hierarchies.

Buy Prep, Here.
books like saltburn

When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O’Neill 

A captivating tale unfolds around the magnetic friendship between Marie Antoine, the effervescent daughter of a sugar magnate, and Sadie Arnett, a dark-haired and sharp-witted newcomer to 19th-century Montreal’s affluent Golden Mile. Their bond, initially fueled by mutual passion and intensity, evolves into a complex relationship marked by attraction, repulsion, and a dangerous allure. As their childhood games take on risky undertones and ultimately turn perilous, circumstances force them apart, steering their lives onto divergent paths. 

Buy When We Lost Our Heads, Here.

Saltburn launches globally on Prime Video Friday December 22. Stream it on Prime Video with a 30-day free trial. Subscribe here.

saltburn barry keoghan
(Credit: Prime)

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