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5 Books like The Lost Symbol: Disinterred Secrets

Kedar Prasana itcherBooks like ‘The Lost Symbol’, while not always literary masterpieces, have that uncanny ability to keep you rooted to your place with a cup of tea in your hand. In case that’s your thing, the following books might be of immense use in helping you get through your reading nights: ‘The Art Forger’, ‘Michelangelo’s Notebook’, ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’, and ‘The Recognitions’. ~ Kedar Prasana

Unmasking Buried Truths

The most essential ingredient in creating our universe is the consciousness that observes it.

The Lost Symbol’, the third instalment in the insanely popular Robert Langdon Series penned by Dan Brown and it’s just about good enough to get a quick and true fix of mystery, thrill and quasi-knowledge.

Despite boasting of a fan base that easily transcends millions, a book like ‘The Lost Symbol’ doesn’t necessarily receive literary or critical acclaim (that’s exactly what has happened), and hence, it’s an obviously bad place to look for Woolf-esque prose or Joyce-esque wordplay.

At the centre of the plot is the almost-omniscient hero Robert Langdon, who is routinely thrown into situations that demand him to exhibit Bond-like skills, capped with hundred-fold brainpower. Abductions, truth hunting, bloodbaths, Mason Machinations and that characteristic drive for symbol-scratching ripe with instant thrills.

If you’ve read and loved ‘The Lost Symbol’, this list of similar books might just tick the boxes for you.  

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Books Similar to ‘The Lost Symbol’…

‘The Art Forger’ (Barbara Shapiro, 2012)

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I heard Michelangelo used to borrow paintings from his friends, Small pipes in, copy them, then return the copies and keep the originals for himself. Well, that would have worked out great for his friends!

The Art Forger’, though not a bestseller or crowd-pleaser, is great to pique your interest for hidden mysteries of the past.

It’s a swift read that weaves the facts of the infamous Gardner Museum Heist with the fiction of immaculate copies of various Degas masterpieces. The protagonist – a young art forger named Claire Roth – has to tackle unsavoury mysteries to save her own skin, while dodging the demons of terrible career decisions.

Similarity Match: 90%
If ‘The Lost Symbol’ generated tsunamis of popularity, ‘The Art Forger’ has quietly settled as a cult favourite. They both, however, share similar characters who have to solve puzzles to redeem themselves.

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‘Michelangelo’s Notebook’ (Paul Christopher, 2005)

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Secrets are just euphemisms for lies. The more you hide them, the more prominent they become.

Michelangelo’s Notebook’ is the first entry in the mildly popular Finn Ryan series by Paul Christopher.

The protagonist of the series, Finn Ryan, is a regular grad student at NYU who, quite accidentally, stumbles upon a secret drawing of a dissected corpse by none other than the great Michelangelo. Just as she is about to make the most of her discovery, she lands in a conspiracy plot followed by the abduction of her boyfriend. The only way for her to clear through this maze is to unravel some neatly hidden art secrets.  

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Michelangelo’s Notebook’ deals with the world of art, while ‘The Lost Symbol’ teams up with saints, demons and well, symbols. The basic drive behind both of these, however, is still that quest for hidden truths.

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‘Ivanhoe’ (Sir Walter Scott, 1819)

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Now, it is well known, that a man may with more impunity be guilty of an actual breach either of real good breeding or of good morals, than appear ignorant of the most minute point of fashionable etiquette.

This is where it all seems to have begun.

Historical novels are more popular today than ever, and much of the credit should go to Sir Walter Scott who, with his Waverley Novels, created a ground-breaking path for others to follow.

‘Ivanhoe’, his undisputed masterpiece, follows the adventures in the life of eponymous hero against the backdrop of ugly power-struggles in King Arthur’s court. Deceits unfold faster than anyone can control, and what follows is a truly breath-taking tale of love, politics and religion.

Similarity Match: 80%
Christianity and its shrouded secrets is the most prominent strand of similarity between these two books. However, ‘Ivanhoe’ is arguably more articulate, despite its use of now antiquated Middle English.

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If You Like ‘The Lost Symbol’, You Will Like…

One of the factors that fans of books like ‘The Lost Symbol’ seem to cherish is their unfazed drive to create mysterious imagery out of nowhere.

While Dan Brown is an obvious master of that art, there have been some literary stalwarts who have taken this skill to an insurmountable level.

Let’s take a look at two modern classics that will leave you stupefied, provided that you can summon enough patience and willpower to get through them, from cover to cover.    

‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ (Umberto Eco, 1989)

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As long as you remain in your private vacuum, you can pretend you are in harmony with the One. But the moment you pick up the clay, electronic or otherwise, you become a demiurge…

Often regarded as the strangest creation of Italian wordsmith Umberto Eco, ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ regularly finds a spot on lists that compile the most difficult novels to read. At over 600 pages, this is not a light read – in length and otherwise. Packed to the brim with highly esoteric references to Christianity, Medieval European History, Physics and Geography, ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ follows notorious adventures of three bored intelligentsia of a publishing house which attempts to create a conspiracy theory of its own. Needless to say, truths turn into lies and a quest for fun soon becomes a potentially global catastrophe.  

Unlike ‘The Lost Symbol’, ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ has no instant gratification in store for the readers. It is, however, the love for the esoteric that connects these two books quite strongly.

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‘The Recognitions’ (William Gaddis, 1955)

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Originality is a device that untalented people use to impress other untalented people.

Just because of its sheer weight of ambitions (and pages), ‘The Recognitions’ has a permanent place on my favourites shelf, like many other readers.

Published by Gaddis when he was still a literary nobody, ‘The Recognitions’ has spawned many a book club and lifelong friendships among readers who share an unperturbed love for po-mo.

Written in naturally succinct prose, ‘The Recognitions’ follows (without any haste, at all) the life of Wyatt Gwyon, an art forger who seems to create better renditions than the originals.

‘The Recognitions’, unlike ‘The Lost Symbol’, only comes good after you have invested weeks of efforts. Generous references to art mysteries is a prominent point of similarity between them.

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Locate, Decode, Repeat!

Reading ‘The Lost Symbol’ is almost certainly going to make you want more – a lot more!

If this list of books similar to ‘The Lost Symbol’ doesn’t suffice, you can try to get your hands on some more mystery-driven thrillers: ‘This Night’s Foul Work’, ‘The Singer’, ‘The Rosetta Key’, and ‘The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud’.  

All of your comments, feedback – even criticism – are dearly welcome. So, do feel free to post them in the space right below!

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