The Most Beautiful Books With Gorgeous Prose 

“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.” —Daphne du Maurier 

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Have you ever read a book that’s so captivating that you sort of forget that you’re reading a book? You don’t just root for the protagonists, but you feel like they’re a good friend of yours. The prose is able to transport you, whether or not the book is set in a time or place that you’re familiar with. Those sort of books can lead to leisurely, long late nights reading, only stopping when you realize that the sun is coming up. 

If you’re looking for a beautiful book to ensnare you, this list has something for you. 

short books to read in a weekend call me by your name andre aciman

Call Me by Your Name

By André Aciman

The first in André Aciman’s duology, Call Me By Your Name recounts the evolution of a sudden and intense romance. This summer should be the same as any other, but young Elio’s life is turned on its head when he meets his parents’ fellowship student, Oliver. 

Elio’s first recollection of Oliver is the almost dismissive way that the man said goodbye to him. This examination of Oliver’s behavior is just a prelude to the way that Elio spends his time analyzing and obsessing over the older man. The two are polar opposites: Elio is far more introverted and shy where Oliver is outgoing, charming, and flirtatious. They form a friendship, and it’s not long before they both act on their hidden passion. 

atonement sad books


By Ian McEwan

In an attempt to understand herself better, Briony Tallis uses her writing to retread and understand the collision course that she caused in the lives of the people around her. Writing as an adult, she looks back into her teen years, trying to atone for the harm and loss that she caused in the lives of her sister, and of her family’s gardener. 

At the tender age of thirteen, Briony stumbles across her older sister, Cecelia, having an affair with the gardener, Robbie. Wholly misunderstanding and misconstruing their passion for something harmful, Briony makes a mistake that changes their lives forever. McEwan’s prose is immersive and purposeful, drawing the reader into each of the three periods that the novel is set in, and hardly allowing them to come up for air. 



By Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov’s highly controversial work is often either loved or hated by readers. Told from the point of view of Humbert Humbert, a frustrated, middle-aged college professor, Lolita explores the damaging nature of obsession. 

Humbert becomes fascinated with his landlady’s twelve-year-old daughter, and is determined to do whatever it takes to have her. Nabokov’s use of an unreliable narrator pulls readers into the mind of a deeply disturbed and manipulative individual. 


Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurty

The first of McMurtry’s four-volume cycle, Lonesome Dove is an engrossing tale of the American West. Set in the small town of Lonesome Dove on the Texas-Mexico border, the men of the Hat Creek Cattle Company have their lives upended when an old acquaintance comes into town. 

Former Texas Ranger Jake Spoon is on the run from the law after accidentally killing the Sheriff’s brother in another town. His arrival spurs Woodrow Call into driving the company’s herd into unfamiliar territory, in search of the adventure that he experienced in his youth. 

My Antonia

My Antonia

By Willa Cather

Originally published in 1918, Cather’s novel follows the hardships faced by several immigrants living in the Midwest in the late 1800s. At just ten years old, Jim Burden is sent to live with his grandparents in Nebraska. 

Jim quickly forms a bond with the neighbor’s daughter, thirteen-year-old Ántonia Shimerda. As the two grow up, they find themselves facing the dangers of life on the prairie, and grappling with the pressures of their society.

The Good Earth

The Good Earth

By Pearl S. Buck

The Good Earth examines the struggle that society faces when treading the line between tradition, and progressing with the rest of the world. Pearl S. Buck's novel follows Wang Lung and his wife O-lan, a former slave. Wang Lung and O-lan are able to improve their lives, buying property when a local wealthy family falls on hard times. They tend to their land, and grow their family with the birth of two sons. 

Their fortune begins to falter when their crops fail, and O-lan gives birth to two daughters. Wang Lung and O-lan struggle to balance what they want, what they need, and what the world expects of them.

if beale street could talk

If Beale Street Could Talk

By James Baldwin

Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk examines the difficulties faced by a Black population overseen by a largely white police force during the 1970s. Tish and Fonny are two African-Americans living in Harlem. They’re young, in love, and expecting a child together. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when Fonny is falsely arrested for rape. 

Tish’s family is fully supportive of the couple, and of their daughter, but Fonny’s family has little faith in his choices—and his arrest only serves to make matters worse. Tish has to draw up strength for the sake of herself, Fonny, and their unborn child. 

Difficult Daughters

Difficult Daughters

By Manju Kapur

When a woman passes away, her daughter researches her life to understand her mother better. The eldest of eleven siblings, Virmati spends most of her early life tending to her siblings’ needs. That level of responsibility leaves little time for her to be her own person. She has a strong will, and a desire to get her education, despite her mother’s protests.

If this conflict wasn’t bad enough, Vermati finds herself falling in love with the married professor who lives next door. Difficult Daughters’ examines the tension between honoring your family and staying true to yourself. The beautiful book’s enveloping prose will have the reader rooting for Vermati, and hanging on Kapur’s every word. 

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, a book with a famous first line

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

By Carson McCullers

A deaf-mute in a small town in the South, John Singer becomes a confidant for the townspeople around him. Mick Kelly is a young, aspiring musician. Biff Brannon owns a café where John is a frequent patron. Jake Blount is new in town, and known to drunkenly frequent the café. 

Dr. Copeland is a Black doctor who wants nothing but the best for his children. While Singer enjoys their company, none of them can compare to Singer’s former companion: a fellow deaf-mute named Antonapoulos. 

gothic horror novels rebecca


By Daphne Du Maurier

This classic gothic romance is a tale as old as time. Girl meets boy. Girl marries boy. Girl is brought to the boy's mansion and thoroughly creeped out by his housekeeper…Alright, maybe that’s where the two paths diverge, just a little. 

A young woman meets the magnetic Maxim de Winter, and quickly finds herself wrapped up in an engrossing romance. Their passion leads to a quick wedding, but it’s not long before the second Mrs. de Winter comes to realize that her new life, and her romance, aren’t as rosy as they seem. 

The young woman moves with Maxim to his mansion, an estate called Manderly. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is an intimidating woman who watches the second Mrs. de Winter like a hawk. It also seems that Manderly itself has a life of its own, and doesn’t seem to be particularly fond of the new Mrs. de Winter.