Best Literary Fiction Book Recommendations

What is literary fiction, you may ask? Often described as "serious" literature (think the Great American Novel), literary fiction often doesn't fit neatly into the parameters of other genres, and is usually more character-driven than plot-driven. But don't let that lofty definition put you off—plenty of literary fiction is accessible, fascinating, and all the more interesting for its fully fleshed-out characters. In fact, some of the most popular books of all time are literary fiction.

At the same time, a literary fiction label doesn’t mean a novel can’t have elements of other genres—there’s plenty of books shelved as literary suspense, literary romance, or even literary fabulism. You can expect these kinds of novels to still have those genre traits, but with elevated writing styles and more character development.

Another hallmark of literary fiction is the prizes. From Booker Prize winners to National Book Award winners to Pulitzer Prize winners, literary fiction features the kind of writing that deserves all the accolades.

Intrigued? Dive in to our lists of recommended literary fiction books below.

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11 Literary Fantasy Books to Read Now

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Don't let the adventures end with Shelby Van Pelt's novel.

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“This life is slow suicide, unless you read.” ―Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny

10 Dystopian Books to Read If You Loved 1984

“The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.” ―George Orwell, 1984

The Best Modern Irish Books to Read

There's more than James Joyce and Oscar Wilde.

The Best Stephen Birmingham Books

This list has something for every fiction and non-fiction history lover.

10 Books for Those Who Loved The Sympathizer

If these stories makes you cry, we sympathize. 

13 Mesmerizing Margaret Drabble Books

The oft-honored author deserves a place on your shelf.

The Best Roald Dahl Books You Haven't Heard Of

“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom.” —Roald Dahl 

The Best Campus Novels That Make the Grade

These books will bring you right back to the quad.

8 Crushing Books Like A Little Life

“What he knew, he knew from books, and books lied, they made things prettier.”—Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

Fans of Capote vs. The Swans Will Love These 10 Books

From catty, low-class writers to the dirty dogs of the elite, society is a zoo. 

The Best Books with Asexual Characters

“Maybe we weren't broken after all.” Calista Lynne, We Awaken

Remembering Dan Wakefield, 1932-2024

Prolific, acclaimed, and multi-faceted: three commonly-used descriptors of Dan Wakefield that any writer would sell their soul to be described as.