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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Graham Greene Paints a Vivid Portrait of The Quiet American

A timeless exploration of love and politics set in turbulent 1950s Vietnam.

9 Female Authors Who Wrote Under Male Pen Names

They broke through barriers to get their voices heard.

Required Reading: 15 Classic High School Books to Read Again

It's time to revisit the great literature we skimmed through in English class.

8 Books to Read Based on Your Favorite Stories

Love the oldies, but looking for something new? You’ve come to the right place.

Inside the Surveillance War Between James Baldwin and the FBI

Before the If Beale Street Could Talk author became a symbol of today's Black Lives Matter movement, he was a high-priority target of FBI surveillance during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.

Remembering Amos Oz, 1939-2018

The acclaimed novelist has passed away, leaving behind a rich body of work on Israeli identity and politics.

Fans of Westerns Will Love This Poignant Novel by the Author of Peace Like a River

In So Brave, Young, and Handsome, a stumped writer gets more than inspiration from his adventure across the Wild Wild West.

Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night is Coming to Hulu

The iconic author's fourth (and favorite) novel is getting a limited series adaptation.

Maryse Condé is Awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize in Literature

The Guadeloupean writer took home the The New Academy Prize, which is replacing the Nobel Prize in Literature this year.

The Works of H.G. Wells and His Role in Shaping Science Fiction

The legendary author's sci-fi works were political and realistic, sometimes prescient—and always entertaining.

New Trailer Offers First Look at Bel Canto

Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe star in the adaptation of Ann Patchett's novel based on the Lima hostage crisis.

10 Captivating Writer Biographies

See these talented authors in a whole new light.

Editors' Picks: What's Our Staff Recommending?

A full list of recommendations from the people who know our books best.

Remembering Philip Roth: A Great American Novelist

On May 22, 2018, author Philip Roth died at age 85. Read an enlightening conversation between Roth and writer Milan Kundera in Roth's collection of essays and interviews, Shop Talk. 

5 Must-Read Carson McCullers Books

Throughout her career, the author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter showed a deep empathy for, and understanding of, the outsider.

In Conversation with Alice Walker

The author of The Color Purple reads three of her poems and answers reader questions about her work, life, and views on society.