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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Only Child: Terrifying Events Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

Rhiannon Navin’s powerful debut novel, “Only Child,” tells the story of a fictional school shooting, and the lasting impact it has on 6-year-old Zach.

Celebrating Author Muriel Spark

On the centennial of her birth, we’re looking back at the writer's exceptional life and work.

Another Margaret Atwood Adaptation is in the Works

Paramount TV has acquired the rights to the MaddAddam Trilogy, a dystopian series by "The Handmaid's Tale" author.

20 of the Best New York Times Notable Books

As new books are added each December, we look back on previous honorees that still deserve the spotlight.

10 New Books of Literary Fiction with a Razor's Edge

Edgy and hot off the press, these are the new releases we can't stop thinking about.

George Saunders Wins 2017 Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in the Bardo

Saunders is one of just two Americans who have nabbed the UK's top literary prize.

Author Kazuo Ishiguro Wins the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature

The Japanese-British writer has finally nabbed the prestigious award.

"Wakefulness": Remembering Poet John Ashbery

Celebrating the genius of the late American poet (1927-2017).

Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace is Coming to Netflix!

The bestselling historical novel will make its small screen debut this November.

10 Touching Memoirs for Fans of The Glass Castle

Dysfunctional families and unconventional upbringings were the norm for these authors.

Bards of a Feather: 11 Books Inspired by William Shakespeare

Imaginative retellings of the playwright's classic works.

19 Books to Read by Jewish Authors

From Michael Chabon to Erica Jong, here are some of our favorite books by Jewish authors.

New Covers for Alice Walker Books

Because beautiful books deserve beautiful covers

Anthony Burgess and Four Other Authors Who Hate Their Books

These five authors turned on their critically acclaimed books.

Pearl Buck’s Historical Fiction Novels

Forbidden love. Feminism. East vs. West. Welcome to the World of Pearl S. Buck.

Classic English Literature That Belongs On Your Reading List

The best and most memorable classic English literature.

How To Sir, With Love Author E.R. Braithwaite Triumphed Over the Racist Apartheid Government

We remember the late author with an excerpt of his courageous memoir, Honorary White.

12 Michael Chabon Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down

The Pulitzer winner has 12 more books that'll feed your literary appetite.