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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Literary Pilgrimage: Virginia Woolf’s England

Take a tour of England through the life and work of Virginia Woolf.

In Defense: Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert haters cite Eat, Pray, Love as proof of her failings, and in the process neglect her fantastic, near-perfect novel.

Literary Pilgrimage: Asheville, North Carolina

Head to the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains to tour an important town for four major American writers.

Gloria Steinem on Patriarchy and Power in The Handmaid’s Tale

How Margaret Atwood's classic shows the significance of reproductive freedom.