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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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The 22 Best Movies Based On Books

Check out the cinematic classics that started out as novels.

9 Literary Suspense Books That'll Keep You on Edge

Tensions reach unbearable heights in these dark explorations of the human psyche, the inescapability of our pasts, and more.

Read an Excerpt from Strange Love, Fred Waitzkin’s New Book

“If literary romance is your genre, this book is for you.” —Men Reading Books

8 Lost Masterpieces from NYRB Classics

The best of an imprint that digs deep into lost classics.

8 Books Like A Man Called Ove

Inspiring stories of changed hearts and opened minds.

11 Books To Introduce You To Modern Japanese Fiction

Take a trip from the streets of Tokyo to the seaside villages of Japan.

8 Roaring 20s Books to Usher in the Next Era

The Roaring 20s was a time of true change for a world that had just recovered.

Books We Wish We Could Read Again For the First Time

Stories don’t feel the same the second time around.

10 Foodie Books Featuring Strong Women

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”―Virginia Woolf

12 Brilliant Female Authors You’ve Never Heard Of

These underappreciated writers deserve your attention.

The 20 Most Hated Characters in Books

They're not bad—they're just written that way.

6 Fascinating Facts About Alice Walker

Learn more about the woman behind influential pieces of literature such as The Color Purple.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's Books, Life and Legacy

The Jazz Age literary icon who couldn't resist living to excess.