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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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10 Books for Fans of The Queen's Gambit

Find your next journey through the tumultuous lives of the gifted, obsessive, and unlikely individuals driven to success in these books like The Queen's Gambit.

How Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Came to Life

A “Modern Prometheus” that left a timeless mark.

10 Modern and Classic Gothic Horror Novels to Get You in a Spooky Mood

With stories old and new, these gothic horror novels have the classic dark mood you love and the modern twists you can't resist.

8 Scariest Vampires in Literature

The horror genre's oldest characters continue to spook, so keep the garlic handy.

Alice Walker Poems That Everyone Needs to Read

"Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."

The Best Book Series, According to Genre

Get ready to settle in for the long haul.

Complicated Fathers in Literature

Sometimes dads just don’t fit the bill, and these characters can relate.

Why the Lost Generation Writers Still Resonate With Us

Almost a century later, hope continues to endure through disillusionment.

Alice Walker Tells Us How We Can Have Peace on Earth

Read an essay from Alice Walker’s book, Living by the Word.

10 Essential Sherman Alexie Books

The National Book Award winner has written much more than The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Hello, Old Friends: 18 Classic Children's Books

These characters were there through thick and thin.

Revisiting The Color Purple: A Discussion with Alice Walker

Ms. Walker answers readers' questions about her most famous work.

The Best Jane Austen Movies

They've bewitched us, body and soul.

11 Inspiring Female Coming of Age Stories

From Jane Austen to Roxane Gay, these inspiring stories prove that you are never too old to find yourself.