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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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A Dog Returns to His Fierce Nature in The Call of the Wild

Read an excerpt from Jack London's classic adventure novel.

5 Little Women Quotes We Still Love Today

"Don't try to make me grow up before my time..."

Gloria Steinem on The Color Purple

The iconic feminist praises Alice Walker's ability to move readers.

10 Alice Walker Quotes That Amaze and Inspire

Powerful wisdom from the author of The Color Purple.

35 Must-Read Modern Classics

These reads from the last century all deserve a place on your bookshelf.

10 Most Popular Books of All Time

From the 17th century to the late 90's, we've covered the classics.

Italo Calvino's Life, Legacy and 9 Must-Read Books

Meet the man who helped define magical realism.

The 19 Best Magical Realism Books You Haven’t Read Yet

Go beyond the most popular magical realism books and read these hidden gems.

8 Books We Wish We Read in High School

If we could do it all over again, we'd make time for these stories.

8 Short Story Books to Celebrate Jorge Luis Borges

In honor of Jorge Luis Borges's 120th birthday, here are 8 short story books similar to Borges's works.

Iris Murdoch: Remembering a Literary Icon

100 years after her birth, we celebrate the impact of the novelist and philosopher.

Art in Fiction: 10 Novels That Take You Beyond The Goldfinch

If you loved Donna Tartt's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, we know what you should read next.

13 Classic LGBTQ Novels to Celebrate Pride Month

These impressive works of fiction paved the way for the genre.

The 6 Best Dads in Literature

Celebrate these stand-out father figures.

21 Books About Mother-Daughter Relationships

There's nothing quite as unique as the relationship between a mother and her daughter.

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.