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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 Enduring Charm of Margery Sharp

Discover the heartfelt work of this under-appreciated author.

Nora Ephron’s Favorite Books

The late writer was, of course, very fond of Austen's work.

5 Classic Films You Didn’t Know Were Based on British Novels

Americans aren’t the only ones finding inspiration from books.

10 Must-Reads for Die-Hard Jane Austen Fans

There’s more to discover outside of your favorite author’s six books.

Summer Stack: 5 New Sizzling Beach Reads

This is the kind of summer reading you want to do.

The Laborious Birth of Jane Eyre

Discover the story behind Jane Eyre in Juliet Barker's astounding biography, The Brontës.

Heathcliff, It’s Me: The Best Brontë Movie Adaptations

Who's your favorite Heathcliff and Rochester?

Valentine’s Day Antidote: Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Fight reductive HEA (Happily Ever After) with Charlotte Brontë's last, best, novel.

The Ideal Marriage Reading List

Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.

Jane Austen’s 12 Most Delightful Insults

We love your sass, Jane. Don't ever change!

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.