Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad… Literary Fiction?

Hello readers!

So, literary fiction. The big, bulky books that talk about how we’re all sad and lonely. I LOVE ‘EM.

Image result for big thick books gif

Joking aside, literary fiction gets the bad rep of being sort of a snobby genre, because it’s supposed to be so verbose and nothing ever happens and it’s always depressing. So, to read this kind of book, you obviously must be one of those people who love bragging about the books they’ve read to impress people.

Literary fiction tends to look too scary for people, who stay away from it like the plague. But it’s one of my favorite genres ever, and I’m here to defend it! With my life, if I must (hopefully not)

Things I love about literary fiction:

  • Deep, thoughtful characters with realistic flaws
  • Character-centered stories are very revealing about our own nature
  • Forces you to look at yourself and at others through a more empathetic light
  • It touches on subjects other genres are normally too shy to talk about, or they talk about it in a shallow way
  • Beautiful, immersive writing
  • I find it’s an antidote to the pressure of being perfect that social media makes me feel – it’s okay to be sad, depressed and flawed. It’s okay to be deeply imperfect and lead a less-than-perfect life. You’re fine and you’re going to be fine.

There is no exact rule about what to expect from a literary fiction work, although mostly they are contemporary works centered in one character, or maybe a small group of characters. But really, you can find literary fiction mixed with other genres too – YA (albeit rarely, but they exist!), mystery, fantasy, sci-fi… they do tend to be denser in content and can be hard to read sometimes, but ultimately, it feels like taking a deep breath. You face the truth of yourself and the ugly (and beautiful) things of the world. You appreciate what you have a little more.

Can you tell I love it?

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Literary Books I Recommend for a Beginner

So, if you’d like to dip your toes in Literary Fiction, here are a few recommendations (click on the covers to go to the Goodreads page of each book):

Review: All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng

All The Light We Cannot See is a rather quick read, the chapters get shorter and shorter as it goes, making you fly through the pages. It’s a beautiful World War II story about a German boy forced into the Nazi army and a blind French girl, and their improbable connections to each other. My mom loved it, too.

Americanah is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s technically a love story, but it’s so much more than that – it’s about racism, about being black in the US, about trying to make it in foreign countries, depression and more. The main character is so smart and witty, I love this book so much.

Everything I Never Told You is the story of a girl who dies in a lake, but her parents don’t know it yet, they think she’s just missing for now. It’s set in the 70s and explores race, misogyny, expectations and more. It’s also less than 300 pages long, which is great if you don’t feel like starting with a bulky 700-page novel.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky Lisa Lueddecke

A Shiver of Snow and Sky is a very good choice if you prefer a YA read and are tipping your toes into adult fiction and literary fiction. It is a magical, beautiful book with adventure, a dragon, a wonderful main character. It’s also quite short!

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Other Literary Books I Enjoyed

Middlesex Never let me go Kazuo Ishiguro  the bell jar sylvia plath one hundred years of solitude gabriel garcia marquez Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff sing unburied sing jesmyn ward a little life hanya yanagihara White Teeth Zadie Smith Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel The Immortalists Chloe Benjamin 22522805 576650 Mrs Dalloway Virginia Wolf

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Literary Books That Underwhelmed Me

6149 The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry cutting-for-stone 2175 18135 As Good As True Cheryl Reid 5107 self-portrait with boy rachel lyon

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Literary Books I Want to Read

Behold the Dreamers Imbolo Mbue 30688435 Homegoing Yaa Gyasi 28921 3679 33123864 4667024 19421824 22725443 29044 15772884  5960325 834713 59716 4631

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Further Reading

The Guardian – Literary fiction in crisis as sales drop dramatically, Arts Council England reports

The Huffington Post – Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

Novel Writing Help – What Is Literary Fiction (and What Sets It Apart)?

28 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad… Literary Fiction?

  1. I love old literary fictions, “the classics”, if you will! However, I find that I often don’t connect with contemporary literary fiction. I DO find it pretentious and frequently depressing. Right now, for example, I’m reading The Goldfinch, and it’s undoubtedly BRILLIANT. However, I can’t connect with the character at all, find it pointlessly gritty without actually being gritty, and find the events in the story to be wildly unrealistic. Which, I guess that’s the point. But I just don’t connect with it. Also, I don’t understand why all characters in literary fiction have to be such potty mouths. Not everyone in the world talks like that, so why does every character in books?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy a good literary fiction book from time to time. I’ve also read All the Light We Cannot see and loved it. I read The Help several years ago and definitely would recommend it. I think my own writing borders on literary. I tend to enjoy character-driven narratives more than plot-driven. I often write from first-person perspective, so I can dive into my character’s mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some of my favorites are literary fiction! I just recently read Americanah and loved it so much. And Never Let Me Go is one of the best written and interesting books I’ve ever read! Great recommendations!


  4. I never thought i like this genre but i see tangerine in the list and it was awesome. Also the Celeste Ng stuff!
    Never let me go is also on my list.
    Little Life must be the most depressing book I’ve ever read but I’m glad i went through with it

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this kind of books, and a friend of mine looks at me weirdly when I say that haha
    I don’t think that All The Light We Cannot See is a quick read through haha I like it a lot and it had me at the edge of my chair when reading it XD I love Everything I Never Told you! Such a great work! Both of them I review them if you want to discuss the books a bit ❤
    The Catcher in the Rye is such a deep and "complex" book. Oh, Holden! What are you doing? (what was the meaning of the ducks? XD)
    I have the Kindle version of Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy and I haven't been able to read them yet T_T
    Fates and Furies and To the Light House! I have those too haha OMG haha and they were a gift and a mega sale… so I am praying to get to blast my brains with them XD

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a great post, thanks for writing it up! I need to read more literary fiction. I hope you read The Secret History soon – it’s amazing! And A Little Life is on my TBR – glad to hear you liked it 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Interesting articles I’ve read this week – Camille's Bookish Adventures

  8. Excellent post, Naty! I also love literary fiction and it is a bummer people just don’t give it a chance. I think a lot of the things that set it apart, such as deep characters and themes that resonate, are what would have a lot of readers in LOVE with the genre if they were to give it a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this post and I love literary fiction!! It definitely has a reputation for being boring and pretentious by I have not found that to be the case. You shared so many books that I love or are on my TBR! You are going to love Homegoing, The Help, and A Thousand Pleasant Suns! They are so good!


  10. I love hearing your reasons for why you love literary fiction, because I was actually just thinking today that I don’t think it’s the genre for me, and this post at least helps me understand the love for it.

    I think for me it’s just that, while literary fiction does bring up interesting topics for discussion, it’s just so sad and pessimistic! Which isn’t generally what I’m looking for in a book. And it’s much more heavily focused on the craft of writing, which generally isn’t that important to me unless it’s impeding my enjoyment of a story.

    That said, I’ll continue to give literary fiction a try every so often because I do think literary fiction produces some important books. I’ll just need to read a nice romance or fantasy before and after!


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