So, literary fiction. The big, bulky books that talk about how we’re all sad and lonely. I LOVE ‘EM.
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?
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):
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 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!
Other Literary Books I Enjoyed
Literary Books That Underwhelmed Me
Literary Books I Want to Read