top 5 recommendation | literary fiction

Literary fiction?! Who am I?

First of all, I want to get this out of the way – I really don’t believe in the superiority of literary fiction over other types of fiction. I primarily read YA, for goodness’ sake! And because I read so much ~highbrow~ literature during my degree, I actually stopped reading a lot of books that could be considered literary fiction.

(Side note: literary fiction is really hard to define. I’m loosely defining it as literature that pushes boundaries in terms of style, often wins literary awards, and can sometimes be a bit more difficult to read.)

As I am trying to expand my genre horizons more this year, I thought I would give you some recommendations of literary fiction that I have read, and some that I might consider picking up. Apologies that most of these are pretty well-known – this isn’t my most loved genre.

  1. If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino – this is a strange and experimental look at reading, where stories from seemingly unrelated books blend together, and the main character The Reader tries to detangle them. I loved this even though it is sexist as hell.
  2. The Colour Purple by Alice Walker – this is a classic, and for good reason. It looks at the treatment of black queer women in the 1930s. It is written beautifully and effortlessly. It is honest in a way that I don’t think many books can muster themselves to be.
  3. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I was obsessed with this book when I was younger. It is set in Barcelona in 1945, and follows Daniel as he discovers the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world. I KNOW.
  4. The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon – this is probably my favourite of all the books that I read during my English Literature degree. It follows Caribbean immigrants who have moved to London after WW2. It’s about racism and London and contains one of my favourite passages in all of literature.
  5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – OK so bear with me here. I read this in high school and thought it was fucking hilarious. It’s all about how married life can be really crap, and how the main character Emma Bovary tries to get away from it. She’s also a truly terrible person. I’m a fan.

Some literary fiction that I’ve been meaning to read include:

  1. The Satanic Verses
  2. Middlesex
  3. The Trial
  4. The Red Tent
  5. The Awakening

Have you read any literary fiction? Did you like it?

5 thoughts on “top 5 recommendation | literary fiction

  1. Cee Arr @ Dora Reads says:

    I’ve read quite a few books that are considered ‘literary’ but I personally think it’s an imaginary genre (all genres are to an extent, but this one especially,) I also feel like whether something is classified as ‘literary fiction’ or ‘women’s fiction’ (another imaginary genre) depends very much on how ‘worthy’ the subject matter is deemed to be. War? Literary fiction. Female character with family problems? Women’s Fiction. *sighs*

    Sorry, this is one of the things that gets me going! Lol! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ayunda says:

    I claim myself to like literary fiction but the books I liked can also be classified as mystery, or historical, or even classics! Love your selection. I tried reading Madam Bovary a while ago but couldn’t really get into it. Also have heard great things about Shadow of the Wind 🙂


  3. Lydia Tewkesbury says:

    LOVE The Colour Purple. I read it when I was still in school and it blew my tiny teen mind.

    I always feel weird about what constitutes literary fiction, same as you. I think it’s one of the classifications that’s kind of inherently sexist because if it’s a book about women it becomes ‘chick-lit’ or whatever rather than ‘literary’. That said if you’re looking for literary you should read anything but Donna Tartt. Her books are PERFECT.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. whatthelog says:

      Right?! I’m glad I waited to read it because I feel like I would have dismissed it when I was younger.

      Omg yes, you are so right! I loved The Secret History (I’m due for a re-read) but I couldn’t stand The Goldfinch. I hope I like whatever she writes next!

      Liked by 1 person

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