The most recommended literary fiction

Who picked these books? Meet our 4,015 experts.

4,015 authors created a book list connected to literary fiction, and here are their favorite literary fiction books.
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Book cover of Fall on Your Knees

Bruce Bishop Author Of Unconventional Daughters: An Engrossing Family Saga on Two Continents

From my list on Nova Scotia, Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed a love for James A. Michener’s sweeping novels as a young man, which coincided with an early stage of my career as a travel journalist. I was fortunate to find myself in places all over the globe that he had written about, and these countries were somehow made more vivid to me because of his words. It wasn’t until the onset of Covid-19 in 2020 that I switched from writing non-fiction to fiction. In doing so, I realized that the small part of the world in which I had been born and raised – Nova Scotia, Canadawas as fascinating and interesting as any place I had visited. 

Bruce's book list on Nova Scotia, Canada

Bruce Bishop Why did Bruce love this book?

This compelling family saga set on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia was published in 1996 and explores the lives of the complicated Piper family in the early 20th century.

My late mother was from Glace Bay, a mining town on Cape Breton, and I remember she was quite excited when she heard about Ms. MacDonald’s drama, and promptly bought a copy. She told me she couldn’t get beyond the first few chapters because it was far too filthy for her taste. Naturally, I then had to read the whole novel to find out just how controversial the book was!

By Ann-Marie MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fall on Your Knees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the curves of the twentieth century, FALL ON YOUR KNEES takes us from haunted Cape Breton island in Nova Scotia through the battlefields of World War I into the emerging jazz scene in New York City, and immerses us in the lives of four unforgettable sisters. The children of a driven and ambitious father, the sisters -Kathleen, the oldest, a beautiful talent intent on a career as an opera diva; Frances, the drunken rogue and child prostitute; Lily, the pseudo-saint cripple; and Mercedes, the fervent Catholic and protector of the flock - are swept along by the tumult of…


Book cover of Atomic Love

Kitty Zeldis Author Of The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights

From my list on historical novels that feature bad-ass women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a girl growing up in the 1960s, I loved books that were set in the past—Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were among my favorites. But those books weren’t historical fiction because they were written back then. So discovering that I could set my own books in the past was a thrill. I love evoking the sights, sounds, and smells of the past. And I especially love describing what my characters wear. Vintage clothes are my passion and being able to incorporate that love into my work is an ongoing delight.

Kitty's book list on historical novels that feature bad-ass women

Kitty Zeldis Why did Kitty love this book?

A novel about a young woman who worked on the atomic bomb and fell in love with one of the other scientists on the project who breaks her heart into a million pieces so she abandons her career and takes up as a shop-girl? Add in an FBI agent who is on the tail of the cad and wants her help in finding him? Count me in!

Fields is terrific at creating mood and the 1950s milieu. And the unexpected romance between Rosalind, the one-time scientist, and Charlie, the FBI agent, is both moving and immensely satisfying—these are two wounded souls who manage to find each other and by the end, you’re out of your chair and cheering.

By Jennie Fields,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Atomic Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The stunning novel about our fiercest loyalties, deepest desires and the power of forgiveness

'A highly-charged love story' DELIA OWENS, bestselling author of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

'This story has everything. Just thinking about it makes me feel that lovely feeling where your heart seems to skip a beat' 5***** Reader Review
________

Chicago, 1950: Rosalind Porter is unfulfilled, heartbroken and angry.

Five years ago her career as a scientist was sabotaged by the man who also broke her heart: former Manhattan Project colleague Thomas Weaver.

Now, out of the blue, Thomas gets back in touch: he urgently needs to…


Book cover of Lock No. 1

Andrew Hook Author Of Candescent Blooms

From Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Punk Surrealist Reader Traveller

Andrew's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Andrew Hook Why did Andrew love this book?

I've read quite a few Maigret's now, but this is my favourite so far. As a detective, Maigret is the opposite of Columbo. There's never "just one more thing here". In fact, there's rarely any questioning at all.

By his very presence, Maigret seems to invite confessions, for the 'villains' to bottle everything up in fear of interrogation only for themselves to let everything out. It's a tour de force of sustained suspense to keep a novel at that bubbling point, and the plot here is intricate and tragic; essentially, a man who has worked his way up to have everything but through egoism and happenstance can't find the right people to share it with.

And even more tragic, he finds himself harking back to those simpler times, undoing his status. There's much to relate to here, and the prose is knife-edge sharp.

By Georges Simenon, David Coward (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lock No. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The father of contemporary European detective fiction' Ann Cleeves
Cars drove past along with the trucks and trams, but by now Maigret had realised that they were not important. Whatever roared by like this along the road was not part of the landscape. ... What really counted was the lock, the hooting of the tugs, the stone crusher, the barges and the cranes, the two pilots' bars and especially the tall house where he could make out Ducrau's red chair framed by a window.

Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been…


Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

Book cover of Acquaintance

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historical fiction writer Gay male Reader History buff Curious human

Jeff's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

As a young doctor, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the death of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the War, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career.

Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love. More than a gay love story, Acquaintance is a deep dive into gay and lesbian history based on extensive period research of the 1920s.

Acquaintance

By Jeff Stookey,

What is this book about?

As a young surgeon, Carl Holman has experienced the horrors of World War I and the loss of his lover, a fellow officer. Back home after the war, he befriends a young jazz musician who he hopes will become a companion he can share his life with. But this is Oregon: the Ku Klux Klan is gaining influence, homosexual acts are illegal, and such a relationship will jeopardize Carl’s promising medical career. Musician Jimmy Harper has his own dreams for the future and his own obstacles to overcome before he will allow himself to accept Carl’s love.
Acquaintance is a…


Book cover of The Milagro Beanfield War

Sallie Tisdale Author Of The Lie about the Truck: Survivor, Reality TV, and the Endless Gaze

From Sallie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Zen teacher Avid reader Wingspan addict Baker

Sallie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Sallie Tisdale Why did Sallie love this book?

I wish that I knew Nichols’ secret recipe for making me laugh out loud and cry at the same time. These are characters you want to kiss, shake, shoot, and make love to (sometimes all at once).

The plot mixes petty larceny and terrible crimes, guerilla warfare, dangerous pigs, a great deal of alcohol, a little sex, and injustices that seem even more relevant now than when the book was written. 

Tragedy? Comedy? Depends on your point of view. If you’ve seen the movie, you have seen only about a tenth of the book. So, read it! 

By John Nichols,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Milagro Beanfield War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Milagro Beanfield War is the first book in John Nichols's New Mexico Trilogy (“Gentle, funny, transcendent.” ―The New York Times Book Review)

Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began-though few knew it at the time-the Milagro beanfield war. But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it would be a patchwork war, fought more by tactical retreats than by battlefield victories.…


Book cover of Palestine

Nic Watts Author Of Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History

From my list on political graphic novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as an illustrator and visual storyteller throughout my adult life, illustrating children’s fiction books and comics for educational publications. My educational work focused on publications for kids with special needs, this gave me training in how to communicate visually, very clearly and concisely. I now collaborate with my partner Sakina Karimjee making beautiful graphic novels full-time. Toussaint Louverture is our first; we are now working on our second.

Nic's book list on political graphic novels

Nic Watts Why did Nic love this book?

Joe Saccos’ work has had such an impression on me.

In 1991-1992, Sacco spent two months in the occupied territories, collecting stories for this masterpiece of journalism and comics. He was breaking new ground; Comics Journalism as a form did not really exist before this book.

On the ground, Sacco found that as a cartoonist, he could delve deeper into the experiences of the Palestinians he interviewed; all knew their identities were safe as the book would be drawn, with no identifying photos, no names. Their stories and pain pour forth. 

Looking back on this publication thirty years later, the situation has become far, far worse for Palestinians. This book is an excellent primer to understand the atrocities of the present and the context of their past.

By Joe Sacco,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In late l991 and early 1992, at the time of the first Intifada, Joe Sacco spent two months with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, travelling and taking notes. Upon returning to the United States he started writing and drawing Palestine, which combines the techniques of eyewitness reportage with the medium of comic-book storytelling to explore this complex, emotionally weighty situation. He captures the heart of the Palestinian experience in image after unforgettable image, with great insight and remarkable humour.

The nine-issue comics series won a l996 American Book Award. It is now published for the first…


Book cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Catherine Cusset Author Of Life of David Hockney

From Catherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Passionate Reader Traveler Cook Friend

Catherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Catherine Cusset Why did Catherine love this book?

I read this novel because the great writer Milan Kundera died this summer. He was my favorite writer when I was a young woman. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was his last novel, written in Czech while living in France.

The voice in this novel is so strong (and light at the same time), and the novel is so rich and so full of ideas! It's almost impossible to summarize it. I remembered the love story between Tomas and Tereza, the truck accident that caused their death, and Tomas telling women: "Take off your clothes." Today, he would be in trouble! At the time of communism, freedom experienced through sex was the only freedom possible. But there is so much more—Kundera's hate of kitsch, what he calls "The Great March."

This novel is a testimony about the events of the time, but it also transcends history, and there is something…

By Milan Kundera,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Unbearable Lightness of Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A cult figure.' Guardian
'A dark and brilliant achievement.' Ian McEwan
'Shamelessly clever ... Exhilaratingly subversive and funny.' Independent
'A modern classic ... As relevant now as when it was first published. ' John Banville

A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon; a man torn between his love for her and his womanising. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals; while her other lover stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by choices and events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems…


Book cover of Fahrenheit 451

Dan Savery Raz Author Of The Qwerty Man

From my list on dystopian books that could actually happen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer and drawn to books that look through a window into the "other world." These novels, often dubbed dystopian, are reflections or exaggerations of our own world, and this always appealed to me. Like the question, "What if?”. The premise of “What if we lived in a world where you had to pay for words?” inspired my first novel, The Qwerty Man. Although I love fiction, I’m more of a nonfiction reader these days and interested in Buddhism (as an education, not religion), geography, and history. I’ve also written travel guidebooks for Lonely Planet and a children’s travel poetry book called Rhyme Travels.

Dan's book list on dystopian books that could actually happen

Dan Savery Raz Why did Dan love this book?

I read this book relatively recently, not at school or when I was in my twenties, but when I was in my late thirties. I had heard of the novel, and the concept of burning books was all-too familiar as I studied a module on Holocaust literature at university. However, the premise of Ray Bradbury’s novel, written in 1953, was so simple yet so powerful.

It echoes with our own reality today, as although books are not being burned, we are seeing the art of writing itself being "burned" or minimized by tools such as AI or social media. The virtual burning of honest reportage or poetry for opinionated views and algorithms is one symptom of today’s fast-paced society. 

There were some great quotes in Fahrenheit 451, too; the one that really stuck out was, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies… A child or a book or a…

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Fahrenheit 451 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hauntingly prophetic classic novel set in a not-too-distant future where books are burned by a special task force of firemen.

Over 1 million copies sold in the UK.

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic…


Book cover of A State of Independence

Raymond A. Saraceni Author Of Off the Beach in the Caribbean: Travels in the Little Leeward Islands

From my list on accompaning your Caribbean Sojourn.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to visit various ports of call through the eastern Caribbean and have been struck repeatedly not by the sameness but by the diversity of things and people. I also began to lament that those who visit the islands are encouraged to do so as vacationers rather than as travelers – to borrow a binary from the great Paul Bowles. Encountering a place with any sense of generosity necessitates reading about it, and while the titles I have included here represent some of those that I have found most rewarding and exciting, the full list is as long and varied as the archipelago of islands itself.           

Raymond's book list on accompaning your Caribbean Sojourn

Raymond A. Saraceni Why did Raymond love this book?

Pity Bertram Francis. After more than a decade in the United Kingdom, the protagonist of Caryl Phillips 1986 novel has returned to his home an unnamed island in the Caribbean on the eve of independence. But in seeking to find a place for himself, Bertram quickly discovers that long-simmering resentments and petty grudges (particularly on the part of the island’s soon-to-be prime minister) might very well undermine his high-minded commitment to the nation’s future. But is Bertram’s own idealism also part of the problem, manifesting itself in part as a kind of smug elitism born of his studies in the metropole? Exploring the fraught space between obligation, dependency, and autonomy (in matters of state as well as of the heart), this supple novel and its complex protagonist will linger long after you’ve finished reading.

By Caryl Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A State of Independence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Phillips examines the transitions of a Caribbean nation from colonialism to a dubious state of independence through the experiences of Bertram Francis, a young man who leaves St. Kitts at the age of thirteen to study law on a coveted scholarship in England. Twenty years later he returns, chastened by failure, hoping to succeed at “something that doesn't make me dependent upon the white man.” The rejections Francis faced in England are nothing to those that greet him in his homeland, where the resentments of the people he abandoned are exceeded only by the cynicism of the old friends who…


Book cover of Hector and the Search for Happiness

Mónica Ramírez Chimal Author Of Make life Yours!: Based on real facts

From my list on live life fully.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a person like you who has lived difficult situations, has had losses, made mistakes, and deals with bad days wondering about my existence and purpose in life. I have a gift, and it's writing; I began sending reflective messages to the people at my office and that’s when I noticed that people loved them. Years later, after reading several books and accumulating more experience, I realized that there are several experiences that are common to all, but few questioned. Therefore, I decided to share my insight and thoughts in my second book, hoping to help people be a better version of themselves and live their lives to their fullest.

Mónica's book list on live life fully

Mónica Ramírez Chimal Why did Mónica love this book?

Who hasn’t looked for advice on how to be happy? I found wisdom in this book that, in addition to laughing, it made me reflect.

I realized that happiness is not an objective; it is in us, in the way we feel about ourselves. This book came to my hands when I was lost in life and gave me direction. It made me see that I was like Hector, living in the past, wondering how my life could be if I only had done something different. I learned that first, I needed to see what makes me happy.

While reading it, I took several notes that later helped me to order my own life and see who I was. And now I can share that it worked! This book was a lifesaver for me.

By Francois Lelord,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hector and the Search for Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can we learn how to be happy? Hector is a successful young psychiatrist. He's very good at treating patients in real need of his help. But many people he sees have no health problems: they're just deeply dissatisfied with their lives. Hector can't do much for them, and it's beginning to depress him. So when a patient tells him he looks in need of a holiday, Hector decides to set off round the world to find out what makes people everywhere happy (and sad), and whether there is such a thing as the secret of true happiness.


Book cover of The Moneychangers

Radhika R Author Of A Canopy of Carnations: A Collection Of Heart Touching Short Stories

From my list on tug at your heart and haunt you for days.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have read books of various genres but the dominating theme has always been stories that haunted me and remained in my memory like a movie song lyric. These books are ones that made me feel the story as if the characters lived next door and were well known to me. The nostalgic feel and unexpressed emotions of women, when brought out in the form of stories keep my mind occupied and impacted my life changes too. As a teacher, meeting students of various ages, I am able to subtly identify the feelings that cross children and understand the emotions that dominate their parents and their lives in a family. 

Radhika's book list on tug at your heart and haunt you for days

Radhika R Why did Radhika love this book?

The adrenaline rush I got from this novel, I cannot express by words. I detested banking and related stories until I read this novel. The book gave me a totally different view of banking and the politics involved. I was impressed by the character of the single mom Juanita Nunez and her unique ability to calculate like a machine as she had a photographic memory.

By Arthur Hailey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moneychangers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 bestselling author of the blockbuster thrillers Airport and Hotel takes on the world of high finance: “Cliched, lurid and utterly absorbing” (Philip Hensher, The Guardian).

Ben Roselli, president of First Mercantile American Bank and grandson of the founder, makes the shocking announcement that he’s dying. With no offspring to inherit the company, Roselli knows that executive VPs Roscoe Heyward and Alex Vandervoort are the obvious candidates to succeed him. Heyward, who has been with First Mercantile for two decades, will do whatever it takes to bring in new clients and win the coveted presidency. Vandervoort, a newcomer from…