Armchair BEA Day 3: Literary Fiction!

Hello, Again, Armchair BEA folks & Readers, All!

Somehow, I have been blessed this year with two early topics that just happen to be completely in line with what this blog is mainly about: Classics and Literary Fiction!  You can find my post about The Classics here.  Today, it’s all about Literary Fiction.

So, what is Literary Fiction?  Well, in my opinion, literary fiction is similar to classic literature in that it tends to have a timelessness of theme and a wideness of reach.  What I mean is, regardless of where or when one reads a great work of literary fiction, it is likely to speak to that reader on some level.  This means, of course, that the greatest pieces of modern and contemporary literary fiction have the very real possibility of becoming classics in their own right, someday.

Another similarity that Literary Fiction has to The Classics is that it tends not to be restricted by genre.  So, I thought I would give a few suggestions, by genre, of books that I love and which I consider to be Literary Fiction.  These books, I feel, are well on their way to become future classics:

General Fiction:77699

White Noise by Don DeLillo

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion


Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga #1)  by Mary Stewart


Lust for Life by Irving Stone79834

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides10306358

We the Animals by Justin Torres

These Things Happen by Richard Kramer

 Magical Realism/Dystopia:

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood78887

Tracks by Louise Erdrich

Ethnic American:

Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas

Rain God by Arturo Islas

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan452382

So, there are some suggestions of great (in my opinion) literary fiction, by genre, which are destined to be around for a long time.  I could have gone on and on with these lists and suggestions, but for the sake of time (yours and mine), I limited myself.

Do you recognize any favorites, here?  What are your thoughts on Literary Fiction, and which books do you think could be added to this list?

Giveaway:  I will be offering one winner one copy of the above listed books, provided it is available at The Book Depository and is priced at $20USD or less.

To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling me which book from those listed above you would like (please do be sure to check that The Book Depository has the book and that it ships to your location).   Also, be sure to leave a way to contact you, in case you win {e.g.: roofbeamreader(at)gmail(dot)com}.

The giveaway will close at 10pm CST on the last day of Armchair BEA.  Good luck!

35 Comments on “Armchair BEA Day 3: Literary Fiction!

  1. There’s at least one book I love in every one of your categories! Cloud Atlas is one that was a particularly unique reading experience. I love those books that really make you stretch as a reader.


    • Totally missed the giveaway part! I would love Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, so many people recommend that one.


  2. I had such a bad experience with Joy Luck Club in high school, it still haunts me though now I’m in my 30’s I’m mature enough to admit I should probably give it another shot….in my 40’s. I agree with you on The Handmaid’s Tale.
    If I had to pick just one book from your list I’d pick Midnight’s Children, I really want to read that.

    goodbooksandacupoftea (at) live (dot) com


  3. Interesting post–I have the hardest time with deciding what is literary fiction and what isn’t–I like your definition in that the good ones are classics in the making.

    I’ve read a few on your list–Possession and the Mary Stewart books, as well as Joy Luck Club, Pillars of the Earth, and Wolf Hall. I have Lust for Life on my TBR shelf, as well as The Name of the Rose.

    I keep on thinking that I have Handmaid’s Tale, but then I can’t find it, but I do plan to read it. My kids read White Noise for senior AP lit this year, and both really liked it and recommended that I read it.

    If I win, I think I would go for Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler – I’ve read some of her books, but it’s probably been >15 years since I read anything by her, and she’s good!


  4. Glad you also consider Cloud Atlas literary fiction. And the Handmaid’s Tale. These books really bend the borders of genres.

    The choice of book would not be difficult for me – Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut.

    Enjoy ABEA!



  5. Excellent post—I love your list here, very diverse! I think if I had to pick, it would be one of the following three: White Noise, Play It as It Lays, or Cloud Atlas. Thanks for the chance!

    kristinshafel [at] gmail [dot] com


  6. this is quite a tough question even though much of what I read would fall into the category of literary fiction. its just hard defining what exactly the term means. I’ll give a vote for Possession and Name of the Rose but thumbs down to Midnights Children. struggled with that one a lot


  7. I’d love to read some of your fantastic reads listed! For one: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. It just sounds intriguing!! My email is : booksintheburbs(at)gmail(dot)com


    • Yes it is! I think mos of these should be – I ran a few of them through and they came back available in in the price range. Hopefully that’s the case for all of ’em!


  8. I’ve had Middlesex on my overflowing TBR bookcase for a long time now, and had no idea that it would be consider LGBT/Gender issues at all. I honestly have no idea what its about, I just liked Virgin Suicides! Now I’m more curious….

    Books that I don’t already have that I’m now more curious about are We The Animals (have had this on my radar since you spoke of it last year), Tracks, and Wolf Hall – as you are the second person I’ve seen mention this today. If I happen to be your lucky winner, you could surprise me with any of those! I know you have my email, but to make it easy its


  9. Hi Adam, I’ve read about half of those books so we’re on the same page here. I haven’t read Tracks by Louise Erdrich but recently enjoyed her Round House. So, I’ll enter for that. Thanks!


  10. This is a difficult choice… But I’d go with Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt.
    tanjavrljic (at) gmail (dot) com


  11. Not entering the giveaway, but I totally forgot about The Joy Luck Club! Great list of lit fiction books.


  12. I would choose White Noise by Don DeLillo! Thank you for the giveaway!
    verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com


  13. thanks Adam – thought this would be right on target for you and your studies..
    AMy Tan’s for me plz would be great – and thanks for the offer!


  14. “The Crystal Cave” was one of my favorite books when I was in high school. I thought Mary Stewart had such an original take on Merlin and Arthurian legend in general.

    I’d love to win a copy of “Possession.” Thank you for hosting this giveaway!



  15. Such fantastic picks, this is a really great introduction to the genre! I own/have read most of them, but I’m just starting to dig into Didion and haven’t read Play It As It Lays, so that would have to be my choice.



  16. Wow, you and I read and love a lot of the same books – I’m glad I found you! Thanks for stopping by earlier and visiting my blog! I’ve added you to my reader 🙂


  17. Cool selection of books to pick from I would like to read this book White Noise by Don DeLillo, I wnt to thank you for sharing your love of books with us who read your blogs


  18. I’ve been curious about We the Animals and I’d looooove to win it 🙂 Thanks Adam! therelentlessreader(at)gmail(dot)com


  19. I mentioned in my post that I don’t read a lot of literary fiction because I tend not to enjoy the genre (I’m not referring to classics here, really on contemporary literary fiction), but then I come and read your post and think maybe I both read and enjoy more of it than I thought I did. Middlesex was an amazing book, as was The Handmaid’s Tale. Wolf Hall is brilliant and is one of my all-time favourite novels, as is Pillars of the Earth. Irving Stone is on my massive TBR pile and so is Mary Stewart.


    • Haha. Look at you, being all literary-fictional! 😉 The sooner you can get to Irving Stone, the better. Lust for Life is one of those books that just made me believe in the world again. Even though it’s sad, obviously, being about Van Gogh (and we know what happens to him) but… it’s just such a good freaking book about such an amazingly talented freaking dude.


  20. Oh wow, that would be a hard choice. Lots of great titles there! Maybe The Handmaid’s Tale so I could own my own copy? Thanks for the chance to win!



  21. You have some amazing books over there so the choice is hard.. I think I’d choose The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
    Thank you for the giveaway 🙂


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