Armchair BEA – Literary Fiction

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a book snob. Sometimes I admit this with embarrassment and sometimes with pride. The truth is I only read literary fiction and the rest is crap. Now that’s not entirely true, sometimes I stray a little and sometimes a book that is literary fiction hits the mainstream (think Life of Pi by Yann Martel).

jetpackSo what is literary fiction? Well, you know it when you see it. The writing is often of a high quality, characters are well developed and in most cases plot is not of primary importance. That’s not to say that there isn’t a plot, just that it may not be that action packed.

The best way to hone in on literary fiction and what it is is to look at the short or long lists for some of the major book prizes. Among my favorites are the Man Booker, Giller, Orange (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and Whitbread/ Costa Book Award. Another good place to look is the New York Times List of Notable Books.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget my blog. It is jam packed full of literary fiction.


  1. The comic is pretty funny. I struggled answering this topic, and as it turns out, I don’t read a lot of literary fiction. Thanks for linking to the awards pages though. It really helps to have a list.

  2. LOVE the comic! I tend to be a book snob too, but I’ve ranged out a bit lately and have been pleasantly surprised. I still have trouble not laughing out loud at mentions of Dean Koontz or Dan Brown though.

  3. I do like literary fiction, but I think sometimes it can totally fall in the trap of becoming pretentious. I do think that parts of literary fiction are becoming more and more used in genre fiction, and that genre fiction has the potential to be just as good as literary fiction. I understand it’s easier to have divisions and categorize things, but sometimes it’s unnecessary and makes people form incorrect assumptions about the quality of certain books, which can be sad.

    • Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that some genre fiction isn’t terribly well written. There are great writers out there in every genre and not so good writers as well. Part of my problem with genre fiction – think Sci/Fi and fantasy – is they aren’t realistic. I know, they’re not supposed to be like the world we live in, but… it’s me, I can’t get past it.

  4. LOL – I like your cartoon! I’m right with you – I love literary fiction (although I do read some genre and if it is well done, it gets a thumbs up!). I guess I should subscribe to your blog because it looks like we enjoy the same types of books!

  5. That cartoon is so perfect and so funny!! I hadn’t seen it before but I’m going to have to pin it.

    The awards lists are excellent sources of book suggestions, I love them. I buy quite a few books off those lists but it always takes me quite a while to get around to reading them. šŸ™‚

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