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Literary Fiction: Boring or Works of Art?

Can literary fiction be more than what meets the eye?

Books laying sideways
Credit: Unsplash/Tom Hermans

According to various book communities across social media, literary fiction has become boring and plotless. But is this true? Or is it something much deeper?

Views On Literary Fiction

Literary fiction, despite its popularity and impactfulness, is a very contentious topic in online book communities. Communities like, BookTok and Bookstagram have claimed that they would rather pick up a romance or young adult book than try to get through a literary fiction novel. Why?

Well, literary fiction in its definition details the “reflection of the human condition“. Its aim is not really to tell a story with a gripping, nail-biting plot. Instead, it aims to convey powerful messages about human life and the society we live in.

Cover of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow with waves crashing against it.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin Credit: Penguin Random House

Nonetheless, books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,  by Gabrielle Zevein have become popular amongst online book communities. Proving that, some works of literary fiction can combine an exhilarating plot with deeper messages about the human condition.

However, not even the popularity of these books was able to convince online communities that literary fiction is not plotless and boring.

Social Media and Literary Fiction

Some creators are trying to dispel the idea of literary fiction being boring and recommend books that they feel are interesting and engaging.

They are doing so, by pointing out the lack of representation of literary and contemporary fiction in the media. BookTok and Bookstagram do not usually engage with these types of books, keeping them out of the public eye.

@perusewithjess

Litfic is boring… or is it?! Here are some litfic books that I’ve found genuinely engaging and immersive, with some really cool genre crossovers! #litfic #litficbooks #litficbooktok #literarytok #literarythriller #psychologicalfiction #bookrecs #underratedbooks #underhypedbooks #weirdfiction #ayeshamanazirsiddiqi #jennifagan #linglinghuang #calebazumahnelson kw: good litfic books, litfic book recs, literary fiction books

♬ original sound – perusewithjess

There is a common sentiment of “anti-intellectualism”. Especially when it comes to describing the attitudes of the people who are giving book recommendations. Their videos seem to focus only on specific genres. Particularly young adult and romance. This then leads to the conclusion, that these social media book communities contribute to the stagnation of literature.

Anti-Intellectualism

Anti-intellectualism is used as the main argument for the reading of more thought-provoking, carefully constructed novels, and reducing the protagonist of banal romances with seedy portrayals of women and men.

Literary Fiction has been facing widespread indifference due to its complex symbolisms, which go beyond the relatability of characters and the creation of a fanbase.

Similarly, Literary Fiction novels tend to lack a continuation. Occasionally they will have follow-ups; The Idiot and Either/Or by Elif Batuman are prime examples of this. But, generally speaking , sequels are not common. Thus, driving readers, who wish to connect fully with a fictional world, away.

Is it Worth Reading?

The real question is: Is literary fiction worth reading?

An open book being held by a woman
Credit: Unsplash/Clay Banks

For some, it all depends on the type of book it is. As mentioned previously, there have been a handful of fiction books that have gained popularity in online book communities. However, it is also important to bring attention back to the ones that have been largely forgotten as well.

Recently, there has been a call for people to diversify their reading; to read books that give a voice to marginalised identities. Yet, the diversification of reading should also include extending the variety of genres we are reading.

Quite simply, it is something worth checking out.

Literary fiction is a way to immerse yourself in the world of writing and literature. It is the place where many authors and writers shine. It is where authors showcase their best work.

Literary fiction is a world filled with stories that challenge the human mind and showcase the preciousness of life and living. It would be a shame if readers missed out on it because they are limiting themselves to a single genre.

Literary Fiction Recommendations

The Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead book standing up next to a rabbit shaped chia plant.
Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin Credit: Amazon

Getting into Literary Fiction may seem daunting so here are some great books to start your journey.

Briefly A Delicious Life, by Nell Stevens. This book is based in the 18th century. It follows a fourteen-year-old ghost who died in 1473 and protects a family who has recently moved into the charter house she inhabits.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead, by Emily Austin follows an anxious woman who lands a job as a church receptionist. As she navigates this new job, she gets caught up in figuring out how the previous receptionist died.

Betty, by Tiffany McDaniel is centred around a young Native American girl named Betty. It tells the story of her family and how her life is affected by cruelty and joy, teaching us a valuable lesson of what is truly important.

Of course, this is barely even scratching the surface with the sheer amount of literary fiction books there are. With many focusing on various concepts and people. All you have to do is find the one that speaks to you the most.

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Hi, my name is Sierra. I am a graduate of Montclair State University who loves reading and writing.

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