9 Moving Works of Literary Fiction

Diving into a funny or lighthearted book can be a great way to escape reality, but sometimes it's important to confront real issues like racism, sexism, death, and disease. A well-written work of literary fiction can not only entertain you, but provide you with a new perspective on life. If you're looking to add some more substantial novels to your book shelf, then check out the nine moving works listed below. When you click links from this website, we may receive advertising revenue to support our research. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

9 Moving Works of Literary Fiction

Title Author More by the Author
1. Sally J. Schlenker A Peculiar School Jessica Lost Her Wobble
2. The Veins of the Ocean Patricia Engel Vida It's Not Love, It's Just Paris
3. The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder Rebecca Wells Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Little Altars Everywhere
4. Mudbound Hillary Jordan Aftermirth When She Woke
5. Tell the Wolves I'm Home Carol Rifka Brunt
6. Small as a Mustard Seed Shelli Johnson Color Your Way To A Life You Love: Let Go Color Your Way To A Life You Love: Forgive Yourself
7. Evergreen Rebecca Rasmussen The Bird Sisters
8. This Is Where I Leave You Jonathan Tropper The Book of Joe How to Talk to a Widower
9. Virgil Wander Leif Enger Peace Like a River So Brave, Young, and Handsome

Literary Charities

If you want to spread your love of literature with those in need, then you should consider looking into these non-profit organizations that help kids and teens get access to books and high-quality education.

What is Literature For?

In Depth

Literary fiction often deals with serious subject matter, and aims to convey powerful life lessons or provide subtle political and social commentary. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of nine thought-provoking and moving works of literary fiction that tackle all sorts of relevant issues. Take note that this list is done in no particular order.

First up, at #1, we have "Sally" by J. Schlenker. This novel follows Sally Ann Barnes, an African-American woman who was born into slavery in 1858. The story is a fictionalized take on her life, loosely based on historical information gathered by Schlenker. It's an eye-opening tale that deals with the sensitive topic of racism, and it shows readers the hardships that African-Americans have had to endure over the years.

Next up, at #2, we have "The Veins of the Ocean" by Patricia Engel. Reina Castillo's brother is sentenced to death after throwing his girlfriend's baby off a bridge, an incident which Reina blames herself for. When her brother dies, she decides to leave her past behind and move to the Florida Keys. There, she befriends a Cuban refugee named Nesto Cadena, who is struggling to provide for his family back home. It's an emotional story centered on the importance of family and learning to let go.

When her brother dies, she decides to leave her past behind and move to the Florida Keys.

At #3 is "The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder" by Rebecca Wells. Calla Lily Ponder is a small town girl who lives in La Luna, Louisiana. Following in her mother's footsteps, she moves to New Orleans to attend a renowned beauty school, hoping that she can one day open her own salon back home. The novel follows her turbulent life as she experiences setbacks and heartbreak, and the story shows how friends and family can help a person cope during times of distress.

Next, at #4, is "Mudbound" by Hillary Jordan. Set in Mississippi shortly after World War II, it's a story about two families, the McAllans and the black sharecroppers who live on their farm. The novel digs deep into the issues of racism and post-war trauma, and it provides some insight on the discrimination faced by African-Americans in the Jim Crow South.

Next up, at #5, we have "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" by Carol Rifka Brunt. June Elbus is devastated by the loss of her uncle, a renowned painter named Finn Weiss, who succumbed to a mysterious disease. At Finn's funeral, she encounters a stranger who introduces himself as Toby and asks for an opportunity to meet with her. As the two of them secretly spend time together, June discovers shocking truths about her family, and over time, she learns to cope with her grief.

As the two of them secretly spend time together, June discovers shocking truths about her family, and over time, she learns to cope with her grief.

At #6 is "Small as a Mustard Seed" by Shelli Johnson. Ann Marie is the daughter of a Korean War veteran who's suffering from PTSD. Her father's condition causes him to regularly abuse her and her sister, and their mother refuses to acknowledge the issue. The novel mainly focuses on how the sisters cope with their dysfunctional family. It's a gripping story that shows readers the tragic effects of war on soldiers and their families.

Next, at #7, is "Evergreen" by Rebecca Rasmussen. In 1938, newlyweds Eveline and Emil decide to live in isolation in a rundown cabin in Minnesota. Shortly after the birth of their son, Hux, Emil returns home to Germany, leaving his family behind. After a horrifying encounter with a stranger, Eveline gives birth to another child, who she leaves at an orphanage. Several years later, Hux, now an adult, sets out to find his half-sister and bring her home.

At #8 is "This Is Where I Leave You" by Jonathan Tropper. When Judd Foxman's father passed away, his dying wish was for his family to spend an entire week together in the same house. Judd, dealing with a failing marriage, dreads the thought of staying with his dysfunctional family. Things get even worse when his wife announces that she's pregnant. It's a story that's both funny and heartbreaking, and it features a protagonist who just can't seem to catch a break.

Judd, dealing with a failing marriage, dreads the thought of staying with his dysfunctional family.

Finally, at #9, we have "Virgil Wander" by Leif Enger. Virgil Wander is a movie house owner living in Greenstone, Minnesota. The novel follows him as he tries to recover his memories after a near-fatal accident leaves him with a serious concussion. Along the way, he meets a man named Rune, who's looking for a son he never knew he had. It's a lighthearted read full of quirky characters, and it revolves around a man trying to rediscover himself and bring life back to his dying hometown.