Books, Reading

Fiction Books Everyone Should Read

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive compensation for purchases made through the links in this post. These are all products that I highly recommend and have personally used.

Welcome back, friends! Today we continue our journey through my recommended books (based on what I read in 2021). Last week was all about non-fiction and today will be all about FICTION!

As you read through this list of fiction book recommendations, you might notice that nearly all of these books are old. Like, real old. For the sake of honesty, I must admit that, YES– I am absolutely partial to the classics. And part of my reason for sharing these recommendations is to help all of you fall more in love with classics too.

You also might notice that this list is fairly short when compared to my list of recommended non-fiction from last week. And this is the perfect time for me to make a confession:

I went close to 10 years without reading a single work of fiction.

I know. It seems insane. But, it’s true. Apart from the fiction that I started reading aloud to my kids over the past few years, I spent nearly a decade reading only non-fiction. Somewhere between college and having my first child, I started to believe that fiction was a waste of time. So I walked away from it. I had decided that if the book wasn’t “productive or growth based” that it wasn’t worth reading. Eww. I know. Talk about being stuck up.

Among the many things that I learned from reading 101 books in 2021, this was my favorite realization: Fiction is NOT a waste of time. In fact, it can be incredibly rewarding and therapeutic. Fiction can be life changing (stay tuned for a lot more thoughts on this later this year).

So, without further ado (or any more embarrassing confessions from me), here are the works of fiction that I read in 2021 that I would like to recommend to all of you.

Recommended Fiction Books

Who Should Read This Book: Anyone who considers themselves an avid reader, but hasn't read this book

Last year I read three of Jane Austen’s six novels (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensability, and Persuasion). Persuasion had two really wonderful chapters at the end and the rest of the book was like watching paint dry. Sense and Sensibility is gold, but not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. And Pride and Prejudice… well, Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen at her absolute best. It’s witty. It’s well written. It’s timeless. Some of my absolute favorite fictional characters are from this book. Don’t let the fact that this book was written in 1813 deter you–this book is delightful.

Who Should Read This Book: Anyone who considers themselves an avid reader, but hasn't read this book

If you’ve been following my blog for for a while, you already know how I feel about this book (and if you don’t, then read this post next– https://christinegustin.com/2021/10/22/the-books-that-shaped-me/ ).

Funny story. I was an English Lit major in college back in 2005 (you’d never have guessed, right?!). I remember being assigned this book in one of my classes… and I remember absolutely H A T I N G it. I’m pretty sure I gave up less than halfway through and read the spark notes (sorry, Mr. Fletcher). It felt wordy and dramatic and drawn out. Thus began the sixteen year stretch of my life where I would roll my eyes and silently protest every time someone started going on about how Jane Eyre was the best piece of fiction ever written.

Then came June 2021. I had just come out of one of the most difficult and heartbreaking seasons of my life and my literary bestie suggested that we read Jane Eyre as part of a reading challenge. After 16 years of saying I hated it and not technically reading all of it, I figured that I kind of owed it to Charlotte Bronte to give it another shot.

So I read it. And… Oh. My. Goodness. From the very first line to the very last, I was hanging on every word. I underlined paragraphs and annotated dozens of pages. I laughed. I smiled. I gasped. I wept. I stayed up reading until 12am several times. And Jane Eyre became part of my soul. It’s a redemption story. It’s bold. It’s startling. It’s beautiful. It’s timeless. Read it.

Who Should Read This Book: Readers that want to get a little out of their comfort zone with a lesser known classic (especially if you're into more obscure stories)

This is going to sound a little dramatic, but G.K. Chesterton has got to be one of the most underrated authors of all time. He wrote books on theology, a whole detective series, an epic poem and so many other gems. I have been constantly amazed by the scope of his talent. This particular book is one of his best, in my opinion. That’s really all that I’m going to say about this book, because 1) I don’t want to spoil anything and 2) I’m still not exactly sure how to describe this book, because I’m still not entirely sure what happened. I just know that I read this all in one sitting and it has stuck with me ever since.

Who Should Read This Book: Anyone who is looking for a binge-worthy read

The fact that this book is the ONLY one on my recommended list that has been written in the past century should speak for itself. I couldn’t put it down. Matt Haig is a brilliant writer and this book is both entertaining and deeply thought provoking.

Who Should Read This Book: Anyone who wants to read a classic, but doesn't want to commit to 500 pages (also people who like darker stories with deep meaning)

This story is probably familiar to most people, but the book is still absolutely worth reading. Robert Louis Stevenson was a master of his craft and this book really does tick all the right boxes. Part mystery, part psychological thriller, part reflection on the condition of man. Highly recommend this novella!

There you have it–all my fiction recommendations from 2021. Give these a try and let me know what y’all think!

TTYS.

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