25 Best Realistic Fiction Books to add to your TBR book list!
Reading is more than a mode to relax, more than just escapism. It is a way of living those lives you may never experience, to meet those people you may never meet, and to feel those emotions that you may never feel in real life. Fiction books are just simulations you crave to experience. And what better than diving into realistic fiction books, with plausible characters and plots? What if they are just a slice of reality? We’ll leave that to you, the readers, to make the most of the fiction out there. And here’s our list of 25 Best Realistic Fiction Books for you to get started.
1. Out of My Mind
Author: Sharon Mills Draper
Published by Atheneum books in 2010
Out of My Mind narrates the tale of young Melody who cannot walk or talk being born with cerebral palsy. She is far smart off her age but her incapabilities and dependency keep dragging her down to utter frustration. The novel further explores her life and struggles and focuses on the themes of positive self-image and self-discovery.
Sharon Draper’s book has garnered optimistic acclaims and a number of awards to its name. It’s a fairly easy read as it was published with young readers in mind. But the quality of the story and the emotions attached to it makes it a happy to go read for readers of any age.
2. The Catcher in the Rye
Author: Jerome David Sallinger
Published wholly as a novel by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1951)
The Catcher in the Rye is set in the aftermath of the Second World War as Holden Caulfield, a teenager explores his adolescent life filled with depression and identity crisis.
J.D. Sallinger’s book by far stands out from all its competitors with similar themes. It’s unique in a way how he has traveled over a number is issues and emotions. Hence, The Catcher in the Rye came with a number of controversies and censorships when issued to schools or the young public. But the author has been very straightforward in his narration of complex matters of sex, anxiety, relationships, and social alienation and thus makes it to be one of the best realistic fiction books.
3. Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Published by Dutton Children’s Books in 2005
John Green’s debut novel is based on real-life incidents that happened around him but in a fictional mode and fictional characters. Teenager Miles Halter joins his new high school Culver Creek in Alabama where he goes to find solace in his friends Chip Martin, Takumi Hikohito, and Alaska Young. Slowly and together these young people experience entangled lives and the true meaning of friendship and love, life and death.
Looking for Alaska explores a number of teenage ideas and makes it’s one of the best coming-of-age books. John Green’s novel is an easy and quick read, and its relatable content makes it the best realistic fiction book.
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Published by Simon & Schuster Books in 2012
Aristotle and Dante, two teenagers who come together in this epic coming of age novel. The book follows the lives of these two youngsters as they experience different life instances together, growing and learning, and above all unraveling the secrets of this universe for a meaningful life.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a well-formed novel exploring racial and sexual identities. The novel follows a very direct narrative and makes it a fairly medium read once you get the hang of it. But the storytelling and its flow, and the interesting way in which the writer navigates throughout the plot make it another best realistic fiction book.
5. Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill in 2007
Clay Jensen returns home one day to find a package waiting for him that will alter his life forever. In it are cassettes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate, and crush who had committed suicide. Those recordings take him through thirteen different reasons that Hannah states are the causes of her taking her own life.
Thirteen Reasons Why was an immediate success as it became a bestseller right after its release. Though it did keep garnering both positive and negative criticism. Once Netflix’s adaptation of the same was released, the interest in the book increased as well. The novel addresses burdensome issues of suicide and depression and can be a heavy read in terms of emotional turmoil. And hence for the very same reason, Thirteen Reasons Why is a novel that holds the reality of today’s world and makes it another best realistic fiction book.
6. The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray in 2017
Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old teenage girl lives between two worlds; her poor black neighborhood and her opulent private school which is brimming with whites. One day she witnesses the death of her childhood friend Khalil which changes her life from thereon.
The Hate U Give has racial issues at the core. Inspired by real-life incidents Angie Thomas has beautifully revolved her novel around particular happenings in the world in a previous couple of years. The Hate U Give is a first-person narrative and the language is equitably lucid.
7. Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Published by Dutton Books in 2008
Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Spiegelman share a childhood secret between them, and nine years later Margo comes to Quentin for his help. Not forgetting his childhood love he is eager to help her out. But things change one day when Margo goes missing and she leaves a series of clues for Quentin’s sake.
Another best realistic fiction book is John Green’s beautiful storytelling of Paper Towns. What makes it stand out are the complex characters that uphold true nature in them. John Green’s books have always been quite comprehensible by the average audience and Paper Towns shouldn’t be any much different.
8. If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Published by Dutton Penguin in 2009
Mia Hall cherishes all the little things in her life, and the most important of those cherished items are her family and boyfriend Adam Wilde. On a snow-capped day, things turn astray for the Hall family as they meet with an accident and only Mia survives the crash. From there on Mia battles to stay alive, all the while introspecting her whole life and deciding whether she prefers to be dead, now that she has lost everything, or to make a different choice of staying alive.
If I Stay is a unique idea brought forth by Gayle Forman. He focuses on the ideas of life and death and the choices of humans that make life worth living. It’s the reality of growing up, not just physically but psychologically as well. If I Stay is a wonderful novel that has to be on your best realistic fiction book list.
9. The Fountainhead
Author: Ayn Rand
Published by Bobbs Merril in 1943
The Fountainhead is considered to be the fictional work that put forward the concept of Objectivism. Howard Roark is a young architect who has a set of philosophies that he believes in. He refuses to compromise with regard to them and is against the conventional ideas around him. The novel revolves around Howard’s struggles in his architectural world and explores the idea of individualism being more important than collectivism.
The Fountainhead is an absolute read for anyone interested in the field of philosophy. The complicated characters with specific ideologies feel like people around us. Fountainhead couldn’t miss our list of the best realistic fiction books. It’s a lengthy book hence making it a difficult read to get through.
Author: Raquel Jaramillo Palacio
Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2012
August Pullman was born with facial disfigurement also known as TCS (Treacher Collins Syndrome). He was always homeschooled by his mother, but when he reached fifth grade his parents decide that he should roll into a school to experience the real world out there. It’s not easy for August or Auggie as he is known, given the judgmental faces staring at him and excluding him from all activities. Slowly and steadily, Auggie makes his own way into the world, finding comfort and solace in the people he trusts, and fighting to make his mark.
Wonder is a heart-wrenching narrative of a struggling little one, and still a beautiful tale that you can carry for a long time. Raquel’s novel was aimed at young readers and it is a fairly easy-to-go book as well. Wonder is another read that has to be on your best realistic fiction book list.
11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Published by Pocket Books in 1999
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a novel narrated in the form of letters written by the main protagonist Charlie. He is a quite withdrawn kid owing to the trauma in his childhood. Charlie is befriended by his seniors Patrick and Sam, and together they explore friendship and love amidst the tighter knots of depression and homosexuality.
Review: Stephen Chbosky’s novel is a fantastic rendition of teenage life and the anxiety that comes around it. His detailed narrative, intricate characters, and poignant plot make it another best realistic fiction book.
12. Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Published by Kodansha Ltd in 1987
Norwegian Wood might be by far one of the best works of Murakami, capturing the intricate life and details of a young adult in the 60s. Toru Watanabe and Kizuki are best of mates, and Kizuki dates Naoko. But on Kizuki’s 17th birthday, he commits suicide. This affects both Toru and Naoko in their own ways, as they slowly experience what life really is in this coming-of-age novel.
Norwegian Wood is a must-read, for any teenager or young adult. And the first read itself is a precious and spiritual experience. Haruki has presented the truth of life and death in an immensely touching manner, and Norwegian Wood had to be on our list of the best realistic fiction books. The novel is again a fairly mediocre read, it’s more about the storytelling than the language itself.
13. The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Published by Dutton Books in 2012
Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters cross paths at a cancer patient support group. Hazel is fighting cancer that has spread to her lungs and Augustus is an amputee now because of a cancerous tumor. Both click instantly and go about adventuring books. But fate happens, and everything turns upside down in this John Green’s life and love novel.
The Fault in Our Stars would be an immediate go-to for many readers, just because of its simplicity and thoughts presented by the author. It is again quite an easy book to go through given Green’s articulated way of language. It explores love and relationships even in the darkest of times and makes it one of the best realistic fiction books.
14. Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published by Orion Books in 2012
Eleanor Douglas with her disorderly family and weird clothes is the new girl in town. Park Sheridan is a backbencher who quickly finds Eleanor and the blossom a friendship. But both have their side of the stories to be explored in Rainbow’s novel about domestic abuse and bullying.
Eleanor & Park is one of the most feel-good books out there. Rainbow has significantly brought domestic violence, child abuse and even bullying into the picture. The novel is readable even amongst the younger or newer readers. The mixture of different perspectives brought together in Eleanor & Park makes it count into our list of the best realistic fiction books.
15. Soy Sauce for Beginners
Author: Kirstin Chen
Published by New Harvest in 2014
Gretchen Lin is confused with her life at the age of thirty. With his failing marriage at her hand, she decides to move back to Singapore where she grew up. But more trouble awaits for her at home, with her mother’s drinking problems and the family’s soy sauce. Little by little she explores her new life which comes with trials and triumphs which eventually shape her into the Gretchen she is today.
Soy Sauce for Beginners is reality served on a platter. Kirstin novel’s is a foodie love story, a right read for every age. Soy Sauce for Beginners should go right into your to-be-read list of the best realistic fiction books.
16. The Casual Vacancy
Author: J.K. Rowling
Published by Little, Brown and Company in 2012
The Casual Vacancy is set up in the fictional town of Pagford. The novel begins on the note of the death of the Parish Councillor which sets the first foot for everything to fall astray. Eventually, the seat is left empty and town elections need to be held. But the seemingly small town holds a lot of secrets within itself. Throughout the novel, the true colors and the deeper darker enigmas of the people of the town are set to be unraveled.
The Casual Vacancy is the first for Rowling apart from the Harry Potter series and is clearly intended for an adult audience. Rowling swiftly plays between the classes and the politics that come around with it and pertains to issues of prostitution, rape, and drugs in her novel. The book is lengthy, and with heavier topics, it is indeed a difficult read to go through.
17. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Published by Little, Brown, and Company in 2007
The novel explores the life of native American fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit Jr. Arnold was born with hydrocephalus, this has always been small for his age and kept suffering from seizures and stutters, even poor eyesight. His financial conditions didn’t allow him a lot of freedom as well. The novel is a first-person narrative of Arnold himself in a diary format where he talks about his struggles and endeavors and adds sketches throughout the book to add to the storytelling.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian can be counted as a semi-autobiographical book since it is heavily based on Sherman’s own life experiences. He has delightfully formed it into a beautiful format of the story which is off the easiest of reads. The novel explores different topics ranging from racism to drugs and alcohol and has been a center of a number of controversies.
18. Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin Books in 2012
Me Before You focuses on the lives of twenty-six-year-old Louisa Clark and a wealthy Will Traynor. Will has always lived a life full of travel, sports and has been extremely outgoing. But an accident turns things around for Will as he is left paralyzed thereafter. Louisa is hired by Will’s mother as a caretaker for him. Everything is not smooth for Louisa who experiences the sardonic and bossy attitude of Will, but they both soon strike a cord and leave their individual marks on each other lives.
Me Before You is a romance novel by Jojo Moyes which has further sequels in its series. Jojo’s use of language is quite coherent throughout and hence makes it an easy read, though the length might be arduous for some. But once the story sets in, Me Before You is a novel that will touch even the coldest of hearts, making it a direct entry into our list of the best realistic fiction books.
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1999
Melinda Sordino faces the evil side of the world at a very young age. Before her freshman year, she is raped by one of her seniors. She calls the police but is not able to tell them the horrific incident. Slowly she distances herself socially and becomes an outcast. She is isolated in her life and literally talks to no more anymore. But her art helps her and gives her a way to let out her feelings and emotions. Speak is Melinda’s story of discovering and standing up for oneself.
Laurie Anderson has presented a heart-wrenching and bold novel in the form of Speak. A lot of frail issues of rape and identity, further ahead even PTSD have been addressed by Laurie. It was aimed at a younger audience hence the readability is quite lucid.
20. Life in a Fishbowl
Author: Len Vlahos
Published by Bloomsbury in 2017
Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone’s life turns upside down when her father is diagnosed with a brain tumor. In a desperate measure, her father decides to auction up his life online, and soon bidders come looking for him, often with heinous ideas in mind. Jackie Stone’s and the entire family’s life is in emotional turmoil which will change everything forever.
Life in a Fishbowl is a beautifully written tragic comedy by Len Vlahos. He presents a deeply affecting story with its contemporary side which is a delight to read. It is a Young Adult fiction hence a fairly contented book to go through.
21. The Sky Is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Published by Penguin Books in 2010
Lennon Walker lives a happy to go live with her sister Bailey, her grandmother, and her uncle. She never felt lost of her parents because she had her elder sister to confide in. But one day, Bailey faces a sudden death which turns everything upside down at the household. Lennon soon finds solace in Bailey’s boyfriend Toby, and the town’s new boy Joe. The Sky Is Everywhere further explored Lennon’s life as she juggles sorrow and happiness amidst family and love.
Jandy Nelson’s novel is heart-rending storytelling with absolute truth and honesty. It is the overcoming of death and the celebration of life, but that which comes with the melancholy of a portrayal that will leave a mark on the reader’s heart. The Sky Is Everywhere should definitely be on your list of the best realistic fiction books.
22. The Outsiders
Author: Susan Eloise Hinton
Published by Viking Press in 1967
The Outsiders explores the life of fourteen-year-old Ponyboy Curtis, within the span of two weeks. We see the struggles Ponyboy faces in society, a society where he considers himself an outsider, where he has difficulties in dealing with what is right and what is wrong. Money can take you anywhere, and Ponyboy has divided the world into two kinds of people; socs and greasers. Socs are short for social, are the group of people who own the money, and can get anything and everything is done. Whereas greasers are the ones who live on the outside. The Outsider is an epic tale of survival in a class-driven society.
Susan Hinton’s exploration of a society based on socioeconomic status is highly commendable. Analyzing it through the eyes of a teenager makes it all the while more interesting and intriguing to read. It is quite a short novel and a fairly easy read even for beginners. The Outsiders has a fascinating outlook to it and makes it another best realistic fiction book out there.
23. Five Feet Apart
Authors: Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis
Published by Simon & Schuster in 2018
Five Feet Apart is a heartwrenching tale of Will Newman and Stella Grant, who want to be loved but cannot. Stella’s lungs have given up on her and the only thing that can keep her on the transplant list is not catching an infection. An infection could occur by being in close proximity with Will. And hence she has to be five apart at all times. And even that seems like a punishment to them, but will love will be able to overcome all of this?
Five Feet Apart is a young adult romance novel that will provide you its fair share of laughs and cries. It is an emotional read making it a bit of a heavy read. But Five Feet Apart is a must-read best realistic fiction book that presents modern love on a whole different level.
24. The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Published by Riverhead Books in 2020
The Vanishing Half is an epic family drama tale set in from the 40s to the late 80s. It focuses on identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes who are light-skinned black. At the age of sixteen, they run away from their house, but one passes as black, and the other as white in the society. The novel takes the next generation into play and a beautiful narrative of family, choices, and the society around us is set in shape.
Brit’s novel was an immediate success causing HBO to buy the rights to turn it into a series as well. Her depiction of racism and colorism, from the side of the victim, has been an extremely heartwarming execution. It is a lengthy book, and Brit’s writing style is also not a regular way of storytelling. It doesn’t have a definite plot hence the storytelling is very free-flowing, making it difficult for average readers to stay on course.
25. My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published by Atria in 2004
My Sister’s Keeper takes place in the fictional town of Upper Darby and revolves around the life of Anna Fitzgerald and her elder sister Kate Fitzgerald. Kate suffers from AML, a blood and bone marrow cancer. Anna was born into the family itself as a savior sister so as to help Kate through donation. Through initial it succeeds, Kate develops further complications. Anna goes through her life turmoil herself and learns her own self-worth. My Sister’s Keeper is a poignant narrative of a never before explored theme.
Jodi Picoult’s novel might be a pick of a book for many readers when it comes to the best realistic fiction books. There’s a lot said and unsaid in My Sister’s Keeper through the fictional lives of the sisters. Jodi’s novel is a lengthy one but the readability stands fair owing to the lucid language.
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