Best 2024 Contemporary & Literary Fiction Books

If you’re looking for this year’s lineup of new realistic fiction releases, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve put together a list of the most popular and highest-rated 2024 literary fiction and contemporary fiction novels. From new books by bestselling authors like Laurie Frankel, to award-winning authors and debut authors alike, there’s an eclectic mix of wonderful books to choose from.

2024 literary fiction and contemporary fiction book covers

Must-Read Literary & Contemporary Fiction Novels of 2024

While the magic and world-building of speculative fiction definitely has its place, sometimes I’m in the mood for more realistic fiction. That’s where contemporary fiction and literary fiction come in!

Often, these genres are more character-driven, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as compelling.

One of my favorite things about realistic fiction is the parallels it can draw to the details, thoughts, and feelings you’ve experienced in your own life. And, like all fiction, it allows you to live or experience lives you never could (or would) in the real world.

Whether you’re looking for a light-hearted, funny contemporary novel or a nuanced and emotional literary fiction book (or a combination of both), you’ll find something perfect in the list below!

You might also enjoy these must-read 2024 book club books and my most-anticipated 2024 fiction books (all genres). And don’t miss these exciting new summer 2024 fiction reads, either!

Mercury by Amy Jo Burns

Mercury book cover

Genre: Literary Fiction/Romance

This literary fiction novel follows a blue-collar family – including three brothers – with a roofing business in Pennsylvania in the 1990s.

Marley West is new in town, a young woman looking for somewhere to call home. Soon, she falls in love with one of the brothers, and becomes a mother figure to them all.

Years later, something is found in the town church that opens old wounds and threatens to upend the family.

Publication date: January 2nd, 2024

Poor Deer by Claire Oshetsky

Poor Deer book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction

An imaginative young girl, affected by the death of her friend, deals with the tragedy in the only way she knows how: by inventing strange tales, including a creature whom she calls ‘Poor Deer’.

Poor Deer offers the girl a way to get rid of her guilt, once and for all. But can the creature be trusted?

Publication date: January 9th, 2024

Family Family by Laurie Frankel

Family Family book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction

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TV star India Allwood is hired for a new film that centers around adoption. But as an adoptive mother herself, she’s tired of seeing the same tragic story – devoid of joy – told again and again.

Her honesty with the press gets her in hot water, sending the paparazzi and protesters alike into a frenzy.

Her only choice is to call in her own family for help – and that’s when things get even more complicated.

Publication date: January 23rd, 2024

Prima Facie by Suzie Miller

Prima Facie book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

This novel is based on the Tony award-winning play of the same name, written by the same author.

It’s about a female criminal defense lawyer who loves the law – until it lets her down after she’s the victim of a terrible assault.

She fights back, determined to get justice in court. But soon, she comes to find that the legal system is not built for victims, and she ends up being the one on trial instead.

Publication date: January 30th, 2024 (U.S.)

2024 contemporary fiction and literary fiction book covers

Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

Come and Get It book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction

From the bestselling author of Such a Fun Age comes a new novel about an ambitious young woman named Millie, a senior at the University of Arkansas.

A visiting professor offers her a strange, yet perfect, opportunity. But it turns out her new side hustle may not be quite as easy as it seems – especially with the chaos of her college lifestyle.

Publication date: January 30th, 2024

Good Material by Dolly Alderton

Good Material book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor/Literary Fiction

This story is about a young man named Andy – who hasn’t quite grown up – as he grapples with heartbreak.

He believes that if he can figure out why his relationship ended in disaster, he can get his life back on track.

As with every Dolly book I’ve read, I laughed out loud multiple times! Don’t go into this expecting a high-octane plot – it’s more of a character study that’s especially perfect for those in their 30s (but can definitely be enjoyed by other generations, too).

While Andy could be slightly insufferable at times (which I think was sort of the point), the story as a whole was quietly absorbing and hilarious.

(I read an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. My opinions are my own.)

Publication date: January 30th, 2024 (in the U.S.)

Interesting Facts About Space by Emily R. Austin

Interesting Facts About Space book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor/Romance

This quirky contemporary romance follows a space-obsessed, true crime-loving, serial-dating queer woman who’s trying to reconnect with her family.

But soon, she starts to believe someone is following her – which makes her wonder if maybe there’s something wrong with her.

Publication date: January 30th, 2024

Green Dot by Madeleine Gray

Green Dot book cover

Genre: Contemporary/Literary Fiction/Romance

This novel is about a young woman in her early twenties who meets an older man at work, which leads to an affair (don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler!).

While affairs obviously aren’t something to condone in real life, as a work of fiction it was absorbing to read about.

This is a very character-driven novel. The main character, Hera, makes some very unfortunate choices, but a lot of her commentary was hilarious and generationally spot-on.

Reading this, I was cringing and laughing in equal measure. While some parts were tough to read (due to the subject matter), I loved the insight into Australian culture and enjoyed the coming-of-age journey.

If you can still enjoy a story despite morally grey (or worse) – yet fully-formed – characters, check out this book!

(I read an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. My opinions are my own.)

Publication date: February 27th, 2024 (in the U.S.)

Piglet by Lottie Hazell

Piglet book cover

Genre: Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Piglet – a young woman and cookbook editor living in London – is engaged to be married, and happy. But two weeks before the wedding, Kit confesses something to Piglet that sends her spiraling.

Suddenly, she’s ravenous, her complicated relationship with food out of her control.

As her wedding looms closer, Piglet must decide what she will do and what kind of future she wants.

Publication date: February 27th, 2024

Fruit of the Dead by Rachel Lyon

Fruit of the Dead book cover

Genre: Literary Fiction

This is a unique and engrossing literary fiction story that’s inspired by the myth of Persephone and Demeter (her mother) – but set in the real world.

A young woman – fresh out of high school – is dazzled by a rich older man, who invites her to his private island to care for his children as their new nanny. She leaves without telling her mom (who later sets off to find her missing daughter, despite not knowing where she went).

I really enjoyed this. You have this underlying sense of dread the whole time while reading it, but you also can’t help but get sucked in the lush descriptions of the island, the mansion, and the elaborate parties.

It does focus on character more than plot, but I recommend it if you enjoy character-driven stories!

(I read an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. My opinions are my own.)

Publication date: March 5th, 2024

Women of Good Fortune by Sophie Wan

Women of Good Fortune book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

When Lulu gets the proposal of a lifetime from Shanghai’s most eligible bachelor, she feels forced to say yes – despite her reluctance. Her family is in financial trouble, and marriage (and the money that comes with it) may be their only chance to stay afloat.

Sick of not having control over their lives, Lulu and her two best friends hatch a plan to steal the gift money on the big day. But the heist won’t be as simple as it sounds – especially when relationships get complicated.

Publication date: March 5th, 2024

Worry by Alexandra Tanner

Worry book cover

Genre: Contemporary/Literary Fiction

This literary fiction novel follows the neurotic, ever-changing relationship between two quirky sisters – a relationship that’s tested when they decide to live together in Brooklyn.

Naturally, chaos ensues, as both sisters reckon with their dissatisfactions and what they want for their own futures – either together, or apart.

Publication: March 26th, 2024

Real Americans by Rachel Khong

Real Americans book cover

Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction

From the award-winning author of Goodbye, Vitamin comes a multi-generational story about fate, identity, family, and choosing your own path.

The story follows a teenage, Chinese-American boy living on an island in Washington state with his single mother. But when he decides to look into the identity of his biological father, he might not be ready for all the questions it uncovers.

Reading this novel for a book club? Here are book club questions for Real Americans to help fuel your discussion, plus a quick recap of the story!

Publication date: April 30th, 2024

I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue

I Hope This Finds You Well book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor/Romance

When a woman’s venting about her office mates goes awry, she’s put on probation by her company. But somehow, instead of limiting her email use, she’s given access to the entire office’s private emails and direct messages.

She decides to use this information to save her job, especially when she finds out layoffs are coming. But as she learns more about her coworkers’ complex personal lives, she reconsiders what she wants her own life to look like.

Publication date: May 21st, 2024

Margo’s Got Money Troubles by Rufi Thorpe

Margos Got Money Troubles book cover

Genre: Literary/Contemporary Fiction

This humorous story follows a young woman as she grapples with adulthood, becoming a new (single) mother, and keeping herself afloat financially.

At twenty, she’s alone with a baby, doesn’t have a job, and is about to be evicted. Out of desperation, she starts an OnlyFans account, and it actually takes off. But will her success last, or is her newfound online fame too good to be true?

Publication date: June 11th, 2024

The Wedding People by Alison Espach

The Wedding People book cover

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

After years dreaming of traveling to the Cornwall Inn in Newport, Rhode Island, Phoebe Stone arrives – but without her husband. And as it turns out, she’s the only guest that isn’t there for a wedding.

Somehow, she and the bride find themselves confiding in each other. Soon, Phoebe realizes that chance encounters can have a huge effect on the paths our lives take.

This has been getting rave reviews, and will likely be a popular summer read! It would also be a fabulous 2024 book club book.

Publication date: July 30th, 2024

Which 2024 literary fiction or contemporary fiction release are you most looking forward to this year?

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