7 Best Authors of Literary Realism Books

Literary realism books represent some of the most powerful words in literature. Here are some of the top examples of literary and magical realism. 

During the 19th and 20th centuries, both American and English authors furthered the development of the literary realism movement in literature. As stories about real life became more prominent in American literature, authors became more adept at using this literary tool.

Readers were craving more stories about everyday life from American writers, and the literary movement only became more powerful. As the twentieth century unfolded, it became obvious that American authors were incredibly talented at using American literary realism to communicate with their readers. 

If you are looking for some of the top authors of literary realism books, take a look at a few examples below. 

Best authors of literary realism books

1. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Without a doubt, JD Salinger is one of the best American authors of all time, and his book, The Catcher in the Rye, is a powerful example of literary realism. Readers will have an easy time relating to the childhood hero of the novel, who is only 16 years old. He lives in New York and faces circumstances more suited to adulthood. Yet, he goes on an incredibly complex adventure and relatable adventure.

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” – The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

You can pick up a copy of The Catcher in the Rye from Amazon.

2. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert is another one of the top authors of all time, and his book, Madame Bovary, is another powerful example of literary realism. This was his debut novel, and it describes the story of a character who lives far beyond her means in an effort to escape her dull, pedantic life. It was published in 1856 and attacked by public prosecutors for obscenities, but this only made it more popular.

“Everything, even herself, was now unbearable to her. She wished that, taking wing like a bird, she could fly somewhere, far away to regions of purity, and there grow young again.” – Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

You can pick up a copy of this book on Amazon.

3. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Best authors of literary realism books: Leo Tolstoy
Sass, Moscow., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most powerful examples of literary realism is Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. Some consider this to be the greatest novel of all time. It gives the reader an inside look at what contemporary life was like in Russia. As the story unfolds, there are powerful insights, memorable characters, and many vital twists and turns. The reader can relate easily to many of the characters, making the book that much more enjoyable. 

“Sometimes she did not know what she feared, what she desired: whether she feared or desired what had been or what would be, and precisely what she desired, she did not know.” – Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

You can pick up a copy for yourself on Amazon.

4. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway published numerous unforgettable novels during his storied literary career, and A Farewell to Arms is one of his greatest works. It tells the powerful story of someone serving in World War I, and many people believe it is about himself. Given the indelible mark that the two World Wars left in the first half of the 20th century, it is obvious that this is one of the most powerful examples of literary realism in all of literature.

“I know the night is not the same as the day: that all things are different, that the things of the night cannot be explained in the day, because they do not then exist, and the night can be a dreadful time for lonely people once their loneliness has started.” – A Farewell To Arms, Ernest Hemingway

You can read this book for yourself by picking it up on Amazon.

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A Farewell To Arms
  • Hemingway, Ernest (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 332 Pages - 06/01/1995 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

Further reading: Check out our article looking at Ernest Hemingway’s best novels.

5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Best authors of literary realism books: Jane Austen
James Andrews, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest works published by Jane Austen. It came out at the beginning of the literary realism movement in the Victorian era, and it has remained one of the most popular books and literature for more than 200 years. It tells the story of a heroine who gets in numerous romantic clashes as the story unfolds. It is a story of love and loss that just about everyone can relate to.

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Consider reading this book for yourself by picking it up on Amazon.

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Pride and Prejudice
  • Great product!
  • Jane Austen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 12/31/2002 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

6. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath is one of the greatest books of all time. It is also a powerful example of literary realism because it occurs during the Great Depression. It was published in 1939 and told powerful stories of the Dust Bowl migration. Yet, even though it is a powerful example of history’s impact on literature, it also has a poignant, personal touch that just about everyone can relate to.

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.” – John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

You can pick up a copy of this book for yourself on Amazon.

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The Grapes of Wrath
  • John Steinbeck
  • paperback
  • penguin
  • John Steinbeck (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

7. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most famous works by Charles Dickens. The backdrop is the French Revolution, giving people an inside look at the incredible complexities of the world during this time, particularly for the middle-class and working class. The cast of characters in this realist novel includes a flawed antihero, an ogress, and numerous others that readers can relate to. In addition, the story discusses social injustice, resurrection, anarchy, and perseverance.

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Consider reading this look for yourself by buying it on Amazon.

A Tale of Two Cities (Dover Thrift Editions: Classic Novels)
  • Charles Dickens (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 12/31/1998 (Publication Date) - Dover Publications (Publisher)

Final Word on Literary Realism Books

These are just a few of the top realist authors and real-world books from which to choose. Realistic fiction has become incredibly popular during the past couple of centuries because many people can relate to their characters. So if you are looking for a realist novel or short story about social realism, consider picking up one of the books above. 

FAQs About Literary Realism Books

What are a few other authors I should consider exploring?

If you are interested in this movement, you should consider reading works by Henry James, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kafka, and Dostoyevsky. Numerous realistic writers have left a powerful mark on the world of literature.

Are there any other books I might want to read?

You may want to check out Middlemarch, about the Civil War, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. There might also be some new books from the post-modernism movement that you might enjoy.

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