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Normal People, a realistic and heart-gripping young adult novel has won the hearts of people across generations. If you enjoyed reading it, here is a list of books like Normal People that you might enjoy.
Irish writer Sally Rooney’s second book Normal People quickly gained popularity when it was released in 2018. The novel received wide critical acclaim and became a best-seller in the US in the first year of its release. Being called a literary phenomenon of the 20th century, the novel deals with themes of love and desire along with modern difficulties faced by youth. These coming-of-age experiences of the intelligent-introverted Marianne and the all-rounder-popular Connell are beautifully written by Sally in simple prose. Normal People has been a favourite for everyone, and rightfully so. Rooney has an incredible ability to spot the intangibilities of our time and expose them in a tender way.
Here is a compiled list of amazing books that are a must-read if you enjoyed Normal People.
9 Books like Normal People by Sally Rooney
- Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
- One Day by David Nicholls
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
- Writers and Lovers by Lily King
- Call me by your name by André Aciman
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- The Idiot by Elif Batuman
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
1. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Conversations with Friends is the debut novel of Sally Rooney. Published in 2017, this novel is mainly set in Dublin. The novel follows two college students Frances and Bobbi, they are former girlfriends turned best friends. When they perform spoken-word poetry at Dublin avenue, they meet the couple, Melissa and Nick. Bobbi begins to crush on Melissa, while Frances is strongly drawn to Nick. Hence starts a complex affair.
This deeply sensual heart-wrenching novel is developed with Sally’s clever skills in writing an effective frame story. This book delves into the realistic and complicated themes of self-esteem, love, sexuality, and class. If you love reading books like Normal people and can’t get enough of Sally Rooney’s writing style, Conversations with Friends is a book for you.
2. One Day by David Nicholls
Published in 2009, this book centres around the characters Dexter and Emma, two people who find it difficult to admit their love for one another. A lesser-known novel, One Day brings out the themes of loneliness and discontent. The protagonist’s self-acceptance journey shows the power love can have.
Terribly flawed Dexter and Emma may be but their intentions are genuine, just like everyone they are trying to find the right place in life. Their relationship will captivate you. This book is sure to appeal to a person who likes reading realistic contemporary love stories and is searching for books like Normal people.
3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is an absolute fan favourite when it comes to YA fiction novels. In the novel, we learn the story of two little odd birds. Eleanor, fire redhead and awkwardly dressed. Park, a weird and silent Asian. The two little school-going misfits slowly get to know each other during their daily bus ride to school. A relationship that starts from an annoyed greeting insult blossoms into incomprehensible unconditional love. This book is incredibly touching in its simplistic storytelling.
Rainbow Rowell’s ability to capture the anxieties, fear, obsession and true devotion a teenager feels towards life is why this book is well-worth reading if you’re in search of books similar to Normal People.
4. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is one of the most highly regarded writers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Norwegian Wood, a 1987 Japanese novel appealed to readers worldwide. It’s through the themes of alienation, surrealism, nostalgia, and pain that Murakami masters the subtle nuances of life. Norwegian Wood is a story about Toru Watanabe who mourns the loss of his high school friend, Kizuki. Traumatized by the loss, Toru finds himself falling in love with Kizuki’s girlfriend, who herself feels so tortured and traumatized by the instances in her life that she struggles to have a stable relationship with Toru.
Toru and Naoko’s existentialism may feel very depressing at times but the novel’s poetic and mysterious narrative will hold you in and never let you forget the feeling of reading the story for the first time. There are few literary works that can match the genius of this one and if you want to read books like Normal people, Norwegian Wood is a no-brainer.
5. Writers and Lovers by Lily King
The fifth novel by the American author, Lily King, Writers and Lovers is a recent release. Published in 2020, the novel explores the story of an aspiring writer Casey Peabody. Now in her 30s, she feels uninspired by life and struggles to begin writing a novel.
While recovering from the loss of her mother, she is accepted to a writing residency. She meets a man, falls in love, and discovers unexpected secrets. As life goes for many, we see Casey navigate her way through her career and relationships. The book is filled with passion, desire, and grief. If you’re searching for similar books like Normal People, Writers, and Lovers’ realistic representation of the hardships truly lives up to those expectations.
6. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age romance masterpiece published in 2007. The book has been well received since its inception but it especially gained more attention after the Academy Award-winning film adaptation of the same title. This young adult fiction follows the summer romance between Elio, an Italian-Jewish teenage boy, and Oliver, an American-Jewish Grad student in his early 20s.
The novel presents an honest account of love and desire from Elio’s point of view and reminds the reader of how strong the emotions are. André Aciman through his powerful narrative creates a nuanced and heart-wrenching story. Call Me By Your Name has a universality because the readers are reminded of their own journey of falling in love. You cannot go wrong with this choice if you are on the lookout for romance books like Normal people. It is truly a must-read.
7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this fictional tale, Iconic Hollywood actress Evelyn Hugo is in her later 70s. After living a life of glamour and public scrutiny, Evelyn finally decides to tell her own truth of marrying 7 men in her lifetime. She does so by choosing an unpopular magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job. Monique herself is not in the best place, her husband has left and her professional life hasn’t gone to her plan.
Monique enters the Luxurious yet intoxicating home of Evelyn and learns much about the actress’ untold truth about life, partners, career, and love. Themes like loss, betrayal, and sacrifice marked by Evelyn’s relationships are reminiscent of books like Normal people. Said to be loosely based on the lives of legendary actresses like Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will not disappoint.
8. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Selin is a freshman at Harvard and the daughter of Turkish immigrants. Set in 1995, e-mail is a new technology through which Elevelyn by accident meets Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. She also befriends her Serbian classmate Svetlana. Her correspondence with Ivan and the experiences she has while travelling to Hungary and Paris, at the end of her school year open up a new world for Selin.
Everything previously in Selin’s typical American life had been unlike all this, this journey is not only about self-discovering but reinventing oneself. As you walk through this novel’s multi-spatial setting, it will make you reflect deeply on the unguarded affronts and beauty of youth. Similar to books like Normal People, this Pulitzer prize finalist, The Idiot will change your perspective on life.
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about a young boy named Charlie, he is shy and introverted, usually acting like an actual wallflower just observing people from afar. Though this is not a story that centres around a relationship or for that matter, love as a central theme, it shows Charlie coping with a recent loss and deeply hidden childhood traumas. Though he suffers from mental health issues, he is still a ‘normal’ boy looking for a sense of belonging.
Stephen Chbosky’s choice of optimism is evident. He brings understanding and caring people into Charlie’s life. It teaches us that people are more like you than they seem. Charlie finds that in Patrick and Sam, who helps him discover the happiness of friendship, music, and first love. In this coming-of-age one can’t help but feel protective towards Charlie just as we felt for Marianne and Connell in a book like Normal People. Forever wishing nothing ever harms their pure soul again.
Also Check Out: Books like I’m Thinking of Ending Things
The following books were not a part of the list but are great options if you’re looking for more books similar to Normal People.
- The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
- Tender by Belinda Mckeon
- Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery
- Sorry for Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley