15 Relatable and Engaging Novels You’ll Enjoy Reading from Start to Finish

Posted on September 16, 2019

by April S

Welcome to our appeal series.

We’re highlighting a variety of books to help our readers find something “good” to read. And yes, “good” is a relative term, which is why this series includes a variety of selections with a wide range of appeal.

Each post in this series highlights books that share similar appeal (or story elements) like genre, storyline, tone, writing style and/or characters. The selections in this blog post include fiction novels that are relatable (characters) and engaging (writing style).

What does that mean exactly?

Appeal Defined

Relatable Characters

Because their emotions and experiences are recognizable, readers are able to identify with these characters and their dilemmas. ~ Novelist

Engaging Writing Style

These books capture the imagination of readers through narrative style, character, or use of detail. ~ Novelist

15 Enjoyable Reads

1. The Summer of Sunshine & Margot by Susan Mallery

Descended from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love, twin sisters Margot and Sunshine transform their controversial relationships with a client’s son and an employer into unexpected sources of happiness.

  • Genre: Romantic Fiction
  • Pace: Fast-Paced
  • Tone: Atmospheric and Romantic

2. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Nina Hill enjoys living quietly with a job at a bookstore and her small circle of friends, until a brand-new family, as well as a persistent suitor, enter her life and change everything.

  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Romance
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: Sardonic

3. Miss You by Kate Eberlen

A chance meeting fails to bring the 18-year-old Tess and Gus the love with each other that they deserve, and they wind through lives that bring surprises and divert them from their intended paths, but will they get a second chance at love together?

  • Genre: Love Stories
  • Tone: Bittersweet
  • Subject: Life Change Events

4. Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Returning to her hometown in the hopes of reconciling with her estranged family, a woman who recently survived a brush with death makes discoveries with the potential to heal the rift or permanently separate her from her surviving relatives.

  • Genre: Romance
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: High-Drama and Romantic
  • Themes: Bouncing Back and Life in a Small Town

5. The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore

The late-in-life marriage of two infamous natives of an Indiana community attracts the return of a famous guitar bluesman while compelling numerous locals to resolve long-standing disputes.

  • Genre: Fiction
  • Storyline: Own Voices
  • Tone: High-Drama

6. The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker

When a moment’s hesitation unravels all of her carefully organized life goals, grad student Hannah impulsively accepts a job in Sonoma, where new friends and an unexpected romance shape her efforts to save a family winery.

  • Genre: Romance
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: High Drama
  • Theme: Go Your Own Way

7. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

An ode to kindness, sacrifice, and the power of small things traces the experiences of adventurous Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they embark on a road trip across Japan to visit three old friends.

  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: Heartwarming

8. Extraordinary Adventures by Daniel Wallace

Edsel Bronfman, a single man with a dead-end job who lives in a seedy neighborhood with his spirited mother, wins a couples-only vacation and is given only seventy-nine days to find someone to take with him.

  • Genre: Romantic Comedies
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: Amusing, Romantic and Upbeat

9. Chemistry by Weike Wang

A novel about a young Chinese woman whose graduate studies in chemistry go off track and lead her to discover the truths about her goals and desires.

  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Storyline: Character-Driven and Own Voices
  • Tone: High Drama and Moving

10. Fight No More : Stories by Lydia Millet

A collection of 12 interlocking stories is set in Los Angeles and describes a broken family through the homes they inhabit, their estranged relationships and the victimization they endure at the hands of corrupt employers.

  • Genre: Farcical / Literary Fiction
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: Hopeful

11. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Sarah thinks she has met the love her life in Eddie–until he disappears after leaving for a long-booked vacation.

  • Genre: Romance / Mystery
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: Romantic and Suspenseful

12. The Editor by Steven Rowley

A struggling writer in 1990s New York City gets his big break from none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

  • Genre: Mainstream Fiction
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Tone: Sardonic and Whimsical

13. Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela

The first story collection from the New York Times Notable author since winning the Caine Prize offers a rich tableau of life as an immigrant abroad, attempting to navigate the conflicts of assimilation and difference in an unfamiliar world.

  • Genre: Literary Fiction / Short Stories
  • Storyline: Character-Driven
  • Subject: Cultural Differences

14. Tomorrow There Will Be Sun by Dana Reinhardt

Organizing a group birthday vacation in Mexico for her loved ones, Jenna is dismayed when her friends’ personalities change, her husband begins making clandestine calls and her teen daughter bonds with a local delinquent.

  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Storyline: Intricately Plotted
  • Tone:
  • Writing Style: Witty

15. Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein

From the author of Playing with Matches, the rollicking tale of a young jewelry shop owner who accidentally leads her Instagram followers to believe that she’s engaged—and then decides to keep up the ruse.

  • Genre: Romantic Comedies
  • Storyline: Plot-Driven
  • Tone: Funny, High-Drama and Offbeat
  • Writing Style: Witty

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