Magical realism is one of my favorite book genres because it seamlessly weaves magic into every day life. Some people call this genre fantasy-light. When we were looking though our list of fantasy books, we were more than a little bit surprised at how many books fit into our magical realism book list.
What is magical realism? Well, in this list, you will not find faeries or vampires, hidden magic schools, or new worlds. The magic is woven into the story so realistically, that it leaves you wondering could it happen? Did it happen that way? What you will find, is a list of books that we have read and loved.
Our list of magical realism books will also not have ghosts or time travel either because those will be coming soon as completely separate lists! Interestingly, we found that our list of magical realism includes many books that are literary fiction as well. As far as I know, there are no fantasy books that are literary fiction.
Looking for more Fantasy Fiction? Check out our Ultimate List of YA Fantasy!
This post fulfills a prompt for the 2023 reading challenge! It’s not too late to join!
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Our Favorite Magical Realism Books
Rebecca Serle has done it again with this book. Katy’s mother, Carol, has died and left Katy to take their trip to Positano alone. When Katy leaves she is uncertain about everything and whether she will retun to her marriage.
Then, the impossible happens, Carol appears at Katy’s hotel. She is in perfect health and thirty years old. She is not the woman Katy thought she new. As she gets to know her mother, she realizes more about herself. Beautifully written and a must read.
For the record, I read this book BEFORE Oprah picked it! We spent a semester learning about this book my Senior Year. Each person was assigned a symbol to report on throughout the book each week.
Mine was goldfish -part of the symbolism of amnesia and the duality between amnesia and nostalgia. Yep. I still remember the lesson.
This is my favorite magical realism book EVER. I had not heard of it but, it was recommended to me from a few people. The story sounded great and the cover was so beautiful that I could not resist. I absolutely loved this book. The story has just a touch of magic but somehow seems to relevant.
Linus baker works as a caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is sent on a mission to a secret orphanage where 6 of the world’s most dangerous youth live. This story was so much more than the sum of it’s parts. It was my favorite book of 2020.
Where do I start? I love this book so much. The prose are beautiful, the story is so clever and the audio narration from Julia Whelan is perfect.
Addie LaRue is trying to escape a life of marriage to a man she doesn’t know or love. She makes a deal with the devil to live a life free and unknowingly gives away the ability to be remembered by anyone.
For three hundred years people forget her the minute she is out of sight until she meets Henry. I loved this book from the first sentence. It’s a total must-read.
As audiobooks go, this book is the best one I have ever listened to. This book is also one of my favorite books of all time. It is narrated by “music” who is telling the story of a magician named Frankie Presto.
There are multiple people who narrate this book and it is more like a play. I could listen to this book over and over. I loved this book and bought a copy which I lent to an unnamed person who loved it and did not return it. My second copy has met the same fate. Third time’s a charm?
Literary Fiction Books with Magical Realism
When a boat sinks in the Pacific, the only survivors are a 16 year old boy named Pi, an orangutan, a hyena, a Bengal tiger and a zebra. And while this book was written less than 20 years ago, it is already a modern classic.
This is not a book that once read can be forgotten. I know that some people look at the story as an extended metaphor in which each animal represents a person but personally, I like the book exactly the way it was written. There is magic in the pages of this book in all meanings of the word.
This is a book that is narrated by Death. He tells the story of Liesel, a young girl in Nazi Germany in 1939. Liesel is living with her foster parents an learning to read from stolen books.
She also shares these books with the Jewish man who is hiding in her basement. This book is brilliant, powerful, poignant and unforgettable. while technically a YA book, this book is literary fiction at its finest.
I have so many thoughts about Exit West by Mohsin Hamid but, I am not sure how to express them all. I am not even sure that I can express them coherently. This is an amazingly written literary fiction with magical realism.
This is not a long book but it doesn’t need to be to make a profound statement about the world that we live in. Part love story, part melancholy of a war-torn world, and part magical realism, this story will carry the reader through a rainbow of emotions before the end.
HOW HAVE I NEVER READ TONI MORRISON BEFORE? I swear I thought I had read this book, but after reading The Toni Morrison Book Club, I realized I hadn’t. When my library hold finally came up for this one, I realized it would fit the February prompt for the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, so I jumped right into it. Morrison is easily one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever read. Beloved haunted me while I was reading it. I can’t wait to read more of her work.
Celebrity Book Club Picks with Magical Realism
When I started this book, I was unsure how I felt about the writing. The prose is lyrical and poetic but I wasn’t sure where the story was going.
I felt it winding a lot rather than developing. As the story progressed, I became invested in Hiram and wanted to see where the story went. The element of magic reminded me a little bit of the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Have you read this book? What did you think?
June 2021 GMA Book Club Pick
Wow. I’m still processing this genre-defying novel. It’s a social commentary and a thriller all in one. It makes me want to sit down and discuss it with everyone.
Nella is the only black girl at her publishing house until Hazel is hired. Thinking she’s found an ally, instead, she begins to wonder if Hazel might be an enemy instead.
As Hazel’s career soars, Nella is left questioning her identity, her ideals, and what it means to be a black woman in the business world, while trying to uncover who is behind the scary notes she keeps receiving.
I usually love her picks and this was no exception. I’ve seen many mixed reviews on this one, but for me, it was a reflective read about what is means to be loved, and the memories that scents hold. And with a touch of magic, this book hit the mark.
The premise of a little girl, Emmeline, growing up on an isolated island learning about scents had me picking up the book, but the hard-life lessons she learned along the way kept me flipping the pages.
Magical Realism Books with Family Drama
What would you do if you knew the day that you were going to die? Would want to know? The four Gold children find out the information that will shape their lives.
Beautifully written, the Immortalists follows Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya through their lives. Ms. Benjamin does a superb job of creating different voices for each of these characters. They are so vivid and unique. The book is un-putdownable and stays with you long after you have finished reading the last page.
If you want to host an Immortalists book club, we have a post that will help you make it spectacular.
Who else loves book recs from indie booksellers? I was so happy to get a recommendation for this family drama by Kevin Wilson from Main Point Books in Wayne. They promised that it is well written, funny and is a perfect “feel good” book. I was not disappointed at all. I loved this book so much, that it made our list of top books for 2019!
The story is about a woman who becomes a nanny for two children who start on fire when they get mad. There is wonderful humor in this book that is centered around strong and beautiful relationships. It is such a well-written and wonderful book I cannot recommend it highly enough.
This masterful work by Kate Atkinson is family drama, historical fiction and magical realism all rolled into one fantastic book.
Ursula Todd is born one night in 1910 and dies before taking her first breath. She is born again on the same snowy night in 1910 as so the story continues. Ursula lives her lives over and over hoping that she can get it right and change her story.
Romance Books with Magical Realism
Oh, how I loved this book. . What could be better than a love story set in a Paris tea shop with a little magical realism sprinkled on top? This is not a complicated or unexpected story. But what it is, is delightful, fun and lighthearted.
Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s future in tea leaves and spent her entire life fighting it. She also knows that this “gift” will stand in the way of having a successful relationship because she cannot stop blurting out truths whether she wants to or not.
When Vanessa’s aunt offers to bring her to Paris to hone in on her skills and get her life in order, Vanessa goes. As she finally gets to experience Paris, she wonders if she can change her destiny as well.
Do you love Christmas movies? Are you obsessed with Romance books? Do you need to swoon? If you answered yes to any of those questions, stop everything and order In a Holidaze. This is possibly my favorite Christmas novel of all time.
I adored Mae and Andrew’s love story. It’s set up like Groundhog’s Day with Mae repeating the same Christmas vacation until she gets it right. And man… does she get it right. Peppermint Kisses, Sexy Sledding, Snowball Fights, Christmas Tree trimming… this book is oozing with cheer-filled holiday goodness with a few scenes that are steamier than a cup of cocoa.
Tom has a rare condition that makes him age very slowly. Although he looks like he is in his 40’s, he is actually centuries old. What do you do with unlimited time?
I love that the story doesn’t glamorize long life but, portrays it as simultaneously poignant and beautiful. Tom is moving through life mourning the loss of his true love who died hundreds of years ago. The story follows Tom back and forth between the present as he searches to find his purpose. However, the book isn’t “heavy”- I couldn’t put it down! It’s an historical fiction but fantastical twist.
This book is a magical love story that is reminiscent of Charlotte’s Web for grown-ups. I could not put it down.
Weylyn Grey was orphaned and raised by wolves and this is not the only way that he is not like other people. He has a connection to animals and nature that manifests itself when he least expects it. Unlike any book that I have read, this book with a touch of magical realism makes it all the more special.
Magical Realism Books about Books
This book was totally not what I was expecting. There was a lot more mystery and action than I thought. The characters developed and changed and the story moved quickly.
This was a really light and enjoyable read. When Clay takes a job in a bookstore, he thinks he will be selling books. He doesn’t realize that the “wayback’ of the store is more like a library to an elite group of readers.
Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore is exactly the type of store that you will never want to leave. Who doesn’t love books about books? And when you add a touch of magic, it is a perfect combo.
This is a library that has books filled with the infinite possibilities of the lives not lived. Have you ever wondered about a choice, or a path not taken? When Nora finds herself in the library she is forced to face the choices that she made in her life- relationships, education, profession…This is a magical book and I loved every minute of it
To say that I was excited about Erin Morgenstern‘s new book might be the understatement of the year. How to describe this book that is an ode to storytelling…..it’s a love story to books, a fantasy within a love story within a fairy tale.
The writing is beautiful- Erin’s signature style of vivid imagery left me completely captivated. I listened with Libro.fm and I read it as well. I truly loved every minute of this book. It was pointless to predict the story. So, I let it take me away with the lyrical prose. I adored it and recommend it for anyone that loved The Night Circus.
Award Winning Books with Magical Realism
I absolutely loved this book and it was one of the first reviews we ever did on the blog. I love the way this book examined the underground railroad with a touch of magical realism.
The story is about Cora and Caesar, two run-away slaves in the south who run away to the underground railroad which, in this book, is an actual railroad.
Each stop along the way is reminiscent of a different place in history and it is interlaced with actual ads placed for runaway slaves. This book is profound and beautiful and a must read.
This book is an award winner and the writing is undeniably wonderful. The story itself has elements of magic that added to the difficult subject matter. The story deals with drugs, violence, and poverty- all of which are completely relevant in today’s society.
While the characters did not develop throughout the story as much as I would have liked but, when added with the wonderful writing, this book is a worthwhile read.
I listened to this book and it was unreal. I want my son to read this so badly but, I also want him to listen to it as well. It is a story about music. The audio version plays to music so it is a full sensory experience.
The story follows a harmonica as it lands in the hands of Freidrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania and Ivy in California. Part fairy tale and part historical fiction, this book is amazing for middle grade and adults alike.
Magical Realism in Short Stories
I listened to this one while doing the laundry the other night, it’s only an hour long but I really rather liked it! I liked it so much that I was frustrated that it wasn’t a full-blown novel. That’s my problem with short stories. They are never satisfying enough! This one revolved around a man who aged in reversed – born as a 70-year-old and ending his life as a newborn.
This short story collection is utterly captivating. Te-Ping Chen vividly showcases life in China and its nuances, political and otherwise. Some stories are straight fiction while others have a touch of magical realism. My favorite involves a new fruit that inspires strong emotions in the eater.
Each story is engaging and could lead into a book of its own. It’s a wonderful debut from a writer known for her work as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
Thanks to Libro. Fm and Riverhead books for my review copy. All opinions are my own. This collection of short stories was a thought-provoking delight.
The titular novella was my favorite of the bunch. It gave me chills and had me thinking it was over much too soon.
Historical Fiction Books with Magical Realism
I’ve never read a book quite like this and I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. The writing is subtle, the plot is driven by character and intrigue rather than action-packed suspense. It has a feel of historical fiction about it that lovers of this genre may love this book as well.
When January is seven years old, she stumbles upon a door that leads her to a different place. When she is reprimanded for lying about the door, she eventually forgets about it until she finds the book “The Ten Thousand Doors of January” years later. January becomes intrigued and the real story begins.
The story alternates between the story of January and the book. The concept is such a fun way to narrate the plot. At times, the plot moved a little bit slowly as one storyline stopped and another began in the alternating chapters. This is such a unique and wonderful book.
Diane Setterfield has been a must-read author for me since I first read The Thirteenth Tale. Her latest was just as captivating, with a bit of magic and mystery mixed in.
When an almost drowned child is found in the river, three separate families lay claim to her. This story is filled with drama, love, and loss. The story is compelling, but the writing is spectacular.
This historical fiction is also a story of love and betrayal. When Nella arrives at her new home with her new husband, he presents her with a cabinet-sized replica of their home.
He also introduces her to the miniaturist who gives her the freedom to decorate however she wants with extraordinary tiny creations that are so much like their real-world counterparts.