30 Non-YA Books I Want to Read (Including Adult Fiction, Classics, and Non-Fiction!)

A moment of silence for YA…

Just kidding! I probably will never stop reading YA, BUT I’ve been wanting to branch out of it for a while now. So I finally took the plunge and made a list of adult fiction, classic, and non-fiction books I want to read! I was already excited to read these beforehand (though also a bit intimidated), but making the list made me a lot more excited somehow!!

I definitely will not be reading all of these by the end of the year, but I want to start reading at least one book from this post every month! Hopefully it’s not just one book, because one book a month would take over 2 years and… I don’t have the patience for that.

Click for BLM resources. I’d like to bring special attention to the Portland bail fund because of the way the government and police are responding to protesters right now.

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ADULT FICTION

I have a lot more adult books on my TBR, mostly in SFF, but these are my top 5 SFF and top 5 general/literary picks!

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)  The Starless Sea  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance, #1)  The Ten Thousand Doors of January  A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)

  • The Fifth Season: I’ve been meaning to finishing this one for so long!! I’m finally reading it again in August because my friend Breana picked it for her book club, but what I’ve read was so great and I’m excited to finally finish it.
  • The Starless Sea: Ah yes… another book I put down and never finished. The writing is slow to get through, but absolutely gorgeous, and I am 99% sure this will be a new favorite!! Books and gays, my two favorite things in the world.
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Another NK Jemisin! I feel like she could definitely be a new favorite author. But this one features gods, ancient magic, and a power struggle, and it all sounds very exciting!
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January: I lowkey want to own a physical copy of this, since it’s so gorgeous? But I know so many people who have fallen in love with this story and its writing and I can’t wait to join them!!
  • A Memory Called Empire: I’m very bad at reading sci-fi, but this one is a political space opera with court intrigue and a f/f romance! Quite a few of my trusted reviewers rated this super highly, so I am really really excited to read it.

Little Fires Everywhere  My Dark Vanessa  Homegoing  The Vanishing Half  Pachinko

  • Little Fires Everywhere: Oh god, this is the third book I never finished reading, look AWAY!! It took me like 90 minutes to read 60 pages which is terribly slow for me, but what I read was intriguing and I’m excited to see where it goes!
  • My Dark Vanessa: This one will definitely be a disturbing, hard-hitting book, as it highlights the relationship between a 15yo and 42yo. So I don’t know when I’ll be in the headspace for it, but I think it’s going to be a very powerful read.
  • Homegoing: I have only heard glowing things about this book, and it sounds amazing! It follows two the paths and descendants of two sisters from Ghana, as one marries an Englishman and the other is sold into the slave trade.
  • The Vanishing Half: So I solely know this book as the “book with the cover with a lot of colors and two outlined figures,” but it also is apparently actually about two sisters who live different lives, as one Black person and one white(-passing) person!
  • Pachinko: I feel like this book is pretty well-known! But if you don’t know it, it follows multiple generations of a family who leaves Korea after it has been colonized by Japan, and what it means to be Korean-Japanese during this time.

The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire, #1)  Bestiary

Bonus: The Bone Shard Daughter and Bestiary, which are both releasing later this year! F/f Asian-inspired fantasy for fans of The Poppy War, and literary fiction following the generations and migration of queer Taiwanese women, yes please.

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CLASSICS

I’m terrified to read classics, because I know I’ll have a hard time with the way they’re written. But I’m willing to try, and I think they’ll be a great way to enrich my reading!! I also tried to make a diverse selection instead of just white cishet male authors—I’m very open to more diverse classic recs, especially Asian classics!

Pride and Prejudice  The Well of Loneliness  The Bluest Eye  Song of Solomon  Rebecca

  • Pride and Prejudice: This is like the One Classic everyone adores, so I want to see what the hype is about! I read an abridged kids’ version when I was younger, and I thought it was interesting. So I have very high hopes for this one!
  • The Well of Loneliness: This is a famous lesbian classic, and it was also banned for “obscenity” so I would like to see how truly “obscene” it is! (I am betting: not at all, beyond being—gasp—a romance between two women.)
  • The Bluest Eye: I am so sad that I haven’t read any Toni Morrison so I’m of course amending that! This one is going to be a very hard-hitting read for me, as it discusses beauty and how a Black girl wants to be as white as she can be to fit in.
  • Song of Solomon: This is another Toni Morrison book because why would I not want to read more from her! It’s a coming of age story that features “a cast of liars and assassins” and.. I know I shouldn’t love it already for that but I do.
  • Rebecca: I first heard of this when Victoria Lee named it as one of their favorite books for this post (and… I did not include it), and then I just kept seeing it everywhere? So obviously that’s a sign! And it looks very intriguing: a gothic, romancey thriller!!

Maurice  The Color Purple  Orlando  Giovanni's Room  The Picture of Dorian Gray

  • Maurice: Elle once just slid into my DMs to tell me to read this, so I must listen! It is a gay classic that was actually written in 1914 but wasn’t published until after the author’s death (because of The Homophobes), and I’m really really excited for it.
  • The Color Purple: I feel like everyone knows about this book? So I am ashamed to not have read it yet! But it’s told in letters and is about African American women (including two sisters), race, gender, and resilience.
  • Orlando: I really want to read from Virginia Woolf, and this one interested me because Orlando, the protagonist, is supposed to be the fictional embodiment of Woolf’s lover, Vita Sackville-West, which I think is so cool!!
  • Giovanni’s Room: I definitely want to read lots of James Baldwin’s works, but this one particularly caught my eye! It is another classic of gay literature, and it follows an American man in Paris as he discovers his sexuality.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray: This is another classic I see talked about quite a bit, and as of 6 seconds ago, I actually had no idea what it was about! But it follows a man who sells his soul for eternal youth and… this sounds exactly up my alley. (I always forget that classics can be fantasy.)

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NON-FICTION

I have read very few non-fiction books, which is very saddening! I’ve always been a read for enjoyment and escapism type reader, and I read simply because I love to. But if I can educate myself and learn things through this hobby, I think it’s also important that I actually do that and utilize the many books at my disposal.

All Boys Aren't Blue  Are Prisons Obsolete?  Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls  The Rape of Nanking  Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

  • All Boys Aren’t Blue: This one is actually YA, so perhaps I’m cheating a bit, but it’s an essay collection/memoir about what it was like to grow up Black and gay, as well as covering topics like Black joy, gender identity, and toxic masculinity.
  • Angela Davis works: I’m in the middle of reading Are Prisons Obsolete? right now (which is fantastic!) but I know all of Angela Davis’ works are must-reads. So I’m very much looking forward to getting to all of them and encourage you to read them too!
  • Long Live the Fatherless Tribe of Girls: I’m really excited about this one! It’s a memoir by a Chinese-Hawaiian lesbian, discussing topics like trauma, privilege, and family, and it’s supposed to have really gorgeous writing.
  • The Rape of Nanking: I’m particularly interested in this one after RF Kuang talked about reading it for The Poppy War. While it’s going to be heavy, as it covers the Nanking Massacre, I think it’s going to be a well-written and important book!
  • Hood Feminism: This is an essay collection that discusses feminism, emphasizing the need for intersectionality within the movement and highlighting how certain social issues disproportionately affect women of color, particularly Black women!

Between the World and Me  In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom  Know My Name: A Memoir  Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions  Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

  • Between the World and Me: This is a book told in letters from the author to his son, answering questions about race, slavery, and white supremacy, in America’s past and present.
  • In Order to Live: My friend Tiffany read this one recently and fell in love with it, so she’s made me really excited to read it! Yeonmi Park tells her survival story about how she escaped North Korea and the hardships she still faced after.
  • Know My Name: I know this will be difficult to read, as it’s a memoir by Chanel Miller recounting her trauma and sexual assault, but I know it will be such an important book, discussing sexual assault overall but also the US justice system and her Asian American identity.
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions: I want to read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books in general, but this one is told as a letter about how to raise a daughter to be a strong woman! And it’s really short, which is a major bonus.
  • Sister Outsider: Audre Lorde is absolutely someone I need to read from, and I want to start out with this collection of fifteen essays! These cover race, sexuality, class, and gender.

(If you have any non-fiction recs, I would absolutely love to hear them!!)


shall we chat

have you read any of these books? any you think i should prioritize? do you have any recs for me? and if you want to buddy read any, i’d be happy to!!

reminder that there is 1 WEEK LEFT to nominate your favorite bloggers for the 2020 Book Blogger Awards!

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105 thoughts on “30 Non-YA Books I Want to Read (Including Adult Fiction, Classics, and Non-Fiction!)

  1. Oh WOW there are so many books I want to read! All Boys Aren’t Blue, The Vanishing Half, The Hundred Thousand Kingdom and The Fifth Kingdom are at the top of my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read My Dark Vanessa earlier in the year and it certainly is powerful, I agree you need to be in a certain heaspace to read it though. There are some great ones on this list; books I also need to read are Pride and Prejudice, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Know My Name (which I just reserved from the library as they’re finally ordering new copies since the copy they had got damaged pre-lockdown!), I’d be super keen to buddy read any of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah, i’ll definitely make sure that i’m in a good place to read my dark vanessa! and ooh i hope we both love p&p, dorian grey, and know my name — all of them look so amazing and i feel like i’m going to enjoy them all! hope you get to them soon <3

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have so many of these books on my tbr too, like The Starless Sea (it’s been on my tbr too long 🙈), Know My Name has been on my tbr since last year, I also hope I can get to The Color Purple, The Vanishing Half and Rebecca this year.

    I really enjoyed All Boys Aren’t Blue, but I never finished My Dark Vanessa (I gave up on it 😬)

    ~ Corina | The Brown Eyed Bookworm

    Liked by 1 person

    1. the starless sea is definitely a book i need to finish before the end of the year! i’ll feel so guilty if i don’t, since it was supposed to be my first read of the year 😭 and ah i hope you get the chance to read all of those books and love them!!! <3

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  4. i’ve definitely been wanting to diversify my reading genre-wise, so this post came at the perfect time!! i tend not to pick up adult sff because it typically involves heavier themes and i’m more of a fluffy contemporary person lmao 😳 but all the ones you talked about look so good!! (the ten thousand doors of january has a stunning cover and i’ve heard so many amazing things about it ahh)

    oh my god classics scare me so much too 😭😭 i love that you included so many diverse classics in your list, though, i hadn’t heard of many but can’t wait to add them to my tbr! and yesss i read typically for enjoyment, so picking up a nonfiction book is difficult for me… but i need to read audre lorde and angela davis’s works, i hope you enjoy them! 🥰

    your recommendations posts are superior, as always, and i loved reading this!! 💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah i’m glad i could introduce you to a few books outside your usual genres! and ah i totally get that, i think adult sff can be daunting for anyone who hasn’t really gotten into it yet but especially for contemporary readers haha. and yes the ten thousand doors of january sounds amazing and has such a gorgeous cover so i want to try it out! <3

      classics TERRIFY me… i just feel like i'll never enjoy them and will only be bored by them, but the way they're written just makes me feel like i won't understand them 😭 and yes, reading non-fic is definitely a 180 from the books i usually read for fictional escape and enjoyment, but i think it's really important for me to start!

      thank you so much 🥺

      Liked by 1 person

  5. i’ve read rebecca and it’s good!! the writing is very dense and descriptive, but if you’re reading it for the gothic mystery/romance, you probably won’t be disappointed. i’m currently reading The Starless Sea (rip we didn’t get to buddy read), and it’s good too 🥺 i’m so excited to find out what it’s actually about because it’s like a story within a story within a story? and i plan to read know my name too. it’ll probably hit me hard, especially because just reading chanel’s victim statement made me emotional, but i know i won’t regret reading it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ooh i think i’ll struggle with the dense/descriptive writing in rebecca if that’s the case, but i’ll probably (hopefully) enjoy the other parts enough to help with that! and ahh i think i saw your instagram comment saying you weren’t feeling particularly motivated to keep reading the starless sea — and that’s exactly how i felt when i had picked it up fjdsjd. i hope it picks up soon for you though! <3

      Liked by 1 person

  6. These all look so interesting!! I’ve been trying to find some more Adult SFF reads recently, and it seems like I definitely have to read NK Jemisin’s books! Everyone has such good things to say about them! The Starless Sea was great! And I’ve heard lots about Little Fires Everywhere, if I can bring myself to read an adult fiction book, maybe I’ll read it soon too!

    Oof, classics are always so hard, because there are some fantastic ones and then there are ones that feel like they drag on foreverrrr. A few years back I tried reading all the “monster” classics, like Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, The Invisible Man, Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I think I started The Picture of Dorian Gray and never finished. So that’s another book that I should probably get to at some point 😅

    Best of luck with these non-YA reads!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes!! i’ve heard only amazing things about nk jemisin’s books, and she also has won so many amazing awards lmao, so i have a feeling she’ll become a new favorite author. and ah yeah, what i read of little fires everywhere was really intriguing! i hope you enjoy it whenever you get the chance to read it <3

      and yeah, i'm scared of the way classics are written because i feel like i'll get bored easily/won't understand them 😭 and oh no, i'm sorry to hear you didn't finish the picture of dorian gray! i, uh, hope i don't end up having to dnf it too lmao. thank you so much, chana!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahh this is such a great list of books, May and thank you for all the recommendations, my TBR does not thank you, but I do 😌😌 I SO want to read Ten Thousand Doors of January! This book sounds lovely and everyone I know loved it so much. I also want to own a physical copy of it because prettiiiiiness I am in love 😍 and Homegoing sounds so good as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really should spend some time creating my own list of books (other than YA Fantasy and Contemporary) that I want to read because I definitely want to learn more by reading! I’ve been especially interested in Classics and Non-Fiction lately (not that I’ve been reading those, just wanting to read those XD) so your list is very much appreciated for ideas :P <3 (I have All Boys Aren't Blue in case you would like to buddy read!!)

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  9. OH MY GOD I JUST BOUGHT MY COPY OF THE STARLESS SEA AND ITS GORGEOUS AND I CANNOT WAIT TO DIVE IN!! 😍😍😍😍 I hope you will love it toooooo!!!

    AND YESSS TO PRIDE AND PREJUDICEE!! yes yes a thousand times yessss!! PLEASEEE DO READ IT ASAPPPP, May! I WOULD LOVEE TO READ YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT!

    Also – this list? #goals! 😍😍😍😍

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