Top Ten Signs You’re Reading Literary Fiction


I tried to read Ulysses two summers ago. I failed. I heard it has sex, though, so maybe I'll skim it someday.
I tried to read Ulysses two summers ago. I failed. I heard it has sex, though, so maybe I’ll skim it someday.

It’s only fair to balance my Top Ten Signs You’re Reading Genre Fiction with a list for those of us with a more literary lean. (Same note as before: this post is meant with much bibliolove; last year I read and enjoyed both The Bridge of San Luis Rey and the newest Bridget Jones.)

Not sure if you’ve been reading literary fiction? Here’s a quiz. If you answer “yes” to more than one of these questions, you’re probably smarter than me and also read literary fiction.

1.) You carry on elaborate internal dialogues about your book with a mental representation of your high school English teacher.

2.) You planned to read fifty books this year, but by April you still find yourself on page sixteen of your current novel despite feeling as though you’ve aged four years.

3.) Your experience reading your latest book is like taking a hit off a powerful drug: you read a paragraph and feel utterly and profoundly moved and changed as a human being, but a minute later have no idea what just happened with the plot.

4.) You would describe at least one of the characters in the book you’re reading now as “too depressed to function.”

5.) You find that your circle of friends will smile and murmur at any sentence that name-drops great literary fiction authors, even sentences that don’t technically make sense. (“So I’ve decided to Franzen this Proust while in the Salinger frame of mind,” you boldly declare at a dinner party. “Mmm-hmm,” your host says, sipping from a chilled glass of white wine. “I couldn’t agree more.”)

6.) Your arms are sore from holding high your latest book on the train so everyone can see the title, author, and blurb from a fellow literary giant.

7.) You know so many obscure words you could probably contract as a writer for the English portion of the SAT.

8.) Your ebooks are filled with those little dotted underlines indicating passages that have been highlighted by sixty-four other readers. And they are not sex scenes.

9.) When someone asks you what your book is about, you hem and haw before finally saying, “It’s hard to explain, but the writing is incredible! You should read it.”

10.) You’re thrilled to read that, six years after your favorite author released her last book, she has finally perfected the first chapter of her next masterpiece.


  1. Eva says:

    Love this! I literally LOL’d.

    1. GGAndrew says:

      Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  2. You’re so right. And funny.

    1. GGAndrew says:

      Thanks, Rebecca! I think a lot of us can relate to these (although hopefully not #5).

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