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Experience The Realities of Life: 20 Unforgettable Books Like “Normal People”

Immerse Yourself in the Deeply Humane and Accurate Portrayals of Life with These Books Similar To Normal People
by The Blinkist Team | Mar 6 2024

20 Books Like

Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” took the literary world by storm with its raw portrayal of love, friendships, class distinctions, and the painful navigation of human connections. If Connell and Marianne’s story moved you, their complicated relationship, and their personal struggles, you might be curious about finding more reads that delve into similar themes. 

You’ve come to the right place – here, you’ll find 20 unique books like Normal People that explore complex relationships, the trials and tribulations of young adulthood, and the profound influence of socio-economic backgrounds.
 

The 20 best books to read if you liked “Normal People”

 

1. “One Day” by David Nicholls.

Trace the friendship and romantic entanglement of Emma and Dexter over two decades.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Lifelong, complex love story.
  • Characters from different class backgrounds.
  • Exploration of various stages of life.

 

2. “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell.

Experience young love through misfit teenagers Eleanor and Park.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Teen love with a mature, emotional undertone.
  • Complex issues like familial dynamics and abuse.
  • Social struggles associated with being ‘different’.

 

3. “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan.

A honeymoon goes awry due to sexual insecurities and societal pressures.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Overview of the dynamics of an intense relationship.
  • Characters dealing with personal insecurities.
  • Impact of societal norms on relationships.

 

4. “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara.

Four college graduates navigate friendships and personal demons in New York City.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Long-term friendship and relationship dynamics.
  • Painstakingly realistic portrayal of underlying traumas.
  • Characters grappling with their individual identities.

 

5. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Experience a dystopian love story centered around three friends at a secluded boarding school. 

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Lifelong friendships and romantic complications.
  • Depiction of social class disparities.
  • The impact of environment and upbringing on character interaction.

 

6. “Before I Die” by Jenny Downham.

Tessa, a teenager diagnosed with leukaemia, makes a unique bucket list.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • A focus on the trials of youth.
  • Impact of illness on personal relationships.
  • Exploration of love and friendship in tough times.

 

7. “Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney.

Four intertwined individuals navigate relationships, love, and life.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Characters are observant, flawed, and relatably human.
  • Exploration of love and the complexity of human relationships.
  • Sharp social and class observations.

 

8. “Five Feet Apart” by Rachael Lippincott.

Two teenagers with cystic fibrosis kindle a relationship amidst their health struggles.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Overcoming obstacles to nurture a relationship.
  • Overarching theme of ailment and its emotional impact.
  • Exploration of love through a unique perspective.

 

9. “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven.

Two struggling teenagers find solace in each other in this emotional journey.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Emotional complexity and mental health focus.
  • Navigating social norms, expectations, and stigma.
  • Intense romantic relationship with highs and lows.

 

10. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt.

A close-knit group of college friends deals with a shared dark secret.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Detailed and nuanced portrayals of friendship.
  • Deeply flawed yet relatable characters.
  • Emotional turmoil and impact of secrets on relationships.

 

11. “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin.

Set in 1950s Paris, it’s a poignant exploration of suppressed sexuality and societal pressure.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Exploration of romantic relationships amidst societal pressure.
  • Characters challenged by identity and societal norms.
  • Profound emotional and psychological depth.

 

12. “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green.

Experience the world through Aza’s eyes as she grapples with anxiety and OCD.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Exploration of mental health and its impact on relationships.
  • Realistic portrayal of the teen experience.
  • Deeply emotional and impactful narrative.

 

13. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith.

A powerful exploration of a lifelong friendship between two artists in New York’s bohemian era.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Lifelong friendship underpinning the narrative.
  • Impact of socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Deeply humane and emotional storytelling.

 

14. “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah.

A family grappling with PTSD relocates to Alaska, where their lives irrevocably change.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Characters dealing with trauma and familial struggles.
  • Intense emotional narrative.
  • Exploration of survival and resilience in challenging environments.

 

15. “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng.

Two families’ lives intertwine in a seemingly perfect suburban town with underlying secrets.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Exploration of class dynamics and parental expectations.
  • Unpredictable relationships with emotional depth.
  • Struggles with identity and the desire to fit in.

 

16. “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng.

A Chinese-American family grapples with the death of a daughter in this emotional journey.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Immersive character studies with profound depth.
  • Impact of societal norms and expectations on characters.
  • Theme of feeling ‘out of place’.

 

17. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah.

Two sisters navigate war-torn France during WWII, showcasing resilience and survival.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Deeply emotional and intense narrative.
  • Exploration of everyday bravery and resilience.
  • Evocative portrayal of relationships in challenging times.

 

18. “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller.

This retelling of the Greek myth explores the love between Achilles and Patroclus.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Depths of love and friendship explored.
  • Impact of societal expectations on a relationship.
  • Emotionally intense narrative.

 

19. “The Light We Lost” by Jill Santopolo.

A profound love story that spans over a decade, shaped by global events.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Lifelong emotional connection portrayed.
  • Personal growth and the impact of external factors.
  • Characters navigating realities of adult life.

 

20. “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli.

Simon navigates being a closeted gay teenager in this coming-of-age novel.

Elements in common with Normal People:

  • Exploration of identity and fitting in.
  • Intricate portrayal of teen relationships.
  • Emotional depth coupled with realistic narrative.

In conclusion, if you’ve found yourself hooked to Sally Rooney’s profound exploration of life, relationships, and socio-economic impact in “Normal People,” this list is an ideal companion for your next read. These beautifully written books echoing Rooney’s style will engage you with their complex characters, heartfelt emotions, and captivating narratives.

Buckle up for emotional rollercoasters, relatable characters, and impactful stories. Happy reading!

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