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Magical Realism

Read a book with magical realism! All-Year Reading Challenge • 2024

January 18, 2024

Magical realism is a literary genre that blends elements of the fantastical with the mundane, creating a world that is both familiar and extraordinary. It’s a genre that has captivated readers for decades, with its unique blend of magic and realism, and has given rise to some of the most beloved and iconic works of fiction. In this book list, we explore the best works of magical realism, from classic to contemporary, that will transport you to worlds beyond your imagination.

Use this booklist to fulfill a reading challenge prompt in our All-Year Reading Challenge!

 

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo

Family Lore

Elizabeth Acevedo

Follows the lives of several generations of women in the Marte family after gathering to honor Flor, who can predict the day someone will die, decides to throw herself a huge party as a living wake.

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

Other Birds

Sarah Addison Allen

Arriving on Mallow Island, right off the coast of South Carolina, to claim her late mother’s apartment, Zoey meets her eccentric and secretive neighbors, including a girl on the run, a lonely chef, a legendary writer and three ghosts, each with their own stories whose endings haven’t been written yet.

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

When We Were Birds

Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

The introduction of a singularly stunning new voice in fiction, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s When We Were Birds is a mythic love story set in contemporary Trinidad & Tobago about two young outsiders brought together by their connection with the dead.

The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

The Crane Husband

Kelly Barnhill

Taking care of her small Midwestern family while her mother, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries, a 15-year-old girl, when her mom brings home a 6-foot-tall crane, must protect them all from this invasive creature whose demands could destroy everything–unless she changes the story.

Death Valley by Melissa Broder

Death Valley

Melissa Broder

Seeking respite from her father and husband suffering simultaneous illnesses, a young woman visits the California high desert and encounters a strange, towering cactus with a door in it, in the new novel by the author of Milk Fed.

Black Candle Women by Diane Marie Brown

Black Candle Women

Diane Marie Brown

Follows four generations of the Montrose family, who have been living with a curse that leaves any person they fall in love with dead, stemming back to a Voodoo sorceress in 1950s New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Daughters Of The Wild by Natalka Burian

Daughters Of The Wild

Natalka Burian

Unable to remember her life before foster care, a teen anxious to rescue her newborn from an oppressive matriarch studies the properties of a powerful but addictive plant behind the foster family’s business.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer

Ta-Nehisi Coates

A Virginia slave narrowly escapes a drowning death through the intervention of a mysterious force that compels his escape and personal underground war against slavery. By the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me.

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

The Betrayals

Bridget Collins

Exiled back to Montverre, an ancient and elite academy hidden in the mountains where his fate hangs in the balance, Leo Martin, in the rarified world of learning he once loved, feels a strange connection to the new Magistar as the legendary Midsummer Game approaches.

Weyward by Emilia Hart

Weyward

Emilia Hart

Told over five centuries through three connected women, this riveting novel follows Kate, in 2019, as she seeks refuge in Weyward Cottage; Altha, in 1619, as she uses her powers to maintain her freedom; and Violet, in 1942, as she searches for the truth about her mother’s death.

Unleashed by Cai Emmons

Unleashed

Cai Emmons

As Lu and George Barnes and their daughter Pippa grow apart, tensions outside the family mount as well; women have been disappearing across the country with no worldly explanation, all while California’s wildfire season brings about a surprising reckoning that none of them can avoid.

The Measure by Nikki Erlick

The Measure

Nikki Erlick

When every person, all over the globe, receives a small wooden box bearing the same inscription and a single piece of string inside, the world is thrown into a collective frenzy, in this novel told through multiple perspectives that introduces an unforgettable cast of characters.

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter

Ripe

Sarah Rose Etter

Trapped in a corporate nightmare, Cassie, plagued by a miniature black hole that feeds on her depression and anxiety, ends up unexpectedly pregnant after her CEO demands she cross an illegal threshold and must decide whether the tempting fruits of Silicon Valley are really worth it.

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia Of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia Of Faeries

Heather Fawcett

A Cambridge professor, scholar and researcher on the study of faeries visits the hardscrabble village of Hransvik where she gets closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones and resists her insufferably handsome academic rival.

The King Of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye

The King Of Infinite Space

Lyndsay Faye

After his Broadway theater baron father dies mysteriously, Ben Dane, his best friend Horatio and his artist ex-fiance Lia, on one explosive night, are drawn into otherworldly events where the only outcome is death.

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is A Witch by Rivka Galchen

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is A Witch

Rivka Galchen

An illiterate widow in 1618 Germany is accused of being a witch by a nasty neighbor and turns to her scientist son for help in the new novel from the author of Atmospheric Disturbances.

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

The Witch’s Heart

Genevieve Gornichec

A subversive reimagining of Norse mythology traces the experiences of a banished witch whose unexpected passionate relationship with the trickster Loki produces three remarkable offspring before her family is targeted by wrathful gods.

Shark Heart by Emily Habeck

Shark Heart
A Love Story

Emily Habeck

When her husband Lewis, a few weeks after their wedding, receives a rare diagnosis–his physical body will gradually turn into a great white shark–Wren, struggling with his fate, finds his developing carnivorous nature activating long-repressed memories which forces her to make an impossible choice.

The Apology by Jimin Han

The Apology

Jimin Han

Ten days after receiving a mysterious letter, a defiant 105-year-old South Korean matriarch is thrust into the afterlife where she fights to head off a curse that will otherwise devastate generations to come.

Boys Of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson

Boys Of Alabama

Genevieve Hudson

Thriving in his new Alabama home, a sensitive German teen pursues a relationship with a pangender classmate before the realities of the postwar South challenge their perspectives on identity.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

The City We Became

N. K. Jemisin

This first book of an exciting new series by a Hugo Award-winning author takes readers into the dark underbelly of New York City, where a roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars.

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

Caul Baby

Morgan Jerkins

An ambitious college student gives birth to a baby girl destined to be raised by an important Harlem family, who believe the infant will restore their prosperity.

The Boy With A Bird In His Chest by Emme Lund

The Boy With A Bird In His Chest

Emme Lund

Fleeing to Washington to hide in plain sight with his family, Owen Tanner, who has a bird in his chest, feels joy and acceptance, despite living in a constant state of fear, in a community that embraces him for who he is.

A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire

A Wild Winter Swan

Gregory Maguire

New York Times bestselling author Gregory Maguire transforms Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story “The Wild Swans” into an Italian-American girl’s coming-of-age, set in atmospheric 1960s New York.

The Change by Kirsten Miller

The Change

Kirsten Miller

Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick–a gloriously entertaining and knife-sharp feminist revenge fantasy about three women whose midlife crisis brings unexpected new powers-putting them on a collision course with the evil that lurks in their wealthy beach town.

The First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami

The First Person Singular
Stories

Haruki Murakami

Told in the first person by a classic Murakami narrator, a new collection by the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award-winning writer explores the boundaries of the mind through subjects ranging from youth and music to baseball and solitude.

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread

Helen Oyeyemi

The award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird draws on the classic fairy-tale element of gingerbread in the story of a British family whose surprising legacy and secret past are tied to a favorite recipe.

The Book Of Form And Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

The Book Of Form And Emptiness

Ruth Ozeki

When he begins hearing voices one year after his father’s death, 13-year-old Benny Oh, seeking refuge in the library, meets a colorful cast of characters, including his very own Book, a talking thing, who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

A Grandmother Begins The Story by Michelle Porter

A Grandmother Begins The Story

Michelle Porter

Five generations of Indigenous women from Canada’s Prairie Provinces struggle for healing and meaning through the strength of familial bonds, in the debut fiction novel from the award-winning author of Scratching River.

Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Victory City

Salman Rushdie

Giving rise to the great city Bisnaga, a wonder of the world, Pampa Kampana, the vessel for her namesake, the goddess Pampa, who has given her powers beyond her comprehension, attempts, over the centuries, to make good on the task the goddess set for her: women equal agency in a patriarchal world.

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

Gold Diggers

Sanjena Sathian

An Indian-American serio-comic and magical realist epic love story about the perils of ambition, tracing the mysterious alchemy of its characters’ transformation from high school in an Atlanta suburb through young adulthood in the Bay Area.

Tomb Of Sand by Sri Gitanjali

Tomb Of Sand

Sri Gitanjali

In Northern India, when her grandson brings her a seemingly magical cane to lift her spirits after the death of her husband, 80-year-old Ma, with a new lease on life, embarks on a series of adventures that turn the family’s understanding of themselves upside down.

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E Staples

This Town Sleeps

Dennis E Staples

Engaging in a secret affair with a closeted white man, an Ojibwe from a northern Minnesota reservation navigates small-town discrimination before a ghost leads him to the grave of a basketball star whose murder becomes linked to a local legend.

Summer Light, And Then Comes The Night by Jon Kalman Stefansson

Summer Light, And Then Comes The Night

Jon Kalman Stefansson

In a village of 400 souls, which becomes a microcosm of the age-old conflict between human desire and destiny, between the limits of reality and imagination, the light of the Icelandic summer makes its inhabitants want to explore the mystery of life.

Sharks In The Time Of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

Sharks In The Time Of Saviors

Kawai Strong Washburn

When a child falls overboard and is returned safely to his mother by a shark, his miraculous rescue is hailed as a sign from ancient Hawaiian gods, complicating his family’s troubles amid a collapsing sugarcane industry.

The Unmaking Of June Farrow by Adrienne Young

The Unmaking Of June Farrow

Adrienne Young

Determined to end the curse that has plagued their family line, June Farrow, after her grandmother’s death reveals clues to her mother’s decades-old disappearance, embarks on a journey that will not only change both the past and the future, but also entangle her heart in an epic star-crossed love.