Book talk – epistolary novels

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Welcome to an occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of books that catch my eye.

Looking for a different kind of novel? An epistolary novel is a story written as a series of documents, often in the form of letters, diary entries, or newspaper articles. More recent formats have introduced emails and blog posts and even Post-It Notes! All offer realistic views into the narrators’ lives and stories.


Here are some I’ve read and recommend:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker I read this years ago and would like to read it again.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank– have read several times.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – here’s a new book and this is the one with Post-It Notes!

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes – recently read this, then watched the movie. The movie was a little dated, but still interesting.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – I wasn’t sure I’d like this, but in the end thought it was excellent. Read it when my son was reading it for a high school class.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – read this a long time ago and remember liking it.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos – read this in French class in college and had a hard time with the vocabulary, but then read it for an English class and finally understood what was going on!

The Martian by Andy Weir – liked this book a lot and the movie too, maybe even a little better because there’s a lot of math in the book. Still recommend.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – recently read this for my Whodunits book group. It was excellent.

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – read this for a required college class called “Images of Modern Man” – I raced through it, it was that good.


And here are some I want to read:

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – hadn’t heard of this one, until today.

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher  – same!

Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman –  I actually read this in junior high school and remember liking it., but I don’t remember much, so I want to re-read it.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – been trying to get to this one for a while.

A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey – this was also a TV series with Sally Fields back in the 1970s.


Looking for more? Here are some additional lists:

Book Riot 100 Must-Read Epistolary Novels from the Past and Present

Goodreads Epistolary Novels Books

Wikipedia List of contemporary epistolary novels

Do you like the epistolary format? Do you have favorites?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!