9 Must Read Epistolary Novels

If you clicked this link just to see what epistolary means, it’s a novel or works written in the form of letters or correspondence. Epistolary novels have been around as long as stories themselves. The earliest recorded epistolary novel was Love Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister, published in 1684.

Since then epistolary novels have taken on many forms. Some are simply collections of published letters or correspondence, others are fiction books written in this form. Today we’re going to feature some of my favourite, across many genres.

Love Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister – Aphra Behn

I simply had to include this, simply for being the ground breaking book that created this whole genre. The novel is loosely based on the love affair between Ford, Lord Grey of Werke and his wife’s sister, Lady Henrietta Berkley, a well known London scandal of the late 1600s.

Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister US
Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister UK

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84 Charing Cross Road – Helen Hanff

If you love books and books about books and bookshops then 84 Charing Cross Road is essential reading. The book is a collection of letters, written over twenty years between the author and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co antiquarian bookshop, located at the eponymous address.

84 Charing Cross Road US
84 Charing Cross Road UK

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I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

Written in the style of diary entries, I Capture the Castle tells the story of a family living in gentile poverty in a decaying castle. This coming of age story tells Cassandra’s story from childhood as she grows into a young woman.

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I Capture the Castle UK

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House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves pushes this genre to an entire new level, in fact he pushes book writing to a whole new level in this edgy book. Reading it is a challenge, making sense of the codes and in-messages is both fun and frustrating, and while it isn’t the chunkiest novel you’ll read, put a while aside for reading it.

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House of Leaves UK

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Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon is a sci-fi novel that takes its own twist on the epistolary genre. Algernon is a laboratory mouse, and the book is written as a series of lab reports written by the first human subject test for a new surgery.

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Flowers for Algernon UK

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We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Schriver

This is easy in my top ten books of all time and is a fantastic read. Written from the perspective of Eva Khatchadourian in the form of letters to her husband as she tries to come to terms with the actions of her son.

We Need to Talk About Kevin US
We Need to Talk About Kevin UK

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The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ – Sue Townsend

The Adrian Mole book and it’s follow ones was the first book I ever read in this genre, and it’s fun, touching, and easy to read as you follow Mole’s thoughts and neuroses in the form of diary entries.

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The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole UK

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Persuasion – Jane Austen

Persuasion, or the Persuasion of Jane Austen is one of the best known epistolary novels of all time. This was a favourite writing style of the classic women authors, Austen also published Lady Susan in this genre, and Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is written in the same prose. Three recommendations in one.

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Persuasion UK

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Where Rainbows End (Love, Rosie) – Cecilia Ahern

This is such a fun book, written as a series of letters, notes, and text messages between two childhood friends, into adulthood and all the difficulties that come with growing up. It’s also a great movie starring Sam Claflin!

Love, Rosie US
Where Rainbows End UK

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John Green Launched ‘Life’s Library’ International Bookclub

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John Green, young adult author and avid reader, noticed how much more enjoyable reading became when he had someone to discuss the literature with. Along with his friend and colleague Rosianna Halse Rojas, he decided to start an online book club where fellow readers could read along and join in discussions wherever they were. The book club, Life’s Library, has proven to be incredibly popular and- unlike many online subscription bookclubs- is successfully raising money for charity thanks to the generosity of Green and Rojas.

The triple-levelled membership rates offer a choice for every budget- from $25 (includes the chosen book, gifts, and discussion materials), $10 (includes discussion materials), and $0 (which includes the ability to join in the discussion via an invite to their Discord chat). Each book is read and discussed for six weeks before moving on to the next. The book club’s first shared read was Jacqueline Woodson’s If You Come Softly.

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The Bestselling Books of the Last One Hundred Years: 1937

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We started at 1918, bringing you the bestselling books of the last one hundred years. We’re moving along now, covering each year at a time and we’re well into the 1930s now. Today we’re documenting the ten bestselling books of 1937, and what you were reading instead.

1937 was the year the Hindenburg crashed down over New Jersey, the year Amelia Earhart vanished on her attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world, and the year that the Marihuana Tax Act started the move towards the criminalisation of the drug in the US.

So here they are, the ten top selling books of 1937 as the world, unbeknown sat on the brink of World War II. We’re also featuring some well known books that didn’t make the cut!

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The Bestselling Books of the Last One Hundred Years: 1936

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We started at 1918, bringing you the bestselling books of the last one hundred years. We’re moving along now, covering each year at a time and we’re well into the 1930s now. Today we’re documenting the ten bestselling books of 1936, and what you were reading instead.

1936 was the year that President Roosevelt was voted in for a second term, the year that Jesse Owens won four golds at the Berlin Olympics, and King Edward VIII abdicated the crown to marry Wallis Simpson.

So here they are, the ten top selling books of 1936 as the storm clouds collected before World War II. We’re also featuring some well known books that didn’t make the cut!

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FRA Readers’ Choice Top 20: March 2019

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Each month we list your top 20 reads of the month, chosen by members of our reading group, The Cwts @ Reading Addicts.

This month is a mix-up of classic books, new releases and recommendations from the Cwts, including some books that have featured heavily in the Top 20 every month. We hope you find something that interests you.

Here are the top 20 books for March, chosen by you!

With our new reading challenge for 2019 inspired by authors’ birthdays, you may find each month this affects the books voted for and we may see authors appearing in the Top 20 during their birthday months.  Read More

The Bestselling Books of the Last One Hundred Years: 1935

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We started at 1918, bringing you the bestselling books of the last one hundred years. We’re moving along now, covering each year at a time and we’re well into the 1930s now. Today we’re documenting the ten bestselling books of 1935, and what you were reading instead.

1935 was the year the Depression continued, increasing unemployment to more than 20%, Jews were stripped of their citizenship, and Mussolini attacked Ethiopia, you can see why people might have wanted to escape into books.

So here they are, the ten top selling books of 1935 as the storm clouds collected before World War II. We’re also featuring some well known books that didn’t make the cut!

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The Bestselling Books of the Last One Hundred Years: 1934

By | Discussion and Recommendations | No Comments
We started at 1918, bringing you the bestselling books of the last one hundred years. We’re moving along now, covering each year at a time and we’re well into the 1930s now. Today we’re documenting the ten bestselling books of 1934, and what you were reading instead.

1934 was the year that brought us Flash Gordon, more from Nazi Germany, and the Gothenburg prize for both Kipling and Yeats.

So here they are, the ten top selling books of 1934 and the heady days before World War II. We’re also featuring some well known books that didn’t make the cut!

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