What are Narrative Books?

There are a couple different ways of answering this question, owing to the fact that there are a few different audiences that might be interested in this particular query. One easy answer? A narrative book is a book that tells a story or stories. The thing is a lot of literary-minded folks might also respond to this question with one of their own: How is a narrative book different than a novel? Again, there’s a simple, easy answer: One is a subset of the other. All novels are narrative books, but not all narrative books are novels.

And this gets to the rub of what Narrative Books is all about. We want to remind people—and celebrate the fact—that there are a lot of narrative books out there that aren’t novels. There are biographies and memoirs that would be first-person novels if they weren’t personal nonfiction accounts. There are narrative books that present a series of short stories or other collected works organized in a narrative pattern.

Whether it’s the history of Eastern Europe or the evolution of religious thought, narrative doesn’t require an easily defined protagonist. It barely requires a beginning, middle, and end. That’s because people are people. The importance of narrative in our culture extends well beyond novels. More than any individual story, we are a storytelling culture. Human nature also makes us a captive audience. As part of our tendency to over-recognize patterns, we hear stories even outside the tale.

Looking to better understand the numerous genres and subgenres that rightfully fall under the moniker “narrative books?” Looking for a book for your next read or to put on your perpetual reading list? Have a specific question or comment about the narrative form? Looking to connect with like-minded literary souls? Reach out to us and help us answer the question: What are narrative books?