Name popular fiction not focused on love
August 28, 2006 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Popular fiction books NOT focused on romantic love relationships?

What are some good books that do not focus on love and romantic relationships (falling in love, marriage, breaking up, lost loves) etc yet are in the popular fiction/bestseller category?

One example would be Poisonwood Bible which has some of the characters getting married but not really focused on it.

Even nonconventional books like Wicked have a steamy relationship between Elphaba and Fiero.
posted by traderjoefan to Writing & Language (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Harry Potter series.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:19 AM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

"The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson
posted by amtho at 8:25 AM on August 28, 2006

Lonesome Dove. there's love in there, but it's not the point or the main thrust of the story. Grisham, Tom Clancy, Ruth Rendell and the guy who wrote Jurassic Park don't veer off into love and romance.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:33 AM on August 28, 2006

Sherlock Holmes books (I forget who the author is)
posted by amtho at 8:34 AM on August 28, 2006

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon.

"American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.

"The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith.
posted by spasm at 8:35 AM on August 28, 2006

The Lord of the Rings hardly even has any women in it, despite what the films suggest. The Da Vinci Code has a historical relationship in it, but not an active one. Why do you ask?
posted by bonaldi at 8:36 AM on August 28, 2006

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Wonderful book.
posted by bent back tulips at 8:40 AM on August 28, 2006

The Kite Runner, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Angela's Ashes.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:50 AM on August 28, 2006

Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels.
posted by holgate at 8:51 AM on August 28, 2006

The kite runner does have a love story. I would agree with the curious incident of a dog in night time. Life of Pi was also pretty good
posted by spacesbetween at 9:19 AM on August 28, 2006

The Plot Against America, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, most of Kurt Vonnegut's books.
posted by cog_nate at 9:33 AM on August 28, 2006

Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down? It's probably not a bestseller, but it's prominently featured in airport bookstores.
posted by synapse at 9:37 AM on August 28, 2006

The Curious Tale of the Dog in the Night Time, as Spasm suggests, is great.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami Haruki

The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

the Adventures of Kavalier and Clay has two love stories within it but they are hardly the focus of this (great) novel

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Saturday by Ian McEwan

Paul Auster's Brooklyn Follies is good, as is Timbuktu

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

almost anything by Pynchon has relationships at its heart (certainly V is built on several) but his books are so big and sprawling and detailed that you can't really say they have anything more than a thematic center ... with the exception of V, I don't think any of them have a romantic relationship as their primary theme, although Mason & Dixon certainly invests quite a bit into one particular relationship.
posted by luriete at 9:38 AM on August 28, 2006

Death Benefits by Thomas Perry

There's a relationship in it, but it's far from being the focus of the story.

Pursuit, also by Perry
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:49 AM on August 28, 2006

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
posted by ambrosia at 10:03 AM on August 28, 2006

Perfume by Patrick Suskind
posted by randomination at 10:24 AM on August 28, 2006

Is there a particular aspect you are trying to avoid? I.e. don't want to antagonize the lovelorn or Avoiding sexual content? Or is it a general distaste for romantic plotlines?

Clavell's asian yarns may not be the most accurate, but are great romance-free stories: I like Shogun in particular.
posted by allan at 10:34 AM on August 28, 2006

Robert B. Parker books make reference to relationships, but usually focus on the tough guy stuff.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 10:38 AM on August 28, 2006

The Da Vinci Code, no?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:47 AM on August 28, 2006

From the OQ: What are some good books . . .

Skip any Dan Brown things.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:30 AM on August 28, 2006

The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood.
posted by alms at 12:00 PM on August 28, 2006

The Harry Potter series, while not focused on the romance per se, did become more "romantic" around Book 6 - a large chunk of the story was dedicated to Harry&co's relationships.
posted by divabat at 1:12 PM on August 28, 2006

It's such a bizarrely open question it's hard to answer.

What does "popular" mean? Dan Brown is popular in the sense that he's sold millions, but he's universally derided. Sherlock Holmes stories don't focus on romance, because they're genre fiction, like a lot of the other stuff being suggested.

Assuming you mean good literary, non-genre fiction (I don't think the Da Vinci Code is going to satisfy someone who likes Kingsolver) how about Amy Tan? She does of course write about love and relationships, but only in broader contexts.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:04 PM on August 28, 2006

Yeah, perhaps a bit more context to this question would be useful, but -
Seconding Life Of Pi - Yan Martell (Jan?)
Seconding Pynchon.
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes stuff.
Just finished Name Of The Rose, by Umberto Eco. There is a minor relationship storyline, but not the main focus.
I guess William Faulkner may be a bit too relationship-oriented? But his stuff, like Pynchon's, is often huge and sprawling enough that there's far far more to it. And it's great writing. (Just rediscovered him for the first time since high school.)
Lots of sci-fi stuff might work.
posted by zoinks at 2:42 PM on August 28, 2006

I don't know from popular, but most Vonnegut books are love-free.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:50 PM on August 28, 2006

I would have thought most mysteries, thrillers, crime drama (which do hit best seller lists) did not focus heavily on relationships, though they might have a minor love interest. I read science-fiction myself, which sometimes does, sometimes doesn't.

Terry Pratchett is a best seller in Britain, and rarely does romance.
posted by jb at 1:15 AM on August 29, 2006

I'm adding my vote to:

Life of Pi
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
(which will keep you occupied for a while)
Anything by Terry Pratchett, especially Night Watch,
American Gods
by Neil Gaiman

I'd like to add:
Nero in Exile by Tom Holt
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

I guess it comes down to how you define 'popular fiction'.
posted by Jilder at 8:09 AM on August 29, 2006

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