My fiction reading goes through cycles. There are times when I "discover" one engaging book after another and then dry times when every book I pick up is far too easy to put down. I like my fiction books with lots of psychological depth and character study. The plot can evolve slowly, as long as new facets of the characters' personalities are being revealed. I guess this puts me in the category of literary fiction fan, although occasionally the speed and escapism of a plot-driven story is a pleasant exception. (Like a bag of McDonald's French fries in the midst of an errand marathon.)
I've read some good literary fiction lately. In Emily, Alone, Stewart O'Nan dips into the psyche of an elderly widow coping with loneliness, physical ailments, nostalgia, practical concerns and the deaths of her contemporaries. Not much plot, but he nails the vagaries of life through the eyes of a financially secure woman dealing with the insecurities of old age. This is a sequel to Wish You Were Here.
Another sequel I enjoyed was Compass Rose by John Casey. The characters from Spartina re-appear, but a new baby has been added to the scene. The unmarried mother, the father married to someone else, friends, in-laws, relations reveal their personalities as life goes on in the small Rhode Island fishing town. Each character is deftly drawn and the personalities drive the plot.
If you like a touch of magic in your story, you can always rely on Alice Hoffman to relate human passions that extend way beyond logical into mysterious. Her style is magic realism; it blends history and the supernatural with romance and family secrets. Her latest is The Red Garden. Other Hoffman titles.
The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier is a strange and fascinating book. Blending fantasy with characters animated by the author's lush writing, the premise is that all human pain - physical and maybe, spiritual- has become visible. The effects are far-reaching, not only in treatment (less diagnosticians needed, for instance), but in social conventions. How do you respond to cancer, self-mutilation, or old age? Brockmeier is an experimental and careful writer. Other Brockmeier titles.