20 Must-Read Fiction Authors Like Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney is an Irish-born author and screenwriter who has taken the world by storm. Her books Conversations with Friends, Normal People, and Beautiful World, Where Are You resonated with a large audience, and critics have deemed her one of the most influential millennial writers today. 

authors like sally rooney

Rooney’s work has also made it to the small screen. The Normal People series was adapted in 2020 and met with much fanfare, earning four Primetime Emmy Award nominations. The Conversations with Friends mini-series was released in 2022 and gained favorable reviews from audiences and critics alike.

Readers of Rooney appreciate her wit and searingly honest portrayal of everyday young people with an intellectual bent. Her characters are deeply flawed yet self-aware, and by the end, you can’t help but root for them and their imperfect relationships. 

If you can’t get enough Sally Rooney, this list is for you. Here are 20 Rooney-esque authors you will be sure to fall in love with. 

Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel

Ottessa Moshfegh is a New York Times bestselling author based in Los Angeles. Mosfegh’s work has been described as “otherworldly fiction” by the New Yorker, and once you crack open one of her novels, it’s easy to see why. She is best known for her novels My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Eileen, Lapvona, and Death in Her Hands

My Year of Rest and Relaxation follows a young, hip, recent Columbia graduate living off of her inheritance in the Upper East Side, but that’s where the glamor stops. The story follows the unnamed protagonist’s journey of self-isolation while under a drug-induced haze in an attempt to sleep for an entire year. 

Naoise Dolan

Exciting Times: A Novel

Naoise Dolan is an Irish writer who rose to popularity after her debut novel Exciting Times had an excerpt published in The Stinging Fly. Her second novel, The Happy Couple, can be pre-ordered now. 

Exciting Times follows the story of a millennial Irish expat who gets involved in a love triangle with a male banker and female lawyer while teaching English in Hong Kong. This story is a hilarious and exhilarating tale about modern love’s freedoms and uncertainties.

Coco Mellors

Cleopatra and Frankenstein (International Edition)

Coco Mellors is a novelist from London and New York who is known for her bestselling debut novel, Cleopatra and Frankenstein.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein tells the story of twenty-four-year-old British painter Cleo who moves to New York and meets Frank, a self-made success twenty years her senior, just before her student visa is about to expire. The unlikely duo decides to marry which changes their lives, and those close to them, in ways they never could have predicted.

Mona Awad

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Mona Awad is a Boston-based Canadian novelist and short-story writer. Her debut novel 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, won the Amazon Best First Novel Award, and her second novel, Bunny, won the Ladies of Horror Fiction Best Novel Award.

Bunny tells the story of scholarship student Samantha Heather Mackey who does not fit in in her small, highly competitive MFA program at New England’s Warren University. Samantha goes to great lengths to separate herself from the rest of her cliquey cohort – a group of rich snobs who call each other Bunny. That is until she receives an invite to the group’s “Smut Salon.” What follows is a twisted dark fantasy that leaves the reader questioning everything. 

Elif Batuman

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

Elif Batuman is an author and journalist known for her work as a staff writer at the New Yorker, her essay collection The Possessed, and her two novels, The Idiot and Either/Or. Batuman’s critically acclaimed novel The Idiot was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. 

The Idiot is a witty novel following Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants during her first year at Harvard. Selin strikes up a friendship with her Serbian classmate Svetlana and somehow stumbles into an email correspondence with Ivan, an older mathematics student in Hungary. At the end of the school year, Selin spends the summer in Europe, where she learns more about herself and grapples with the exhilarating confusion that comes with experiencing her first love.

Belinda McKeon


Belinda McKeon is an award-winning Irish writer. She is best known for her novels, Tender and Solace

Tender takes place in Dublin in the nineties and follows the story of close friends Catherine and James who couldn’t be more different. Catherine is reserved and studious whereas James is an adventurous artist. As they go about their lives in Dublin, Catherine tries to get out of her shell while James struggles with how to exist in the city. The story is an observant exploration of human relationships during uncertain times. 

Eliza Clark

Boy Parts (International Edition)

Eliza Clark is a U.K.-based author and screenwriter best known for her critically acclaimed debut novel Boy Parts

Boy Parts is a look into Irina’s world as she steps into the role of photographer, persuading the men she meets to model for her in raw and revealing poses. Eventually, Irina is offered an exhibition at a London gallery. Boy Parts is a black comedy dealing with taboo topics centered on sexuality and gender roles in this modern era.

Alexandra Chang 

Days of Distraction: A Novel

Alexandra Chang is an American author who rose to popularity with the release of her novel Days of Distraction. NPR, TIME, and The Washington Post all named Days of Distraction a best book of the year.

Days of Distraction follows a twenty-four-year-old Asian American narrator while at a crossroads in her life. She is fed up with the Silicon Valley bros in charge as a staff writer at a major tech publication and decides to quit and move with her boyfriend to upstate New York as he attends grad school. What seemed like a promising new beginning and a grand gesture of love and commitment becomes a period of questioning her relationship and her place as an Asian American woman. 

Raven Leilani 


Raven Leilani is best known for her debut novel Luster which was named a best book of the year by NPR, The New York Times Book Review, O Magazine, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, and more. Her work has been published in The Yale Review, The Cut, among many others. 

Luster starts as a story about Edie, a directionless twenty-something living in a terrible Bushwick apartment while working a meaningless admin job, who stumbles into a relationship with Eric, a New Jersey dad in an open relationship with his autopsist wife. After Edie loses her job, Eric invites her to live with him and his family. During her stay, she inadvertently becomes a role model for their adopted black daughter as Edie is the only young black woman their daughter knows. This exploration of race and class is a rapid page-turner and will leave you wanting more.

Melissa Broder

Milk Fed: A Novel

Los Angeles-based author Melissa Broder is known for her novels Milk Fed, The Pisces, essay collection So Sad Today, and five collections of poems. 

Milk Fed is about twenty-four-year-old Rachel, a non practicing Jew who compulsively counts calories until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day break from her mother who instilled these toxic habits. Soon after, she befriends Miriam, an Orthodox Jewish woman working at a frozen yogurt shop. This friendship causes Rachel to rethink everything she thought she knew. 

Mary Adkins

Palm Beach: A Summer Beach Read

Mary Adkins is an author known for her novels Palm Beach, When You Read This, and Privilege. Her work has been featured in the New York Times and the Atlantic.

Palm Beach follows 30-something new parents Rebecca and Mickey’s decision to uproot and leave their tiny New York apartment and move to sunny Palm Beach after Mickey receives a lucrative job offer to be the household manager for a morally questionable multimillionaire Democratic donor. As the story unfolds, Rebecca and Mickey must grapple with their values as they become deeply intertwined with people they once deemed corrupt. 

Miranda Cowley Heller

The Paper Palace (Reese's Book Club): A Novel

Miranda Cowley Heller is a writer, novelist, and TV Developer. Her debut novel, The Paper Palace, became a New York Times bestseller and sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Cowley Heller is also known for her work at HBO, developing series including The Wire and The Sopranos. 

The Paper Palace is a story about happily married, fifty-year-old Elle who sneaks away to sleep with her childhood friend Jonas for the first time while at their summer beach house. The story develops over the next 24 hours as Elle has to choose whether or not she will leave her beloved husband for her childhood love Jonas. 

Natasha Joukovsky

The Portrait of a Mirror: A Novel

Natasha Joukovsky is a writer who is best known for her debut novel, The Portrait of a Mirror. Before writing, Joukovsky worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

The Portrait of a Mirror is a retelling of the myth of Narcissus. The novel follows privileged New Yorkers Wes and Diana and Vivien and Dale, their friends and Philadelphia counterparts whose lives become entangled. This witty and thought-provoking novel shines a light on the pretentiousness that abounds in elite circles. 

Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age: Reese's Book Club (A Novel)

Kiley Reid is the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Such a Fun Age and Simplexity from Amazon Original Stories. She has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy, and more. 

Such a Fun Age follows the story of Emira, a twenty-five-year-old broke black woman who takes a job babysitting for Alix Chamberlain, a successful white woman. Everything changes one evening when Emira takes Alix’s daughter Briar to the grocery store and gets apprehended by a security guard while being accused of kidnapping because she is out late with a white child. What unfolds is a gripping account of how these two women navigate the aftermath of injustice. 

Miranda Popkey

Topics of Conversation: A novel

Miranda Popley is a Boston-based writer whose debut novel Topics of Conversation was named A Best Book of the Year by Time, Esquire, Real Simple, Marie Claire, Glamour, and more. 

Topics of Conversation is a series of conversations between women that spans over twenty years of the unnamed narrator’s life. Topics discussed include everything from shame and love to motherhood and loneliness. This book is an intimate look into the innermost thoughts of complex female characters.

Stephanie Danler

Sweetbitter (Vintage Contemporaries)

Stephanie Danler is a writer based in Brooklyn best known for her novel Sweetbitter and her memoir Stray

Sweetbitter follows Tess, a small-town girl who newly arrives in New York City, as she begins a job at an exclusive restaurant in Manhattan. This coming-of-age story details the excitement and uncertainty of being young and naive in the fast and chaotic New York food industry.

Lily King

Writers & Lovers: A Novel

Lily King is an award-winning, bestselling author known for her novels Writers and Lovers, Euphoria, Father of the Rain, The Pleasing Hour, and The English Teacher as well as her short story collection, Five Tuesdays in Winter

Writers and Lovers tells the story of Casey, a 31-year-old aspiring writer waiting tables at a restaurant in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her life is nothing like her friends, who are sending out wedding invitations and settling down in the suburbs, while she is desperately clinging to the possibility of life in the arts. Things are complicated further as she becomes involved with two very different men simultaneously and must come to terms with what she needs. 

Kathleen Glasgow

Girl in Pieces

Kathleen Glasgow is a New York Times bestselling author best known for her novels Girl in Pieces, You’d be Home Now, and How to Make Friends With the Dark. She also co-authored the series The Agathas and The Night in Question

Girl in Pieces follows 17-year-old Charlie’s release from a mental health facility for a self-injury disorder. After she is prematurely released, she must deal with a world she cannot handle. She has suffered an immense amount of tragedy at just seventeen but continues to stay the course and create a new life for herself. 

Elif Shafak

The Island of Missing Trees: A Novel

Elif Shafak is a critically acclaimed British-Turkish novelist who has published over 19 books including The Island of Missing Trees, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, and The Forty Rules of Love

The Island of Missing Trees begins on the island of Cyprus where a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot meet at a taverna and fall into a forbidden love. Once war breaks out, the teens have to escape separately, but one returns years under the guise of searching for native plants on the island but is actually on the hunt for his long-lost love. Years later, Ada’s family garden has a Ficus Carica (common fig) growing in their backyard, which is her only connection to her family’s roots in Cyprus and helps her unravel her deeply complicated family history. 

Dolly Alderton

Ghosts: A novel

Dolly Alderton is an award-winning author and journalist best known for her novel Ghosts and her memoir Everything I Know About Love. She is a columnist for The Sunday Times Style and has written for many publications. 

Ghosts is about Nina Dean, a single, successful, independent woman with a great career and a thriving social life. After spontaneously downloading a dating app, she meets Max, who seems too good to be true, but they hit it off instantly. Things could not be going better until Max ghosts her. Now Nina must confront all the problems she has been avoiding with her family, friends, and book editor. 


What is Sally Rooney’s writing style?

Sally Rooney’s writing style can be described as muted or dry. She is not overly verbose or descriptive and tends to write in a simplistic, blunt fashion.

Why do people like Sally Rooney so much?

Many readers like Sally Rooney’s work because they find it relatable and aspirational. Her characters are intelligent, often have a sense of humor, and achieve their goals despite not putting in much effort.

Why are there no quotation marks in Sally Rooney books?

Sally Rooney has said she does not use quotations in her books because she does not see a need for them.

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Demi Cavanaugh