There are some character archetypes who’ll always be loved in literature. The awkward, benevolent grump is one of them. If you couldn’t get enough of Eleanor as leading lady, don’t worry, we’ve got 13 more books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to warm your heart with characters who have more to offer than meets the eye.
Our list of books similar to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine includes stories of social anxiety, childhood trauma, neurodivergence, unlikely adventures, found families, and yes, awkward heroes with hilarious hot takes. We’ve done the hard work for you; all you have to do is choose a book and cozy up for your next great read.
10 Books Like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
If you liked the Scottish setting of Honeyman’s book, we’ve also got a whole list of books set in Scotland. Otherwise, keep scrolling for more books similar to Eleanor Oliphant.
A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
Grumpy, solitary, and haunted by his past, Ove has a lot in common with Eleanor. Before the story is over, he will even have befriended a stray cat!
Ove has a reputation in his neighborhood. He’s the old crank who’s not afraid to shout down rulebreakers in defense of peace and order. When a young couple with two rambunctious daughters moves in across the street, Ove knows he’s facing the challenge of a lifetime, but he doesn’t know that this challenge will change him and his new neighbors.
Dealing with themes of loneliness, grief, and unexpected friendship, A Man Called Ove is a heartwarming novel that will inspire you to open your heart to your neighborhood, even if it means accepting bent mailboxes and rogue cats.
The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
If you loved Eleanor Oliphant’s vulnerability, then you’ll also love Harold Fry.
Poor Harold. A deep sadness has compelled him to take a most unlikely 600 mile quest to visit an old flame. He becomes an unwilling media sensation and accrues an motley cast of disciples along the way. If you are feeling out of sorts, or up for a good long walk, or both, read this book.
No spoilers, but like Eleanor, Harold is on an emotional journey and he has a few secrets up his sleeve.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Maria Semple
Another agoraphobic heroine, Bernadette has a twist that sets her apart from your everyday Eleanor. Bernadette is a renowned architectural genius.
Fifteen-year-old Bee has noticed that her mother’s eccentricities have been growing stronger lately. Her regular neighborhood feuds have turned into threats of lawsuits, and Bernadette has responded by hiring a personal assistant on another continent to carry out routine tasks for her. Still, Bee never questions that she and her mother will always be best friends, until one day, shortly before their special trip to Antarctica together, Bee’s father stages an at-home intervention for Bernadette, and Bernadette vanishes through the bathroom window.
Featuring a sweeter, though at times still heartbreaking, mother-daughter duo than you’ll find in Eleanor Oliphant, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a love story for those who have given all they can to the world and desperately need a break from those they leave behind when they go.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh
If you gave Eleanor Oliphant four out of five stars because you felt it was slightly corny, My Year of Rest and Relaxation is the perfect book for you. Darker but every bit as witty as Eleanor, this book will make you laugh without trying to make you fall in love with its characters.
A young, affluent, Kate Moss-esque woman in a New York City penthouse decides to take matters into her own hands when her mental health becomes exhausting. She finds a zany therapist to refill her supply of sleeping medicine without asking too many questions, then plans a year-long sleep regime to allow her body to re-create itself, one cell at a time. Unfortunately, sleeping for a year isn’t as easy as it sounds when eccentric frenemies come knocking on your door.
The sharp blade of satire cuts deep in My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Without providing a “good” example of dealing with a mental health crisis, the novel asks us to examine our own beliefs about healing and supports individual choices over society’s prescribed responses to trauma.
Attachments, Rainbow Rowell
A twenty-first century office romcom, Attachments comes complete with a dreamy, hard-to-pin-down musician and a scruffy IT guy who are sure to bring back echoes of Eleanor’s Johnny and Raymond.
When Lincoln takes a job as an “internet security officer” at a local newspaper, he imagines the job will entail complex codebreaking or firewall design. Instead, he is tasked with the tedious and morally questionable chore of reading his coworkers’ emails. Lincoln’s job takes on unexpected new meaning when he begins following an email thread between Jennifer and Beth, two wisecracking journalists whose friendship has lasted through good times and bad. But when Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, he has no idea how to approach her.
Light, funny, and heartwarming, Attachments highlights the dignity that comes from being a loyal friend, even in a mundane environment. It’s a perfect palette cleanser after reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
All This Could Be Different, Sarah Thankam Matthews
Filled with touchstones of Obama-era nostalgia, All This Could Be Different will appeal to readers’ who enjoyed the wit and underlying optimism of Eleanor Oliphant.
Despite graduating into the Great American Recession, Sneha is doing well for herself. She’s able to furnish her new apartment with all her Ikea favorites and treat herself to avocado toast for breakfast whenever she pleases. She’s even able to help out her friends: Thom, her college bro with a deep side, Tig, her vivacious Black wingwoman, and her parents back in India. As stable as the present moment seems, Sneha’s past still threatens to wreck her when she falls head-over-heels in love with Marina, a ballet dancer who expects true vulnerability from Sneha.
All This Could Be Different expands on the themes of trauma, emotional availability, and found friendship from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while adding commentary on race and sexuality. If you’re looking to diversify your book list, this is a solid choice!
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer
A laugh-out-loud funny novel, The Interestings is perfect for readers who were drawn in by the comedic elements of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
An awkward suburban teen, Jules Jacobson assumes her invitation to join Spirit of the Woods–the summer camp where precocious children of New York City hippies hone their artistic talents–is an act of charity. She’s even more surprised when she’s adopted by a group of well-established campers: Ethan, a dorky cartoonist, Ash, a fairy-like actress with feminist ideas, Jonah, the enigmatic son of a famous folk singer, Goodman, a troubled jock, and Cathy, a determined dancer with a stubbornly curvy body. But despite their talents, not all of Jules’ friends meet with the success they expected as they grow old together.
If you liked reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, this story of four friends working to fit together despite the complications of envy, guilt, attraction, and stagnation will appeal to you–not to mention making you laugh out loud!
Book Lovers, Emily Henry
If you loved Eleanor’s fine balance between grumpy and goofy, the heroine of Book Lovers will be right up your alley!
Nora has a reputation in the book industry. She’s known as “the Shark,” a literary agent who will draw blood for her clients. Even when Nora’s little sister Libby convinces her to take a holiday from the book world of New York City, Nora can’t stop working. She continues editing and pep-talking for her favorite client–and she continually runs into Charlie, a cool-talking editor who is the last person she expected to see in the small town of Sunshine Falls.
A fun romcom with catchy dialogue and a refreshingly tough heroine, Book Lovers leans a little more into romance than Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine without sinking into sappiness.
Read this one for book club and use our Book Lovers discussion guide.
The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
Although unconfirmed by Gail Honeyman, many readers who are on the autism spectrum identified with Eleanor and celebrated her for representing life on the spectrum. Likewise, Don Tillman, the protagonist of The Rosie Project, has been pegged as a relatable character for many neurodivergent readers.
Don Tillman is a whiz at genetics. By thirty-nine, he’s a respected professor at an Australian university, and by his own estimation, a practical and appealing choice for women in search of husbands. But as he nears his fortieth birthday and no wife appears, Don turns to science for solutions. He designs a detailed questionnaire to lead him to the perfect mate. Rosie Jarman, a clever chain-smoking bartender, is immediately disqualified by Don’s questionnaire, yet he can’t seem to block her out of his life.
Geeky, warm, and respectful, The Rosie Project explores the need for flexibility in personal growth and the unpredictability of love. And in terms of books similar to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, this one delivers one of the most Eleanor-like protagonists.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
If you were interested in Eleanor’s off kilter social behavior, then you may want to read Haddon’s book. The main character, 15 year-old Christopher, is somewhere on the spectrum. He has a lot of spatial awareness, an aversion to touch, is obsessive about math, and has serious notetaking habits.
Christopher is really hurting and he channels his energy into investigating the death of a dog in his neighborhood. The investigation takes him on an epic quest as he tries to make sense of and find his place in his complicated world. A lot of secrets get unearthed along the way.
Weather, Jenny Offill
If you have a taste for experimental novels, Weather is a great choice for you. Written in a collection of short snippets, Weather retains important themes from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (like coping with grief and finding meaning in mundane activities) while making edgy stylistic choices.
In New York, a young librarian named Lizzie has learned to read the customers who walk through her door as accurately as she reads book characters. After all, growing up with a religiously zealous mother and drug-addicted brother has given her plenty of practice in empathy. Still, when an old mentor asks Lizzie to respond to fan mail for her hit podcast Hell and Highwater, which covers climate change and politics, Lizzie’s patience with human chaos and neediness is put to the test.
Like Eleanor, Lizzie often feels overwhelmed by the need to explain herself to strangers and even to her loved ones. In an oblique way, the novel offers us all forgiveness for our muddled communication and reminds us that actions, even small ones, speak louder than words.
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
Like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Hate U Give is narrated by the sole witness of a violent crime, but in this novel, Starr still has time to bring about justice if she’s willing to speak up.
Sixteen-year-old Starr attends a rich, mostly-white prep school during the day, but at night, she returns to the poor, mostly-black neighborhood where her father proudly runs his own grocery store. Starr works hard to keep these two worlds separate until, on a night that was meant to be fun, she witnesses a police shooting which kills her childhood friend, Khalil. Now Starr is called to testify in Khalil’s trial, but the controversy around the case is an unwelcome spotlight that makes it impossible for Starr to hide her two worlds from each other anymore.
While Eleanor’s trauma comes from the past, The Hate U Give places us in the center of a young girl’s experience with violent crime and the legal system. The Hate U Give also gives representation to children with incarcerated parents, like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Winter Solstice, Rosamund Pilcher
If you are interested in reading more books that feature a Scottish setting and people problems, then check out Winter Solstice.
In this quiet story, five people, who are each dealing with a personal tragedy find themselves together in Scotland. They are each trying to find a way forward and are helped by mutual company, a cozy old house, wood fire and whiskey.
More Readalikes With Strong Female Protagonists
- Books like Normal People by Sally Rooney.
- Books like All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
- Books like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
- Books like Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus.
- Books like Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
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