8 Books That Prove #GrumpLit Is A Publishing Trend Right Now

by  | May 19

Working in book publishing, you tend to get a whiff of emerging book trends before they reach the masses. All of sudden you’ll start getting ten submissions a week for, let’s say, psychological suspense novels about twin sisters, or diet books focused on ketogenics. And you’ll know it’s coming.

I work at Touchstone, and for months now our Editor-in-Chief Tara Parsons has been talking about a book trend she feels is burgeoning—grump lit. (#grumplit™). Also referred to internally (since you know, that’s the only place it’s known) as “curmudgeon lit,” this trend is pretty simple—books about grumpy old men and women, who usually turn out to have hearts of gold. (They’ve lived a long time, they’re allowed to be cranky!)

Even though most people at Touchstone have been all “Tara, stop trying to make #grumplit happen, it’s not going to happen,” I actually think she’s right. And I’m here to prove it. These are the books that prove that #grumplit really is a publishing trend, and it’s only beginning.

1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

Most likely the cause of the resurgence of this trend in the past year, A Man Called Ove is curmudgeon lit at its finest. Ove is a cranky, hilarious, sad, and ultimately sweet old man who you will fall in love with from page one despite his rough exterior.

Read it: B&N / Amazon / Indiebound




2. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

A national bestseller and a best book of the year, Our Souls at Night explores a relationship between neighbors Addie and Louis, who have known each other for decades but become close later in life.

Read it: B&N / Amazon / Indiebound



3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Trendy trendy trendy I say! From the author of Rules of CivilityA Gentleman in Moscow was a huge book last fall—a New York Times bestseller, and chosen as a best book of the year by NPR, The Washington Post, you name it. What is it about? A cranky old Russian who is ordered to spend the rest of his life alone in a luxury hotel.

Read it: B&N / Amazon / Indiebound



4. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

Lest you think I’m excluding grumpy old women, may I present a personal favorite, An Unnecessary Woman. Aside from the whole grump lit thing, I just flat out adore this book. The incredibly charming 70-something main character Aaliya has spent her entire life translating her favorite novels into Arabic. When disaster strikes, she has to reevaluate everything about her life, her literature, and her country. I couldn’t possibly capture how gorgeous it is, but just trust me on this one.

Read it: B&N / Amazon / Indiebound

5. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

“A comedy of errors about a group of delinquent seniors whose desire for a better quality of life leads them to rob and ransom priceless artwork.” Dang, why haven’t I read this already? Hey olive, if you’re reading this, hook me up.

Read it: B&N / Amazon / Indiebound




6. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

The description of this book (just out in paperback) begins as follows: “Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.” Do you believe me yet??

Read it: B&N / Amazon / Indiebound



7. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Obviously this one isn’t new new, but you have to admit it’s been having a resurgence in recent years (after the movie came out of course). I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately! Grump lit guys…I’m telling you… #trendy

Read it: B&N / Amazon / Indiebound




8. The Other Side of Everything by Lauren Doyle Owens

This is actually one of Tara’s books, and you’re really getting the inside scoop right now because it’s not even out until next Spring. We haven’t even revealed the cover yet! But having read the manuscript, I can tell you it’s about a community of sweet, cranky old men and women in Florida who adorably come together to protect each other in the wake of some dangerous incidents. I found myself AWW-ing out loud…often.


(Featured photo: Unsplash/Sam Wheeler)