Whether you’re participating in our Lifetime of Reading Challenge or you’ve found this booklist looking for novels that span decades while following a protagonist’s life, we know you’ll find your next great read below. Our list of recommended books spanning a character’s lifetime includes a wide variety of fiction titles as well as some excellent memoirs.
Books help us appreciate all of the different phases of life, but there’s also a lot to learn by seeing how someone – real or fictional – develops over time as they are shaped by their personal experiences and by the changing world around them.
The titles on this booklist feature both female and male protagonists who vary in race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, class, background, ability/disability, lifestyle, and more. However, if you are specifically interested in reading a book that takes place over a character’s life span while crisscrossing the globe, you’ll find numerous novels that follow one character for many years on our list of Books that Span Multiple Continents.
Other Books to Consider
The book list above is focused on books that follow a protagonist’s life across multiple decades. If you are instead looking specifically for intergenerational novels that follow several generations of the same family over an extended period, you’ll find many of those on our list of Novels that Span Decades from the 1880s to the 2010s.
We hope you enjoyed this book list and found several books to add to your TBR (to be read list). If you’re choosing a book for our reading challenge, you are also welcome to read any other book that meets the challenge prompt.
If you have a suggestion for a book that you think would be a great addition to this list, please fill out this form.
Book Lists By Character Age
Links to our book recommendations for all twelve of the Lifetime of Reading challenge prompts can be found below:
- Books with a Child Protagonist (Bildungsroman Novels)
- Books with Teenage Characters
- Books with Characters in Their 20s
- Books with Characters In Their 30s
- Books With Characters in Their 40s
- Books With Characters in Their 50s
- Books With Characters in Their 60s
- Books With Characters in Their 70s
- Books With Characters in Their 80s
- Books With Characters in Their 90s and 100s
- Intergenerational Novels: Books that Connect Generations
- Books Spanning a Character’s Lifetime