The best fantasy books that explore love, loss, family, healing, and redemption

Who am I?

Do you ever wonder if you belong in this world? Since I was a kid, I’ve felt more at home in my imagination than with external events and people. When I first read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, I felt like he spoke my language. He gave me permission to voice intuitive perceptions and deeply personal views through fiction. As time progressed, the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Borges, Lois Lowry, Toni Morrison, Angela Carter, and Adolfo Bioy Casares inspired me to further explore multi-layered realities through novels and screenwriting. 


I wrote...

The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman

By Robin Gregory,

Book cover of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman

What is my book about?

Moojie Littleman is not just another disabled orphan, he is not just a kid who falls into a series of magical, mystical adventures involving goats, bees, and a girl. He is, above all, the most unlikely hero ever known. Through friendship with alien outcasts, Moojie discovers his healing powers and a surprising destiny... if only he can survive one, last terrifying trial. Welcome to Moojie's mythical world of mayhem and merriment, where miracles are standard fare, mistaken identity is rampant, and the desire to belong can be dangerous. From screenwriter and award-winning novelist, Robin Gregory comes a masterful debut about family and first love—brimming with compassion, lyricism, and originality. 

The books I picked & why

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One Hundred Years of Solitude

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Book cover of One Hundred Years of Solitude

Why this book?

This book inspired me to write novels. It was thrilling to discover an author who weaves magical elements and events into otherwise ordinary and realistic situations, treating both as equally natural. Few other authors have done this so masterfully and in such an urgent and amusing way. I often re-read parts of this book to remind myself that it’s not only acceptable but crucial for me to form stories out of playfulness, in order to depict a multi-dimensional view of reality.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women -- brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul -- this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.


Laurus: The International Bestseller

By Eugene Vodolazkin, Lisa C. Hayden (translator),

Book cover of Laurus: The International Bestseller

Why this book?

This book is brimming with themes that are super meaningful to me—love, loss, healing, the nature of reality, time travel, spirituality, faith, and redemption. He does this through language that waxes poetic in a formal, archaic voice, dropping into and out of time, occasionally lapsing into a hilarious, modern tone. Laurus, the protagonist, reminds me of myself, a holy fool, who believes in the healing power of mercy and compassion. As well, he keeps one foot in this world and the other in a mystical realm to which he longs to return.   

Laurus: The International Bestseller

By Eugene Vodolazkin, Lisa C. Hayden (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Laurus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE BIG BOOK AWARD, THE LEO TOLSTOY YASNAYA POLYANA AWARD & THE READ RUSSIA AWARD

*A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016*

Fifteenth-century Russia

It is a time of plague and pestilence, and a young healer, skilled in the art of herbs and remedies, finds himself overcome with grief and guilt when he fails to save the one he holds closest to his heart. Leaving behind his village, his possessions and his name, he sets out on a quest for redemption, penniless and alone. But this is no ordinary journey: wandering across plague-ridden Europe, offering his healing…


Every Heart a Doorway

By Seanan McGuire,

Book cover of Every Heart a Doorway

Why this book?

A girl named Nancy is on a quest to return to her “true home,” a place where she feels she belongs. She starts out by visiting the opposite, the land of the dead. When she returns, her parents don’t believe her story. So, they send her to a boarding school for wayward children. There, she and the other students visit other worlds, which instigates a process of inner discovery and transformation. The theme of leaving home to discover one’s true home—which I believe has less to do with location than self-realization—is rich and always compelling.  

Every Heart a Doorway

By Seanan McGuire,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Every Heart a Doorway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner: 2022 Hugo Award for Best Series
Winner: 2017 Hugo Award
Winner: 2017 Alex Award
Winner: 2017 Locus Award
Winner: 2016 Nebula Award
Nominated: 2017 World Fantasy Award
Nominated: 2017 British Fantasy Award
2016 Tiptree Honor List

"A mini-masterpiece of portal fantasy — a jewel of a book that deserves to be shelved with Lewis Carroll's and C. S. Lewis' classics" —NPR

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes…


Kafka on the Shore

By Haruki Murakami,

Book cover of Kafka on the Shore

Why this book?

A fifteen-year-old boy runs away from an abusive father, but in truth, he cannot escape his shadow self which relates to feelings about his physical body. As he journeys through time, he is visited by a ghost and a talking cat, and the riddles of life are presented to him through various characters. Although plot points and timeline may be difficult to follow at times, the narrative takes you on a surreal journey that is more visceral than prosaic. I love that Murakami presents puzzles having to do with the nature of consciousness, self-identity, and transformation. And he refrains from answering them for the reader!

Kafka on the Shore

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Kafka on the Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A stunning work of art that bears no comparisons" the New York Observer wrote of Haruki Murakami's masterpiece, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. In its playful stretching of the limits of the real world, his magnificent new novel, Kafka on the Shore is every bit as bewitching and ambitious. The narrative follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly overturned. Their parallel odysseys - as…


The Ten Thousand Doors of January

By Alix E. Harrow,

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Why this book?

What struck me first was the author’s language. It’s fresh and sometimes freefalling as it depicts a young girl’s stark reality and complex inner world. This book has the markings of a number of my favorite books: themes of love, identity, family, alternate worlds, redemption, the healing power of stories, and imagination. It may move too slowly for some, but I appreciate the carefully wrought coming of age journey where protagonist, January Scaller, grows through limitations and emotional challenges thrust upon her. 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

By Alix E. Harrow,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Ten Thousand Doors of January as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers, and the doors they lead us through...absolutely enchanting."—Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice and Lost Boys

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely…


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