The best books that show how people navigate loss and hope

Who am I?

I've always been a natural storyteller, and as an only child of Ukrainian immigrants, I carry all the stories with me. I realized as an adult that if I didn't write them down, they would dissipate and vanish. So, I wanted to write stories not only for myself, but in order to connect to others and inspire them to learn about their own family stories. We're all connected on this planet like a giant village, and I've always loved talking to people and learning about who they are. The core of my work centers around humans and loss and hope, and seeing how each of those things are affected by the environment around them.


I wrote...

The Child of Ukraine

By Tetyana Denford,

Book cover of The Child of Ukraine

What is my book about?

Based on true events, this book is an epic story of love, loss, betrayal, and hope... one Ukrainian family's search to find their place in the world after escaping Ukraine during WWII.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Stoner

By John Williams,

Book cover of Stoner

Why this book?

I remember when I first started reading Stoner—it felt quiet, slow... like sitting by the sea and watching the waves. I didn't really know what to expect, but what intrigued me about it was how quiet it was. It felt very human, more so than any other book I'd ever read. The way the scenes played out, as if I was standing in the middle of the room with the characters, sensing their despair, their loneliness, their desire for happiness. And I remember where I was when I finally finished the book: I was sat on my kitchen counter, and as soon as I read the last page, I placed the book down next to me and started sobbing. I felt as if I had lost a friend, that I had grown new layers to my own life by following this complicated man. It was a beautiful, sad, and quiet story; it will never leave my brain.

Stoner

By John Williams,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Stoner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013

'It's the most marvellous discovery for everyone who loves literature' Ian McEwan, BBC Radio 4

Colum McCann once called Stoner one of the great forgotten novels of the past century, but it seems it is forgotten no longer - in 2013 translations of Stoner began appearing on bestseller lists across Europe. Forty-eight years after its first, quiet publication in the US, Stoner is finally finding the wide and devoted readership it deserves. Have you read it yet?

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature…


Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates,

Book cover of Revolutionary Road

Why this book?

Don't see the movieread the book first; I always tell people that, when I recommend this book. It's truly an extraordinary piece of literature, and if I may be so bold, I feel like it's one of the best books written about how trapped people feel in their lives, their marriages, their choices. Every single part of this book is written in exquisite detail, the dialogue bristles with passion and contempt, and the way Yates writes the environment around the characters... he just makes every element shine, no matter if it's joyous or miserable. It's truly one of the most incredible books I have ever read in my whole life, and no joke, I've read it at least 7 times, and I always find something new.

Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Revolutionary Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as a masterpiece from its first publication, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary. With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April's decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy.

The Light Between Oceans

By M.L. Stedman,

Book cover of The Light Between Oceans

Why this book?

This book was my own personal cheerleader and inspiration when I was writing my own book, because the place in this novel was a legitimate character alongside the humans; the landscapes, the sea, the lighthouse, the storms, the isolation... all of those elements affected me as much as the characters did, so it became a perfect combination of things to make for a compelling narrative of love and loss. This book was on my nightstand the entire time I was writing my novel, and even though I never met her, and probably never will, ML Stedman will always be one of my muses. Her writing is truly remarkable.

The Light Between Oceans

By M.L. Stedman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Light Between Oceans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah,

Book cover of The Nightingale

Why this book?

Kristin Hannah made me realize that I could write a historical fiction novel and make it feel human, and flawed and beautiful. That was what her book did for me (and all of her books do, really). This book in particular immersed me in the war narrative, and it showed how a backdrop of war can create a tension between the characters that really moves the reader. Kristin is an expert at showing how families navigate conflict.

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture, The Nightingale is a multi-million copy bestseller across the world. It is a heart-breakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women.

This story is about what it was like to be a woman during World War II when women's stories were all too often forgotten or overlooked . . . Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals and passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love and freedom in war-torn France.

Kristin Hannah's…


Karolina's Twins

By Ronald H. Balson,

Book cover of Karolina's Twins

Why this book?

My mother gave me this book to read when I first started writing my novel (in order to write, you have to read all the time), and it profoundly affected me and gave me so much inspiration for my book. It had so many similar stories in it that my own family had gone through during the war, so it was the perfect story for me to sink my teeth into, to find a voice for my characters. This book is so so good, for anyone who loves historical fiction.

Karolina's Twins

By Ronald H. Balson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Karolina's Twins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She made a promise in desperation Now it's time to keep it Lena Woodward, elegant and poised, has lived a comfortable life among Chicago Society since she immigrated to the US and began a new life at the end of World War II. But now something has resurfaced that Lena cannot ignore: an unfulfilled promise she made long ago that can no longer stay buried. Driven to renew the quest that still keeps her awake at night, Lena enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart. Behind Lena's stoic facade are memories that will no longer…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Holocaust survivors, France, and child abandonment?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Holocaust survivors, France, and child abandonment.

Holocaust Survivors Explore 33 books about Holocaust survivors
France Explore 646 books about France
Child Abandonment Explore 24 books about child abandonment

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Woman of No Importance, Lilac Girls, and The Little Paris Bookshop if you like this list.