100 books like A Monster Calls

By Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay (illustrator)

Here are 100 books that A Monster Calls fans have personally recommended if you like A Monster Calls. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Beloved

Jen Fawkes Author Of Daughters of Chaos

From my list on speculative novels that fictionalize history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I will die on this hill: a knowledge of human history is essential. If we refuse to examine our past, we are truly doomed to repeat it. What we call “history,” however, is told from only one viewpoint: that of the victor, or whatever party lived to record the tale. Since childhood, I’ve been intrigued by the lives of our forebears even as I longed for proof of the uncanny in the waking world. But I’ve only ever encountered the fantastical—not to mention the historical—in texts like those on this list, where the two can commingle, enriching and refining one another for the enlightenment, and the pleasure, of their readers.

Jen's book list on speculative novels that fictionalize history

Jen Fawkes Why did Jen love this book?

I read this book for the first time while working on my PhD, and I love the novel for its beautiful, uncanny, and brutally honest portrayal of maternal love.

Based on the true story of an enslaved woman who escaped a Kentucky plantation to the free state of Ohio and then did the unthinkable in a desperate attempt to save her children from bondage, Morrison’s book is literally haunted by the ghost of the protagonist’s lost daughter, and figuratively haunted, by the stygian specter of American slavery. Toni Morrison was a true master, and for me, Beloved is her masterpiece.   

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…


Book cover of Grendel

John Wiswell Author Of Someone You Can Build a Nest In

From my list on showing the human side of monsters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never outgrew the curiosity of wanting to know more about the things we fear. Plenty of monsters are just neat! But the more you learn about them, whether they’re animals like bears and sharks or figures of myth like werewolves and dragons, the more interesting they become. I wanted to take audiences deep inside a skin unlike their own so they could understand how it feels to be cast out and how much a monster might look down on us. Because the more you look at monsters, the more you recognize us in them.

John's book list on showing the human side of monsters

John Wiswell Why did John love this book?

One of the classic novels about monsters having internal lives. Grendel doesn’t even survive the first half of the Beowulf poem.

But what was his life like? This creature who went into rages over music and merriment? This outsider who clearly had no one to commune with? Where there could just be pathos, Gardner injects surprising dorkiness and humor that further round out Grendel’s existence. And there’s a huge bonus in the poem’s dragon also showing up as an utter weirdo neighbor.

By John Gardner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic and much lauded retelling of Beowulf follows the monster Grendel as he learns about humans and fights the war at the center of the Anglo Saxon classic epic.

"An extraordinary achievement."—New York Times

The first and most terrifying monster in English literature, from the great early epic Beowulf, tells his own side of the story in this frequently banned book. This is the novel William Gass called "one of the finest of our contemporary fictions."


Book cover of Everybody Sees the Ants

K.M. Walton Author Of Cracked

From my list on bullying and depression for young adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of Cracked, Empty, and Ultimatum, three contemporary Young Adult novels that each focus on the hideous effects of bullying. I’ve presented to thousands of students, adults, teachers, and librarians from the elementary through university level on the topic of “The Power of Human Kindness”. I spent twelve years as a public-school teacher (ten of them in middle school), where I developed highly successful ways to stop bullying, resulting in me presenting to my entire faculty, school board, and eventually, my district. I was also the director/owner of Camp Kindness, a summer day camp, and have contributed to numerous news articles on bullying.

K.M.'s book list on bullying and depression for young adults

K.M. Walton Why did K.M. love this book?

If you’ve never read an A.S. King book, well, all I can say is: fix that immediately. King’s brilliance shines through her witty dialogue and her ability to peel back the layers on the uncomfortable parts of life all while managing to use magical realism perfectly. Her books are that good. I’m not kidding. This book focuses on 15-year-old Lucky Linderman, who is the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying. You’ll fall in love with Lucky. You’ll fall in love with this book.

By A.S. King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everybody Sees the Ants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their family is fine. And he certainly didn't ask to be the recipient of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily dysfunction of his life. Grandad Harry, trapped in the jungles of Laos, has been visiting Lucky in his dreams--and the dreams just might be real:…


Book cover of Before I Fall

Jodi Perkins Author Of Chasing Echoes

From my list on where time is out to get you.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my fifth year teaching 7th grade, I found myself repeating the same lessons as prior years, participating in the same club events, marching in the same parades, etc. My students would inevitably reach the end of the school year and move on, while I was forever frozen in 7th grade. Herein my fascination with time loops was born. Over a decade later, I’m now happily teaching high school English while moonlighting as a writer of stories featuring temporal anomalies and time travel. I hope to spread my wings into dystopians and fractured fairy tales in the future, but until then…I may or may not have 22 clocks in my house.

Jodi's book list on where time is out to get you

Jodi Perkins Why did Jodi love this book?

Before I Fall is Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day, with the popular and pretty protagonist, Sam, forced to relive February 12th (her beloved “Cupid’s Day”) over and over. In the beginning, I had no love for Sam and was appalled by her and her friend’s nasty behavior, but Sam’s character growth throughout the novel is inspirational. The time-turning in the novel is handled flawlessly with repeated events never growing dull, and each new loop offering another layer to Sam’s redemption. Admittedly the book didn’t end the way I wanted (I’m a fan of fairy tale endings, even if unrealistic), but watching Sam evolve from a shallow mean girl to a beautiful soul was a moving experience and made the book worth the read.

By Lauren Oliver,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Before I Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A bestselling summer read as heartbreaking as The Lovely Bones and as gripping as Jenny Downham's Before I Die.

**Now a major Netflix movie starring Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley*

'Gossip Girl meets Groundhog Day' Grazia

'Tender, funny and raw' Marie Claire

'A clever, funny, insightful and utterly addictive novel' Daily Mail

'Compelling and poignant, a truly memorable read' Closer

They say 'live every day as if it's your last' - but you never actually think it's going to be. At least I didn't.
The thing is, you don't get to know when it happens. You don't…


Book cover of I'll Give You the Sun

Kelly Murashige Author Of The Lost Souls of Benzaiten

From my list on quiet, mousy, teenaged me feel seen.

Why am I passionate about this?

Aside from my brief stint as a bossy know-it-all when I was little, I have always been that quiet girl no one notices. In high school, it took me at least ten minutes and five tries to get myself to wish my desk partner a happy birthday. I spent a lot of my adolescence trying to find myself, so I understand what it’s like to feel lost. My greatest wish is for my book to help at least one person feel how these books helped me.

Kelly's book list on quiet, mousy, teenaged me feel seen

Kelly Murashige Why did Kelly love this book?

This book is one of the first to teach me how wonderfully odd people can be. Jandy Nelson’s ability to write about lovable, flawed people who see the world differently gave me the courage to take pride in my peculiarity.

With memorable characters and strong familial relationships, this book is one of my go-to recommendations for anyone wondering if there is space for the strange.

By Jandy Nelson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked I'll Give You the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestseller

Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize

Winner of the 2015 Michael L. Printz Award

Winner of a 2015 Stonewall Honor

"This is the big one - the BLAZING story of once inseparable twins whose lives are torn apart by tragedy." Entertainment Weekly

From the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Every where, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying - all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver.

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they…


Book cover of Eleanor & Park

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a YA contemporary author that enjoys falling back into the realm of the teenager with all its newness, awkwardness, and angst. I grew up with the Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, the genre that encapsulated and empowered the young adult voice. The coming-of-age story is so important because it molds the future of that character which in turn can mold the reader as well. What happens to a young person in their developing years will set the tone for their entire life. As a writer and a mother, I want to share stories that not only entertain but help young adults navigate difficult situations.

Gabi's book list on books that capture the tender moments while growing up under difficult circumstances

Gabi Justice Why did Gabi love this book?

First off, it’s set in the 80s. This is my generation. No smartphones. No social media. Just pure teenage angst.

Mostly, I love the back-and-forth conversation and inner thoughts of Eleanor and Park. Rowell nails the authenticity of teens. Their strange humor and insecurities. I want to throw my arms around them and shelter them from the cruel bullies haunting them.

Rowell sucks you into their lives, and it feels so real and raw that you remember the wonder and horror of your own teenage years. The dialogue is rich in its realness, and the tender little moments between Eleanor and Park are precious.

By Rainbow Rowell,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Eleanor & Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'Reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love, but what it's like to be young and in love with a book' John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to…


Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Joseph Pitkin Author Of Exit Black

From my list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My science fiction and fantasy writing is concerned with the values I was exposed to growing up. As a lifelong Quaker, I have struggled—often unsuccessfully—to live out Quakerism’s non-conformist, almost utopian commitment to equality, simplicity, peace, and community. Not only have I tried to bear witness to those values in my writing, but those ideals led me to my career as an instructor at a community college, one of America’s great socioeconomic leveling institutions. My background as a speculative fiction writer has also made me into a teacher of science fiction and fantasy literature at my college, where I read and came to love the books I recommend here. 

Joseph's book list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality

Joseph Pitkin Why did Joseph love this book?

Haunting and beautiful, it gave me a new perspective on what science fiction can accomplish: Ishiguro’s book is subtle, humane, and deeply concerned with the troubles of the real world.

This story of Klara, an “artificial friend” purchased to keep a sick little girl company, takes up questions of eugenics, artificial intelligence, and, ultimately, what it means to be a human being.

Along the way, the book explores the gulf between economic and social classes with as much care and compassion as Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy—Klara and the Sun is some of the most inspiring science fiction I have ever read.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…


Book cover of Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers

Marsha Hayles Author Of Breathing Room

From my list on when illness touches a young person's life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author fortunate to be alive because of emergency medical treatments I received as an infant, treatments not available to one of my older sisters who died as a result. That I grew up in Rochester Minnesota—home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic where my father worked as a pediatric endocrinologist—also may have increased my awareness of how illness and its medical treatments can affect a young person’s life. 

Marsha's book list on when illness touches a young person's life

Marsha Hayles Why did Marsha love this book?

I greatly admire Michelle Obama and thought I knew her story. I didn’t. In this version of her memoir Becoming, adapted for young readers and full of engaging photos, she shares how her father’s multiple sclerosis marked her life: she was a young child when he first needed a cane, a freshman in college when he needed two, and a young professional in love with a man named Barack Obama when her father died. Though he never wanted his multiple sclerosis to limit his children’s lives—and it didn’t—her father’s illness may also explain Michelle Obama’s remarkable strength in the face of adversity and her genuine compassion and concern for others. 

By Michelle Obama,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Becoming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Michelle Obama’s worldwide bestselling memoir, Becoming, is now adapted for young readers.

Michelle Robinson was born on the South Side of Chicago. From her modest beginnings, she would become Michelle Obama, the inspiring and powerful First Lady of the United States, when her husband, Barack Obama, was elected the forty-fourth president. They would be the first Black First Family in the White House and serve the country for two terms.
 
Growing up, Michelle and her older brother, Craig, shared a bedroom in their family’s upstairs apartment in her great-aunt’s house. Her parents, Fraser and…


Book cover of Frankenstein

Randy Ryan Author Of Perspectives

From my list on horror that challenges beliefs and imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about this topic because it dates back to my childhood. I have been interested in this subject for as long as I can remember and, as far as I can tell, gravitated towards it naturally, probably due to those unknown vectors within us all that gear us towards our loves, interests, and passions. I have written many novels in this field, and countless short stories, some published, others lying around my house. For me, this genre defines the best aspects of the imagination and is full of color, fantasy, and the entire broad spectrum of human emotions, including the most potent: fear. 

Randy's book list on horror that challenges beliefs and imagination

Randy Ryan Why did Randy love this book?

Perhaps the most classic work of horror fiction in both literature and cinema. As an English teacher, I find that there is so much fodder for lessons prevalent in this book–nature vs nurture, the dangers of forbidden knowledge and playing God, the arrogance of science, and who the real monster is. I particularly love the difference between The Monster in the novel and the film, its articulation, desires, abilities, and even its physical appearance. Few written works have been more seminal.

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'

'That rare story to pass from literature into myth' The New York Times

Mary Shelley's chilling Gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her lover Percy Shelley on Lake Geneva. The story of Victor Frankenstein who, obsessed with creating life itself, plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, but whose botched creature sets out to destroy his maker, would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity. Based on the third…


Book cover of The Arrival

Barbara Lehman Author Of The Red Book

From my list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love wordless books immoderately, and I also love books that have meta, surreal, or magical realism elements. This list combines these two features! I was personally so happy that The Red Book was described in a review as “a wordless mind trip for tots,” and I think all the books on this list would perfectly fit that description (and much, much more!) too.

Barbara's book list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements

Barbara Lehman Why did Barbara love this book?

I will remain forever astonished at the epic feat of world-building in The Arrival. It thoroughly pulls me into an immersive experience where I am learning along with the main character how to navigate the new world into which he has immigrated. As he learns, we learn. I find myself so emotionally involved with his success in his hopeful new reality. The art is amazingly detailed and conveys the complex and richly visual world, yet also sets a strong emotional tone that brings us into the action.

By Shaun Tan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Arrival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown. This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.

THE ARRIVAL has become one of the most critically acclaimed books of recent years, a wordless masterpiece that describes a world beyond any familiar time or place.

Sited as No 35 in The Times 100 Best Books of all time. It has sold over…


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