10 books like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Betty Smith,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold,

Book cover of The Lovely Bones

Contemporary suspense, psychological fiction, the afterlife, family dynamics, and heaps of disturbing are the ingredients mixed together in The Lovely Bones. Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon was raped and murdered. Only none of the living know who did it. But Susie knows. Her soul is stuck in the “Inbetween,” where she can watch the Earth below. She sees her family grieve. Sees her murderer, Mr. Harvey, who lives in her neighborhood near her school. Will he get caught? Or will Susie’s sister or another young girl be his next victim? As a ghostly “watcher” from the Inbetween, Susie narrates this compelling story and elevates it with her amazing voice. The message and emotional weight of The Lovely Bones will keep readers fully invested.

The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Lovely Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling novel that inspired the acclaimed film directed by Peter Jackson.

With an introduction by Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles.

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

In heaven, Susie Salmon can have whatever she wishes for - except what she most wants, which is to be back with the people she loved on earth. In the wake of her murder, Susie watches as her happy suburban family is torn apart by grief; as her friends grow up, fall in…


Room

By Emma Donoghue,

Book cover of Room

You won’t find a more innocent narrator than five-year-old Jack. He lives in “Room”, the only place he knows, with Ma, and the only other person he has met is “Old Nick” – the man who abducted, imprisoned, and now visits his mother at night. Inspired by the horrendous Fritzl case, Room is heart-breaking and compelling. Jack’s only contact with the outside world is via what he sees on TV until he has to escape. Following this nail-bitingly intense episode, you’ll be gunning for Jack and his ma as they try to move on with their lives.

Room

By Emma Donoghue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A major film starring Brie Larson.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Picador Classics edition with an introduction by John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra.

Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen…


Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden,

Book cover of Memoirs of a Geisha

Some books echo in your mind long after you finish reading them. I loved Memoirs of a Geisha, which I read as an audiobook. This novel follows a young girl named Chiyo, who is sold to a geisha house as a child. She endures brutal treatment and eventually must train to be a geisha and entertain the highest levels of Japanese elite. But her body and her life are not her own—the novel follows Chiyo as she struggles to make a life for herself in Japan leading up to, and following, the second world war. This novel is both enchanting and haunting.

Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Memoirs of a Geisha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An epic tale and a brutal evocation of a disappearing world' The Times

A young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. Many years later she tells her story from a hotel in New York, opening a window into an extraordinary half-hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation and summoning up a quarter of a century of Japan's dramatic history.

'Intimate and brutal, written in cool, lucid prose it is a novel whose psychological empathy and historical truths are outstanding' Mail on Sunday


Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Book cover of Life of Pi

Again, I chose a book that is given in the first-person point of view. Rather than using a variety of first persons to tell a story, Martel takes the main character, Pi, and uses him in back-and-forth narrations from various ages – young and in the moment, and older, looking back. As well, he uses Pi as a general narrator overall in the storytelling. This gives the illusion that perhaps the other characters are not so important, or rather they are not the point of the story. 

Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Life of Pi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his…


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Book cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Oskar Shell is the 9-year-old narrator living in New York City at the time of 9/11. His father has just died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th,  2001. He describes his feeling of depression at the loss of his father “as wearing heavy boots.” Shortly afterwards, in his father's closet, Oskar finds a key in an envelope inside a vase that he accidentally broke; in the key shop, he finds the name Black and thinks this has something to do with the key. He sets out to contact every person in New York City with the last name of Black in the hope of finding the lock that belongs to the key his father left behind, creating a binder with mementos of his journey.

Though it’s not clear how he manages to be so independent at this young age, along the way Oskar encounters an…

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

ADAPTED INTO A FEATURE FILM WITH TOM HANKS

From the critically acclaimed author of Here I Am, Everything is Illuminated and We are the Weather - a heartrending and unforgettable novel set in the aftermath of the 9/11

'Utterly engaging, hugely involving, tragic, funny and intensely moving... A heartbreaker' Spectator

'The most incredible fictional nine-year-old ever created... a funny, heart-rending portrayal of a child coping with disaster. It will have you biting back the tears' Glamour

'Pulsates with dazzling ideas' Times Literary Supplement

'It's a miracle... So impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving' Baltimore Sun…


The House of Mirth

By Edith Wharton,

Book cover of The House of Mirth

Unlike the other titles listed on my list, The House of Mirth was not written with history receding in the rearview mirror. It was published in 1905, and meant to reflect the moral character and social context of a beautiful young woman at the century’s turn in New York. It’s the kind of book I would have wrongly dismissed as a trifle when I was a teenager. But Wharton writes with such pitiless precision and ferocious insight that she makes her story seem as modern as a Netflix show about Anna Delvey, the grifter. Of course, Wharton portrays her protagonist, Lily Bart, with far more compassion. But the author is so tough and knowing about the world Lily is operating in that I was reminded at times of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Then as now, the city can be a jungle.  

The House of Mirth

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The House of Mirth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bestseller when it was published nearly a century ago, this literary classic established Edith Wharton as one of the most important American writers in the twentieth century-now with a new introduction from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan.

Wharton's first literary success-a devastatingly accurate portrait of New York's aristocracy at the turn of the century-is considered by many to be her most important novel, and Lily Bart, her most unforgettable character. Impoverished but well-born, the beautiful and beguiling Lily realizes a secure future depends on her acquiring a wealthy husband. But with her romantic indiscretion, gambling debts, and a maelstrom…


The Museum of Extraordinary Things

By Alice Hoffman,

Book cover of The Museum of Extraordinary Things

This one is set in the early 20th century. Coralie, works at her father’s Coney Island freak show as a mermaid and has extraordinary swimming abilities but is as sheltered as a goldfish in a bowl. She meets and falls in love with a photographer who is on hand to document the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. This is for readers who like their historical fiction touched with that kitchen-sink magical realism that Alice Hoffman is celebrated for. Turn-of-the-century New York sparkles throughout. This one is closer to my own Melting Pot roots and its eccentric characters seem so New York!

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

By Alice Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Museum of Extraordinary Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coney Island, 1911: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of a self-proclaimed scientist and professor who acts as the impresario of The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show offering amazement and entertainment to the masses. An extraordinary swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl,and a 100 year old turtle, in her father's ""museum"". She swims regularly in New York's Hudson River, and one night stumbles upon a striking young man alone in the woods photographing moon-lit trees. From that moment, Coralie knows her life will never be the same.

The dashing photographer…


Time and Again

By Jack Finney,

Book cover of Time and Again

Being a romantic I loved Time and Again (as well as the movie) for the story’s construction. I appreciate verisimilitude in historical novels and Finney has done his homework. Having briefly visited New York City twice, I do not know it personally. 

Finney makes it breathe in 1882 with fascinating detail that never bores, and by using photographs. I thought the novel was perfect, and it stuck in my head as much for production/construction values as well as the story. When I first researched Treadwell at the Alaska Historical Library in Juneau I came across dozens of photographs, and the form for the novel coalesced in my head.

In retrospect I realize the novels I loved taught me about the architecture of story as well as entertaining me.

Time and Again

By Jack Finney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Si Morley is bored with his job as a commercial illustrator and his social life doesn't seem to be going anywhere. So, when he is approached by an affable ex-football star and told that he is just what the government is looking for to take part in a top-secret programme, he doesn't hesitate for too long. And so one day Si steps out of his twentieth-century, New York apartment and finds himself back in January 1882. There are no cars, no planes, no computers, no television and the word 'nuclear' appears in no dictionaries. For Si, it's very like Eden,…


The Spectral City

By Leanna Renee Hieber,

Book cover of The Spectral City

The Spectral City series by Leanna Hieber is for those who like their Gaslight era New York history mixed with ghosts! Narrated by a young woman with the gift of ghost communicator, she sees spirits beyond the veil of our corporal existence. And what a world is there! Her mystery-cracking team helps her confront the dark world. Don’t worry—attention to historical details is spot on, and so is police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt’s confidence in his sleuth. I love a ghost story where the ghosts have afterlives of their own, don’t you? Enjoy these detective stories with unique sidekicks of their resourceful heroine.

The Spectral City

By Leanna Renee Hieber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Solving crime isn’t only for the living.
 
In turn-of-the century New York City, the police have an off-the-books spiritual go-to when it comes to solving puzzling corporal crimes . . .
 
Her name is Eve Whitby, gifted medium and spearhead of The Ghost Precinct. When most women are traveling in a gilded society that promises only well-appointed marriage, the confident nineteen-year-old Eve navigates a social circle that carries a different kind of chill. Working with the diligent but skeptical Lieutenant Holtzmann, as well as a group of fellow psychics and wayward ghosts, Eve proves her worth against a world of…


The Girl with a Pearl Earring

By Tracy Chevalier,

Book cover of The Girl with a Pearl Earring

This is a book I’ve read more than once. I sympathized with Griet, the main character and enjoyed reading about her world, set in 1600s Holland. When her father goes blind and is unable to support the family, Griet’s mother forces her to work as a maid for a wealthy painter. No longer allowed to live at home, Griet moves in with the painter’s family. He is smitten with Griet despite his pregnant wife’s disapproval. Griet struggles to fulfill her work duties while everyone else resents her presence. I loved the ending of this story.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring

By Tracy Chevalier,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Girl with a Pearl Earring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling novel by the author of A Single Thread and At the Edge of the Orchard

Translated into thirty-nine languages and made into an Oscar-nominated film, starring Scarlett Johanson and Colin Firth

Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . .…


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