100 books like Against the Currant

By Olivia Matthews,

Here are 100 books that Against the Currant fans have personally recommended if you like Against the Currant. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Honey Roasted

Caryl Janis Author Of To Sketch a Killer

From my list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a musician and writer who has always loved mysteries. Main character-sleuths who are likable and sometimes get in over their heads are my favorites, both as a reader and a writer, especially if they contribute something positive to their world in addition to solving the crime. If their careers or hobbiesanything from the arts to small customer-service businesses – offer joy to themselves and to others, so much the better. Since I grew up in the New York area, I like books that are set there, but am open to a good story set anywhere in the world.

Caryl's book list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York

Caryl Janis Why did Caryl love this book?

Here is one of the latest in the popular books featuring Greenwich Village coffee house manager, Clare Cosi.

It is enormous fun to tag along on Clare’s most recent wild adventure as she investigates both murder and attempted murder while trying to plan her honeymoon with an overworked police detective, getting a quick education in beekeeping, and still overseeing the Village Blend and its loveable staff.

Despite numerous intriguing complications, I loved how Clare handles everything with great aplomb and integrity. The action, the wit, the appealing characters, and the evolving plot that kept me guessing until the end made this story a winner.

By Cleo Coyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Honey Roasted as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Coyle's latest Coffeehouse mystery is a honey of a tale....A primer on bees, coffee, and some of New York's most unusual and exciting areas make for a fascinating and mysterious read."—Kirkus Reviews

Clare Cosi is busy as a bee planning her honeymoon when murder buzzes into the Village Blend in this all-new mystery in the beloved New York Times bestselling Coffeehouse series by Cleo Coyle.

While struggling to find a romantic (and affordable) destination for her upcoming honeymoon, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi whips up a honey of a drink made from honey-processed coffee. Clare plans to serve her outstanding new…


Book cover of Murder in Fourth Position: An On Pointe Mystery

Caryl Janis Author Of To Sketch a Killer

From my list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a musician and writer who has always loved mysteries. Main character-sleuths who are likable and sometimes get in over their heads are my favorites, both as a reader and a writer, especially if they contribute something positive to their world in addition to solving the crime. If their careers or hobbiesanything from the arts to small customer-service businesses – offer joy to themselves and to others, so much the better. Since I grew up in the New York area, I like books that are set there, but am open to a good story set anywhere in the world.

Caryl's book list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York

Caryl Janis Why did Caryl love this book?

The latest in a series featuring an engaging New York City ballerina/amateur sleuth.

On hiatus from Lincoln Center while her ballet company is on tour, Leah goes undercover as a dancer on Broadway to keep her eyes open for clues into who is harassing the show’s leading lady online. It starts simply enough until murder enters the picture.

I loved the quirky backstage energy, the interplay between the colorful cast of characters, and the many absorbing plot twists. It’s easy to applaud as Leah keeps investigating despite mounting personal danger as well as the anxiety it causes in her romance with the appealing detective on the case.

By Lori Robbins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder in Fourth Position as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mad Music was the buzziest new show of the upcoming Broadway season, with a hot score, a cool director, and a deadly plot twist no one saw coming. When rumors of a behind-the-scenes disaster surface, ballerina Leah Siderova finds herself with the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to make her Broadway debut while playing a double role. The producers hope to capitalize on her talent, as well as her devoted fan base, to revive ticket sales. Leah's true reason for abandoning Lincoln Center for the Great White Way is her undercover investigation of online threats against Amber Castle, the…


Book cover of Ghostwriter Anonymous

Caryl Janis Author Of To Sketch a Killer

From my list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a musician and writer who has always loved mysteries. Main character-sleuths who are likable and sometimes get in over their heads are my favorites, both as a reader and a writer, especially if they contribute something positive to their world in addition to solving the crime. If their careers or hobbiesanything from the arts to small customer-service businesses – offer joy to themselves and to others, so much the better. Since I grew up in the New York area, I like books that are set there, but am open to a good story set anywhere in the world.

Caryl's book list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York

Caryl Janis Why did Caryl love this book?

First in a reissued series, this has a local 1990s Upper East Side vibe. “Jake” (short for Jacqueline) is part of a supportive group of ghostwriters who regularly meet to discuss the problems and pitfalls of their chosen career.

But she soon finds herself solving the murder of one of their own. I loved the uniquely detailed characters –the writers, Jake’s mother, her mom’s best friend, the neighbors. Enjoyable wit and humor prevail throughout, and the lively situations that lead Jake into both peril and perplexing romantic possibilities are enjoyable.

The ease with which older and younger generations blend is a definite asset to a plot with some real surprises.

By Noreen Wald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Murders multiply, but Jake proves up to the challenge. She sees through all the subterfuge and chicanery, solving a mind-boggling mystery in a burst of insight. All the characters are charmingly kooky and fun. This is a good beginning for a new series. We will be looking for more of Jake O'Hara." - TheMysteryReader.com "[Wald] writes with a light touch." - New York Daily News "The author keeps the plot airy and the characters outlandish." - South Florida Sun-Sentinel With her books sporting other people's names, ghostwriter Jake O'Hara works behind the scenes. But she never expected a séance at…


Book cover of A Fatal Finale

Caryl Janis Author Of To Sketch a Killer

From my list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a musician and writer who has always loved mysteries. Main character-sleuths who are likable and sometimes get in over their heads are my favorites, both as a reader and a writer, especially if they contribute something positive to their world in addition to solving the crime. If their careers or hobbiesanything from the arts to small customer-service businesses – offer joy to themselves and to others, so much the better. Since I grew up in the New York area, I like books that are set there, but am open to a good story set anywhere in the world.

Caryl's book list on cozy mysteries—with a touch of romance—set in New York

Caryl Janis Why did Caryl love this book?

I loved Ella Shane who rose from Lower East Side poverty to success.

She directs and performs in her own opera company – most unusual for a woman in 1899, even in New York. Never forgetting where she came from, she is grateful for all she’s achieved. In this first of a three-part series, Ella turns sleuth after one of her young singers dies mysteriously onstage.

When the singer’s cousin (a Duke, no less) arrives to investigate, the promise of romance is definitely in the air. The contrast between late 1890s protocols versus the changing attitudes of the coming new century is fascinating. The main characters are beautifully and compassionately drawn, and the story has an action-packed finale.

By Kathleen Marple Kalb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the cusp of the twentieth century, Manhattan is a lively metropolis buzzing with talent. But after a young soprano meets an untimely end on stage, can one go-getting leading lady hit the right notes in a case of murder?
 
New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold by assuming “trouser roles”—male characters played by women—and captivating audiences far and wide with her travelling theatre company. But Ella’s flair for the dramatic takes a terrifying turn when an overacting Juliet to her Romeo…


Book cover of Lot Six: A Memoir

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Author Of American Estrangement: Stories

From my list on ways to fit in in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Other than the fact that I grew up in the United States, the son of a Jewish-American mother, an Iranian-born father, a thirteen-letter unpronounceable letter last name, the 444-day Iranian hostage crisis, and parents who were both members of the Socialist Workers Party, which advocated for a working-class revolution along the lines of the Russian Revolution—I am a typical American. I like hamburgers, Martha Stewart, and the New York Yankees. Trace elements of my upbringing can still be found in my memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, my two short story collections, and my worldview, which I’m still working on in therapy. 

Saïd's book list on ways to fit in in America

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Why did Saïd love this book?

Before David Adjmi became an acclaimed playwright, he was contending with his complicated upbringing in Brooklyn, New York, the child of Syrian Jewish parents, being schooled in a Yeshiva, and trying to come to terms with being gay. Adjmi writes with incredible candor about feeling like a perpetual outsider, including—or especially—within his own family. The title borrows its name from a pejorative term for gays that his family would often use to their great amusement and Adjmi’s mortification. Bonus viewing: Marie Antoinette, The Evildoers, Stunning, Stereophonic, or any number of his plays, where you will be able see how and where nonfiction is transmuted into theatre.

By David Adjmi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“David Adjmi has written one of the great American memoirs, a heartbreaking, hilarious story of what it means to make things up, including yourself. A wild tale of lack and lies, galling humiliations and majestic reinventions, this touching, coruscating joy of a book is an answer to that perennial question: how should a person be?”

   — Olivia Laing, author of Crudo and The Lonely City


In a world where everyone is inventing a self, curating a feed and performing a fantasy of life, what does it mean to be a person? In his grandly entertaining debut memoir, playwright David Adjmi…


Book cover of A Moon for Moe and Mo

Cathy Goldberg Fishman Author Of When Jackie and Hank Met

From my list on diversity and social justice for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a teacher, a mom, a bubbe, and a writer. I taught elementary school and college courses, directed a daycare, and owned a children’s bookstore, but my favorite job is scribbling words on paper. I have two grown children and four wonderful granddaughters who love to listen as I read to them. Many of my ideas come from my experiences with my granddaughters and from their questions. Our family and friends are a mix of religions and cultures, and most of my books reflect the importance of diversity, acceptance, and knowledge.

Cathy's book list on diversity and social justice for children

Cathy Goldberg Fishman Why did Cathy love this book?

I love this book because it is the story about a friendship between a Jewish boy, Moses Feldman, and a Muslim boy, Mohammed Hassan.

The two boys meet at a neighborhood market, and they are mistaken for brothers. This leads to their families sharing rugelach, date cookies, and the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

I am recommending this book because it encourages friendship between people of different faiths.

By Jane Breskin Zalben, Mehrdohkt Amini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Moon for Moe and Mo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

An interfaith friendship develops when Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, overlaps with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan--an occurence that happens only once every thirty years or so.

Moses Feldman, a Jewish boy, lives at one end of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, while Mohammed Hassan, a Muslim boy, lives at the other. One day they meet at Sahadi's market while out shopping with their mothers and are mistaken for brothers. A friendship is born, and the boys bring their families together to share rugelach and date cookies in the park as they make a wish for peace.


Book cover of Liar & Spy

Beth McMullen Author Of Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls

From my list on spy reads for kids with espionage escapades.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my books, for adults and kids, include the theme that things are seldom what they seem. I link this to the slow realization when I was young that my family had an uncommon history. Novels featuring spies go deep into this theme, as a good spy is always manipulating their environment and presenting versions of themselves that may or may not be true. When my own children were little, we read so many of these novels. That reading is what inspired the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.

Beth's book list on spy reads for kids with espionage escapades

Beth McMullen Why did Beth love this book?

I love how Georges and Safer are relatable. Their friendship has ups and downs and tensions that resonate for young readers.

Middle school is challenging! The realism extends to Georges’s family and the challenges he faces at home. But this story is driven by the mystery of Spy Club and Mr. X. Important themes of friendship, empathy, and self discovery are flawlessly woven into the expert storytelling. I read this in one sitting!

By Rebecca Stead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Liar & Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When Georges moves into a new apartment block he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old self-appointed spy. Soon Georges has become his spy recruit. His first assignment? To track the mysterious Mr X, who lives in the flat upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: what is a game and what is a lie? How far is too far to go for your only friend?

Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

'A joy to read' Independent

'Rebecca Stead makes writing this well look easy' Philip Ardagh, Guardian

'Exactly what I would…


Book cover of Shadowshaper

Shelly X. Leonn Author Of The Ghost and the Wolf

From my list on girl MCs who are owning life.

Why am I passionate about this?

My novel choices were part of the Afterschool Literacy & Building Modules for an organization called LitShop. It encourages growth in literacy, making, building, and leadership in girls ages 10-15 in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m honored to lead the writing classes. All of the LitShop books feature strong girls who believe they can make and build their way to a better world, and I aim to include similar characters in my stories. Stories can provide us with motivation, inspiration, and companionship, and all of these books have done just that… for the girls of LitShop as well as myself.

Shelly's book list on girl MCs who are owning life

Shelly X. Leonn Why did Shelly love this book?

Before reading this book, I had no idea city-based fantasy novels could draw me in as powerfully as stories with more “traditional” fantasy settings. But Mr. Older’s depiction of Brooklyn as a living, breathing landscape made me a new believer in urban magic. And the main character Sierra’s shadowshaping feels like its own form of beautiful, youthful rebellion. Art can save us, if only we breathe our power into it. I stop and stare at most graffiti murals now, waiting for them to move a little.

By Daniel José Older,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadowshaper 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?

Come to the crossroads, to the crossroads come

Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears . . . Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

Where the powers converge and become one

With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But…


Book cover of When We Make It

Monique "Nikki" Murphy Author Of Home for Hurricanes: A Memoir of Resilience in Poetry and Prose

From my list on poetry that explore communities of color.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Monique “Nikki” Murphy, an awarded poet, author, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion professional. I grew up in a Black low-income neighborhood with the love of a single mother and the absence of a father, which all impacted the way I experienced the failed promise of justice and equality for all. My mother, an avid reader of Black novels, fostered a love of reading in me and a deep sensitivity to caring about the issues that affected Black people. This sensitivity manifested in a career in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and a love of creative writing & books that explore issues of inequality, trauma, and personal development.  As a poet, I love the artistic exploration of our lived experiences and art that inspires activism.

Monique's book list on poetry that explore communities of color

Monique "Nikki" Murphy Why did Monique love this book?

This coming-of-age novel-in-verse beautifully captures the dynamics of survival in tough neighborhoods in a way that honors the humanity and nuance of the community—details that are too often lost in media and forgotten by the people that “make it out.” Through the lens of the Puerto Rican-American protagonist, Sarai, her family, and the neighborhood characters that are all too familiar, I was brought into the heart of pre-gentrified Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Puerto Rican culture to go on Sarai’s journey of self-discovery. We are sitting on the stoop, at the foot of the bed, in the back pew in conversation with Sarai. We see her, we hear her, we love her. And won’t ever forget her. We are left to reflect on what it really means to “make it.”

By Elisabet Velasquez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When We Make It 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?

"The energy. The clarity. The beauty. Elisabet Velasquez brings it all. . . . Her voice is FIRE!"-NYT bestselling and award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to "make it," for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican question asker who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister, Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity…


Book cover of Christ In Concrete

David Amadio Author Of Rug Man

From my list on working life.

Why am I passionate about this?

The blue-collar everyman lives on the periphery, coming and going with little fanfare. But what does he think and feel? How does he view the world? I became interested in these questions while working for my father’s rug business. I started as a part-timer in the early 90s, straddling the line between academe and the homes of the rich. He employed me for the next twenty years, supplementing my income as I found my way as a university professor. The books listed led me to a deeper appreciation of my father’s vocation, but only in writing Rug Man did I come to understand the true meaning of work. 

David's book list on working life

David Amadio Why did David love this book?

Published the same year as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, di Donato’s Christ in Concrete is another closely drawn portrait of working-class immigrants, this time the Italian-American bricklayers of New York City’s Lower East Side.

On top of its lyricism and spirited narrative pace, what I find most refreshing about di Donato’s tale is its choice of subject matter. So much of what we read and hear about the Italian-American experience tends to focus on the Mafia, perpetuating negative stereotypes that have dogged paisans since the late 19th century.

While I’ll never be the one to turn off Goodfellas, I long for more stories like that of Geremio and his irrepressible son, Paul, “born artists of brick and mortar.”

By Pietro di Donato,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Giving voice to the hardworking Italian immigrants who worked, lived, and died in New York City shortly before the Great Depression, this American classic ranks with Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as one of the 20th century’s great works of social protest.
 
Largely autobiographical, Christ in Concrete opens with the dramatic Good Friday collapse of a building under construction, crucifying in concrete an Italian construction worker, whose death leaves his pregnant wife and eight children impoverished. His oldest son, Paul, at just twelve years old, must take over his father’s role—and his job.
 
Paul’s odyssey into manhood begins on the…


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