100 books like An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

By Elizabeth McCracken,

Here are 100 books that An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination fans have personally recommended if you like An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. 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 Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (and Other Affairs)

Kristin Louise Duncombe Author Of Trailing: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight.

Who am I?

I am a therapist, and I work with people from all walks of life and with all manner of suffering. I am drawn to memoirs because I consider it the real self-help genre of literature. Like good therapy, a good memoir will make sense of a story: how it happened, why it happened, how it affected the person, and what they did (do) to face it, and thrive in spite of it. As a writer, I take pride in bringing that same quality to my work. I have been asked many times, “How can you bear to reveal all that stuff about yourself, especially when it’s unflattering?” The answer is always “Isn’t that the part that matters? Isn’t that the part where the growth occurred? Isn’t that what makes the story worth telling?”

Kristin's book list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight

Kristin Louise Duncombe Why did Kristin love this book?

Wendy Plump’s VOW is the only memoir I have ever read that reveals what it is like to be the “cheating” partner (there are many books that address being cheated on). This is NOT a book touting infidelity or polyamory. It is simply an extremely honest accounting of a marriage riddled by affairs (both partners), how the author coped with the fallout, and grew into a more mature and insight-driven version of herself. This very topic activates so much judgment by so many people (just read some of the seething, scathing reviews on Amazon), but the truth is, human beings DO cheat, they DO commit infidelity, and Wendy Plump, who is a terrific, elegant writer and storyteller, has addressed this topic with great candor. It takes an extremely brave person to tell this type of story; hence, this book is brave and beautiful.

By Wendy Plump,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There are so many ways to find out. From a cell phone. From a bank statement. From some weird supermarket encounter. One morning in early January 2005, Wendy Plump's friend came to tell her that her husband was having an affair. It was not a shock. Actually, it explained a lot. But what Wendy was not prepared for was the revelation that her husband also had another child, living within a mile of their family home.

Monogamy is one of the most important of the many vows we make in our marriages. Yet it is a rare spouse who does…


Book cover of Half a Life

Kristin Louise Duncombe Author Of Trailing: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight.

Who am I?

I am a therapist, and I work with people from all walks of life and with all manner of suffering. I am drawn to memoirs because I consider it the real self-help genre of literature. Like good therapy, a good memoir will make sense of a story: how it happened, why it happened, how it affected the person, and what they did (do) to face it, and thrive in spite of it. As a writer, I take pride in bringing that same quality to my work. I have been asked many times, “How can you bear to reveal all that stuff about yourself, especially when it’s unflattering?” The answer is always “Isn’t that the part that matters? Isn’t that the part where the growth occurred? Isn’t that what makes the story worth telling?”

Kristin's book list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight

Kristin Louise Duncombe Why did Kristin love this book?

At sixteen years old, Darin Strauss had just received his first driver’s license and was on his first unsupervised drive, when a classmate, on a bicycle, swerved in front of his car.  She was killed instantly.  There was never a question of actual culpability: bystanders described the girl on the bike as literally driving in front of his vehicle, as though intentionally (a theory corroborated by suicidal thoughts recorded in her last diary entry the night before the accident). But this did not alleviate the trauma of killing someone, and the anguish and guilt that Darin Strauss carried forward for many, many years into his adult life, and probably always will. “Half a Life” refers to how he lived thereafter; halfway in his own existence, and the other half in constant preoccupation with the girl whose life was no more. This book will fill you with such empathy and compassion…

By Darin Strauss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad's Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey—graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father.…


Book cover of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity

Kristin Louise Duncombe Author Of Trailing: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight.

Who am I?

I am a therapist, and I work with people from all walks of life and with all manner of suffering. I am drawn to memoirs because I consider it the real self-help genre of literature. Like good therapy, a good memoir will make sense of a story: how it happened, why it happened, how it affected the person, and what they did (do) to face it, and thrive in spite of it. As a writer, I take pride in bringing that same quality to my work. I have been asked many times, “How can you bear to reveal all that stuff about yourself, especially when it’s unflattering?” The answer is always “Isn’t that the part that matters? Isn’t that the part where the growth occurred? Isn’t that what makes the story worth telling?”

Kristin's book list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight

Kristin Louise Duncombe Why did Kristin love this book?

Kerry Cohen has written an unflinchingly honest memoir about how her craving for love as an adolescent and young adult led her into one situation after another where she used her body as currency, believing it the way to secure a relationship. Of course, this distorted thinking created other problems – abuse, relationships with inappropriate people - that she then needed to find her way out of. She does, eventually, and shows us the great power that comes from learning to love yourself. Cohen’s storytelling is vivid, and of great value to anyone (which means most everyone) who has ever grappled with low self-esteem, and taken a dead-end path to feeling better. 

By Kerry Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For everyone who was that girl.

Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen's captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction-not just to sex, but to male attention-Loose Girl is also the story of a young woman who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning.

For everyone who knew that girl.

In rich and immediate detail, Loose Girl re-creates what it feels like to be in that desperate moment, when a you try to control someone by handing over your body, when the touch…


Book cover of Wave

Melanie Bishop Author Of My So-Called Ruined Life

From my list on inhabiting unthinkable loss.

Who am I?

When my father died in 1998, bladder cancer, I was 41 years old and privileged to be his primary caregiver for five weeks. My first major loss and it was as though a mack truck had been driven through my chest. Ten years later, my mother died, after nine years of dementia, which is like losing someone twice. That was a more ravaging grief. Twelve years later, my nephew died, a month away from his 36th birthday. And in 2022, one close friend of mine took his own life and another died of cancer at age 57. Grief is the subject I gravitate toward in the books I read and the essays I write. 

Melanie's book list on inhabiting unthinkable loss

Melanie Bishop Why did Melanie love this book?

This book is about the most horrifying loss imaginable: the author loses her parents, her husband, and her two young sons all at once, in the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the day after Christmas, 2004. She and her family were spending the holiday in Sri Lanka when the wave hit and overtook the jeep in which they were attempting to flee. I can’t come up with a better justification for suicide than this—she’s lost everyone; she wonders why she was spared, just to suffer these losses every minute of every hour of every day. The book is both a horror story and a testament to human strength. I assure you, you won’t be able to put it down. 

By Sonali Deraniyagala,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the PEN/Ackerley Prize 2014

The book opens and we are inside the wave: thirty feet high, moving at twenty-five mph, racing two miles inland. And from there into the depths of the author's despair: how to live now that her life has been undone?

Sonali Deraniyagala tells her story - the loss of her two boys, her husband, and her parents - without artifice or sentimentality. In the stark language of unfathomable sorrow, anger, and guilt: she struggles through the first months following the tragedy -- someone always at her side to prevent her from harming herself, her…


Book cover of The Disappearance

Monica Wesolowska Author Of Holding Silvan: A Brief Life

From my list on maternal grief and universal love.

Who am I?

I am a member of an unfortunate tribe, the tribe of grieving mothers who write. Upon learning that my newborn son was profoundly brain-damaged, I kept a diary. Writing those pages helped me make sense of his prognosis and figure out how to care for him before he died. Later, my diary helped me write my memoir Holding Silvan: A Brief Life which went on to be named a “Best Book” of the year by both Library Journal and the Boston Globe. Today, I write and work with other writers trying to craft their own stories of loss. Each experience of grief is unique. The five memoirs I’m recommending give voice to a variety of maternal losses — from stillbirth to murder. While each of these memoirs is powerful in its own way, the love in them is universal.

Monica's book list on maternal grief and universal love

Monica Wesolowska Why did Monica love this book?

Upon receiving the news that her two young daughters had been killed by a drunk driver, Genevieve Jurgensen didn’t think she could go on, let alone ever write about her loss. Fortunately for us, she eventually found a way to tell this story. Through letters to a friend, she draws us in, circling the pain of that terrible day, musing about the mysterious ways in which loss can coexist with a happy, ongoing life. With its raw and intimate feel, the book is a profoundly moving testimony to the complicated process of healing.

By Geneviève Jurgensen, Adriana Hunter (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What do you do, how do you live, when both of your daughters are killed on the same afternoon?

On April 30, 1980, Genevieve Jurgensen found herself facing that question when she lost her four- and seven-year-old daughters to a drunk driver. Here she presents her search for an answer.

Book cover of Paula: A Memoir

Joanne Greene Author Of By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go

From my list on by and about wise, vulnerable, badass women.

Who am I?

When called a badass, I say thank you. Though I was raised to say and do the right thing, I’ve spent a lifetime speaking my truth, on radio and now on podcasts, being both reverent and irreverent. It took losing three immediate family members and getting hit by a car as a pedestrian for me to learn that I don’t have to be in perpetual motion. I went from being the baby of my family to being the matriarch in a heartbeat and am honored to share what I’ve learned about resilience and authenticity in my first book, By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go.  

Joanne's book list on by and about wise, vulnerable, badass women

Joanne Greene Why did Joanne love this book?

I cannot imagine sitting at the bedside of one of my children in a coma.

Isabel Allende not only did that, but used her grief, fear, pain, hope, optimism, memory, and humor to write an extraordinarily compelling book. We come to know not only Paula, Isabel’s gravely ill daughter, but a colorful cast of characters from the family’s past.

We learn about Chilean history and somehow find ourselves laughing and crying in the same chapter. At least I did. Allende is a master with words – and English is not her first language. Do yourself a favor and read this gem.

By Isabel Allende,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Beautiful and heartrending. . . . Memoir, autobiography, epicedium, perhaps even some fiction: they are all here, and they are all quite wonderful."-Los Angeles Times

In this literary classic, New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende recalls the story of her beloved daughter and her remarkable family's past.

When her daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and fell into a coma, Isabel Allende began to write the story of her family for her unconscious child. Bizarre ancestors are introduced; delightful and bitter childhood memories are shared; amazing anecdotes of youthful years are relived, and the most intimate secrets are quietly passed…


Book cover of Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin

Monica Wesolowska Author Of Holding Silvan: A Brief Life

From my list on maternal grief and universal love.

Who am I?

I am a member of an unfortunate tribe, the tribe of grieving mothers who write. Upon learning that my newborn son was profoundly brain-damaged, I kept a diary. Writing those pages helped me make sense of his prognosis and figure out how to care for him before he died. Later, my diary helped me write my memoir Holding Silvan: A Brief Life which went on to be named a “Best Book” of the year by both Library Journal and the Boston Globe. Today, I write and work with other writers trying to craft their own stories of loss. Each experience of grief is unique. The five memoirs I’m recommending give voice to a variety of maternal losses — from stillbirth to murder. While each of these memoirs is powerful in its own way, the love in them is universal.

Monica's book list on maternal grief and universal love

Monica Wesolowska Why did Monica love this book?

Before their son died, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin never imagined speaking publicly or starting a movement. It was only after Trayvon, a seventeen-year-old Black boy walking home from the store, was shot and killed by a white man who claimed he felt threatened, that they realized they would have to fight for justice. No parent should know the loss of a child like this, but as the subtitle puts it, this is a “parents’ story of love, injustice, and the birth of a movement” and we have Fulton and Martin to thank for turning their grief into a call to action for us all.

By Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On February 26th 2012 seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with a bag of Skittles and a can of juice when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighbourhood watchman ended his young life. In a matter of weeks, Trayvon Martin's name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes, and passionately discussed all
over traditional and social media. Trayvon's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, driven by their intense love for their lost son, launched a nationwide campaign for justice that would change the USA and the world.

Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin has become…


Book cover of The Light Between Oceans

Tetyana Denford Author Of The Child of Ukraine

From my list on showing 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.

Tetyana's book list on showing how people navigate loss and hope

Tetyana Denford Why did Tetyana love 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.

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.

What is this book about?

The years-long New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Best Historical Novel that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine)—soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks starring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young,…


Book cover of The Snow Child

Victoria Costello Author Of Orchid Child

From my list on realist that use magic to say hard things.

Who am I?

Like most children growing up with fairy tales and Bible instruction, I believed in miracles and magic. But it was the death of my father at age eight, then having his spirit return to my childhood bedroom to comfort and reassure me, that planted in me a core belief in dimensions beyond material reality. Other influences, including living as a neurodiverse woman and raising a neurodiverse son, working as a science journalist, and reading quantum physics, helped me re-embrace the liminal as part of my adult worldview. The most interesting novels to me often carry subtle messages and bring awareness to underrepresented people and issues, and many do this using magic and the fantastic.

Victoria's book list on realist that use magic to say hard things

Victoria Costello Why did Victoria love this book?

The Snow Child depicts a maybe real, maybe imaginary little girl bringing joy to a childless, homesteading couple in 1920s Alaska.

In this bestselling debut novel, released in 2016, a couple that yearns for a child of their own is visited by a nymph who appears and disappears in the snow drifts on their homestead. In her novel, Eowyn Ivy manages to sustain the reader’s belief that this girl could in fact be real, without directly saying one way or the other. 
Why do this in an essentially realist portrayal of hardscrabble life in rural Alaska? Again, I see it as a way to get past the character’s rational mind and open both the character and readers’ hearts to the ineffable.

Here, Mabel, the main character says it better. “You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact, Mabel had come to suspect the opposite.…

By Eowyn Ivey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska, Eowyn Ivey's THE SNOW CHILD was a top ten bestseller in hardback and paperback, and went on to be a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in…


Book cover of The Miscarriage Map: What To Expect When You Are No Longer Expecting

Monica Starkman Author Of The End of Miracles: A Novel

From my list on miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

Who am I?

I am a psychiatrist-novelist. As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen many patients struggling with infertility and miscarriage. As a novelist, I became intrigued with the idea of having false pregnancy (pseudocyesis) be a key element in a character’s life. My primary goal was to create an engrossing good read. I also wanted to show the psychological trauma of infertility/miscarriage. Another goal was to portray psychiatric patients, the psychiatrists who treat them, and psychiatry in a realistic way. I’m so gratified by the reader reviews: “gripping”...“spell-binding”...“rich, satisfying read”...“a page-turner”...“Illuminating”.  

Monica's book list on miscarriage and pregnancy loss

Monica Starkman Why did Monica love this book?

This is a book written by a psychologist who herself experienced a miscarriage that traumatized her. The author is frank and open about her own feelings and those of her husband. I like how beneficial this is: it brings a sense of normality to feelings women have that may seem frightening to them. There are also suggestions of what can help, as well as supplemental recommended readings. The book is a combination of memoir, reading companion, and advice-provider. 

By Sunita Osborn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Miscarriage: It can devastate an individual, a couple, and family to their very core. And yet, this painfully common human experience is so rarely talked about. How do we continue functioning? How do we tell our partner what we need? How do we deal with emotional dumpster fire that is the aftermath of a miscarriage? How do we not kill the fifth person who tells us “You can always have another baby.”

With unflinching honesty and fearless humor, psychologist Dr. Sunita Osborn addresses the relevant but often unspoken topics following a miscarriage including the impact of miscarriage on a relationship,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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