10 books like Another Brooklyn

By Jacqueline Woodson,

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

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The Known World

By Edward P. Jones,

Book cover of The Known World

Toni Morrison once described her books as simple stories about complicated characters, and this also applies to The Known World. This beautifully-written novel, told from the perspective of slave-owners, surprises—but in this case, because they’re Black.

I’d come across an instance of African American slave-owning (which were very few) while researching my first book. Jones understands that the contradictions of the premise offer a great opportunity to explore the fiction of American racial identity.

In The Known World, there are no characters in white hats and others in black hats. The African American characters are no more noble than the white ones.

No, slavery corrupts all.

The Known World

By Edward P. Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Masterful, Pulitzer-prize winning literary epic about the painful and complex realities of slave life on a Southern plantation. An utterly original exploration of race, trust and the cruel truths of human nature, this is a landmark in modern American literature.

Henry Townsend, a black farmer, boot maker, and former slave, becomes proprietor of his own plantation - as well as his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery…


Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being

By Kevin Quashie,

Book cover of Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being

Every now and then I come across a book that I wish I had written, and Quashie’s Black Aliveness is among them. One of the motivating premises of Afro-Nostalgia is the sense that so much of black life is narrated through a trauma, oppression, and death. Black Aliveness operates from a similar premise and is centrally concerned with the “quality of aliveness” in African American poetry and literature. Here is one of my favorite passages in the book: “As necessary as ‘Black Lives Matter’ has proven to be, so efficient and beautiful a truth-claim, its necessity disorients me…I want a black world where matter of mattering matters indisputably, where black mattering is beyond expression.”

Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being

By Kevin Quashie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being, Kevin Quashie imagines a Black world in which one encounters Black being as it is rather than only as it exists in the shadow of anti-Black violence. As such, he makes a case for Black aliveness even in the face of the persistence of death in Black life and Black study. Centrally, Quashie theorizes aliveness through the aesthetics of poetry, reading poetic inhabitance in Black feminist literary texts by Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, and Evie Shockley, among others, showing how their philosophical and creative thinking constitutes worldmaking. This…


Everyday Utopias

By Davina Cooper,

Book cover of Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces

The word, utopia, derives from the Greek terms ou “not” + topos “place”---“no place.” Yet, the idea of a perfect “place” or society is one that has captured the imagination of artists, writers, politicians, and governments for centuries. I really love the concept of “everyday utopias” because it focuses on small, local spaces of joy and pleasure that people create for themselves outside and beyond the boundaries of social norms and expectations. Inherent in the term “utopia” is the impossibility of the idea and yet, readers witness thriving communities that show the possibilities of alternative systems of governance, self-sufficiency, civility, and citizenship, as well as well-being and pleasure.

Everyday Utopias

By Davina Cooper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Everyday utopias enact conventional activities in unusual ways. Instead of dreaming about a better world, participants seek to create it. As such, their activities provide vibrant and stimulating contexts for considering the terms of social life, of how we live together and are governed. Weaving conceptual theorizing together with social analysis, Davina Cooper examines utopian projects as seemingly diverse as a feminist bathhouse, state equality initiatives, community trading networks, and a democratic school where students and staff collaborate in governing. She draws from firsthand observations and interviews with participants to argue that utopian projects have the potential to revitalize progressive…


World of Wonders

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura (illustrator),

Book cover of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

There’s this rumor that poets look longer and harder at the ornaments of the world than do anyone else.  They keep looking, and looking, and looking, after most everyone else has long ago looked away, moved on. Here, in the wonderful world of poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s first book of nonfiction, whimsy and reverence twine like the DNA helices of the flora and fauna she examines. In her essay on the firefly, I adore the part when the insects “…lose their light rhythm for a few minutes after a single car’s headlights pass. Sometimes it takes hours for them to recalibrate their blinking patterns.”

World of Wonders

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Hands-down one of the most beautiful books of the year." -NPR

From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction-a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.

As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted-no matter how awkward the fit…


Cranford

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,

Book cover of Cranford

It’s never the plot that draws me to a novel; it’s always other ingredients like people and place and, in these regards, Cranford is a stellar delight. The protagonist is a frequent house guest in the small town of Cranford, giving readers intimate access to the quirky social codes of its mostly female population. From the ones who care about social mores to the ones who care less, these wonderful vignettes document their attempts to outwit a visiting magician, or foil rumored night-burglars, or adapt to the losses of loved ones. Each woman has had a journey in some way stifled by the patriarchy of the 1800s but these ladies’ timeless and absorbing intelligence, compassion, loyalty, ingenuity, forbearance, and above all, wit, shine through.

Cranford

By Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elizabeth Gaskell was a British author during the Victorian era. Gaskell's novels are notable for detailed descriptions of the different classes of society in 19th century Britain. Cranford is a novel about a fictional town modeled closely after one Gaskell was familiar with. The story features a series of episodes in the life of Mary Smith.


Rules of Civility

By Amor Towles,

Book cover of Rules of Civility

Although dipping into glamorous strata of New York society, the friendship dynamics reminded me of the period of adulthood where you start to make your way in the world… Often it involves new jobs or new cities and sometimes women discover the people they thought were close friends are not. Parallel journeys of female friends can put them into tension where paths diverge and taking space is the only solution. Here, avid reader Katey is moving beyond her humble beginnings by talent and character alone, while room-mate Eve is escaping her privilege and family ties; their agendas blend well for a while until they spin off in different directions. Resourceful Katey continually starts over in her smart, sharp-humoured style becoming ever more able to rely on herself.

Rules of Civility

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and A Gentleman in Moscow, a “sharply stylish” (Boston Globe) book about a young woman in post-Depression era New York who suddenly finds herself thrust into high society—now with over one million readers worldwide

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have…


Conversations with Friends

By Sally Rooney,

Book cover of Conversations with Friends

Of all the genres, I’m drawn most to contemporary realism and this book is a spectacular example. Despite the age gap between myself and the main character (Frances, aged 21) the writing is so astute, assured, and insightful that this book has no problem straddling the generations. Friendship definitions herein are not conventional which makes it infinitely interesting; the four main characters are a mix of best friends, exes, spouses, new friends, new flings, and new infatuations. Their daily concerns and communications are utterly contemporary, reflecting the seamless mish-mash of digital and in-person updates that sustain modern connections. Vulnerability is no one’s strong suit, so when these self-aware, funny and flawed pairs meet they burn brightly until they burn out. 

Conversations with Friends

By Sally Rooney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

***NOW ON BBC THREE AND iPLAYER***

'This book. This book. I read it in one day. I hear I'm not alone.'
- Sarah Jessica Parker (Instagram)

'Brilliant, funny and startling.' Guardian

'I really like Conversations with Friends. I like the tone [Rooney] takes when she's writing. I think it's like being inside someone's mind.' - Taylor Swift

'A sharp, darkly funny comment on modern relationships.' Sunday Telegraph

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend.…


Animals

By Emma Jane Unsworth,

Book cover of Animals

How are women supposed to behave, discreetly? Are their friendships always a saccharine Hallmark card? Not in this novel. Living loudly, louchely, in chaos, with hedonistic nights out and all-day hangovers, Laura and Tyler are a tight, whip-funny twosome… except one has a wedding on the horizon to a teetotal stable man, and she’s wrestling with whether marriage is a legitimate life milestone anymore. The friendship portrayal here is a messy, clever, and foul-mouthed foray into the moment when inseparable friends face the prospect of their familiar relationship disappearing through the unstoppable forces of adult life. And we’ve all had impossible choices when we haven’t known which loyalties to put first – one’s duty to oneself or to one’s best friend?

Animals

By Emma Jane Unsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“An utterly triumphant ode to female friendship, in all its intense, messy and powerful beauty” from the internationally bestselling author of Grown Ups (Elle).

It is the moment every twenty-something must confront: the time to grow up. Adulthood looms, with all its numbing tranquility and stifling complacency. The end of prolonged adolescence is near.

Laura and Tyler are two women whose twenties have been a blur of overstayed parties, a fondness for drugs that has shifted from cautious experimentation to catholic indulgence, and hangovers that don’t relent until Monday morning. They’ve been best friends, partners in excess, for the last…


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Betty Smith,

Book cover of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This was the first chapter book I remember reading when I was a little girl, and I still love the story. Set during the early 20th century, Francie, her younger brother, and their mom struggle to survive. The children hoard trash to sell to the junk man for the pennies he pays them on Saturday. Their mother works as a janitress in exchange for rent and a few dollars. Their father works as a singing waiter, but drinks away his earnings. 

I followed Francie from age eleven to age seventeen. I felt like I knew her and was cheering for her to find a better place in her world. This novel highlighted what it was like to grow up impoverished in a city where everyone seems to notice and judge. 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Betty Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

A special 75th anniversary edition of the beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the twentieth century.

From the moment she entered the world, Francie Nolan needed to be made of stern stuff, for growing up in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn, New York demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior―such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce―no one, least of all Francie, could…


We the Animals

By Justin Torres,

Book cover of We the Animals

Yet another short, coming-of-age novel with a staccato rhythm, We the Animals is 125 pages long and made of 19 chapters spotlighting different moments in the lives of 3 brothers growing up in a dysfunctional family in Brooklyn, New York. The novel is a dark, lyrical portrayal of boyhood and toxic masculinity as it follows the 3 brothers from boyhood to adolescence through several jumps in time that resist a novel’s evocation of a “vivid and continuous dream,” to echo John Gardner’s famous words. Another subversive narrative choice here is the abrupt switch in narration from a first-person plural to a first-person singular narration toward the end of the book, as the story’s protagonist no longer refers to the inseparable 3 brothers, but to the youngest one who invites the reader to witness the violence his family inflicts on him when they find out he is gay.  

We the Animals

By Justin Torres,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We the Animals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three brothers tear their way through childhood - smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from rubbish, hiding when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn - he's Puerto Rican, she's white. Barely out of childhood themselves, their love is a serious, dangerous thing. Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins…


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