100 books like Anywhere But Here

By Mona Simpson,

Here are 100 books that Anywhere But Here fans have personally recommended if you like Anywhere But Here. 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 Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Nancy Crochiere Author Of Graceland

From my list on runaway moms.

Who am I?

As a young working mom, I occasionally longed to follow the example of columnist Erma Bombeck and hide from my family in the car. Instead, I channeled the mayhem of family life into a humor column called “The Mother Load,” which detailed the day-to-day challenges of running a business while caring for two daughters, one husband, two guinea pigs, and a dancing rabbit. When I decided to pursue my life-long dream to write fiction, my debut novel was a humorous story about a mother-daughter-grandmother road trip/chase from Boston to Memphis. Although my writing doesn’t shy away from serious issues, I choose to see the world through a humorous and ultimately hopeful lens.

Nancy's book list on runaway moms

Nancy Crochiere Why did Nancy love this book?

How can you not love a novel about an agoraphobic mother who somehow promises her 15-year-old daughter that she’ll take her to Antarctica?

The mom, Bernadette, knows she can’t handle that kind of trip, but in her desperate attempts to make it work, things get out of hand, and Bernadette disappears. It’s up to 15-year-old Bee to play detective and find her. Set in Seattle, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a delightful mix of comedy and satire with a wonderful message about the need to face up to the disappointments in one’s past.

By Maria Semple,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Where'd You Go, Bernadette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A misanthropic matriarch leaves her eccentric family in crisis when she mysteriously disappears in this "whip-smart and divinely funny" novel that inspired the movie starring Cate Blanchett (New York Times).

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect; and to 15-year-old Bee, she is her best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette vanishes. It all began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle --…


Book cover of Little Fires Everywhere

Kylie Orr Author Of The Eleventh Floor

From my list on losing yourself in motherhood (the good and the bad).

Who am I?

As the mother of four children, I have observed over the last twenty years how women are viewed and often judged under a stifling patriarchal lens. Writing about motherhood in all its glorious colours has been one way for me to channel my frustrations. Stories that reach out to women and give them a voice when they feel unheard are vital. In a world where appearances and facades are taking over our social media feeds, where filters blur out the rough edges of our lives, I’m more determined than ever to write female characters who are raw and flawed but also valued as an integral part of an evolving society.

Kylie's book list on losing yourself in motherhood (the good and the bad)

Kylie Orr Why did Kylie love this book?

Any book set in suburban life with a dark underbelly has me hooked.

I loved the themes of privilege, race, and motherhood within the context of suburban life. I also enjoyed the contrast between such different ways to parent: a wealthy and seemingly perfect family compared to a nomadic and unconventional mother-daughter duo.

I think the story also raised some interesting questions about the intricacies of motherhood and, of course, how we always feel the weight of the choices we make as mothers and the impact of those choices on our lives and the lives of our children. Not to mention, what a great title!

By Celeste Ng,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Little Fires Everywhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller!

"Witty, wise, and tender. It's a marvel." -Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and A Slow Fire Burning

"To say I love this book is an understatement. It's a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears." -Reese Witherspoon

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Our Missing Hearts comes a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their…


Book cover of Watch Me Disappear

Donna Koros Stramella Author Of Coffee Killed My Mother

From my list on wildly dissimilar mothers and daughters.

Who am I?

Many years ago I was outside, clothespins in hand as I hung damp towels on the clothesline at our small beach house. A yard over, I heard a mother and daughter arguing loudly. I didn’t pick up all the details, but it was clear that the mother and daughter’s expectations were miles apart. At that moment, I found myself frozen solidly in the center. Was I mother? Was I daughter? I connected equally. Since that time I’ve been interested in the dynamics and criticality of the mother-daughter relationship, and I knew my first novel would be an exploration of that theme. 

Donna's book list on wildly dissimilar mothers and daughters

Donna Koros Stramella Why did Donna love this book?

When my mother died, a friend insisted, “Now you’ll come to know her in ways you never imagined.” I thought the notion was ludicrous. My mother and I were close, our relationship strong. As it turns out my friend was right. In Watch Me Disappear, Janelle Brown explores this idea. When Billie Flanagan disappears, her husband and teenaged daughter Olive find out more than they could have imagined about Billie’s secret life. 

By Janelle Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The disappearance of a beautiful, charismatic mother leaves her family to piece together her secrets in this propulsive novel for fans of Big Little Lies—from the bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and the upcoming Pretty Things.

“Watch Me Disappear is just as riveting as Gone Girl.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never…


Book cover of My Name Is Lucy Barton

Donna Koros Stramella Author Of Coffee Killed My Mother

From my list on wildly dissimilar mothers and daughters.

Who am I?

Many years ago I was outside, clothespins in hand as I hung damp towels on the clothesline at our small beach house. A yard over, I heard a mother and daughter arguing loudly. I didn’t pick up all the details, but it was clear that the mother and daughter’s expectations were miles apart. At that moment, I found myself frozen solidly in the center. Was I mother? Was I daughter? I connected equally. Since that time I’ve been interested in the dynamics and criticality of the mother-daughter relationship, and I knew my first novel would be an exploration of that theme. 

Donna's book list on wildly dissimilar mothers and daughters

Donna Koros Stramella Why did Donna love this book?

Sometimes a mother fails. In My Name is Lucy Barton, the title character fled her home because of her abusive father. Although her mother loved Lucy and her siblings, she was unable to protect her children. Many years later when Lucy falls ill and her mother visits her, the two reconnect and develop a shared understanding. Strout addresses the imperfection of a mother while retaining the magnetic pull between mother and daughter. 

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Name Is Lucy Barton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016 AND THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016. A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

Lucy is recovering from an operation in a New York hospital when she wakes to find her estranged mother sitting by her bed. They have not seen one another in years. As they talk Lucy finds herself recalling her troubled rural childhood and how it was she eventually arrived in the big city, got married and had children. But this unexpected visit leaves her…


Book cover of Rules of the Road

Deborah K. Shepherd Author Of So Happy Together

From my list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat.

Who am I?

In the ‘60s, everyone was reading—or claiming to have read—Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I faked reading it, to appear cool. The idea of a road trip, though—characters running away, running toward, or often both—and the self-discovery that ensues—was so intriguing, I made it the heart of the novel I first drafted decades ago. I wrote about a middle-aged woman who flees her life to find a lost love and her lost youth, then put the manuscript away. For 30 years. When I retired from my social work career, I pulled it from the closet, revised it, and became an author at 74. 

Deborah's book list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat

Deborah K. Shepherd Why did Deborah love this book?

A YA novel must be every bit as well-writtenwith thoroughly developed characters and an absorbing plotas an adult novel, and maybe more so, given an adolescent’s interest is often pulled to TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, not to books. Sixteen-year-old Jenna Boller’s only had her license for six months when Madeline Gladstone, president of the shoe store chain where Jenna works, taps her to be her driver for the summer. They set out on a cross-country road trip to check on the stores, but both learn unexpected lessons about each other and about themselves in the process. I love the cross-generational relationship that develops, and that gawky, self-conscious, and insecure Jenna comes into her own in a most surprising way: Like Dorothy with the ruby slippers, Jenna finds she’s had the power all along.

By Joan Bauer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rules of the Road 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?

Meet Jenna Boller, star employee at Gladstone's Shoe Store in Chicago. Standing a gawky 5'11'' at 16 years old, Jenna is the kind of girl most likely to stand out in the crowd for all the wrong reasons. But that doesn't stop Madeline Gladstone, the president of Gladstone's Shoes 176 outlets in 37 states, from hiring Jenna to drive her cross country in a last ditch effort to stop Elden Gladstone from taking over his mother's company and turning a quality business into a shop-and-schlock empire. Now Jenna Boller shoe salesperson is about to become a shoe-store spy as she…


Book cover of The Pull of the Moon

Deborah K. Shepherd Author Of So Happy Together

From my list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat.

Who am I?

In the ‘60s, everyone was reading—or claiming to have read—Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I faked reading it, to appear cool. The idea of a road trip, though—characters running away, running toward, or often both—and the self-discovery that ensues—was so intriguing, I made it the heart of the novel I first drafted decades ago. I wrote about a middle-aged woman who flees her life to find a lost love and her lost youth, then put the manuscript away. For 30 years. When I retired from my social work career, I pulled it from the closet, revised it, and became an author at 74. 

Deborah's book list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat

Deborah K. Shepherd Why did Deborah love this book?

When I presented the second draft of the manuscript of my book to my developmental editor, I really thought it was done.

“Nope, not a novel yet. Where’s your inciting incident?”
“What’s an inciting incident?” She explained.
I retorted: “Well, I read this book about a woman who’s just going through menopause, so she goes on a solo road trip. No inciting incident there.”
“What, and you don’t think menopause is an inciting incident?”

And then I re-read Elizabeth Berg’s beautiful story of a long-term marriage; what’s left when child-rearing is done; and what you discover from strangers when you contemplate the second half of your life. Nobody does transitions in women’s lives like Elizabeth Berg; this ended up being my favorite of all her books I’ve read.

By Elizabeth Berg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“This is not a novel about a woman leaving home but rather about a human being finding her way back.”—Chicago Tribune

In the middle of her life, Nan decides to leave her husband at home and begin an impromptu trek across the country, carrying with her a turquoise leather journal she intends to fill. The Pull of the Moon is a novel about a woman coming to terms with issues of importance to all women. In her journal, Nan addresses the thorniness—and the allure—of marriage, the sweet ties to children, and the gifts and lessons that come from random encounters…


Book cover of Boop and Eve's Road Trip

Deborah K. Shepherd Author Of So Happy Together

From my list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat.

Who am I?

In the ‘60s, everyone was reading—or claiming to have read—Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I faked reading it, to appear cool. The idea of a road trip, though—characters running away, running toward, or often both—and the self-discovery that ensues—was so intriguing, I made it the heart of the novel I first drafted decades ago. I wrote about a middle-aged woman who flees her life to find a lost love and her lost youth, then put the manuscript away. For 30 years. When I retired from my social work career, I pulled it from the closet, revised it, and became an author at 74. 

Deborah's book list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat

Deborah K. Shepherd Why did Deborah love this book?

The author had me at the first line: “Boop loved her daughter to the moon and back, but Justine had a way of sucking the joy out of a room faster than a vampire bat.” This road trip story about three generations of women (Boop, her daughter, Justine—who’s not in the car, but her presence isand Justine’s daughter, Eve) set against a background of family secrets, has a decidedly Southern tone. One imagines a narrator relating the story from a rocker on the front porch, a glass of sweet tea in her hand. Although there are lighthearted moments, this is a serious story, about familial expectations, mental illness, family secrets, estrangement, and three women trying to find their way back to themselves and to each other. Travelling with this unforgettable grandmother/granddaughter duo is a gift. 

By Mary Helen Sheriff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boop and Eve's Road Trip as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eve Prince is done-with college, with her mom, with guys, and with her dream of fashion design. But when her best friend goes MIA, Eve must gather together the broken threads of her life in order to search for her.

When Eve's grandmother, Boop, a retiree dripping with Southern charm, finds out about the trip, she-desperate to see her sister, and also hoping to alleviate Eve's growing depression-hijacks her granddaughter's road trip. Boop knows from experience that healing Eve will require more than flirting lessons and a Garlic Festival makeover. Nevertheless, Boop is frustrated when her feeble efforts yield the…


Book cover of The Bean Trees

Deborah K. Shepherd Author Of So Happy Together

From my list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat.

Who am I?

In the ‘60s, everyone was reading—or claiming to have read—Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I faked reading it, to appear cool. The idea of a road trip, though—characters running away, running toward, or often both—and the self-discovery that ensues—was so intriguing, I made it the heart of the novel I first drafted decades ago. I wrote about a middle-aged woman who flees her life to find a lost love and her lost youth, then put the manuscript away. For 30 years. When I retired from my social work career, I pulled it from the closet, revised it, and became an author at 74. 

Deborah's book list on road trips with women in the driver’s seat

Deborah K. Shepherd Why did Deborah love this book?

Whenever I re-read this book, I’m gob-smacked that it’s a debut novel. Taylor Greer just wants to avoid the fate of her peers—unwanted pregnancies and dead-end lives in the small Kentucky town where she was born—when she points her Volkswagen Bug due West in search of something different. She has no idea how different her life will become when she stops at a gas station in Oklahoma and a stranger puts a small child in the passenger seat of her car. The story of how Taylor and the child become a family with the help of some unlikely friends, is one that’s stayed with me from first read. Kingsolver’s writing is quietly and deeply dazzling and paints a stunning picture of what it means to find sanctuary, family, and home in a way you never imagined. 

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Bean Trees is bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver's first novel, now widely regarded as a modern classic. It is the charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots and avoid getting pregnant. She succeeds, but inherits a 3-year-old native-American little girl named Turtle along the way, and together, from Oklahoma to Tucson, Arizona, half-Cherokee Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West.

Written with humour and pathos, this highly praised novel focuses on love and friendship, abandonment and belonging as Taylor, out of money and seemingly…


Book cover of The First Winter: Stories of Survival by Experienced Hearts

MaryAnn Shank Author Of The Mystical Land of Myrrh

From my list on strong Somali women.

Who am I?

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia in the late 1960’s I witnessed the upheaval in the society due to the massive changes in government demanded by the Western world. There were so many brave people emerging from this chaos, especially women. There was even a young Somali woman who saved my life. That such strength grows in such circumstances still amazes me. I am honored to bring a few of them to you, and to share a small part of my personal experience in Somalia.

MaryAnn's book list on strong Somali women

MaryAnn Shank Why did MaryAnn love this book?

I attended college in Ripon, Wisconsin, a stunningly beautiful area that dumped inconceivable snow, ice, and cold all winter long.

As someone from California, I was not prepared for it, and I nearly froze that first winter. Green Bay is but a stone's throw away from Ripon, and it is just as bitterly cold. But that is the environment that greeted several immigrant Somali families.

The teenage girls contended not only with limited knowledge of English, but with sandals made for the desert, and cotton clothing designed to protect them from the sun. It was a bitterly cold winter, but they made it.

Not only did they survive that first winter, but they excelled in English, turning their experiences into captivating tales and eloquent poetry. They write of personal experiences too, like wearing a hijab, one young lady writing that some people thought she wore it because she had no…

Book cover of Play It as It Lays

Emily Beyda Author Of The Body Double

From my list on the squalor and splendor of Los Angeles.

Who am I?

It’s safe to say that I love LA. While my home town is often dismissed as being little more than a string of shopping malls strung together by freeways, to me, it’s a place like nowhere else in the world. In a city fueled by cinema, LA’s outsider magic is hard to capture, but I find it fascinating when novelists make the attempt. With my first novel, The Body Double, I take a surreal deep dive into the mystery and magic of this strange city—inspired, in no small part, by my five favorite books about Los Angeles. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Emily's book list on the squalor and splendor of Los Angeles

Emily Beyda Why did Emily love this book?

It’s a little bit of a cliche to list St. Joan as your favorite LA writer, but believe me when I tell you she has more than earned her reputation. While she’s better known for her essays, this novel might be my favorite thing she wrote. I think of this book every time I have to make the terrible multi-lane change entering downtown on the 101 freeway, every time I meet an aspiring actor with something seedy in his past, or drink Coca-Cola from a glass bottle. It’s such a dark, twisted space for exploration, and Didion isn’t afraid to get weird. The best book for SoCal cynics, disillusioned dreamers who haven’t made it big, and anyone else who is falling for this city’s seductive charm.

By Joan Didion,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A profoundly disturbing novel that ruthlessly dissects American life in the late 1960s, from the author of The White Album and The Year of Magical Thinking.

Benny called for a round of Cuba Libres and I gave him some chips to play for me and went to the ladies' room and never came back.

Somewhere out beyond Hollywood, hollowed-out actress Maria Wyeth's life plays out in a numbing routine of perpetual freeway driving. In her early thirties, divorced from her husband, dislocated from friends, anesthetized to pain and please, Wheth is a woman who has run out of both desires…


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