96 books like As I Lay Dying

By William Faulkner,

Here are 96 books that As I Lay Dying fans have personally recommended if you like As I Lay Dying. 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 Moby-Dick

Jonathan Howland Author Of Native Air

From my list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers).

Why am I passionate about this?

During a lonely stretch of primary school, I recall discussing my predicament with my mother. “You only need one friend,” she said by way of encouragement. Some part of me agreed. I’ve been fortunate to have had (and to have) several friends in my life, never more than a few at a time, more men than women, and each has prompted me to be and become more vital and spacious than I was prior to knowing them. The books I’m recommending—and the one I wrote—feature these types of catalyzing, life-changing relationships. Each involves some kind of adventure. Each evokes male friendship that is gravitational, not merely influential, but life-defining.

Jonathan's book list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers)

Jonathan Howland Why did Jonathan love this book?

It centers on and celebrates becoming—molting from one skin to another. For Ishmael this is a transition from a tired and limiting worldview to something fresh and alive.

The “bosom buddies” at the heart of the novel, Ishmael and Queequeg, seem comprised of opposites, but Ishmael’s etherealizing is grounded by Queequeg’s pragmatic ingenuity in ways that quiet and expand the young pagan-Presbyterian’s buzzing, anxious mind. Theirs is a friendship of succor, probably sex, and survival—all of it shadowed by the delusional obsessions of their mad captain.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.


Book cover of Lincoln in the Bardo

Sarah Porter Author Of Projections

From my list on unusual ghost stories for someone who loves spooky.

Why am I passionate about this?

The uncanny slips into the gaps between the objective world and the world of human experience with all its dreams, apprehensions, and intuitions. This intermediate space is the habitat of ghosts and also the zone where my mind does its wanderings. It's where my books come, and explorations of that space in other peoples' books draw me in, deeply and inescapably.

Sarah's book list on unusual ghost stories for someone who loves spooky

Sarah Porter Why did Sarah love this book?

I honestly think this is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.

In writing about haunting, I always confront the question of what pins ghosts to the living world. I loved the poignancy of Saunders’s ghosts and the desperate denial of their own deaths that they cling to.

I have a special love of books written in a multiplicity of voices; the way Saunders writes his ghostly chorus is so virtuosic it took my breath away. 

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Lincoln in the Bardo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017 A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH 'A masterpiece' Zadie Smith 'Extraordinary' Daily Mail 'Breathtaking' Observer 'A tour de force' The Sunday Times The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns…


Book cover of Beloved

Donna Hemans Author Of The House of Plain Truth

From my list on haunting: how the past lingers with us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a culture that both fears and embraces spirits or outrightly rejects the idea that spirits live on beyond death. I grew up on stories of rolling calves and duppies that caused havoc among the living. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by what haunts us—whether it be our familial spirits that float among the living and continue to play a role in our lives, our memories, or our past actions. I’ve written three books that play with this idea of past actions lingering long into the characters’ lives and returning in unexpected ways.  

Donna's book list on haunting: how the past lingers with us

Donna Hemans Why did Donna love this book?

This book is a longtime favorite of mine. Toni Morrison was a master at blending the personal story and the political, and in this book, she blends the true story of a mother who kills her child to prevent slave catchers from returning the baby to life as a slave.

Morrison’s fictional Sethe is haunted by the ghost of the baby she killed and the memories of her difficult life as a slave. This is one of the novels I return to time after time, both for the beauty of the writing and the portrayal of a mother’s love, guilt, and the lingering impact of slavery.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…


Book cover of Sing, Unburied, Sing

Lucy Blue Author Of The Devil Makes Three

From my list on hauntings.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a goth chick from the American South, I’m obsessed with stories of old evil from the past finding its way into the present. I even live in a haunted house, a disintegrating Craftsman built in 1901. Our ghosts are very cozy, two cat-loving maiden ladies who were co-presidents of the local temperance society. We’ve given up on keeping liquor in our liquor cabinet; bottles cracking and leaking, glassware broken for no reason. And we’ve gotten so used to seeing and hearing their famous cat, Tom, we barely react anymore—a huge orange tabby tomcat who runs past our feet and jumps on the foot of our bed. 

Lucy's book list on hauntings

Lucy Blue Why did Lucy love this book?

Reading this book made me stop writing my own Southern gothic ghost book in the middle, rethink it completely, and start over again from scratch, and I wasn’t even mad about it. It’s just that good. It’s about thirteen-year-old Jojo and his family—his much-loved and very much dying grandmother, his strong, silent, and protective grandfather, his wild child mother, Leonie, his baby sister, Kayla, who looks to Jojo to keep her safe, and his white father, Michael, who just got out of jail. Everybody has secrets, and everybody sees ghosts. This literary novel won the National Book Award, but I promise you, horror readers, it will scare you silly and break your heart. 

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018 WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2017 ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017 SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW STATESMAN, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, TIME AND THE BBC Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalist for the Kirkus Prize Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award 'This wrenching new novel by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare. A must' Margaret Atwood 'A powerfully…


Book cover of The Lovely Bones

Peggy Webb Author Of Black Crow Cabin

From my list on books about crime that transcend the genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a small farm in Mississippi and discovered the wide world through a movable feast of books provided by the Bookmobile. The hayloft was my favorite reading spot. I could look across the lake to imagine myself in WWII Paris, the frozen tundras of Alaska, or anywhere beyond the pastures where Daddy’s cattle grazed. I fell in love with words when I was eight years old, a dreamer spinning stories inspired by the ones I read between the covers of my beloved books. I still love words and hear their music as they flow onto the pages of the thrillers I currently write.

Peggy's book list on books about crime that transcend the genre

Peggy Webb Why did Peggy love this book?

By Alice Sebold,

Why should I read it?

9 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…


Book cover of The Odyssey

Why am I passionate about this?

To experience another's thoughts and emotions, one first has to feel them. Eyes, lips, tongue, and teeth are involved before the brain/heart can engage. Translation of poetry is the same. My mother has sung Chinese poetry to me since forever, and English poetry came alive for me through verse speaking. I studied and taught as I wrote for many years. I cannot say I find my way into every poem I come across, but the poems I translate are ones I know and love. That is why I am passionate about translation. For me, it is not a secondary experience but a primary, primal performance art!

Susan's book list on translated books that capture the magic of the original, making what’s unfamiliar, foreign or ancient, accessible

Susan Wan Dolling Why did Susan love this book?

It seems repetitive now to sing Wilson’s praises, but I have read many translations of Homer’s Odyssey, from Pope to Fagles, but it was not until I came to Emily Wilson’s rendition that I felt truly drawn, bodily, to Homer and I especially enjoyed her readings, one, in her Introduction to the poem in the book, and two, her performance of it on YouTube.

Also, Judith Thurman’s review/interview of her in the New Yorker is particularly revealing. Her article, “Mother Tongue,” about Wilson’s personal relationship with the poem and her “folk poetics,” spoke to me like a kindred spirit. Poetry, for me, has always been a physiological experience, which is why Wilson’s approach feels so familiar: “I write for the body,” she told Thurman in that interview.

By Homer, Emily Wilson (translator),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Odyssey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first great adventure story in the Western canon, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty and power; about marriage, family and identity; and about travellers, hospitality and the changing meanings of home in a strange world.

This vivid new translation-the first by a woman-matches the number of lines in the Greek original, striding at Homer's sprightly pace. Emily Wilson employs elemental, resonant language and an iambic pentameter to produce a translation with an enchanting "rhythm and rumble" that avoids proclaiming its own grandeur. An engrossing tale told in a compelling new…


Book cover of Suttree

James Wade Author Of River, Sing Out

From my list on Southern novels with prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m from East Texas, which is closer in culture and climate to the South than the Southwest. The southern voice in American literature has given us countless classics, specifically when it comes to dealing with our very dark, very human nature. Violence, racism, religion, and redemption are all explored under the Southern Gothic umbrella. My own upbringing exposed me to much of the darkness that still exists in these shadowed pockets of the country. I want to illuminate some of those places, and each of these books serves as a massive spotlight. 

James' book list on Southern novels with prose

James Wade Why did James love this book?

Though my own work will never come close to equaling its wonder, this is the novel that taught me the most about the actual craft of writing. Before he redefined the western, Cormac McCarthy was a master of Southern Gothic storytelling, and Suttree was his crowning achievement. Perhaps only Blood Meridian does more in the McCarthy canon as far as elevated imagery, but Suttree accomplishes its beauty without the benefit of the sprawling southwestern landscape. Rather, McCarthy’s Knoxville becomes like Joyce’s Dublin, and he paints it in such vivid dereliction, there can be no mistaking Suttree is the novel by which all other southern works ought to compare themselves. Bonus points for somehow making watermelon fornication into a literary act.

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Suttree is a compelling, semi-autobiographical novel by Cormac McCarthy, which has as its protagonist Cornelius Suttree, living alone and in exile in a disintegrating houseboat on the wrong side of the Tennessee River close by Knoxville. He stays at the edge of an outcast community inhabited by eccentrics, criminals and the poverty-stricken. Rising above the physical and human squalor around him, his detachment and wry humour enable him to survive dereliction and destitution with dignity.


Book cover of Provinces of Night

James Wade Author Of River, Sing Out

From my list on Southern novels with prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m from East Texas, which is closer in culture and climate to the South than the Southwest. The southern voice in American literature has given us countless classics, specifically when it comes to dealing with our very dark, very human nature. Violence, racism, religion, and redemption are all explored under the Southern Gothic umbrella. My own upbringing exposed me to much of the darkness that still exists in these shadowed pockets of the country. I want to illuminate some of those places, and each of these books serves as a massive spotlight. 

James' book list on Southern novels with prose

James Wade Why did James love this book?

Gay was a McCarthy disciple and Provinces of Night is his greatest work. Though he often mimics McCarthy (and in my opinion came closer to McCarthy than anyone else), he finds a desperate, haunting voice that is all his own. Provinces of Night (the title taken from a line in McCarthy’s Child of God) does a remarkable job of storytelling with multiple characters leading the narrative. Bonus points for this quote: “Life blindsides you so hard you can taste the bright copper blood in your mouth then it beguiles you with a gift of profound and appalling beauty.”

By William Gay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The year is 1952, and E.F. Bloodworth has returned to his home - a forgotten corner of Tennessee - after twenty years of roaming. The wife he walked out on has withered and faded. His three sons are grown and angry. Warren is a womanising alcoholic; Boyd is driven by jealousy to hunt down his wife's lover; and Brady puts hexes on his enemies from his mother's porch. Only Fleming, the old man's grandson, treats him with respect and sees past all the hatred, realising the way it can poison a man's soul. It is ultimately the love of Raven…


Book cover of Look Homeward, Angel

Beverly A. Li Author Of The Elbow Grease Legacy

From my list on seeking to unravel dysfunctional family cycles.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took a career as a librarian to help me understand my need for order, instead of the emotional chaos I grew up with in a large family. Being the child of an alcoholic father and a codependent mother gave me little personal value. After gaining some sense of worth in college, I wanted to give my kids the stability and support every child deserves, but I had to learn how to do this. I used my resources: education, self-scrutiny, honesty, art, nature, and the good Lord of the universe.

Beverly's book list on seeking to unravel dysfunctional family cycles

Beverly A. Li Why did Beverly love this book?

As a leader in autobiographical fiction, Wolfe writes of a large family dominated by an alcoholic, authoritarian father who is highly dramatic in words and behavior.

His wife’s determination to survive by running a boarding house and investing in real estate leaves little time for parental attention to the needs of their children.

While most grow to repeat the dysfunctional family habits that hinder healthy development, the youngest child, with the help of his teachers, struggles enough to finally take steps away from the pain, and out of the cycle, as I did with my own life.

By Thomas Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The spectacular, history-making first novel about a young man’s coming of age by literary legend Thomas Wolfe, first published in 1929 and long considered a classic of twentieth century literature.

A legendary author on par with William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Wolfe published Look Homeward, Angel, his first novel, about a young man’s burning desire to leave his small town and tumultuous family in search of a better life, in 1929. It gave the world proof of his genius and launched a powerful legacy.

The novel follows the trajectory of Eugene Gant, a brilliant and restless young man whose…


Book cover of Where All Light Tends to Go

James Wade Author Of River, Sing Out

From my list on Southern novels with prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m from East Texas, which is closer in culture and climate to the South than the Southwest. The southern voice in American literature has given us countless classics, specifically when it comes to dealing with our very dark, very human nature. Violence, racism, religion, and redemption are all explored under the Southern Gothic umbrella. My own upbringing exposed me to much of the darkness that still exists in these shadowed pockets of the country. I want to illuminate some of those places, and each of these books serves as a massive spotlight. 

James' book list on Southern novels with prose

James Wade Why did James love this book?

I don’t read many current authors. It’s not their fault I’m a slow reader and have so many older novels to work through. But there are exceptions and David Joy is certainly one of those. I’d recommend starting at his beginning with Where All Light Tends to Go. His voice helped (and is still helping) usher in a new generation of southern authors. Joy, unlike the other authors on this list, tends to lean toward spare prose, which creates a bingeable quality to his work. Bonus points for a perfect ending. 

By David Joy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where All Light Tends to Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel

“Remarkable . . . This isn’t your ordinary coming-of-age novel, but with his bone-cutting insights into these men and the region that bred them, Joy makes it an extraordinarily intimate experience.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"Lyrical, propulsive, dark and compelling. Joy knows well the grit and gravel of his world, the soul and blemishes of the place."--Daniel Woodrell

In the country-noir tradition of Winter's Bone meets 'Breaking Bad,' a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption.

The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home…


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