80 books like Barn 8

By Deb Olin Unferth,

Here are 80 books that Barn 8 fans have personally recommended if you like Barn 8. 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 Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Alice McIlroy Author Of The Glass Woman

From my list on books featuring unreliable narrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved unreliable narrators and how they place us as readers into the role of detectives, piecing the "truth" of a story together. The narrators I’ve picked below vary in their intent: some deliberately deceive, and others do so unconsciously or through omission. In several, the twist hinges on the use of an unreliable narrator, while in others, narrative unreliability poses a moral dilemma for the reader. In a few, an added layer of unreliability emerges: the narrator’s perception is distorted by technology. In an age of AI, simulations, and deep fakes, the unreliable narrator is arguably more needed than ever, holding a mirror up to the unreliability of our own world. 

Alice's book list on books featuring unreliable narrators

Alice McIlroy Why did Alice love this book?

This book features a brilliant narrative voice. The title paraphrases William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell. Protagonist Janina’s neighbour, nicknamed Big Foot, is found dead in the first of a number of local murders as hunters become the hunted. 65-year-old Janina has a greater affinity with the local deer than the victims and their love of hunting.

It is Janina’s perspective that makes the narrative so gripping. Set in a remote Polish village, it has the pace of a thriller, and her voice combines humour with deeply troubled questions about humanity’s place in the world. On watching a pregnant woman reading a newspaper, she wonders: "How could one possibly know all this and not miscarry?" Janina’s first-person narration enables us to see how far she is misjudged and overlooked by her community.

By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (translator),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel. In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she's unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation. By…


Book cover of The Tourist Trail

Midge Raymond Author Of My Last Continent

From my list on saving animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first visited Antarctica, I not only fell in love with penguins but saw firsthand how high the stakes are regarding climate change—not only for humans but especially for animals, who are suffering horribly due to our actions. Being in Antarctica, the most rapidly warming place on earth, highlighted how important it is to tackle climate change, which includes protecting animals. When we lose one species, the entire ecosystem changes. I’ve embraced protecting domestic animals as well, from companion animals to farmed animals, having learned just how much human and non-human animals have in common—so much more than you’d think! And I love reading and writing about the ways in which we’re all connected.

Midge's book list on saving animals

Midge Raymond Why did Midge love this book?

The Tourist Trail is an eco-thriller featuring an unlikely but thoroughly entertaining cast of characters—among them a whale rescuer, a penguin researcher, an FBI agent, a computer tech, and an animal-rights activist—whose lives come together in the wild and dangerous waters of the Southern Ocean. All of these characters have secrets that are slowly revealed, and the alternating points of view pull readers toward a cinematic ending. The Tourist Trail is about endangered species and oceans at risk, but most of all, it’s about animals and the human heroes who devote their lives toward saving them—it’s not only an unputdownable mystery but a compassionate and heartfelt ode to our oceanic animals who need saving.

By John Yunker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A literary thriller about endangered species in the world's most remote areas, and those who put their lives on the line to protect them.

Biologist Angela Haynes is accustomed to dark, lonely nights as one of the few humans at a penguin research station in Patagonia. She has grown used to the cries of penguins before dawn, to meager supplies and housing, to spending most of her days in one of the most remote regions on earth. What she isn't used to is strange men washing ashore, which happens one day on her watch.

The man won't tell her his…


Book cover of Once There Were Wolves

Angela Hoke Author Of A Whisper of Smoke

From my list on immersive fiction to feel something you didn’t expect.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why do we love immersive novels? Maybe it's because we relate to them, because they explore issues or circumstances that resonate with us. Or it could be a need for escape, to imagine a life different from our own. But I believe the underlying truth is this – we all share a deeply rooted need for human connection. And when we read fiction that truly makes us imagine another person's life, it touches us profoundly, leaving a forever mark. It is the reason I love immersive novels that make us feel and experience the unexpected. And also why I endeavor to write them, sometimes winning awards, often making people cry – in the best way!

Angela's book list on immersive fiction to feel something you didn’t expect

Angela Hoke Why did Angela love this book?

My final selection was surprising in all the best ways. It is the story of conservationist Inti Flynn and her quest to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands, hoping to save the crumbling ecosystem while she struggles with the collapse of her own life. What makes this story special is that it not only evokes empathy for the wolves, it also emphasizes the connections we have to the earth and to each other, and how our individual, often trauma-informed decisions have cascading and unintended effects. The whole story is an allegory for the environmental balance that is essential for survival, but it is also a love letter to human-animal-earth connectedness. It is a reminder that we are more than individuals in a way that inspires hope and passion for change.

By Charlotte McConaghy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Once There Were Wolves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A wild and gripping novel about one woman's quest to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands at any cost.

Inti Flynn arrives in the Scottish Highlands with fourteen grey wolves, a traumatised sister and fierce tenacity.

As a biologist, she knows the animals are the best hope for rewilding the ruined landscape and she cares little for local opposition. As a sister, she hopes the remote project will offer her twin, Aggie, a chance to heal after the horrific events that drove them both out of Alaska.

But violence dogs their footsteps and one night Inti stumbles over the body…


Book cover of This Animal Body

Meredith Walters

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Neuroscience PhD student Frankie Conner has finally gotten her life together—she’s determined to discover the cause of her depression and find a cure for herself and everyone like her. But the first day of her program, she meets a group of talking animals who have an urgent message they refuse to share. And while the animals may not have Frankie’s exalted human brain, they know things she doesn’t, like what happened before she was adopted.

To prove she’s sane, Frankie investigates her forgotten past and conducts clandestine experiments. But just when she uncovers the truth, she has to make an impossible choice: betray the animals she’s fallen in love with—or give up her last chance at success and everything she thought she knew.

By Meredith Walters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frankie Conner, first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley, is finally getting her life together. After multiple failures and several false starts, she's found her calling: become a neuroscientist, discover the cause of her depression and anxiety, and hopefully find a cure for herself and everyone like her.

But her first day of the program, Frankie meets a mysterious group of talking animals who claim to have an urgent message for her. The problem is, they're not willing to share it. Not yet. Not until she's ready.

While Frankie's new friends may not have her highly evolved, state-of-the-art, exalted human brain,…


Book cover of Three Ways to Disappear

Midge Raymond Author Of My Last Continent

From my list on saving animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first visited Antarctica, I not only fell in love with penguins but saw firsthand how high the stakes are regarding climate change—not only for humans but especially for animals, who are suffering horribly due to our actions. Being in Antarctica, the most rapidly warming place on earth, highlighted how important it is to tackle climate change, which includes protecting animals. When we lose one species, the entire ecosystem changes. I’ve embraced protecting domestic animals as well, from companion animals to farmed animals, having learned just how much human and non-human animals have in common—so much more than you’d think! And I love reading and writing about the ways in which we’re all connected.

Midge's book list on saving animals

Midge Raymond Why did Midge love this book?

Katy Yocom’s Three Ways to Disappear won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and was named a Barnes & Noble Top Indie Favorite—well-deserved recognition for this gorgeous debut novel. Three Ways to Disappear reveals the plight of the endangered Bengal tigers through the stories of two sisters who come together years after a family tragedy changes their lives—journalist Sarah, in India to help preserve the tigers, and Quinn, in Kentucky, dealing with family issues. The novel shows the complicated balance of tiger conservation among humans who themselves are struggling, and portrays the complexities of family bonds as well as the immense challenges facing the natural world. Both the human and tiger characters are beautifully rendered, empathetic, and unforgettable.

By Katy Yocom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Ways to Disappear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Barnes & Noble Top Indie Favorite Winner of the First Horizon Award and the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature
Leaving behind a nomadic and dangerous career as a journalist, Sarah DeVaughan returns to India, the country of her childhood and a place of unspeakable family tragedy, to help preserve the endangered Bengal tigers. Meanwhile, at home in Kentucky, her sister, Quinn--also deeply scarred by the past and herself a keeper of secrets--tries to support her sister, even as she fears that India will be Sarah's undoing.
As Sarah faces challenges in her new job--made complicated by complex local…


Book cover of The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children's Books

Stacy Nockowitz Author Of The Prince of Steel Pier

From my list on mobsters, schemers, and thieves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a middle school librarian, former language arts teacher, and middle grade author. I have a passion for all things literary, especially as they relate to kids in grades 5-8. I also grew up in New Jersey, so I come by my fascination with the Mob as a result of proximity. What I enjoy most about books about criminals is the moral gray area that some criminals exist in. They’re doing bad things—robbing banks, selling stolen goods, killing peoplebut their hearts are pulling them in another direction. Middle school kids also feel that tug of moral dilemmas, figuring out what is just and unjust, and I love to help them wrestle with those ideas.

Stacy's book list on mobsters, schemers, and thieves

Stacy Nockowitz Why did Stacy love this book?

If you love a smart, self-referential book in the mode of A Series of Unfortunate Events, you will love Adam Perry’s book. Right from the beginning, the book speaks directly to the reader with warnings about what’s ahead: monsters and villains and horrible deaths. But instead of being a Stephen King horror novel for the middle grade set, the book has a fairy tale-meets-Thursday Next vibe. The protagonist, Oliver, steals books from the library, but since no one reads anymore, he’s not overly concerned about his thievery. That is, until he steals a book that is also being sought by the Pribbles, two inventors that have devised a set of goggles to steal the book directly from Oliver’s mind. Mayhem and shenanigans ensue, and it’s all just delightful. 

By Adam Perry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children's Books 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?

"A genre-bending, heart-pounding middle-grade romp into a potential future. . . . Perry's layered approach makes for a masterpiece that feels both familiar yet wholly new." --Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW

"This takes getting lost in a book to a whole new level. I loved it!" --James Riley, New York Times-bestselling author of the Story Thieves series

"Once you start this book, you truly can't stop. An adventure full of cheeky charm and delightful whimsy." --Marie Lu, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Skyhunter

"A fast, fun, furiously inventive, and frequently frightful read." --Geoff Rodkey, New York Times-bestselling author of the…


Book cover of Other People's Things

Sandra L. Young Author Of Divine Vintage

From my list on featuring “soft” paranormal elements.

Why am I passionate about this?

Besides a passion for vintage fashion, in writing Divine Vintage I was influenced by mixed-genre books wrapping around “soft” paranormal elements. No vampires, demons, or shifters. Just dashes of ghosts, magic, witches, and special abilities entwined with romance, history, and mystery. These books are meant to charm and enchant with a lyrical touch. I’ve listed a few faves below, ranging from bestsellers I read years ago, to a sister 2022 debut, to an author I just discovered and loved. One of the novels even encompasses my vintage fashion muse. My collection fills a small bedroom, and I always deck out in fun garments for my book presentations and signings. 

Sandra's book list on featuring “soft” paranormal elements

Sandra L. Young Why did Sandra love this book?

I recently finished my first Kerry King novel, and I’ll definitely read more. I adored the flawed, quirky characters, the tentative, heart-fluttering romance between Nicole and Hawk, and her unusual ability. Though she views it as a curse, Nickle, as her family calls her, has overwhelming compulsions to “relocate” items. Not steal and keep. Just move them where they cry out to be. Her actions have landed her in plenty of trouble, especially now that she’s stolen money from her estranged lawyer husband. The test of a good book for me: I look forward to reading it each day, find myself whipping through many more pages than intended, and am compelled to tell my fiancé about it. This novel engaged and delighted me in all those ways. 

By Kerry Anne King, Kerry Anne King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Other People's Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Whisper Me This comes a witty, magical story about improbable connections, difficult gifts, and the unexpected events that heal us and bring us together.

Jailbird. Klepto. Spectacular failure to launch. Nicole Wood's sticky fingers have earned her many names, but it's not that she's stealing-some objects just need to be moved elsewhere, and the universe has chosen her to do it. Still, being a relocator of objects isn't easy. With her marriage on the rocks, no real-world skills, and the threat of prison hanging over her head, Nicole is determined to change her…


Book cover of Seven Million: A Cop, a Priest, a Soldier for the IRA, and the Still-Unsolved Rochester Brink's Heist

Mark Bulik Author Of The Sons of Molly Maguire: The Irish Roots of America's First Labor War

From my list on Irish American true crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a newspaperman for 40 years, the last 25 at The New York Times, and crime is the meat and potatoes of the business. My mother came from an Irish American clan in the Pennsylvania township where the Molly Maguires were born – my great-uncle died at 13 in the mine where the Mollies made one of their first recorded appearances. So I’ve been fascinated by Irish American true crime ever since the Sean Connery film The Mollies Maguires came out in 1970. I’ve spent most of my adult life researching the subject, and have given lectures on it all over the country.

Mark's book list on Irish American true crime

Mark Bulik Why did Mark love this book?

In 1993, a gang of thieves got away with $7 million in a heist at a Brink’s depot in Rochester, N.Y – and the bulk of it has never been recovered.

The cast of characters includes a former I.R.A. man who’d done prison time in Northern Ireland, an activist priest, an ex-cop who became a suspect, and a charismatic prizefighter whose dismembered body was found in Lake Ontario.

I liked this because at the center of it all is the lingering question of whether the missing money ended up with the Irish Republican Army. 

By Gary Craig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On a freezing night in January 1993, masked gunmen walked through the laughably lax security at the Rochester Brink's depot, tied up the guards, and unhurriedly made off with $7.4 million in one of the FBI's top-five armored car heists in history. Suspicion quickly fell on a retired Rochester cop working security for Brinks at the time-as well it might. Officer Tom O'Connor had been previously suspected of everything from robbery to murder to complicity with the IRA. One ex-IRA soldier in particular was indebted to O'Connor for smuggling him and his girlfriend into the United States, and when he…


Book cover of Red Seas Under Red Skies

Misty Massey Author Of Mad Kestrel

From my list on pirates who like a little magic in the mix.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the coast of South Carolina, where many of the Golden Age pirates were welcomed as business associates and charming guests by some of the most influential people of the day. They are, to this day, considered local heroes. I read everything I could lay hands on about them, fiction and histories, and I knew my first book would have to be about the pirate I always pretended I could be, if I’d only been born two hundred years ago.

Misty's book list on pirates who like a little magic in the mix

Misty Massey Why did Misty love this book?

If there’s anything I like as much as pirates, it’s heist stories. The excellent follow-up to the amazing Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas rang every one of my bells by taking our favorite thieving bastards Locke and Jean to sea, under the command of a strong, brilliant female captain, Zamira Drakasha. And she’s not just a woman pirate – she’s a middle-aged, Black single mother, running her ship and being the best pirate any denizen of the high seas could aspire to be. Lynch caught a good bit of flack for this character, but I was delighted. You will be, too.

By Scott Lynch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Red Seas Under Red Skies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Escaping from the attentions of the Bondsmagi Locke Lamora, the estwhile Thorn of Camorr and Jean Tannen have fled their home city. Taking ship they arrive in the city state of Tal Varrar where they are soon planning their most spectacular heist yet; they will take the luxurious gaming house, The Sinspire, for all of its countless riches.

No-one has ever taken even a single coin from the Sinspire that wasn't won on the tables or in the other games of chance on offer there.

But, as ever, the path of true crime rarely runs smooth and Locke and Jean…


Book cover of No Beast So Fierce

Amer Anwar Author Of Brothers in Blood

From my list on ex-con characters you can’t help but root for.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a British crime writer and am the winner of the CWA Debut Dagger and have been longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. I have been reading crime thrillers for most of my life and while I love reading about cops and detectives, I seem to have a special liking for amateur detectives, criminals with good hearts, and ex-cons. In my own novels, two crime thrillers set in west London, my main character, Zaq Khan, is an ex-con who gets caught up in dangerous situations and, along with his best friend, tries to get out of them alive. The books I’ve recommended have all inspired and influenced what I write.

Amer's book list on ex-con characters you can’t help but root for

Amer Anwar Why did Amer love this book?

Edward Bunker didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk, spending over 25 years in prison for various crimes including armed robbery.

That experience of life in and out of prison meant he knew exactly what he was writing about and the authenticity drips from the page.

No Beast So Fierce is a blistering tale about an ex-con trying his damndest to go straight while the pull of the criminal life tugs harder and harder at him.

It captures that life in all its rawness and brutality. Not an easy read, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Quentin Tarantino was such a fan of the book he gave Edward Bunker the role of Mr. Blue in his movie, Reservoir Dogs.

By Edward Bunker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Beast So Fierce as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity' - Richard III, Act 1, Scene 2

An angry and mercilessly suspenseful novel about an ex-con's attempt to negotiate the "straight world" and his swan dive back into the paradoxical security of crime. It is airtight in its construction, almost photorealistic in its portrayal of L.A. lowlife and utterly knowledgeable about the terrors of liberty, the high of the quick score and the rage that makes the finger tighten on the trigger of the gun.

No Beast So Fierce was Eddie Bunker's debut novel and has the searing intensity of…


Book cover of Harlem Shuffle

Andy Mozina Author Of Tandem

From my list on literary with criminal protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like books in which there are moral stakes, which sometimes draws me to stories with criminals, and I like when the character at the center of the problem is complex or destabilizes things. Dark humor always helps. Average people should be able to see themselves in some way in the criminal’s bad behavior or at least in their desires. I have published two story collections and two novels. My first collection of short stories won the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award. My fiction has appeared in Tin House, Southern Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. I'm a professor of English at Kalamazoo College. 

Andy's book list on literary with criminal protagonists

Andy Mozina Why did Andy love this book?

Raymond Carney—savvy furniture store owner in 1960s Harlem; a small-time, look-the-other-way fence for stolen goods—is one of the most likable criminals I’ve ever read about.

He dreams of moving his young family on up to a nice apartment on Riverside Dr. and scraps for every dollar. His hustling ways occasionally flare into big-time crime or revenge, but his insights into the teeming city are always keen.

Whitehead can do it all: perfectly observed details of the time and place, great characters, wry humor, surprising plot developments, devastating emotional scenes. The implications of race and class are deftly drawn. The prose is gorgeous.

Really, no American writer is better than Whitehead right now. A fun and profound ride. 

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, this gloriously entertaining novel is  “fast-paced, keen-eyed and very funny ... about race, power and the history of Harlem all disguised as a thrill-ride crime novel" (San Francisco Chronicle).

"Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked..." To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents…


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