100 books like Crush

By Richard Siken,

Here are 100 books that Crush fans have personally recommended if you like Crush. 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 Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

Jennifer Savran Kelly Author Of Endpapers

From my list on queer people on the edge.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s resilience—how we hold onto life and find meaning in it when everything seems to be falling apart. As a queer and genderqueer author, I especially love to see stories about queer characters in all of their human messiness, characters who aren’t forced to be models of perfection in order to earn readers’ empathy, stories that show us queer people don’t deserve dignity because we’re perfect; we deserve it because we’re human. These five novels have affected me deeply because they don’t shy away from the complexities of grief, love, parenting, trauma, sex, social justice, gender identity, and more. 

Jennifer's book list on queer people on the edge

Jennifer Savran Kelly Why did Jennifer love this book?

Lawlor’s novel gave me the best gift a book can offer: it changed my mind halfway through.

I had been so intrigued by the premise of a shapeshifting character who can change their gender at will, that I forced myself to read on even though I wasn’t enjoying the emphasis on sex, especially as conquest, and I was sorely disappointed the story didn’t seem to go deeper.

But as I continued, I was happy to be proven wrong. By the end of the novel, I was checking my own biases and prejudices and empathizing deeply with Paul and his/her/their struggles. Reading this novel was an emotional experience unlike any I’ve had with a book.

By Andrea Lawlor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is quite simply one of the most exciting - and one of the most fun - novels of the decade.' Garth Greenwell

It's 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a lesbian best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul's also got a secret: he's a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women's Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in…


Book cover of Edinburgh

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

This is a book about many things—guilt, artmaking, and love among them—but when I think of it, I think of a novel that depicts the complexities of making and sustaining a life more deftly than anything else I’ve read. How things like cruelty and beauty, innocence and evil, truth and lies all coexist. How we move forward despite this uneasy balance.

The novel follows Fee, a boy who grows up in Maine and sings in an all-boys choir. The choir director turns out to be an abuser, and his actions haunt Fee and the other boys in the choir into adulthood.

On a prose level alone, Chee’s writing is unparalleled, his sentences sharp enough to cut glass. I don’t see how anyone could read this book and come away unchanged. 

By Alexander Chee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A poignant work of mature, haunting artistry, Edinburgh heralds the arrival of a remarkable young writer. Fee, a Korean-American child growing up in Maine, is gifted with a beautiful soprano voice and sings in a professional boys' choir. When the choir director acts out his paedophilic urges on the boys in the choir, Fee is unable to save himself, his first love, Peter, or his friends.


Book cover of Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir

Jen Silverman Author Of We Play Ourselves

From my list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a playwright and novelist born in the US and raised in a grab-bag of other countries. I grew up moving between cities and languages, and now, as an adult, I move between different modes of artistic practice. My first book, The Island Dwellers, is an interlinked story collection set partially in the US and partially in Japan and my second book begins with someone fleeing NY for LA; perhaps one of the impulses I understand most is to abandon ship and start over. I’m compelled by stories in which people seek to transform themselves or to refashion their lives. I think it takes a great daring (and a great desperation) to do either. 

Jen's book list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life

Jen Silverman Why did Jen love this book?

This book is written as a series of letters that could be diary entries, they are so personal and sometimes cryptic. But inside this structure, I felt myself brought into communication: the book offers a series of Mes and Yous, and I became by necessity the you across from that me. The conversation is far-reaching, from art to trauma to love affairs gone bad to the need to live authentically inside a culture that does not have the right words for one’s existence – a culture whose vocabulary actively erases one’s identity. As a genderqueer person raised between multiple places and cultures, reading a book that actively addresses what it is to live around language – just outside the reaches of it – was a revelation to me. 

By Akwaeke Emezi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FEATURED ON THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE AS A 2021 NEXT GENERATION LEADER

“A once-in-a-generation voice.” – Vulture

“One of our greatest living writers.” – Shondaland

A full-throated and provocative memoir in letters from the New York Times bestselling author, “a dazzling literary talent whose works cut to the quick of the spiritual self” (Esquire)

In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji…


Book cover of Art Is Everything

Jen Silverman Author Of We Play Ourselves

From my list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a playwright and novelist born in the US and raised in a grab-bag of other countries. I grew up moving between cities and languages, and now, as an adult, I move between different modes of artistic practice. My first book, The Island Dwellers, is an interlinked story collection set partially in the US and partially in Japan and my second book begins with someone fleeing NY for LA; perhaps one of the impulses I understand most is to abandon ship and start over. I’m compelled by stories in which people seek to transform themselves or to refashion their lives. I think it takes a great daring (and a great desperation) to do either. 

Jen's book list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life

Jen Silverman Why did Jen love this book?

Art Is Everything is a book about obsession, about love, about artistry, about the limits of aesthetics within an industry in which the marketplace is an unspoken but all-powerful factor. When I began reading it, I was amazed and exhilarated by how clearly it is in conversation with the preoccupations of my own novel, although from a different standpoint. Also: this book is hilarious. The humor is sharp, wry, sometimes skewering, but never inhumane. I laughed so hard reading it – and this was in 2020, so I wasn’t doing much laughing otherwise. I would walk up and down the floors of my apartment and read entire sections out loud to my partner. I do believe in the bold declaration of its title, and by the time I finished reading, I felt sure the author did too. 

By Yxta Maya Murray,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her funny, idiosyncratic, and propulsive new novel, Art Is Everything, Yxta Maya Murray offers us a portrait of a Chicana artist as a woman on the margins. L.A. native Amanda Ruiz is a successful performance artist who is madly in love with her girlfriend, a wealthy and pragmatic actuary named Xochitl. Everything seems under control: Amanda's grumpy father is living peacefully in Koreatown; Amanda is about to enjoy a residency at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and, once she gets her NEA, she's going to film a groundbreaking auto-critical documentary in Mexico.

But then everything starts to fall…


Book cover of Poems 1962-2012

AnnMarie Roselli Author Of love of the monster

From my list on poetry to skim the surface or dive deep into life.

Why am I passionate about this?

My childhood diary entries often turned into poems. Writing and art have been in my life a long while. After earning a BA in Advertising and Design, I became an art director for Prentice Hall, a large educational publisher. My reading tastes are eclectic. Reading the work of poets came to me later in life when poetry began oozing out my pores. I’ve maintained an art & writing blog since 2014. I self-published an illustrated collection of poetry in 2016. My work has been published in a variety of journals. Do check out the books on my list, they are unique, just like you.

AnnMarie's book list on poetry to skim the surface or dive deep into life

AnnMarie Roselli Why did AnnMarie love this book?

I’ve never been one to read a writer because of their accomplishments. But there are confessional voices (with stellar accolades), I can’t avoid. Louise Glück’s poetic voice evaluates experiences in ways that remind me that we’re all a bit messed up, but beauty sometimes lingers under rocks if you’re willing to dig. And dig I must to improve my work.

My poetry sometimes hides behind soft language, while my word-wolf remains hidden. Poems like Ms. Glück’s “Purple Bathing Suit” force me to evaluate if I’m artfully deceiving or striving to rise to her level of genuine gut-wrenching prose.

“I like watching you garden / with your back to me in your purple bathing suit: your back is my favorite part of you, the part furthest away from your mouth”

By Louise Gluck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poems 1962-2012 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

The collected works of the inimitable Pulitzer Prize–winning poet

It is the astonishment of Louise Glück's poetry that it resists collection. With each successive book her drive to leave behind what came before has grown more fierce, the force of her gaze fixed on what has yet to be imagined. She invented a form to accommodate this need, the book-length sequence of poems, like a landscape seen from above, a novel with lacunae opening onto the unspeakable. The reiterated yet endlessly transfigured elements in this landscape―Persephone, a copper beech, a mother and father…


Book cover of Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse

Jane Clarke Author Of A Change in the Air

From my list on making you fall in love with nature poetry.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since my childhood on a farm poetry has helped me pay attention to the world around me. Like a naturalist’s field guide, nature poems name, depict, and explore what might otherwise pass unnoticed. Now in the midst of environmental crisis I believe poets have a role alongside ecologists, farmers, and foresters to protect and restore our threatened habitats and species. Writing nature poetry helps me face and express loss while celebrating what still survives. I value poetry that connects us to what we love and gives us courage to imagine different ways of living.

Jane's book list on making you fall in love with nature poetry

Jane Clarke Why did Jane love this book?

What’s distinctive about this gorgeous poetry anthology is not only that each poem has a specific tree or flower as its subject but that they are grouped according to plant family.

The editor Sarah Maguire was a gardener as well as a poet and translator. In what was clearly a labour of love she brought together poems from all over the world, spanning eight centuries of writing. Her fascinating introduction considers many aspects of nature poetry, including gender and colonialism.

As a gardener and poet I have loved finding poems by Medbh McGuckian, Emily Dickinson and D.H. Lawrence grouped together in the Gentian family or poems by Louise Glück, Seamus Heaney, Lorna Goodison, Robert Herrick, Marianne Moore, and Richard Wilbur thriving next to each other in the Mint family. 

By Sarah Maguire (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This new anthology is as entrancing as the lost gardens of Heligan - I cannot imagine an anthology anyone would enjoy more.' Ruth Padel, The IndependentThis beautifully compiled and designed anthology brings together over 250 poems about flowers, plants and trees from eight centuries of writing in English. Fourteenth-century lyrics sit next to poems of the twenty-first century; celebrations of plants native to the English soil share the volume with more exotic plant poetry from further afield, creating a cornucopia of intriguing juxtapositions. There are thirty poems about roses, by poets as diverse as Shakespeare, Dorothy Parker and the South…


Book cover of Warning The Program You Are About to See Is All in the Family: The Show that Transformed Television

Matt Baume Author Of Hi Honey, I'm Homo!: Sitcoms, Specials, and the Queering of American Culture

From my list on queer characters on television.

Why am I passionate about this?

The short version: I just really love television! The slightly longer version is that, in my career, I’ve had a very unusual perspective on both entertainment and activism. My first jobs out of college were at companies like Lucasfilm and The Jim Henson company, where I saw first-hand just how important pop culture and fandom can be for audiences. And I also worked extensively on queer causes, eventually making activism my full-time job when I joined the team that brought marriage equality to the US Supreme Court. Through that work, I became more and more interested in the ways that pop culture – particularly television – has been a tool for advancing civil rights. 

Matt's book list on queer characters on television

Matt Baume Why did Matt love this book?

It’s hard to pick just one of Jim Colucci’s books to put on this list, but this one is probably my favorite. (He’s also written excellent books about The Golden Girls and Will & Grace, among other topics.)

It’s an incredible insider’s look at the making of one of the most important television programs ever made, with lots of original documents, interviews with creators, and insights that yield an even greater appreciation for this groundbreaking show.

By Jim Colucci, Norman Lear,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Warning The Program You Are About to See Is All in the Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Television was changed forever in 1971 with the premiere of All in the Family. Archie Bunker (Carroll O Connor), his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and son-in-law Mike Meathead Stivic (Rob Reiner) instantly became and half a century later still are four of the most iconic characters in television. Here, Norman Lear shares his take on fifty episodes that exemplify why All in the Family remains as funny and relevant as ever. Its boundary-pushing approach to hot-button topics is examined with commentary from its costars, writers, directors, and guest stars. With previously unseen notes from Lear, script…


Book cover of The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies

Matt Baume Author Of Hi Honey, I'm Homo!: Sitcoms, Specials, and the Queering of American Culture

From my list on queer characters on television.

Why am I passionate about this?

The short version: I just really love television! The slightly longer version is that, in my career, I’ve had a very unusual perspective on both entertainment and activism. My first jobs out of college were at companies like Lucasfilm and The Jim Henson company, where I saw first-hand just how important pop culture and fandom can be for audiences. And I also worked extensively on queer causes, eventually making activism my full-time job when I joined the team that brought marriage equality to the US Supreme Court. Through that work, I became more and more interested in the ways that pop culture – particularly television – has been a tool for advancing civil rights. 

Matt's book list on queer characters on television

Matt Baume Why did Matt love this book?

Although this book is about film, rather than television, it’s impossible to understand the TV landscape without also understanding what was happening at the movies.

And then there’s Vito Russo’s incredible research and activism, which made this book possible – an inspiration for anyone interested in how media can make the world a better place.

By Vito Russo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Praised by the Chicago Tribune as "an impressive study" and written with incisive wit and searing perception--the definitive, highly acclaimed landmark work on the portrayal of homosexuality in film.


Book cover of Don't Stop Believing

Ivy L. James Author Of Make the Yuletide Gay

From my list on queer romance capturing the magic of the holidays.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve adored holiday love stories ever since I was a kid watching Hallmark movies. There’s something about the magic of the holidays that makes two people falling in love even more special. That’s why I chose a contemporary holiday romance for my debut. And we see so much straight romance on TV and in bookstores, but I want to contribute to the queer community with my writing. I write a mix of sexualities; Make the Yuletide Gay features two lesbian women. All that to say, I just love queer holiday romances!

Ivy's book list on queer romance capturing the magic of the holidays

Ivy L. James Why did Ivy love this book?

I learned about the existence of Don’t Stop Believing through Gwen Hayes’ writing craft book Romancing the Beat. She used it as her example outline. It was the first thing I read to pick out story beats, and I meant to focus on writing craft while reading, but I fell in love with the characters. Both leads are precious! It gets me in the holiday mood but I reread this one all year round. Snowed in at Christmastime when they both secretly like the other already? Gimme gimme gimme (this book after midnight). It’s just so festive and cute.

By Gwen Hayes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Stop Believing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ogre from the HillSimon Powell, the town recluse, only comes to town to deliver firewood and get supplies. Two days before Christmas, he sees the new librarian’s car in a ditch and knows he can’t leave him on the road, but it’s too late to take him back to town. He’ll have something he’s never had in his cabin in the ten years that’s he’s lived there…company. The Book Nerd from the CityAdam Parker moved to the small community to make big changes in his life, but being snowbound with the bearded lumberjack in his rustic cabin was something…


Book cover of The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings

Molly Ringle Author Of Lava Red Feather Blue

From my list on fantasy with great queer representation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been making up magical worlds ever since childhood, when I populated the creekbanks and vacant lots in my hometown with ghosts, fae, Land of Oz residents, and other creatures from my imagination. Fantasy and forbidden love have always been my two main allures in reading, and different varieties of sexuality and gender identity also fascinated me once I became more aware of such issues in college, through books as well as my anthropology classes. I was recently pleased to learn there’s at least one cool label for me as well—demisexual—and nowadays I love populating my fantasy novels with queer characters. Everyone deserves adventures in the otherworld!

Molly's book list on fantasy with great queer representation

Molly Ringle Why did Molly love this book?

Do not read after dark! At least, don’t do so if you’re a scaredy-cat like me when it comes to ghost stories. That said, I found this story lovely and fun and steamy—when it wasn’t scaring the daylights out of me, that is. The premise is fabulous: a man moves to York, England, because he has inherited an old house there, which turns out to be super haunted. So who does he turn to for help? One of the many ghost-tour guides who roam the city telling their tales, of course. Turns out this particular guide—aside from being a highly sexy fellow with dyed-blue hair—can in fact see ghosts. And the ones in this house would rather murder the living than be politely ushered out.

By Lily Morton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Levi Black is at a crossroads. After suffering a loss and breaking up a long-term relationship, he’s looking for a change. When he receives the news he’s inherited a house in York, he seizes the opportunity to begin a new chapter in his life.However, when he gets there, he finds a house that has never kept its occupants for very long. Either through death or disinclination, no one stays there, and after a few days of living in the place, Levi can understand why. Strange noises can be heard at all hours of the day and night, and disturbing and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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