100 books like Darius the Great Deserves Better

By Adib Khorram,

Here are 100 books that Darius the Great Deserves Better fans have personally recommended if you like Darius the Great Deserves Better. 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 Felix Ever After

Diana Day-Admire Author Of The Angels Within

From my list on books featuring diverse cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the process of sharing stories and finding unique ones to experience. A member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I share my unmanageable at times life with others so they can see my life as typical, not abnormal. I believe I was put here on this earth to witness to others and open eyes and hearts to alternate lifestyles. I want to make a difference, and hope my writing may touch readers. No one else could have written my story, and it needs to be told. Mental health issues are difficult to share, but if we all remain silent, it will never get any easier.

Diana's book list on books featuring diverse cultures

Diana Day-Admire Why did Diana love this book?

I listened to this book never knowing what would come next. The life of a college student finding themselves hit home to me. I’ve searched for who I was for years and could identify with Felix in that way. I felt as if I was on a roller coaster, the emotions with such highs and lows that quickly made me root for Felix.

I may have to buy a physical copy so I can highlight some of the passages that spoke to me. In short, this book is about love. Finding love, sharing love, and loving oneself. I know at times, I have a hard time doing any of those things. Felix made me think if he could make it, so could I. This is definitely one for the permanent bookcase. 

By Kacen Callender,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Felix Ever After as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Stonewall Honor Book * A Time Magazine Best YA Book of All Time

From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too…


Book cover of The Giver

Summer Rachel Short Author Of The Mutant Mushroom Takeover

From my list on sci-fi books for kids who think they don’t like Sci-Fi.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with a scientist dad who often discussed bits of research or new discoveries around the dinner table. I didn’t follow in his footsteps and get a Ph.D., but I did develop a fascination with scientific happenings, particularly of the weird or unexplained variety. In college, I worked as the science reporter for my university’s newspaper, where I wrote on topics like nanotech tweezers, poultry farm pollution, and the nighttime habits of spiders and snakes. I’m also the author of two science fiction books for young readers.

Summer's book list on sci-fi books for kids who think they don’t like Sci-Fi

Summer Rachel Short Why did Summer love this book?

I love a good dystopian novel, and this hit all the right notes for me. At first, everything seems perfect in Jonas’s tightly-ordered world—only everyone is hiding something. Jonas is different, but he doesn’t know how.

I loved how thought-provoking The Giver was. It got me asking questions about what it means to be a part of a community, a friend, and a member of a family. What risks are we willing to take for the ultimate good, and what crosses the line?

I found Jonas’s story fascinating and felt genuinely concerned for him throughout the book.

By Lois Lowry,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Giver as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

THE GIVER is soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes and Taylor Swift.

Now available for the first time in the UK, THE GIVER QUARTET is the complete four-novel collection.

THE GIVER: It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in the community wants for anything. Everything needed is provided. And at twelve years old, each member of the community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders.

Jonas has never thought there was anything wrong with his world. But from the moment he is…


Book cover of Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Sydney Dell Author Of Take My Hand

From my list on LGBTQ that evoke emotions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a part of the LGBTQ+ community my whole life and have always been passionate about advocating for the people who identify as such. Furthermore, I have always had a fascination with emotional stories and the combination of a lack of many LGBTQ+ books with an abundance of romance and emotional thrillers out there makes it a ripe topic for stories. As a lesbian myself, it is very hard to write stories that don’t have those kinds of couples, so I tend to stick to that genre and I’m absolutely addicted to lesbian books.

Sydney's book list on LGBTQ that evoke emotions

Sydney Dell Why did Sydney love this book?

By inserting the book into a time when the very essence of the story is dangerous, the people are made to be in a situation where I was turning one page after the next to find out what would happen to them.

Each question that arose in my mind made me urgently attempt to find answers and the smile that came to my face at each happy moment felt amazing. The emotions that echoed through the book found their way into me and made me feel as if I was along for the ride as well right beside the characters.

By Malinda Lo,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Last Night at the Telegraph Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

"That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other." And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: "Have you ever heard of such a thing?"

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall…


Book cover of All the Bright Places

Madi Lalor Author Of The Way We Were Before

From my list on warming your romantic heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been in love with the idea of love. I didn’t know what that feeling was like for a long time–not being in love myself–so I grew attached to fictionalised worlds that brought those ideas to life. I’ve always been the person who smiles at a meet-cute or feels that warm, fuzzy feeling inside when the couple you’ve been rooting for the last two hundred pages finally kisses. I want them to know how exciting it can be to feel loved and experience that through the creation of stories. This is why romance is, and likely always will be, a huge thematic influence on all forms of my work. 

Madi's book list on warming your romantic heart

Madi Lalor Why did Madi love this book?

I’ve always loved stories that explore the themes of love and loss and how they entwine as one. All The Bright Places is no exception to this. Be warned; you may shed some tears!

The emotional connection you create with this book is something I tried to tap into with my own writing, and I hope that the authenticity of All The Bright Places is something that can be found in my own work. I love this book with my whole heart. I often write characters with past trauma, which becomes apparent as they begin working on themselves through the plot's unravelling.

I see so many similarities between my own characters to that of Violet Markey, a main character in All The Bright Places. She is what I consider to be an inspiration to my own writing from the very beginning. It’s truly an emotional tale filled with important topics…

By Jennifer Niven,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked All the Bright Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Now a major film starring Elle Fanning and Justice Smith on Netflix.

A compelling and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.

Theodore Finch constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself, but each time something good stops him.

Violet Markey exists for the future, counting the days until she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief for her late sister.

When they meet on the ledge of a tower, what might have been their end turns into their beginning.

It's only with Violet that Finch can truly be…


Book cover of Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Sandra L. Rostirolla Author Of Making Friends With Monsters

From my list on what life is like living with mental illness.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father died by suicide when I was thirteen. Because my family never spoke about the issues leading up to and resulting from this devastating event, we suffered a great deal. I have a deep love for books that expose just how dark, and troubled the teen existence can be. Authors who are brave enough to tackle such topics feed my bravery. The more stories we have on the topics of suicide, mental health, and trauma the broader the conversation and the more those who feel as though no one could possibly understand what they are going through feel seen.

Sandra's book list on what life is like living with mental illness

Sandra L. Rostirolla Why did Sandra love this book?

Right off the bat, Darius jumps off the page as a real teen with relatable problems.

He’s the quiet kid at school, who the others tease. And he suffers from clinical depression. What I loved was how well Khorram tackled depression’s subtleties.

I think there is a tendency for society to see depression as this overarching dark cloud that keeps us in bed 24/7. But the truth is, many people who are suffering, are functional.

From the outside, we don’t see the building up of little moments that act like a snowball gradually expanding as it rolls down the mountain face.

Be warned – the food descriptions are amazing, so you might get hungry during the read.

By Adib Khorram,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Darius the Great Is Not Okay 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?

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's a Fractional Persian - half, his mum's side - and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he's sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn't exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they're spending their days together, playing soccer, eating…


Book cover of The Dangerous Art of Blending In

Ronni Davis Author Of When the Stars Lead to You

From my list on to make you ugly cry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a sensitive person for as long as I can remember, but crying over books? That’s not something I did when I was growing up. Truthfully, I never cried over a book until I was fully into adulthood and I read The Giver. Because it’s hard for me, still, to cry over a book, I am very intentional with the books I select to read and recommend. It takes a lot for me to feel that gut punch, and when I do, the payoff is tremendous. And if it’s making me cry, then it’s going to make many, many people cry.

Ronni's book list on to make you ugly cry

Ronni Davis Why did Ronni love this book?

The Dangerous Art of Blending In is about Evan, who is trying to figure out his place in the world. He has a strict (read: abusive) Greek immigrant mother, a father who works works works, and he is struggling with his sexuality and the boy he kissed over the summer. Evan’s been silent about so much all this time, that it’s now time for him to find and use his voice. And he does so in such a beautiful and inspiring way. This book will make you feel so many things. 

By Angelo Surmelis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dangerous Art of Blending In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

~Lambda Literary Award finalist for the best LGBT YA novel of 2018~

A raw, powerful, but ultimately uplifting debut novel perfect for fans of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe from debut author Angelo Surmelis.

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict immigrant Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan finds that his only escape is to draw in…


Book cover of The Black Flamingo

Abdi Nazemian Author Of Only This Beautiful Moment

From my list on queer youth to make you laugh, cry, and grow.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up feeling invisible in media, and absent in history. My Iranian history was hidden from me by a culture that believed shielding young people from trauma was the right thing to do, and my queer history was hidden from me by a homophobic time. I’m passionate about the power of seeing yourself represented in storytelling and in history, and have devoted much of my life to telling queer stories, and queer historical stories. As a parent, as a queer Iranian storyteller, as a passionate believer in art as a tool for empathy, these are books I think will both entertain readers and inspire them to love their fellow humans a little more.

Abdi's book list on queer youth to make you laugh, cry, and grow

Abdi Nazemian Why did Abdi love this book?

My novel received a Stonewall Honor, which was one of the great thrills of my life. But the winner of the Stonewall Award that year was The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, and let me tell you, this is the book you want to lose to, the book you want to laugh to and cry to and cling to.

I’ve read it multiple times. Written in brilliant poetic verse, it’s a celebration of Blackness and queerness and all the complex emotions that make us human. I love it and cherish it, and you will too. 

By Dean Atta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Black Flamingo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'I loved every word' - Malorie Blackman

'Atta's bold verse novel calls to its readers to find their own blazing, performative inner truth' - Guardian

WINNER OF THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARD

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen - then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

'I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am…


Book cover of Where We Go from Here

Abdi Nazemian Author Of Only This Beautiful Moment

From my list on queer youth to make you laugh, cry, and grow.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up feeling invisible in media, and absent in history. My Iranian history was hidden from me by a culture that believed shielding young people from trauma was the right thing to do, and my queer history was hidden from me by a homophobic time. I’m passionate about the power of seeing yourself represented in storytelling and in history, and have devoted much of my life to telling queer stories, and queer historical stories. As a parent, as a queer Iranian storyteller, as a passionate believer in art as a tool for empathy, these are books I think will both entertain readers and inspire them to love their fellow humans a little more.

Abdi's book list on queer youth to make you laugh, cry, and grow

Abdi Nazemian Why did Abdi love this book?

My personal wish is that Americans start reading a whole lot more books from other countries, especially books that shine a light on the queer experience around the world.

Ours is a global community, and we can’t fall into the trap of thinking diversity only exists in our own country and language. Lucas Rocha’s novel tells the story of three Brazilian teens who are dealing with the impact of HIV in their own unique ways. It’s engrossing, tender, and transporting.

Anyone who loves this should also seek out the work of Vitor Martins, and should demand more books in translation so we can travel through literature.

By Lucas Rocha, Larissa Helena (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where We Go from Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Henrique has had HIV for three years.
Ian has just tested positive.
Victor got with Henrique last night and thinks he might have it.

Ian, Victor and Henrique must navigate treatment, friendship and love, and eventually learn to trust each other.

Because with judgement and ignorance lurking round every corner, the real challenge isn't the disease - it's other people.

Brazilian author Lucas Rocha unveils the common misconceptions and prejudices that still surround HIV in the twenty-first century, showing how far we've come while shining a light on just how far we have yet to go.


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 Lost Souls

Katie Marie Author Of A Man in Winter

From my list on horror with child protagonists that are not for kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

Horror is my passion and most things I read and everything I write fits neatly into the genre. But I am also passionate about telling stories from a unique perspective, or if not entirely unique then at least one that is underused. My novella A Man in Winter is told from the perspective of an elderly chap with dementia for instance. I have also found that many people think books with child protagonists must be children’s books and it makes me sad to think of all the wonderful work is being missed out on, I hope that my list has convinced you to try one of the above books.

Katie's book list on horror with child protagonists that are not for kids

Katie Marie Why did Katie love this book?

Another vampire one I’m afraid. But trust me this is so worth your time. 

I read this for the first time when I was in college and well into my Goth phase, this book became my aesthetic afterwards. It’s a different take on vampires, explored through a few different groups of vampires. The characters are wonderfully portrayed and unique but what really hooked me into this book was the setting. It's got depth and feels like you could walk through the book and be in Missing Mile. 

This was the book that made me try Chartreuse.

By Poppy Brite,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Abandoned as an infant, Nothing reads his true name on the handwritten note that was pinned to his baby blanket eighteen years earlier, and discovers that he is the son of a vampire


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