100 books like Do Not Become Alarmed

By Maile Meloy,

Here are 100 books that Do Not Become Alarmed fans have personally recommended if you like Do Not Become Alarmed. 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 The New Wilderness

Christine Grillo Author Of Hestia Strikes a Match: A Novel

From my list on engaging in world-building.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved to dip into speculative worlds as a way of gaining a new perspective on conundrums in the real world. In the real world, so many of us are plagued by concerns or frustrations having to do with connection and commitment, and those concerns transcend whatever place or moment we’re living in. So, by dropping those concerns into a surreal setting, I get another way to tussle with them.

Christine's book list on engaging in world-building

Christine Grillo Why did Christine love this book?

As a writer who’s interested in what comes next—after climate change, after fascism—I love how Diane Cook uses broad brush strokes to show us the future, without going into too much history or detail.

Instead of hyper-focusing on what the future holds for us, Cook directs our attention to one small, outlier community that’s doing weird things. This is a great technique: she paints a picture of a future world by painting a picture of a fringe group that’s trying desperately to be different from the main one.

A mother-daughter drama drives the plot forward, and we learn about the rules and ruminations of the fringe group as the characters sort out their power struggles.

By Diane Cook,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The New Wilderness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE ENVIRONMENTAL NOVEL OF OUR TIMES.' Lemn Sissay, Booker Prize judge

From an acclaimed Guardian First Book Award finalist comes a debut novel 'brutal and beautiful in equal measure' (Emily St. John Mandel)

Longlisted for the DUBLIN Literary Award 2022

A Guardian Best Science Fiction Book of the Year

A 'Best Book of the Year 2020' according to BBC Culture * An Irish Times Best Debut Fiction of 2020

Bea's daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, her lungs ravaged by the smog and pollution of the overpopulated metropolis they call home.

The only alternative is to build a life in…

Book cover of American Dirt

D. Dina Friedman Author Of Immigrants

From my list on books portraying the human side of the immigration “crisis”.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2019 I spent several days on a ladder witnessing children who were locked in a detention center in Homestead, and in early 2020, I traveled to the Brownsville/Matamoros border, where the stories people told me broke my heart. Often, it was not threats to their own lives but to their children’s lives that triggered their decision to flee. I wrote Immigrants and an accompanying book of poetry (Here in Sanctuary–Whirling) not to make political points, but to tell some of these stories and highlight the gaps between our human propensity toward kindness and the way we fall into the trap of “othering” those who are not exactly like us.  

D.'s book list on books portraying the human side of the immigration “crisis”

D. Dina Friedman Why did D. love this book?

I was intensely moved by the vivid, harrowing portrayal of what people go through in attempting to reach our border and the author’s ability to keep the point of view within the character’s experience, centering on the “showing” and minimizing the “telling.”

The pacing was great. I found myself caught up in the narrator’s journey from beginning to end, and I also gained a deeper understanding of what people actually go through. All of this made the book very worthwhile and important to read despite the controversy surrounding the appropriateness of a white author writing about a Latina woman.

By Jeanine Cummins,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked American Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Breathtaking... I haven't been so entirely consumed by a book for years' Telegraph
'I'll never stop thinking about it' Ann Patchett


Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is an unforgettable story of a mother and son's attempt to cross the US-Mexico border. Described as 'impossible to put down' (Saturday Review) and 'essential reading' (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved…

Book cover of The Chain

Robert E. Kreig Author Of Pit Guard: The Tanner's Boy

From my list on suspense to lose yourself in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love character-driven, roller coaster ride stories. As a young reader, I gravitated to the “choose your own adventure” books which relied on invoking knotted stomachs, and cold sweats in children as they struggled to make the right decision before reading on; turn to page 105 if you want to face the ravenous bear or page 23 if you wish to flee. Thus, the love of reading emerged and, eventually, the joy of writing followed. These books are just some of the stories that bring similar nostalgic tones when I delve into their pages. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Robert's book list on suspense to lose yourself in

Robert E. Kreig Why did Robert love this book?

The Chain is one of my most recent reads.

I’d categorise it as a dark thriller that created some of the tightest knots in my stomach. The concept alone was enough to generate terror, anxiety, and anger from the first page onward. But anything that involves the endangerment of children does that to me.

A gripping tale that puts the victims, both the kidnapped and the kidnappers, in peril from an unseen syndicate who controls their actions with a phone call.

Very realistic. Very scary.

By Adrian McKinty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When a mother is targeted by a dangerous group of masterminds, she must commit a crime to save her kidnapped daughter—or risk losing her forever—in this "propulsive and original" award-winning thriller (Stephen King).

It's something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it's a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a…

Book cover of The Darkest Secret

Kimberly Baer Author Of Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams

From my list on children in peril.

Why am I passionate about this?

Call me a worrier, but I’ve always viewed the world as a place fraught with danger, especially for the very young. Hidden sinkholes, falling tree branches, kidnappers lurking on street corners—there’s no threat I haven’t imagined. (Full disclosure: I’m a mom.) As a fiction author, I like to put my young characters in harm’s way and then deliver them to safety, an approach that helps me deal with my anxieties by giving me a sense of control. If I had my way, all imperiled-child stories, whether real-life or fiction, would end with a happily ever after. Alas, not all of them do.

Kimberly's book list on children in peril

Kimberly Baer Why did Kimberly love this book?

This book kept me guessing. 

A three-year-old disappears during her wealthy father’s fiftieth birthday celebration. Is it a case of stranger abduction, or something more complicated? Don’t ask the police; they’re clueless—literally. The mystery hooked me from the start, and the characters (absolute jerks, most of them) were so real, I could almost smell their boozy breath. I never did guess the shocking “darkest secret,” but that’s for the best. Correctly predicting a plot twist might be satisfying in the moment, but I’m more impressed when an author surprises me.  

By Alex Marwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"If there has been a better mystery-suspense story written in this decade, I can't think of it . . . transcend[s] the genre." -Stephen King

"A cruel and cunning mystery . . . Plot-twisting, mind-altering and monstrously funny." -The New York Times Book Review

The latest gripping psychological thriller from Edgar Award winner Alex Marwood

When a child goes missing at an opulent house party, it makes international news. But what really happened behind those closed doors?

Twelve years ago, Mila Jackson's three-year-old half-sister Coco disappeared during their father's fiftieth birthday celebration, leaving behind her identical twin Ruby as the…

Book cover of Somos Como Las Nubes / We Are Like the Clouds

Rene Colato Lainez Author Of Mamá the Alien / Mamá La Extraterrestre

From my list on the Latino immigrant experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

The topic of immigration is deeply in my heart because I am an immigrant myself. I came from El Salvador to the United States when I was 14 years old. Now, I am a teacher in an elementary school. Most of my students are immigrants or children of immigrants. Children and families immigrate around the world looking for better opportunities. These books were written by immigrant authors or authors who had lived closely with immigrants. The stories are real and describe the authentic journey, and experiences of children and families traveling from their native countries to the United States.

Rene's book list on the Latino immigrant experience

Rene Colato Lainez Why did Rene love this book?

This is a powerful book; in beautiful poems the author, Jorge Argueta, describes the journey of children and their families who are looking for better opportunities and big dreams in a new place.

Why are young people leaving their country to walk to the United States to seek a new, safe home? Over 100,000 such children have left Central America. This book of poetry helps us to understand why and what it is like to be them.

By Jorge Argueta, Alfonso Ruano (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Somos Como Las Nubes / We Are Like the Clouds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why are young people leaving their country to walk to the United States to seek a new, safe home? Over 100,000 such children have left Central America. This book of poetry helps us to understand why and what it is like to be them.

This powerful book by award-winning Salvadoran poet Jorge Argueta describes the terrible process that leads young people to undertake the extreme hardships and risks involved in the journey to what they hope will be a new life of safety and opportunity. A refugee from El Salvador's war in the eighties, Argueta was born to explain the…

Book cover of A Book of Common Prayer

Siobhan Fallon Author Of The Confusion of Languages

From my list on war (that are not actually about war).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an American writer, Army wife, and occasional expat who has spent nearly a decade of my life living abroad (including Japan, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates), not to mention seven Army moves stateside. I love to read (and write!) books that explore discordance and dislocation, what it is like to be an American living overseas in a time of war, and how these things impact relationships with friends, families, and strangers, and our concept of “home.” My writing is often an exploration of the mundane mixed with the catastrophic. Oh, and I have a weakness for stray cats. Lots of stray cats.

Siobhan's book list on war (that are not actually about war)

Siobhan Fallon Why did Siobhan love this book?

As a military spouse who has lived abroad and is always a bit wary about my surroundings, so much about this uncomfortable novel resonated with me. Two American women become unlikely friends while waiting for an inevitable military coup in an unnamed Central American country. The older woman narrator, Grace, who has married into the ruling family, takes naïve Charlotte under her wing. Both women seem to connect over their background, dislocation, and fractured family life, but nothing is as it seems. The unreliable narrator, the political ugliness, and the encroaching war all make this a thrilling read. The reader never knows what poses the biggest threat to the female protagonists: ex-husbands, runaway children, or firing squads. 

By Joan Didion,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Book of Common Prayer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A shimmering novel of innocence and evil: the gripping story of two American women in a failing Central American nation, from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Year of Magical Thinking and Let Me Tell You What I Mean

"[Didion's] most ambitious project in fiction, and her most successful ... glows with a golden aura of well-wrought classical tragedy.”  —Los Angeles Times Book Review

Grace Strasser-Mendana controls much of Boca Grande's wealth and knows virtually all of its secrets; Charlotte Douglas knows far too little. "Immaculate of history, innocent of politics," Charlotte has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly…

Book cover of Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone

Judy Reeves Author Of When Your Heart Says Go: My Year of Traveling Beyond Loss and Loneliness

From my list on by women who travel the world in search of themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father introduced me to the world as we paged through his old pre-WWII atlas. We traced borders and rivers with our fingers and he spoke names that were magical incantations and invitations to a world more exciting and mysterious than our midwestern home. As a reader, I was drawn to books about travel and as a budding writer, I was inspired by the adventures of “Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter” featured in the Sunday comics of my youth. I packed my bags early and my passport is never out of date. I continue to read traveloirs, and I write in my journal every day. Oh! The places I will go. 

Judy's book list on by women who travel the world in search of themselves

Judy Reeves Why did Judy love this book?

With this “traveloir,” Mary Morris showed me how to do it: How to travel alone as a single woman when you didn’t have a plan or an agenda; how to write about people and places that bring them alive; how to find your own story in your travels and in your writing.

Mary Morris published this book in 1989, the year before I set off on my own—a (much older) single woman traveling without a plan or agenda. As I opened the yellowed pages again, after many years, I read this line: “I settled into loneliness once again.” Next year I’ll be traveling to San Miguel de Allende, one of the settings in Nothing to Declare. I may take this book with me and read it again. 

By Mary Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nothing to Declare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chronicling her travels throughout Central America, the author offers an unvarnished view of the precarious realitie's of everyday life in a harsh and ruthless land

Book cover of Skywatchers: Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

Giulio Magli Author Of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

From my list on archaeoastronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my scientific career as an Astrophysicist. However, I have always been interested in Archaeology. This finally led me to conjugate the two passions when I started working in Archaeoastronomy, in 2003. Working in Archaeoastronomy first means having a direct experience of the sites (preferably, of every single stone, although in places like Giza they count in the millions…). So I have made fieldworks in Italy, Egypt, Cambodia, and, recently, on Chinese imperial necropolises. I currently teach Archaeoastronomy as a professor at the Politecnico of Milan. I have always been interested also in scientific communication on TV and social media, and my introductive Archaeoastronomy course is available for free on the Coursera platform.

Giulio's book list on archaeoastronomy

Giulio Magli Why did Giulio love this book?

Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, although a bit dated on some arguments, is a must-read book on the Archaeoastronomy of the Meso-American people. It includes a fascinating description of the role of astronomical alignments in places like Teotihuacan and the Aztec capital (modern Mexico City), as well as an in-depth exploration of Maya astronomy and of the Maya astronomically-driven architecture.

By Anthony F. Aveni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico helped establish the field of archaeoastronomy, and it remains the standard introduction to this subject. Combining basic astronomy with archaeological and ethnological data, it presented a readable and entertaining synthesis of all that was known of ancient astronomy in the western hemisphere as of 1980.

In this revised edition, Anthony Aveni draws on his own and others' discoveries of the past twenty years to bring the Skywatchers story up to the present. He offers new data and interpretations in many areas, including:

The study of Mesoamerican time and calendrical systems and their unprecedented continuity in contemporary…

Book cover of Missionary Stew

Lachlan Page Author Of Magical Disinformation

From my list on spy books set in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Latin America for six years, working as a red cross volunteer, a volcano hiking guide, a teacher, and an extra in a Russian TV series (in Panama). Having travelled throughout the region and returning regularly, I’m endlessly fascinated by the culture, history, politics, languages, and geography. Parallel to this, I enjoy reading and writing about the world of international espionage. Combining the two, and based on my own experience, I wrote my novel, Magical Disinformation, a spy novel set in Colombia. While there is not a huge depth of spy novels set in Latin America, I’ve chosen five of my favourites spy books set in the region.

Lachlan's book list on spy books set in Latin America

Lachlan Page Why did Lachlan love this book?

Critically underrated and largely unknown but described by up-and-coming writer Stephen King (in 1983) as “the Jane Austen of the political espionage story,” Ross Thomas was rumoured to have been an ex-spook himself. For those that haven’t read him, the best way I can describe his writing is: hilarious, clever, cynical, and like Elmore Leonard had a baby with Graham Greene.

Missionary Stew sees political fundraiser, Draper Haere, and “almost-Pulitzer winning” journalist, Morgan Citron, wrapped up in a caper involving the CIA, cocaine traffickers, Latin American generals, and corrupt US officials, all trying to fund a coup in a fictional Central American country. A storyline that might sound like it’s based on a true story—the Iran-Contra Affair. The only hitch is Missionary Stew was published in 1983 while Iran-Contra first came to light in 1985. Prophetic or insider knowledge?    

By Ross Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Missionary Stew follows political fundraiser Draper Haere on a quest to uncover the secret behind a right-wing coup in an unnamed Central american country. He seeks the information in order to get dirt on his boss's opponent in the 1984 US Presidential election.

Haere's pursuit of the truth repeatedly puts Haere's life in danger, as the powers-that-be stop at nothing to keep the episode buried. Along the way, Haere carries on an affair with the wife of his candidate and enlists the aid of Morgan Citron, an almost-Pullitzer winning journalist who has recently been released from an African prison where…

Book cover of Stuck with Tourism: Space, Power, and Labor in Contemporary Yucatan

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Author Of Beautiful Politics of Music: Trova in Yucatan, Mexico

From my list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Valladolid, a semi-rural city of Yucatan. My parents loved the history and archaeology of the Yucatan peninsula, which not long ago was a single cultural and linguistic entity. I grew up dreaming of becoming an archaeologist. With time, I became fascinated with people and sociality within and beyond Yucatan, so I became an anthropologist. I trained as an anthropologist in Mexico and Canada, and have done research in Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. I live and work in Yucatan, as a professor of anthropology. Good ethnographies are what anthropology is about, and those I write about here are some of the best.

Gabriela's book list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Why did Gabriela love this book?

In the 1970s, my parents took me and my siblings to the Camino Real, one of the first hotels ever built in Cancun.

We sat on canvas chairs on the beach and my dad played the guitar. Fiddler crabs walked around us, the stars shone brightly, and we enjoyed the music and the sound of crashing waves. Tourism and its evils, however, soon became a nightmare for peninsular Yucatecans.

Through the city of Cancun, the natural reserve Calakmul, the village of Tekit and the hotels in former sisal haciendas, this ethnography shows how, even when living standards improved, local people have become geographically immobilized and resource-impoverished.

The tourist industry is predatory. It destroys natural resources, transforms places into what the rich think of as paradise, and displaces and disempowers local people.

By Matilde Cordoba Azcarate,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tourism has become one of the most powerful forces organizing the predatory geographies of late capitalism. It creates entangled futures of exploitation and dependence, extracting resources and labor, and eclipsing other ways of doing, living, and imagining life. And yet, tourism also creates jobs, encourages infrastructure development, and in many places inspires the only possibility of hope and well-being. Stuck with Tourism explores the ambivalent nature of tourism by drawing on ethnographic evidence from the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, a region voraciously transformed by tourism development over the past forty years. Contrasting labor and lived experiences at the beach resorts of…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Central America, family, and military desertion?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Central America, family, and military desertion.

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