100 books like Donna Has Left the Building

By Susan Jane Gilman,

Here are 100 books that Donna Has Left the Building fans have personally recommended if you like Donna Has Left the Building. 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 Hell of a Book

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

This National Book Award-winning novel is the story of an unnamed writer negotiating life in a Black skin that pre-empts most people from seeing him as an individual human being. And it has one of the funniest (pee-in-your-pants) first chapters I’ve ever read.

I not only laughed, but I so identified with the writer (and I think most readers will, no matter what your race—that is the genius of this writing), that I lived every moment of this crazy quest to be seen in a world that absolutely refuses to drop its projections.

But ultimately, the person who needs to see this man as a human being, accepting all of his history, hurt, and uniqueness, is the unnamed writer himself. This is a combination of crazy humor and pain.

By Jason Mott,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hell of a Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***

***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***

Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, 2022 Chautauqua Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize shortlist

A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

An Ebony Magazine Publishing Book Club Pick! 

One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction | One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 | One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year | One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books | One of…


Book cover of Here Goes Nothing

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

Not only did I laugh all the way through this rollicking novel, but I felt as if author Steve Toltz is a brother writer from a cousin muse to my own.

Angus Mooney, the protagonist, is a thief, a romantic, and a philosopher who is dedicated to the easier path of not learning or understanding anything. And, not a spoiler, he dies.

If you console yourself that a better life awaits you in heaven, or if you're resigned to life being painful, but after all, it's only temporary, and once it's over, it'll be over, think again.

In this shockingly inventive, wildly funny epic about one man's life, death, and beyond, you may have some epiphanies about existence in general and how you want to spend or squander your time.

By Steve Toltz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Times (of London) Best Fiction Book of 2022

A wildly inventive, savagely funny and topical novel about love, mortality and the afterlife, by the Booker-shortlisted author of A Fraction of the Whole.

Angus is a reformed ne'er-do-well looking forward to the birth of his first child when he's murdered by a man who is in love with his pregnant wife Gracie. Having never believed in God, heaven or hell, Angus finds himself in the afterlife - a place that provides more questions than answers. As a worldwide pandemic finally reaches the shores of Australia, the afterlife starts to get…


Book cover of I Am Not Sidney Poitier

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

I’ve read this book twice and probably will read it a few more times before I die. It’s that good.

The story of a young Black man (named Not Sidney Poitier) traversing the U.S.A. is a picaresque, hilarious, heart-breaking tale about trying to find yourself.

Eighteen-year-old Not Sidney is surrounded by people who only see his race or his wealth, or conversely by geniuses who have succeeded despite themselves and, although they see Not Sidney without the cultural labels, are of little help in his quest to find his mission in life. 

The first time I read this book, I was spitting coffee laughing. The second time, my heart broke. I am curious what my next read will evoke.

By Percival L. Everett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Not Sidney Poitier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation. Percival Everett's hilarious new novel follows Not Sidney's tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth.


Book cover of I Am Sovereign

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

Hint: You have to read a hard copy of this book because the comedy is designed into the fonts and layout, which could never be translated into an ebook.

This is a free-for-all bumper car ride between people and their ids, filled with abrupt and perfect transitions that are so logical in their illogic that they are funny. 

But not only is it unique and funny, but it is founded on a profound understanding of silence—its essential healing and our inability to find it. 

This book is so inventive I’m kind of amazed (1) that it got published and (2) that author Nicola Barker and this book appear to be wildly popular in the U.K.

By Nicola Barker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

__________________________________________
'One of the funniest, most finely achieved comic novels, even by her own standard ... I think it's a masterpiece.' ALI SMITH

'I think Nicola Barker is incapable of a dull page. [Her work] is unified by its spirit of adventure.' KEVIN BARRY

Charles, a forty-year-old boutique teddy bear maker and wearer of ironic t-shirts, is trying - and failing - to sell his small, characterless house in Llandudno. His estate agent Avigail, whose name is definitely not Abigail, is trying - in vain - to rein in Charles's most unhelpful eccentricities, especially his repeated recounting to prospective buyers…


Book cover of This Beautiful Life

Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg Author Of The Nine

From my list on campus novels for the 21st century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning author of two novels, the most recent of which, The Nine, is set on a fictional New England boarding school campus. Although a secret society’s antics and a scandal on campus keeps readers turning the page, at the heart of the novel is the evolution of a mother-son relationship. Even before my three children began considering boarding schools, I was a fan of the campus novel. Think classics like A Separate Peace or Catcher in the Rye. My fascination surrounding these little microcosms—their ideals, how they self-govern, who holds power—only increased after experiencing their weird and wily ways as a mother. 

Jeanne's book list on campus novels for the 21st century

Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg Why did Jeanne love this book?

A painful examination of all that’s at stake when kids make bad decisions, This Beautiful Life made me reflect on the pressure contemporary kids feel to be beyond reproach while growing up amid the instant connectivity and permanent consequences of the internet age. Like Testimony, Schulman’s novel begins with a video, this time one whose ramifications are amplified and complicated as it goes viral in a matter of hours.

A gripping early scene dramatizes the split second when fifteen-year-old Jake Bergamot makes the fateful choice to forward a video he’s received to a friend. The scandal that ensues threatens not only Jake, but his entire family’s “beautiful life.” Rather than a boarding school, this novel is set at an elite Manhattan private school where the social strata among parents are even more painfully felt. As the story unfolds, this book takes readers even deeper into the mom’s head—a delightful place…

By Helen Schulman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"ThisBeautiful Life is a gripping, potent and blisteringly well-written story offamily, dilemma, and consequence. . . . I read this book with white-knuckledurgency, and I finished it in tears. Helen Schulman is an absolutely brilliantnovelist." —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
 

Theevents of a single night shatter one family’s sense of security and identity inthis provocative and deeply affecting domestic drama from Helen Schulman, theacclaimed author of A Day at the Beach and Out of Time. In thetradition of Lionel Shriver, Sue Miller, and Laura Moriarty, Schulman crafts abrilliantly observed portrait of parenting and modern life, cunningly exploringour most…


Book cover of Mrs. Everything

Elyssa Friedland Author Of The Most Likely Club

From my list on loads of nostalgia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m somebody that starts far too many sentences with the phrase “Remember when.” I have great sensory recollection of things from my past. As a high schooler in the 90s, I can still smell the CK One I was wearing during the Seinfeld finale and hear the Nirvana blaring through my 5-disc changer while I did my homework. I love using my writing to bring certain time periods back to life. I think because technology is moving so quickly – I struggle to understand TikTok – I like writing books and reading books that take me back to a time period that isn’t changing with status updates, new pictures, and Snaps every second. 

Elyssa's book list on loads of nostalgia

Elyssa Friedland Why did Elyssa love this book?

I have long been a fan of Jennifer Weiner and expected another charming, funny (and modern) read when I picked up Mrs. Everything. But this book far surpassed my expectations. It was far more serious, ambitious, and sweeping than her other books. The story centers on two sisters growing up in 1950s Detroit, taking me back to an era where women were raised to be housewives alone, and follows them through the tumultuous sixties and beyond. Weiner’s writing and research are so strong, I felt like I experienced the historical milestones along with the characters. 

By Jennifer Weiner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this instant New York Times bestseller and “multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant” (People), two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present are explored as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner.

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world…


Book cover of Beach House Reunion

Suzanne Goodwyn Author Of Wrightsville Beach

From my list on smart women trying to figure it all out.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing all my life, but was never able to find my voice until I had my daughters. It was for them I wrote “Wrightsville Beach”. I wanted to show them what a good relationship should look like and how their decisions make a difference in where they will go. I want my readers to relive that feeling of falling in love and to be sent in unexpected directions, as life so often does to us. I want you to enjoy it so much, you don’t want to put the book down until it’s finished and once you do, to sit and reflect on it, savoring the feeling it has left behind.

Suzanne's book list on smart women trying to figure it all out

Suzanne Goodwyn Why did Suzanne love this book?

This book is part of a series, but this particular one captured my heart. Cara’s niece, Linnea, is like Jess in so many ways. Having just graduated college, she joins the turtle team that works with the turtle hospital, learns to surf, and of course, falls in love. She also sets out to find her own calling and when she does, it requires sacrifices she did not know she would have to make. It is the pain we all feel when we discover our path does not align with those we love. Mary Alice Monroe has such a strong connection to nature and it comes through in all her books, particularly here when she describes life at the beach and those turtles, oh, those turtles...  

By Mary Alice Monroe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author and “skilled storyteller who never lets her readers down” (Huffington Post) returns to her beloved Beach House series with this “authentic, generous, and heartfelt” (Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author) tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family’s enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Comforting in its familiarity, it is still rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara let go of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new…


Book cover of Goodbye, Vitamin

Vibhuti Jain Author Of Our Best Intentions

From my list on father-daughter relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a debut novelist writing stories that peel back the layers of complex and often fraught relationships with those who are closest to us, family relationships being among the most intriguing to me. I wrote a novel focused on a single father and his daughter in part as a tribute to my own incredible father, who has dedicated his life to bettering life for my mother, my brother, and me. I also think father-daughter stories go largely unwritten and uncelebrated, so Our Best Intentions is my attempt to fill that void.

Vibhuti's book list on father-daughter relationships

Vibhuti Jain Why did Vibhuti love this book?

The story of thirty-year-old, recently unengaged Ruth Young, who moves back in with her parents for a transitional year to help care for her father, Howard Young, a history professor recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Khong’s novel, written as a diary, contains astute vignettes on a daughter's understanding, misunderstanding, and re-learning to love her father. The novel addresses the heavy topic of caring for one’s aging parent, who is in the throes of dementia. And while the Fosters will, at times, make you weep, they remarkably are also able to elicit a chuckle in the next breath. 

By Rachel Khong,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Goodbye, Vitamin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An O: the Oprah Magazine Best Book of 2017

'Khong is a magician ... Brilliant' Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies

'Khong's first novel sneaks up on you - just like life, illness and heartbreak. And love. A million small, human and often deeply funny details gather force to tell a tale that is ultimately, incredibly poignant' Miranda July, author of The First Bad Man

Ruth is thirty and her life is falling apart: she and her fiance are moving house, but he's moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns…


Book cover of Figgs & Phantoms

Jude Atwood Author Of Maybe There Are Witches

From my list on treating the supernatural with a clever sense of humor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'd like to claim that my expertise in these matters stems from the fact that I am a supernatural entity—and a funny one at that. But my origin’s more mundane; when I was growing up on a corn & soybean farm miles outside of a rural village, I became a voracious reader. I was always intrigued by writers who could explore a world outside the bounds of reality and do it with style. Over the years, I’ve been a short-order cook, a corn detasseler, a summer camp counselor, a college professor, and a middle-grade author, and I’ve learned that you can find a little magic anywhere if you look hard enough.

Jude's book list on treating the supernatural with a clever sense of humor

Jude Atwood Why did Jude love this book?

I loved Ellen Raskin’s much-lauded The Westing Game when I was nine years old, but I never got around to reading her 1974 middle-grade book Figgs & Phantoms, until recently. It’s a weird and whimsical story about family and grief with a magical realist touch.

Once a month, Mona Lisa Newton stands on the shoulders of her diminutive Uncle Florence Figg and dons a cloak to form the “Figg-Newton giant” so they can reach the rare not-for-sale books on the top shelf of a local bookstore. Their family has its own private mythology, including a version of heaven called Capri, and when a death occurs, Mona is determined to follow the clues and find it.

The text and illustrations manifest Raskin’s wry sense of humor, though some of the book’s mature themes might be too much for younger readers.

By Ellen Raskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Figgs & Phantoms 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?

From the Newbery Award-winning author of THE WESTING GAME, more clever riddles and wordplay, clues to be found, and mysteries to be solved!

A Newbery Honor book

The Amazing Dancing Figgs!
While Mona hates all the attention her eccentric relatives bring to her in town, there is one Figg family member she likes: her Uncle Florence, the book dealer. But Uncle Florence keeps hinting that he's going to find his way to Capri, the Figg family heaven. And that means leaving Mona behind. Can Mona find Capri before it's too late, or will she learn that things are seldom what…


Book cover of Where We Belong

Laura Drake Author Of Amazing Gracie

From my list on women at the edge of change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in middle-class America by a strong woman and an alcoholic. I survived an abuser when I realized that I was the answer to my problems. I write about tough subjects but am an eternal optimist who believes a strong spirit will always ensure a happy ending.

Laura's book list on women at the edge of change

Laura Drake Why did Laura love this book?

A coming of age story – for a fourteen-year-old who’s discovered she’s gay, her inadequate mother, her severely autistic younger sister, and a reclusive, distant older man and his dog.

The protagonist is the doer of the family who refuses to give in to poverty and give up to allow her sister to be institutionalized. What one determined soul can do when she refuses to give up.

I love stories that resolve in a happy ending, despite facing seemingly hopeless odds.

By Catherine Ryan Hyde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fans of Mark Haddon, Mitch Albom and Alice Sebold will love this remarkable, moving story about family and the many forms this can take by Richard & Judy bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde.

'A smashing read and left me feeling so positive about human nature' -- ***** Reader review
'An absolute joy to read' -- ***** Reader review
'Beautifully written' -- ***** Reader review
'Fantastic' -- ***** Reader review
'Catherine, you've done it again. Another awesome read that will stay with me' -- ***** Reader review
'A page-turner' -- ***** Reader review
*********************************************************************************************************
WHAT IF THE FAMILY YOU NEED ISN'T…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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