96 books like Down by the River

By Edna O'Brien,

Here are 96 books that Down by the River fans have personally recommended if you like Down by the River. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Leaving Earth

Pamela Mulloy Author Of As Little As Nothing

From my list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with the lives of women around the period of World War Two when I discovered the female aviators of the Air Transport Auxiliary based in England. It wasn’t until I researched the history of reproductive rights after attending the Women’s March in 2017 in Toronto, Canada that I realized the period of the 1930s was a particularly progressive time for women, a time of early feminism. As a novelist I am drawn to the social history and the impact of wars. My first novel explored PTSD, and in this one I’m exploring the lives of women who fought against the gender norms at the time.

Pamela's book list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender

Pamela Mulloy Why did Pamela love this book?

This is the first novel I read of Helen Humphreys and ever since then I’ve been a huge fan of her work, which often focuses on an overlooked period of history. Written with a strong poetic voice, her writing has a deeply humane undercurrent and frequently contains strong female characters. This one especially came to mind, as it features two women aviators in the 1930s striving to break an endurance record by flying around Toronto for 25 days. Humphreys has a special talent for focusing on the details that draw us into the story, while also establishing characters and relationships that make us care deeply about what they are doing. Smart, complex women doing daring things—what’s not to like!

By Helen Humphreys,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Leaving Earth was Helen Humphreys's debut, and it brought the beauty of her poetry into the story of two women's love of flight and dream to excel, even if it took all their courage and strength and even their lives. Novice flyer Willa joins Grace, heroine of the skies, in what becomes an intimate journey of friendship. Yet the clouds that gather above are echoed by lurking dangers below for Maddy, a young fan of Grace's, and her Jewish mother and uncle. Anti-Semitism is spreading. Maddy's mother, a true fortune-teller, is beat up by thugs, and the swirl of events…


Book cover of Dear Evelyn

Pamela Mulloy Author Of As Little As Nothing

From my list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with the lives of women around the period of World War Two when I discovered the female aviators of the Air Transport Auxiliary based in England. It wasn’t until I researched the history of reproductive rights after attending the Women’s March in 2017 in Toronto, Canada that I realized the period of the 1930s was a particularly progressive time for women, a time of early feminism. As a novelist I am drawn to the social history and the impact of wars. My first novel explored PTSD, and in this one I’m exploring the lives of women who fought against the gender norms at the time.

Pamela's book list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender

Pamela Mulloy Why did Pamela love this book?

The characters in this novel-in-stories are so vivid, you almost flinch at the intimacy and truth of which they speak. There is the sense of a curtain being drawn back to reveal this poignant account of a 70-year marriage that begins during World War Two. Here we have Harry, with the heart of a poet, who is a contrast to Evelyn, tough, and at times acerbic. Though it is Harry that most readers will probably warm to, Evelyn, with her difficult background—an alcoholic father and enabling mother—has had challenges that make her hold herself to a higher standard and therefore makes for a complex character. Inevitably her headstrong nature may be judged more harshly than if these were traits assigned to a man. The writing is lyrical with a precision that marks Kathy Page’s work. Whatever you think about the characters, you will doubtless be affected by their lives as…

By Kathy Page,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A portrait of a turbulent and beautiful seventy-year-long marriage forged during the onset of World War II.

Born in the 1920s on a working-class London street, Harry Miles wins a scholarship and grows into adulthood as a sensitive man, torn between his love for poetry and the immediate demands of the world around him. When he marries the magnetic and demanding Evelyn amongst the outbreak of war, his capacity to love is increasingly tested-up to and beyond when she abandons him on the cusp of death.

An unconventional love story, harrowing and deeply tender, Dear Evelyn studies two people who…


Book cover of Girl Runner

Pamela Mulloy Author Of As Little As Nothing

From my list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with the lives of women around the period of World War Two when I discovered the female aviators of the Air Transport Auxiliary based in England. It wasn’t until I researched the history of reproductive rights after attending the Women’s March in 2017 in Toronto, Canada that I realized the period of the 1930s was a particularly progressive time for women, a time of early feminism. As a novelist I am drawn to the social history and the impact of wars. My first novel explored PTSD, and in this one I’m exploring the lives of women who fought against the gender norms at the time.

Pamela's book list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender

Pamela Mulloy Why did Pamela love this book?

This novel of Aganetha, a 104-year-old woman who looks back on her years as a runner in the 1928 Olympics is as much a story about aging and the examination of one’s life, as it is about the glory days of her feat. I loved the idea of this woman at such an advanced age reflecting on her past, on what she has seen and experienced, and all the details of the events are beautifully rendered. This is an intimate yet propulsive novel that takes us through issues of gender equality, abortion, and all the obstacles that Aganetha would have faced as a female athlete.  

By Carrie Snyder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'original and moving... with the quirky charm of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' Daily Mail
'a joy to read' Independent on Sunday
Girl Runner, Carrie Snyder's debut novel, is the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten by history. For Aganetha, a competitive and ambitious woman, her life remains present and unfinished in her mind.
When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her childhood in rural Ontario…


Book cover of Undersong

Pamela Mulloy Author Of As Little As Nothing

From my list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with the lives of women around the period of World War Two when I discovered the female aviators of the Air Transport Auxiliary based in England. It wasn’t until I researched the history of reproductive rights after attending the Women’s March in 2017 in Toronto, Canada that I realized the period of the 1930s was a particularly progressive time for women, a time of early feminism. As a novelist I am drawn to the social history and the impact of wars. My first novel explored PTSD, and in this one I’m exploring the lives of women who fought against the gender norms at the time.

Pamela's book list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender

Pamela Mulloy Why did Pamela love this book?

Here we are taken into the world of Dorothy Wordsworth, considered to be the creative collaborator of her brother William Wordsworth, in this highly original re-imagining of her life. Although as an adult she lived with her brother, she remained in the shadows while he mined her writing for phrases he might use in his own poetry. Her unconventional life is portrayed here through the eyes of others, including a hired hand, James Dixon, whose reverence for her helps shape the story, and the curious but effective use of an old tree, named Sycamore, who provides insightful meditations on her character. I was taken with how intimately we entered Dorothy’s world who, though frail in body, was strong in mind. The internal workings and close observations are what make the novel fascinating, a historical portrait of both woman and artist. An original and thought-provoking work.

By Kathleen Winter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A stunning, spellbinding, poetic triumph." —Toronto Star
 
From Giller-shortlisted author Kathleen Winter (author of the bestseller Annabel): A stunning novel reimagining the lost years of misunderstood Romantic Era genius Dorothy Wordsworth.

When young James Dixon, a local jack-of-all-trades recently returned from the Battle of Waterloo, meets Dorothy Wordsworth, he quickly realizes he’s never met another woman anything like her. In her early thirties, Dorothy has already lived a wildly unconventional life. And as her famous brother William Wordsworth’s confidante and creative collaborator—considered by some in their circle to be the secret to his success as a poet—she has carved a…


Book cover of Anywhere You Run

Clare Broyles Author Of In Sunshine or in Shadow

From my list on spunky women in historical mayhem who nevertheless persisted.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been known to read a book a day, and I read widely: all the classics, mystery and suspense, science fiction, future fiction, and fantasy. My favorite novels in any genre take me to a place or time far away. My favorite characters are like hobbits; they are caught up in big adventures but fun to have a beer with and don’t take themselves too seriously. And all the protagonists in the novels I have chosen are women, because women my age have spent enough time reading about men who have adventures. 

Clare's book list on spunky women in historical mayhem who nevertheless persisted

Clare Broyles Why did Clare love this book?

What I love about historical novels is their ability to transport me into a past that was beyond my imaginings before I read the book.

The harrowing opening scene of this novel is something I could not imagine. But the main character of the novel, a black woman living in the Jim Crow South, has no such luxury. She knows full well the perils of being a black woman in the South. She must fight against deadly sexism and racism to try to claim a life for herself and solve a mystery with ties to a true historical crime.

Wanda Morris writes in a style reminiscent of John Grisham (if he had the life experience of a black woman). Plan to read this over the weekend because once you start, you won’t be able to put it down. 

By Wanda M Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Anywhere You Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As Seen on The TODAY Show!

Called One of the Best Crime Novels of the Yearby New York Times * NPR * New York Post * Washington Post * Buzzfeed * South Florida Sun-Sentinel * Library Journal * CrimeReads

From the award-winning author of All Her Little Secrets comes yet another gripping, suspenseful novel where, after the murder of a white man in Jim Crow Mississippi, two Black sisters run away to different parts of the country . . . but can they escape the secrets they left behind?

It’s the summer of 1964 and three innocent men are brutally…


Book cover of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

Elly Taylor Author Of Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

From my list on pregnancy and new parenthood for couples.

Why am I passionate about this?

Around 25 years ago, I thought my husband and I were ready for parenthood…until we got there. And as a relationship counselor, I was listening to countless stories of couples struggling through the rollercoaster ride of becoming a family too. So I wondered: can couples actually prepare for this? For years I waited for a book to recommend to my clients to guide them after our sessions ended and I ended up writing (an award-winning) one instead. This turned into training for professionals, and now expectant couples are doing Becoming Us courses at the hospitals where our three children were born. And, thankfully, there are more books to support new families too!

Elly's book list on pregnancy and new parenthood for couples

Elly Taylor Why did Elly love this book?

What I love most about this journal-type workbook is how practical and easy to digest it is. The book doesn’t give specific advice but provides prompts and worksheets for couples to focus on the most frequent topics of concern for new parents so they can plan ahead for how to manage them. The book poses thought-provoking questions for partners to learn more about their own and each other’s experiences, values, and hopes and discover where both their challenges and strengths may be. Couples can pick it up, open it to any page, and have conversation prompts as well as an action item that can help them to move forward. I can imagine couples revisiting these conversations again and again over time to see how they’ve progressed and where any sticking points might still need to be worked through.

Best for: expecting couples or those who are thinking about having a…

By Stephanie Dueger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Can anyone really prepare for parenting?

Yes!

Couples often spend surprisingly little time getting ready for this huge rite of passage. They may paint the nursery, but neglect discussing how their roles may change. They may have a car seat ready, but not a will.

The first of its kind, this interactive book provides couples with essential conversation-starters and action items to complete before becoming parents. In Preparing for Parenthood, you’ll discover how to transition to parenting in ways that best align with your own beliefs and values by:
• Learning the biggest concerns couples face when becoming new parents…


Book cover of Happy With Baby: Essential Relationship Advice When Partners Become Parents

Elly Taylor Author Of Becoming Us: The Couple's Guide to Parenthood

From my list on pregnancy and new parenthood for couples.

Why am I passionate about this?

Around 25 years ago, I thought my husband and I were ready for parenthood…until we got there. And as a relationship counselor, I was listening to countless stories of couples struggling through the rollercoaster ride of becoming a family too. So I wondered: can couples actually prepare for this? For years I waited for a book to recommend to my clients to guide them after our sessions ended and I ended up writing (an award-winning) one instead. This turned into training for professionals, and now expectant couples are doing Becoming Us courses at the hospitals where our three children were born. And, thankfully, there are more books to support new families too!

Elly's book list on pregnancy and new parenthood for couples

Elly Taylor Why did Elly love this book?

I love Catherine’s sense of humor. Even the contents page makes me laugh out loud! Catherine shares anecdotes from her own relationship with her husband Rick and examples from other couples that make this book really relatable and easy to digest. Happy With Baby provides concrete, real-world advice, lots of compassion, and inspiration for some specific topics not covered by other books including: overcoming a hard pregnancy, three questions to ask daily for better communication between partners, what to say when mom needs to take self-care and handling unwanted parenting advice that can sometimes create conflict between parents. There’s plenty of empathy in here and also some good laughs.

Best for: new parents and friends of new parents to recommend to them.

By Catherine O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Less sleep, stressful life changes, and even postpartum depression are things most new parents know are possible when baby comes home.

Sudden relationship and personal challenges might come as a big surprise though! Navigating life as a family can be harder than expected. Between unwanted parenting advice and no time for self-care, good communication with your partner can halt to a standstill. Your once-steady partner suddenly feels like part of the problem.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Catherine O’Brien and her husband lay out the communication skills and relationship strategies that new moms and dads need during baby’s first year…


Book cover of What Makes a Baby

Beth Cox Author Of All Bodies Are Wonderful: An Inclusive Guide to talking about you!

From my list on embracing who you are.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an inclusion consultant working with publishers to help ensure all children are included in books. It’s easy to forget how important embracing all types of bodies is when thinking about diversity and inclusion. But inclusion is essentially about welcoming and appreciating all different types of bodies. The best way to promote this is to build a sense of awe about how bodies are created, understand the science behind why differences occur, and see that bodies come in many shapes and forms, and are all beautiful. There are so many books that can help with this, but alongside my book, the books on this list are a great place to start.

Beth's book list on embracing who you are

Beth Cox Why did Beth love this book?

My son is donor conceived, and I’m a solo parent by design, so how he was made is something we’ve talked about since he was tiny. (Although the conversation was rather one-sided for a number of years!)

When I discovered this book it quickly became a favourite as it’s so inclusive! The way it’s presented transcends gender and family set up, meaning you can use it to discuss any or all of the ways a baby can be made. Understanding how babies come into the world and grow helps children to realise the importance of their own bodies. 

By Cory Silverberg, Fiona Smyth (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked What Makes a Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finalist for the 2014 Lambda Award for LGBT Children's/Young Adult

“What Makes a Baby is extraordinary! Cory is a Dr. Spock for the 21st century.”—Susie Bright

“A Truly Inclusive Way to Answer the Question 'Where Do Babies Come From?': The new book What Makes a Baby offers an origin story for all children, no matter what their families look like." —The Atlantic

"This is a solid, occasionally quirky book on an important topic."—School Library Journal

Geared to readers from preschool to age eight, What Makes a Baby is a book for every kind of family and every kind of kid.…


Book cover of Cravings: An Extreme Horror Novelette

Angel Gelique Author Of Man Cave

From my list on disturbing horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a passionate lover of all things horror. I strive to take my readers on an unforgettable journey, one that often places them well out of their comfort zone. I believe that horror should make readers uncomfortable, whether through a mounting sense of unease or full-blown exposure to gore and depravity. I do my best to pull readers into my stories so that they can almost personally experience the horrors. If I don’t make them cringe and wince, then I have failed. As outrageous as my books may be, they're not full of violence and gore for the sake of mere shock value. I do my best to create well-developed characters with thought-provoking and immersive storylines. 

Angel's book list on disturbing horror

Angel Gelique Why did Angel love this book?

Some might say that this is a really crappy story. I will agree only to the extent that this book does, in fact, center on feces. Sara Todd is pregnant and she’s not craving pickles and ice cream!

This book is brilliantly written. McCluskey presents a most vile and disgusting story—one that is ripe with imagery and depravity. There’s not much that shocks and disturbs me, to be honest, but this book had me muttering, “No, oh no, no, no” in anticipation of the nasty deeds. Each one seemed progressively worse. It will likely turn your stomach and surely disgust you!

By D.E. McCluskey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sarah Todd doesn’t believe in cravings. She’s pregnant and determined to live the next seven months giving the baby all they nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy baby boy, or girl. The baby, however, has other plans. How far is she willing to go to succumb to her… CRAVINGS?From the dark mind of D E McCluskey, author of CRACK and The Twelve, comes this disturbing novelette. The baby must have what the baby needs…


Book cover of Rosemary's Baby

Chin-Sun Lee Author Of Upcountry

From my list on distressed women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I listened to scary Korean folklore and then devoured all of Grimm’s fairy tales with their themes of good versus evil, disguise and betrayal, sacrifice, and magic. It’s not surprising that as I grew older, my reading tastes skewed toward darkness, mystery, madness, and the uncanny. There’s a penitential aspect to gothic stories, with their superstitious moralism, often with elements of the supernatural manifesting not as monsters but restless spirits—the repressed ghosts of a location’s history. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a place absorbing and regurgitating the histories and sins of its occupants, whether it be a town, a house, or both.

Chin-Sun's book list on distressed women

Chin-Sun Lee Why did Chin-Sun love this book?

Most people are familiar with the movie, and I was, too, before I read the novel—which is shockingly good! Though published in 1967, the prose is modern and restrained.

Rosemary is betrayed by those she trusts, most heinously by her opportunistic husband, but she’s no passive victim; instead, she becomes ferocious. I give props to Levin for channeling the burgeoning feminist rage of the times, which he also did in his 1972 classic, The Stepford Wives. The dream/hallucination scene where Satan impregnates Rosemary and her confrontation with Guy the morning after is so well-written and horrific it made me want to stab him with a pitchfork. 

By Ira Levin,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Rosemary's Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel' Stephen King

Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband, Guy, move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and only elderly residents. Neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome them; despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband starts spending time with them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare.

As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to…


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