100 books like Earthlings

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Here are 100 books that Earthlings fans have personally recommended if you like Earthlings. 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 Book of Form and Emptiness

Hoa Pham Author Of The Other Shore

From my list on slippaging between worlds.

Who am I?

I want to write about the magic of the everyday and often this is seen in the slippages between worlds like the worlds of the living and the dead. Ghosts and spirits feature heavily in my work and fascinate me as a reader too. This is not in the realm of fantasy to me, ghosts are real and actual.

Hoa's book list on slippaging between worlds

Hoa Pham Why did Hoa love this book?

This story is about Benny a teenager who can hear objects speaking and his mother, who is a compulsive hoarder.

Benny finds a group of people in a hidden wing of the local library which introduces him to a new world where he is accepted. He meets Aleph a drug user who leaves lines of poetry on paper in the books of the library and Slavoj a homeless drunk man who spouts much philosophy from his wheelchair. Ozeki makes the reality fantastic, the work is grounded in ordinary details.

The book is a beautiful portrait of a mix of characters you ordinarily would ignore and makes magic of the everyday. It's this everyday magic that I also wish to capture in my own fiction.

By Ruth Ozeki,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"No one writes like Ruth Ozeki-a triumph." -Matt Haig, New York Times bestselling author of The Midnight Library

"Inventive, vivid, and propelled by a sense of wonder." -TIME

"If you've lost your way with fiction over the last year or two, let The Book of Form and Emptiness light your way home." -David Mitchell, Booker Prize-finalist author of Cloud Atlas

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

A boy who hears the voices of objects all around him; a mother drowning in her possessions; and a Book that might hold the secret to saving them both-the brilliantly inventive new novel…

Book cover of The Hummingbird's Daughter

Alex Temblador Author Of Half Outlaw

From my list on magical realism that make me feel at home.

Who am I?

Magical realism was created by Latin American writers, and I’m proud to continue the tradition today. I grew up reading magical stories – mostly fantasy – but there was always something missing in those books, that sense of reality that I experienced every day of my life thanks to my Mixed Latinx heritage. When I discovered magical realism, I felt at home. I’ve been studying magical realism since I was 21, so it comes as no surprise that most of the creative writing I do fall into the magical realism genre. I love helping others discover the beauty of magical realism because it is a phenomenal genre that helps readers understand their reality through magic. 

Alex's book list on magical realism that make me feel at home

Alex Temblador Why did Alex love this book?

The Hummingbird’s Daughter is the first in a two-part book series about a real-life woman known as Teresita, a curandera (or Mexican folk healer) and revolutionary figure who was born in Mexico and lived in the U.S. for some time. Urrea, a descendant of Teresita, fictionalizes her life in the book. I hope readers fall in love with Teresita’s story and share it with others because she is one of many figures in North American history that we should all know.  

The magical realism in this novel makes an appearance through Teresita’s healing powers as a curandera. I’ve been obsessed with curanderismo, or the folk healing practice of Latin America that combines Indigenous and Catholic beliefs and practices, since I was in college. This is why curanderas make appearances in both my books.

By Luis Alberto Urrea,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hummingbird's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The prizewinning writer Luis Alberto Urrea's long-awaited novel is an epic mystical drama of a young woman's sudden sainthood in late 19th-century Mexico.It is 1889, and civil war is brewing in Mexico. A 16-year-old girl, Teresita, illegitimate but beloved daughter of the wealthy and powerful rancher Don Tomas Urrea, wakes from the strangest dream--a dream that she has died. Only it was not a dream. This passionate and rebellious young woman has arisen from death with a power to heal--but it will take all her faith to endure the trials that await her and her family now that she has…

Book cover of The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, Vol. 1

K. Van Kramer Author Of Modified

From my list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved science fiction because it offers a hope, a dream, or a future that we just haven't seen yet. When I write my stories, I feel there is no better use of my imagination, than to contemplate a new world, a new civilization, or future technology. At the same time, I hope to entertain readers and spark young imaginations. Inside Modified, I reached into a distant future with off-world colonies that float in the clouds of Venus, while robots toil on the planet’s surface. Of course, in such a future, when advanced modifications and recursive designs are used, leads one to wonder if my robot can love too.

K.'s book list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds

K. Van Kramer Why did K. love this book?

It’s science fiction writers like Carol Emshwiller that must be mentioned here, especially when she writes about Ruthie and Joe, who own a robot whom they call the “grey-green” thing, the hound, the Rover, or sometimes just “bitch”. In order to increase their chances for a successful hunt, Joe programs the robot to track a bear, and it does so with ease. Eventually Joe commands the “grey-green thing” to actually kill it, and the robot carries out its deadly mission. At the end you shudder at the thought of the careless use of the machine, not to mention what would happen if the “grey-green thing” had been programmed to kill a human being.

By Carol Emshwiller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, Vol. 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Crossing the boundaries between fabulist literature, science fiction, and magical realism, the stories in this collection offer a valuable glimpse into the evolution of Carol Emshwiller’s ideas and style during her more than 50-year career. Influenced by J. G. Ballard, Steven Millhauser, Philip K. Dick, and Lydia Davis, Emshwiller has a range of works that is impressive and demonstrates her refusal to be labeled or to stick to one genre. This exhilarating new collection marks the first time many of the early stories have been published in book form and is evidence of the genius of Emshwiller, one of America’s…

Book cover of Crenshaw

Maura Jortner Author Of 102 Days of Lying About Lauren

From my list on kids who make it through tough times.

Who am I?

I went through major surgery when I was in eighth grade. The physical pain was bad, but what hurt more was the emotional side. When I returned to school, the friend groups had shifted, shutting me out because of my extended absence. I had to face that time in life alone. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to works about kids who have to face challenges on their own. When we go through hard times, our true selves come out. They have to; we have no one else. We can’t pretend. We can only try to make it. The books I like show characters that shine through their hardships.

Maura's book list on kids who make it through tough times

Maura Jortner Why did Maura love this book?

This book is amazing. It’s about a kid named Jackson whose parents are having trouble making ends meet. It looks like they’re going to be homeless... again. But that’s when Crenshaw, Jackson’s old imaginary friend shows up. I love how Katherine Applegate shows Jackson’s fears and hopes. I grew up pretty poor, and so I know that she does a great job with this tough situation. Yet, despite the hardships, Applegate fills this book with fun, like when Crenshaw, a giant imaginary cat, takes a bubble bath.

By Katherine Applegate,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Crenshaw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The heart-warming new story about family and friendships from Newbery Medal-winner Katherine Applegate.

Life is tough for ten-year-old Jackson. The landlord is often at the door, there's not much food in the fridge and he's worried that any day now the family will have to move out of their home. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken and he's imaginary. He's come back into Jackson's life to help him but is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

A heart-warming story about family and friendships from Newbery medal winner Katherine Applegate.

Book cover of Piranesi

Therese Down Author Of The Estate Agent

From my list on lighting up your imagination and your soul.

Who am I?

I love stories grounded in realism - but which also explore that there may be more to life than meets the eye; reasons beyond reason, for the way we dream, love, and think, and which come from unexpected sources. I love books whose characters really 'live', and stay with me, long after I've finished reading. I aspire to create such characters. In my novels, I seek to explore important themes from perspectives that often pitch rationality against what it cannot explain, or dismiss. The fiction I most love does this – whether it exploits mythology, suggests life beyond life, or uses magical realism to add ‘other’ dimensions to the ordinary. "There are more things… Horatio…"

Therese's book list on lighting up your imagination and your soul

Therese Down Why did Therese love this book?

How to explain the appeal of this compellingly original novel? A man who no longer knows himself, exists in a place no longer known to the world; a series of halls flooded by tidal waters and populated by extraordinary statues and flocks of birds.

Narnia for grownups, Piranesi enthralled me from the start. The need to unravel the book’s mystery became an obsession, so that the story occupied my thoughts on and off all day, and I couldn’t wait to get back to it. The ‘reveal’ is as satisfying as it is unpredictable, and the writing is flawless.

Clarke had already asserted her narrative mastery with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but it is honed with Piranesi. World-class stuff.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, 'one of our greatest living authors' NEW YORK MAGAZINE
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend,…

Book cover of Ethel & Ernest

Lucia Wilson Author Of The Adventures of Cedric the Bear

From my list on thought-provoking social themes for children.

Who am I?

There is nothing more gratifying when you are reading your own books to a group of children to see that they are eager to know what is going to happen next. My top priority is to create a story that is a page-turner. My second wish is to include social topics that provoke ideas and questions. After I read to a group of schoolchildren, I like to encourage them to discuss the themes in the story; the children are always keen to give their views. Nonetheless, adding social topics to my children’s books needs to evolve naturally; ultimately, for me, the story is king! 

Lucia's book list on thought-provoking social themes for children

Lucia Wilson Why did Lucia love this book?

I really admire Raymond Briggs’ work; he’s a wonderful storyteller and a fantastic artist with a great eye for colour. Ethel & Ernest is a beautiful book. The strip-cartoon format works well and makes for an intense reading experience. Whilst this book has lots of humour and light, it also features some dark topics such as the Second World War, mental illness, and bereavement. It is generally considered unsuitable for children under the age of twelve. It’s a charming love story and a vivid social record. I find it heartbreaking at times. It becomes even more touching when you remember that it is based on Briggs’ own family.

By Raymond Briggs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ethel & Ernest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A marvellous, life-enhancing book for all ages, now a major animated film starring Jim Broadbent, Brenda Blethyn and Luke Treadaway

Utterly original, deeply moving and very funny, Ethel & Ernest tells the story of Raymond Briggs' parents' marriage, lady's maid Ethel and milkman Ernest, from their first chance encounter in 1928, through the birth of their son Raymond in 1934, to their deaths, within months of each other, in 1971.

Told in Brigg`s unique strip-cartoon format, Ethel and Ernest live through the defining moments of the twentieth century: the darkness of the Great Depression, the build up to World War…

Book cover of A Lodging of Wayfaring Men

Wyman Wicket Author Of 23 Skiddoo: Way Back Beyond Across the Stars

From my list on magical realism for metapolitical non-fiction fans.

Who am I?

As a free man of flesh-and-blood I trust in time-tested verities and traditions; as a spiritual entity I am a man of faith; and as a thinking being I explore in my writing the malleability of consciousness and reality. Through a broad range of experiences I offer images for the minds of readers in novels of a twisted magical realism. I seek the mysteries of God, the beauty of poetry, and the freedom to explore all and everything. I am an American State National who critiques modern society, culture, and politics as an independent scholar who will not be silenced. Awaken, oh human beans, from normative conditioning and screen-gazing complacency!

Wyman's book list on magical realism for metapolitical non-fiction fans

Wyman Wicket Why did Wyman love this book?

Besides having one of the best book titles ever, this novel immediately draws readers in and is hard to put down; the action is matched by its intelligence. In it, freedom-seekers create a fast-growing, virtual society on the Internet that grows so fast it terrifies governments and their “security.” With no possibility of oversight and control, the System fights to co-opt this cyber-society before it undermines and overwhelms the dominance of corruptocrat governing elites. The free souls in this novel lead us through a clever plot wherein principles of economic freedom, individuality, and justice lead to a free market uncontrolled by tax-hungry government lackeys. Profiled here are a group of individuals determined to transcend paradigms that the human psyche often forms for us, almost autonomically, as a reaction to fear.

By Paul Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Lodging of Wayfaring Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Instantly named Freedom Book of The Month and a major influence in the Cyber-underground, A Lodging of Wayfaring Men is the story of freedom-seekers who create an alternative society on the Internet - a virtual society, with no possibility of oversight or control. It grows so fast that governments and “leaders” are terrified, and fight to co-opt this cyber-society before it undermines the power of the governing elite.

The main body of the book is followed by a set of essays and a supplemental narrative that were composed as the book was being written.

For those of you who may…

Book cover of In Darkling Wood

Jasbinder Bilan Author Of Asha and the Spirit Bird

From my list on magical lands you never knew you wanted to visit.

Who am I?

I was born in a stable close to the Himalayas in India. The family farm was buzzing with animals and one of the most wonderful was a wild monkey called Oma who adopted our family and insisted on living with us. This is where the magic in my life began. My Grandmother was the storyteller in my family, so even after we emigrated to England when I was only 18 months old, our house was filled with magical stories, many with roots in India. So when I became a children’s author it was this magic that I wanted to bring to my stories and it was this magic that drew me to reading.

Jasbinder's book list on magical lands you never knew you wanted to visit

Jasbinder Bilan Why did Jasbinder love this book?

Imagine if you could meet someone from the past without realising? This is what drew me to this magical book. When you are young there are things you just don’t question and this is what I was like. I saw things that adults would have said weren’t there. But I didn’t believe them. I only believed in the power of my imagination. For me anything could appear; a small creature under a tree in the garden or Santa’s sleigh flying through the sky at Christmas – it was all so real I could reach out and touch it. In Darkling Wood is one of those stories that wrap themselves around you and whisk you away, where you’ll leave believing in magic!

By Emma Carroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Darkling Wood 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?

For fans of Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Jack Cheng’s See You in the Cosmos, here is “a haunting and poignant exploration of family, loss, and redemption” (Booklist, Starred Review).
   When Alice is suddenly bundled off to her estranged grandmother Nell’s house, there’s nothing good about it, except the beautiful Darkling Wood at the end of the garden—but Nell wants to have it cut down. Alice feels at home there, at peace. She even finds a friend, a girl named Flo. But Flo doesn’t go to the local school, and no one in town has heard…

Book cover of The Shadow at The Bottom of The World

Benjamin Kane Ethridge Author Of Black & Orange

From my list on atmospheric books for autumn.

Who am I?

I’m a novelist who has primarily written in the dark fantasy and horror genre, which often embraces all things autumn. My first novel Black & Orange, its sequel, Nomads, and supplemental short story collection, Reaping October, all take place in autumn and focus on an encroaching dimension of darkness that would change life as we know it. Halloween isn’t just a holiday, it’s a different existence altogether. Having a love for the season and being its steadfast student, I’ve explored these atmospheric themes for decades. I have a solid opinion on what stories take you there.

Benjamin's book list on atmospheric books for autumn

Benjamin Kane Ethridge Why did Benjamin love this book?

Thomas Ligotti writes dark magical realism short stories. The Shadow at the Bottom of the World is an unforgettable collection written by a modern master of atmosphere. His stories rarely have complicated plots, but the feeling they leave you with is the whole point. In the thousands of books I’ve read, I can safely say he writes like no other-- he enshrouds your spirit with dread. The title story showcases a small town that encounters the arrival of a threatening breed of darkness. Written with the stunning imagery of Bradbury, the mysticism of Lovecraft, and the disquieting tone of William S. Burroughs, this collection will have you brightening the blaze in the fireplace, just to make the shadows retreat.

By Thomas Ligotti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shadow at The Bottom of The World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A longtime Lovecraft devotee, who has extended the weird tale to the next level via the likes of Borges and Burroughs, Thomas Ligotti is usually published as part of a general anthology of horror writers. But now Ligotti has pulled together a collection of his favorite fiction, both old and new, representing his best and most characteristic works.

Thomas Ligotti's stories are perhaps best described as dark magical realism. Many of his stories center on the distorted perspective of a frequently doomed narrator. The title story, "The Shadow at the Bottom of the World," reimagines a kind of Bradbury-like small…

Book cover of The Heart of a Dog

Simon Edge Author Of The End of the World Is Flat

From my list on where you need to read between the lines.

Who am I?

The End of the World is Flat is my fifth novel. All my previous work has used comedy to help tell a story, often viewing historical lives and themes through a light-hearted modern prism. This one reverses the process, using historical material – various accounts of Columbus’ first voyage to the Caribbean – to explore a bizarre modern movement. Because I’m critiquing gender ideology – a taboo undertaking in most of the publishing world – I’ve deliberately borrowed the allegorical methods of Bulgakov, Kadare, and, especially, Orwell. I hope the ‘samizdat’ way in which my novel has become a word-of-mouth bestseller makes that homage all the more fitting.

Simon's book list on where you need to read between the lines

Simon Edge Why did Simon love this book?

Bulgakov, a Russian born in Kyiv, wrote The Heart of a Dog in 1925 when the Soviet Union was in its infancy. It’s the breezy tale of a surgeon who transplants a human gland into a stray dog, turning an amiable mutt into a vile man.

There’s a punning reference to Stalin in the name of the least flattering character, and the author was clearly inviting his readers to read between the lines: this was an early satire on the Bolshevik social experiment.

It was rejected for publication and circulated instead in samizdat form. Remarkably though, Stalin took the writer under his wing and, while Bulgakov died young, he did so in his own bed. A political satirist can get away with a lot if they do it with charm.

By Mikhail Bulgakov, Mirra Ginsburg (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I first read Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita on a balcony of the Hotel Metropole in Saigon on three summer evenings in 1971. The tropical air was heavy and full of the smells of cordite and motorcycle exhaust and rotting fish and wood-fire stoves, and the horizon flared ambiguously, perhaps from heat lightning, perhaps from bombs. Later each night, as was my custom, I would wander out into the steamy back alleys of the city, where no one ever seemed to sleep, and crouch in doorways with the people and listen to the stories of their culture and their…

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