100 books like Edinburgh

By Alexander Chee,

Here are 100 books that Edinburgh fans have personally recommended if you like Edinburgh. 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 Olive Kitteridge

Ruth F. Stevens Author Of My Year of Casual Acquaintances

From my list on smart, quirky women facing personal struggles.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the time I was a girl, I’ve loved stories that put a lump in my throat even as I’m laughing. As a fiction writer, that funny-sad tone is the one I go for in my own work. I gravitate toward female protagonists of all ages who break the mold—women who are intelligent and strong but who also have unconventional, quirky personalities. Women who can be hilarious, infuriating, and heartbreaking—sometimes all at once. Because they are complex and unique, these women tend to struggle with life’s challenges more than their contemporaries. That’s what makes their stories so interesting, and why I have chosen the books on this list. 

Ruth's book list on smart, quirky women facing personal struggles

Ruth F. Stevens Why did Ruth love this book?

If I looked up “curmudgeon” in the dictionary, I’d half expect to find Olive’s picture. Perpetually grumpy and disappointed that the people around her don’t live up to her expectations (something I can relate to!), Olive is difficult, demanding, and often outrageous.

Yet her quirky charm has caused millions of readers—including me—to fall under her spell. I followed Olive’s journey with interest, hoping she’d find peace if not happiness.

The highly original, unconventional structure of this book has also made it one of my favorites. I love how Strout weaves Olive in and out of the action in this novel of connected stories, sometimes as a minor character and sometimes as the star.

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
 
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Plain Dealer • The Atlantic • Rocky Mountain News • Library Journal
 
At times stern, at…


Book cover of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

Jennifer Savran Kelly Author Of Endpapers

From my list on queer people on the edge.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s resilience—how we hold onto life and find meaning in it when everything seems to be falling apart. As a queer and genderqueer author, I especially love to see stories about queer characters in all of their human messiness, characters who aren’t forced to be models of perfection in order to earn readers’ empathy, stories that show us queer people don’t deserve dignity because we’re perfect; we deserve it because we’re human. These five novels have affected me deeply because they don’t shy away from the complexities of grief, love, parenting, trauma, sex, social justice, gender identity, and more. 

Jennifer's book list on queer people on the edge

Jennifer Savran Kelly Why did Jennifer love this book?

Lawlor’s novel gave me the best gift a book can offer: it changed my mind halfway through.

I had been so intrigued by the premise of a shapeshifting character who can change their gender at will, that I forced myself to read on even though I wasn’t enjoying the emphasis on sex, especially as conquest, and I was sorely disappointed the story didn’t seem to go deeper.

But as I continued, I was happy to be proven wrong. By the end of the novel, I was checking my own biases and prejudices and empathizing deeply with Paul and his/her/their struggles. Reading this novel was an emotional experience unlike any I’ve had with a book.

By Andrea Lawlor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is quite simply one of the most exciting - and one of the most fun - novels of the decade.' Garth Greenwell

It's 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a lesbian best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul's also got a secret: he's a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women's Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in…


Book cover of The Incendiaries

Jenna Clake Author Of Disturbance

From my list on abusive and toxic relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a poet, novelist, and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University in the UK. I like to write and read about particularly gender power dynamics, and how those come to play in domestic situations. I love lyrical novels and books that explore characters’ interiority, and I’m interested in how, generally speaking, ‘toxic’ and ‘abusive’ relationships have become synonymous – even though they are quite different. These novels helped me write my own, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I did!

Jenna's book list on abusive and toxic relationships

Jenna Clake Why did Jenna love this book?

This novel is a masterclass in unreliable narration. It follows Will, a young man estranged from his family and religion, as he attends college and falls in love with Phoebe.

As Will takes over and narrates his recollections of their relationship, Phoebe’s friendship with a man named John Leal, and her inculcation into a religious cult, he becomes increasingly untrustworthy. Will rails against John Leal, his lies, and the damage he has done to Phoebe, revealing his complicity in toxic masculinity and his own harmful actions.

Kwon renders her characters as entirely believable, frightening people, in lyrical and considered prose.

By R.O. Kwon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'R. O. Kwon is the real deal' LAUREN GROFF

'Absolutely electric . . . Everyone should read this book' GARTH GREENWELL

'Every explosive requires a fuse. That's R. O. Kwon's novel, a straight, slow-burning fuse' VIET THANH NGUYEN

'In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable' CELESTE NG

'A sharp, little novel as hard to ignore as a splinter in your eye' WASHINGTON POST

'Raw and finely wrought' NEW YORK TIMES

'The Incendiaries packs a disruptive charge, and introduces R. O. Kwon as a major talent'…


Book cover of Native Speaker

Don Lee Author Of The Partition

From my list on by now-established Korean American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Korean American author myself, I published my first book in 2001, and in the ensuing years I’ve been heartened by the number of Korean Americans who have made a splash with their debut novels, as these five writers did. All five have ventured outside of what I’ve called the ethnic literature box, going far beyond the traditional stories expected from Asian Americans. They established a trend that is happily growing. 

Don's book list on by now-established Korean American authors

Don Lee Why did Don love this book?

I feel Chang-Rae Lee broke out of the mold of Asian American books that always dealt with immigration or stories set in Old Asia. A young man, Henry Park, is hired to infiltrate the campaign of a Korean American running for mayor in New York City. Yes, this delves into the issues of assimilation and alienation, but the novel is about so much more. It’s lyrical and poignant and universal in its explorations of familial and marital love. 

By Chang-Rae Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The debut novel from critically-acclaimed and New York Times–bestselling author of On Such a Full Sea and My Year Abroad.

In Native Speaker, author Chang-rae Lee introduces readers to Henry Park. Park has spent his entire life trying to become a true American—a native speaker. But even as the essence of his adopted country continues to elude him, his Korean heritage seems to drift further and further away.

Park's harsh Korean upbringing has taught him to hide his emotions, to remember everything he learns, and most of all to feel an overwhelming sense of alienation. In other words, it has…


Book cover of The Foreign Student

Don Lee Author Of The Partition

From my list on by now-established Korean American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Korean American author myself, I published my first book in 2001, and in the ensuing years I’ve been heartened by the number of Korean Americans who have made a splash with their debut novels, as these five writers did. All five have ventured outside of what I’ve called the ethnic literature box, going far beyond the traditional stories expected from Asian Americans. They established a trend that is happily growing. 

Don's book list on by now-established Korean American authors

Don Lee Why did Don love this book?

In 1950s Sewanee, Chang and Katherine slowly fall in love and find that the Souths of Korea and Tennessee are not that different after all, both subject to lingering issues of class, family, race, and civil war. I love the poetic language in this novel, as well as its ambitious story and the complexity invested in every relation.

By Susan Choi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Foreign Student as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This wonderful hybrid of a novel--a love story, a war story, a novel of manners--introduces a writer of enchanting gifts, a beautiful heart wedded to a beautiful imagination. How else does Susan Choi so fully inhabit characters from disparate backgrounds, with such brilliant wit and insight? The Foreign Student stirs up great and lovely emotions."  — Francisco Goldman, author of The Ordinary Seaman

The Foreign Student is the story of a young Korean man, scarred by war, and the deeply troubled daughter of a wealthy Southern American family. In 1955, a new student arrives at a small college in the…


Book cover of In Full Bloom

Sung J. Woo Author Of Everything Asian

From my list on debut novels by Korean American writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My recommendations are more like a diary of my nascent writing career. I don’t mean to get melodramatic here, but these five Korean-American authors literally (get it?) built me. None of them know this, but they were a quintet of Dr. Frankensteins who created Sung J. Woo, writer. I dared to write my first novel because these authors showed me how, in the best possible way, the only way, really: through their printed words. When I held their books in my hands, I believed a little more that I could do the same. I’ll always be proud to be in their debt.

Sung's book list on debut novels by Korean American writers

Sung J. Woo Why did Sung love this book?

The year is 2003, and I’m finishing up my first year at NYU’s Creative Writing Program. And a colleague of mine tells me a recent Korean-American graduate will be publishing her first novel. He tells me that Caroline’s book is a romantic comedy in novel form. And I pause for a moment – ten years ago I could not name a single Korean American writer, and now we have our own Jennifer Weiner? How cool is that? And how cool is In Full Bloom? You probably have never heard of this novel, and now that you have, you will thank me when you race through these hilarious pages. Ginger Lee is our heroine, and yes, that type of punny humor is de rigueur in this book. I don’t know who I love more, Ginger or her mother. Probably her mother. 

By Caroline Hwang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Caroline Hwang's debut novel, In Full Bloom, all Ginger Lee wants is a promotion at the fashion glossy A la Mode magazine. All her mother wants is a nice, professional Korean son-in-law. Unable to keep her mother at bay, Ginger reluctantly agrees to let her play matchmaker.

At work, Ginger's efforts at advancement are thwarted by style fiends better practiced in the art of office warfare. Away from the job, she's surprised that her arranged dates are rejecting her before she gets a chance to reject them.

With wry humor, lively dialogue, and a compassionate take on being a…


Book cover of Free Food for Millionaires

Sung J. Woo Author Of Everything Asian

From my list on debut novels by Korean American writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My recommendations are more like a diary of my nascent writing career. I don’t mean to get melodramatic here, but these five Korean-American authors literally (get it?) built me. None of them know this, but they were a quintet of Dr. Frankensteins who created Sung J. Woo, writer. I dared to write my first novel because these authors showed me how, in the best possible way, the only way, really: through their printed words. When I held their books in my hands, I believed a little more that I could do the same. I’ll always be proud to be in their debt.

Sung's book list on debut novels by Korean American writers

Sung J. Woo Why did Sung love this book?

And now the year is 2007, and here’s the big-ass Korean-American book we’ve all been waiting for – Free Food for Millionaires. In baseball terms: while the rest of us first-time novelists choked up our bats and hit our singles and doubles, Min Jin swung for the fences. At the center of the novel is Casey Kim and her quest to find her passion, never mind the consequences of being basically disowned by her parents, but make no mistake: the scope of this book is like that of Casey’s favorite authors, George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, and Anthony Trollope. There are multiple generations of Koreans at work and play here. It’s exactly the type of book I love to read and never even consider writing, because I just don’t have that kind of ambition. Thank goodness some do!

By Min Jin Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The brilliant debut novel from the New York Times-bestselling author of Pachinko.

'Ambitious, accomplished, engrossing... As easy to devour as a nineteenth-century romance.' NEW YORK TIMES

Casey Han's years at Princeton have given her a refined diction, an enviable golf handicap, a popular white boyfriend and a degree in economics. The elder daughter of working-class Korean immigrants, Casey inhabits a New York a world away from that of her parents. But she has no job, and a number of bad habits.

So when a chance encounter with an old friend lands her a new opportunity, she's determined to carve a…


Book cover of Snow Hunters

Don Lee Author Of The Partition

From my list on by now-established Korean American authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Korean American author myself, I published my first book in 2001, and in the ensuing years I’ve been heartened by the number of Korean Americans who have made a splash with their debut novels, as these five writers did. All five have ventured outside of what I’ve called the ethnic literature box, going far beyond the traditional stories expected from Asian Americans. They established a trend that is happily growing. 

Don's book list on by now-established Korean American authors

Don Lee Why did Don love this book?

This stunning, superlative novel soars in its lyricism. In just 194 pages, we get a lifetime. Yohan leaves the Korean peninsula after the war and becomes an apprentice to a Japanese tailor in Brazil. This story is quiet, without a lot of fireworks, but it’s nonetheless haunting and just gorgeous. 

By Paul Yoon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

OPRAH.COM BOOK OF THE WEEK
DAILY BEAST HOT READ
NEW YORKER BOOK TO WATCH OUT FOR

"At once as delicate and durable as the filament a spider weaves...the finest of fables...a small but radiant star in the current literary firmament." -Dallas Morning News

"[A] quotidian-surreal craft-master." -New York Magazine
Yoon's highly anticipated debut novel SNOW HUNTERS promises to be even more beloved than the collection of stories that introduced him to the literary world.  Snow Hunters traces the extraordinary journey of Yohan, who defects from his country at the end of the Korean War, leaving his friends and family behind…


Book cover of Crush

Jen Silverman Author Of We Play Ourselves

From my list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a playwright and novelist born in the US and raised in a grab-bag of other countries. I grew up moving between cities and languages, and now, as an adult, I move between different modes of artistic practice. My first book, The Island Dwellers, is an interlinked story collection set partially in the US and partially in Japan and my second book begins with someone fleeing NY for LA; perhaps one of the impulses I understand most is to abandon ship and start over. I’m compelled by stories in which people seek to transform themselves or to refashion their lives. I think it takes a great daring (and a great desperation) to do either. 

Jen's book list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life

Jen Silverman Why did Jen love this book?

When I was 21, I moved back to Japan (where I’d lived as a kid), taking a job in the rural south. I didn’t bring a lot with me, but of the few English books that felt indispensable, Crush was one. For the next twelve months of that particular job, I read Crush again and again. Through poetry – the poems are written in a distinct and unified voice – the book took on the quality of a series of monologues, a one-sided conversation that I was overhearing. It was a conversation about queerness, about attempting to forge and re-forge the self, about tenderness, about violence. I was a young queer person far from home, living in a country where I was simultaneously much physically safer and yet much more visible than I had been in my country of birth. Crush offered me both a window into what I had…

By Richard Siken,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets competition: a powerful, confessional, erotic collection

Finalist for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry

"Siken writes about love, desire, violence, and eroticism with a cinematic brilliance and urgency that makes this one of the best books of contemporary poetry."-Victoria Chang, Huffington Post

Richard Siken's Crush, selected as the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, is a powerful collection of poems driven by obsession and love. Siken writes with ferocity, and his reader hurtles unstoppably with him. His poetry is confessional, gay, savage, and charged with violent eroticism.…


Book cover of Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir

Jen Silverman Author Of We Play Ourselves

From my list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a playwright and novelist born in the US and raised in a grab-bag of other countries. I grew up moving between cities and languages, and now, as an adult, I move between different modes of artistic practice. My first book, The Island Dwellers, is an interlinked story collection set partially in the US and partially in Japan and my second book begins with someone fleeing NY for LA; perhaps one of the impulses I understand most is to abandon ship and start over. I’m compelled by stories in which people seek to transform themselves or to refashion their lives. I think it takes a great daring (and a great desperation) to do either. 

Jen's book list on to take with you when you’ve blown up your life

Jen Silverman Why did Jen love this book?

This book is written as a series of letters that could be diary entries, they are so personal and sometimes cryptic. But inside this structure, I felt myself brought into communication: the book offers a series of Mes and Yous, and I became by necessity the you across from that me. The conversation is far-reaching, from art to trauma to love affairs gone bad to the need to live authentically inside a culture that does not have the right words for one’s existence – a culture whose vocabulary actively erases one’s identity. As a genderqueer person raised between multiple places and cultures, reading a book that actively addresses what it is to live around language – just outside the reaches of it – was a revelation to me. 

By Akwaeke Emezi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FEATURED ON THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE AS A 2021 NEXT GENERATION LEADER

“A once-in-a-generation voice.” – Vulture

“One of our greatest living writers.” – Shondaland

A full-throated and provocative memoir in letters from the New York Times bestselling author, “a dazzling literary talent whose works cut to the quick of the spiritual self” (Esquire)

In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji…


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