100 books like Ellen Foster

By Kaye Gibbons,

Here are 100 books that Ellen Foster fans have personally recommended if you like Ellen Foster. 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 Secret Life of Bees

Jude Berman Author Of The Die

From my list on metaphysical and visionary stories with a call for social justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I realized years ago that the universe isn’t merely a concrete reality, I turned to metaphysical/visionary books to understand my experience. There weren’t that many books, but the ones I found became dear friends. Now, after decades as a freelance editor, I am writing fiction in this genre because I believe stories can be as powerful as expository writing for awakening consciousness. However, I’ve noticed many metaphysical writers discourage the engagement and commitment needed to make this world a better place. For this reason, I seek to gather—and contribute to—writing that is visionary and also advocates for democracy and social justice.

Jude's book list on metaphysical and visionary stories with a call for social justice

Jude Berman Why did Jude love this book?

This book is one of my all-time favorite books because it is so deeply spiritual, yet its spirituality is fully and unapologetically wedded to the everyday world, its trials and traumas, and its crying need for social justice.

I love how the spiritual nourishment of a sisterhood of strong women holds the potential to save a young girl’s life. Sue Monk Kidd’s writing grabbed me so powerfully that I have often picked up this book and read a few pages to inspire me before I began my own writing session.

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Secret Life of Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings and The Book of Longings

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted Black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina-a town that holds the secret to her mother's…

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Lori Duffy Foster Author Of Never Let Go

From my list on thrillers with twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my years on the crime beat, I often met good people who did bad things and criminals with good intentions and good hearts. We tend to draw a line between good and evil, putting ourselves on the good side. From that perspective, we sit in judgment, believing we are incapable of evil because it’s “over there.” Inaccessible. Unfathomable. But that line is fictional. We redraw it constantly to feel good about ourselves and avoid empathizing with the worst of human nature. What I love about these five novels is that they expose that truth. The twists remind me that even my own line is blurred and ever-shifting.

Lori's book list on thrillers with twists

Lori Duffy Foster Why did Lori love this book?

I love historical fiction, especially when authors throw in a touch of crime. So, that’s what first drew me to this book.

What kept me reading and what made me rank this novel so highly is the gradual unlayering of the main character as the story progresses. Sure, Kya is a victim and a survivor, but she is so much more, and she is capable of more than I could have anticipated. As in some of my other favorite novels, it’s that loyalty to human nature, the understanding that circumstances can make good choices wrong and poor choices right, that pulled me in.

If I had known the ending when I started the book, I might not have believed it possible, but Delia Owens made it work.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

44 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…

Book cover of The Great Alone

Anthea T. Piscarik Author Of The Years In Between

From my list on historical fiction about overcoming loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

My favorite genre, historical fiction, inserts characters into real-life events. As a former news reporter, I enjoyed doing research when communicating factual information to readers. I love learning about different time periods and coming away with a fresh perspective on times gone by. History is subjective and always revised and revisited, but factual dates and occurrences remain the same. All the stories I chose to review reveal how fictionalized characters, in real events, deal with coming out on the other side of loss or pain with a stronger spirit. None of us escape loss. It’s inevitable. But there’s healing over time and trust in a God that loves us beyond expectations.

Anthea's book list on historical fiction about overcoming loss

Anthea T. Piscarik Why did Anthea love this book?

In this book, thirteen-year-old Liv captivates my imagination and heart with devotion to her mom, a broken soul that endures her husband’s abuse, endless arguments, and irrational decisions. I’m drawn to coming-of-age stories that tug at memories of my own battles with self-criticism and angst.

As a survival story, the book serves up a double portion that I devour with every turn of the page. At its heart, the story contrasts the expansive, unforgiving, unrelenting climate and terrain of Alaska with a claustrophobic family dynamic. I love stories that weave in the raw beauty of nature and, at times, the brutality of elemental forces beyond our human control. Liv’s embodiment of endurance and the sheer will of the human spirit remains with me. 

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Great Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature.

#1 New York Times Instant Bestseller (February 2018)
A People “Book of the Week”
Buzzfeed’s “Most Anticipated Women’s Fiction Reads of 2018”
Seattle Times’s “Books to Look Forward to in 2018”

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter…

Book cover of The Poisonwood Bible

Kevin Chen Author Of Ghost Town

From my list on family saga books that unravel dark secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have 7 sisters and 1 brother. I was the 9th child in my family. To get a son who would carry on the family heritage, my parents tried 7 times without any success. After 7 unwanted daughters, my brother finally arrived. Then they had me as the second boy in the family. The plot twist was: I am gay. I turned out to be the 8th unwanted daughter because of my sexuality. Coming from this small-town big family full of superstitions and secrets, I am naturally drawn to dramatic family stories with many dark and psychological twists.

Kevin's book list on family saga books that unravel dark secrets

Kevin Chen Why did Kevin love this book?

At first, I was scared by the thickness of the book. More than 600 pages? I didn’t think I would have the patience and time to finish it. My book club chose the book as a reading challenge for everyone. A challenge indeed. But a colorful one.

I remember carrying the book with me everywhere I went. As I finally reached the last page of this riveting family saga set in Africa, I felt older and wiser. Wow, I actually finished the thick novel. It was a great achievement.

I was never bored or tired. I did not want the story to end. It could have been 6000 pages and I still would have thrown myself into this epic story.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Poisonwood Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



An international bestseller and a modern classic, this suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and their remarkable reconstruction has been read, adored and shared by millions around the world.

'Breathtaking.' Sunday Times
'Exquisite.' The Times
'Beautiful.' Independent
'Powerful.' New York Times

This story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.

They carry with them everything they believe they will…

Book cover of She's Come Undone

Ellen Baker Author Of The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson

From my list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved reading novels about strong, quirky women since childhood (Nancy Drew, Ramona Quimby, Harriet the Spy, the heroines of Judy Blume novels, just for starting examples!). As I grew into writing my own stories, I also started studying women’s history. I merged these two interests to begin writing historical novels with strong women protagonists. I love the challenge of researching to figure out the details of women’s day-to-day lives–so many unrecorded stories!–and I love to advocate for the idea (fortunately not as revolutionary as it once was) that a woman can be the hero of her own story and that each woman’s story is important to tell.  

Ellen's book list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart

Ellen Baker Why did Ellen love this book?

Dolores Price is one of the most honest, funny, and irresistible narrators I’ve ever encountered, and the story of her coming of age grabbed me by the heart and didn’t let go until the very last page. I found the trauma she suffers to be highly relatable, and her way of plowing through it is both admirable and heartbreaking.

I’ve read this book at least three times over the last several years, and each time, it has made me cry harder than any other book I’ve read. For me, each time I’ve read this book, it’s been an amazing, cathartic experience.

By Wally Lamb,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked She's Come Undone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dolores Price is the wry and overweight, sensitive and pained, cynical heroine of this novel. The story follows her from four to 40, from her shattered family life through the hellish circles of sexual and food abuse to her gradual recovery and her fight to love again.

Book cover of Where the Heart Is

Margaret Meps Schulte Author Of Strangers Have the Best Candy

From my list on getting you talking to strangers.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a youngster, my parents took me on 6-week journeys across the United States by car. We'd stop in a small town each night, and I would explore on foot and meet other kids at the swimming pool or ice cream shop. That slow mode of travel has become my default, and I've spent years exploring back roads, small towns, and bywaters by car, bicycle, and sailboat. I write about the strangers I've found and the "candy" I've gotten from them: strangers have lessons for all of us and are not as dangerous as we've been told.

Margaret's book list on getting you talking to strangers

Margaret Meps Schulte Why did Margaret love this book?

In this novel, a pregnant teenager gets abandoned in a small town where she doesn't know anyone. She begins connecting with strangers, one at a time, studying them and deciding which ones are safe to talk to. Eventually, the main character has built a complete support network for herself and her child. I love the way author Billie Letts describes the process of talking to strangers and connecting with them until they become some of our closest friends. It's the same way I get candy from strangers in real life.

By Billie Letts,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Where the Heart Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 17-year-old pregnant girl heading for Califonia with her boyfriend finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma, with just $7.77 in change. But she's about to be helped by a group of down-to-earth, deeply caring people, including a bible-thumping nun and an eccentric librarian.

Book cover of The Yellow Wife

Kimberly Garret Brown Author Of Cora's Kitchen

From my list on celebrate the global resoluteness of Black women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been drawn to stories where I see aspects of myself in the characters since I was an adolescent and found comfort in the pages of Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. As a Black woman, I find validation and encouragement in novels where other Black women navigate life's obstacles to reach the desires of their hearts. It makes my life feel more manageable, knowing that I am not alone in the face of fear, loneliness, and self-doubt or more challenging social issues like racism, sexism, and classism. These stories give me hope and insight as I journey toward living life to its fullest. 

Kimberly's book list on celebrate the global resoluteness of Black women

Kimberly Garret Brown Why did Kimberly love this book?

Though I felt too raw after George Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020 to read about the shattered dreams of an enslaved woman, there was something about Pheby Brown’s story that I found intriguing.

I had spent the last few weeks reading various novels about wives. Enslaved at birth, Pheby is promised her freedom on her 18th birthday but instead is forced to become the mistress to the jailer at a place where slaves are broken, tortured, and sold every day.

I loved how Phebe’s ability to create these beautiful designs with her sewing enabled her to protect her heart and those she loved. I was inspired by her strength and perseverance in the face of the brutality of slavery.

By Sadeqa Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year by NPR and Christian Science Monitor

Called “wholly engrossing” by New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Grissom, this “fully immersive” (Lisa Wingate, #1 bestselling author of Before We Were Yours) story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation,…

Book cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From my list on kids with attitude.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

David Haynes Why did David love this book?

Arnold, known as Junior, is a fourteen-year-old aspiring artist from the Spokane Indian Reservation, who tells us his story in a combination of hilarious cartoons and acerbic narration. Junior’s intimate self-revelations shocked me with their brutal honesty; this kid holds nothing back! Which is why younger readers are so in love with this character and this book: he tells all the things about being a teenager that most young people are too afraid to see. In the end, this is the most honest examination of identity that I know of. What does it mean to be Indian? American? Human and alive?  

By Sherman Alexie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he…

Book cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

David Ciminello Author Of The Queen of Steeplechase Park

From my list on quirky wisdom filled love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up queer and Italian in suburban New Jersey in the late 1960s and early 70s, it was the passionate love of food and family that got me through the tough times. I learned to cook from my mother and my grandmothers. I gardened and picked tomatoes with my grandfathers. There was always a pot of simmering tomato gravy and magic meatballs on the stove. My mother’s chicken parmigiana, my paternal grandmother’s homemade ravioli, my maternal grandmother’s stuffed clams, my great aunt’s baked chicken. As a writer, it became my mission to share these secret family recipes and the loving life lessons that saved me.

David's book list on quirky wisdom filled love stories

David Ciminello Why did David love this book?

Through a series of tall tales told by an impish old lady to a lost, lonely woman visiting a nursing home, Fannie Flagg whisks the reader back to the deep south circa 1929 to an off-beat love story between two women who run a cozy café, and a rich mystery that gives the lost woman the courage to make heroic changes in her life.

This delectable book was a huge inspiration for me when writing my debut novel. I love how the wisdom-filled folk-tale-like chapters are quilted together to tell a larger story. And, like my own book, it contains a bucket full of tasty recipes!

By Fannie Flagg,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a now-classic novel about two women: Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women—the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter—even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present will never be quite the same again.
Praise for Fried Green Tomatoes at…

Book cover of Enemy Women

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a child sexual abuse survivor who struggled for years with the help of therapy to become the person I am today. My sister, my mother, and I suffered years of emotional abuse by my father. When I was a child, my best friend (who also suffered abuse by her brother) and I made up stories that helped us navigate the situations in our families. I read, hiked, backpacked, and traveled alone for years in order to take risks and develop strength before attempting to write at age sixty-one. I love books that put me solidly in time and place and deeply empathize with characters who struggle and grow to become their genuine selves.

Karen's book list on strong emotion, excellent plotting, and vivid descriptions that put me securely in time and place

Karen Lynne Klink Why did Karen love this book?

I love this book mainly because the main character is an ordinary young woman with grit who defies all hostility in Missouri during the Civil War, including neighbors who turn against her.

I went through lots of emotions with this character during her journey to finding love, from anger and trepidation to wonder and exhilaration. The setting, historical context, and unsentimental yet tender and poetic writing make this book a triumph. 

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A gritty, memorable book ... it is a delight from start to finish, without a single misstep." Tracy Chevalier

Missouri, 1865. Adair Colley and her family have managed to hide from the bloody Armageddon of the American Civil War, but finally even their remote mountain farm cannot escape the plundering greed of the Union militia. Her house is burnt, her father beaten and dragged away. With fierce determination, Adair sets out after him on foot. So begins an extraordinary voyage which will see Adair herself denounced as a Confederate spy and thrown in jail. Here she falls passionately in love…

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