97 books like Ellis Island

By Kate Kerrigan,

Here are 97 books that Ellis Island fans have personally recommended if you like Ellis Island. 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 Edge of Lost

Cindy Thomson Author Of Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island)

From my list on Irish immigrant historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love exploring the theme of family legacies and learning the stories, even if fictionalized, of our ancestors who helped build America for future generations. I explored this theme with my Ellis Island series, but truly it influences everything I write. It began with my interest in my own genealogy and my love of research. Along with writing my own books, I host a blog on historical fiction called Novel PASTimes and am co-founder of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival with the aim of connecting readers with really good books.

Cindy's book list on Irish immigrant historical fiction

Cindy Thomson Why did Cindy love this book?

The story begins with a mystery and then we are taken back to Dublin, Ireland, to the character’s childhood. He comes to Ellis Island alone and is taken in by an Italian family. The immigrant experience is compelling in this novel and I love a story where you go back in time to try to figure out how the character got to the place he’s in and what happened on his journey. This is a page-turner for sure.

By Kristina McMorris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.
 
On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.
 
Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living in Dublin…


Book cover of The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter: A Novel

Cindy Thomson Author Of Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island)

From my list on Irish immigrant historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love exploring the theme of family legacies and learning the stories, even if fictionalized, of our ancestors who helped build America for future generations. I explored this theme with my Ellis Island series, but truly it influences everything I write. It began with my interest in my own genealogy and my love of research. Along with writing my own books, I host a blog on historical fiction called Novel PASTimes and am co-founder of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival with the aim of connecting readers with really good books.

Cindy's book list on Irish immigrant historical fiction

Cindy Thomson Why did Cindy love this book?

This book is so well written. It draws the reader into the story quickly with rich historical details and compelling characters. In 1838 in England a young woman helps her father, a lighthouse keeper, rescue survivors of a shipwreck. A century later a young Irish woman is sent to America to have her baby while living with a relative who is a lighthouse keeper. The 1938 woman learns family history that takes us back to the previous story. I love stories of family legacies and mysteries that come to us from the past.

By Hazel Gaynor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home comes a historical novel inspired by true events, and the extraordinary female lighthouse keepers of the past two hundred years.

“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”

1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and…


Book cover of Song of Erin: Cloth of Heaven/Ashes and Lace (Song of Erin Series 1-2)

Cindy Thomson Author Of Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island)

From my list on Irish immigrant historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love exploring the theme of family legacies and learning the stories, even if fictionalized, of our ancestors who helped build America for future generations. I explored this theme with my Ellis Island series, but truly it influences everything I write. It began with my interest in my own genealogy and my love of research. Along with writing my own books, I host a blog on historical fiction called Novel PASTimes and am co-founder of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival with the aim of connecting readers with really good books.

Cindy's book list on Irish immigrant historical fiction

Cindy Thomson Why did Cindy love this book?

This is a gritty story of the peril young Irish immigrants faced when coming to America, along with the hardships they were escaping back in Ireland. The fact that others were waiting to abuse and exploit the immigrants is certainly historically accurate. However, B.J. Hoff’s stories are always filled with hope and shine a light on hope in God. It’s Christian fiction, so readers should be aware of that. Also, this new edition includes two stories, a great deal. B.J. Hoff passed away in 2021 but left a long legacy of inspirational historical fiction.

By B.J. Hoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The mysteries of the past confront the secrets of the present in bestselling author BJ Hoff's magnificent "Song of Erin" saga. In her own unique style, Hoff spins a panoramic story that crosses the ocean from Ireland to America, featuring two of her most memorable characters. In this tale of struggle and love and uncompromising faith, Jack Kane, the always charming but sometimes ruthless titan of New York's most powerful publishing empire, is torn between the conflict of his own heart and the grace and light of Samantha Harte, the woman he loves, whose own troubled past continues to haunt…


Book cover of The Nature of Fragile Things

Julianna Boyer Author Of Sunni: The Life and Love of King Tutankhamun's Wife

From my list on historical fiction about lesser-known characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for Historical Fiction. It started when I was 12 years old. Before that, I never liked any kind of history. Then, in school, we started learning about King Tut, and I was fascinated. I started having frequent dreams that he would sit and tell me stories about our life together and he believed that I was his wife, Sunni. Into adulthood, I still had these dreams, so I decided to write about the stories that he would tell. Along with exhaustive research, I learned who Sunni (Anukshanamun) was. My book is based on facts mixed with my dreams.

Julianna's book list on historical fiction about lesser-known characters

Julianna Boyer Why did Julianna love this book?

I am recommending this book because it shows the emotional side of three separate women who have survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. We have all heard about big tragedies, but I like books that focus on a specific historical figure that was there. This book shows these women defeat the odds and overcome tragedy simply by banding together. These types of books always give me hope and courage to face obstacles in my own life.

By Susan Meissner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Nature of Fragile Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin's silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin's odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling…


Book cover of Rachel's Holiday

Liz Foster Author Of The Good Woman's Guide to Making Better Choices

From my list on make you laugh and leave you smiling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved reading and its ability to take you far away to a distant time and place and lift you up. As a kid, I never left the house without a book, and the ones that made me laugh were my go-to's. I believe the ability to make people laugh is a truly special talent, especially while making the text relatable, so the reader’s always asking, wow, what would I do in that situation? My readers often tell me that my writing sounds just like me, which is wonderful because there’s no need to pretend. You will always know what you’ll get with me!

Liz's book list on make you laugh and leave you smiling

Liz Foster Why did Liz love this book?

I absolutely adored the way the narrative creates almost continual laugh-out-loud moments whilst tackling some pretty heavy themes.

Drug abuse and its effect on others is handled in a genuinely uplifting way, alongside hilarious family and relationship dynamics. I love Keyes’ ability to shine light through darkness every time.

By Marian Keyes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rachel's Holiday as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here's Rachel Walsh, twenty-seven and the miserable owner of size 8 feet. She has regular congress with Luke Costello, a man who wears his leather trousers tight. And she's fond - some might say too fond - of recreational drugs. Until she finds herself being frogmarched to the Cloisters - Dublin's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She's outraged. Surely she's not thin enough to be an addict? Heartsick and Luke-sick, she seeks redemption in the shape of Chris, a man with a past. A man who might be more trouble than he's worth.


Book cover of Hereafter: The Telling Life of Ellen O'Hara

Kevin Kenny Author Of Making Sense of the Molly Maguires

From my list on Irish immigration to the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am interested in immigration for both personal and professional reasons. A native of Dublin, Ireland, I did my undergraduate work in Edinburgh, Scotland, completed my graduate degree in New York City, moved to Austin, Texas for my first academic job and to Boston for my second job, and then returned to New City York to take up my current position at NYU, where I teach US immigration history and run Glucksman Ireland House, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the study of Irish history and culture. The key themes in my work—migration and diaspora—have been as central to my life journey as to my research and teaching.

Kevin's book list on Irish immigration to the United States

Kevin Kenny Why did Kevin love this book?

In Hereafter, Vona Groarke accomplishes what most historians can never hope to do.

Filling in the gaps and silences in the historical record with poetry, prose, and imagery, she recreates the interior world of an Irish domestic servant in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century—her transatlantic migration, her back-and-forth journeys to Ireland, her working conditions and family life, and her hopes, dreams, and frustrations.

A work of great imaginative power and empathy, Hereafter is also a profound meditation on the historian’s craft.

By Vona Groarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lyrical portrait of a young Irish woman reinventing herself at the turn of the twentieth century in America
Ellen O'Hara was a young immigrant from Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century who, with courage and resilience, made a life for herself in New York while financially supporting those at home. Hereafter is her story, told by Vona Groarke, her descendant, in a beautiful blend of poetry, prose, and history.
In July 1882, Ellen O'Hara stepped off a ship from the West of Ireland to begin a new life in New York. What she encountered was a world…


Book cover of The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People

Tyler Mcmahon Author Of One Potato

From my list on the science of food.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a novelist and a teacher of writing. My books are fueled by curiosity above all else. I have no expertise in science, so I stand in wonder at complicated systems that remain mostly hidden to me. My interest in food is similarly recreational. I’m married to a great chef and cookbook author, so I’ve learned a lot by osmosis. But when I think back on the process of writing One Potato, I have to give a lot of credit to my students. They seem to be part of a generation that’s genuinely passionate about eating in healthy, equitable, and sustainable ways. Much of my book was sparked by conversations in the classroom.

Tyler's book list on the science of food

Tyler Mcmahon Why did Tyler love this book?

There’s a minor thread in my novel about the Irish Potato Famine, and this book was a major resource. It was sobering to learn that there was enough food to feed the Irish peasantry, but it was not distributed according to need. (Much of it was exported.) Worse still, it was a cultural moment in which the wealthy found ways to absolve themselves of the poverty of their neighbors. But I was most shocked to learn about the scientific implications. Essentially, the potato variety that failed was a monoculture. And the solution to the blight involved returning to the Andes, with its vast genetic diversity, and finding a resistant strain. 

By John Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Graves Are Walking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It started in 1845 and lasted six years. Before it was over, more than one million men, women, and children starved to death and another million fled the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was one of the worst disasters in the nineteenth century - it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War. A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political greed, and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe. But even more extraordinary than its scope were its political underpinnings, and "The Graves Are Walking" provides fresh material and analysis on the role that…


Book cover of Let the Great World Spin

Barney Norris Author Of Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

From my list on collage novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first novel Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was a collage novel; an interweaving of several voices in order to create a composite portrait of the city of Salisbury, which told several stories as a way of revealing more of the life of that place. Since then I’ve written three more novels, all of them interested in the effects of using different voices to tell different parts of the story. I think that polyphony makes for great books, and these are four examples of that—different ways of weaving multiple tales together.

Barney's book list on collage novels

Barney Norris Why did Barney love this book?

Let The Great World Spin orbits around Philip Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in New York in 1974; an amazing feat that has, of course, only become more charged and potent with time. The novel creates a kaleidoscope of lives touched by that breathtaking act, as well as capturing, in heartstopping prose, the magnitude of the act itself.

By Colum McCann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let the Great World Spin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • Colum McCann’s beloved novel inspired by Philippe Petit’s daring high-wire stunt, which is also depicted in the film The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

Let…


Book cover of Someone Like You

Helen McKenna Author Of The Beach House

From my list on an ensemble cast of characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong bookworm, I have always loved curling up with a book, especially one that takes me on an emotional journey through the characters within. I especially love stories with an ensemble cast of characters linked through one common thread and always knew my first novel would be of this format. A fascination with the stories that lie beneath the surface of everyday life keeps me constantly inspired to create new characters that can bring comfort and familiarity to readers but still explore important life lessons in a gentle way.

Helen's book list on an ensemble cast of characters

Helen McKenna Why did Helen love this book?

I love the way this book captures holiday friendships. It taught me that holidaying alone does not have to be a negative experience and, indeed, can make you much more open to forming connections with people you may otherwise not interact with. Someone Like You is not all sunshine and roses but left me feeling content and with a real connection to the three-dimensional characters within.

By Cathy Kelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cathy Kelly has enjoyed unprecedented success in the UK and her native Ireland. Building on the popularity of her "Dear Cathy" advice column, Kelly brings to her fiction a warmth and humor that speaks to women everywhere.

Hannah, Emma, and Leonie, three women at critical turning points in their lives, meet on holiday and find themselves changing in unexpected ways. Hannah, young, beautiful and reeling from the betrayal of a lover, decides to throw herself into her career and embrace the single life. Emma, married for two years and hoping to start a family, constantly questions her ability to be…


Book cover of The Dream of the Celt

Shane Joseph Author Of Empire in the Sand

From my list on exposing corporate, political, and personal corruption.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a writer for more than twenty years and have favored pursuing “truth in fiction” rather than “money in formula.” I also spent over thirty years in the corporate world and was exposed to many situations reminiscent of those described in my fiction and in these recommended books. While I support enterprise, “enlightened capitalism” is preferable to the bare-knuckle type we have today, and which seems to resurface whenever regulation weakens. I also find writing novels closer to my lived experience connects me intimately with readers who are looking for socio-political, realist literature.

Shane's book list on exposing corporate, political, and personal corruption

Shane Joseph Why did Shane love this book?

Although a fictionalized autobiography of Sir Roger Casement, martyr of the Irish Revolution, two periods of his life, embedded in this tale, shed light on the evils of capitalism in colonial empires: King Leopold of Belgium’s abuse of the locals in the Congo to profit from their rubber crops, and a similar one in the Peruvian Amazon with a rubber company incorporated in Britain. Casement’s investigations and revelations on these cases lead to his knighthood. However, his belief that colonial nations can only be free if they resist their occupiers with violence, leads him to align with Germany in Ireland’s bid for independence in 1916, following 800 years of colonization. Unfortunately, his secret sexual past is exploited by enemies, and Ireland is liberated in 1922 without its beloved knight. 

By Mario Vargas Llosa, Edith Grossman (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dream of the Celt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As The Dream of the Celt opens, it is the summer of 1916 and Roger Casement awaits the hangman in London's Pentonville Prison. Dublin lies in ruins after the disastrous Easter Rising led by his comrades of the Irish Volunteers. He has been caught after landing from a German submarine. For the past year he has attempted to raise an Irish brigade from prisoners of war to fight alongside the Germans against the British Empire that awarded him a knighthood only a few years before. And now his petition for clemency is threatened by the leaking of his private diary…


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