100 books like Exit West

By Mohsin Hamid,

Here are 100 books that Exit West fans have personally recommended if you like Exit West. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Austerlitz

Amanda Addison Author Of Boundless Sky

From my list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land.

Who am I?

Stories of migration journeys and their knock-on impact through the generations are part of my family history. Like Jacques, the key protagonist in Austerlitz, I too wasn’t told the whole story of my family’s past. Stumbling on stories of colonialism, migration, and racism as an adult has opened up an understanding of a very different world to that of my childhood. The books I have recommended are all excellent examples of migration stories and through the use of beautiful prose pack a punch in a ‘velvet glove’.

Amanda's book list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land

Amanda Addison Why did Amanda love this book?

I picked up a paperback copy of this book at an airport store around twenty years ago. I was flying out to southern Germany and read the story of five-year-old Jacques Austerlitz who is sent to England on a Kindertransport and placed with foster parents in Wales. There, as was often the case in those days, the parents felt it best to erase his difficult past. But the past can’t be erased and later in life Austerlitz sets off on an odyssey across Europe and finds the past revisiting him. In many ways this book tells the story of twentieth-century Europe and is epic in its reach. Reading it during my stay in central Europe was an incredibly moving and haunting experience.

By W.G. Sebald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he…


Book cover of The Bear and the Nightingale

Melanie K. Moschella Author Of Iron-Bound Flames

From my list on bingeable book series for escapist readers.

Who am I?

I have always been an escapist reader. From fantasy to historical fiction, my favorite books have transported me from my life—providing me with the adventure and romance that I crave. I’m a lover of series, specifically, because they offer a longer, more immersive experience. As a writer, I hope to offer my readers the same respite from reality that my favorite series have offered me, and I’m publishing my completed five-book series, The Raek Riders series all at once in an effort to do just that. They will be available March 19th, 2024, ready for escapist readers to binge from start to finish. 

Melanie's book list on bingeable book series for escapist readers

Melanie K. Moschella Why did Melanie love this book?

Set in medieval Russia, The Winternight Trilogy is sure to transport you out of your current location into a land of snow and ice, rich with fairytale lore.

What I remember most about these books is the captivating scenery—I was completely drawn into the enchanted forest and harsh, winter wonderland detailed within. Vasya was a strong, female character that I could root for, and I heartily enjoyed coming of age with her and fighting her battles.

These books are best enjoyed on a blustery winter’s day under a plush blanket with a cup of hot chocolate. 

By Katherine Arden,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Bear and the Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_____________________________
Beware the evil in the woods...

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods. . .

Atmospheric and enchanting,…


Book cover of The Arrival

Barbara Lehman Author Of The Red Book

From my list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements.

Who am I?

I love wordless books immoderately, and I also love books that have meta, surreal, or magical realism elements. This list combines these two features! I was personally so happy that The Red Book was described in a review as “a wordless mind trip for tots,” and I think all the books on this list would perfectly fit that description (and much, much more!) too.

Barbara's book list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements

Barbara Lehman Why did Barbara love this book?

I will remain forever astonished at the epic feat of world-building in The Arrival. It thoroughly pulls me into an immersive experience where I am learning along with the main character how to navigate the new world into which he has immigrated. As he learns, we learn. I find myself so emotionally involved with his success in his hopeful new reality. The art is amazingly detailed and conveys the complex and richly visual world, yet also sets a strong emotional tone that brings us into the action.

By Shaun Tan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Arrival 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?

What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown. This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.

THE ARRIVAL has become one of the most critically acclaimed books of recent years, a wordless masterpiece that describes a world beyond any familiar time or place.

Sited as No 35 in The Times 100 Best Books of all time. It has sold over…


Book cover of The Snow Child

Victoria Costello Author Of Orchid Child

From my list on realist that use magic to say hard things.

Who am I?

Like most children growing up with fairy tales and Bible instruction, I believed in miracles and magic. But it was the death of my father at age eight, then having his spirit return to my childhood bedroom to comfort and reassure me, that planted in me a core belief in dimensions beyond material reality. Other influences, including living as a neurodiverse woman and raising a neurodiverse son, working as a science journalist, and reading quantum physics, helped me re-embrace the liminal as part of my adult worldview. The most interesting novels to me often carry subtle messages and bring awareness to underrepresented people and issues, and many do this using magic and the fantastic.

Victoria's book list on realist that use magic to say hard things

Victoria Costello Why did Victoria love this book?

The Snow Child depicts a maybe real, maybe imaginary little girl bringing joy to a childless, homesteading couple in 1920s Alaska.

In this bestselling debut novel, released in 2016, a couple that yearns for a child of their own is visited by a nymph who appears and disappears in the snow drifts on their homestead. In her novel, Eowyn Ivy manages to sustain the reader’s belief that this girl could in fact be real, without directly saying one way or the other. 
Why do this in an essentially realist portrayal of hardscrabble life in rural Alaska? Again, I see it as a way to get past the character’s rational mind and open both the character and readers’ hearts to the ineffable.

Here, Mabel, the main character says it better. “You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them, and in fact, Mabel had come to suspect the opposite.…

By Eowyn Ivey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska, Eowyn Ivey's THE SNOW CHILD was a top ten bestseller in hardback and paperback, and went on to be a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in…


Book cover of The Night Diary

Irfan Shah Author Of Sigh For A Strange Land

From my list on displaced people.

Who am I?

A combination of things led me to this topic: My father was forced to leave his home in northern India during partition and was therefore a child refugee. In 2016, I was filming in Ukraine and became hugely interested in what was happening there. I have looked for a way to help ever since then. Discovering Monica Stirling’s novel about refugees from East Europe, I realised that here was an opportunity to help give voice to the refugee experience; to help raise funds for Ukraine, and to help bring back to life an incredible story written by an author who deserves to be rediscovered.

Irfan's book list on displaced people

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

A children’s book that adults will enjoy, The Night Diary is the story of twelve-year-old Nisha, half-Muslim, half-Hindu, and caught up in the tragedy of partition – where Pakistan and India separated in the aftermath of India’s independence from Britain.

Nisha is about to experience the disorientation and fear that comes when a family decides to flee for safety. Nisha’s story is told through a series of letters to her mother as she leaves what is now Pakistan, to find a home and an identity. Her predicament – that of a desperate search not just for physical safety but for hope - reminds me of that of Resi, the main character in Sigh For A Strange Land, who wants nothing more than to find that "'tomorrow' is not a threatening word."

By Veera Hiranandani,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Night Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha…


Book cover of The Sun Is Also a Star

Amanda Addison Author Of Boundless Sky

From my list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land.

Who am I?

Stories of migration journeys and their knock-on impact through the generations are part of my family history. Like Jacques, the key protagonist in Austerlitz, I too wasn’t told the whole story of my family’s past. Stumbling on stories of colonialism, migration, and racism as an adult has opened up an understanding of a very different world to that of my childhood. The books I have recommended are all excellent examples of migration stories and through the use of beautiful prose pack a punch in a ‘velvet glove’.

Amanda's book list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land

Amanda Addison Why did Amanda love this book?

This is a book I have been recommending to teenagers and adults alike.

This is no ordinary romantic tale of girl meets boy; it is a very much contemporary take on the notion. Two very different protagonists, from two very different backgrounds are brought together in the immigrant ‘melting pot’ of New York City. In what could be seen as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, the characters are much more self-aware than in Shakespeare’s original and thankfully this leads to a more enlightened outcome, for them, and the people they meet on their journey.

Using deceptively simple short chapters which chart the course of one day, it cleverly deals with so many of life's big issues (including migration) primarily through the two teenage narrators.

By Nicola Yoon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sun Is Also a Star 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?

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything - coming as a major film starring Yara Shahidi in 2019.

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything. Now a major film starring Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton!

Natasha-
I'm a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny.

Or dreams that will never come true. I'm definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him.

Not when my family is twelve hours away from…


Book cover of The Cat's Table

Amanda Addison Author Of Boundless Sky

From my list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land.

Who am I?

Stories of migration journeys and their knock-on impact through the generations are part of my family history. Like Jacques, the key protagonist in Austerlitz, I too wasn’t told the whole story of my family’s past. Stumbling on stories of colonialism, migration, and racism as an adult has opened up an understanding of a very different world to that of my childhood. The books I have recommended are all excellent examples of migration stories and through the use of beautiful prose pack a punch in a ‘velvet glove’.

Amanda's book list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land

Amanda Addison Why did Amanda love this book?

This really is a gem of a book. The reader is left guessing whether it is a memoir, auto-fiction, or stand-alone fiction. From its deceptively simple beginning, it cleverly deals with so many of life's big issues with a thoughtful lightness of touch. The book is written from the perspective of grown-up Michael, but Ondaatje explores the confusion and frustration of the child who was made to sail halfway around the world to a new home and the subsequent impact the journey has on the adult Michael. 

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England - a 'castle that was to cross the sea'. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly 'Cat's Table' with an eccentric group of grown-ups and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys become involved in the worlds and stories of the adults around them, tumbling from one adventure and delicious discovery to another, 'bursting all over the place like freed mercury'. And at night, the boys spy…


Book cover of Of Mice and Men

Irfan Shah Author Of Sigh For A Strange Land

From my list on displaced people.

Who am I?

A combination of things led me to this topic: My father was forced to leave his home in northern India during partition and was therefore a child refugee. In 2016, I was filming in Ukraine and became hugely interested in what was happening there. I have looked for a way to help ever since then. Discovering Monica Stirling’s novel about refugees from East Europe, I realised that here was an opportunity to help give voice to the refugee experience; to help raise funds for Ukraine, and to help bring back to life an incredible story written by an author who deserves to be rediscovered.

Irfan's book list on displaced people

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

This classic novel is, if you think about it, absolutely about refugees – or to be specific, economic migrants, or more specifically, and because they travel within one country (the United States), they are IDPs – Internally Displaced Persons.

So many possible labels – put simply, they are the Dispossessed. Of Mice and Men is a story, set during the American Depression, of two migrant workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, who travel from job to job, sustained by their devotion to one another and by Lenny’s dream of owning a farm and looking after rabbits on it.

The book is a fierce railing against injustice and a tribute to friendship. It is also as moving now as it was when first published in 1937.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Of Mice and Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing Little Clothbound Classics: irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world's greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.

Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie have nothing in the world except…


Book cover of This Is Happiness

Jane Hamilton Author Of The Excellent Lombards

From my list on sad but funny bummer literature.

Who am I?

I’m no particular expert on anything, but I know what I love in a book, and I’ve read approximately a million books, plus or minus. I’ve written novels with the hope that they will be funny and poignant in about equal measure, I value humor in books more than just about anything, and here I have listed books that I cherish.  

Jane's book list on sad but funny bummer literature

Jane Hamilton Why did Jane love this book?

This book is happiness

Okay, but here’s the thing: It takes about 30 pages for Niall Williams to hit his stride. There’s a lot about weather at first, the whole Irish rain situation. Stick with it. Once Christy comes on the scene in this small Irish town, Faha, and is hoping to have a meeting with a woman he left at the alter 30 years before, and once our young narrator gets involved in his plan—BAM. 

The reader is fully in the world of Faha as electricity is introduced into the village, as Noel begins to figure out love and the insanity that is normal around him—well, I did not want it ever to end, even as at the beginning I was waiting for it to begin. Another book to clutch to the heart.    

By Niall Williams,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked This Is Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for Best Novel in the Irish Book Awards Longlisted for the 2020 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction From the acclaimed author of Man Booker-longlisted History of the Rain 'Lyrical, tender and sumptuously perceptive' Sunday Times 'A love letter to the sleepy, unhurried and delightfully odd Ireland that is all but gone' Irish Independent After dropping out of the seminary, seventeen-year-old Noel Crowe finds himself back in Faha, a small Irish parish where nothing ever changes, including the ever-falling rain. But one morning the rain stops and news reaches the parish - the electricity is finally arriving. With it…


Book cover of Mink River

Kevin J. Haar Author Of Intercession

From my list on with a strong sense of place (and a little magic).

Who am I?

I am what you might call an “armchair explorer.” I love reading about new places and parts of the world. I am fascinated by the history of communities. Places are not just locations; they are ideas formed by the stories that people tell about them. I love novels where I can get a true sense of a place and time. This passion led me to a love for folklore and legend. Nothing can provide a sense of a place better than its folklore. When I wrote Intercession, one of my main goals was to create a place and people that could be known through the stories they tell each other. 

Kevin's book list on with a strong sense of place (and a little magic)

Kevin J. Haar Why did Kevin love this book?

Mink River is a novel of optimism and joy.

Set in a small, coastal Oregon town, this lyrical novel follows an intimate cast of characters as the history and lore of their town intertwines with their lives. Each character has their own struggles and joys and their own story to tell.

The cast includes two aging best friends at the Public Works Department, a twelve-year-old boy who rides bikes and reads Irish history, a doctor who talks little but smokes often, and a philosophizing crow who hangs out with a mechanic. Doyle expresses such love and empathy for his characters.

To Doyle, everything matters: each character, each story, every tree, every choice. It’s the most beautiful novel I’ve ever read. 

By Brian Doyle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Like Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood and Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, Brian Doyle's stunning fiction debut brings a town to life through the jumbled lives and braided stories of its people.

In a small town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter. There's a Department of Public Works that gives haircuts and counts insects, a policeman addicted to Puccini, a philosophizing crow, beer and berries. An expedition is mounted, a…


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