74 books like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Here are 74 books that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close fans have personally recommended if you like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold,

Book cover of The Lovely Bones

Gregg Dunnett Author Of Little Ghosts: My sister's name was Layla. I know who killed her. She told me.

From the list on blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

Who am I?

I’m not an expert on very much. Certainly not the biggest questions of all, such as are we really here, and if not, what’s this all about? But I’ve always enjoyed books that touch upon these questions and find a way to connect them to our everyday reality (I find them easier than actual philosophy). If I am well placed to curate this list, that’s why. I hope it reminds you how we all grapple with these same universal questions. How we all share our doubts and face the same fears. How we’re all whittled away by the same relentless flow of time. 

Gregg's book list on blurring the line between fantasy and reality

Why did Gregg love this book?

I read this book years ago, but it stuck with me.

The idea that when a loved one dies they watch over us, wishing to end our pain, is a powerful one. And for a novelist it’s a rich seam to mine. And yet The Lovely Bones did it so well, that few have tried to follow where it leads.

Although it moves in a very different direction, my own book clearly owes a debt of inspiration to Alice Seebold and I couldn’t not make it first on my list.

By Alice Sebold,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Lovely Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling novel that inspired the acclaimed film directed by Peter Jackson.

With an introduction by Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles.

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

In heaven, Susie Salmon can have whatever she wishes for - except what she most wants, which is to be back with the people she loved on earth. In the wake of her murder, Susie watches as her happy suburban family is torn apart by grief; as her friends grow up, fall in…

The Bone Clocks

By David Mitchell,

Book cover of The Bone Clocks

Michael Bailey Author Of Sifting the Ashes

From the list on immersing readers through poetic prose.

Who am I?

I want to leave behind a body of work capable of transcending time and to write in as many forms as possible. I often blur the lines of genre and experiment with style and structure, known for breaking “rules,” such as with the poetry in the collection, but you can’t break rules until you learn them, and I’m set on breaking as many as I can before taking my last breath. Writing meaningful and lasting poetic prose requires reading meaningful and lasting poetic prose, and the books I have chosen for this list are fine examples of authors whose entire bodies of work will be dissected for years.

Michael's book list on immersing readers through poetic prose

Why did Michael love this book?

It’s difficult to choose a single book by David Mitchell, since everything he writes is painfully poetic, but The Bone Clocks is a favorite. The title is a derogatory term immortals in the story use for humans flawed with mortality because of natural aging. Six unique first-person perspectives; six timelines spanning past, present, and future. If underlining inspiring passages, in awe of their creation, most of the book would need underlining. Nearly every sentence is breathtaking for readers and writers alike. Mitchell is as literary as they get, but this novel dips into science fiction the way his novel Slade House dips into horror. All his works are connected by threads, including Ghostwritten, his debut that first made me want to become a writer.

By David Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The dazzling novel from the bestselling author of CLOUD ATLAS.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014

Run away, one drowsy summer's afternoon, with Holly Sykes: wayward teenager, broken-hearted rebel and unwitting pawn in a titanic, hidden conflict.

Over six decades, the consequences of a moment's impulse unfold, drawing an ordinary woman into a world far beyond her imagining. And as life in the near future turns perilous, the pledge she made to a stranger may become the key to her family's survival . . .


By Emma Donoghue,

Book cover of Room

Jaq Hazell Author Of I Came to Find a Girl

From the list on the aftermath of sexual assault.

Who am I?

I write novels for adults, young adults (My Life as a Bench won the International Rubery Book of the Year), and children. Using my experience as an art student in Nottingham, I wanted to look at the dark side of Sex in the City. The sexual revolution of the 60s gave women freedom, but at what cost? Conviction rates for sexual assault remain depressingly low and our streets remain unsafe for women at night.

Jaq's book list on the aftermath of sexual assault

Why did Jaq love this book?

You won’t find a more innocent narrator than five-year-old Jack. He lives in “Room”, the only place he knows, with Ma, and the only other person he has met is “Old Nick” – the man who abducted, imprisoned, and now visits his mother at night. Inspired by the horrendous Fritzl case, Room is heart-breaking and compelling. Jack’s only contact with the outside world is via what he sees on TV until he has to escape. Following this nail-bitingly intense episode, you’ll be gunning for Jack and his ma as they try to move on with their lives.

By Emma Donoghue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A major film starring Brie Larson.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Picador Classics edition with an introduction by John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra.

Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen…

Book cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Catherine McCarthy Author Of The Wolf and the Favour

From the list on a child who has a tough journey through life.

Who am I?

I'm an author of dark fiction from Wales, UK, who, for many years, taught primary school children. In my own writing I often gravitate towards the child’s point of view, and the same can be said of the fiction I choose to read. As a teacher I dealt with children’s issues on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes you wonder how these kids survive, or at least you understand the trauma they carry for the rest of their lives. But what about those who manage to rise above it? Those are the characters whose stories I love to read. The child lurks in all of us, and we must never lose sight of that fact.

Catherine's book list on a child who has a tough journey through life

Why did Catherine love this book?

I taught primary school children for many years, including children with a variety of learning difficulties.

It just so happened that at the time I was reading The Curious Incident I was also teaching a young boy with autistic spectrum disorder. The main character in the novel, Christopher Boone, shared so many character traits with the boy in my class that I pictured him the whole way through.

It’s not easy to write about neurodivergent people, you have to get it right as the last thing you want to do is patronize or stereotype. In my opinion, the author did an incredible job. I laughed and I cried, and I’m sure you will do the same.

By Mark Haddon,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

'Outstanding...a stunningly good read' Observer

'Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement... Wise and bleakly funny' Ian McEwan

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the…

The Poisonwood Bible

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Book cover of The Poisonwood Bible

Susan Shapiro Barash Author Of Maribelle's Shadow

From the list on sisters, devout or detached.

Who am I?

I'm an author of fiction and nonfiction books, focusing on how women are positioned in society. Under my real name, Susan Shapiro Barash, I have written thirteen nonfiction titles. As a fiction writer, I've published four novels, written under my pen name, Susannah Marren. For more than twenty years I taught in the Writing Department at Marymount Manhattan College and have guest taught creative nonfiction at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. I served as a literary panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, as a judge for the International Emmys, and as Vice Chair of the Mentoring Committee of the Women’s Leadership Board at the JFK School of Government, Harvard.

Susan's book list on sisters, devout or detached

Why did Susan love this book?

In this novel the mother, Orleanna, and then her four daughters, Rachel, Adah, Leah, and Ruth May, narrate the story of their lives in the Congo, where their father, Nathan Price, is a missionary during the 1960s.

It takes place during the Congo’s fight for independence and the drama is high. We realize each daughter’s ‘journey’ as she grows individually, influenced by their father’s mission and by living in Africa. All four sisters have their own destiny.

This is an unforgettable sister story, one where social influences and a life in Africa have a profound effect on the characters. I admire the distinctive portrayal of Rachel, Adah, Leah, and Ruth May, their goals, and place in the world. The backdrop of history in the Belgian Congo is larger than life. There is an underlying sense of sadness and loss, and how burdened women feel.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

15 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…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman, Elise Hurst (illustrator),

Book cover of The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Lindsey Lamh Author Of A Voracious Grief

From the list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists.

Who am I?

Reading Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and other “scary stories” in high school ignited a hunger for suspense. In writing my own gothic horror novel, I explored the why’s and how’s a bit, and discovered that the thing I love about lurking, terrifying danger in books is that it bares a character’s soul more rapidly, and more believably, than almost any other plot device. When we face a fate worse than death, we confront our deepest motivators and challenge bedrock beliefs. I hope you’ll enjoy the books on this list as much as I do! I feel like their particular uniqueness is hard to find.

Lindsey's book list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists

Why did Lindsey love this book?

Something about the cover called to me from an airport bookshelf—I just knew it was about grief.

Using the reminisce of a 40-year-old attending a funeral, this story illustrates the strangeness of human connection and its unassuming power. Much of the book is a mourning of lost memory, lost friendships, and lost innocence as time has carried the boy he was to the unfamiliar, sterile territory of middle age.

He had somehow forgotten encountering otherworldly evil and watching horrors unfold around him. He’d nearly lost his life. Apart from the sacrifice of one special someone, his story would have ended at age 11. And he’d forgotten.

The antagonist of this story is incredibly creepy, but that’s not the chord that struck deepest for me. It was the stinging, metallic smell of grief that soaks every page that made this a story I’ll never forget. 

By Neil Gaiman, Elise Hurst (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Ocean at the End of the Lane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'Neil Gaiman's entire body of work is a feat of elegant sorcery. He writes with such assurance and originality that the reader has no choice but to surrender to a waking dream' ARMISTEAD MAUPIN

'Some books just swallow you up, heart and soul' JOANNE HARRIS

'Summons both the powerlessness and wonder of childhood, and the complicated landscape of memory and forgetting' GUARDIAN


'My favourite response to this book is when people say, 'My childhood was nothing like that - and it was as if…

Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Book cover of Life of Pi

Robert R. Davis Author Of The Various Stages of a Garden Well-Kept

From the list on first person that tell it like it is.

Who am I?

Long before presenting my writing, or for that matter, becoming a writer, I have loved the spotlight of the oral storyteller. I have told stories at gatherings for children and adults, layering the content to fit every age. Every spoken story I tell comes from bits of my own life situations, and therefore, first person view has been the only effective tool I have had. Really, that is the only way I see the world. So, when I tell a story about someone besides me, I simply jump into their shoes and become that character. 

Robert's book list on first person that tell it like it is

Why did Robert love this book?

Again, I chose a book that is given in the first-person point of view. Rather than using a variety of first persons to tell a story, Martel takes the main character, Pi, and uses him in back-and-forth narrations from various ages – young and in the moment, and older, looking back. As well, he uses Pi as a general narrator overall in the storytelling. This gives the illusion that perhaps the other characters are not so important, or rather they are not the point of the story. 

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Life of Pi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his…

Nine, Ten

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Book cover of Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

Jacqueline Jules Author Of Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember

From the list on for ages 8 to 12 about September 11th.

Who am I?

I am the author of over fifty books for young readers including the Zapato Power series, the Sofia Martinez series, My Name is Hamburger, Never Say a Mean Word Again, and Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence. On September 11, 2001, I was living in Arlington, Virginia and working as a librarian. Like anyone else who lived through that tragic day, September 11th evokes strong memories for me. Yet I know that subsequent generations have little knowledge of that day, even those who live in Arlington, where the Pentagon is located.  By recognizing the wounds of the past, we can help young readers understand the present. 

Jacqueline's book list on for ages 8 to 12 about September 11th

Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This novel follows four adolescents in the 48 hours preceding September 11, 2001.

The characters are two girls and two boys living in different parts of the United States in very different families. By fully depicting the lives of each character before the world abruptly changed, Baskin shows us how a watershed event changes one’s perspective forever.

My favorite moment comes at the end when a character remembers “that day, a year ago, when nothing else was important to her except fitting in.” Without violence or direct loss to the main characters, Baskin brings home the point that September 11th affected Americans from all across the country.

In the face of tragedy, Baskin shows us how we are all interconnected.

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a "tense...and thought-provoking" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.

Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day-until a plane struck the World Trade Center.

But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he…

Book cover of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Richard Vetere Author Of She's Not There

From the list on classic coming-of-age set within the last century.

Who am I?

Richard Vetere’s teleplay adaptation of his published stage play The Marriage Fool, starring Walter Matthau, Carol Burnet, and John Stamos, now streaming on Amazon. He co-wrote the movie The Third Miracle, which is a screenplay adaptation of his own novel. It was produced by Francis Ford Coppola, directed by Agnieszka Holand, and stars Ed Harris and Anne Heche released by Sony Picture Classics. His screenplay Caravaggio, an adaptation of his own published stage play, won the Golden Palm Award for Best Screenplay at the Beverly Hills International Film Festival in 2021. In 2005, the Frank Melville Library at Stony Brook University created the Richard Vetere Collection, an archive of his work.  

Richard's book list on classic coming-of-age set within the last century

Why did Richard love this book?

Published in 1943, this was certainly my favorite coming-of-age novel which I read in high school. I grew up in a neighborhood in Queens with trees and parks while to me, Brooklyn was a world of concrete.

Francie intrigued me with how she survived her drunk father, her single-minded mother, and the harshness of poverty. My working-class world was a lot less dangerous and drastic than Francie’s so she intrigued me as she never wavered or lost her belief that everything would work out. The novel is the epitome of the coming-of-age book since it is truly about growing up and looking back on childhood memories no matter how unforgiving they are.

You are only young once and the novel tells us to relish those memories since there is always something good in them even if they are buried. The movie directed by Kazan is a good watch showing the…

By Betty Smith,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

A special 75th anniversary edition of the beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the twentieth century.

From the moment she entered the world, Francie Nolan needed to be made of stern stuff, for growing up in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn, New York demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior―such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce―no one, least of all Francie, could…


By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Book cover of Middlesex

Stephen Holgate Author Of Madagascar

From the list on strangers in a strange land.

Who am I?

Strangers in a strange land – an evocative phrase that originated in “Exodus” (the one by Moses, not Leon Uris) and has echoed within my own life. As a diplomat, I lived nearly fourteen years overseas and know the particular dislocation of trying to make a new life in a country not my own. This experience forms the center of my four published novels. It’s also the theme of The Hero’s Journey a story at the heart of every culture; the hero sets off toward unknown lands and comes back transformed, as did I. Here’s my list of the five greatest novels about strangers in a strange land.

Stephen's book list on strangers in a strange land

Why did Stephen love this book?

Another Pulitzer Prize winner, Middlesex deals with two types of strangers.

First, we follow a Greek family fleeing the horror and death of the 1920-22 Turkish-Greek war, eventually coming to the United States as immigrants. Second, a descendent of the family, variously known as Cal or Callie, is born intersex, with physical characteristics of both sexes.

Frankly, I had sort of avoided the book, fearing a tedious diatribe on suffering and intolerance. Imagine my surprise to find a story told with a delightfully light touch and great humor – and all the more touching because of it.

By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974.'

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and her truly unique family secret, born on the slopes of Mount Olympus and passed on through three generations.

Growing up in 70s Michigan, Calliope's special inheritance will turn her into Cal, the narrator of this intersex, inter-generational epic of immigrant life in 20th century America.

Middlesex won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in September 11th, New York State, and coming of age?

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