100 books like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

By Fannie Flagg,

Here are 100 books that Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe fans have personally recommended if you like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. 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 Olive Kitteridge

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?

I found this book absolutely riveting.

Outspoken, cantankerous, deep-hearted Olive Kitteridge is a character unlike any other, and I loved how the interconnected stories let us see her, her family, and her community at various points in time and how their decisions and ways of being affect the arcs of their lives.

I loved the complexity and uniqueness of all the characters, as well as the insights that this book offers about the intricacies, nuances, difficulties, and joys of being human. 

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

12 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 The Vanishing Half

Faith Knight Author Of As Grey As Black and White

From my list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the product of biracial parents, and the idea of passing or not has always fascinated me as well as disgusted me. The reasons one would want to pass in this era are much different than the survival aspect my ancestors who passed had to consider in the 19th century. In writing my YA historical novels, being biracial always enters in, no matter the topic, because it is who I am and, in the end, always rears its head for consideration.

Faith's book list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century

Faith Knight Why did Faith love this book?

The biracial Vigne twins in this book struggle with the choices before them as to which race they will embrace. I loved the book for its poignancy and honest exploration of the sensitivity involved in having a choice to make, no matter the generation.

This book is similar to the movie Imitation of Life but on a grander scale. The stories moved me and hurt me at the same time. 

By Brit Bennett,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Vanishing Half as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP BESTSELLER
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE

'An utterly mesmerising novel..I absolutely loved this book' Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the Booker Prize 2019

'Epic' Kiley Reid, O, The Oprah Magazine

'Favourite book [of the] year' Issa Rae

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years…


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?

OVER 12 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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 To Kill a Mockingbird

Katie K. May Author Of You're on Fire, It's Fine: Effective Strategies for Parenting Teens with Self-Destructive Behaviors

From my list on healing family dynamics and generational trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

My journey from a teen struggling with self-harm, drug use, and overwhelming emotions to a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification Clinician™ and director of Creative Healing, Teen Support Centers, uniquely positions me to understand the deep emotional challenges teens face. Having navigated my own tumultuous youth and now parenting a "Fire Feeler" teen, I use my personal and professional insights to guide thousands of teens and their parents. I am passionately committed to creating environments where teens are supported while the entire family learns skills to improve and work together.

Katie's book list on healing family dynamics and generational trauma

Katie K. May Why did Katie love this book?

I treasure this book and recently reread it alongside my own teen! It profoundly showcases the courage required to challenge deep-seated prejudices within a community and family.

Witnessing Scout Finch's perspective on her father Atticus' stand against racial injustice amidst moral dilemmas serves as a powerful reminder of the strength needed to confront and transcend the biases we inherit, a journey that resonates with my own experiences of overcoming familial legacies.

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

34 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…


Book cover of The Thirteenth Tale

Linda Kay Silva Author Of Nothing Fair About It

From my list on novels about life changing experiences and adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of creative writing who knows when readers stop feeling, they stop reading. We all want to feel, to live vicariously. To experience the unimaginable. I’ve lived large. I’ve raced on the back of an ostrich, rode an elephant through the jungles of Thailand, raced catamarans in the Caribbean, and danced with the Shaka Zulu in Africa. The best books are those that feel like memories…that touch us…that make us feel.

Linda's book list on novels about life changing experiences and adventures

Linda Kay Silva Why did Linda love this book?

The twists in this book pull you in and keep you from putting it down. I love when I get surprised and think “I never saw that coming!”

Well-developed characters, outstanding description, Setterfield draws book lovers (and bookstore lovers) right into the heart of the story. I couldn’t put it down. It was the only novel in our book club that received a unanimous 10/10

By Diane Setterfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Simply brilliant' Kate Mosse, international bestselling author of Labyrinth

***

Everybody has a story...

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten.

It was once home to the March family: fascinating, manipulative Isabelle; brutal, dangerous Charlie; and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But the house hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart...

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield's past, and its mysterious connection to the enigmatic writer Vida Winter. Vida's history is mesmering - a tale of ghosts, governesses, and gothic strangeness. But as Margaret succumbs to the power…


Book cover of The Color Purple

Hari Ziyad Author Of Black Boy Out of Time

From my list on loss and grief from a certified death doula.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist, author and screenwriter, my work has always pondered loss and grief. I think this has something to do with the fact that of my mother’s religion; she was a convert to Hinduism and started conversations about the inevitability of death and how the soul and the body aren’t the same when us children were at a very young age. It probably also has something to do with the constant presence of death within my family and communities as a Black and queer person in a violently anti-Black and queerantagonistic world. I currently volunteer at a hospice, and provide community-building programming to death workers from diverse communities.

Hari's book list on loss and grief from a certified death doula

Hari Ziyad Why did Hari love this book?

This novel is a soul-stirring journey of resilience and self-discovery.

Reminding us that loss of connection to a loved one shares many of the same aspects as death, The Color Purple is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, particularly in the face of adversity. Along the way, you’ll come to a deeper understanding of gendered violence, the healing power of sisterhood and the enduring nature of love.

By Alice Walker,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Color Purple as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker's iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug…


Book cover of Hour of the Witch

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?

I loved this book for being historical fiction at its finest, and I loved the main character, Mary Deerfield, for being a woman who did not fit within her own time.

It’s 1660s Boston, and Mary is married to an abusive man. Determined not to die at his hand, she must fight against everything in her society to free herself from her marriage.

I loved how this book so insightfully explored the dynamics of an abusive relationship while also bringing to vivid life a distant time and place. 

By Chris Bohjalian,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Hour of the Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the acclaimed author of The Flight Attendant: “Historical fiction at its best…. The book is a thriller in structure, and a real page-turner, the ending both unexpected and satisfying” (Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series, The Washington Post).

A young Puritan woman—faithful, resourceful, but afraid of the demons that dog her soul—plots her escape from a violent marriage in this riveting and propulsive novel of historical suspense.

Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four-years-old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But…


Book cover of My Brilliant Friend

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?

Set in Naples, Italy, this culturally rich book is the first in a series of four connected novels that tell the complete story of a profound and intense friendship between two women who are opposites in almost every way.

It is a friendship-love story that illustrates how a deep and abiding love can help and hurt two people. My Italian ancestors are from Naples, and Elena Ferrante’s books capture the spirit of their passions while delivering complex and emotional life lessons.

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked My Brilliant Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 5 MILLION COPIES SOLD IN ENGLISH WORLDWIDE

OVER 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD IN THE UK

OVER 14 MILLION COPIES OF THE NEAPOLITAN QUARTET SOLD WORLDWIDE

NOW A MAJOR TV SERIES

GUARDIAN 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 21st CENTURY

58 WEEKS ON THE BOOKSELLER'S TOP 20 ORIGINAL FICTION BESTSELLERS LIST

SHORTLISTED FOR WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2015

43 INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS DEALS

Now in B-format Paperback

From one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, comes this ravishing and generous-hearted novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime. The story of Elena and Lila begins in the 1950s in a poor but…


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.


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