100 books like Ghost World

By Daniel Clowes,

Here are 100 books that Ghost World fans have personally recommended if you like Ghost World. 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 American Gothic Tales (William Abrahams)

Paula Uruburu Author Of American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the "it" Girl and the Crime of the Century

From my list on the American suburban gothic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone who grew up a child of the sixties amidst suburban conformity but with a decidedly nonconformist gothic sensibility, I have wanted to find a way to combine these contradictory forces. Happily, as a professor of literature and film studies at Hofstra University, I was able to achieve my goal last year when I taught "(Un)Dead Girls and (Un)Safe Spaces: The Suburban Gothic in Film" and "Suburban Horrors" (a literature class). Unaware however that a global pandemic would mean teaching these courses via Zoom, my students and I found ourselves trapped within the confines of our own boxes in a suburban nightmare while discussing fictional and film narratives about sinister neighbors, monsters in closets, murderous family members, conspiratorial racists, and uncanny house hauntings. Oh, the horrible irony.

Paula's book list on the American suburban gothic

Paula Uruburu Why did Paula love this book?

As the best introduction to the American Gothic chosen by one of the most prolific modern masters of the genre, this anthology spans two centuries. It offers insightful context and an engaging historical road map to the current site of the genre, the weird and wounded world of the suburbs.

Joyce Carol Oates, who has written some of the most chilling contemporary examples of American Gothic fiction, dissects the shadowy heritage of our national preoccupation with the macabre themes that haunt the American Dream. From Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville through James and Wharton to Anne Rice, Raymond Carver, Stephen King, and several lesser-known writers, Oates provides readers with a provocative selection that probes beneath superficial normality to reach the dangerous psychological abnormalities of our national identity.

By Joyce Carol Oates (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Gothic Tales (William Abrahams) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This remarkable anthology of gothic fiction, spanning two centuries of American writing, gives us an intriguing and entertaining look at how the gothic imagination makes for great literature in the works of forty-six exceptional writers.

Joyce Carol Oates has a special perspective on the "gothic" in American short fiction, at least partially because her own horror yarns rank on the spine-tingling chart with the masters. She is able to see the unbroken link of the macabre that ties Edgar Allan Poe to Anne Rice and to recognize the dark psychological bonds between Henry James and Stephen King.

In showing us…


Book cover of The Virgin Suicides

Nash Jenkins Author Of Foster Dade Explores the Cosmos

From my list on teenage sentimentality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do not remember a time when I wasn’t captivated by stories about adolescence. This was the case when I myself was a teenager—when I sought in these overwrought sagas the sort of sentimental melodrama that eluded the banality of my own life—but curiously it’s no less true at thirty, for reasons that are fundamentally the same but somehow more urgent. Becoming an adult is an exercise in hardening; to grow up is to forget what it’s like to be beholden to one’s own autobiographical romance. The following titles offer a respite from the cynicism that is adulthood; as a writer and a human, I'm forever in their debt.

Nash's book list on teenage sentimentality

Nash Jenkins Why did Nash love this book?

I’d normally abstain from the pompous sin of quoting one’s own fiction, but I’m doing it here only to contextualize this recommendation.

“Adolescence is an exercise in coveting what exists just beyond our grasp,” my book’s narrator tells us in his preamble to his telling of Foster’s story. “It is this inaccessibility that sustains its magic.” To be fifteen is to be a voyeur looking wistfully in on the poignancy of others’ lives: this is the idea I tried to operationalize through the narrator’s project, with full knowledge that I’d never do it as lyrically as The Virgin Suicides. 

Nominally, the main characters of Eugenides’ debut are the five titular Lisbon sisters, who successively take their own lives, but we encounter them chiefly as figments of a collective imagination: in the captivated minds of a faceless group of teenage boys who witness the tragedies from afar.

As a sort of…

By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introducing the Collins Modern Classics, a series featuring some of the most significant books of recent times, books that shed light on the human experience - classics which will endure for generations to come.

That girl didn't want to die. She just wanted out of that house. She wanted out of that decorating scheme.

The five Lisbon sisters - beautiful, eccentric and, now, gone - had always been a point of obsession for the entire neighbourhood.

Although the boys that once loved them from afar have grown up, they remain determined to understand a tragedy that has defied explanation. The…


Book cover of Dark Tales

Paula Uruburu Author Of American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the "it" Girl and the Crime of the Century

From my list on the American suburban gothic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As someone who grew up a child of the sixties amidst suburban conformity but with a decidedly nonconformist gothic sensibility, I have wanted to find a way to combine these contradictory forces. Happily, as a professor of literature and film studies at Hofstra University, I was able to achieve my goal last year when I taught "(Un)Dead Girls and (Un)Safe Spaces: The Suburban Gothic in Film" and "Suburban Horrors" (a literature class). Unaware however that a global pandemic would mean teaching these courses via Zoom, my students and I found ourselves trapped within the confines of our own boxes in a suburban nightmare while discussing fictional and film narratives about sinister neighbors, monsters in closets, murderous family members, conspiratorial racists, and uncanny house hauntings. Oh, the horrible irony.

Paula's book list on the American suburban gothic

Paula Uruburu Why did Paula love this book?

The possibility of evil. Not only is this the title of the first selection in this collection of classic and newly printed stories by the queen of suburban gothic – it is the essence of her uncanny literary witchcraft, where subtle twists and sudden turns force readers to confront a creeping unease in post-WWII America. No hideous monsters or grotesque horrors here. Instead, sinister insinuation and irrational fears invade the “safe” suburban spaces. A man believes someone is stalking him on his way home from work.  Anonymous poison pen letters threaten a community. A runaway teenager reappears several years later … and seems to be someone else.

The deconstruction of so-called normality is what makes these stories so unsettling. Who knows what evil lurks behind the white picket fences? Shirley Jackson does.

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The perfect read for Hallowe'en, this new hardback volume of Jackson's finest stories reveals the queen of American gothic at her unsettling, mesmerising best

There's something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods...


Book cover of Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories

Noel Anenberg Author Of The Karma Kaper

From my list on majestic stories that lift our spirits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I enjoyed writing The Karma Kaper. Just as there's tragedy and comedy in every aspect of our lives there's humor in crime. It's fun bringing that humor to my audience. I also believe in justice for all. Sadly, as American courts are currently more concerned with criminals' rights than victims' rights there are no guarantees victims will receive the justice they deserve. No one can predict if a jury of 12 will find a defendant who has committed a crime guilty. Then, there's the highest court of appeal - fiction! Between the covers of a novel, a crafty writer can ensure just verdicts and devise macabre punishments for the bad guys! It doesn't get any better! 

Noel's book list on majestic stories that lift our spirits

Noel Anenberg Why did Noel love this book?

Flannery O’Connor’s saturnine stories of the American South are jewels of American literature.

They are laced with humor and violence but are at the same time deeply spiritual. In fact, the Catholic Church banned her work until it was discovered that her stories were written to show Grace in the lives of her parochial characters.

In Everything That Rises Must Converge, a story from A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories published in 1955, O'Connor writes about Julian, a young college-educated writer who lives with his mother in a decadent neighborhood that lost its prominence as the Old South faded.

His mother who believes she must uphold the dignity of her family's antebellum name insists on "keeping up appearances." For instance, she likes to tell folks that Jason's first job as a writer "selling typewriters" was a good sign because "Rome wasn't built in a day."

She…

By Flannery O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Everything That Rises Must Converge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Flannery O'Connor was working on Everything That Rises Must Converge at the time of her death. This collection is an exquisite legacy from a genius of the American short story, in which she scrutinizes territory familiar to her readers: race, faith, and morality. The stories encompass the comic and the tragic, the beautiful and the grotesque; each carries her highly individual stamp and could have been written by no one else.


Book cover of The Legend of Auntie Po

Sylvie Kantorovitz Author Of Sylvie

From my list on middle-grade depicting different cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was five, my family moved from Morocco to France. We were Jewish in a very homogeneously Catholic world. My French upbringing didn’t include much exposure to other cultures and I often felt uncomfortably different. I would have liked to know more about various lifestyles, cultures, and traditions than those I observed around me. I now love to learn about other cultures through personal accounts, stories, and memoirs. I feel engaged and interested in a way I never experienced with textbooks. Reading about people who live a different life from our own can be an eye-opening experience.

Sylvie's book list on middle-grade depicting different cultures

Sylvie Kantorovitz Why did Sylvie love this book?

I love learning about life in another time period through a story. This one transported me to a logging camp in 1885. I learned about the life of the camp, the hard and dangerous work, and the treatment of the Chinese workers. 

Mei is the daughter of a Chinese cook. She dreams of studying at the university, but doubts she will ever be able to, because of her Chinese origins. 

I loved the deep but complex friendships between Mei and the foreman’s daughter and between Mei’s father and the foreman himself. I loved the affection between Mei and her father, their observance of Chinese traditions, and I loved Mei’s story-telling, re-casting Paul Bunyan as a benevolent Auntie Po.

By Shing Yin Khor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Legend of Auntie Po as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
 
Part historical fiction, part fable, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine while she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.

Cover may vary.
 
Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman's daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan--reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the…


Book cover of Artie and the Wolf Moon

Priya Huq Author Of Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab

From my list on graphic novels that use environment as storyteller.

Why am I passionate about this?

Environmental storytelling in comics is something that I’ve always admired and want to be better at. As a cartoonist I’m always thinking of better ways to tell visual stories, because it’s fun.

Priya's book list on graphic novels that use environment as storyteller

Priya Huq Why did Priya love this book?

Olivia Stephens is one of the most skilled cartoonists of our generation. I was lucky enough to blurb Artie: Artie and the Wolf Moon, like all of Stephens’ work, is heartbreaking and heart-mending, gorgeously and lovingly rendered with a voice and eye for the gentle and powerful ways characters interact with one another…“ Like the best graphic novels set in the Pacific Northwest, Artie’s story could not be told without dense forests that hold both danger and sanctuary.

By Olivia Stephens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Artie and the Wolf Moon 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?

“A heartfelt, magical family drama you can really sink your teeth into.” ―Nilah Magruder, M.F.K.

After sneaking out against her mother's wishes, Artie Irvin spots a massive wolf―then watches it don a bathrobe and transform into her mom. Thrilled to discover she comes from a line of werewolves, Artie asks her mom to share everything―including the story of Artie's late father. Her mom reluctantly agrees. And to help Artie figure out her own wolflike abilities, her mom recruits some old family friends.

Artie thrives in her new community and even develops a crush on her new friend Maya. But as…


Book cover of Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

Priya Huq Author Of Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab

From my list on graphic novels that use environment as storyteller.

Why am I passionate about this?

Environmental storytelling in comics is something that I’ve always admired and want to be better at. As a cartoonist I’m always thinking of better ways to tell visual stories, because it’s fun.

Priya's book list on graphic novels that use environment as storyteller

Priya Huq Why did Priya love this book?

I first heard of Kouno’s work through the animated adaptation of In This Corner of the World. Town of Evening Calm and Country of Cherry Blossoms are a short story and short series (respectively) about Hiroshima. Like many other shojo/josei artists, Kouno uses the natural world to impart tone and mood, but is particularly good at it.

By Fumiyo Kouno,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What impact did World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb have on the common people of Japan? Through the eyes of an average woman living in 1955, Japanese artist Fumiyo Kouno answers these questions. This award-winning manga appears in an English translation for the first time. Fumiyo Kouno’s light, free style of drawing evokes a tender reflection of this difficult period in Hiroshima’s postwar past. As the characters continue with everyday life, the shadow of the war and the atomic bombing linger ghostlike in the background. Kouno’s beautiful storytelling touches the reader’s heart but is never overly…


Book cover of Mushishi Volume 1

Priya Huq Author Of Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab

From my list on graphic novels that use environment as storyteller.

Why am I passionate about this?

Environmental storytelling in comics is something that I’ve always admired and want to be better at. As a cartoonist I’m always thinking of better ways to tell visual stories, because it’s fun.

Priya's book list on graphic novels that use environment as storyteller

Priya Huq Why did Priya love this book?

Mushishi is possibly my favorite comic of all time. It doesn’t just use the environment as storyteller, but tells stories about environments in a way you wouldn’t expect. Though it’s a series of stories about people and their relationships, neither are divorced from the world itself. I cannot recommend this series enough and it is a huge influence on my own work.

By Yuki Urushibara, William Flanagan (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THEY HAVE EXISTED SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME.

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi . . . perhaps.


Book cover of Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting

Carleton Eastlake Author Of Monkey Business

From my list on what Hollywood is really like.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been a Hollywood writer for thirty years, and now written a novel that although satirical still accurately describes the creation of a TV series, I’ve long been amazed at how many Hollywood stories – including films made in Hollywood – offer fantasies that have even less to do with the reality of love and work in film and television than Game of Thrones does with the real Middle Ages. I’ve written fantasy myself, but for people fascinated by Hollywood, or who want to work in film and TV, there’s a reason too to read books that capture the reality, especially when like the books listed here, they do so astonishingly well.

Carleton's book list on what Hollywood is really like

Carleton Eastlake Why did Carleton love this book?

This book coined the maxim far and away the most quoted in Hollywood to this day: “Nobody knows anything.” I first read it the year before I broke in. My copy is heavily annotated with yellow highlighter and red pen; a black paperclip still marks the second of Goldman’s two capitalized maxims, “Screenplays are structure.” The value of this book to anyone wanting to understand – or survive in – Hollywood is that, ironically, Goldman, one of the most successful screenwriters and novelists in Hollywood history, knew almost everything, not only about screenwriting, but also the psychology, cautious care, and perilous feeding of actors, directors, executives, and the rest of the Hollywood zoo. It’s both a textbook and survival guide, illustrated with a veteran’s vivid stories about life behind the tinsel.

By William Goldman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Adventures in the Screen Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available as an ebook for the first time!

No one knows the writer's Hollywood more intimately than William Goldman. Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and the bestselling author of Marathon Man, Tinsel, Boys and Girls Together, and other novels, Goldman now takes you into Hollywood's inner sanctums...on and behind the scenes for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, and other films...into the plush offices of Hollywood producers...into the working lives of acting greats such as Redford, Olivier, Newman, and Hoffman...and into his own professional experiences and creative thought processes in the crafting of screenplays. You get…


Book cover of The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting

Marshall Dotson Author Of Actions and Goals: The Story Structure Secret

From my list on story structure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a student of story structure for decades. As a novelist, this initially started as a means to learn as much as I could from those with more experience than myself, but quickly grew into a passion. I read everything on the subject I could get my hands on and eventually began analyzing the plots of novels and movies for myself, amalgamating what I had learned with my own theories and insights which coalesced into a wholly new structural paradigm. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented screenwriters and novelists to help them shape their stories using Six Act Structure. 

Marshall's book list on story structure

Marshall Dotson Why did Marshall love this book?

While most structural paradigms rely on a sequential series of seemingly unrelated plot points, Chamberlain’s nutshell technique breaks stories into eight interdependent stages that create a natural and logical flow to a story. Additionally, within these stages, she places equal importance on both the external elements of the plot and the internal motivations of the character to demonstrate how their interaction shapes the narrative. This is one of the more well-known books on the list, but one that I can’t recommend highly enough if you haven’t read it. I’d lend you my copy but it’s dog-eared to pieces.  

By Jill Chamberlain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Veteran script consultant Jill Chamberlain discovered in her work that an astounding 99 percent of first-time screenwriters don't know how to tell a story. These writers may know how to format a script, write snappy dialogue, and set a scene. They may have interesting characters and perhaps some clever plot devices. But, invariably, while they may have the kernel of a good idea for a screenplay, they fail to tell a story. What the 99 percent do instead is present a situation. In order to explain the difference, Chamberlain created the Nutshell Technique, a method whereby writers identify eight dynamic,…


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