100 books like Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

By Max Porter,

Here are 100 books that Grief Is the Thing with Feathers fans have personally recommended if you like Grief Is the Thing with Feathers. 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 H is for Hawk

Alexander Kriss, Ph.D. Author Of Borderline: The Biography of a Personality Disorder

From my list on understanding misunderstanding mental illness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I trained to be a clinical psychologist, I was drawn to questions about how the human mind works and what it means to suffer and to heal. Even now, after having digested countless academic papers and books on these subjects, I continue to gravitate toward fiction, memoir, and popular nonfiction that grapples with the complexities of mental illness and psychotherapy without the jargon and insularity of many professional texts. These are some of my favorites—I hope you find them as illuminating as I did.

Alexander's book list on understanding misunderstanding mental illness

Alexander Kriss, Ph.D. Why did Alexander love this book?

I love this book for a number of reasons, perhaps chiefly because it’s so hard to pin down. What is it? Part memoir, part biography, part meditation on grief, part instructional guide to falconry.

Helen Macdonald interweaves her own story of dealing with her father’s death with a historical account of the tortured life of T. H. White (known best as the author of The Once and Future King). In juxtaposing these stories across time and space, we are able to see the blurred lines between bereavement, madness, and social isolation. I will hold forever in my mind Macdonald’s description of looking into her hawk’s eye and seeing nothing familiar, an alien consciousness—it helped to remind me that for all the complexity and diversity of the human species, our perspective is only one among the countless others with which we cohabitate on this planet.

By Helen Macdonald,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked H is for Hawk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year

ON MORE THAN 25 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR LISTS: including TIME (#1 Nonfiction Book), NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine (10 Favorite Books), Vogue (Top 10), Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle (Top 10), Miami Herald, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Minneapolis Star Tribune (Top 10), Library Journal (Top 10), Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Slate, Shelf Awareness, Book Riot, Amazon (Top 20)

The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of…

Book cover of Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Lynda Allen Author Of Grace Reflected

From my list on life-changing world-rocking books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think of myself as a listener and life in progress. As a poet and author, I’m always listening to the words that move through my heart. I’m also a spiritual seeker, always looking for the Divine in the world around me and almost always surprised by the ways it shows up when I’m paying attention. Yet, there’s another part of me that is a Jersey girl through and through, looking for humor or irreverence in the face of life’s challenges. All these aspects come together in an unusual harmony, creating an openness to being changed by the things that come into my life. Hence, a list of life-changing books.

Lynda's book list on life-changing world-rocking books

Lynda Allen Why did Lynda love this book?

Reading this book helped me change my life for the better. Putting Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings into practice in my daily life helped me live a more mindful, more peaceful life at a time of great transition in my personal life.

One of the things I love the most about this book is how simple it is to incorporate its practices into daily life. There are sections on how to be mindful about washing dishes or answering the phone! There are also sections that went much deeper, which dealt with how to be mindful of my emotions, which I have found so valuable in dealing with anxiety, difficult situations, and fear.

One of my favorite experiences related to this book was guiding a group of middle school-age kids through a discussion inspired by the “Tangerine Meditation.” Instead of a tangerine, we considered a piece of paper and talked about the…

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Peace Is Every Step as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is a very worthwhile book. It can change individual lives and the life of our society.' The Dalai Lama

Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh's experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is - in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking in a park - and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and…

Book cover of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Sabrina Reeves Author Of Little Crosses

From my list on a fierce female protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Boston and New York and currently live in Montreal. I have worked primarily in writing performance texts and plays. I founded the performance company Bluemouth Inc., with whom I have written and staged over a dozen works. In 2018, I completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Concordia University, where I was awarded the Dean of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. As for my expertise in compiling this list, I am the daughter of a strong force-of-nature woman who fought for what she had and taught her kids they can get through anything as long as they have humor, music, and books.

Sabrina's book list on a fierce female protagonist

Sabrina Reeves Why did Sabrina love this book?

I remember an awards ceremony where Bjork described herself as “a musical scientist.” Most likely accepting some well-deserved award, she spoke in this odd sing-song way that made her seem genuinely like a mad scientist.

I think Olga Tokarczuk is a bit like Bjork. Her voice is utterly unique, with a texture and humor perfectly suited to this book's marvelous protagonist. I loved Janina Dusezjko, a cranky old Polish woman wandering the hills of her village trying to solve a mystery. I could have listened to her for the whole book even if there was no mystery, so the unraveling felt like an added bonus! 

By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel. In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she's unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation. By…

Book cover of Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story)

Andrea Christenson Author Of How Sweet It Is: A Deep Haven Novel

From my list on when you’re in the mood for food.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an aspiring foodie and a huge lover of books with a great food subplot (or main plot!). I’ve been known to read cookbooks for fun and probably the most thumbed book in our house is my copy of The Joy of Cooking. I’m a firm believer in reading books at the lunch table and that no book should be read without a cup of coffee and a cookie (at the minimum) near one’s elbow. Hopefully you find these books to be as drool-worthy as I did!

Andrea's book list on when you’re in the mood for food

Andrea Christenson Why did Andrea love this book?

Okay, as a middle grade novel, this one may seem a little strange to have on this list, but bear with me.

The protagonist, Khosrou, tells the story of his Iranian family stretching back decades. Woven throughout the story are descriptions of the foods they enjoyed, many of which, as refugees to America, they cannot find anymore. Several times throughout this book I turned to the internet to tell me how to make something Daniel Naveri described.

A beautiful book that also contained more about using the bathroom than I ever expected!

By Daniel Nayeri,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story) 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?

At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls "Daniel") stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. To them he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes things up and talks about poop too much.

But Khosrou's stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran in the middle of the night with the secret police moments behind them, back to the sad, cement refugee…

Book cover of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Jessica Pierce Author Of The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives

From my list on thinking differently on human-animal relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

What does it mean to live a good life in a world shared with a multitude of other beings? I’ve spent my career exploring this question, in both my personal and my professional life. In my work as a bioethicist, I’ve researched and written about how to integrate environmental values into health care and medical research; how to think through (and survive) caring for a companion animal who is nearing the end of life; and why keeping pets is ethically problematic. My most current project—in collaboration with my canine companion Bella—is about ethics in human-dog relationships.  

Jessica's book list on thinking differently on human-animal relationships

Jessica Pierce Why did Jessica love this book?

Bailey’s book is about a friendship (one-sided perhaps) between a woman and a snail. She describes her growing affection for a woodland snail who is trapped inside with her during a long illness. Although Bailey isn’t offering commentary on pet-keeping, her book suggests a compelling alternative to loving animals—especially creatures we bring in from the wild—by making them into our pets. She shows us how to encounter another creature with curiosity, wonder, and respect.

By Elisabeth Tova Bailey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While an illness keeps her bedridden, Elisabeth Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence in a terrarium alongside her bed. She enters the rhythm of life of this mysterious creature, and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world. In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, she shares the inspiring and intimate story of her close encounter with Neohelix albolabris - a common woodland snail.

Intrigued by the snail's world - from its strange anatomy to its mysterious courtship activities - she becomes a fascinated and amused…

Book cover of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Elizabeth Anne Wood Author Of Bound: A Daughter, a Domme, and an End-of-Life Story

From my list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a little bit morbid since childhood. My father died when I was not quite 10 years old, and my mother was a huge fan of horror novels and scary movies. But I became seriously interested in death and dying when my mother got cancer and was facing the end of her own life. I acted as her medical advocate and participated in many aspects of her care. I'm also a sociologist who studies taboo elements of culture and I'm invested in creating a consciousness shift so that the United States is less death-phobic, allowing us all to live our lives more fully by addressing our mortality head-on!

Elizabeth's book list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die

Elizabeth Anne Wood Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Atul Gawande is a doctor who writes like he’s a warm-hearted friend. I love the way that Gawande weaves stories about his medical practice into the story of his father’s life and death, while making deep insights into how we can improve hospital care, nursing home care, and end-of-life care for all.

I especially loved the chapters focused on re-envisioning health care and housing options for the elderly and ill. I love Gawande’s accessible style and the way he offers hope by looking at these issues from a very human perspective even when revealing problems that seem insurmountable from a distance.

By Atul Gawande,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Being Mortal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?




For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's…

Book cover of Kafka on the Shore

Bobby Palmer Author Of Small Hours

From my list on talking animals for grown ups.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a British author who has always had a fascination with magical realism and novels that blend the serious with the strange. For that reason, though I write literary fiction for adults, I take so much of my inspiration from children’s literature. There’s something so simple about how kids’ books stitch the extraordinary into the every day without having to overexplain things. I now live not far from the forest that inspired A. A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood, and my latest novel is set in and inspired by this part of rural England–with all the mystery and magic that a trip into the woods entails.

Bobby's book list on talking animals for grown ups

Bobby Palmer Why did Bobby love this book?

Murakami is a magical realist genius, and this book is him at his mystifying, dream-like best. Expect otherworldly portals, sexually voracious ghosts, woodlands afflicted by mysterious fainting episodes, and, of course, an entire cast of talking cats.

What amazes me about Murakami’s writing is his ability to transfuse the mundane with the truly magical and to avoid all whimsy–even when writing about something as inherently whimsical as talking cats.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Kafka on the Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A stunning work of art that bears no comparisons" the New York Observer wrote of Haruki Murakami's masterpiece, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. In its playful stretching of the limits of the real world, his magnificent new novel, Kafka on the Shore is every bit as bewitching and ambitious. The narrative follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly overturned. Their parallel odysseys - as…

Book cover of The Big Book of the Dead

Emily Blejwas Author Of Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened

From my list on for contemplating mortality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Emily Blejwas directs the Alabama Folklife Association. She is the author of The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (UA Press) and two middle grade novels: Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened and Once You Know This (Random House). Emily grew up in Minnesota, attended Auburn University, and now lives in Mobile, Alabama with her husband and four children.

Emily's book list on for contemplating mortality

Emily Blejwas Why did Emily love this book?

The premise is simple but ingenious. Winik catalogs the lives and deaths of people she’s known throughout her life, some well, others hardly at all. Each entry is no longer than a page or two, and her writing is stark and unruffled, creating moments of dark humor. She never glorifies the departed, yet her emotion buzzes below the surface. And you immediately wonder how your own page or two might go.

By Marion Winik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marion Wink is esteemed for bringing humor and wit to that most unavoidable of subjects: death.

At last, Winik's critically acclaimed, cult favorites, Glen Rock Book of the Dead and Baltimore Book of the Dead, have been carefully combined in their proper chronological order, revealing more clearly than ever before the character hidden throughout these stories: Winik herself.

Featuring twelve additional vignettes along with a brand-new introduction, The Big Book of the Dead continues Winik's work as an empathetic, witty chronicler of life.

Book cover of All the Young Men

Victoria Noe Author Of What Our Friends Left Behind: Grief and Laughter in a Pandemic

From my list on friendship and grief (and pandemics).

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2006, I told a friend I wanted to write a book about grieving the death of a friend. Despite the fact that I’d never written a book before, she gave me her enthusiastic approval. Six months later she was dead. She inspired me to turn that book idea into a series of little books: the Friend Grief series. Just as I was finishing the last one, I began work on a full-length book that took me back to my work in the early days of AIDS. When COVID began, I returned to writing about friend grief. And I lost over a dozen friends while I wrote the book.

Victoria's book list on friendship and grief (and pandemics)

Victoria Noe Why did Victoria love this book?

Since long before COVID, Ruth Coker Burks has lived a life of service to people who were abandoned by their families after being diagnosed with AIDS.

In the dark days of that epidemic, she cared for them, advocated for them, even buried them in her own family plot in Arkansas. She persevered despite relentless bigotry and hatred that included cross-burnings on her front lawn. Nothing stopped her.

Coker Burks earned the nickname ‘cemetery angel’ by proving that everyone can make a difference in the lives of others. I’m honored that we have become friends, because she inspires me every day.

By Ruth Coker Burks, Kevin Carr O'Leary,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked All the Young Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A renegade Florence Nightingale cares for the ill in a remarkable tale of compassion and combating prejudice" The Guardian

'Breath-taking courage and compassion [...]a beautiful book' The Sunday Times

'An extraordinary tale' Evening Standard

'If I have one message with this book it's that we all have to care for one another. Today, not just in 1986. Life is about caring for each other, and I learned more about life from the dying than I ever learned from the living. It's in an elephant ride, it's in those wildflowers dancing on their way to the shared grave of two men…

Book cover of The Perfect Gift

Charlotte Agell Author Of Maybe Tomorrow? (A Story about Loss, Healing, and Friendship)

From my list on the healing power of listening.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my teenage daughter was going through an excruciatingly hard time, she taught me something that has stayed with me forever. She said, "Don't try to fix it, just listen." Maybe Tomorrow? is about that superpower. I'm the author of many books for children and young adults, and one professional development book for fellow teachers. I'm originally from Sweden, but grew up in Canada and Hong Kong. I made my way to Maine, USA, where I have spent all of my adult life so far. I have an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education but think some my most enduring lessons have come from the students in my public school classrooms.

Charlotte's book list on the healing power of listening

Charlotte Agell Why did Charlotte love this book?

Jamaican American author/illustrator Rohan Henry, in a deceptively simple sweet book, illustrates the gift of true understanding and friendship. I first met Rohan at a book fair here in Maine, when we traded books - one of my early picture books (Dancing Feet) for his self-published The Perfect Gift. I happened to be having lunch with my agent the next day. I showed her this book and she sold the rights almost immediately. It's now out in several languages and is, in my estimation, the perfect gift.

By Rohan Henry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Shel Silverstein's beloved stories, Jamaican artist Rohan Henry presents a simple and touching story of love and friendship. Leo and Lisa are long-time best friends and Leo wants to give her that one special gift to show her how he feels. The first leaf of autumn, the most delicate snowflake ever, an exquisite spring butterfly - but none of them endures. So Leo sets off in search of the perfect gift.With charming black-and-white illustrations accented with a second colour, the book conveys its message with simplicity and grace. Rohan has created a timeless parable of friendship…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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