100 books like Hillbilly Elegy

By J. D. Vance,

Here are 100 books that Hillbilly Elegy fans have personally recommended if you like Hillbilly Elegy. 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 East of Eden

John Paul Godges Author Of Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

From my list on multigenerational family sagas.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a kid, as the grandson of Italian immigrant farmers and the son of a Polish-immigrant father, I wondered how my family fit into the American story. As I grew older, I learned that the American story could not be limited to a single race, a single religion, or even a single generation. Rather, the essence of any culture lies in the story that gets passed down from one generation to the next. That is where my passion lies: tapping into the essence of multiple cultures by tracing the multigenerational family wisdom that is often imparted quietly, humbly, and painfully, which makes it durable, meaningful, and indelible.

John's book list on multigenerational family sagas

John Paul Godges Why did John love this book?

An outpouring of kindness for families despite their flaws—or because of their flaws.

I miss the Hamiltons and Trasks because of the forgiving portrayal of their human limitations. One tragedy involving a brother and sister left a lasting impression on me precisely because of its gentle, restrained depiction, as if the tragedy were being viewed from the seat of heaven, with an infinite and eternal compassion.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked East of Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

California's fertile Salinas Valley is home to two families whose destinies are fruitfully, and fatally, intertwined. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons will helplessly replay the fall of Adam and Eve and the murderous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

East of Eden was considered by Steinbeck to be his magnum opus, and its epic scope and memorable characters, exploring universal themes of love and identity, ensure it remains one of America's most enduring novels. This edition features a stunning new cover by renowned…


Book cover of Inside Out: A Memoir

Kim O'Hara Author Of No Longer Denying Sexual Abuse: Making The Choices That Can Change Your Life

From my list on abuse survivors speaking candidly.

Why am I passionate about this?

Abuse as a buzzword is so broad and big. Our stories are so unique in how we were neglected, abused, abandoned, not seen, beaten, or sexually molested, but what also differs is what area of our lives it affects. For some of us, it's our bodies and food. For others of us, it's addiction to drugs and alcohol. And then there is promiscuity or sexual isolation. As a survivor myself, and having written a book that covers how denial was my go-to in my abuse history, I'm always fascinated by the human’s desire to persevere and be resilient. As a survivor, I want to be part of opening the conversation about abuse up louder.

Kim's book list on abuse survivors speaking candidly

Kim O'Hara Why did Kim love this book?

When more than three women recommend a memoir, especially one that is by someone famous, I have to pick it up. Usually, I am not attracted to the lives of famous people, partly because I worked in Hollywood for so long. I saw they were just people like us, playing roles and doing their jobs. But Demi Moore’s long battle with body dysmorphia stemmed from a cruel relationship with her mother, where she was even sold for money. As she finds her fame, she is never satisfied with her body, but acutely aware she is underpaid when compared to her famous husband. So on one hand, she can’t align with a personal image of self-love and worth, but somewhere inside is a voice that knows she deserves more. 

By Demi Moore,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Inside Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A Daily Mail Book of the Year. A Mail on Sunday Book of the Year.

Famed American actress Demi Moore at last tells her own story in a surprisingly intimate and emotionally charged memoir.

For decades, Demi Moore has been synonymous with celebrity. From iconic film roles to high-profile relationships, Moore has never been far from the spotlight - or the headlines.

Even as Demi was becoming the highest paid actress in Hollywood, however, she was always outrunning her past, just one step ahead of the doubts and insecurities that defined her childhood. Throughout her…


Book cover of A Rose for Emily

Vicki Olsen Author Of A Sparrow Falls

From my list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

My idyllic childhood while following my father, a US Air Force JAG officer, around the country and around the world did not prepare me to understand and recognize an abusive relationship. I had never seen or experienced abuse until I married. After twenty years of emotional abuse, which eventually led to domestic violence, I was able to leave it behind. It is only with therapy that I came to understand the early warning signs, why I had ignored them and why I stayed so long. While preparing to write A Sparrow Falls, I read many personal accounts of domestic violence and child abuse and conducted an interview with a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Vicki's book list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets

Vicki Olsen Why did Vicki love this book?

I cheated a little here; this one isn’t a novel, it is instead, a short story (or perhaps a novella). I couldn’t put it down and stayed up into the wee hours reading it in a single sitting. Granted, it is a short story, but this is still an unusual feat for me. 

What an unforgettable ending.

If you haven’t experienced classic Southern Gothic, this is a wonderful introduction to the genre...follow it with Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” and you will be hooked. If your high school English teacher did not introduce you to William Faulkner, A Rose For Emily is a great place to start – or “As I Lay Dying.” 

Faulkner’s characters are among some of the most memorable in American literature.

By William Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Rose for Emily as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The short tale A Rose for Emily was first published on April 30, 1930, by American author William Faulkner. This narrative is set in Faulkner's fictional city of Jefferson, Mississippi, in his fictional county of Yoknapatawpha County. It was the first time Faulkner's short tale had been published in a national magazine.
Emily Grierson, an eccentric spinster, is the subject of A Rose for Emily. The peculiar circumstances of Emily's existence are described by a nameless narrator, as are her strange interactions with her father and her lover, Yankee road worker Homer Barron.


Book cover of Bastard Out of Carolina

Penny Lane Author Of Redeemed: A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood

From my list on people breaking from their pasts to claim their lives back.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an adult child of an alcoholic father and an abusive and dysfunctional stepmother who ran away from home at sixteen and fell into the wrong crowd in my search for love and family. Yet after years of hard personal work, I have overcome and triumphed over these obstacles to become stable, happy, and successful, in a good marriage, raising a great son in a loving, stable home. I’ve gone on to help and inspire others to do the same, including writing the book Redeemed, A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood.

Penny's book list on people breaking from their pasts to claim their lives back

Penny Lane Why did Penny love this book?

I loved this book because, for the first time in my life, I understood that I was not the only broken and damaged person in the world.

Because of her honest portrayal, I felt less alone and more like there were other souls out there who understood my fears of not belonging, of not being able to be “good enough,” of not being wanted, and of being ignored by one parent while being belittled, abused, and blamed by the other.

Allison wrote clearly about the effects of poverty on family dynamics and the dysfunctional family and explained to me for the first time why I felt defective and why the rest of the world seemed so normal. It gave me hope. 

By Dorothy Allison,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Bastard Out of Carolina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A profound portrait of family dynamics in the rural South and "an essential novel" (The New Yorker)

"As close to flawless as any reader could ask for . . . The living language [Allison] has created is as exact and innovative as the language of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye." -The New York Times Book Review

The publication of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina was a landmark event that won the author a National Book Award nomination and launched her into the literary spotlight. Critics have likened Allison to Harper Lee, naming her the…


Book cover of Binge and Sprint: From Endless Cake to Recovery

Kim O'Hara Author Of No Longer Denying Sexual Abuse: Making The Choices That Can Change Your Life

From my list on abuse survivors speaking candidly.

Why am I passionate about this?

Abuse as a buzzword is so broad and big. Our stories are so unique in how we were neglected, abused, abandoned, not seen, beaten, or sexually molested, but what also differs is what area of our lives it affects. For some of us, it's our bodies and food. For others of us, it's addiction to drugs and alcohol. And then there is promiscuity or sexual isolation. As a survivor myself, and having written a book that covers how denial was my go-to in my abuse history, I'm always fascinated by the human’s desire to persevere and be resilient. As a survivor, I want to be part of opening the conversation about abuse up louder.

Kim's book list on abuse survivors speaking candidly

Kim O'Hara Why did Kim love this book?

I instantly could relate to Author Joseph’s list of excuses for why we binge eat as abuse survivors. Her book is relatable for any go-getter who secretly eats an entire cake. Joseph has many life wins, from marrying her true love, to achieving a multi-decade profession in NYC’s public school system. Underneath that grit and stamina lies a long battle with binge eating that started as a young girl to offset the verbal abuse by her father. As an abuse survivor, I disassociated from my body, and Joseph’s lifelong struggle with food helps me to feel not alone. With her book, I am profoundly grateful to know that the voices in my head wired for fear can be turned down. I can put down the brownies and the cake and shine in my life.  

By Naomi Joseph,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Have you ever stood at the kitchen counter urgently devouring insane amounts of frozen, stale hot dog buns dipped alternatively in jelly and almond butter, while on high alert for approaching humans?

After a lifetime of getting knocked to the ground by the same opponent, a Dark Voice, and then rising repeatedly while praying for a way out, Naomi Joseph wrote the rules of "Binge and Sprint:" Use cake as fortitude to steel yourself to plow ahead, and then keep moving, keep achieving, and never ever let the world see your suffering.

Never idle, Joseph takes the reader on a…


Book cover of Fuchsia Parade: One Woman's Quest for Sex, Love and Redemption

Kim O'Hara Author Of No Longer Denying Sexual Abuse: Making The Choices That Can Change Your Life

From my list on abuse survivors speaking candidly.

Why am I passionate about this?

Abuse as a buzzword is so broad and big. Our stories are so unique in how we were neglected, abused, abandoned, not seen, beaten, or sexually molested, but what also differs is what area of our lives it affects. For some of us, it's our bodies and food. For others of us, it's addiction to drugs and alcohol. And then there is promiscuity or sexual isolation. As a survivor myself, and having written a book that covers how denial was my go-to in my abuse history, I'm always fascinated by the human’s desire to persevere and be resilient. As a survivor, I want to be part of opening the conversation about abuse up louder.

Kim's book list on abuse survivors speaking candidly

Kim O'Hara Why did Kim love this book?

The fictional account of Kailee’s progression from risky promiscuity into recovery from abuse denial arrested me as Author Martin did not hold back in details. Kailee is successful and independent but her need to control men sexually to feel safe, while medicating herself with alcohol, prevents her from real intimacy. While books like Fifty Shade of Grey glorify sexuality and dominance, Fuchsia Parade unveils the truth behind an unquenchable sexuality, and a woman’s path to recovery. Any woman who is a survivor who aims to understand her sexual agenda will relate to Kailee’s redemption.

By Heather Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A riveting and fast paced story about one woman’s journey to save herself.

"An intriguing and powerful book. From the get-go, the author pulls the reader into the beautifully flawed life of the main character and takes the reader on a journey filled with sarcasm, sex, alcohol, success, truth, and healing. This book will be hard to put down and will leave you wanting more in the end." - Amazon Reviewer

“The type of central female character that great feminist novels are made of—complicated, flawed, badass, powerful, yet tender and compassionate upon further reveal through layers of story. Within the…


Book cover of The Last Black Unicorn

Kim O'Hara Author Of No Longer Denying Sexual Abuse: Making The Choices That Can Change Your Life

From my list on abuse survivors speaking candidly.

Why am I passionate about this?

Abuse as a buzzword is so broad and big. Our stories are so unique in how we were neglected, abused, abandoned, not seen, beaten, or sexually molested, but what also differs is what area of our lives it affects. For some of us, it's our bodies and food. For others of us, it's addiction to drugs and alcohol. And then there is promiscuity or sexual isolation. As a survivor myself, and having written a book that covers how denial was my go-to in my abuse history, I'm always fascinated by the human’s desire to persevere and be resilient. As a survivor, I want to be part of opening the conversation about abuse up louder.

Kim's book list on abuse survivors speaking candidly

Kim O'Hara Why did Kim love this book?

Just when I said I wasn’t that interested in the lives of famous people, this book from hilarious and raunchy comedian Haddish came up on my reading list. Shock is an understatement when you read about the poverty and violence from which Haddish resurrects herself from. She doesn’t tell anyone about the abuse from which she emerges triumphant, to where you think perhaps this book is truly the expose of her truth. She plays her cards smart in her career, never sleeping around or downplaying her talents, even when homeless and unsure where her next paycheck will come from. She shows the reader that if your dream is big enough, you can come from hell and still step back up.

By Tiffany Haddish,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn't beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money-as the…


Book cover of The Last Anniversary

Vicki Olsen Author Of A Sparrow Falls

From my list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

My idyllic childhood while following my father, a US Air Force JAG officer, around the country and around the world did not prepare me to understand and recognize an abusive relationship. I had never seen or experienced abuse until I married. After twenty years of emotional abuse, which eventually led to domestic violence, I was able to leave it behind. It is only with therapy that I came to understand the early warning signs, why I had ignored them and why I stayed so long. While preparing to write A Sparrow Falls, I read many personal accounts of domestic violence and child abuse and conducted an interview with a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Vicki's book list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets

Vicki Olsen Why did Vicki love this book?

This was my first Liane Moriarty book - but not my last. A fun read with plenty of humor and a little mystery. The ‘Munro Baby Mystery’ to be exact.

This is a multiple-storyline book, and I found all the stories interesting. The author created many wonderful characters and brought each one to life beautifully.

I suspect many readers figure out the mystery/secret pretty early. For me, that didn't lessen the fun of reading on to see if I was right. I thought it odd when the secret is revealed about 3/4 of the way through the book. I wondered why the author was spending so much time tying up loose ends...then boom! I didn't see that coming.

I recommend this if you want an easy read filled with wonderful multi-generational characters.

By Liane Moriarty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of the award-winning HBO sensation BIG LITTLE LIES comes a captivating story of family, love, and the secrets that refuse to stay in the past . . .

One abandoned baby. Two sisters with a secret. A last chance to rewrite the past.
______________

70 years ago, the Munro family disappeared without a trace, leaving behind their newborn baby.

When sisters Rose and Connie Doughty found her, they took her in and raised her as their own. Since then, the unsolved 'Munro Baby Mystery' has brought fame and fortune to their small island.

But years later,…


Book cover of Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility

Richard E. Boyatzis Author Of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

From my list on building leadership skills through models.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor and scientist, using my Intentional Change Theory (ICT), I have studied sustained desired change of individuals, teams, organizations, communities, and countries since 1967. I have authored more than 200 articles and 9 books on leadership, competencies, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience, and management education (including the international best-seller, Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and the recent Helping People Change with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten). I run several Coursera MOOCs, including Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence which has over a million enrolled from 215 countries.

Richard's book list on building leadership skills through models

Richard E. Boyatzis Why did Richard love this book?

Like most countries of the world, the US is built on waves and steady immigration. As one of the few countries where upward mobility is possible, and economic prosperity abounds, we have been a magnet for immigrants wanting a better life for themselves and their children. Professor Morton extends the challenges of marginality, social class, as well as ethnic and racial and gender prejudice to the experience of modern day immigrants. Her stories and research reflect the experience any of us have had as immigrants or children of them. She also explains how the cultural and identity changes needed to go beyond surviving to thriving often involve letting go of previous parts of ourselves and identities.

By Jennifer Morton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moving Up without Losing Your Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ethical and emotional tolls paid by disadvantaged college students seeking upward mobility and what educators can do to help these students flourish

Upward mobility through the path of higher education has been an article of faith for generations of working-class, low-income, and immigrant college students. While we know this path usually entails financial sacrifices and hard work, very little attention has been paid to the deep personal compromises such students have to make as they enter worlds vastly different from their own. Measuring the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Moving Up without Losing Your…


Book cover of Up the Junction

Eliza Renton Author Of Faithful

From my list on featuring heroes to snuggle with on a cold night.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an English writer now living in the wilds of Tasmania, Australia. My love of books began at school. I devoured the classics and couldn’t wait to audition for the lead in the next school play. Both my father and brother were in the military and I saw firsthand their love and duty for country, and family often with great cost to their mental health and wellbeing. I write stories about heroes like them and the women who win their hearts. Love takes courage. 

Eliza's book list on featuring heroes to snuggle with on a cold night

Eliza Renton Why did Eliza love this book?

This collection of short stories has a special place in my heart.

Stories written about people living in the early sixties in working-class London. The colloquial language rings true in my ears, and the stories belong in that special place held dear by my teenage self. Laugh or cry, I pick the book up when I am at most in need of, no place like home, comfort.

Ken Loach made a film based on the book and followed it up with another one of her books. Poor Cow. Dog-eared and well-worn, the books remain on my shelf.

By Nell Dunn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Up the Junction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE JOHN LLEWELLYN RHYS MEMORIAL PRIZE

'Her art is ignited by voice, as you hear it, is unquestionable' ALI SMITH, GUARDIAN

'Distinctive, pared-down style' DAVID EVANS, INDEPENDENT

'Unflinching look at the lives of working-class women' DAILY MAIL

Nell Dunn's scenes of London life, as it was lived in the early Sixties in the industrial slums of Battersea, have few parallels in contemporary writing. The exuberant, uninhibited, disparate world she found in the tired old streets and under the railway arches is recaptured in these closely linked sketches; and the result is pure alchemy.

In this novel, we witness…


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