100 books like Joni

By Selina Alko,

Here are 100 books that Joni fans have personally recommended if you like Joni. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

Aimee Bissonette Author Of Headstrong Hallie!: The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, the First Female Fire Guard

From my list on brave and extraordinary women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am drawn to stories of women who display a fighting spirit, faith in themselves, and the drive to help others. Perhaps this is due to growing up during the women’s rights movement. So many women paved the way for me. Perhaps it was my upbringing. I was raised with six siblings - three brothers and three sisters – and my parents never thought that my sisters and I couldn’t do something just because we were girls. Combine these experiences with the fact that I love history and you can see why I love these stories. Now I get to write and share stories like these with young readers. Lucky me!

Aimee's book list on brave and extraordinary women

Aimee Bissonette Why did Aimee love this book?

The title of this book hooked me right out of the gate: Brave Girl. I knew it was a story for me. How could it not be? Young Clara Lemlich stood only 5 feet tall, but she was a spitfire. Her story will inspire boys and girls alike when they learn how she fought for equality, raising her voice against powerful factory owners in the early 1900s. Another reason this book is such a treat is that it was illustrated by Melissa Sweet, one of the most creative children’s book illustrators around. The art in this book is a feast for the eyes!

By Michelle Markel, Melissa Sweet (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Brave Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

The true story of the young immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history. This picture book biography about the plight of immigrants in America in the early 1900s and the timeless fight for equality and justice should not be missed.

When Clara arrived in America, she couldn't speak English. She didn't know that young women had to go to work, that they traded an education for long hours of labor, that she was expected to grow up fast.

But that didn't stop Clara. She went to night school, spent hours studying English, and helped support…


Book cover of Dangerous Jane: the Life and Times of Jane Addams, Crusader for Peace

Jennifer Merz Author Of Steadfast: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights

From my list on strong inspiring women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a picture-book writer and illustrator as well as a mother and teacher, the most important goal I can think of is fueling a child’s imagination with possibilities by providing true stories of trailblazing women. My reviews highlight remarkable women in the arts, government, sports, social work, and history. I hope you enjoy these books!

Jennifer's book list on strong inspiring women

Jennifer Merz Why did Jennifer love this book?

This is a marvelous picture book on Jane Addams, founder of Hull House in 1889. Hull House was a Chicago settlement house for newly-arrived European immigrants. When we first meet Jane, she is a sad, sickly child who relates to those living without hope. She promises to help them when she grows up – and she does! Through her tenacity and grit, she studies, travels, and figures out how to help struggling families. 

Called “Saint Jane” when Hull House opened, she also formed the Women’s Peace Party during WWI. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jane Addams is an inspiration. The text of Dangerous Jane is spare, clear, and poetic; illustrations are beautifully drawn and carefully designed. This book is a treasure!

By Suzanne Slade, Alice Ratterree (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dangerous Jane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

An inspiring picture book biography of Jane Addams, the groundbreaking social activist who went from the FBI's "Most Dangerous Woman in America" to Nobel Peace Prize winner.

From the time she was a child, Jane Addams's heart ached for others—for those who were sad, hungry, and hopeless. When she grew up, Jane created Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago where she worked eighteen hours a day, providing whatever her immigrant neighbors needed: English lessons, childcare, steady work—as well as friendship, dignity, and hope. Then World War I broke out. Jane had helped people from different countries live in peace…


Book cover of Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

Jennifer Merz Author Of Steadfast: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights

From my list on strong inspiring women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a picture-book writer and illustrator as well as a mother and teacher, the most important goal I can think of is fueling a child’s imagination with possibilities by providing true stories of trailblazing women. My reviews highlight remarkable women in the arts, government, sports, social work, and history. I hope you enjoy these books!

Jennifer's book list on strong inspiring women

Jennifer Merz Why did Jennifer love this book?

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli is a visual feast! Pages are strewn with illustrations created in designer colors and, of course, Schiaparelli’s signature color: SHOCKING PINK! Entering this book, readers might have the impression of sniffing a fragrant bouquet of flowers or savoring an Italian pastry. Schiaparelli’s life was not easy, but her resolve to conquer her problems and become an artist/fashion designer is inspiring. She Blooms! The true story is engaging and fast-paced. The pictures are imaginative and exciting, just like Schiap herself. Get your hands on this book. You won’t be disappointed!

By Kyo Maclear, Julie Morstad (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bloom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A dazzling first-person picture book biography of the life of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli by gifted team Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad. Backmatter included.

Beauty . . .

Color . . .

Doubts . . .

As a little girl in Rome, Elsa Schiaparelli's mamma told her she was not pretty. What is beauty? Elsa wondered as she grew older. So she sought out beauty around her and found it everywhere: in the colors and scents of the Rome flower market, in the garden, and in the attic of her family home, buried in a chest of old dresses. She…


Book cover of Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams

Jennifer Merz Author Of Steadfast: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights

From my list on strong inspiring women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a picture-book writer and illustrator as well as a mother and teacher, the most important goal I can think of is fueling a child’s imagination with possibilities by providing true stories of trailblazing women. My reviews highlight remarkable women in the arts, government, sports, social work, and history. I hope you enjoy these books!

Jennifer's book list on strong inspiring women

Jennifer Merz Why did Jennifer love this book?

Many people know of the Williams sisters, titans in the world of professional tennis. But do you know of their struggles to gain their top-rated spots in the sport? This book highlights Venus’ and Serena’s challenges to overcome racism, poverty, and neighborhood violence to take their places as women admired for their determination, courage, and sisterly love besides their excellence in worldwide championships. Masterful collage illustrations draw readers into this story like a riveting tennis match. Sports fan or not, you will love this book!

By Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Game Changers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

An ALA Notable Book

"Every page is splashed with vibrant color and eye-catching patterns, and the figures of the women themselves are full of energy, speed, and tension." -Shelf Awareness (starred review)

Venus and Serena Williams are two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Some say they're two of the greatest athletes of all time. Before they were world famous, they were little girls with big dreams.

Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters.

Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn…


Book cover of Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns

From my list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with the music of the 1960s. Going to packed, pheromone-heavy dances featuring The Lincolns—Nova Scotia’s most popular and most soulful band—were a huge part of my teenage years. Those experiences implanted a deep love of R&B, and somehow or other pointed me in the direction of becoming a writer. It’s a bit of a mystery how it all works. In any case, of all my books, none was as much fun to work on as Kings of Friday Night. It has received lots of love, including from readers who grew up far from the time and place I write about. Long live local bands! And live music everywhere!

A.J.B.'s book list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

Joni Mitchell’s career extended long after the 1960s, but that was the decade when she burst on the scene with her distinctive voice and incredible song-writing and musical abilities. This book provides in-depth details of how she went from being an unknown blonde girl from Saskatchewan to an undisputed folk music superstar with songs like no one else. As Leonard Cohen put it: “She was like a storm.” To present Joni’s story, the author conducted interviews with Mitchell and her childhood friends, and with the many others who played important roles in her life—including Cohen, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and David Crosby. Along the way, David Yaffe reveals the backstory behind all of Joni’s songs. It’s a fascinating book.

By David Yaffe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"She was like a storm." ―Leonard Cohen

Reckless Daughter is the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.

Joni Mitchell may be the most influential female recording artist and composer of the late twentieth century. In Reckless Daughter, the music critic David Yaffe tells the remarkable, heart-wrenching story of how the blond girl with the guitar became a superstar of folk music in the 1960s, a key figure in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1970s, and the songwriter who spoke resonantly to, and for, audiences across the country.

A…


Book cover of High School

Nathan Hesselink Author Of Finding the Beat: Entrainment, Rhythmic Play, and Social Meaning in Rock Music

From my list on biographies to get you inside of a musician’s head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been playing and singing music since I was six, and my childhood dream was to become an orchestral cello player. Over the years, I learned a number of other instruments and studied music around the globe, yet I was always intrigued, even intimidated, by those who were able to compose. This list of books helps readers like me really get inside the heads of some of the greatest composers (and performers) of popular music in the 20th and 21st centuries. While many of my questions were answered, there remains a sense of mystery and wonder that even the artists themselves can’t always explain.

Nathan's book list on biographies to get you inside of a musician’s head

Nathan Hesselink Why did Nathan love this book?

Tegan and Sara’s joint autobiography reminded me how often music acts as a lifeline to survive childhood and beyond.

These identical twins from Calgary have such an amazing vibe and energy to their songs, and through their music they have been super advocates for gender and sexuality equality. Learning more about them also made me proud to be Canadian.

By Sara Quin, Tegan Quin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From iconic musicians Tegan and Sara comes a nostalgic memoir about high school, detailing their first loves and first songs in a compelling look back at their origin story.

'Genius' Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors
'A gift' Elliot Page, actor
'Utterly charming' Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

Before they became international musicians and LGBTQ+ icons, twin sisters Sara and Tegan Quin came of age in 90s Canada. They argued relentlessly, skipped school, dropped acid and fell in and out of love - sometimes with their best friends.

One day they found their stepdad's…


Book cover of Shadow Life

Kyle Fleischhacker Author Of Bear Serum

From my list on graphic novels for a long, dark weekend.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer/artist inspired by a lifetime of reading graphic novels. A visual artist at heart with a BFA in Industrial Design I have worked over a decade in conceptual thinking for research and development in the manufacturing sector. I love the experimentation that breaks the boring norms of industry standards. I wanted to use my talent, experience, and passion to create a sci-fi graphic novel, Bear Serum, and break the medium norms. I wrote and drew it to satiate my own wild ideas in the sci-fi category to push the medium further.

Kyle's book list on graphic novels for a long, dark weekend

Kyle Fleischhacker Why did Kyle love this book?

I picked this book up on a whim, I’m glad I did. It was a pleasant surprise with no expectations. A simple, easy-to-read story with art guiding you frame by frame from artist Ann Xu. The smooth art guides you through the effortless story. It shines a light from a different perspective of life. It is soft, warm, and enlightening as we question death around the corner (especially close for the elderly woman in this story who literally vacuums up death). If you are looking for something different from a harsh dystopian/superhero graphic novel, pick up Shadow Life.

I suggest that you read this one on a Sunday morning.

By Hiromi Goto, Ann Xu (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Kumiko's well-meaning adult daughters place her in an assisted living home the seventy-six-year-old widow gives it a try, but it's not where she wants to be. She goes on the lam and finds a cosy bachelor apartment, keeping the location secret even while communicating online with her eldest daughter. Kumiko revels in the small, daily pleasures: decorating as she pleases, eating what she wants, and swimming in the community pool. But something has followed her from her former residence - Death's shadow.

Kumiko's sweet life is shattered when Death's shadow swoops in to collect her. With her quick mind…


Book cover of Canzone di Guerra

Brian Castro Author Of The Garden Book

From my list on writing that falls between the cracks of genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an aficionado of lost objects, lost time, afterlives; of writing which never “fitted” its era. Examples would be that of John Aubrey, Herman Melville, Fernando Pessoa, Djuna Barnes, Elizabeth Hardwick, Ralph Ellison… the list goes on. I look for writing that has stood the test of time, not celebrated for the fame and bling of the moment. I look for the futile products of those who possessed genius, but who never earned enough readers until decades or centuries later, once they were released from the prison-house of genre. I look for the posthumous brilliance of language; the phosphoric glow of its offerings and of the buried treasures found therein.

Brian's book list on writing that falls between the cracks of genre

Brian Castro Why did Brian love this book?

I just love the way she is so contemptuous of people telling false “stories”. Her writing falls between every genre imaginable, a collage of well-researched facts and the indelible list of the horrors of war. She makes lists as monuments to dead victims; she names names; she calls out nationalism and racism. Wry and ironic, she has composed a battle-hymn against the barbarity of the Yugoslav wars between 1991 and 2001. To my lasting regret, I missed meeting her in Melbourne not long before she died. 

By Daša Drndić,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Canzone di Guerra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tea Radan, the narrator of the novel Canzone di Guerra, reflects on her own past and in doing so, composes a forgotten mosaic of historical events that she wants to first tear apart and then reassemble with all the missing fragments. In front of the readers eyes, a collage of different genres takes place - from (pseudo) autobiography to documentary material and culinary recipes. With them, the author Dasa Drndic skillfully explores different perspectives on the issue of emigration, the unresolved history of the Second World War, while emphasizing the absurdity of politics of differences between neighboring nations. The narrator…


Book cover of EO-N

Patrick Larsimont Author Of The Lightning and the Few

From my list on WW2 brought to life through brilliant storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated with military history, added to which my interest in aviation after serving in Military Intelligence with the Air Force. After a career in advertising, I took to writing during lockdown. My novels uncover forgotten facts and histories, using real characters and their exploits and providing an interpretation of world war events from different perspectives, not just the victors. My recommendations bring the past to life, unpalatable as it might be, with vibrant characters, rich set-building, and beautiful period language, sentiments, and held beliefs. History and conflict, love, loss, tragedy, and forgotten memory are brought to life, full of visceral colour, but importantly always truthfully.

Patrick's book list on WW2 brought to life through brilliant storytelling

Patrick Larsimont Why did Patrick love this book?

An intriguing dual-timeline novel about a bereaved modern-day tech CEO who discovers a link with a WW2 aircraft discovered in a Norwegian glacier.

A connection with her grandfather emerges, MIA since the war, and the Mosquito frozen in time. This is a complex tale of five intertwined lives, some modern, others in wartime, revealing the disparate views held at the end of the conflict and the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime.

It pits modern corporate greed and the cruel science of a warped ideology against the courage and often untold contribution of Canadian airmen and their moral determination to do the right thing. Like my own work, the novel unveils forgotten aspects of the past, shows that good shines through and still leaves an imprint on us today.

By Dave Mason,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked EO-N as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There were so many things flowing through my mind as I finished this story that I sat very still with my thoughts for the longest time contemplating what I just read.  Indeed, I had to settle with the story a bit before I could even attempt to do it justice with a review. One thing is certain, "EO-N" is a novel of distinction - impeccably written, every sentence captivating." - Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views

2019 Alison Wiley, a once-idealistic biotech CEO, is processing her new reality: she's the last bud on the last branch of her family tree. On…


Book cover of The Trudeau Formula: Seduction and Betrayal in an Age of Discontent

Jeremy Appel Author Of Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power

From my list on understanding the political moment we’re in.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist in Edmonton, Canada, who covered former premier Jason Kenney’s rise through Alberta politics, in which he tapped into the populist zeitgeist of Donald Trump and Brexit, and his eventual implosion. I have a newsletter on Substack, "The Orchard," where I cover the intersection of politics, the media, and corporate power. Through my journalism, I’ve developed a keen interest in this age of mass discontent we find ourselves in, with right-wing political and economic elites promising to blow up the entire system they embody while feckless liberal politicians seek to tinker around the edges to make the established order more palatable. 

Jeremy's book list on understanding the political moment we’re in

Jeremy Appel Why did Jeremy love this book?

I regard Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the embodiment of an empty progressive politics that is far more concerned with style over substance.

Martin Lukacs does a great job in The Trudeau Formula of outlining how Trudeau’s combination of soaring rhetoric and tepid reform on issues like economic inequality, Indigenous reconciliation, and the climate crisis works to stave off the more systemic changes needed to address these concerns in a substantive way.

Lukacs aptly demonstrates how Trudeau serves to uphold the status quo while presenting himself as an agent of transformative change. 

By Martin Lukacs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The book is not a biography of Justin Trudeau, nor is it a treatment of the minutiae and manoeuvres of party politics. It is an investigation into how the Liberal government governs in the shadow of a silent, multi-decade corporate coup in Ottawa that dares not speak its name. It tells the hidden history of how the Liberal party has served as the most effective vehicle for implementing deeply unpopular neoliberal policies--and how Justin Trudeau continues this agenda today."--


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Canada, singers, and folk music?

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