100 books like Lit

By Mary Karr,

Here are 100 books that Lit fans have personally recommended if you like Lit. 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 The Glass Castle

Robin van Eck Author Of Rough

From my list on jaw-dropping books about family connections that will make you laugh, cry and scream.

Why am I passionate about this?

Someone once said I can’t believe you didn’t end up in a ditch with a needle in your arm. It sounds harsh, but they meant it with love. In spite of my broken home, familial dysfunction, trauma, and bad decisions, I found a way to be okay and share my life experiences through words and stories rather than a bottle. I am the Executive Director of a non-profit organization specializing in developing authors who want to publish and use writing for therapy and healing. I live in Calgary, AB, Canada, with my teenage daughter and act as the emotional support human for an anxious dog. 

Robin's book list on jaw-dropping books about family connections that will make you laugh, cry and scream

Robin van Eck Why did Robin love this book?

This is quite possibly my favourite memoir ever written. It made me laugh, cry and scream. Never have I seen such a clearly dysfunctional family that didn’t even realize they were dysfunctional.

I loved them because they embraced life no matter what and hated them because they didn’t see how bad what they were doing to one another was. Full of elements and emotions from my own childhood, this book made me feel deeply and emotionally.  

By Jeannette Walls,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Glass Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.

This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist's journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, 'brilliant' but alcoholic parents.

At the age of seventeen she escapes on a Greyhound bus to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later. After pursuing the education and civilisation her parents sought to escape, Jeanette eventually succeeds in her quest for the 'mundane,…


Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Author Of The Reluctant Creative: 5 Effortless Habits to Expand Your Comfort Zone

From my list on trying new things even if you are scared.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was driven to become a veterinarian for as long as I could remember. Then, in high school, I developed a love of performance. I felt stuck. Should I choose art or science? I chose science, and despite a great career, I felt like something was missing. When I reconnected with my creativity through stand-up comedy, entrepreneurship and other non-artistic creative outlets, I found out what I had been missing. Why do we drop creativity for science? It was a common story. I dove into the research on creativity, and was blown away by how a bit of creativity can make us happier, more resilient, and make workplaces more effective.

Dr.'s book list on trying new things even if you are scared

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Why did Dr. love this book?

In this book, I loved the way the author explains the creative process and what it takes to engage your muse and catch ideas. In a different way from The War Of Art, I learned what holds us back from expressing ourselves creatively and how we can overcome this fear of being seen.

Elizabeth Gilbert shares stories and philosophies about how to be more creative every day in a funny and optimistic way.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…


Book cover of Untamed

Miles Borrero Author Of Beautiful Monster: A Becoming

From my list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a trans, Latinx yoga teacher, writer, and musician who transitioned at the age of 40. Before that, I’d spent most of my life trying to live by someone else’s rules…only to realize, when my dad was dying, that I was not truly living. The funny thing is, as an artist and teacher, I’d dedicated myself to helping others live their lives to the fullest but had not granted myself the same courtesy. Sometimes, our lessons are hard-won. The books on this list have been beacons of hope and treasure trove chests of inspiration for me, as I hope they will be for you, too. 

Miles' book list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest

Miles Borrero Why did Miles love this book?

Like the cry of a caged animal, this book reminds me that the systems in place aren’t working, but more than that, it points to the open cage door, offering me the option of a different way of living. It is a wake-up call and a deep, nuanced examination of what makes life worth living.

Glennon is not only a deep thinker but also quick as a whip; nothing escapes her. Her insights are priceless and sharp and cut through the densest of binds.

This book sits on my shelf as a daily reminder that my life is my own, and living it fully and outwardly as the most honest version of myself is the way in which I can create the greatest impact with my time on this earth. 

By Glennon Doyle,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Untamed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OVER TWO MILLION COPIES SOLD! “Packed with incredible insight about what it means to be a woman today.”—Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club Pick)

In her most revealing and powerful memoir yet, the activist, speaker, bestselling author, and “patron saint of female empowerment” (People) explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others’ expectations and start trusting the voice deep within us.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • Cosmopolitan • Marie Claire • Bloomberg • Parade •…


Book cover of A Million Little Pieces

Monica Parker Author Of Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin

From my list on flaw and failure making human beings so relatable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fortunate to have been blessed with a positive disposition. When my toast falls on the floor I like to believe it will land butter side up. I learned at a very early age that owning one's mistakes and airing them out loud could bring on laughter or a smile of recognition that many of us suffer the same fears as we navigate this often uncharted life with our fingers crossed or hands in prayer, that we will mostly get it right. This is why I write the books I write. By nature, I am a happiness ambassador… And humor is my weapon of choice.

Monica's book list on flaw and failure making human beings so relatable

Monica Parker Why did Monica love this book?

I loved reading this book before it became tainted by fact checkers. That being said, it remains a fascinating, raw, and gripping read. His use of language as falls deeper and deeper into becoming hooked is similar to being a storm chaser. He can’t help himself chasing the highs, knowing full well the low may be the last one. “I want a drink. I want fifty drinks. I want a bottle of the purest, strongest, most destructive, most poisonous alcohol on Earth. I want fifty bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, five hundred hits of acid, a garbage bag filled with mushrooms, a tube of glue bigger than a truck, a pool of gas large enough to drown in. I want something anything whatever however as much as I can.

If there ever were…

By James Frey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Million Little Pieces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.


Book cover of Drinking: A Love Story

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor Author Of Drunk-ish: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Alcohol

From my list on addiction books that will make you feel less alone.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a memoir writer whose latest book, Drunk-ish, chronicles my experience getting sober. Before quitting drinking and after, I devoured all the "quit lit" books I could get my hands on despite not being entirely convinced I had an issue. I read to bond and identify with the authors, and the books I'm recommending are a few of my very favorites on the topic of addiction. On my podcast, "For Crying Out Loud," I often share about quitting drinking and addiction in general, and when I do, I find those are some of the most popular episodes. If you're sober, thinking about quitting, or even just like reading books about messed-up boozers, these books are for you.

Stefanie's book list on addiction books that will make you feel less alone

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor Why did Stefanie love this book?

This is another book I read before I ever dreamed it might apply to me.

Caroline describes her experience with anorexia, alcoholism, and intimacy issues while working as a journalist in a way that I found incredibly compelling. And when I realized I had the same problems, I found her writing incredibly comforting as well.

I’m so sad that she ended up passing away from lung cancer way too young, but I’m so happy she left us this memoir.

By Caroline Knapp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fifteen million Americans a year are plagued with alcoholism. Five million of them are women. Many of them, like Caroline Knapp, started in their early teens and began to use alcohol as "liquid armor," a way to protect themselves against the difficult realities of life. In this extraordinarily candid and revealing memoir, Knapp offers important insights not only about alcoholism, but about life itself and how we learn to cope with it.

It was love at first sight. The beads of moisture on a chilled bottle. The way the glasses clinked and the conversation flowed. Then it became obsession. The…


Book cover of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

Carol Weis Author Of Stumbling Home: Life Before and After That Last Drink

From my list on addiction memoirs I wish I had when I got sober.

Why am I passionate about this?

I come from a family of “functional” alcoholics, where feelings were never discussed and drinking was the way to solve (or more likely avoid or cause) problems. After 25 years of abusing alcohol (and drugs), I finally got sober. And for the first time ever, I started writing, because all those feelings I pushed down wanted a voice. All that childhood trauma needed more than AA and talk therapy to heal.  So I gifted those feelings with written words, as did the writers I mention in my list. Recovery is something to pass on and telling our stories is another healing way to do it.

Carol's book list on addiction memoirs I wish I had when I got sober

Carol Weis Why did Carol love this book?

This is another memoir that pulled me right in. Like Hepola, I loved the excitement of the whole bar scene, and quite often, drank until I blacked out. Trying to blackout things from my childhood that caused me so much anxiety and pain. And then having to remember and heal from it all when I got sober. 

By Sarah Hepola,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blackout as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, Blackout is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure -- the sober life she never wanted.

For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was "the gasoline of all adventure." She spent her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call. Drinking felt like freedom, part of her birthright as a strong, enlightened twenty-first-century woman.

But there was a price. She often blacked out, waking up with a blank space where four hours should be. Mornings became detective work on her own life. What…


Book cover of Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir

Carol Weis Author Of Stumbling Home: Life Before and After That Last Drink

From my list on addiction memoirs I wish I had when I got sober.

Why am I passionate about this?

I come from a family of “functional” alcoholics, where feelings were never discussed and drinking was the way to solve (or more likely avoid or cause) problems. After 25 years of abusing alcohol (and drugs), I finally got sober. And for the first time ever, I started writing, because all those feelings I pushed down wanted a voice. All that childhood trauma needed more than AA and talk therapy to heal.  So I gifted those feelings with written words, as did the writers I mention in my list. Recovery is something to pass on and telling our stories is another healing way to do it.

Carol's book list on addiction memoirs I wish I had when I got sober

Carol Weis Why did Carol love this book?

I remember when I first saw this title, I wished I had thought of it myself. Though mine may have been, Girl Walks Into a Bar and Stays Way Too Long. Another memoir by a woman who excelled professionally, as she hid her alcohol and coke addictions from herself and others, until it got so bad she couldn’t hide it anymore. 

By Lisa F. Smith,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Girl Walks Out of a Bar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Lisa Smith gives us a darkly comic, honest, and completely relatable inside look at high-functioning addiction in the world of corporate law-a sort of 'Sex and the Psych Ward.' It's inspiring, informative, and impossible to put down."  
 
--Jennifer Belle, best-selling author of High Maintenance and The Seven Year Bitch
 
"Whether she's telling the town car driver to turn around so she can ditch showing up for her niece's birth and meet her coke dealer, or staging her own semi-intervention, Smith takes us into the mind of someone who's completely in control while being radically out of control. This girl may…


Book cover of Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (and Other Affairs)

Kristin Louise Duncombe Author Of Trailing: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a therapist, and I work with people from all walks of life and with all manner of suffering. I am drawn to memoirs because I consider it the real self-help genre of literature. Like good therapy, a good memoir will make sense of a story: how it happened, why it happened, how it affected the person, and what they did (do) to face it, and thrive in spite of it. As a writer, I take pride in bringing that same quality to my work. I have been asked many times, “How can you bear to reveal all that stuff about yourself, especially when it’s unflattering?” The answer is always “Isn’t that the part that matters? Isn’t that the part where the growth occurred? Isn’t that what makes the story worth telling?”

Kristin's book list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight

Kristin Louise Duncombe Why did Kristin love this book?

Wendy Plump’s VOW is the only memoir I have ever read that reveals what it is like to be the “cheating” partner (there are many books that address being cheated on). This is NOT a book touting infidelity or polyamory. It is simply an extremely honest accounting of a marriage riddled by affairs (both partners), how the author coped with the fallout, and grew into a more mature and insight-driven version of herself. This very topic activates so much judgment by so many people (just read some of the seething, scathing reviews on Amazon), but the truth is, human beings DO cheat, they DO commit infidelity, and Wendy Plump, who is a terrific, elegant writer and storyteller, has addressed this topic with great candor. It takes an extremely brave person to tell this type of story; hence, this book is brave and beautiful.

By Wendy Plump,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There are so many ways to find out. From a cell phone. From a bank statement. From some weird supermarket encounter. One morning in early January 2005, Wendy Plump's friend came to tell her that her husband was having an affair. It was not a shock. Actually, it explained a lot. But what Wendy was not prepared for was the revelation that her husband also had another child, living within a mile of their family home.

Monogamy is one of the most important of the many vows we make in our marriages. Yet it is a rare spouse who does…


Book cover of Half a Life

Kristin Louise Duncombe Author Of Trailing: A Memoir

From my list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a therapist, and I work with people from all walks of life and with all manner of suffering. I am drawn to memoirs because I consider it the real self-help genre of literature. Like good therapy, a good memoir will make sense of a story: how it happened, why it happened, how it affected the person, and what they did (do) to face it, and thrive in spite of it. As a writer, I take pride in bringing that same quality to my work. I have been asked many times, “How can you bear to reveal all that stuff about yourself, especially when it’s unflattering?” The answer is always “Isn’t that the part that matters? Isn’t that the part where the growth occurred? Isn’t that what makes the story worth telling?”

Kristin's book list on memoirs that tell painful stories with eloquence and insight

Kristin Louise Duncombe Why did Kristin love this book?

At sixteen years old, Darin Strauss had just received his first driver’s license and was on his first unsupervised drive, when a classmate, on a bicycle, swerved in front of his car.  She was killed instantly.  There was never a question of actual culpability: bystanders described the girl on the bike as literally driving in front of his vehicle, as though intentionally (a theory corroborated by suicidal thoughts recorded in her last diary entry the night before the accident). But this did not alleviate the trauma of killing someone, and the anguish and guilt that Darin Strauss carried forward for many, many years into his adult life, and probably always will. “Half a Life” refers to how he lived thereafter; halfway in his own existence, and the other half in constant preoccupation with the girl whose life was no more. This book will fill you with such empathy and compassion…

By Darin Strauss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad's Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey—graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father.…


Book cover of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Monica Starkman Author Of The End of Miracles: A Novel

From my list on miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychiatrist-novelist. As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen many patients struggling with infertility and miscarriage. As a novelist, I became intrigued with the idea of having false pregnancy (pseudocyesis) be a key element in a character’s life. My primary goal was to create an engrossing good read. I also wanted to show the psychological trauma of infertility/miscarriage. Another goal was to portray psychiatric patients, the psychiatrists who treat them, and psychiatry in a realistic way. I’m so gratified by the reader reviews: “gripping”...“spell-binding”...“rich, satisfying read”...“a page-turner”...“Illuminating”.  

Monica's book list on miscarriage and pregnancy loss

Monica Starkman Why did Monica love this book?

This extraordinary book combines a lived experience with the powerful writing of an accomplished author.  Unexpectedly, in her mid-thirties, she finds a man to love and a baby is on the way. But then, the agony:  the baby dies in utero in the ninth month. She tackles head-on the deepest feelings and questions this brings. I like the way she unsparingly describes her experience and her grief, and then how she processes this and finds a way to move on. 

By Elizabeth McCracken,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending," writes Elizabeth McCracken in her powerful, inspiring memoir. A prize-winning, successful novelist in her 30s, McCracken was happy to be an itinerant writer and self-proclaimed spinster. But suddenly she fell in love, got married, and two years ago was living in a remote part of France, working on her novel, and waiting for the birth of her first child.

This book is about what happened next. In her ninth month of pregnancy, she learned that her baby boy had died. How do you deal with and recover from…


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