10 books like Luster

By Raven Leilani,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Luster. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Small Animals

By Kim Brooks,

Book cover of Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear

If you are a Gen Xer like me and you wax nostalgia about the freedom of the mothers of your childhood vs. the shackles of parenting in the early twenty-first century as I have, Kim Brooks’ book is for you. Kim made the most grievous error a parent can make today: she left her four-year-old in her minivan in the parking lot of a rural Target so she could quickly grab an item. Though her child was fine, someone called the police. This event sent Kim down a rabbit hole to find out: is the American childhood as dangerous as people think? Her remarkable, thought-provoking book argues that childhood is remarkably safe, children should be exploring their environs, and some form of free-range parenting for many parents and kids should be the norm rather than the exception. This has been my philosophy since having children, and I was happy to…

Small Animals

By Kim Brooks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One cool spring morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and ultimately motivated her to begin writing about the broader subject of parenthood and fear. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? To be a parent is to be afraid. And yet, the objects and intensity of our fear vary based on culture, temperament, and the historical moment in which we…


An American Marriage

By Tayari Jones,

Book cover of An American Marriage

I listened to this novel while gardening during the pandemic and found it utterly absorbing and heartbreaking. It surprised me with its twists and turns, humor, and pathos. Roy and his wife Celestial are newlyweds in Atlanta living a life of ordinary young marriage challenges, planning to have children, and what career moves to make. After Roy is falsely accused of a crime, found guilty, and sentenced to twelve years in prison, the two must find a way to move forward after the American Dream for them is shattered. The sophisticated, stirring novel asks the question, what does one spouse owe another when the state takes away their freedom? By turns heartbreaking, funny, and wise, American Marriage was an Oprah pick and long-listed for the National Book Award. A year ago I did an event with Tayari and probably gushed over this novel to the point of personal embarrassment!

An American Marriage

By Tayari Jones,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked An American Marriage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

A 2018 BEST OF THE YEAR SELECTION OF NPR  * TIME  * BUSTLE  * O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE  * THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS  * AMAZON.COM

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION

“A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” —Barack Obama

“Haunting . . . Beautifully written.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“Brilliant and heartbreaking . . . Unforgettable.” —USA Today
 
“A tense and timely love story . . . Packed with brave questions about…


Seven Moves

By Carol Anshaw,

Book cover of Seven Moves

Christine Snow is a therapist who has her shit together, or does she? When her girlfriend vanishes, it becomes apparent to Chris that, on an emotional level, Taylor was never really there to begin with. Anshaw’s use of a third-person limited point of view and a present tense narrative creates a sense of breathless intimacy. If you’re looking for a thriller, look elsewhere. Seven Moves is a well-observed mediation on the inherent unknowability of an intimate partner. Anshaw does obsession like no one else. 

Seven Moves

By Carol Anshaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Christine Snow, a Chicago therapist, has at last returned from the margins of her past - a card-sharp father, too many wrong lovers - into comfortable urban domesticity with Taylor Hayes, a travel photographer. The two women share a house, a dog, a life. And then one morning after a minor argument, Taylor disappears, Chris's anger turns to alarm as time passes and still she hears nothing, until she falls across a clue as unsettling in itself as Taylor's disappearance. Following a trail that leads to Morocco and home again, Seven Moves tracks Chris's gradual realisation that one can never…


My Education

By Susan Choi,

Book cover of My Education

Gender takes a backseat to obsession when college student Regina becomes enamored with Professor Nicholas Brodeur, before finding a deeper romantic connection with his volatile wife. Choi nails the mix of awe and attraction that can characterize the relationship between a young person and an older counterpart. Lyrical and emotionally immersive, this academic novel depicts a regular young woman who believes (as we all do) that the strength of her passion is unique. 

My Education

By Susan Choi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An intimately charged novel of desire and disaster from the National Book Award-winning author of Trust Exercise and A Person of Interest

Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill. He's said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He's condemned on the walls of the women's restroom, and enjoys films by Roman Polanski. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty-or his charismatic, volatile wife.

My Education is the story of…


Social Creature

By Tara Isabella Burton,

Book cover of Social Creature

We’re straight in the story from page one, experiencing the intensity of the toxic relationship Louise has with her new best friend – a woman she’s only known ten days. Louise has a complex personality, her low self-esteem leading to constant self-assessment. But boy, how she changes! I liked the way the author breaks the fourth wall by directing comments to the reader, the foreshadowing allowing us to know what’s coming before the characters. Not my usual choice, as the novel is set in America with a cast under 30, but I enjoyed the build in tension as I waited for Louise to be caught out. 

Social Creature

By Tara Isabella Burton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the Best Books of the Year:
Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Vulture
NPR

"Social Creature is a wicked original with echoes of the greats (Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn)." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them... They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish…


Hey, Dollface

By Deborah Hautzig,

Book cover of Hey, Dollface

This book was ahead of its time. This YA novel was written in 1978 but I found it on a shelf in my local library in 1992 when I was a queer preteen. An elliptical narrative about the burgeoning romantic relationship between two teenage girls, the novel captures a nameless yearning I understood without knowing why. Though the narrative felt to me illicit, it wasn’t prurient but rather deeply felt and authentic to the experience of a teenager coming to understand her sexuality as it crystalizes around one compelling friend.

Hey, Dollface

By Deborah Hautzig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Val and Chloe don't fit in at their fancy private school in Manhattan. Together, they ditch school, visit cemeteries and thrift shops and have sleepovers during which they confide all their secret thoughts. Lately, Val has all kinds of questions. Especially about sex. So Val turns to the two people who have always given her the most honest answers possible: her mother and Chloe. Unfortunately, not even Val's mother-an adult!-has all the answers. Val starts to think that maybe she's not "normal" at all. Because she has some other feelings for Chloe. Feelings that she never expected to have. Would…


Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates,

Book cover of Revolutionary Road

It’s the 1950s and in spite of the staid conservative culture of the times, Anne Wheeler and her husband Frank have artistic aspirations. When they move from New York City to Connecticut, they struggle to hold on to their identities. Anne is adrift, starring in amateur suburban theater and keeping house and Frank is working long days in a job he hates. When their plans to move to Paris are derailed, the result is tragic. This horror adjacent novel is single-handedly the main reason I never settled in Westchester or Connecticut—opting for a funky Hudson Valley village insteadand was a big influence on my own novel. 

Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hailed as a masterpiece from its first publication, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary. With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April's decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy.


The Perfect Nanny

By Leila Slimani, Sam Taylor (translator),

Book cover of The Perfect Nanny

This gripping novel is based on the 2012 murder case in New York City in which two children were stabbed to death by their nanny. From the first gripping sentence, “The baby is dead” until the last, this psychological thriller set in Paris never lets up with a fast pace and smart sentences. I loved this book. Although it portrays my worst fear, it does so with sophisticated empathy for all involved. As NPR said about the book, “In Slimani’s hands, the unthinkable becomes art.” I devoured it in two days.

The Perfect Nanny

By Leila Slimani, Sam Taylor (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She has the keys to their apartment. She knows everything. She has embedded herself so deeply in their lives that it now seems impossible to remove her.

One of the 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR of The New York Times Book Review, by the author of Adele, Sex and Lies, and In the Country of Others

"A great novel . . . Incredibly engaging and disturbing . . . Slimani has us in her thrall." -Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger

"One of the most important books of the year. You can't unread…


The Reminders

By Val Emmich,

Book cover of The Reminders

I was honored to read an early draft of this novel by fellow human and Jerseyite, Val Emmich, and was immediately taken with the voice of Joan, a 10-year-old girl with a special condition that gives her the ability to remember everything, but is afraid of being forgotten. To remedy that, she wants to win a prestigious songwriting contest by writing a song that makes people both want to dance and cry (two of the strongest feelings in her opinion). So she strikes a deal with Gavin, an adult songwriter who she believes can help her make that happen. Jersey City is the primary setting for this novel, a city that along with its many other charms, offers spectacular views of the New York City skyline. 

The Reminders

By Val Emmich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A wonderful and unusual story told in a beautifully understated way. Quietly magnificent' Ruth Hogan, author of The Keeper of Lost Things

Ten-year-old Joan was born with a rare gift: she can remember every single day of her life in perfect detail. She can tell you how many times her mother has uttered the phrase 'it never fails' in the last six months (twenty-seven), or what she was wearing when her grandfather took her fishing on a particular Sunday in June years ago (fox socks).

But Joan doesn't want to be the girl who remembers everything - she wants to…


The Meadowlands

By Robert Sullivan,

Book cover of The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures on the Edge of a City

The subtitle to Robert Sullivan’s The Meadowlands is Wilderness Adventures on the Edge of a City, and it’s Sullivan’s adventures exploring the vast New Jersey wetlands that make the book so entertaining. But Sullivan is right to use the word “wilderness” to describe the 32 square miles of swamp, landfills, and rusting industrial debris along the Hackensack River where it flows into Newark Bay just five miles from the Empire State Building in New York City. Like the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, the Meadowlands have been abused and degraded for centuries but also show the resilience of nature and how people’s attitudes toward it have changed. “Now it is a good place to see a black-crowned night heron or a pied-bill grebe or eighteen species of ladybugs,” Sullivan writes, “even if some of the waters these creatures fly over can oftentimes be the color of antifreeze.” Sullivan’s loving description…

The Meadowlands

By Robert Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Imagine a grungy north Jersey version of John McPhee's classic The Pine Barrens and you'll get some idea of the idiosyncratic, fact-filled, and highly original work that is Robert Sullivan's The Meadowlands.  Just five miles west of New York City, this vilified, half-developed, half-untamed, much dumped-on, and sometimes odiferous tract of swampland is home to rare birds and missing bodies, tranquil marshes and a major sports arena, burning garbage dumps and corporate headquarters, the remains of the original Penn Station--and maybe, just ,maybe, of the late Jimmy Hoffa.  Robert Sullivan proves himself to be this fragile yet amazingly resilient region's…


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