75 books like Meltdown

By Wilborn Hampton,

Here are 75 books that Meltdown fans have personally recommended if you like Meltdown. 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 Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

David DeKok Author Of Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire

From my list on environmental catastrophes.

Why am I passionate about this?

David DeKok became interested in environmental disasters in his native Michigan in 1974, when PBB, a fire-retardant chemical, was accidentally mixed with animal feed, entered the food chain, and then most people in the state, probably including himself. As a journalist in Pennsylvania, he wrote extensively about the Centralia mine fire and the aftermath of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and is the author of four books. He tends to write about small towns and small-town people in crisis.

David's book list on environmental catastrophes

David DeKok Why did David love this book?

The world continues to consider nuclear power, despite the devastation to the nuclear industry caused by the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Nuclear power can play a part in fighting climate change, but we need to be aware of the risks as well as the rewards. Beyond that, it is a well-researched and dramatic story about the trauma that ensues when human communities are beset by environmental disasters.

By Adam Higginbotham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Midnight in Chernobyl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best Book of the Year
A Time Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Winner

From journalist Adam Higginbotham, the New York Times bestselling “account that reads almost like the script for a movie” (The Wall Street Journal)—a powerful investigation into Chernobyl and how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the history’s worst nuclear disasters.

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering one of the…


Book cover of Laying Waste: The Poisoning of America by Toxic Chemicals

David DeKok Author Of Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire

From my list on environmental catastrophes.

Why am I passionate about this?

David DeKok became interested in environmental disasters in his native Michigan in 1974, when PBB, a fire-retardant chemical, was accidentally mixed with animal feed, entered the food chain, and then most people in the state, probably including himself. As a journalist in Pennsylvania, he wrote extensively about the Centralia mine fire and the aftermath of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and is the author of four books. He tends to write about small towns and small-town people in crisis.

David's book list on environmental catastrophes

David DeKok Why did David love this book?

Brown lays out some of the major crises that fueled modern environmentalism and in so doing helps the reader to understand the passions that drove the movement. I remember when Lois Gibbs, a leader of the Love Canal residents, came to Centralia to give a pep talk to residents there about fighting government inaction.

By Michael Harold Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recounts the dumping of toxic chemical wastes in the Love Canal area of Niagara Falls which led to an epidemic of grave medical problems and the permanent evacuation of nearby residents and documents other chemical-waste tragedies erupting throughout America


Book cover of A Civil Action

Elie Honig Author Of Untouchable: How Powerful People Get Away with It

From my list on making the law come to life.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was a lawyer, so people sometimes assume that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. In fact, it was the opposite; I saw how hard he worked and how much of a grind the job could be. What really sparked my interest was the great books and movies about the legal profession. Eventually, I was lucky enough to spend fourteen years as a prosecutor, and let me tell you: the job is even better than you’d see on the page or on the screen. I loved the work while I had the job, and now I love telling stories. I hope you’ll be as entertained and inspired as I was by these books.

Elie's book list on making the law come to life

Elie Honig Why did Elie love this book?

Civil lawsuits often get second-billing to criminal cases, but this book about a case of mass environmental contamination in a small town in Massachusetts one has all the traits of a legal thriller: an astonishing injustice, stunning twists and turns, and enormous consequences for all involved.

More than once, I gasped while reading this, and it’s one of the few books I ever re-read. This has since become a major-release movie (starring John Travolta), but the book is even better.

By Jonathan Harr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of a lawyer's battle to win compensation from two of America's largest industrial giants. He fought on behalf of 21 families whose lives were wrecked by illness and death due to the alleged poisoning of their town well. This case became renowned in American legal history.


Book cover of We Almost Lost Detroit

David DeKok Author Of Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire

From my list on environmental catastrophes.

Why am I passionate about this?

David DeKok became interested in environmental disasters in his native Michigan in 1974, when PBB, a fire-retardant chemical, was accidentally mixed with animal feed, entered the food chain, and then most people in the state, probably including himself. As a journalist in Pennsylvania, he wrote extensively about the Centralia mine fire and the aftermath of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and is the author of four books. He tends to write about small towns and small-town people in crisis.

David's book list on environmental catastrophes

David DeKok Why did David love this book?

We Almost Lost Detroit was published in the mid-1970s  at a time of growing concern over nuclear power in America that would reach a boiling point with the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. There was no love lost between the two sides. Utility executives were believed to be liars trying to save their investment in a costly, difficult technology. Nuclear critics were portrayed by the industry as deluded tree-huggers. It was a real debate with real consequences, and this book shows why. The cover of the Ballantine paperback edition shows the terrified face of a man inside a radiation protective suit.

By John G. Fuller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Almost Lost Detroit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A valuable contribution to the debate over nuclear power, this book documents the Fermi accident that so frightened the AEC and nuclear industry that they did not want the details and significance leaked to the public. At the time of the publication of this book, many critics of nuclear power were demanding to know all the pertinent information regarding the safety of nuclear reactors.


Book cover of The Whiskey Rebels

Fred Van Lente Author Of Never Sleep

From my list on historical mysteries/thrillers set before World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical fiction because it’s the next best thing to the invention of time travel. Books can immerse you in a time and a place in a way that comics and movies can only gesture at. For books like Never Sleep I even make sure to cook the foods my characters are eating, to make sure the era is evoked for the readers in all five sense. I love fantasy and science fiction as the next person, but the idea of transporting people to times and places that actually happened, to the best of my skill as a dramatist and researcher, is a challenge I find irresistible as an author. 

Fred's book list on historical mysteries/thrillers set before World War II

Fred Van Lente Why did Fred love this book?

A direct inspiration on my book, this is a great espionage thriller set in Philadelphia about a disgraced Revolution-era spy who gets hired by Alexander Hamilton to help against his arch-enemy, Thomas Jefferson, and finds his path intersecting with a farmwife standing up against a frontier uprising.

Liss is a master of the historical form (and a friend, full disclosure!)

By David Liss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Whiskey Rebels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

America, 1787. Ethan Saunders, once among General Washington’s most valued spies, is living in disgrace after an accusation of treason cost him his reputation. But an opportunity for redemption comes calling when Saunders’s old enemy, Alexander Hamilton, draws him into a struggle with bitter rival Thomas Jefferson over the creation of the Bank of the United States.

Meanwhile, on the western Pennsylvania frontier, Joan Maycott and her husband, a Revolutionary War veteran, hope for a better life and a chance for prosperity. But the Maycotts’ success on an isolated frontier attracts the brutal attention of men who threaten to destroy…


Book cover of Woods Runner

Elizabeth Raum Author Of A Kidnapping In Kentucky 1776

From my list on middle-grade novels about little known aspects of American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child in New England, I climbed over stone walls wondering about the lives of those who built them. I devoured biographies and historical fiction, but I never imagined that I'd become a writer of such books for kids 8-14. First, I became a social studies teacher and, later, a librarian. I wanted my students to read about honorable characters striving to make the best of difficult but often little-known, historical situations. I demanded reliable details, a challenging conflict, and a resolution filled with hope for a better future. That is now my goal as a writer of children's books – and as a reader. These books meet those high standards. Enjoy! 

Elizabeth's book list on middle-grade novels about little known aspects of American history

Elizabeth Raum Why did Elizabeth love this book?

What an exciting tale! I've done lots of research about life on the American frontier during the Revolutionary War, but Gary Paulsen provided information that was new to me about British attacks on small frontier villages and prison ships anchored in New York Harbor. I couldn't stop reading. The author alternated the fiction story with nonfiction segments providing further explanation. Rather than interrupt the reading, they enhanced it, elevating the excitement I felt as Samuel searched for his missing parents.

By Gary Paulsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Woods Runner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Samuel, 13, spends his days in the forest, hunting for food for his family. He has grown up on the frontier of a British colony, America. Far from any town, or news of the war against the King that American patriots have begun near Boston.

But the war comes to them. British soldiers and Iroquois attack. Samuel’s parents are taken away, prisoners. Samuel follows, hiding, moving silently, determined to find a way to rescue them. Each day he confronts the enemy, and the tragedy and horror of this war. But he also discovers allies, men and women working secretly for…


Book cover of Crackpots

Heather Frese Author Of The Baddest Girl on the Planet

From my list on featuring quirky, funny female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with quirky, funny, female protagonists early in my reading life, starting with Ramona Quimby and her unique way of seeing the world. As a kid, I always felt different, you know? I was sensitive, shy, and observant, and I delighted in finding characters in books who also bucked up against what I thought of as typical. As a writer, I love writing interesting, unconventional women, and I love using humor to elevate my characters’ voices. I think humor is one of the best ways to establish voice and also, paradoxically, to navigate tragedy. I hope to write many more quirky, funny female characters in future books.

Heather's book list on featuring quirky, funny female protagonists

Heather Frese Why did Heather love this book?

I laughed out loud reading Sara Pritchard’s Crackpots, the story of spunky Ruby Reese and her complicated coming-of-age. This book was a huge influence on the structure of my own novel. Pritchard plays with chronology and point of view in a way that made me think, wow, I didn’t know you could do that. And then, ooh, I want to do that. Lyrical, detailed, and hilarious, this ranks as one of my all-time faves.

By Sara Pritchard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When we first meet Ruby Reese she’s a spunky kid in a cowgirl hat, tap dancing her way through a slightly off-kilter 1950s childhood. With an insomniac mother and a demolitions-expert father, her entire family is what the residents of her small town would call "a bunch of crackpots." Despite the dramas of her upbringing, Ruby matures into a creative, introspective, and wholly beguiling woman. But her adulthood is marked by complex relationships and romantic missteps -- three unsuitable marriages, dramatic crushes, the complicated love between siblings. As Sara Pritchard deftly guides us through Ruby's story, from the present to…


Book cover of Catherine House

Sara Flannery Murphy Author Of The Wonder State

From my list on thriller and horror with “House” in the title.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a lifelong fascination with houses and the sway they hold over us. Coming from a family that moved pretty frequently, I’ve experienced the way a house can feel like a true home, or like an unwelcoming space. Unlike the characters in The Wonder State, I don’t break into places to explore (not even abandoned spaces!). But I always take notice of the homes and structures in every neighborhood and city I visit, wondering what the residents’ lives are like and how their houses affect them. I’m a novelist who focuses on the speculative, and all three of my novels feature weird houses in some capacity.

Sara's book list on thriller and horror with “House” in the title

Sara Flannery Murphy Why did Sara love this book?

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you.

If these words don’t send a tingle down your spine, or don’t make you suddenly aware of the house surrounding you, then we aren’t the same. Thomas’ feverish debut is the perfect example of “dark academia” done right.

Catherine House is not a home. It’s a mysterious school. Every student seems to have something odd hidden in the past. Students are encouraged to cultivate school spirit that goes well beyond the usual measures. They become one with Catherine House, submitting to cryptic experiments, cutting off contact with the outside world. 

I love the way Thomas explores the ways an institution can exploit while pretending to protect.

By Elisabeth Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“[A] delicious literary Gothic debut.” –THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, EDITORS' CHOICE

“Moody and evocative as a fever dream, Catherine House is the sort of book that wraps itself around your brain, drawing you closer with each hypnotic step.” – THE WASHINGTON POST

A Most Anticipated Novel by Entertainment Weekly • New York magazine • Cosmopolitan • The Atlantic • Forbes • Good Housekeeping • Parade • Better Homes and Gardens • HuffPost • Buzzfeed • Newsweek • Harper’s Bazaar • Ms. Magazine • Woman's Day • PopSugar • and more!

A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within…


Book cover of Fragile Beasts

Darlene Jones Author Of When the Sun was Mine

From my list on friendship between young people and seniors.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a kid on the farm in Saskatchewan, I had a handful of books to read and re-read and read yet again. No television, no radio—just books. Then we moved to the city and I discovered the bookmobile, but I could only take out three books at a time. Deciding was torture. From bookmobile to library to bookstore to e-reader. Life is good. With all that reading, I knew I had to write a novel. I finally did. One became seven. How on earth did that happen? Re-reding my books I realized that teens play significant roles in all my novels. I’m a retired teacher—go figure!

Darlene's book list on friendship between young people and seniors

Darlene Jones Why did Darlene love this book?

I liked this book so much, I read it twice. What made it so good? O’Dell’s mastery of creating “real” people. I cared about them. I wanted to be in the story with them such was the power of her writing—a captivating story with an unusual set of characters, their lives intersecting in unexpected ways. Spain, the US, bulls and bullfighters, an old lady, a couple of teen brothers, a dysfunctional family, love and hate, baseball…

By Tawni O'Dell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When their hard-drinking, but loving, father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, their town’s matriarch, an eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal mines, hears the boys’ story. Candace Jack doesn’t have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is compelled to offer them a home.

Suddenly, the two boys go from…


Book cover of The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball's Lost Triumph

Jonathan Weiler Author Of Prius or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide

From my list on basketball books with larger societal issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill and I have written about the intersection of sports, media, and politics for many years. I am also the co-host of a podcast, Agony of Defeat, with Matt Andrews, that explores the connections between sports, politics, and history. Basketball is an especially rich topic for mining these intersections. And I’m also a lifelong sports fan.

Jonathan's book list on basketball books with larger societal issues

Jonathan Weiler Why did Jonathan love this book?

Scott Ellsworth's account of a legendary game that took place between the Eagles of North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and Duke University on Duke's campus in Durham, in 1944 (the Duke team comprised medical students but included several former college stars). John McClendon, a protege of the game's founder, John Naismith and coach of the Eagles is widely credited with having transformed the sport, refashioning a slow, stolid affair into a fast-paced, exhilarating game. In the process, he turned the Eagles in mid-century into a juggernaut in the Carolina Intercollegiate Athletic Association, a conference of Black colleges and universities. Jim Crow made it illegal for the Eagles to compete publicly against their intracity rivals, but both programs relished the prospect of playing one another, and a secret game was organized, widely considered the first integrated collegiate game to be played in the south. Ellsworth paints…

By Scott Ellsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1943, at the North Carolina College for Negroes, Coach John McLendon was on the verge of changing basketball forever. His team was the highest-scoring team in America, and yet they faced danger whenever they traveled backcountry roads.

Across town, the best squad on Duke University's campus wasn't the Blue Devils, but an all-white team from the medical school. They were prepared to take on anyone -- until an audacious invitation arrived.

THE SECRET GAME is the story of a long-buried moment in the nation's sporting past. A riveting account of a barrier-shattering game, the evolution of modern basketball -…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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