100 books like Middlesex

By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Here are 100 books that Middlesex fans have personally recommended if you like Middlesex. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of City of Thieves

Christie Nelson Author Of Beautiful Illusion

From my list on life and love in San Francisco as the world quakes.

Who am I?

I tend to see the events that affect people and countries in the shape of a narrative. Is it any wonder then that I would try my hand at literary fiction, which confers wholeness to stories of turmoil and division? I think not. Finally settling into historical fiction as if I’d found my true home came as a welcome surprise. Without sounding grandiose, it didn’t hurt to be born and raised in a magnificent American city built on seven hills on the edge of the Pacific with deep traditions in literature, music, the arts, and damn good drinking establishments. I wish you happy reading and the thrill of discovery.

Christie's book list on life and love in San Francisco as the world quakes

Christie Nelson Why did Christie love this book?

City of Thieves occupies the top shelf in my library. Why? Is it because now I’m watching the people of Ukraine battle a merciless enemy or because David Benioff has packed a tale that swings between unlikely comrades, a tender courtship, and the Nazis’ siege of Leningrad in WWII? Maybe both answers. But I read this book years ago. The deep humanity of the story is also a thriller that made me laugh and shudder through its short length of 258 pages. It doesn’t hurt that Benioff is a gifted screenwriter, too.

By David Benioff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival - and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime.

During the Nazis' brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in…


Book cover of The Sympathizer

Stephen Holgate Author Of Madagascar

From my list on strangers in a strange land.

Who am I?

Strangers in a strange land – an evocative phrase that originated in “Exodus” (the one by Moses, not Leon Uris) and has echoed within my own life. As a diplomat, I lived nearly fourteen years overseas and know the particular dislocation of trying to make a new life in a country not my own. This experience forms the center of my four published novels. It’s also the theme of The Hero’s Journey a story at the heart of every culture; the hero sets off toward unknown lands and comes back transformed, as did I. Here’s my list of the five greatest novels about strangers in a strange land.

Stephen's book list on strangers in a strange land

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

It’s not simply because I’m of a generation still haunted by the war in Vietnam that I was pulled into this story of an immigrant – half-French, half-Vietnamese, and altogether screwed up – torn between his new and old identities.

Full of intrigue and suspense, the book is a great character study of a man who cannot figure out where his loyalties lie or who it is he is betraying. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

By Viet Thanh Nguyen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Sympathizer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain:…


Book cover of Beloved

Eric Schlich Author Of Eli Harpo's Adventure to the Afterlife

From my list on dysfunctional family novels about mythmaking.

Who am I?

I’m a debut novelist who loves a good family drama. I’m a fiction professor at the University of Memphis, where I teach a course on the dysfunctional family novel featuring books on this list. I’m also an atheist, a bisexual, and a father to a one-year-old—all of which influenced my book. In addition to the novel, I’ve written a story collection called Quantum Convention. My stories have aired on Public Radio International’s Selected Shorts and appeared in American Short Fiction, Gulf Coast, and Electric Literature, among other journals. I also have a new essay up at Lit Hub about channeling my bisexuality through queer characters.

Eric's book list on dysfunctional family novels about mythmaking

Eric Schlich Why did Eric love this book?

This book would have to go on my list of top five novels ever. It’s a work of pure genius that I can re-read over and over.

Morrison’s magical realist rendering of Margaret Garner’s history—a slave’s murder of her child to free her from slavery—enters myth with Beloved’s reincarnation. The novel is about the aftermath of trauma, and the exorcism of Beloved shows Sethe overcoming the shame of the murder through the support of the Black community.

In Paul D’s words: “You are your best thing.” I also have a soft spot in my heart for Denver.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…


Book cover of The House on Mango Street

Namrata Poddar Author Of Border Less

From my list on debuts that subvert the mainstream Westerns.

Who am I?

Namrata Poddar is an Indian American writer of fiction and nonfiction, literature and writing faculty at UCLA, and Interviews Editor for Kweli where she curates the series, “Race, Power and Storytelling.” Her work has explored ways in which writers from across the world decolonize Literature. Her debut novel, Border Less, was a finalist for Feminist Press’s Louise Meriwether Prize, longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and featured in several media outlets including the “Most Anticipated” 2022 books for The Millions and Ms. Magazine. She holds a PhD in French literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in Fiction from Bennington College, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transnational Cultures from UCLA. 

Namrata's book list on debuts that subvert the mainstream Westerns

Namrata Poddar Why did Namrata love this book?

Written in 46 short vignettes, this is a coming-of-age story of Esperanza Cordero, a young girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. Yet the novel is anything but one protagonist’s story, as it consistently juxtaposes Esperanza’s story with stories of secondary characters who make a brief appearance in the novel to seldom reappear and tie loose ends of the “sub-plots”: Marin, Louie, Alicia, Geraldo, Rafaela, Minerva, and others. Narrative continuity via a protagonist’s psychological journey that is a key trait of coming-of-age novels, or of mainstream Western or realist novels at large, is repeatedly disrupted here, making the reader wonder, who is the novel’s protagonist?: Esperanza, Mango Street, or its Brown community, or young Latina girls and women in a 20th century USA, alluded by “las Mujeres” to whom the book is dedicated.

By Sandra Cisneros,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The House on Mango Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world—from the winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros' masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

“Cisneros draws…


Book cover of The Bone Clocks

Michael Bailey Author Of Sifting the Ashes

From my list on immersing readers through poetic prose.

Who am I?

I want to leave behind a body of work capable of transcending time and to write in as many forms as possible. I often blur the lines of genre and experiment with style and structure, known for breaking “rules,” such as with the poetry in the collection, but you can’t break rules until you learn them, and I’m set on breaking as many as I can before taking my last breath. Writing meaningful and lasting poetic prose requires reading meaningful and lasting poetic prose, and the books I have chosen for this list are fine examples of authors whose entire bodies of work will be dissected for years.

Michael's book list on immersing readers through poetic prose

Michael Bailey Why did Michael love this book?

It’s difficult to choose a single book by David Mitchell, since everything he writes is painfully poetic, but The Bone Clocks is a favorite. The title is a derogatory term immortals in the story use for humans flawed with mortality because of natural aging. Six unique first-person perspectives; six timelines spanning past, present, and future. If underlining inspiring passages, in awe of their creation, most of the book would need underlining. Nearly every sentence is breathtaking for readers and writers alike. Mitchell is as literary as they get, but this novel dips into science fiction the way his novel Slade House dips into horror. All his works are connected by threads, including Ghostwritten, his debut that first made me want to become a writer.

By David Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The dazzling novel from the bestselling author of CLOUD ATLAS.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014

Run away, one drowsy summer's afternoon, with Holly Sykes: wayward teenager, broken-hearted rebel and unwitting pawn in a titanic, hidden conflict.

Over six decades, the consequences of a moment's impulse unfold, drawing an ordinary woman into a world far beyond her imagining. And as life in the near future turns perilous, the pledge she made to a stranger may become the key to her family's survival . . .


Book cover of The Kite Runner

Christie Nelson Author Of Beautiful Illusion

From my list on life and love in San Francisco as the world quakes.

Who am I?

I tend to see the events that affect people and countries in the shape of a narrative. Is it any wonder then that I would try my hand at literary fiction, which confers wholeness to stories of turmoil and division? I think not. Finally settling into historical fiction as if I’d found my true home came as a welcome surprise. Without sounding grandiose, it didn’t hurt to be born and raised in a magnificent American city built on seven hills on the edge of the Pacific with deep traditions in literature, music, the arts, and damn good drinking establishments. I wish you happy reading and the thrill of discovery.

Christie's book list on life and love in San Francisco as the world quakes

Christie Nelson Why did Christie love this book?

It seems as if I’m consistently selecting novels set during war. But my former recommendation, and this one, is just too good to pass by plus it’s on the top shelf of my library, keeping other favorites company. This one is a love story between boyhood friends and I’m a hopeless romantic. Match my romantic soul with tragedy and I’m a goner. Now we’re in Afghanistan where a privileged young boy and his friend, the son of his father’s servant, live through their country’s revolution and are invaded by Russian forces that tear the country apart. The writing is so powerful and eloquent, the subject so timely (it was published in 2003), that I was spellbound by Khaled Hosseini’s literary genius.

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Kite Runner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.


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.

Who am I?

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 Stranger in a Strange Land

Jeffrey Jay Levin Author Of Watching: Volume 1, The Garden Museum Heist

From my list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who am I?

I’ve narrowed down my fascination with time travel to an event that occurred in my late teens. Hitchhiking in California with a friend, we accepted a ride in a Volkswagen Beetle. My friend and I silently acknowledged a strange energy from the driver. Serial killer energy. After a few miles, we told the driver to let us out, which, thankfully, he did. Over the years I’ve wished I could travel back in time to discover if he was in fact a serial killer.  If you read my novel, Watching, A Different Type of Time Travel, Volume 1: The Garden Museum Heist, you'll find aspects of my reading (sci-fi), movie (Hitchcock), and life experiences reflected in the story.

Jeffrey's book list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations

Jeffrey Jay Levin Why did Jeffrey love this book?

OK, this is an oldie by today’s standards. I read this when I was much younger (high school) and it’s just one of those books that stuck with me. Heinlein is a master of science fiction, and it shows in Stranger.

Between the 2nd and 3rd World Wars, an expedition was sent to Mars.  While on its way to the red planet, one Valentine Michael Smith was born. As the only survivor of the expedition, he was raised on Mars by Martians. Upon his eventual return to Earth, now post WWIII and run by politically powerful organized religions, and The World Federation of Free Nations, which includes the demilitarized US, and a world government supported by Special Service troops. 

As Smith shows special abilities and roams through the world, fear of the unknown and prejudice raise their ugly heads, forcing Smith to learn the ways of his new world…

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Stranger in a Strange Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The original uncut edition of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Hugo Award winner Robert A Heinlein - one of the most beloved, celebrated science-fiction novels of all time. Epic, ambitious and entertaining, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND caused controversy and uproar when it was first published and is still topical and challenging today.

Twenty-five years ago, the first manned mission to Mars was lost, and all hands presumed dead. But someone survived...

Born on the doomed spaceship and raised by the Martians who saved his life, Valentine Michael Smith has never seen a human being until the day a…


Book cover of The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Cathy Tsang-Feign Author Of Keep Your Life, Family and Career Intact While Living Abroad: What Every Expat Needs to Know

From my list on to equip yourself for living abroad.

Who am I?

As a psychologist, I've worked with countless emigrants and international expatriates. People relocate to various parts of the world for different reasons. However, each person’s life struggles, cultural background, experiences, and knowledge help make the world more colorful and richer in so many ways. I encourage people to open themselves to see the world and be receptive and tolerant to those who are different from them. It teaches us to be humbler and more respectful, and to enrich our life in general. My choices are about preparing your mind and your heart for life in another culture. Sometimes a well-crafted novel can offer insights that other media can’t express.

Cathy's book list on to equip yourself for living abroad

Cathy Tsang-Feign Why did Cathy love this book?

This book, the story of a Syrian refugee beekeeper, speaks volumes about what I believe in: the resiliency of human beings and the power of the mind.

The beekeeper’s journey reminds me of why I love working with people as a psychologist after 30+ years. I witnessed many times that hopes and dreams can carry people through the most difficult, dire situations. The title of the book also attracted me.

Being an amateur beekeeper, I have some understanding of beekeeper mentality. One has to be observant, patient, and persistent in order to befriend bees. This includes a willingness to learn, follow instinct, and trust what life can bring. These characteristics are reflected in the protagonist of this book.

His emotional journey is about surrendering to the unknown, working with what is in front of him, and trusting what the universe will bring him in the end. Warmth, kindness, and torments…

By Christy Lefteri,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for Audiobook of the Year - The British Book Awards 2020

A BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB CHOICE 2019

Narrated by Art Malik, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.

In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life,…


Book cover of The Poisonwood Bible

Susannah Marren Author Of Maribelle's Shadow

From my list on sisters, devout or detached.

Who am I?

I'm an author of fiction and nonfiction books, focusing on how women are positioned in society. Under my real name, Susan Shapiro Barash, I have written thirteen nonfiction titles. As a fiction writer, I've published four novels, written under my pen name, Susannah Marren. For more than twenty years I taught in the Writing Department at Marymount Manhattan College and have guest taught creative nonfiction at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. I served as a literary panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, as a judge for the International Emmys, and as Vice Chair of the Mentoring Committee of the Women’s Leadership Board at the JFK School of Government, Harvard.

Susan's book list on sisters, devout or detached

Susannah Marren Why did Susan love this book?

In this novel the mother, Orleanna, and then her four daughters, Rachel, Adah, Leah, and Ruth May, narrate the story of their lives in the Congo, where their father, Nathan Price, is a missionary during the 1960s.

It takes place during the Congo’s fight for independence and the drama is high. We realize each daughter’s ‘journey’ as she grows individually, influenced by their father’s mission and by living in Africa. All four sisters have their own destiny.

This is an unforgettable sister story, one where social influences and a life in Africa have a profound effect on the characters. I admire the distinctive portrayal of Rachel, Adah, Leah, and Ruth May, their goals, and place in the world. The backdrop of history in the Belgian Congo is larger than life. There is an underlying sense of sadness and loss, and how burdened women feel.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Poisonwood Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**NOW INCLUDING THE FIRST CHAPTER OF DEMON COPPERHEAD: THE NEW BARBARA KINGSOLVER NOVEL**

**DEMON COPPERHEAD IS AVAILABLE NOW FOR PRE-ORDER**

An international bestseller and a modern classic, this suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and their remarkable reconstruction has been read, adored and shared by millions around the world.

'Breathtaking.' Sunday Times
'Exquisite.' The Times
'Beautiful.' Independent
'Powerful.' New York Times

This story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.

They carry with them everything they believe they will…


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