100 books like My Most Secret Desire

By Julie Doucet,

Here are 100 books that My Most Secret Desire fans have personally recommended if you like My Most Secret Desire. 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 Black Hole

François Vigneault and Jonas Madden-Connor

From my list on graphic novels begging to be on the screen.

Who are we?

We’re a couple of award-winning graphic novel creators who happen to have been friends since middle school. We’ve been enmeshed in films and comic books for our entire lives, and always enjoyed discussing them with each other, sharing hidden gems, and staying up late to pore over what went right (or wrong) when a favorite comic was made into a movie or TV show. We’re in the middle of an ongoing wave of cinematic adaptations, with billion-dollar blockbusters and indie gems alike looking to graphic novels for inspiration. Read these five books now before they show up on a screen near you, and you’ll have the sweet pleasure of pronouncing “The graphic novel was better!”

François' book list on graphic novels begging to be on the screen

François Vigneault and Jonas Madden-Connor Why did François love this book?

Black Hole is a striking tale of a sexually transmitted plague running rampant amongst a community of teenagers in suburban Washington in the 1970s, all illustrated in creator Charles Burns’ almost inhumanly precise and dark art style. Mind-bending and terrifying, this graphic novel has come close to being adapted many times over the year, and its mix of eminently relatable interpersonal drama and existential dread make it a perfect fit for the screen, a horror story with heart and soul.

By Charles Burns,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“The best graphic novel of the year” (Time) tells the story of a strange plague devastating the lives of teenagers in mid-1970s suburban Seattle, revealing the horrifying nature of high school alienation—the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety, and the ennui.

We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways—from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable)—but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.

As we inhabit the heads of several key characters—some kids who have it,…


Book cover of W the Whore

Rikke Villadsen Author Of The Clitoris

From my list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams.

Who am I?

I have been a surrealist since I discovered Salvador Dali and David Lynch at the age of 14. I have been on a path to combine the art world’s depth in style; symbols and metaphors with storytelling. Becoming a comic artist was a natural path and the media is great for expressing the many complex questions in life; what it is to be human and a woman in this world. I have become an artist who revolves around feminism and surrealism, eros and doubt. 

Rikke's book list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams

Rikke Villadsen Why did Rikke love this book?

This book is contemporary art. The graphics are on a different artistic level than most comics or graphic novels. It made me realize that the contemporary art scene can live and flourish in storytelling, which by the end of the day led me on my path to becoming a comic artist. The story about W the Whore has a weird poetic feel. It is not about a prostitute, but about a woman and that is the symbolism and metaphors Feuchtenberger introduces in her surreal landscape.

By Anke Feuchtenberger, Katrin de Vries, Mark David Nevins (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The experiences of womanhood are heightened and transformed in these eerie, fairy tale–like comics by a gifted artist-writer duo.

Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West German–born Katrin de Vries read a magazine featuring the drawings of the East German–born Anke Feuchtenberger. De Vries wrote to ask Feuchtenberger if she might want to collaborate, and together they’ve produced some of the most striking German comics of the last thirty years, most notably W the Whore.

Collected here in English for the first time, W the Whore, W the Whore Makes Her Tracks, and W the Whore Throws…


Book cover of Arsène Schrauwen

Rikke Villadsen Author Of The Clitoris

From my list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams.

Who am I?

I have been a surrealist since I discovered Salvador Dali and David Lynch at the age of 14. I have been on a path to combine the art world’s depth in style; symbols and metaphors with storytelling. Becoming a comic artist was a natural path and the media is great for expressing the many complex questions in life; what it is to be human and a woman in this world. I have become an artist who revolves around feminism and surrealism, eros and doubt. 

Rikke's book list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams

Rikke Villadsen Why did Rikke love this book?

Arsène Schrauwen has the simplicity and length to give you this feeling of never being able to escape your sickness or your loneliness. Olivier Schrauwen works with graphic novels as a contemporary artist. His drawings are so precise and weird, they make me think of great folk art as done by Bill Traylor. We realize the inner truth in his simple line and the awkwardness of life. This book is an experience like a dream; both utterly original and strangely familiar.

By Olivier Schrauwen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1947, the author’s grandfather, Arsene Schrauwen, traveled across the ocean to a mysterious, dangerous jungle colony at the behest of his cousin. Together they would build something deemed impossible: a modern utopia in the wilderness — but not before Arsene falls in love with his cousin’s wife, Marieke. Whether delirious from love or a fever-inducing jungle virus, Arsene’s loosening grip on reality is mirrored by the graphic novel reader’s uncertainty of what is imagined or real by Arsene.


Book cover of The Bun Field

Rikke Villadsen Author Of The Clitoris

From my list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams.

Who am I?

I have been a surrealist since I discovered Salvador Dali and David Lynch at the age of 14. I have been on a path to combine the art world’s depth in style; symbols and metaphors with storytelling. Becoming a comic artist was a natural path and the media is great for expressing the many complex questions in life; what it is to be human and a woman in this world. I have become an artist who revolves around feminism and surrealism, eros and doubt. 

Rikke's book list on sweeping you to a strange surreal world of dreams

Rikke Villadsen Why did Rikke love this book?

The Bun Field is a dream journey of a genderless child. It has a strange and nightmarish feel to it; the protagonist is being so vulnerable and kind of hurt, but it is not without a constant dark sense of humor. Dark as the country Finland in wintertime. It has a delicious pencil-smudged style as the school of Feuchtenberger has influenced many northern artists, myself included. 

By Amanda Vahamaki,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An introduction to the work of a new artist not to be missed
Characterized by an intriguing disjointed rhythm and delicious pencil-smudged style, The Bun Field is defined by a surreal ebb and flow, possessing a deep sense of foreboding and hurt, yet maintaining a biting sense of humor. Amanda Vähämäki’s first graphic novel is infused with a sense of abbreviated adolescence and a kind of gray-sky banality.
In this story, a young girl dreams of a dinosaur eating Donald Duck; wakes to find a bald, hulking stranger sharing her breakfast; leaves to take a car trip with a bear;…


Book cover of The Garden of Secrets

Cyril Wong Author Of This Side of Heaven

From my list on tackling surrealism, memory, and desire.

Who am I?

Mortality, desire, memory, and time are my favourite themes, not just in my writing but in my life. I also love anything—music, art, literature—that is evocative, bizarre, and surreal. As a meditator, lover, and writer of poetry and poetic prose, I love books that expand our minds and hearts in ways that conventional acts of writing and creative expressions fail to do.

Cyril's book list on tackling surrealism, memory, and desire

Cyril Wong Why did Cyril love this book?

Goytisolo’s narrative is about a fictitious poet. It is also about the truth about storytelling and the fundamental nature of truth. Different perspectives also conjure up a culture of “hysteria and persecution” surrounding the poet. Can we truly ever know anyone? The book is a perfect metaphor and parable for what happens when we mistake lies for undeniable facts.

By Juan Goytisolo, Peter Bush (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Over three weeks twenty-eight story-tellers - one for each letter in the Arabic alphabet - meet in a Marrakesh garden to tell the story of a poet, Eusebio, arrested in Melilla in the early days of the Spanish Civil War. Eusebio, a friend of Garcia Lorca and his Circle, escapes assassination and his life then escapes the control of a single destiny. Some tales embroider his shadowy life with stories from Djemaa-el-Fna - the pasha's cook, the slave-market, Aysha and the stork... Does Eusebio betray his Fascist friends by confessing in a show-trial that they indulged in orgies with the…


Book cover of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

James Stoorie Author Of AfterWitch

From my list on supernaturally troubled teenagers.

Who am I?

As long as I can remember I have found the world a terrifying yet magical place. My first memories are of reading ghost stories, the best mirrors for my emotional experiences. As a teenager supernatural tales continued to inspire me and still do. Sometimes a starkly realistic approach can prove too dull or intrusive; far better to process or confront issues by presenting them as fantastical. When I return to these books, or discover similar stories, I listen hard to what they are trying to tell me. I won’t learn overnight for, as the villain in The Doll Maker states: “the life so short, the craft so long to learn.”

James' book list on supernaturally troubled teenagers

James Stoorie Why did James love this book?

“I’m still not certain you really are a woman?” Whenever Valerie has her period she is transported to a magical if sinister otherworld (yes, this novel was written by a man). A surreal, Freudian, East European coming-of-age fairytale that lies somewhere between Alice In Wonderland and a gothic pastiche. In the 70s it was also adapted into a film that apparently influenced Angela Carter. Not unjustifiably, the teenage experience is portrayed as a disorientating, eroticized nightmare from which Valerie must use all her wiles to escape, fending off vampiric family members after her inheritance and hypocritical authority figures keen to simultaneously sexualize her and burn her as a witch. At least she owns a set of magic earrings. “I’m acting like a sleepwalker. Is it all a dream?”

By Vitezslav Nezval, Kamil Lhotak (illustrator), David Short (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Valerie and Her Week of Wonders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written in 1935 at the height of Czech Surrealism but not published until 1945, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a bizarre erotic fantasy of a young girl's maturation into womanhood on the night of her first menstruation. Referencing Matthew Lewis's The Monk, Marquis de Sade's Justine, K. H. Macha's May, F. W. Murnau's film Nosferatu, Nezval employs the language of the pulp serial novel to construct a lyrical, menacing dream of sexual awakening involving a vampire with an insatiable appetite for chicken blood, changelings, lecherous priests, a malicious grandmother, and an androgynous merging of brother with sister.

In…


Book cover of Promenade

Mónica Armiño Author Of A Wolf Called Wander

From my list on pictures that you will enjoy more as an adult.

Who am I?

I have been a professional illustrator for 20 years. In all this time I have gathered a vast collection of picture books, animated movie artbooks, children's books... I use them as a source of inspiration for my work, but I really collect them because they are my treasure. I don't just look for books with beautiful illustrations, but that really give me something, that make me think, or that stay in my memory. They are timeless books, that are not aimed at any age, that anyone can enjoy, but that at the same time have deep meaning if you know how to look at them. Not all picture books are just for kids.

Mónica's book list on pictures that you will enjoy more as an adult

Mónica Armiño Why did Mónica love this book?

Promenade is a gift for anyone who, like me, loves books. What I like most is the concept itself: a tribute to books, to what they make us feel. They can be the vehicle of a great journey, a refuge, or the door to a new world. The dreamlike and surreal illustrations are so evocative that they do not need accompanying text. Another concept that seems very interesting to me is that, in addition to presenting the book as a magical object, it also makes it an object of great value: it is a large-format book, with a very careful edition and a print that extols the beautiful illustrations. These are details that I love because they make it a perfect book gift. 

By Jungho Lee,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Who am I?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

This is the book I used to read with a torch under the bedcovers as a kid. It introduced me to many great science fiction writers. My copy had an excellent cover depicting an ice cream with an eyeball staring out of it. I loved entering the book’s different worlds. It inspired me to lie awake at night, speculating about the universe, only to awake the next morning wondering if this was the day when the school teacher would say, ‘OK enough of these spellings and sums, let’s talk about why life exists.’ I still don’t understand why it never happened.

Book cover of The Garden of Hermetic Dreams

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Who am I?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

This is a wonderful selection of short stories and novel extracts by early authors of strange, weird, surreal fiction; writers whose subject is the so-called supernatural and who rail against the reduction of life to rational materialism. These works would broadly now be referred to as weird fiction. They are only as weird as the world. The book also contains an excellent introduction by the editor, speaking up for the strange, weird, and surreal.

By Gary Lachman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

' Lachman presents a generous anthology of literary texts inspired by the weird, the supernatural and the gothic. From Beckford's Vathek to Gustav Meyrink's The Golem, there is a successful balance of the well-known, the esoteric and the curious.' Stuart Kelly in Scotland on Sunday 'The first item, from William Beckford's Vathek, indicates the feverish imaginings gathered in this "occult reader". It encompasses drugs, sacrifice, a genii and an Indian who becomes irresistibly arousing by transforming himself into a ball. ETA Hoffman's The Golden Flower Pot shows how this writer's fertile imagination can animate even everyday objects, as in his…


Book cover of The Dedalus Book of Surrealism: The Identity of Things

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Who am I?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

Some of the stories in this collection, like my own stories, use surreal metaphor, expressing poetic imagery in prose form; others are more about the thrill of absurdity. Though surrealism existed before the term or movement existed (in visual art and literature e.g. Lewis Carroll, Hieronymus Bosch, etc.), Andre Breton and his mates really went for it. Here you can read works by Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Louis Aragon, Leonora Carrington, and more. What I love about all of these artists is their obvious joy in discovering the surreal or poetic image, a joy I know well, and their absolute passion for the importance and potency of expressing such imagery. 

By Michael Richardson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Comprised of works by authors from 17 countries, these volumes provide the most extensive assemblage of surrealist writing, much of which is here translated into English for the first time. "The Identity of Things" introduces surrealism's reworking of the fairy tale and the Gothic novel, its essays in the myths, desires and mysteries underlying modern reality.

"I went to fetch my car, but my chauffeur, who has no sense at all, had just buried it', writes Leonora Carrington in this captivating collection of tales from 17 languages."
The Observer


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