99 books like My Year of Rest and Relaxation

By Ottessa Moshfegh,

Here are 99 books that My Year of Rest and Relaxation fans have personally recommended if you like My Year of Rest and Relaxation. 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 A Journal of the Plague Year

Alexander Fisher Author Of Delirium

From my list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the strangeness of human character when tested to the limit by overwhelming catastrophe. I’ve always wanted to write a story that brings into stark relief the courage, fear, ambition, tragedy, absurdity, and the ecstatic. In other words, a disaster. And if character is destiny, then an apocalypse maybe the best way to show us who we really are and where we’re going. My debut novel, Delirium focuses on these extremes of character. And after writing it I reached one indelible conclusion: that the human being is the most disturbed creature, but also the most hopeful.

Alexander's book list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart

Alexander Fisher Why did Alexander love this book?

I enjoyed reading this book both as a historical artefact of the 17th century but also because Defoe’s plain, matter-of-fact style makes all the chaos, the shrieking, the death carts, families locked in their houses, health certificates, the delirium, the fear of coming too close, the paranoia, the panic and the madness that surrounds the narrator all the more disturbing.

He is a witness whose curiosity far outweighs his fear. But there’s also the Defoe-like sense of adventure when for instance a group of three escape London and shift for themselves in a countryside whose towns and villages are hostile to strangers. Instructive, disquieting, gripping, indelible.

This retained its curiosity value even on a second reading. A great little book.

By Daniel Defoe,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked A Journal of the Plague Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The haunting cry of "Bring out your dead!" by a bell-ringing collector of 17th-century plague victims has filled readers across the centuries with cold terror. The chilling cry survives in historical consciousness largely as a result of this classic 1722 account of the epidemic of bubonic plague — known as the Black Death — that ravaged England in 1664–1665.
Actually written nearly 60 years later by Daniel Defoe, the Journal is narrated by a Londoner named "H. F.," who allegedly lived through the devastating effects of the pestilence and produced this eye witness account. Drawing on his considerable talents as…

Book cover of Lincoln in the Bardo

Sarah Porter Author Of Projections

From my list on unusual ghost stories for someone who loves spooky.

Why am I passionate about this?

The uncanny slips into the gaps between the objective world and the world of human experience with all its dreams, apprehensions, and intuitions. This intermediate space is the habitat of ghosts and also the zone where my mind does its wanderings. It's where my books come, and explorations of that space in other peoples' books draw me in, deeply and inescapably.

Sarah's book list on unusual ghost stories for someone who loves spooky

Sarah Porter Why did Sarah love this book?

I honestly think this is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.

In writing about haunting, I always confront the question of what pins ghosts to the living world. I loved the poignancy of Saunders’s ghosts and the desperate denial of their own deaths that they cling to.

I have a special love of books written in a multiplicity of voices; the way Saunders writes his ghostly chorus is so virtuosic it took my breath away. 

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Lincoln in the Bardo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017 A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH 'A masterpiece' Zadie Smith 'Extraordinary' Daily Mail 'Breathtaking' Observer 'A tour de force' The Sunday Times The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns…

Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This contemporary, quirky tale centers around the life of Keiko, a young woman who has never done anything in a conventional way and has her mother very worried that her daughter will never find a man and settle down into a conventional life. No, Keiko’s ways of thinking are startling and odd in ways that are both amusing and somewhat horrifying, as she really does fall outside the realm of conventional thinking and socially rewarded behavior. The reader comes to love her as she grows into womanhood (and personhood) as a worker in a fast-paced convenience store, where she memorizes hundreds of products and practices behaving more “normally” by mimicking the actions and words of her co-workers. Then a man named Shiraha enters the picture, for a new twist.

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Convenience Store Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store...

Book cover of Darkness at Noon

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Author Of In Defense of Universal Human Rights

From my list on readable stories on human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of international human rights and comparative genocide studies. My father was a refugee from the Holocaust. So I was always interested in genocide, but I did not want to be another Holocaust scholar. Instead, I introduced one of the first university courses in Canada on comparative genocide studies. From a very young age, I was also very interested in social justice: I was seven when Emmett Till was murdered in the US. So when I became a professor, I decided to specialize in international human rights. I read a lot of “world literature” fiction that helps me to empathize with people in places I’ve never been.

Rhoda's book list on readable stories on human rights

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Why did Rhoda love this book?

I studied under the distinguished sociologist, Immanuel Wallerstein. One day in class he said, if you read only one book, it should be this one. So I read it. 

Koestler was a Hungarian Jew who joined the German Communist Party. He became disillusioned with communism, in part because of the Stalin trials of the 1930s, in which many of Stalin’s own former allies were tortured and executed. 

The protagonist of the novel is Rubashov, a dedicated Communist who is accused of treason, tortured, and eventually executed despite confessing to his supposed crimes. The novel is a great way to learn not only about the Stalinist Soviet Union, but about any society that brain-washes its victims. 

By Arthur Koestler,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Darkness at Noon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The newly discovered lost text of Arthur Koestler’s modern masterpiece, Darkness at Noon—the haunting portrait of a revolutionary, imprisoned and tortured under totalitarian rule—is now restored and in a completely new translation.

Editor Michael Scammell and translator Philip Boehm bring us a brilliant novel, a remarkable discovery, and a new translation of an international classic.

In print continually since 1940, Darkness at Noon has been translated into over 30 languages and is both a stirring novel and a classic anti-fascist text. What makes its popularity and tenacity even more remarkable is that all existing versions of Darkness at Noon are…

Book cover of Heavy: An American Memoir

Reginald (Reggie) L. Reed Jr. Author Of The Day My Mother Never Came Home

From my list on promoting the power of human healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I experienced severe trauma at an early age in life, which involved numerous challenges that tested my resilience and inner strength. However, through perseverance, self-reflection, and seeking support, I was able to overcome these obstacles and emerge stronger than ever. My experiences have taught me the importance of resilience, the power of healing, and the transformative impact of sharing stories, including the messy ones. I believe that by recommending books that explore these themes, I can inspire and empower others who may be facing similar challenges to find hope, resilience, and a path toward healing.

Reginald's book list on promoting the power of human healing

Reginald (Reggie) L. Reed Jr. Why did Reginald love this book?

I recommend this book for its raw honesty, reflections, and unflinching exploration of personal and societal struggles. Laymon's fearless approach to storytelling digs deep into themes of identity, trauma, and resilience, resonating deeply with the narrative depth of my true crime memoir.

Through Laymon's journey of self-discovery and reckoning with the complexities of American life, readers gain profound insights into the human experience, confront uncomfortable truths, and find moments of profound clarity and connection.

By Kiese Laymon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

In this powerful, provocative, and universally lauded memoir—winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize—genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon “provocatively meditates on his trauma growing up as a black man, and in turn crafts an essential polemic against American moral rot” (Entertainment Weekly).

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son…

Book cover of Rebecca

S.R. Masters Author Of How to Kill with Kindness

From my list on books in which all that glitters is not gold.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been drawn to stories in which all that glitters isn't gold, and all three of my novels contain this theme. They are, at the bottom, tales of hubris, which is why I like them. A character strives to obtain some glittery thing, confident it will be better than what they have. Yet, ultimately, their confidence is misplaced, and their ambition brings about their downfall. Perhaps because I'm someone who's naturally quite risk-averse but also believes little good comes in life without taking chances, stories like this attract me. They allow me to safely hunt for the Aristotelian mean between being overly sensible and irrationally ambitious.  

S.R.'s book list on books in which all that glitters is not gold

S.R. Masters Why did S.R. love this book?

Daphne Du Maurier has made a permanent mark on my soul. Whether it was Hitchcock's adaptation of The Birds, which I watched when I was far too young, or the wrecked ships of Jamaica Inn, her imagery and ideas are unforgettable. 

And like the titular character of Rebecca, part of me still roams the halls and grounds of Manderley. I first encountered the story at a transitional moment in early adulthood. Having been a child drawn to spooky stories about ghouls and spectres, this book marked the moment I came to understand that not every haunted house has a ghost. 

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* 'The greatest psychological thriller of all time' ERIN KELLY
* 'One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century' SARAH WATERS
* 'It's the book every writer wishes they'd written' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'

Working as a lady's companion, our heroine's outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory…

Book cover of The Remains of the Day

David Clensy Author Of Prayer in Time of War

From my list on memories and poignant reflections on the passing of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Wiltshire-based writer with a passion for historical and literary fiction and a fascination for the role of “memory” in the autumn of our lives. My own novel was inspired by conversations with my late grandfather in his final years. But as a journalist for more than 20 years, I had many rich opportunities to talk to the elderly members of our communities–most memorably, taking a pair of D-Day veterans back to the beaches of Normandy. In many ways, memories are the only things we can take with us throughout our lives, carrying both the burden of regrets and the consolation of those we have loved.

David's book list on memories and poignant reflections on the passing of time

David Clensy Why did David love this book?

‘The evening is the best part of the day.’ This is the ultimate realisation of Mr. Stevens, the narrator of Kazuo Ishiguro’s most famous novel. It is a delightful first-person narrative, during which Stevens, an ageing butler, looks back on his life of service while embarking on a drive through the West Country.

Ultimately, it is a love story, the most moving of love stories, the unrequited love story. It is also an atmospheric portrait of a bygone age, of a life in service before the war, in the dying moments of the aristocracy’s country estate era.

I loved the fact that we, the readers, are addressed directly as if we are sitting beside Stevens in his vintage Ford as he motors around the country.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Remains of the Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel Klara and the Sun is now available to preorder*

The Remains of the Day won the 1989 Booker Prize and cemented Kazuo Ishiguro's place as one of the world's greatest writers. David Lodge, chairman of the judges in 1989, said, it's "a cunningly structured and beautifully paced performance". This is a haunting evocation of lost causes and lost love, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change. Ishiguro's work has been translated into more than forty languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Stevens, the long-serving butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on…

Book cover of Atonement

Linda Stewart Henley Author Of Kate's War

From my list on young women in WW II in the UK.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two of my three novels have young women protagonists. I find young adulthood a fascinating time in women’s lives and I enjoy creating a character and putting her in a historical setting. The Second World War offers fertile ground for storytelling, and I grew up south of London after the war. My father’s unpublished memoir, in which he describes an event that he experienced in the war, inspired me to write about it, but I told the story through the eyes of the protagonist, Kate. 

Linda's book list on young women in WW II in the UK

Linda Stewart Henley Why did Linda love this book?

I loved the three-part format of this book divided by time periods. The first part, set in 1935, describes an event that took place on a hot summer day in the grounds of the family’s country house garden. It’s seen from the different perspectives of thirteen-year-old Briony and her older sister Cecelia. The story evolves from there in parts two and three in unpredictable and devastating ways.

I appreciated the book’s in-depth exploration of the power of a lie and the devastating consequences of that lie. This psychological study of adult Briony’s guilt and subsequent atonement eloquently depicts how war makes demands of even the most privileged citizens. 

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a…

Book cover of The Year of Magical Thinking

Michele DeMarco Author Of Holding Onto Air: The Art and Science of Building a Resilient Spirit

From my list on transforming your mental and spiritual health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Officially, I’m an award-winning author and specialist in the fields of psychology, trauma, and spirituality. I’m also a professionally trained therapist, clinical ethicist, and researcher. Ultimately, I’m an ardent believer that the same life that brings us joy also (sometimes) brings us pain. More importantly, that every aspect of life has a role to play in making us who we are today and who we’ll be tomorrow. We don’t always have control over the events in life, but the script we live by is ours to write—and write it we must, as only we can. I’m also a three-time heart attack survivor.

Michele's book list on transforming your mental and spiritual health

Michele DeMarco Why did Michele love this book?

Joan Didion’s book is heralded for its bravery, clarity, and confessional witness about grief and loss. Indeed, it’s all these things, but for me, more importantly, this book paints a masterful depiction of the loss of innocence that comes when you lose something meaningful—like a loved one.

Particularly, it shows, with exhilarating force, the fragmented sense of time of such an experience, moving from Didion’s darkest moments of despair at the loss of her husband in the present to treasured memories of her life before his passing and musings about what comes now—in the future.

This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is for the savoring soul who, like Didion, possesses an inherent human desire for a sense of coherence and wholeness after life has torn it asunder.

By Joan Didion,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Year of Magical Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of America's iconic writers, a portrait of a marriage and a life - in good times and bad - that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. A stunning book of electric honesty and passion.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later - the night before New Year's Eve -the Dunnes were just…

Book cover of One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — And Its Aftermath

Anne Buist Author Of The Long Shadow

From my list on crime where mental illness is conveyed authentically.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Professor of Women’s Mental Health and have worked clinically, taught, and researched in the area of perinatal psychiatry for over thirty years. I do forensic psychiatry related to this; all this guides the books I write. I am passionate about promoting mental health and helping everyone understand the high level of trauma and its devastating effects on people; I have also been an avid reader of just about everything since I was eight, and love a gripping crime or psychological thriller. But it has to make sense, be authentic and not demonize mental illness; I have a particular hatred for the evil serial killer who was just “born that way”.

Anne's book list on crime where mental illness is conveyed authentically

Anne Buist Why did Anne love this book?

Mass killings are rare – especially in Norway, but we hear about them and they cause fear. Understanding why they happen has to be a way to try to stop them—even if it’s only stopping gun access (in the USA anyway) to those who are at risk. Seierstad takes a clear hard look at the tragedy where 77 people lost their lives—at the perpetrator’s childhood, where the system got it wrong and where the psychiatric profession couldn’t agree.

By Åsne Seierstad, Sarah Death (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 22 July 2011 Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 of his fellow Norwegians in a terrorist atrocity that shocked the world. Many were teenagers, just beginning their adult lives. In the devastating aftermath, the inevitable questions began. How could this happen? Why did it happen? And who was Anders Breivik? Asne Seierstad was uniquely placed to explore these questions. An award-winning foreign correspondent, she had spent years writing about people caught up in violent conflict. Now, for the first time, she was being asked to write about her home country. Based on extensive testimonies and interviews, One of Us is…

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