71 books like Odes

By Sharon Olds,

Here are 71 books that Odes fans have personally recommended if you like Odes. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs

Jennifer Lang Author Of Places We Left Behind: A Memoir-in-Miniature

From my list on home and why it isn’t obvious for everyone.

Why am I passionate about this?

For my first 18 years, I slept in the same room (opposite my parents) in the same house (116 Monticello Avenue) in the same city (Piedmont) in the same state (CA) in the same country (USA), but soon after leaving for college in Evanston, IL, I pined for elsewhere and ended up peripatetic. That peripateticness plagued me, as a woman/wife/mother. While growing our family, my French husband and I moved: Israel to France to California to New York to Israel to New York to Israel. Finally, in my early fifties, I understood home is more about who you are than where you live. 

Jennifer's book list on home and why it isn’t obvious for everyone

Jennifer Lang Why did Jennifer love this book?

This book combines compressed prose with nonfiction truth-telling but it isn’t linear or a complete story as much as a snapshot of Fennelly’s childhood, home life, and keen observations.

This book showed me that the quality of writing trumps the quantity of words. Short and sparse, when well written, can find a place on a bookshelf and shine.  

By Beth Ann Fennelly,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Heating & Cooling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of non-fiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer and deeply original observer of life's challenges and joys.

Some pieces are wistful, some wry and many reveal the humour buried in our everyday interactions. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments and awakens us to…


Book cover of Bright Dead Things: Poems

Ellis Elliott Author Of A Break in the Field

From my list on poetry to feed your distracted self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a dance teacher all of my adult life, and a poetry and word-lover even longer. I love the economy of language, immediacy, and the promise of surprise in poetry. In middle age, I returned to writing just as my body began its slow rebellion, with the added shifts of remarriage and step-parenting a severely disabled son. I went back to grad school and wrote my first book, drawing on the experience of confronting change, just as these recommended poets have done. Each of these poets has a very different story, but what they have in common outweighs their differences, and because of that we are able to see ourselves in their writing.

Ellis' book list on poetry to feed your distracted self

Ellis Elliott Why did Ellis love this book?

I love the gorgeous, lyrical language Limón uses to sort out loss, own her power, and the power of the “huge beating genius machine” of the heart.

Limón uses imagery so visceral I can touch it, and examines the light and dark of womanhood when she declares, “…the largeness of me, the hot/gore of my want and wants, wants to disarm/the fixedness of this”. I like that what she writes is understandable, but never easy. Limón currently serves as our nation’s Poet Laureate.  

By Ada Limon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bright Dead Things examines the chaos that is life, the dangerous thrill of living in a world you know you have to leave one day, and the search to find something that is ultimately "disorderly, and marvelous, and ours." A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact--tracing in intimate detail the various ways the speaker's sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages…


Book cover of The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: Poems

Ellis Elliott Author Of A Break in the Field

From my list on poetry to feed your distracted self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a dance teacher all of my adult life, and a poetry and word-lover even longer. I love the economy of language, immediacy, and the promise of surprise in poetry. In middle age, I returned to writing just as my body began its slow rebellion, with the added shifts of remarriage and step-parenting a severely disabled son. I went back to grad school and wrote my first book, drawing on the experience of confronting change, just as these recommended poets have done. Each of these poets has a very different story, but what they have in common outweighs their differences, and because of that we are able to see ourselves in their writing.

Ellis' book list on poetry to feed your distracted self

Ellis Elliott Why did Ellis love this book?

I like poetry that teaches me something, and I like how Harjo can teach me about Native American myth and culture (as a member of the Muscogee Nation)in a poem set within the context of something as mundane as an airport.

She expertly threads together the modern with the historical, and the sacred within the ordinary. “Once a woman fell from the sky. The woman who fell from the sky was neither murderer nor saint. She was rather ordinary…”

I am also struck with how Harjo unifies her own unique culture with the shared experiences of all of us, as in: “Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last/ sweet bite”.

By Joy Harjo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Woman Who Fell from the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She draws from the Native American tradition of praising the land and the spirit, the realities of American culture, and the concept of feminine individuality.


Book cover of Perfect Black

Ellis Elliott Author Of A Break in the Field

From my list on poetry to feed your distracted self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a dance teacher all of my adult life, and a poetry and word-lover even longer. I love the economy of language, immediacy, and the promise of surprise in poetry. In middle age, I returned to writing just as my body began its slow rebellion, with the added shifts of remarriage and step-parenting a severely disabled son. I went back to grad school and wrote my first book, drawing on the experience of confronting change, just as these recommended poets have done. Each of these poets has a very different story, but what they have in common outweighs their differences, and because of that we are able to see ourselves in their writing.

Ellis' book list on poetry to feed your distracted self

Ellis Elliott Why did Ellis love this book?

This collection teaches me as well, by taking me into the experience of growing up in the Black, rural Appalachian South.

The poems are part memoir, as in writing about the experience of her mother visiting her where she lived with her grandparents, “(We) held hands like we thought/mothers & daughters should/but neither of us knew for sure.” 

They are also part love song to home-cooking, “Every morning of my childhood, my grandmother, who stood a little/ under five feet tall, donned an apron and cooked breakfast. Slow. Precise./ Deliberate. She equated food with love, and she cooked with both a fury/ and a quiet joy.” 

And finally, they are part Black feminist manifesto, “My black body is a boulder, a stop sign. Sometimes i think my body is/ graceful, a song of freedom. Sometimes i think it is something that every/ eye casts away. I must concentrate if i…

By Crystal Wilkinson, Ronald W. Davis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the foreword:

"In Perfect Black, Crystal Wilkinson walks us back down the road she first walked as a girl, wanders us through the trees that lined the road where she grew up, where her sensibilities as a woman and a writer were first laid bare. In one of the first poems that opens the collection she is a woman looking back on her life, on the soil and mountains that first stamped the particular sound of her voice and she is deeply inquisitive about how it all fell into place: "The map of me can't be all hills& mountains…


Book cover of What the Living Do: Poems

Nicholas Montemarano Author Of If There Are Any Heavens: A Memoir

From my list on grief: literary companions after loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

My most recent book, If There Are Any Heavens, tells the story of my mother’s death from COVID-19 at the peak of the pandemic in America. As I wrote this book, I returned to some of the most powerful books I had read about grief. Because my book is a memoir in verse, I found myself reading mostly memoirs and poetry. My previous books are all fiction—three novels and a short story collection. No matter the book or genre, I’m attuned to the sonic qualities of the writing. My favorite writing, the kind I aspire to, strives for the emotional immediacy of music.

Nicholas' book list on grief: literary companions after loss

Nicholas Montemarano Why did Nicholas love this book?

I’ve probably read this amazing book more than any other book of poems. It is Howe’s elegy to her brother John, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989. I love how the book reads almost like a novel in verse, returning to her brother time and again. Howe’s poems bring together the physical and spiritual in transcendent ways. It was one the of first books I reread after I lost my mother during the pandemic—a companion during my grief. The famous title poem explores the everydayness of life even after loss—clogged kitchen sinks, groceries, parking the car, all that her brother “finally gave up.” The final line of the poem captures the book perfectly: “I am living, I remember you.”

By Marie Howe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Informed by the death of a beloved brother, here are the stories of childhood, its thicket of sex and sorrow and joy, boys and girls growing into men and women, stories of a brother who in his dying could teach how to be most alive. What the Living Do reflects "a new form of confessional poetry, one shared to some degree by other women poets such as Sharon Olds and Jane Kenyon. Unlike the earlier confessional poetry of Plath, Lowell, Sexton et al., Howe's writing is not so much a moan or a shriek as a song. It is a…


Book cover of On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of Our Unled Lives

Chad LeJeune Author Of "Pure O" OCD: Letting Go of Obsessive Thoughts with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

From my list on thoughts, and our relationship with them.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a clinical psychologist, I listen to thoughts all the time. I’m also having my own, constantly. We rely on our thoughts to help us navigate the world. However, our thoughts can also be a source of suffering. At times, they're not such reliable guides or helpers. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a way of thinking about thinking. ACT captured my imagination early in my clinical career. I trained with ACT’s originator, Steven Hayes, in the early 1990’s. I’ve come to believe that being more aware of our own thoughts, and our relationship to them is key to creating positive change and living a life grounded in our values.

Chad's book list on thoughts, and our relationship with them

Chad LeJeune Why did Chad love this book?

This poetic book by a literary scholar looks at the way we think about and experience not only the lives we lead, but those alternative lives that we do not lead. 

Our thoughts can lead us to obsessively regret our choices or focus on “the road not taken.” Miller looks at the sense of loss that can accrue as the potential transitions to the actual. 

He describes our unled lives as “part of this world as shadows are part of things…”    

By Andrew H. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Not Being Someone Else as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A captivating book about the emotional and literary power of the lives we might have lived had our chances or choices been different.

We each live one life, formed by paths taken and untaken. Choosing a job, getting married, deciding on a place to live or whether to have children-every decision precludes another. But what if you'd gone the other way? It can be a seductive thought, even a haunting one.

Andrew H. Miller illuminates this theme of modern culture: the allure of the alternate self. From Robert Frost to Sharon Olds, Virginia Woolf to Ian McEwan, Jane Hirshfield to…


Book cover of The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink

Gregory Emilio Author Of Kitchen Apocrypha: Poems

From my list on books for gourmands with literary appetites.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twin passions in life have always been food and writing. While I chose poetry and creative writing as my primary fields of expertise, my ten-plus years of working in restaurants are just as important to who I am. I’m hungry for food writing that takes a more literary or creative approach. Cooking is a highly creative and meaningful act, and I love to see writing that aspires to do for the reader what the dedicated cook does for the eater: to nourish not only the body but the more metaphysical elements of our being, which is to say, our hearts, and maybe even our souls.  

Gregory's book list on books for gourmands with literary appetites

Gregory Emilio Why did Gregory love this book?

I absolutely love it when poetry and food get down together at the table. In discussions of food writing, poetry is almost always left out of the conversation; this collection of poems spanning from Rumi to Joy Harjo seeks to correct that unfortunate omission.

Young’s organization for the book works almost like a carefully composed tasting menu: arranged by season, the poems begin by whetting the appetite, then gradually progress into meatier fare. Keep this cornucopia of foodie verses handy in the kitchen; it’s the secret seasoning you never knew you needed.    

By Kevin Young (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Food and poetry: in so many ways, a natural pairing, from prayers over bread to street vendor songs. Poetry is said to feed the soul, each poem a delicious morsel. When read aloud, the best poems provide a particular joy for the mouth. Poems about food make these satisfactions explicit and complete.

Of course, pages can and have been filled about food's elemental pleasures. And we all know food is more than food: it's identity and culture. Our days are marked by meals; our seasons are marked by celebrations. We plant in spring; harvest in fall. We labor over hot…


Book cover of The New York Stories

Scott Brooks Author Of And There We Were and Here We Are

From my list on if you love old black-and-white movies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a New Yorker with a background in the performing arts. Though a lifelong reader and bookstore loiterer, my early writing career was focused on the stage as well as the pursuit of a career in screenwriting. This led to many years writing and producing theatre as well as working in film and TV both as a writer and in production. The books I've chosen, I feel influenced the American language in the last century, an influence reflected in the tone of the novels and films from that period described by scholars as “Between the Wars.” It's a period that fascinates me for it exists now only in books and movies and is therein preserved.

Scott's book list on if you love old black-and-white movies

Scott Brooks Why did Scott love this book?

John O’Hara’s name should be spoken in the same breath as Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and Hemingway. Maybe it isn’t, because he never had that one homerun book that stood out in the canon, like a Gatsby or a Grapes of Wrath. Though I think Butterfield 8 and Appointment in Samara stand up to either of the above, I have chosen this collection of short stories. He wrote more short stories for the New Yorker than anyone ever did and is credited with inventing that particular style that the periodical became known for. Each of these stories – all short and fast as an uppercut – shows the flawed humanity striving in the city from the 30s to the 60s – from ad men to secretaries, to bums and soda jerks. With his trademark crackling dialogue, this collection of gritty Americana will leave you feeling like you are standing in an…

By John O'Hara,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Superb... These thirty-two stories inhabit the Technicolor vernaculars of taxi drivers, barbers, paper pushers and society matrons... O'Hara was American fiction's greatest eavesdropper, recording the everyday speech and tone of all strata of mid-century society' Wall Street Journal

John O'Hara remains the great chronicler of American society, and nowhere are his powers more evident than in his portraits of New York's so-called Golden Age. Unsparingly observed, brilliantly cutting and always on the tragic edge of epiphany, the stories collected here are among O'Hara's finest work, and show why he still stands as the most-published short story writer in the history…


Book cover of Side Walk: 6' apart in New York City

Victoria Noe Author Of What Our Friends Left Behind: Grief and Laughter in a Pandemic

From my list on friendship and grief (and pandemics).

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2006, I told a friend I wanted to write a book about grieving the death of a friend. Despite the fact that I’d never written a book before, she gave me her enthusiastic approval. Six months later she was dead. She inspired me to turn that book idea into a series of little books: the Friend Grief series. Just as I was finishing the last one, I began work on a full-length book that took me back to my work in the early days of AIDS. When COVID began, I returned to writing about friend grief. And I lost over a dozen friends while I wrote the book.

Victoria's book list on friendship and grief (and pandemics)

Victoria Noe Why did Victoria love this book?

One of the many wistful and beautiful photos in this book caught my eye in an exhibit at the New York Historical Society in 2021.

Her photography, and the attendant essays, evoke not only the isolation of quarantine, but the ways we rediscovered the desire for human connection. What could be easier than meeting a friend, careful to stay 6’ apart? Or sadder?

By Renate Aller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In April 2020, when New York was in lockdown and the epicentre of the pandemic, Renate Aller created the project side walk. She hosted friends and neighbors on her sidewalk or visited them in their street, her camera in self timer mode, recording these masked encounters at a safe 6 feet distance. With voices muted by masks we learn to communicate with our eyes and body language, finding our bearings in a new emotional landscape. These sidewalk visits created a deep sense of community where community had been forced apart. This project is in the spirit of Rainer Maria Rilke:…


Book cover of Little Fire

Jessica Wayne Author Of The Last Ward: A Dark Fantasy Romance (Cambrexian Realm)

From my list on enemies who can’t stand the heat (between them).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with high fantasy since the moment my grandmother first presented me with Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Then, add in a Nora Roberts book when I turned sixteen, and voila, my love for all things fantasy romance was born. I crave tension, romance, sizzle, and some epic fight-to-love scenes that make my blood run hot. When I started writing, I knew the exact genre I wanted to focus on–romance. All. Things. Romance. Fantasy, paranormal, contemporary–I enjoy writing them all but in every single one of my stories there lies a thread of fight–of sizzle–because what’s a happily ever after if you don’t have to work for it?

Jessica's book list on enemies who can’t stand the heat (between them)

Jessica Wayne Why did Jessica love this book?

Steamy slow-burn with tension you can feel rolling off the page? This one is for you! This new-to-me author was an epic find and I cannot get enough. The world-building is beyond exceptional, the characters and their struggles–both physical and mental–are realistic even as it’s a fantasy! I one-clicked the rest of the series even before I finished the first book! 

By Hollee Mands,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She’s broken from a past she can’t remember. He’s scarred from a past he can’t forget.

Declan can kill with a blink of his eye. Jaded and cold, he rules his kingdom the same way he does his heart—with ruthless pragmatism. So why does he risk all to protect a little mortal during a slave-trade uprising? Now stranded in the demon realm, the loss of his powers is the least of his troubles. The woman may have a frustratingly tender heart, but she has enough fire in her soul to thaw the ice in his veins.

He could take her…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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