57 books like Olive, Again

By Elizabeth Strout,

Here are 57 books that Olive, Again fans have personally recommended if you like Olive, Again. 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 Girl, Woman, Other

Alice Neikirk Author Of The Elephant Has Two Sets of Teeth: Bhutanese Refugees and Humanitarian Governance

From my list on cross-cultural interactions.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small, rural community that is perhaps best defined by cold, grey, rainy days – perfect reading weather. I developed an interest in learning about different places and cultures through books. Then I started traveling and my interest turned into a passion, that transformed my educational journey. I completed a Masters and PhD in Anthropology and did my field research for my degree in Australia and Nepal. I still love to learn about new cultures, though the children have meant less traveling and more adventuring via books!

Alice's book list on cross-cultural interactions

Alice Neikirk Why did Alice love this book?

Girl, Woman, Other was the book I recommended to all my friends and family this year in our Christmas newsletter (yes, we are one of those families).

It follows twelve characters across two generations in the United Kingdom. Massive cultural shifts occur, socio-economic status changes, and children grow up.

At first glance, this might not appear to be a book about cross-cultural interactions but the relationship between the mother and daughter at the centre of the story highlight the monumental shifts that can occur in a lifetime.

By Bernardine Evaristo,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Girl, Woman, Other as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE

“A must-read about modern Britain and womanhood . . . An impressive, fierce novel about the lives of black British families, their struggles, pains, laughter, longings and loves . . . Her style is passionate, razor-sharp, brimming with energy and humor. There is never a single moment of dullness in this book and the pace does not allow you to turn away from its momentum.” —Booker Prize Judges

Bernardine Evaristo is the winner of the 2019 Booker Prize and the first black woman to receive this highest literary honor in the English language.…


Book cover of Maggie Brown & Others: Stories

Carol Dines Author Of This Distance We Call Love

From my list on the humor and angst of family relationships.

Who am I?

I've always been a person intrigued by relationships—why some last and others break up. From my perspective, distance in relationships arrives when two people have different expectations. I wanted to look at different kinds of distances in relationships—emotional, sexual, and geographical. As I was beginning to write my first stories, I read a line from my journal: explore the tension between the demands of relationships and the demand in myself to keep growing. I knew that tension was what I needed to write about. As an introvert, one of my deepest struggles has been to feel comfortable with my own boundaries in relationships, and I think that's true for most of us.

Carol's book list on the humor and angst of family relationships

Carol Dines Why did Carol love this book?

Peter Orner creates a startling intimacy with his characters. In these short, pithy vignettes, we see estranged siblings, dying spouses, missing fathers, and a marriage that is ending.  Orner’s gift is to drop us right into the conflict and emotional action of his characters. Every protagonist feels like someone we know and maybe even loved. His writing is breathtaking. Spanning America of the 80s, his stories take place across the country from California to Chicago to the East Coast.

By Peter Orner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Maggie Brown & Others as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In this powerful and virtuosic collection of interlocking stories, each one "a marvel of concision and compassion" (Washington Post), a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and "master of his form" (New York Times) takes the short story to new heights.

 

Through forty-four compressed gems, Peter Orner, a writer who "doesn't simply bring his characters to life, he gives them souls" (NYT Book Review), chronicles people whose lives are at inflection points, gripping us with a series of defining moments.

 

Whether it's a first date that turns into a late-night road trip to a séance in an abandoned airplane hangar,…


Book cover of Dept. of Speculation

Carol Dines Author Of This Distance We Call Love

From my list on the humor and angst of family relationships.

Who am I?

I've always been a person intrigued by relationships—why some last and others break up. From my perspective, distance in relationships arrives when two people have different expectations. I wanted to look at different kinds of distances in relationships—emotional, sexual, and geographical. As I was beginning to write my first stories, I read a line from my journal: explore the tension between the demands of relationships and the demand in myself to keep growing. I knew that tension was what I needed to write about. As an introvert, one of my deepest struggles has been to feel comfortable with my own boundaries in relationships, and I think that's true for most of us.

Carol's book list on the humor and angst of family relationships

Carol Dines Why did Carol love this book?

One of the most original voices in contemporary fiction, Offill’s novel is unusual and from my perspective, brilliant. Perspective is what makes this book shine, the story is so direct it feels as if it is originating in the narrator’s innermost thoughts. Weaving facts and articles with slices of daily routine with the narrator’s own thoughts, the reader is propelled forward, almost a participant in the gradual transformation of the narrator as she comes to terms with her husband’s betrayal.  This short, spare book is hard to put down, wise in ways that are hard to articulate and yet Offill succeeds beautifully.

By Jenny Offill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

They used to send each other letters. The return address was always the same: Dept. of Speculation.

They used to be young, brave, and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the small calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly something changes. As the years rush by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life as they know it cracks apart and they find themselves forced to reassess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now.

Written with the dazzling lucidity of poetry, Dept.…


Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

Book cover of Off Season

Randy Kraft Author Of Off Season

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Introspective Observant Bookish Friendly

Randy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, and they get on well. She will be on sabbatical fine-tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off-season?

Soothed by sea breezes, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late artist partner, Red is befriended by a flirty neighbor and her surfer husband, and Sharon shares her literary passions with a sexy retiree. When the winds of the pandemic blow, they have to confront their past within a daunting future.

Is off-season an opportunity for renewal or a glimpse of what might have been?

Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

What is this book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, she will be on sabbatical fine tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off season? On the other hand, what else might he have in mind and what will she face if she lets her guard down? Soothed by sea breezes and ocean views, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late partner, a Fauvist painter. Then, Red is…


Book cover of Apples Never Fall

Anne Brooke Author Of Where You Hurt The Most

From my list on couples working through a challenging relationship.

Who am I?

As a writer, I’m fascinated by relationships, what makes them work and what might make them fail. And I’ve always been gripped by the power of two people who try to love each other, no matter how different they may be or what obstacles they face. I honestly believe that two people in love are far more than the sum of their parts and can create something magical that wouldn’t have been there without them. So, yes, I’m a romantic at heart but, even in these cynical times, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I hope you love the books on this list as much as I do.

Anne's book list on couples working through a challenging relationship

Anne Brooke Why did Anne love this book?

I love this book as it’s about a marriage in crisis and it shows the complete power that those we love most can hold over us.

I also loved the fascinating insight into the world of tennis as both main characters are tennis coaches – and I’ve always enjoyed Wimbledon! I thought the family dynamics and the push-and-pull of who to trust and why was utterly gripping.

I also loved how the way other people see the marriage is so completely different to how Stan and Joy, the husband and wife, see it. There are different versions of truth and, somehow, the one that carries the most love is the most important of all.

By Liane Moriarty,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Apples Never Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

From Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, a novel that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearly―it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in…


Book cover of A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

Edward G. Gray Author Of Tom Paine's Iron Bridge: Building a United States

From my list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution.

Who am I?

My interest in the American Revolution began with a college course on the French Revolution. I was enthralled by the drama of it all. Being the impressionable late adolescent that I was, I naturally explained to my professor, a famous French historian of the French Revolution, that I wanted to dedicate my life to the study of this fascinating historical period. My professor urged me to reconsider. He suggested I look at a less well-known Revolution, the one British colonists undertook a decade earlier. I started reading books about the American Revolution. Now, forty years on, I’m still enthralled by the astonishing creative energy of this period in American history. 

Edward's book list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution

Edward G. Gray Why did Edward love this book?

Paine, Copley, and Priestley were all beneficiaries of formal institutional associations, mostly through the voluntary scientific and art associations, the American Philosophical Society in America and the Royal Society and Royal Academy in Britain. Martha Ballard, a midwife living during the early years of the American Republic in Maine (at the time a province of Massachusetts), had no formal associations but she did have deep and abiding affiliations. If not with elite academies, sanctioned by kings, and populated by periwigged gentlemen, then with family and community.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale remains the finest study ever written about the generative power of family and community in the early history of the American republic. Ballard’s meticulous diary, nearly 10,000 entries, afforded Ulrich access to the full, grueling realities of this remarkable woman’s life—through her own family’s trials, which included the births of her nine children, and the more than eight…

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Midwife's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • Drawing on the diaries of one woman in eighteenth-century Maine, "A truly talented historian unravels the fascinating life of a community that is so foreign, and yet so similar to our own" (The New York Times Book Review).

Between 1785 and 1812 a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of that diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and…


Book cover of Hearts and Bones

Susan Garzon Author Of Reading the Knots

From my list on women slogging through turbulent times.

Who am I?

Foreign cultures have always intrigued me. I am a Midwesterner who lived for several years in Latin America, teaching English and later doing field work in anthropology. As a young woman, I lived through a violent coup d’état in Chile, and I drew on that experience when I later wrote about political upheaval in Guatemala. A Ph.D. in anthropology gave me the opportunity to spend time in Guatemala and Mexico, some of it in Mayan towns. My love of historical fiction stems from my desire to enter and understand other worlds, and I am grateful to authors who spin their magic to bring far-off places and times to life. 

Susan's book list on women slogging through turbulent times

Susan Garzon Why did Susan love this book?

This is a darkly beautiful novel, set in the period after the American Revolution, a time of great hardship for many Americans. Hannah Trevor has lost her husband and three children, and she cobbles out an independent if marginal life for herself as a midwife in rural Maine. She finds love with a married man, and when he is falsely accused of rape and murder, Hannah sets out to uncover the truth. I was drawn in by Lawrence’s striking prose and by Hannah, who is strong, resourceful, and in many ways, a loner. 

By Margaret Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hanna Trevor, a midwife in 1780s Maine, is drawn into the investigation into the rape and murder of a young woman when an honorable man--her former lover and the father of her child, is accused of the crime. Reprint.


Book cover of One Man's Meat

William Klingaman Author Of The Darkest Year: The American Home Front 1941-1942

From my list on life on the American homefront during WW2.

Who am I?

William Klingaman is the author of ten books, most recently The Darkest Year: The American Home Front, 1941-1942, and The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano That Darkened the World and Changed History. He holds a Ph.D. In American History from the University of Virginia, and has taught at the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland.

William's book list on life on the American homefront during WW2

William Klingaman Why did William love this book?

No one wrote better than E. B. White, and no one captured the essence of daily life on the home front better than White in this collection of essays. “This is my country and my night,” he wrote from his farm in Maine, “this is the blacked-out ending to the day, the way they end a skit in a revue.” Yet White acknowledged that it was nearly impossible for him or anyone else to truly convey all the ways that the war was changing ordinary Americans. “You write something that sounds informative, throwing the words around in the usual manner, then the thing explodes in your hands, and you look down at your hands,” he explained. “As though you had crushed a light bulb and were bleeding slightly.”

By E.B. White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Man's Meat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Man's Meat can best be described as a primer of a countryman's lessons a timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style.


Book cover of Landslide

Gin Phillips Author Of Family Law

From my list on women who love their job and don't feel guilty.

Who am I?

As someone who loves my work, I’ve noticed that in fiction when a woman is successful at her career, often that career mainly functions as a source of guilt or stress. Fictional working women spend a lot of time second guessing their choices, and, hey, it is hard to balance work and family. Women are torn in multiple directions. But I also believe it’s okay to love your job. It’s okay to find joy in it and to not beat yourself up. I find deep satisfaction in writing, and I enjoy reading about characters who know the rush of doing a job well.  

Gin's book list on women who love their job and don't feel guilty

Gin Phillips Why did Gin love this book?

Oh, this book is perfect from the first page. It captures motherhood wonderfully and specifically—in this case, mothering two teenage boys—and it just as successfully captures the Maine coast and the complicated, sometimes fragile ecosystem of a marriage.

Jill is a documentary filmmaker who’s temporarily a single parent to her boys while her husband, a fisherman, recovers in a hospital from a boating accident. There’s nothing flashy about the story—it’s a smart, lovely, often funny look at one woman’s life. It’s a deeply contented life, by the way, which means the stakes are very high when the foundation of it starts to look shaky.

By Susan C. Conley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This beautiful portrait of a family in a fishing village in Maine is "a fresh look at marriage, motherhood, and the wondrous inner lives of teenagers. A truly beautiful and unforgettable love story of a family on the brink” (Lily King, author of Writers & Lovers). A must-read from the critically acclaimed author of Elsey Comes Home.

“I loved Landslide. You are right there with them in a fishing village in Maine, feeling the wind, the sea, the danger. Smart, honest, and funny, this is a story you won't forget.” —Judy Blume, best-selling author of In the Unlikely Event

After…


Book cover of The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories

Shannon Bowring Author Of The Road to Dalton

From my list on capturing the Maine experience.

Who am I?

As a born and bred Mainer, there are dozens of great books I could recommend set in the Pine Tree State. But the five I’ve curated capture, for me, the diversity of the Maine culture, from the long-gone loggers who made their living from the woods to the often-overlooked Indigenous communities to the mill towns struggling to survive. When a non-Mainer thinks of our state, what usually comes to mind are quaint coastal villages, lighthouses, lobster… And while those things are part of what makes Maine the place it is, there exists, both on and off the page, plenty of other experiences and histories to discover here. 

Shannon's book list on capturing the Maine experience

Shannon Bowring Why did Shannon love this book?

Even though Jewett wrote the stories in this book in the late 1800s, there is a timeless feeling to her prose that reverberates today.

I love Jewett’s attention to and reverence for the natural beauty that surrounds the fictional town of Dunnet Landing. Her descriptions of the Maine coastline—a blend of craggy rocks, forest, meadows, and sea—are visceral, sensory, and alluring. Jewett also nicely captures the hardworking, humorous, quietly resilient spirit of the year-round residents of Dunnet Landing, with a particularly keen and kind eye toward her female characters.

Her care for the everyday rituals of life, the small moments that make up an existence, are lovingly rendered and evocative. There’s a reason this is a Maine classic. 

By Sarah Orne Jewett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rich collection of classic American literature potraying the beauty of a 19th-century New England town.

A female writer comes one summer to Dunnet Landing, a Maine seacoast town, where she follows the lonely inhabitants of once-prosperous coastal communities. Here, lives are molded by the long Maine winters, rock-filled fields and strong resourceful women.

Throughout Sarah Orne Jewett’s novel and stories, these quiet tales of a simpler American life capture the inspirational in the everyday: the importance of honest friendships, the value of family, and the gift of community.

“Their counterparts are in every village in the world, thank heaven,…


Book cover of Off Season

Ryan C. Thomas Author Of The Summer I Died

From my list on testing the endurance of the dark and disturbed.

Who am I?

I’ve always been a fan of horror because a good scare makes the adrenaline flow. Personally, I don’t think ghosts and demons are real, and they don’t scare me. But humans…humans can be downright evil. This is why I gravitate toward serial killer and slasher fiction when I’m looking for a scare. Sometimes I just want to test my endurance for the dark side of human nature. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to write a really depraved book without taking the time to make the reader care about the characters, which is why these novels are my favorite works of darkness. These are great, disturbing books with genuine pathos.

Ryan's book list on testing the endurance of the dark and disturbed

Ryan C. Thomas Why did Ryan love this book?

Ketchum’s classic survival horror novel about cannibals attacking a cabin of vacationers is pure 80s slasher goodness. It was perhaps the darkest book of its kind for a long time and pulls no punches with the intensity of its chase scenes. Ketchum’s economical writing style makes it a very easy read, one where you will root for the good guys, and be left emotionally drained by the end.

By Jack Ketchum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

September. A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River―off season―awaiting her sister and friends. Nearby, a savage human family with a taste for flesh lurks in the darkening woods, watching, waiting for the moon to rise and night to fall…

And before too many hours pass, five civilized, sophisticated people and one tired old country sheriff will learn just how primitive we all are beneath the surface…and that there are no limits at all to the will to survive.

This novel contains graphic content and is…


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