88 books like Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout,

Here are 88 books that Olive Kitteridge fans have personally recommended if you like Olive Kitteridge. 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 The Glass Castle

Robin van Eck Author Of Rough

From my list on jaw-dropping books about family connections that will make you laugh, cry and scream.

Why am I passionate about this?

Someone once said I can’t believe you didn’t end up in a ditch with a needle in your arm. It sounds harsh, but they meant it with love. In spite of my broken home, familial dysfunction, trauma, and bad decisions, I found a way to be okay and share my life experiences through words and stories rather than a bottle. I am the Executive Director of a non-profit organization specializing in developing authors who want to publish and use writing for therapy and healing. I live in Calgary, AB, Canada, with my teenage daughter and act as the emotional support human for an anxious dog. 

Robin's book list on jaw-dropping books about family connections that will make you laugh, cry and scream

Robin van Eck Why did Robin love this book?

This is quite possibly my favourite memoir ever written. It made me laugh, cry and scream. Never have I seen such a clearly dysfunctional family that didn’t even realize they were dysfunctional.

I loved them because they embraced life no matter what and hated them because they didn’t see how bad what they were doing to one another was. Full of elements and emotions from my own childhood, this book made me feel deeply and emotionally.  

By Jeannette Walls,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Glass Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.

This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist's journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, 'brilliant' but alcoholic parents.

At the age of seventeen she escapes on a Greyhound bus to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later. After pursuing the education and civilisation her parents sought to escape, Jeanette eventually succeeds in her quest for the 'mundane,…


Book cover of Too Close to the Falls

Karen Harmon Author Of Where Is My Happy Ending?: A Journey of No Regrets

From my list on mental health, addiction, and families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have the expertise for this topic because I was raised in a loving home with a mother who struggled with bipolar disorder. At times my life was hilariously adventurous or heart-wrenchingly sad. Given little direction, I married an alcoholic and then went on to work at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. I have fallen on hard times, but at the age of thirty-two, as a single mother collecting welfare, I managed to grief, heal and dig myself out, creating a rewarding life. I am optimistic, and I try to find humour in all things, especially after the tears and healing have subsided. My writing has brought me tremendous healing and joy.

Karen's book list on mental health, addiction, and families

Karen Harmon Why did Karen love this book?

Too Close to the Falls is hilarious and moving with a dark side that at first is undetectable. Gildner's memoir is richly absorbing and captures childhood's essence, where each experience is a lesson. In the 1950s, Too Close to the Falls is an exquisite, haunting portrayal of friendships, brushes with death, and how a schoolgirl affects the course of aboriginal politics. Memorable and skillfully told.

By Catherine Gildiner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Too Close to the Falls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to the childhood of Catherine McClure Gildiner. It is the mid-1950s in Lewiston, New York, a sleepy town near Niagara Falls. Divorce is unheard of, mothers wear high heels to the beauty salon, and television has only just arrived.

At the tender age of four, Cathy accompanies Roy, the deliveryman at her father's pharmacy, on his routes. She shares some of their memorable deliveries-sleeping pills to Marilyn Monroe (in town filming Niagara), sedatives to Mad Bear, a violent Tuscarora chief, and fungus cream to Warty, the gentle operator of the town dump. As she reaches her teenage years, Cathy's…


Book cover of The Memory Palace

Karen Harmon Author Of Where Is My Happy Ending?: A Journey of No Regrets

From my list on mental health, addiction, and families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have the expertise for this topic because I was raised in a loving home with a mother who struggled with bipolar disorder. At times my life was hilariously adventurous or heart-wrenchingly sad. Given little direction, I married an alcoholic and then went on to work at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. I have fallen on hard times, but at the age of thirty-two, as a single mother collecting welfare, I managed to grief, heal and dig myself out, creating a rewarding life. I am optimistic, and I try to find humour in all things, especially after the tears and healing have subsided. My writing has brought me tremendous healing and joy.

Karen's book list on mental health, addiction, and families

Karen Harmon Why did Karen love this book?

A harrowing and beautiful tale of two sisters growing up with a paranoid schizophrenic mother. The author describes a fine line between gentle artistic creativity and debilitating mental illness. The reader will come away with a better understanding of how deeply children are affected growing up in a dysfunctional and traumatic environment. A mother's love and a journey to forgiveness teach us the complex meaning of love.

By Mira Bartok,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, two sisters confront schizophrenia in this New York Times bestselling poignant memoir about family and mental illness. Through stunning prose and original art, The Memory Palace captures the love between mother and daughter, the complex meaning of truth, and one family’s capacity for forgiveness.

*A Washington Post Best Book of the Year *
*The National Book Critics Circle Award Winner for Best Autobiography*

“People have abandoned their loved ones for much less than you’ve been through,” Mira Bartók is told at her mother’s memorial service. It is a poignant observation about the relationship…


The Last Bird of Paradise

By Clifford Garstang,

Book cover of The Last Bird of Paradise

Clifford Garstang Author Of Oliver's Travels

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Fiction writer Globalist Lawyer Philosopher Seeker

Clifford's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Two women, a century apart, seek to rebuild their lives after leaving their homelands. Arriving in tropical Singapore, they find romance, but also find they haven’t left behind the dangers that caused them to flee.

Haunted by the specter of terrorism after 9/11, Aislinn Givens leaves her New York career and joins her husband in Southeast Asia when he takes a job there. She acquires several paintings by a colonial-era British artist that she believes are a warning.

The artist, Elizabeth Pennington, tells her own tumultuous story through diary entries that end when World War I reaches the colony with catastrophic results. In the present, Aislinn and her husband learn that terrorism takes many shapes when they are ensnared by local political upheaval and corruption.

The Last Bird of Paradise

By Clifford Garstang,

What is this book about?

"Aislinn Givens leaves a settled life in Manhattan for an unsettled life in Singapore. That painting radiates mystery and longing. So does Clifford Garstang's vivid and simmering novel, The Last Bird of Paradise." –John Dalton, author of Heaven Lake and The Inverted Forest

Two women, nearly a century apart, seek to rebuild their lives when they reluctantly leave their homelands. Arriving in Singapore, they find romance in a tropical paradise, but also find they haven't left behind the dangers that caused them to flee.

In the aftermath of 9/11 and haunted by the specter of terrorism, Aislinn Givens leaves her…


Book cover of Mennonite Girl at the Welcome Inn

Karen Harmon Author Of Where Is My Happy Ending?: A Journey of No Regrets

From my list on mental health, addiction, and families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have the expertise for this topic because I was raised in a loving home with a mother who struggled with bipolar disorder. At times my life was hilariously adventurous or heart-wrenchingly sad. Given little direction, I married an alcoholic and then went on to work at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. I have fallen on hard times, but at the age of thirty-two, as a single mother collecting welfare, I managed to grief, heal and dig myself out, creating a rewarding life. I am optimistic, and I try to find humour in all things, especially after the tears and healing have subsided. My writing has brought me tremendous healing and joy.

Karen's book list on mental health, addiction, and families

Karen Harmon Why did Karen love this book?

This lovely memoir follows Mary, the daughter of Mennonite Pastors. Her recollections are comical and heartwarming as she deals with growing up in a Mennonite home in a non-Mennonite community. The creativity that goes with being raised with little means and living frugally makes Mary and her family rich beyond belief in adventure and storytelling.

By Mary Ediger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mennonite Girl at the Welcome Inn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to the Welcome Inn and welcome to the life of Mary Ediger. A work of creative non-fiction, Mennonite Girl follows Mary from her life as a young girl in a quiet rural parsonage to an inner city community center in Hamilton, Ontario.
The daughter of a Mennonite preacher, Mary struggles with the trials of growing up Mennonite in a non-Mennonite community, while her parents continue to follow God's call. Young and old, religious and non-religious readers alike will find themselves drawn into Mary's tale, laughing all the while as she deals with everything life throws at her.
With interminable…


Book cover of Passing

Faith Knight Author Of As Grey As Black and White

From my list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the product of biracial parents, and the idea of passing or not has always fascinated me as well as disgusted me. The reasons one would want to pass in this era are much different than the survival aspect my ancestors who passed had to consider in the 19th century. In writing my YA historical novels, being biracial always enters in, no matter the topic, because it is who I am and, in the end, always rears its head for consideration.

Faith's book list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century

Faith Knight Why did Faith love this book?

I’ve read this book several times and saw the 2021 film. This is the quintessential novel on how skin color can affect one's choices in life as well as the life one is relegated to.

It made me really contemplate how someone can move from one world to another with either no concern (as in the case of Clare) or major angst, as in the case of Irene.

I loved this book because the struggles were real, and the end was unexpected.

By Nella Larsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic, brilliant and layered novel that has been at the heart of racial identity discourse in America for almost a century.

Clare Kendry leads a dangerous life. Fair, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a white man unaware of her African American heritage and has severed all ties to her past. Clare's childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, but refuses to acknowledge the racism that continues to constrict her family's happiness. A chance encounter forces both women to confront the lies they have told others - and the…


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 Cloud Atlas

Daryl Qilin Yam Author Of Lovelier, Lonelier

From my list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m one of those writers who’d identify themselves as readers first, and as an oft-bullied queer kid growing up in Singapore, I often found refuge and salvation in writers whose works were able to refashion and reimagine our lives, however intimately or grandly. I grew up devouring fantasy of all kinds; I went from Enid Blyton to Charmed, for instance, before discovering in my later adolescence the manifold possibilities of magical realism and the other expanses contained within the realm(s) of speculative fiction. Many of the books in this particular list were especially useful in crafting my second novel, Lovelier, Lonelier

Daryl's book list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers

Daryl Qilin Yam Why did Daryl love this book?

In my head, there’s a high I’m chasing, and it’s the high I got when I finally finished David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, the high of one synapse in my head connecting with one another in a bright feverish spark as I volley from one page to the next, one character to the next, one era to the next.

If I had to summarise what the book even is, I’d say it’s reincarnation and samsara in the hands of Mitchell’s trademark ventriloquism, arranged into this wonderfully nested set of Russian doll narratives. It sounds very smart and full of grand ideas about the nature of human suffering, and it is! But it is also deeply romantic and about the peculiar destiny that can tie one human soul to another all throughout eternity.

By David Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Cloud Atlas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Six lives. One amazing adventure. The audio publication of one of the most highly acclaimed novels of 2004. 'Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies...' A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified 'dinery server' on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation - the narrators of CLOUD ATLAS hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great…


Book cover of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Heather Hepler Author Of We Were Beautiful

From my list on when you’re feeling your worst.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have bad days. At times there have been a lot of bad days. I’m alone, caring for someone, working, scooping the cat box, and mopping the floors. Sometimes it can all feel a little sad and hopeless, like I am alone in the world. Stories are where I go when I’m happy. When I want adventure, mystery, or romance. But they are mostly where I go when I want to feel like I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes. I can see that it’s not just me. I’m not alone.

Heather's book list on when you’re feeling your worst

Heather Hepler Why did Heather love this book?

Eleanor is completely relatable to me on my worst days. She’s neurotic and judgmental and favors predictability.

Reading this made me feel a little less bad about myself when all I do is lie on the couch and read and eat cookies for dinner. It also helped me to see that sometimes all you need is one person to love you for everything to change.

By Gail Honeyman,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

"Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!" -Reese Witherspoon

No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of…


Book cover of Hour of the Witch

Ellen Baker Author Of The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson

From my list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved reading novels about strong, quirky women since childhood (Nancy Drew, Ramona Quimby, Harriet the Spy, the heroines of Judy Blume novels, just for starting examples!). As I grew into writing my own stories, I also started studying women’s history. I merged these two interests to begin writing historical novels with strong women protagonists. I love the challenge of researching to figure out the details of women’s day-to-day lives–so many unrecorded stories!–and I love to advocate for the idea (fortunately not as revolutionary as it once was) that a woman can be the hero of her own story and that each woman’s story is important to tell.  

Ellen's book list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart

Ellen Baker Why did Ellen love this book?

I loved this book for being historical fiction at its finest, and I loved the main character, Mary Deerfield, for being a woman who did not fit within her own time.

It’s 1660s Boston, and Mary is married to an abusive man. Determined not to die at his hand, she must fight against everything in her society to free herself from her marriage.

I loved how this book so insightfully explored the dynamics of an abusive relationship while also bringing to vivid life a distant time and place. 

By Chris Bohjalian,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Hour of the Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the acclaimed author of The Flight Attendant: “Historical fiction at its best…. The book is a thriller in structure, and a real page-turner, the ending both unexpected and satisfying” (Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series, The Washington Post).

A young Puritan woman—faithful, resourceful, but afraid of the demons that dog her soul—plots her escape from a violent marriage in this riveting and propulsive novel of historical suspense.

Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four-years-old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But…


Book cover of Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy

Pamela Holmes Author Of The Curious Life of Elizabeth Blackwell

From my list on extraordinary women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by singular women who have found ways to express themselves and to flourish in the face of doubt. My experience of moving country as a child, family breakdown, losing a parent as a teenager, and dropping out has left me intrigued by other women with the drive to survive on their own terms. Of course, the social constraints a woman must overcome will vary according to when she lived, but common characteristics will be bravery and obstinacy. I’ve now written three novels about women who have succeeded against the odds. I hope the books I’ve recommended captivate you as much as they do me.

Pamela's book list on extraordinary women

Pamela Holmes Why did Pamela love this book?

You can’t approve of Ursula Kuczynski, codename ‘Sonya’.

She was a spymaster, bomb-maker, and secret agent for the Soviet Union. Her work helped the Soviets build the atom bomb. But you can’t help being intrigued by this devoted wife and mother-of-three who rode her bicycle across the countryside to gather scientific information and used her children’s teddies to smuggle radio parts.

Ursula’s story, told by Macintyre in forensic, referenced detail, is astonishing. This cool, clever woman fooled everyone. I’m fascinated by the photographs, too; one of her cuddled up with her children in the garden, another of her in Berlin selling communist literature from a book barrow. They added to the feeling of alarm; so much went on in clear view.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A TOP TEN SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Published in Paperback on 27 May

'His best book yet' The Times

'Macintyre's page-turner is a dazzling portrait of a flawed yet driven individual who risked everything (including her children) for the cause' Sunday Times

DISCOVER THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF THE SPY WHO ALMOST KILLED HITLER - FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE SPY AND THE TRAITOR

Ursula Kuczynski Burton was a spymaster, saboteur, bomb-maker and secret agent. Codenamed 'Agent Sonya', her story has never been told - until now.

Born to a German Jewish family, as Ursula grew, so did the Nazis'…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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