100 books like Orange World and Other Stories

By Karen Russell,

Here are 100 books that Orange World and Other Stories fans have personally recommended if you like Orange World and Other Stories. 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 The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories

Jacqueline Vogtman Author Of Girl Country: and Other Stories

From my list on magical realism by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves all kinds of fiction, but I’m most passionate about magical realism and related genres (like fabulism and speculative fiction). I love when writers skirt several genres, especially when their use of the “strange” holds a funhouse mirror up to our world and allows us to see a deeper truth. My favorite writers craft prose that rivals poetry and delve into their characters’ interior worlds; for me, one of fiction’s greatest magic tricks is the ability to enter another’s world and create empathy. The five authors on this list do all of these things and more, and they serve as some of my greatest inspirations.  

Jacqueline's book list on magical realism by women writers

Jacqueline Vogtman Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This was one of the books (along with Anthony Doerr’s The Shell Collector) that inspired me to pursue fiction writing rather than poetry.

For the longest time, poetry was my preferred genre, and while I had dabbled in writing fiction, I struggled. It wasn’t until reading The Girl in the Flammable Skirt near the end of my undergrad that I realized fiction doesn’t have to be straight realism—it can be magical, strange, symbolic, weird, fabulist, dreamlike.

Two of Bender’s stories that had the most impact on me were “The Rememberer,” where the narrator’s lover experiences reverse evolution,” and “Drunken Mimi,” a love story between an imp and a mermaid. Maybe not coincidentally, my book also contains a story about a mermaid. 

By Aimee Bender,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Girl in the Flammable Skirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Girl in the Flammable Skirt Aimee Bender has created a world where nothing is quite as it seems. From a man suffering from reverse evolution to a lonely wife who waits for her husband to return from war; to a small town where one girl has a hand made of fire and another has one made of ice. These stories of men and women whose lives are shaped and sometimes twisted by the power of extraordinary desires take us to a place far beyond the imagination.


Book cover of Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

Kelley Skovron Author Of No Filter

From my list on deliciously dark horror novels that are more sad than scary.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the author of over 15 novels written for kids, teens, and adults across several genres. The thing all my books have in common is that they are sad and they are dark. My most recent novel is my most distilled, compressed delivery of deliciously dark sadness yet! Oddly, I'm rarely sad in real life. My daughter suggested that I write books to get the darkness out of my head and onto the page, which I think is very insightful (she is my kid, after all). I enjoy the beauty in the breakdown, I savor the sublime catharsis of tragedy, and I want to share that perspective with everyone.

Kelley's book list on deliciously dark horror novels that are more sad than scary

Kelley Skovron Why did Kelley love this book?

I found this story collection by Machado to be not only dark and sad, but wickedly funny. How often does our laughter turn to tears, or vice versa? These things are not mutually exclusive, and Machado lives within that uncomfortably liminal space with obvious relish.

I also appreciate it's unabashed feminism. So much of the horror genre is seen through a male lens that leaves me feeling cold and left out. In Machado's writing, I feel not only seen but celebrated, and I will happily live within her ferociously accepting stories of darkness as many times as she offers them.

By Carmen Maria Machado,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Her Body and Other Parties as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FICTION PRIZE 2017
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE 2018

'Brilliantly inventive and blazingly smart' Garth Greenwell

'Impossible, imperfect, unforgettable' Roxane Gay

'A wild thing ... covered in sequins and scales, blazing with the influence of fabulists from Angela Carter to Kelly Link and Helen Oyeyemi' New York Times

In her provocative debut, Carmen Maria Machado demolishes the borders between magical realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. Startling narratives map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited on their bodies, both in myth and in practice.

A…


Book cover of The Rock Eaters: Stories

Rita Chang-Eppig Author Of Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

From my list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an immigrant, an Asian American, and a gender-questioning person, I’ve never fit comfortably anywhere. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my writing isn’t easily categorizable either: many have told me that my work is too literary to be considered SF/F and too SF/F to be strictly literary. But what is genre anyway? My favorite books have always been the ones that straddled genres, and every time I read a wonderful book that can’t be easily labeled or marketed, I grow even more sure that the future of literature lies in fluid, boundary-crossing, transgressive texts. Here are some of my favorites—I hope you enjoy them.

Rita's book list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly

Rita Chang-Eppig Why did Rita love this book?

Short story collections are funny things: some are strong from start to finish, and some… read as if the author wrote all the other stories over the course of a weekend after one of their stories garnered public attention. No, I will not name names.

Peynado’s The Rock Eaters is a glowing example of the former. The collection spans genres: realist, science fiction, magical realist. What all the stories have in common is Peynado’s controlled hand and breadth of imagination, not to mention her keen insights into what it’s like to exist in the real world, a world fraught with gun violence, racism, and xenophobia.

You finish the collection feeling like you’ve traversed worlds and, in the process, learned something new about the world we live in.  

By Brenda Peynado,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Rock Eaters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A story collection, in the vein of Carmen Maria Machado, Kelly Link, and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, spanning worlds and dimensions, using strange and speculative elements to tackle issues ranging from class differences to immigration to first-generation experiences to xenophobia
 
What does it mean to be other? What does it mean to love in a world determined to keep us apart?
 
These questions murmur in the heart of each of Brenda Peynado's strange and singular stories. Threaded with magic, transcending time and place, these stories explore what it means to cross borders and break down walls, personally and politically. In one…


Book cover of By Light We Knew Our Names: Stories

Jacqueline Vogtman Author Of Girl Country: and Other Stories

From my list on magical realism by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves all kinds of fiction, but I’m most passionate about magical realism and related genres (like fabulism and speculative fiction). I love when writers skirt several genres, especially when their use of the “strange” holds a funhouse mirror up to our world and allows us to see a deeper truth. My favorite writers craft prose that rivals poetry and delve into their characters’ interior worlds; for me, one of fiction’s greatest magic tricks is the ability to enter another’s world and create empathy. The five authors on this list do all of these things and more, and they serve as some of my greatest inspirations.  

Jacqueline's book list on magical realism by women writers

Jacqueline Vogtman Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Full disclosure: Anne is a dear friend and was an MFA workshop-mate of mine.

But even if she wasn’t, I’m confident this would still be one of my favorite collections. There is so much magic in Valente’s writing, in the gorgeous prose but also in the content of the stories: ghosts, pink dolphins, tiny librarians, Northern Lights.

Much of the magic is not supernatural, but just the magic of the natural world, and Valente is a master of place; I’ve always admired her use of setting. Many of the stories deal with loss, grief, and pain, but the magic acts as a way to transcend these things, which is what I aim to do in my stories as well.

By Anne Valente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Light We Knew Our Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From ghosts to pink dolphins to a fight club of young women who practice beneath the Alaskan aurora borealis, By Light We Knew Our Names examines the beauty and heartbreak of the world we live in. Across 13 stories, this collection explores the thin border between magic and grief.


Book cover of The Master and Margarita

Robert Wynne-Simmons Author Of Blood on Satan's Claw: or, The Devil's Skin

From my list on supernatural challenging the way we see the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born a polymath in Cheam, Surrey, England. Even as a child I had a passionate interest in music, architecture, film, poetry, drama, and storytelling. I lived very much in the world of my imagination and was able to apply it to a wide variety of projects. I have worked in Film, TV, Theatre, and have written scripts, plays, novels, songs, a musical, and an opera, all different in feeling. I have therefore had a special interest in innovative artistic work, and story-telling which pushes the boundaries of the imagination.

Robert's book list on supernatural challenging the way we see the world

Robert Wynne-Simmons Why did Robert love this book?

People who read The Master and Margarita will tell you that it is one of the greatest books they have ever read, but few can tell you why. It defies description.  It is truly unique. 

It opens on a blistering hot day in Moscow, a paradox in itself. The devil, seemingly out of Goethe’s Faust, is on a visit to the town. He and his strange entourage would be laughable, if they were not so lethal. Only the madness of Stalin’s paranoid Communism could have created such a story.

Bulgakov has an uncanny way of investing even the most unlikely scenes with intense realism. You never doubt him.  At times hilarious, at times terrifying, the book shows us what a fragile hold we have on reality.

By Mikhail Bulgakov, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Bulgakov is one of the greatest Russian writers, perhaps the greatest' Independent

Written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin's reign, The Master and Margarita became an overnight literary phenomenon when it was finally published it, signalling artistic freedom for Russians everywhere. Bulgakov's carnivalesque satire of Soviet life describes how the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow one Spring afternoon. Brimming with magic and incident, it is full of imaginary, historical, terrifying and wonderful characters, from witches, poets and Biblical tyrants to the beautiful, courageous Margarita, who will…


Book cover of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

Sarah Rose Cavanagh Author Of Mind Over Monsters: Supporting Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge

From my list on help us face our monsters and embrace mental health.

Why am I passionate about this?

Three biographical facts that well equip me to write about both monsters and mental health: I am a psychologist who researches, writes, and teaches about emotions, learning, and quality of life. I am also someone who suffers from panic disorder. I am also someone who enjoys interacting with the world of the dark and spooky, in part to tame my internal fears. I think that many of us use fiction in general and horror in particular as a sandbox of sorts—a safe place where we can expose ourselves to our fears, to test out scenarios, and to explore hidden parts of our psyche.

Sarah's book list on help us face our monsters and embrace mental health

Sarah Rose Cavanagh Why did Sarah love this book?

In my book I frequently draw upon monsters in fiction to understand our complicated relationship with both our own messy, unpredictable embodied minds and the uncertain, often-terrifying world that we operate these embodied minds within.

This haunting book of short stories is a great example of grappling with the complexities of our lives through a monstrous lens in order to better understand the human condition. 

By Kim Fu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TIME Top 10 Fiction Book of 2022

An NPR, Book Riot, Chicago Public Library, Tor.com, South China Morning Post,Ms. Magazine, and Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2022

2023 Pacific Northwest Book Prize Winner & Longlisted for the 2023 Joyce Carol Oates Prize

A BuzzFeed, WIRED, LitHub, ALTA, and PureWow Best Book of Winter

"The strange and wonderful define Kim Fu’s story collection, where the line between fantasy and reality fades in and out, elusive and beckoning." ―The New York Times Book Review

In the twelve unforgettable tales of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, the strange is made…


Book cover of Piranesi

H.J. Reynolds Author Of Without a Shadow

From my list on unique and memorable magic systems.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read almost any genre, but fantasy is what I love most, both reading and writing. Stories are magic, but when they have actual magic in them, I’m hooked. Having studied both Film and Creative Writing at university, I love to go in-depth on storytelling and have reviews aplenty on my website if you want further recommendations. The books I’ve chosen for this list have incredibly unique worlds full of bizarre magic. When I enter a new world, I want it to be exactly that: new and exciting with a touch of the surreal. To me, these books showcase magic at its most vivid and creative. 

H.J.'s book list on unique and memorable magic systems

H.J. Reynolds Why did H.J. love this book?

I very nearly stopped reading this book–even though it’s so short as it starts off unbelievably abstract. I didn’t know what was going on, and the descriptions only added to the confusion. But I’m so glad I kept going.

The main character does amnesia in the most charming way, and discovering his past and the strange world he seems both lost in and totally at home in was absolutely enchanting. This has stuck with me ever since, like the most vivid fever dream.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction
A SUNDAY TIMES & NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, 'one of our greatest living authors' NEW YORK MAGAZINE
__________________________________
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend,…


Book cover of Nightfall in the Garden of Deep Time

E M Graham Author Of An Ignorant Witch

From my list on fantasy with flawed main characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a multi-genre writer, a passionate reader, and, like all of us, a flawed human being. The stories that truly speak to me are the ones with a main character who is imperfect. I may not like the protagonist at first, but as the author develops the story and the hero’s challenges, the character grows, we see inside them and learn to love them, as they also learn to love and accept themselves, flaws and all. They use this growth to make a better world. And that’s what fiction is all about. Of course, it helps if they’re funny too. I love humor.

E M's book list on fantasy with flawed main characters

E M Graham Why did E M love this book?

Kelsey stifles her creative side, for she’s struggling to pay the bills and has to be practical. But in the hidden garden next door, she finds the answers to who she really is, and learns to embrace her creative side and value her gifts. I want to give a copy of this book to every creative person I know, to everyone who has been touched by the imposter syndrome (it’s a real thing with all artistic endeavors!) In this exquisite book, Higley shored up my inspiration as she gently shows us that all of our gifts are welcome.

By Tracy Higley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nightfall in the Garden of Deep Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kelsey dreams of a life filled with creativity.
She's about to stumble into far more than she imagined...

Kelsey Willoughby doesn’t have time to pursue her dream of writing a novel. Imagination doesn’t pay the bills, and she’s busy saving her beautiful bookshop from online competition, hotel developers, and the sneaking suspicion that nobody reads anymore.

Not to mention all those voices telling her she doesn’t have talent.

But then the vacant lot of weeds next door starts to shimmer.

When Kelsey stumbles into a luminous nighttime garden party, larger than the vacant lot that holds it and filled with…


Book cover of Accidental Magic

Dannye Williamsen Author Of Second Chances

From my list on helping you step outside the box.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I witnessed my mother have a number of precognitive episodes. I later realized I was very intuitive at times. As a technical analyst in commodities I recognized that intuition was playing a huge part in my success in calling the markets. Feeling uncomfortable in groups, I became very much an introvert. I feel others’ strong emotions and even their physical pain at times. It’s painful to watch shows where people are fighting or being hurt. Later in life I realized there was a name for my discomfort. Clairsentience. Writing/reading paranormal stories about others is not only comforting to me, but psychologically grounding as well. 

Dannye's book list on helping you step outside the box

Dannye Williamsen Why did Dannye love this book?

Paranormal Women’s Fiction: This is a relatively new genre that “celebrates either a midlife or older woman who navigates her life while discovering or developing her own magical powers. Being an older woman, I leapt on this one! Magic realism is present here as is often the case with the paranormal. Interweaving individual paranormal abilities within the town of Myrtlewood, which is itself a city of quirks, with a mystery and a murder demanding to be solved. 

The personalities of the two main characters seem to ruffle the feathers of some readers. However, I viewed the interactions of the mother and daughter as evolutionary journeys, individually and in their relationships with each other. Did it present frustrating moments? Of course, but this is what makes it good.

By Iris Beaglehole,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome to Myrtlewood, a quirky town, steeped in magic, tea, and mystery…

Life’s a struggle for Rosemary Thorn and her teen daughter, Athena. But their regular troubles are turned upside down after Granny Thorn’s mysterious death.

Despite her cousin's sinister manoeuvrings, Rosemary returns to Myrtlewood and the sprawling, dilapidated Thorn Manor. But there's more to the old house than meets the eye, as Rosemary and Athena soon find out — in a whirlwind of magic, adventure, mystical creatures, and endless cups of tea.

Life in Myrtlewood would be bliss if Rosemary could only clear her name in a certain murder…


Book cover of Get in Trouble: Stories

S.G. Browne Author Of Lost Creatures: Stories

From my list on genre-bending literary short story collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always enjoyed short story collections. Starting with Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, I became a fan of the short form. And as a burgeoning writer, writing short stories was the best way for me to learn the craft of storytelling. While I started out writing supernatural horror, I gradually found myself combining horror, fantasy, and science fiction with dark comedy and social satire, creating a blend of genres. Several of the short story collections I recommend here were instrumental in my evolution as a short story writer and inspired a number of the stories in my latest collection, Lost Creatures.

S.G.'s book list on genre-bending literary short story collections

S.G. Browne Why did S.G. love this book?

I love reading novels and stories that make me wish I’d written them, and this collection by Kelly Link made me wish that time and time again. This book also introduced me to the concept of fabulism, a form of magical realism where elements of the fantastic occur in everyday settings, which is something I find compelling both as a reader and as a writer. Link combines humor, fantasy, magical realism, and more than a touch of horror to create a collection of stories that is unique, weird, and wonderful. 

By Kelly Link,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Get in Trouble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fantastic, fantastical and utterly incomparable, Kelly Link's new collection explores everything from the essence of ghosts to the nature of love. And hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the pyramids . . .

With each story she weaves, Link takes readers deep into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed universe. Strange, dark and wry, Get in Trouble reveals Kelly Link at the height of her creative powers and stretches the boundaries of what fiction can do.


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