93 books like Paper Butterflies

By Lisa Heathfield,

Here are 93 books that Paper Butterflies fans have personally recommended if you like Paper Butterflies. 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 Lovely War

Allyson Dahlin Author Of Cake Eater

From my list on YA that put a fictional twist on real history.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by Marie Antoinette since I watched Sofia Coppola’s film about her as a teenager. Pair that with a Les Miserables musical obsession and a Francophile dad that loved history, and I became fascinated with the French Revolution. My interest was re-ignited years later after I visited Versailles and wandered the foggy gardens where I must have gotten haunted by a French ghost because the idea for Cake Eater struck me after I returned home. I was in a bit of a writing slump at the time, but the idea took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I drafted Cake Eater for Nanowrimo and it became my debut novel.

Allyson's book list on YA that put a fictional twist on real history

Allyson Dahlin Why did Allyson love this book?

This totally unique retelling blends Greek mythology with World War I and II history in a beautiful way that stuck with me long after I finished the last page.

There are tons of Greek retellings to choose from, but the added element of the World Wars storyline makes this one stick out from the crowd. Aphrodite strikes a deal on trial and must tell the story of two war-torn couples. The story has a big sweeping feel, full of tragedy and romance.

Lovely War brings to mind Greek epics in its scope and feeling, but the setting gives it a fresh feel. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

By Julie Berry,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Lovely War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller!

A sweeping, multi-layered romance set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II, where gods hold the fates--and the hearts--of four mortals in their hands.

They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect turned soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by the goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals…


Book cover of Little Universes

Deborah Crossland Author Of The Quiet Part Out Loud

From my list on YA that made me cry.

Who am I?

I have loved story since I was little, and I’ve curated a life where it has always taken center stage in some or another. I was a high school English teacher for ten years, and have been a college professor for eight. But what really inspires me to write the books I do is my PhD in mythological studies. As a mythologist, I’m lucky enough to be able to see why stories resonate with us for so long and use those same themes and metaphors to write my own. 

Deborah's book list on YA that made me cry

Deborah Crossland Why did Deborah love this book?

First of all, Heather’s writing is so clear and so emotional, it’s hard not to get sucked into this world immediately. Second, the characters are so well-rounded.

You can feel their ache radiating off the page. The micro poetry Hannah leaves all over the city breaks my heart every time I read them, but what absolutely sends me is how the girls learned to process grief and all the other Big Emotions by making soup. This book easily has crossover appeal for both teens and adults.

By Heather Demetrios,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Universes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Heather Demetrios's Little Universes is a book about the powerful bond between sisters, the kinds of love that never die, and the journey we all must make through the baffling cruelty and unexpected beauty of human life in an incomprehensible universe.

One wave: that’s all it takes for the rest of Mae and Hannah Winters’ lives to change.

When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from sunny California for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles…


Book cover of The Truth Project

Deborah Crossland Author Of The Quiet Part Out Loud

From my list on YA that made me cry.

Who am I?

I have loved story since I was little, and I’ve curated a life where it has always taken center stage in some or another. I was a high school English teacher for ten years, and have been a college professor for eight. But what really inspires me to write the books I do is my PhD in mythological studies. As a mythologist, I’m lucky enough to be able to see why stories resonate with us for so long and use those same themes and metaphors to write my own. 

Deborah's book list on YA that made me cry

Deborah Crossland Why did Deborah love this book?

This story is told in such an unusual way!

Medema writes in-verse as well as uses emails, texts, and Google searches to tell the story of a teen who finds out that yes, she really is the odd one out in her family because her dad is not actually her father. She and the heart-wrenching Kodiak Jones take us through what it means to find the people you love, whether they are actual blood-relations or not. If you’re not sobbing at the end of this book…

By Dante Medema,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Truth Project as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"A heart-wrenching quest for identity every YA reader will relate to, and a deep dive into the meaning of family." -Ellen Hopkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Debut author Dante Medema explores the emotional fallout after a teenage girl discovers she is the product of an affair. Told through a series of poems, text messages, and emails, this contemporary YA is perfect for fans of Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin.

Seventeen-year-old Cordelia Koenig intended to breeze through her senior project. While her peers stressed, Cordelia planned to use the same trace-your-roots genealogy idea her older sister used years prior.…


Book cover of Ready to Fall

Deborah Crossland Author Of The Quiet Part Out Loud

From my list on YA that made me cry.

Who am I?

I have loved story since I was little, and I’ve curated a life where it has always taken center stage in some or another. I was a high school English teacher for ten years, and have been a college professor for eight. But what really inspires me to write the books I do is my PhD in mythological studies. As a mythologist, I’m lucky enough to be able to see why stories resonate with us for so long and use those same themes and metaphors to write my own. 

Deborah's book list on YA that made me cry

Deborah Crossland Why did Deborah love this book?

Ugh, this book! When Max’s mom dies of cancer, he imagines the tumor has taken up residence in his own brain as his way of dealing with his grief and anger.

As his anger grows, he is sent to this alternative school where he meets the colorful and off-beat Fish, a girl with pink hair and a past, and The Monk, a boy with a strange collection and secrets of his own. The thing I love most about this book is how Pixley brings in Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Shakespeare’s Hamlet to help Max process how he feels about his mother’s death.

Ahh, I’m crying again just thinking about it!

By Marcella Pixley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ready to Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'Grief becomes something oddly beautiful - and beautifully odd' Kirkus (starred review)

'Rewarding and touching' Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Following the death of his mother, Max Friedman comes to believe that he is sharing his brain with a tumour. As Max becomes focused on controlling the malignant tenant, he starts to lose touch with his friends and family, and with reality itself - so Max's father sends him off to the artsy Baldwin School to regain his footing.

Soon, Max has joined a group of theatre misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet. He befriends Fish, a gril with pink…


Book cover of The Green Mile

J.G. Schwartz Author Of The Curious Spell of Madam Genova

From my list on making you believe in the paranormal.

Who am I?

When I was 13, I paid 25 cents to see a mysterious fortune teller at a local carnival. She predicted I would marry a tall, handsome man, and then she paused and told me my next-door neighbor would soon break his arm. Within a week, my neighbor, Jack, dressed in his Superman costume, jumped off his roof and broke his arm. I was impressionable – and impressed. Since that time, I have been fascinated with fortune tellers and the magic that surrounds them as well as books based on magical realism and the paranormal. Oh, and by the way, I did marry a tall, handsome man.

J.G.'s book list on making you believe in the paranormal

J.G. Schwartz Why did J.G. love this book?

Be prepared. If you want a good cry, this book is for you, as it has one of the saddest endings of any novel I have read.

The Green Mile is the riveting and tragic story of John Coffee, a giant, gentle inmate with supernatural powers, condemned to death for the rape and murder of twin nine-year-old girls.

Coffee is a simple and kind man with a deathly fear of the dark. Your heart will break. Mine did. 

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stephen King's iconic horror masterpiece. An international bestselling and highly acclaimed novel, a must-read for any horror fan, also a hugely successful film starring Tom Hanks.

The Green Mile: those who walk it do not return, because at the end of that walk is the room in which sits Cold Mountain penitentiary's electric chair. In 1932 the newest resident on death row is John Coffey, a giant black man convicted of the brutal murder of two little girls. But nothing is as it seems with John Coffey, and around him unfolds a bizarre and horrifying story.

Evil murderer or holy…


Book cover of The Speed Queen

Evan Purcell Author Of Followed by Fear

From my list on women on the run.

Who am I?

I’ve written an equal amount of horror and romance, including books, podcasts, and screenplays. I love both genres equally, but I’m most drawn to stories that strike a nice balance between the two. Danger makes the romance less cheesy, and romance gives the thriller side more meaning. As an ESL teacher who has worked everywhere, from Bhutan to Zanzibar, I also love discovering new places. Some of my favorite books take their characters to new locations, forcing them to discover the hidden dangers and pleasant surprises that every place has to offer.

Evan's book list on women on the run

Evan Purcell Why did Evan love this book?

A huge departure from the previous books on this list, this book is a full-on thrill ride with one of the coolest narrative devices I’ve ever seen: A woman on death row narrates her supposed cross-country killing spree to a horror author who’s interested in adapting her life story.

She’s a fascinating woman, telling her story in a way that constantly challenged me to figure out what parts of her on-the-run narrative are real. She’s surprisingly sympathetic, even when she’s doing awful things.

I devoured this book in one sitting and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

By Stewart O'Nan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stewart O'Nan is one of the most highly acclaimed fiction writers of his generation, selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American Novelists and hailed by The New York Times as "a master." Grove Press is proud to reissue his haunting noir novel The Speed Queen. The Speed Queen is the gripping story of a twisted love triangle's drug-fueled killing spree across the desert plains, told in the voice of Oklahoma death-row inmate Marjorie Standiford, who is recounting her experiences for a best-selling horror writer researching the murders. It's a chilling, unputdownable crime novel in the tradition of…


Book cover of Notes on an Execution

Angela Lam Author Of No Amends

From my list on sociopaths and liars.

Who am I?

Why am I an expert on recommending books about sociopaths and liars? I unknowingly shared a life with one for five years. Shattered, I grappled with the aftermath of deception. How could I have been duped for so long? Through therapy and reading, I discovered many smart, compassionate people fall hard for the charismatic charm and convincing stories sociopaths tell to get whatever it is they want from whomever they want it. Without a conscious and incapable of feeling, they often latch onto someone with high morals and emotional intelligence in the hopes of learning how to mirror those attributes only to destroy the ones who love them the most.

Angela's book list on sociopaths and liars

Angela Lam Why did Angela love this book?

Notes on an Execution gutted me as a reader. I became the sociopath on death row with only 12 hours to live.

I listened to the women in my life talk about me, from my mother who didn’t understand why I brought her dead animals instead of flowers to my wife who trusted me beyond reason to my brother’s family in whom I had finally found a home until that detective snatched it away from me, leaving me with nothing.

If you want to get into the mind of someone wired differently, this book will take you there until the end.

By Danya Kukafka,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Notes on an Execution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE 2023 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL • NEW YORK TIMES BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR

“Defiantly populated with living women . . . beautifully drawn, dense with detail and specificity . . . Notes on an Execution is nuanced, ambitious and compelling.” —Katie Kitamura, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW (Editors' Choice)

"A searing portrait of the complicated women caught in the orbit of a serial killer. . . . Compassionate and thought-provoking." –BRIT BENNETT, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half

Recommended by New York Times Book Review • Los…


Book cover of The Executioner's Song

Rick R. Reed Author Of The Man from Milwaukee

From my list on true crime that would be criminal not to read.

Who am I?

I chose this list for two reasons—one, true crime has always held great fascination for me. I have a real hunger to understand the motivations behind the darkest sides of human nature, which I believe exists in us all. My own book, The Man from Milwaukee, dives deep into this obsession by sympathetically portraying a closeted young gay man in 1991 Chicago, who sees the cannibal killer as a victim himself of his own irresistible murderous impulses, likening them to our main character’s own self-loathing toward his same-sex desires. 

Rick's book list on true crime that would be criminal not to read

Rick R. Reed Why did Rick love this book?

Mailer’s opus dramatizes the cursed life of Gary Gilmore. In 1976, he robbed and killed two strangers. After being tried and sentenced to death, Gilmore insisted on being executed, to the disagreement of the justice system, who wanted him to remain alive. Written simply and with great compassion, the novel is disturbing, yet ultimately thought-provoking and redemptive.

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Executioner's Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW O'HAGAN

In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row - and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years.

But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity - and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.


Book cover of Monument Road

Charles Salzberg Author Of Second Story Man

From my list on memorable, morally complicated characters.

Who am I?

I’m a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer who now only writes crime novels. I try to write about a world that exists in varying degrees and shades of black and white. The characters in my books are flawed, sometimes deeply, trying their best to navigate a complex world while grappling with their own psychological and emotional scars. As a result, they often make decisions that wind up not being in their (or anyone else’s) best interest. In trying to breathe life into these characters, I get to know them better than I know myself, and it’s this I think allows me to admire the five books I’ve chosen.

Charles' book list on memorable, morally complicated characters

Charles Salzberg Why did Charles love this book?

This is the first in the Franky Dast series and it was nominated for a Shamus Award. Dast was convicted and sentenced to Death Row when he was 18, for the rape and murder of two adolescent boys. Eight years later, the verdict is overturned, in part as a result of the relationship Dast has established with the Justice Now Initiative, an organization specializing in cases of wrongful imprisonment. On his release, Dast joins the group and becomes involved in a case that hits close to home: the cop who arrested and coerced a confession from him is accused of shooting the son of a prominent judge. In Dast, Wiley has created the kind of complex character I’m drawn to, both as a writer and a reader. Wiley’s ability to dive deep into the psyche of complicated characters is something I’m always striving for.

By Michael Wiley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introducing former death-row inmate turned private investigator Franky Dast in the first of an intriguing new crime noir series. Having spent eight years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, Franky Dast now works as an investigator for the Justice Now Initiative, seeking to help others in the same situation. But when he learns that Bill Higby, the detective whose testimony helped convict him, is facing his own murder charge, Franky is torn. Should he help the man he hates more than any other, the man who remains convinced of Franky's guilt to this day? As Franky delves…


Book cover of A Lesson Before Dying

Toby LeBlanc Author Of Dark Roux

From my list on South Louisiana culture.

Who am I?

Growing up in Scott, Louisiana, I didn’t know that everyone else in the United States did not get Mardi Gras off from school and work. I thought everyone knew some French. Crawfish boils were a natural, expectable part of every spring. South Louisiana is a world unto itself. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate my heritage, my Cajun lineage, and the sometimes-befuddling ways we Louisianians look at that world. Between conversations with elders, reading historical documents, and even looking at land transfer maps, I’ve become even more grounded in what being from this little wet corner of the world means. 

Toby's book list on South Louisiana culture

Toby LeBlanc Why did Toby love this book?

This book should hold higher prominence in American literature than it does.

Ernest J Gaines taught at my hometown university and finished his life quietly in the countryside. However, this novel is anything but quiet. It takes on the racism of the South and shows what dignity in the face of such an atrocity looks like.

His ability to depict the nuanced relationships between different groups of people in South Louisiana is humbling. Many books have made me feel something; few have made me feel something so important for so long.

By Ernest J. Gaines,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Lesson Before Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • A deep and compassionate novel about a young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to visit a Black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.

"An instant classic." —Chicago Tribune

A “majestic, moving novel...an instant classic, a book that will be read, discussed and taught beyond the rest of our lives" (Chicago Tribune), from the critically acclaimed author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

"A Lesson Before Dying reconfirms Ernest J. Gaines's position…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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