100 books like Personal Days

By Ed Park,

Here are 100 books that Personal Days fans have personally recommended if you like Personal Days. 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 Convenience Store Woman

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This contemporary, quirky tale centers around the life of Keiko, a young woman who has never done anything in a conventional way and has her mother very worried that her daughter will never find a man and settle down into a conventional life. No, Keiko’s ways of thinking are startling and odd in ways that are both amusing and somewhat horrifying, as she really does fall outside the realm of conventional thinking and socially rewarded behavior. The reader comes to love her as she grows into womanhood (and personhood) as a worker in a fast-paced convenience store, where she memorizes hundreds of products and practices behaving more “normally” by mimicking the actions and words of her co-workers. Then a man named Shiraha enters the picture, for a new twist.

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Convenience Store Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store...


Book cover of My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Rachana Vajjhala Author Of Kinetic Cultures: Modernism and Embodiment on the Belle Epoque Stage

From my list on dazzlingly written books from the past five years with both style and substance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a music historian who loves to read novels. Most of my childhood was spent either playing the piano or devouring whatever books I could get my hands on. Now, I try to share my love of music and good writing with my students at Boston University. When not at school, you can usually find me exploring the trails of New England with my dog.     

Rachana's book list on dazzlingly written books from the past five years with both style and substance

Rachana Vajjhala Why did Rachana love this book?

Who knew a book about sleeping could be so funny and engaging?

As someone who constantly wants and needs more rest, I related to the protagonist’s hunch that a year of (almost uninterrupted) sleep would change her life. And it does, though not at all in the way she expects.

Moshfegh writes about trips to the local bodega and the edgy conceptual art scene in such a brilliant way that the book will (perhaps, unfortunately!) keep you up late.

By Ottessa Moshfegh,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked My Year of Rest and Relaxation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, Time, NPR, Amazon,Vice, Bustle, The New York Times, The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, Entertainment Weekly, The AV Club, & Audible

A New York Times Bestseller

"One of the most compelling protagonists modern fiction has offered in years: a loopy, quietly furious pillhead whose Ambien ramblings and Xanaxed b*tcheries somehow wend their way through sad and funny and strange toward something genuinely profound." - Entertainment Weekly

"Darkly hilarious . . . [Moshfegh's] the kind of provocateur who makes you laugh out loud while drawing blood." -Vogue

From one of our boldest,…


Book cover of The Writing Life

Landis Wade Author Of The Write Quotes: The Writing Life

From my list on the writing life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a recovering trial lawyer (after 35 years of law practice) who took up fiction writing in my late 50s and became so interested in learning what it’s like to be a writer – and how to write better – that I began a podcast designed to encourage authors to open up about their writing lives. After more than 500+ author interviews, I remain fascinated by the many different ways that writers approach their craft and how they turn their “what-ifs” into interesting stories. The writing books that I am recommending are books I used to guide me in my interviews. I hope they will provide insight and inspiration in your writing journey.  

Landis' book list on the writing life

Landis Wade Why did Landis love this book?

While some writing books offer nuts and bolts–the so-called rules of writing–this book from Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard teases the writer with essays that make you think.

We are invited into the world of writing with metaphor and we learn by comparison. Like the story of the inchworm stuck in the long grasses, frozen to the tall blades. Perhaps you should just jump, Dillard quips, and put yourself “out of your misery.”

True, writing can be miserable at times, but also, it can be wonderful. I like this book because it is a way to experience what it feels like to be a writer through the craft of prose. 

By Annie Dillard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"For nonwriters, it is a glimpse into the trials and satisfactions of a life spent with words. For writers, it is a warm, rambling, conversation with a stimulating and extraordinarily talented colleague." — Chicago Tribune

From Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Dillard, a collection that illuminates the dedication and daring that characterizes a writer's life.

In these short essays, Annie Dillard—the author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and An American Childhood—illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that characterize the existence of a writer. A moving account of Dillard’s own experiences while writing her works, The Writing Life offers deep insight into one…


Book cover of Little Labors

Weike Wang Author Of Joan Is Okay

From my list on workaholics who still have time to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by work, especially women at work. I am an immigrant, a child of immigrants, a former scientist, and for most of life, have been conditioned to work because if I could not work, then why else was I here? Yet work is not strictly an emblem of immigrant grit or the model minority mindset. It can be made funny, surreal, existential, and it’s a rich subject to tackle. More often than not, work is treated as taboo. It’s ignored or deemed too prosaic to discuss.  Who wants to see what goes on inside the factory? I do. I’m obsessed with stories that showcase the factory. 

Weike's book list on workaholics who still have time to read

Weike Wang Why did Weike love this book?

A friend once described her early years of motherhood as non-stop work but also total idleness. Galchen’s slim book of collected observations and witticisms about babies and motherhood, some only one dazzling paragraph long, made me pause to savor each word. I liken reading this book to reading fun poetry or admiring a pop-up gallery. You can read a bit of this book every day, without losing the thread. Each chapter (they are very mini chapters) made me see the world in a new light. Many made me laugh out loud with joy. 

By Rivka Galchen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this enchanting miscellany, Galchen notes that literature has more dogs than babies (and also more abortions), that the tally of children for many great women writers-Jane Bowles, Elizabeth Bishop, Virginia Woolf, Janet Frame, Willa Cather, Patricia Highsmith, Iris Murdoch, Djuna Barnes, Mavis Gallant-is zero, that orange is the new baby pink, that The Tale of Genji has no plot but plenty of drama about paternity, that babies exude an intoxicating black magic, and that a baby is a goldmine.


Book cover of The Summer Before the War

Eva Seyler Author Of The War in Our Hearts

From my list on historical fiction books about WWI.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved history and historical stories, but like the majority of people, didn’t really know very much about WWI. That changed in early 2017 when I read The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W Tuchman. I immediately fell into a vortex of further reading, resulting in my writing The War in Our Hearts at the end of that year--because although there is a lot of great non-fiction out there about WWI, there aren’t nearly as many novels that quite scratched the itch I had for fiction…so I wrote the book I wanted to read!

Eva's book list on historical fiction books about WWI

Eva Seyler Why did Eva love this book?

This book is leisurely, reminiscent of Elizabeth Gaskell’s works (such as North and South or Wives and Daughters); it reads and feels like a warm summer day. It takes place in a small English town in the tense and uncertain months leading up to the war and a little beyond, featuring family dramas, romantic entanglements, spunky schoolteachers, Belgian refugees, underage recruits, life, and death, and love.

By Helen Simonson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Summer Before the War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Helen Simonson's characters enchant us, her English countryside beguiles us, and her historical intelligence keeps us at the edge of our seats.' - Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.East Sussex, 1914. It's the end of an idyllic summer and Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha in the pretty coastal town of Rye. Casting aside the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans, Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.When Beatrice…


Book cover of A Handful of Dust

Garry Craig Powell Author Of Our Parent Who Art in Heaven

From my list on satirical novels to make you laugh... and think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I confess I was a serious little boy and used to be an excessively serious writer. Stoning the Devil, which is about desperate Gulf Arab women, was longlisted for major prizes and hailed by the feminist press. Poignant, even heart-breaking, but hardly a barrel full of laughs—though even then I couldn’t resist some black humour. But when I became a professor of Creative Writing at an American university, I found I’d fallen into a world madder than Wonderland, and realised that the best way to tackle woke insanity was through humour—as the great comedians are doing. Nearly all the best British fiction is humorous, so I started letting out my own zany side.

Garry's book list on satirical novels to make you laugh... and think

Garry Craig Powell Why did Garry love this book?

One of the rare successful tragicomedies. Starting as a witty sendup of the decadent British upper classes, it turns deadly serious in the middle, when John, the young son of Brenda, has an accident while fox-hunting. Because her lover is also called John, she imagines, on being told, that it is her lover who is hurtand thanks God when she discovers that it is her son. Brenda’s distraught husband Tony, the one noble character, mounts an expedition to South America, but instead of finding meaning and redemption, as the reader hopes, a nightmarish fate awaits him. With this novel, Waugh proved himself the greatest British novelist of the inter-war yearsand inspired me, showing me how to mix elements of gravity and tragedy with comedy. 

By Evelyn Waugh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Evelyn Waugh's celebrated tale of decadence and social disintegration, now in a beautiful hardback edition with a new Introduction by Philip Eade

After seven years of marriage, the beautiful Lady Brenda Last is bored with life at Hetton Abbey, the Gothic mansion that is the pride and joy of her husband, Tony. She drifts into an affair with the shallow socialite John Beaver and forsakes Tony for the Belgravia set. Brilliantly combining tragedy, comedy and savage irony, A Handful of Dust captures the irresponsible mood of the 'crazy and sterile generation' between the wars. This breakdown of the Last marriage…


Book cover of Sick Puppy

Susie Black Author Of Death by Cutting Table

From my list on authors who create the zaniest characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

To be a successful sales exec, required my being an observant student of human nature. The same skill applied to my becoming a successful author. I discovered the most unforgettable people I encountered throughout my career were a lot like the zany oddballs my favorite authors created and the perfect models to base my cast of characters on. 

Susie's book list on authors who create the zaniest characters

Susie Black Why did Susie love this book?

Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a sucker for a righteous cause that Carl Hiaasen’s riotous, rollicking, tale of muckraking to the max had me cheering his zany protagonist and one-man-wreaking-crew, Twilly Spree from the first page to the last.

Twilly Spree has dedicated himself to saving Florida's wilderness from runaway destruction. He favors in-your-face political statements - such as torching Jet-Skis or blowing up banks - that leave his human targets shaken but taught a lesson in what happens when they choose not to do what Twilly considers the right thing.

Dognapping eco-terrorists, bogus big-time hunters, a Republicans-only hooker, an infamous ex-governor who's gone back to nature, thousands of singing toads, a horde of hungry dung beetles, and a Labrador retriever greater than the sum of his Labrador parts - these are only some of the zany denizens of Carl Hiaasen’s outrageously funny Sick Puppy.

By Carl Hiaasen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brilliantly twisted entertainment wrapped around a powerful ecological plea—from the New York Times bestselling author of Squeeze Me.

When Palmer Stoat notices the black pickup truck following him on the highway, he fears his precious Range Rover is about to be carjacked. But Twilly Spree, the man tailing Stoat, has vengeance, not sport-utility vehicles, on his mind. Idealistic, independently wealthy and pathologically short-tempered, Twilly has dedicated himself to saving Florida's wilderness from runaway destruction. He favors unambiguous political statements—such as torching Jet-Skis or blowing up banks—that leave his human targets shaken but re-educated.

After watching Stoat blithely dump a trail…


Book cover of Oh God

Daniel M. Kimmel Author Of Father of the Bride of Frankenstein

From my list on humorous science fiction and fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

While doing a college humor column I was hoping to be the next Art Buchwald, but instead ended up first as a lawyer, then a film critic and college professor. When I finally got around to writing fiction, the blending of science fiction and comedy was a natural fit (with occasional forays into horror and fantasy). I’ve done four novels and a couple of dozen published stories to date and when readers tell me they’ve enjoyed them I answer, “If it made you laugh, I did my job.” When I came up with the mashup title of “Father of the Bride of Frankenstein” I said, “I have to write this.”

Daniel's book list on humorous science fiction and fantasy

Daniel M. Kimmel Why did Daniel love this book?

Oy, forget the mediocre movie. George Burns was perfectly cast but the reason God appears as a little old Jewish man is that he’s granting an interview to a Jewish freelance journalist, not a white bread grocery store clerk played by John Denver. This book taught me that a writer could be laugh out loud funny and still have something serious to say, something I’ve aspired to in my own fiction.

By Avery Corman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For a God whom philosophers have proclaimed dead, it’s time for a little PR in this novel from the New York Times–bestselling author of Kramer vs. Kramer.
 “God grants you an interview. Go to 600 Madison Ave., room 3700, Monday, at 11 a.m.” When a struggling writer receives this typed note in the mail one morning, curiosity wins out and he finds himself keeping this mysterious  appointment. Soon he’s in an ordinary conference room with an intercom on the floor, furiously scribbling shorthand notes as he interviews God, a deity who badly wants to improve His public profile. Sometimes God…


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 Envoy to New Worlds

Daniel M. Kimmel Author Of Father of the Bride of Frankenstein

From my list on humorous science fiction and fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

While doing a college humor column I was hoping to be the next Art Buchwald, but instead ended up first as a lawyer, then a film critic and college professor. When I finally got around to writing fiction, the blending of science fiction and comedy was a natural fit (with occasional forays into horror and fantasy). I’ve done four novels and a couple of dozen published stories to date and when readers tell me they’ve enjoyed them I answer, “If it made you laugh, I did my job.” When I came up with the mashup title of “Father of the Bride of Frankenstein” I said, “I have to write this.”

Daniel's book list on humorous science fiction and fantasy

Daniel M. Kimmel Why did Daniel love this book?

Laumer’s satirical books about Jame Retief, a functionary in Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne, were inspired by his real-life career in the U.S. Foreign Service. They don’t have to be read in any order and mix short stories (as in this collection) and novels. Much of the humor comes from Retief ignoring the diplomatic niceties in dealing with the problems involving Earth and various alien races.

By Keith Laumer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Envoy to New Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first-ever collection of Retief stories by Keith Laumer. Includes "Protocol," "Sealed Orders," "Cultural Exchange," "Aide Memoire," "Policy," and "Palace Revolution."


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