80 books like Serena

By Ron Rash,

Here are 80 books that Serena fans have personally recommended if you like Serena. 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 Moby-Dick

Jonathan Howland Author Of Native Air

From my list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers).

Why am I passionate about this?

During a lonely stretch of primary school, I recall discussing my predicament with my mother. “You only need one friend,” she said by way of encouragement. Some part of me agreed. I’ve been fortunate to have had (and to have) several friends in my life, never more than a few at a time, more men than women, and each has prompted me to be and become more vital and spacious than I was prior to knowing them. The books I’m recommending—and the one I wrote—feature these types of catalyzing, life-changing relationships. Each involves some kind of adventure. Each evokes male friendship that is gravitational, not merely influential, but life-defining.

Jonathan's book list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers)

Jonathan Howland Why did Jonathan love this book?

It centers on and celebrates becoming—molting from one skin to another. For Ishmael this is a transition from a tired and limiting worldview to something fresh and alive.

The “bosom buddies” at the heart of the novel, Ishmael and Queequeg, seem comprised of opposites, but Ishmael’s etherealizing is grounded by Queequeg’s pragmatic ingenuity in ways that quiet and expand the young pagan-Presbyterian’s buzzing, anxious mind. Theirs is a friendship of succor, probably sex, and survival—all of it shadowed by the delusional obsessions of their mad captain.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Lori Duffy Foster Author Of Never Let Go

From my list on thrillers with twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my years on the crime beat, I often met good people who did bad things and criminals with good intentions and good hearts. We tend to draw a line between good and evil, putting ourselves on the good side. From that perspective, we sit in judgment, believing we are incapable of evil because it’s “over there.” Inaccessible. Unfathomable. But that line is fictional. We redraw it constantly to feel good about ourselves and avoid empathizing with the worst of human nature. What I love about these five novels is that they expose that truth. The twists remind me that even my own line is blurred and ever-shifting.

Lori's book list on thrillers with twists

Lori Duffy Foster Why did Lori love this book?

I love historical fiction, especially when authors throw in a touch of crime. So, that’s what first drew me to this book.

What kept me reading and what made me rank this novel so highly is the gradual unlayering of the main character as the story progresses. Sure, Kya is a victim and a survivor, but she is so much more, and she is capable of more than I could have anticipated. As in some of my other favorite novels, it’s that loyalty to human nature, the understanding that circumstances can make good choices wrong and poor choices right, that pulled me in.

If I had known the ending when I started the book, I might not have believed it possible, but Delia Owens made it work.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

44 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…

Book cover of Angle of Repose

Connie Kronlokken Author Of So Are You to My Thoughts

From my list on deepening your understanding of California history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a transplant to California, albeit more than 50 years ago, I am still fascinated by what makes this place at the edge of the Pacific so unique. It has accepted so many people, from so many places over a fairly recent period. I always feel I can deduce more history from well rendered characters set in specific times and places. Their wholeness and their meaning, as well as that of their culture, are to be found in literature.

Connie's book list on deepening your understanding of California history

Connie Kronlokken Why did Connie love this book?

Susan Ward joins her husband, a mining engineer, at a mercury mine near San Jose, California, coming west from New York.

She is an illustrator and writer and, as her grandson tells it, never completely adjusts to life in the West. We get much description of California, however, in the layered times in which her story is told. She and her husband settle in Grass Valley, where her husband works for quartz and gold mines.

Wallace Stegner’s use of Mary Hallock Foote’s memoir and diaries as the basis for this story is still controversial. Foote lived from 1847 to 1938 and wrote beautifully, illuminating life during this time. The controversy makes the story even more intriguing.

By Wallace Stegner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Angle of Repose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The novel tells the story of Lyman Ward, a retired professor of history and author of books about the Western frontier, who returns to his ancestral home in the Sierra Nevada. Wheelchair-bound with a crippling bone disease, Ward embarks nonetheless on a search to rediscover his grandmother, no long dead, who made her own journey to Grass Valley nearly a hundred years earlier.

Book cover of The Prince of Tides

David Michael Dunaway Author Of Angry Heavens: Struggles of a Confederate Surgeon

From my list on celebrating an author’s literary style.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifetime, passionate reader. During the summer vacations, my brother and I would often ride with our father to his job in downtown Mobile and walk to Mobile Public Library, where we would spend all day exploring and reading. Well-written novels with remarkable but believable characters—such as those I've noted here are my passion. I have included novels in my list where I can identify personally with the protagonist. My list of books is varied. They have one thing in common: believable characters who struggle with life—authored by legitimate wordsmiths. When I wrote Angry Heavens as a first-time novelist, it was my history as a reader that I used as a writer.

David's book list on celebrating an author’s literary style

David Michael Dunaway Why did David love this book?

When Pat Conroy died in 2016, I knew what the late Southern gentleman-writer, Lewis Grizzard, meant when he wrote, Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself.

Pat Conroy understood the Southern male in ways that only fellow Southerners can know in all its fullness. I felt less Southern at his passing than I had felt in a long time. Pat Conroy was my better self as a Southern male. He understood me without knowing me.

The Prince of Tides protagonist, Tom Wingo, is undoubtedly filled with the simplicity and complexity, goodness and evil, connection to history that describe the southern male who often will define being Southern as a fundamental personal value.

Want some insight into the Southern male, and who wouldn't? The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy is where one should start.

By Pat Conroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pat Conroy's inspired masterpiece relates the dark and violent chronicle of an astounding family: the Wingos of Colleton, South Carolina. No reader will forget them. And no reader can remain untouched by their story.

All Wingos share one heritage ... shrimp fishing, poverty and the searing memory of a single terrifying event - the source of Tom Wingo's self-hatred and of his sister Savannah's suicidal despair.

To save himself and Savannah, Tom confronts the past with the help of New York psychologist Susan Lowenstein.

As Tom and Susan unravel the bitter history of his troubled childhood, in episodes of grotesque…

Book cover of The English Patient

David Clensy Author Of Prayer in Time of War

From my list on memories and poignant reflections on the passing of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Wiltshire-based writer with a passion for historical and literary fiction and a fascination for the role of “memory” in the autumn of our lives. My own novel was inspired by conversations with my late grandfather in his final years. But as a journalist for more than 20 years, I had many rich opportunities to talk to the elderly members of our communities–most memorably, taking a pair of D-Day veterans back to the beaches of Normandy. In many ways, memories are the only things we can take with us throughout our lives, carrying both the burden of regrets and the consolation of those we have loved.

David's book list on memories and poignant reflections on the passing of time

David Clensy Why did David love this book?

Set amid the final days of the Second World Way in an abandoned Italian village, it tells the story of Hana, a nurse tending to her sole remaining patient. Rescued from a burning plane, the anonymous Englishman is something of a mystery. But with the help of a copy of Herodotus' The Histories, which the airman had on his person when rescued, Hana begins to piece together his life.

I felt the writing twists from moments of great beauty and clarity to whole sections that are almost impenetrable in their poetic depth. Switches of narrative viewpoint make the reader work hard at times, but it’s well worth the effort for this poignant tale that remains with you long after you have read the last page.

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The English Patient as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hana, a Canadian nurse, exhausted by death, and grieving for her own dead father; the maimed thief-turned-Allied-agent, Caravaggio; Kip, the emotionally detached Indian sapper - each is haunted in different ways by the man they know only as the English patient, a nameless burn victim who lies in an upstairs room. His extraordinary knowledge and morphine-induced memories - of the North African desert, of explorers and tribes, of history and cartography; and also of forbidden love, suffering and betrayal - illuminate the story, and leave all the characters for ever changed.

Book cover of Light in August

Angela C. Halfacre Author Of A Delicate Balance: Constructing a Conservation Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry

From my list on southern stories of nature and society.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American Southerner, I know things that can be the most nurturing ever, but there's always a cost—emotional, physical, or other. The landscape and nature are where I can always go when I feel heartbroken. And my heart is renewed. Always. Being in tandem with nature calls me. It might be time to look a little closer. If we don't, we might lose more habitat and humanity. This topic or theme haunts me every day. This won't be all I write about, and I hope to have at least another five decades to see more. How amazing to have a sense of history while looking to the future? That walkabout is such a blessing.

Angela's book list on southern stories of nature and society

Angela C. Halfacre Why did Angela love this book?

Dark—ironic with the title—tale of what it means to be authentic while coming to terms with Southern heritage. There is much to understand when you see that light—the American South in its glory and graphic tumble. Christian allegory and gothic narrative drive this book. The characters are iconic and honest—largely marginalized. Written in 1932, this novel set in that time, has several insights for present day and how to tell stories and learn from the South.

By William Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Light in August as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A landmark in American fiction, Light in August explores Faulkner's central theme: the nature of evil. Joe Christmas - a man doomed, deracinated and alone - wanders the Deep South in search of an identity, and a place in society. After killing his perverted God-fearing lover, it becomes inevitable that he is pursued by a lynch-hungry mob. Yet after the sacrifice, there is new life, a determined ray of light in Faulkner's complex and tragic world.

Book cover of Sarah Canary

F. Brett Cox Author Of The End of All Our Exploring

From my list on the old (and new) weird America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Greil Marcus’ phrase “the old, weird America” gave me exactly the right words for something I’ve always felt: that there is a specific weirdness to the American landscape, an uncontrollable current of strange that runs beneath the carefully cultivated surface of heroes and neighbors and shared, stable dreams. Of course, as William Faulkner observed, the past isn’t past, and America is as weird as it’s ever been. Maybe weirder. Look at the news. Look out your window. No surprise, then, that I’m drawn to such a perspective when I read other people’s stories, and seldom get completely away from it when I write my own.

F.'s book list on the old (and new) weird America

F. Brett Cox Why did F. love this book?

When talking with younger writers, sooner or later I ask them to name a writer or a book they can point to and say, “That’s the goal. That’s what I care about. That’s what I want to do.” If I asked myself this question, one of my answers would be Karen Joy Fowler’s first novel, a pitch-perfect account of 19th-century America and the mysterious title character, a weird woman whose weirdness confirms how weird everything else already is.

By Karen Joy Fowler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the Old West in 1873, a woman of indeterminate age and great ugliness appears without warning in the camp of Chinese railway workers, babbling incomprehensibly. Chin Ah Kin thinks she may be an immortal sent to enchant him - his more practical uncle sees trouble.

Book cover of Skinny Dip

Mike Player Author Of Hyperloop To Hell

From my list on funny stories (not just barely amusing).

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to make my grandmother laugh at the dinner table, to the annoyance of my mother. My grandmother had a great laugh I can hear to this day. In high school forensics I won the humorous interpretation trophy (first place) for a National Lampoon Parody I performed of the Hardy Boys, beating out 100 other contestants. I knew then, I could do standup, and later, improv. My comedy group in New York was called “wonderful…refreshingly different!” by the NY Post. I produced “The Outlaugh Festival On Wisecrack” years later for MTV’s LOGO network. When we’re all laughing is when we are truly together.

Mike's book list on funny stories (not just barely amusing)

Mike Player Why did Mike love this book?

Carl Hiassen is able to balance humor and suspense in just the right amounts. Since I think of my life as a constant balance of humor and suspense, the attraction was obvious.

So many novelists are advertised as “funny” but succeed in only being vaguely amusing if that. Also, Hiassen has a keen sense of place. Florida. That’s all you need to know, right? Florida. Florida was nuts when he wrote Skinny Dip and it’s nuts squared now. But aren’t we all?

By Carl Hiaasen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Skinny Dip as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joey Perrone is a woman with a mission. She's just been pushed overboard from a cruise liner by Chaz, her scumbag husband, and survived to tell the tale. But rather than reporting him to the police, she decides to stay dead and - with a little help from her friends and a few of Chaz's enemies - instead of getting mad, she's going to get even.

Filled with a host of endearingly offbeat characters, and a narrative that is hilarious, romantic and thought-provoking by turns, Skinny Dip takes us on a journey through the warped politics of Southern Florida and…

Book cover of No Good Tea Goes Unpunished

Angela McRae Author Of Emeralds and Envy

From my list on cozy mysteries to read sipping from a vintage teacup.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former newspaper reporter turned cozy mystery writer, tea blogger, and cookbook author. If there’s a book with tea in it, count me in. I love the beverage itself, the ritual of teatime, tea parties, collecting tea wares, and growing tea (I grow camellia sinensis at home). Of all the hobbies and passions I’ve had, exploring all things tea is the one that never gets old. And so far, I’ve managed to include at least a bit of tea in every book I’ve written. 

Angela's book list on cozy mysteries to read sipping from a vintage teacup

Angela McRae Why did Angela love this book?

In her Seaside Café Mysteries, Bree Baker has conjured a thoroughly modern tea shop with Surf, Sand, and Tea, a business located in an old Victorian home on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Everly Swan (fun name!) has lots of varieties of iced tea on offer, and two elderly aunts bring some well-plotted family history into the mix. This series gives a modern-day spin to the tearoom enterprise, and this seven-book series ended far too soon for my taste.

By Bree Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Good Tea Goes Unpunished as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the second book of the popular Seaside Café Mysteries, No Good Tea Goes Unpunished, Everly Swan caters a high-profile beach wedding where the groom doesn't make it to the altar before the wedding bells ring.

Hitting All the sweet-tea spots, this series is:

A delightful Tea Shop and Café Culinary Mystery

The ideal cozy beach read

Perfect for fans of Laura Childs and Kate Carlisle

Catering her childhood friend's beachfront wedding was a dream come true for Sun, Sand and Tea Shop and Café owner Everly Swan—and the hundreds of guests in attendance would be great exposure for her…

Book cover of The Secret Lives of Dresses

Tam Francis Author Of The Flapper Affair: A 1920s Time Travel Murder Mystery Paranormal Romance

From my list on vintage fashion, passion and dance reads.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write cross-genre fiction with a pen in one hand and a vintage cocktail in the other, filling the romantic void, writing novels when my husband deployed. When in port, we taught swing dancing and have been avid collectors of vintage sewing patterns, retro clothing, and antiques. All of which make appearances in my stories. I’ve always been fascinated with the paranormal and have had some unexplained experiences, some of those made their way into my stories as well. I live in a 1908 home in Texas that may or may not be haunted. I have book reviews, vintage lifestyle tips, recipes, interviews, giveaways, and games on my site!

Tam's book list on vintage fashion, passion and dance reads

Tam Francis Why did Tam love this book?

The vintage fashion descriptions are killer diller with little mini-stories about each dress featured that evoke nostalgia and often melancholy. The mini-stories were sweet, delightful vignettes that reminded me of the way I think of my vintage clothing. They were beautifully written and I loved them all but most noticeably, I loved the story about the wartime mother splashing in puddles with her children. Dora’s character was likable and believable and I rooted for her. The supporting characters were perfectly quirky and delightfully despicable. Plus there is a nice romantic element with a fun love-triangle with wonderful supporting characters.

By Erin McKean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Every dress has a story.
Let me tell you mine...'

Dora is in love with a man who barely notices her, has a job she doesn't care about, and dresses entirely for comfort, not style. All a far cry from her vivid, eccentric childhood, growing up with her beloved grandmother Mimi.

However, when disaster strikes, Dora knows she has no choice but to return to her childhood home and take over running Mimi's vintage clothing shop. And there she makes a surprising discovery - Mimi's been writing stories to accompany every dress she sells. Romantic, heartbreaking tales about each one's…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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