100 books like Silver Sparrow

By Tayari Jones,

Here are 100 books that Silver Sparrow fans have personally recommended if you like Silver Sparrow. 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 Passing

Georgina Hickey Author Of Breaking the Gender Code: Women and Urban Public Space in the Twentieth-Century United States

From my list on women in the city.

Why am I passionate about this?

My day job is teaching U.S. history, particularly courses on urban history, social movements, and race and gender. It is women’s experiences in cities, however, that have driven much of my historical research and sparked my curiosity about how people understand–and shape–the world around them. Lots of people talk about what women need and what they should be doing, but fewer have been willing to hear what women have to say about their own lives and recognize their resiliency. I hope that this kind of listening to the past will help us build more inclusive cities in the future.

Georgina's book list on women in the city

Georgina Hickey Why did Georgina love this book?

I did not take to this book right away. Both main characters seemed rigid and selfish in ways that put me off initially. When I came back to the novel some years (decades?) later, I could better see and appreciate the complexity of building a life in racist America of the 1920s. The rigidity that had initially put me off seemed much more understandable as a defense mechanism in a society that was largely hostile to them as women of color.

Giving the book another go, I’ve come to admire the way Larsen uses her characters’ decisions (about whether to pass as white, have children, trust the men they’ve chosen to live with, etc.) to explore complicated ideas surrounding color and race. There are also some scathing indictments of whites, particularly white men that raise some pretty big questions about how race and gender work together, even in our own…

By Nella Larsen,

Why should I read it?

7 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 Sula

Nell Freudenberger Author Of The Limits

From my list on what it’s really like to be a teenage girl.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s. I was a shy teenager, an obsessive reader, and a secret writer.  I went to an all-girls high school where we wore uniforms, did a lot of homework, and mostly had no idea how to meet boys. The teen girls I encountered in movies, TV shows, and even literature were sexualized to the point of being unrecognizable to me. Now that I work with teenagers (and am a mom to one), I’m fascinated by the variability of girls this age, their wide-ranging intelligence, passions, and ways of being in the world. I love novels that reflect that complexity.

Nell's book list on what it’s really like to be a teenage girl

Nell Freudenberger Why did Nell love this book?

This is my favorite of Toni Morrison’s novels because of the utterly original world she creates in the fictional Ohio neighborhood called “The Bottom.” Every time I read it, I find something new in the friendship between the main characters, Nel and Sula, a kind of relationship I recognized immediately.

I was a rule-abiding, quiet teenager who strived for approval from adults but was always attracted to bolder, less conventional friends. I often think about a scene in which Nel and Sula are walking down the street together, experiencing the sudden sense of power that comes with men’s attention and their whispered words, “pig meat.” I don’t know another book that gets at the threat and the mystery of sexual life so honestly or in such original language.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Extravagantly beautiful... Enormously, achingly alive... A howl of love and rage, playful and funny as well as hard and bitter' New York Times

As young girls, Nel and Sula shared each other's secrets and dreams in the poor black mid-West of their childhood. Then Sula ran away to live her dreams and Nel got married.

Ten years later Sula returns and no one, least of all Nel, trusts her. Sula is a story of fear - the fear that traps us, justifying itself through perpetual myth and legend. Cast as a witch by the people who resent her strength, Sula…


Book cover of The Mothers

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Author Of Patches of Grey

From my list on Black family dynamics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading and writing about family dynamics, particularly Black families, has always appealed to me. Particularly when it comes to the generation gap between parents and their children that causes them to see the same world through different lenses. Who we choose to see as our true family, the ones who define the place we call home, may or may not be defined by blood. I am fortunate not to have personally experienced most of the drama and trauma found in novels that I am drawn to, and in stories I have felt compelled to write. Otherwise, I would have turned to memoir writing rather than fiction.

Roy's book list on Black family dynamics

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Why did Roy love this book?

Brit Bennett writes with a steady hand as she immerses us into the minds and lives of three people. Nadia and Aubrey are haunted to womanhood by maternal abandonment. They are friends as well as rivals for the affection of the same man. Luke would have made a mother out of Nadia had they chosen to parent, and he eventually makes a wife and mother of Aubrey. His mother is the first lady of the church that plays a prominent role in their lives. The mothers in Bennett's exceptional novel are hurt and betrayed by callous men and by each other. I rooted for each of them to persevere, but like many of my favorite novels, this is not a happily ever after for everyone type of story.

By Brit Bennett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half.

The Mothers is a dazzling debut about young love, a big secret in a small community and the moments that haunt us most.

All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.

It's the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes…


Book cover of Waiting to Exhale

Sheri Langer Author Of Love-Lines

From my list on novels about romance, rejection, and betrayal that pair well with tubs of ice cream.

Why am I passionate about this?

My parents split up when I was six. I escaped from my sadness by reading stories about love and relationships and exploring how others went about the business of living and coping. I married young for security and to have a big family of my own. I succeeded. I have four amazing kids, but after years of wedded chaos, I too was divorced. As a single mom, I set out in search of my own identity and went back to novels to help me find myself. Though I’ve since been fortunate to find my happily ever after, I still enjoy characters that feel like friends who offer warmth, hope, and comfort. 

Sheri's book list on novels about romance, rejection, and betrayal that pair well with tubs of ice cream

Sheri Langer Why did Sheri love this book?

As a white Jewish woman, I know I’m not the authority on the systemic issues inherent in romantic relationships in Black culture, but the good news is, this novel doesn’t require me to be. Bernadine, Savannah, Gloria, and Robin, four Black, thirty-something women navigating their way through love in the nineties, is a story that transcends race. 

As I read about their hopes and dreams, their disappointments and pain, I recognized myself. Through McMillan’s clear voice, I was able to step into each character’s shoes and feel my way through their experiences. I also learned that a cheating guy’s car is an easy target- memorable!

Flavor Pick: Cookies and Cream

By Terry McMillan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Waiting to Exhale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of four vibrant black women in their thirties. They draw on each other for support as they struggle with careers, divorce, motherhood and their relationships with men.


Book cover of The Women of Brewster Place

Kalisha Buckhanon Author Of Solemn

From my list on Black women’s friendships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Black woman novelist in America who has made it through life with three things: God, great books, and greater friends. Throughout my writing career, friends have encouraged and supported each and every book I could not have written without them. I am also a literary scholar of black women writers in America, a champion of their works, and a soul dedicated to preserving their names in the literary canon. I have two English literature and language degrees from University of Chicago with my M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The New School. No novel I write is complete without empowering and strengthening relationships between Black women and girls.

Kalisha's book list on Black women’s friendships

Kalisha Buckhanon Why did Kalisha love this book?

This is the absolute, hands down best collection of interlinked stories framed as a novel I have ever read in my life. You will fall in love with each and every one of these colorful, dynamic, and heartwarming women who find themselves in one tenement building in 1970s Harlem. Mattie Michael, Etta Mae Johnson, Lucielia "Ciel" Turner, Melanie "Kiswana" Browne, Cora Lee, Lorraine, and Theresa all come from different backgrounds but intersect around one major theme: surviving urban America as Black women. By the end, you will roar in celebration and respect for their journeys to self-fulfillment, self-discovery, and self-empowerment despite incredible odds. 

By Gloria Naylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The National Book Award-winning novel-and contemporary classic-that launched the brilliant career of Gloria Naylor, now with a foreword by Tayari Jones

"[A] shrewd and lyrical portrayal of many of the realities of black life . . . Naylor bravely risks sentimentality and melodrama to write her compassion and outrage large, and she pulls it off triumphantly." -The New York Times Book Review

"Brims with inventiveness-and relevance." -NPR's Fresh Air

In her heralded first novel, Gloria Naylor weaves together the stories of seven women living in Brewster Place, a bleak-inner city sanctuary, creating a powerful, moving portrait of the strengths, struggles,…


Book cover of The Star Side of Bird Hill

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Author Of Patches of Grey

From my list on Black family dynamics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading and writing about family dynamics, particularly Black families, has always appealed to me. Particularly when it comes to the generation gap between parents and their children that causes them to see the same world through different lenses. Who we choose to see as our true family, the ones who define the place we call home, may or may not be defined by blood. I am fortunate not to have personally experienced most of the drama and trauma found in novels that I am drawn to, and in stories I have felt compelled to write. Otherwise, I would have turned to memoir writing rather than fiction.

Roy's book list on Black family dynamics

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Why did Roy love this book?

The Star Side of Bird Hill is about two sisters, one a preteen and the other on the verge of womanhood, sent from Brooklyn to Barbados to spend a summer with their grandmother. This temporary arrangement becomes permanent when their severely depressed mother kills herself. The children of Bird Hill are still friends in the making. Their grandmother is an unbending woman with strange ways, not the adored woman who raised them. Adapting to a new home takes time and reluctant willingness. I spent my earliest years with my grandparents on my mother’s side on the island of Anegada while my parents set up roots in NY before bringing me to a new home. This gave me an immediate connection to Naomi Jackson’s wonderful novel. Her skillful writing did the rest.

By Naomi Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Star Side of Bird Hill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in this stunning debut novel
 
This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing…


Book cover of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Author Of Patches of Grey

From my list on Black family dynamics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading and writing about family dynamics, particularly Black families, has always appealed to me. Particularly when it comes to the generation gap between parents and their children that causes them to see the same world through different lenses. Who we choose to see as our true family, the ones who define the place we call home, may or may not be defined by blood. I am fortunate not to have personally experienced most of the drama and trauma found in novels that I am drawn to, and in stories I have felt compelled to write. Otherwise, I would have turned to memoir writing rather than fiction.

Roy's book list on Black family dynamics

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Why did Roy love this book?

A girl is haunted by events that shaped her destiny early on. A father who vanished without a trace. A mother who took her own life along with those of her other children by leaping from the roof of a building. There is a witness and a survivor, and this beautiful novel is the latter's story, as well as an examination of race. She is her father's Black and her mother's White daughter. Her racial identity therefore is both and neither, dependent on how one sees her, or how she chooses to see herself on any given day. Exploration of racial as well as family dynamics are themes that I am strongly drawn to read as well as write about. Durrow blends the two masterfully.

By Heidi W. Durrow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl Who Fell from the Sky 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?

"The Girl Who Fell from the Sky can actually fly." —The New York Times Book Review
 
Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy after a fateful morning on their Chicago rooftop.

Forced to move to a new city, with her strict African American grandmother as her guardian, Rachel is thrust for the first time into a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring a constant stream of attention her way. It’s there, as she grows up and tries to swallow her grief,…


Book cover of Breath, Eyes, Memory

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Author Of Patches of Grey

From my list on Black family dynamics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading and writing about family dynamics, particularly Black families, has always appealed to me. Particularly when it comes to the generation gap between parents and their children that causes them to see the same world through different lenses. Who we choose to see as our true family, the ones who define the place we call home, may or may not be defined by blood. I am fortunate not to have personally experienced most of the drama and trauma found in novels that I am drawn to, and in stories I have felt compelled to write. Otherwise, I would have turned to memoir writing rather than fiction.

Roy's book list on Black family dynamics

Roy L. Pickering Jr. Why did Roy love this book?

As a teenager, Sophie leaves behind all that she knows in Haiti to be reunited with her mother. In New York, she falls for a man closer in age to her mother than herself. Her mother rages against him, or any man deemed unsuitable. Desire to guard Sophie's purity drives a wedge between them. The patriarchy of Haiti has lingering effects, resulting in maternal protection that resembles cruelty. Sophie tries to make a marriage work out in different ways and for different reasons than the women (mother, aunt, grandmother) who raised her and formed her ideas of womanhood. Stories of family often center on the differing priorities and expectations of different generations. This aspect of the gracefully written Breath, Eyes, Memory is what drew me in and kept me hooked.

By Edwidge Danticat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti--to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.


Book cover of Riders of the Purple Sage

Bob Giel Author Of Shawnee

From my list on generating interest in the Western genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a life-long love of Westerns. I’ve researched the period and the events extensively. One of the first things I look for in any book I read is period accuracy. The books I write are historically accurate, though they are fiction. I’m on a mission, through my writing, to save the Western genre.

Bob's book list on generating interest in the Western genre

Bob Giel Why did Bob love this book?

This was the first Western I read when I was young. It made an impression on me, not only as a Western, but as a classic story of good and evil with sharply drawn characters that make it come alive to the reader. Grey’s writing puts the reader right in the middle of every scene. And it has an ending you don’t see coming, but one that fits perfectly.

By Zane Grey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Riders of the Purple Sage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


Book cover of The Scent of Rain

Brenda Stanley Author Of The Treasure of Cedar Creek

From my list on escaping polygamist cults.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in southern Utah for many years, I saw first-hand the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah. It always intrigued me that these people still held on to the beliefs and teachings of the early Mormon leaders regardless of the laws or scorn of those who lived around them. The research I did for The Treasure of Cedar Creek, was about polygamy, but also the history of the area of Idaho where the novel takes place and how it would be as a woman not only trying to escape, but facing the challenges of the terrain and perceptions of the day.

Brenda's book list on escaping polygamist cults

Brenda Stanley Why did Brenda love this book?

This book was so hard for me to put down. I was caught up in the many twists and turns, and wanted to know how this young girl would escape. This story not only looks at the horrors of modern-day polygamist cults but also the challenges of the foster care system. I was swept up and cheering her on as she escaped into the treacherous terrain of the Arizona desert. With Montgomery’s vivid descriptions, I could feel the heat and the struggles these young people faced while trying to escape. This book is beautifully written and had me connected to the characters from the beginning.

By Anne Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away. 

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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