10 books like Sing, Unburied, Sing

By Jesmyn Ward,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Sing, Unburied, Sing. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders,

Book cover of Lincoln in the Bardo

If you’ve ever looked at a picture of Abraham Lincoln and wondered why he looked so sad, you may find your answer here. He faced an almost insurmountable challenge and mourned the potentially fatal division of his country, it is true. But the death of his young son compounded that grief. Before reading this book, I had never heard of a ‘Bardo,’ and I’m still not convinced of its existence, except as a psychological state. But as a bereaved parent myself, I could understand Lincoln’s need to hold onto the memory of his dead son a little while longer. If you want to know what makes a man strong, you must first learn what can break his heart.

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Lincoln in the Bardo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017 A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH 'A masterpiece' Zadie Smith 'Extraordinary' Daily Mail 'Breathtaking' Observer 'A tour de force' The Sunday Times The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns…


Beloved

By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of Beloved

Toni Morrison’s magnificent Beloved is another novel that is deeper and more interesting each time I read it. It is, I think, a perfect novel, filled with heart and character and emotional truth. No American, certainly, can truly understand our history without reading this story of an escaped slave who murders her own child rather than allow her to be brought back to slavery, and then is haunted by the daughter’s ghost. What a beautiful and redemptive book, perhaps the most important novel written in my lifetime.

Beloved

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…


As I Lay Dying

By William Faulkner,

Book cover of As I Lay Dying

I always try to find reasons to read William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the painfully sad story of a family hauling their mother’s body to her hometown in order to bury her. Addie Bundren’s life has been sad and dreary, but the path to her resting place is even more so, replete with flood and fire, as well as a post-death monologue that contains one of the most psychologically complete rationalizations in literary history. Every time I read this book, I understand each of the Bundren family members more deeply, and have greater sympathy for the yoke their circumstance has harnessed them to.

As I Lay Dying

By William Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked As I Lay Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The death and burial of Addie Bundren is told by members of her family, as they cart the coffin to Jefferson, Mississippi, to bury her among her people. And as the intense desires, fears and rivalries of the family are revealed in the vernacular of the Deep South, Faulkner presents a portrait of extraordinary power - as epic as the Old Testament, as American as Huckleberry Finn.


The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold,

Book cover of The Lovely Bones

Contemporary suspense, psychological fiction, the afterlife, family dynamics, and heaps of disturbing are the ingredients mixed together in The Lovely Bones. Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon was raped and murdered. Only none of the living know who did it. But Susie knows. Her soul is stuck in the “Inbetween,” where she can watch the Earth below. She sees her family grieve. Sees her murderer, Mr. Harvey, who lives in her neighborhood near her school. Will he get caught? Or will Susie’s sister or another young girl be his next victim? As a ghostly “watcher” from the Inbetween, Susie narrates this compelling story and elevates it with her amazing voice. The message and emotional weight of The Lovely Bones will keep readers fully invested.

The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling novel that inspired the acclaimed film directed by Peter Jackson.

With an introduction by Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles.

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

In heaven, Susie Salmon can have whatever she wishes for - except what she most wants, which is to be back with the people she loved on earth. In the wake of her murder, Susie watches as her happy suburban family is torn apart by grief; as her friends grow up, fall in…


Annihilation

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Book cover of Annihilation

Part one of the Southern Reach Trilogy, this hypnotic book explores a mysterious island with nightmarish qualities. Area X is cut off from everywhere, and nature (or a renewed but ultimately unknowable notion of what nature can be) has supplanted humans there. An expedition exposes a new kind of extra-terrestrial Eden, but mass suicides occur. Later, explorers turn on each other in violence and gunfire; others return not as their former selves and die of cancer. The mystery of the place becomes more powerful and metaphorical for remaining a mystery.

The narrative goes beyond mere storytelling to leave profound imprints on the hippocampus as regards the alien forces that may or may not already be here and inseparable from our ordinary reality.

Annihilation

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A contemporary masterpiece' Guardian

THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE EXTRAORDINARY SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ALEX GARLAND (EX MACHINA) AND STARRING NATALIE PORTMAN AND OSCAR ISAAC

For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border - an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness.

The Southern Reach, a secretive government agency, has sent eleven expeditions to investigate Area X. One has ended in mass suicide, another in a hail of gunfire, the eleventh in a fatal cancer epidemic.

Now four women embark on the…


The Shining

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Shining

Jack Torrance is struggling with his creativity and his alcohol consumption and when he takes his family to the Overland Hotel he becomes possessed by the hotel! Spending a winter in isolation, his imagination runs rampant. I recommend the novel because it shows a writer who is deep in agony, stressed about being dried up, and then finds himself in such isolation his mind hooks into the dark, disturbing nightmare of murder and mayhem. Though Stephen King at first disliked the Stanley Kubrick film, he is slowly changing his mind. For me, the novel shows what could happen to a writer when they are utterly secluded. I have never been one of those writers who wants to rent a cottage in the woods and write.  I like writing in big cities never too far from a restaurant, a party, a human face.    

The Shining

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around…


Wise Blood

By Flannery O'Connor,

Book cover of Wise Blood

William Faulkner might have been the father of Southern Gothic, but Flannery O’Connor was the master. This is one of those books that makes you thankful for genius. Because everything about this book is genius. The story is about a young man named Hazel Motes who struggles to avoid his relentless fate. O’Connor’s writing is filled with religious extremism, grotesqueness, and mental illness—all the things that make America great. If I could have written a single book—this would be it.  

Wise Blood

By Flannery O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Wise Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor's first novel, is the story of Hazel Motes who, released from the armed services, returns to the evangelical Deep South. There he begins a private battle against the religiosity of the community and in particular against Asa Hawkes, the 'blind' preacher, and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter. In desperation Hazel founds his own religion, 'The Church without Christ', and this extraordinary narrative moves towards its savage and macabre resolution.

'A literary talent that has about it the uniqueness of greatness.' Sunday Telegraph

'No other major American writer of our century has constructed a fictional world so energetically…


Heart-Shaped Box

By Joe Hill,

Book cover of Heart-Shaped Box

Heart Shaped Box is a fantastic horror novel. I thought I knew where the story was going, but I was totally wrong. The main characters are heavily flawed, but you cheer them on anyhow, hoping they can escape. This story kept my heart pumping til the last page. I loved that I didn’t guess what the ending would be.

Heart-Shaped Box

By Joe Hill,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Heart-Shaped Box as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Buy my stepfather's ghost' read the e-mail.

So Jude did.

He bought it, in the shape of the dead man's suit, delivered in a heart-shaped box, because he wanted it: because his fans ate up that kind of story. It was perfect for his collection: the genuine skulls and the bones, the real honest-to-God snuff movie, the occult books and all the rest of the paraphanalia that goes along with his kind of hard/goth rock.

But the rest of his collection doesn't make the house feel cold. The bones don't make the dogs bark; the movie doesn't make Jude feel…


Peace Like a River

By Leif Enger,

Book cover of Peace Like a River

When I was thirty-one, on a Marine base in Virginia, I had a spiritual awakening. I stepped out of my ego and saw it from the outside—this thing I’d thought was myself but was actually a persona I’d fabricated to protect myself. The experience left me no longer wanting to solve the mystery of life, but wanting to live in the mystery. Peace Like a River is the embodiment of this longing to live in the mystery of existence. Narrated by a young boy whose father’s mysterious, other-worldly powers are revealed again and again as his older brother faces and flees from murder charges, this book leaves you with the hope that the things we can’t see are even more graceful than we can imagine.

Peace Like a River

By Leif Enger,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Peace Like a River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Israel Finch and Tommy Basca, the town bullies, break into the home of school caretaker Jeremiah Land, wielding a baseball bat and looking for trouble, they find more of it than even they expected. For seventeen-year-old Davey is sitting up in bed waiting for them with a Winchester rifle. His younger brother Reuben has seen their father perform miracles, but Jeremiah now seems as powerless to prevent Davey from being arrested for manslaughter, as he has always been to ease Reuben's daily spungy struggle to breathe. Nor does brave and brilliant nine-year-old Swede, obsessed as she is with the…


Amy and Isabelle

By Elizabeth Strout,

Book cover of Amy and Isabelle

In this exceptional story that I’ve read twice, Elizabeth Strout places a seemingly ordinary, though distant, mother and her shy teenage daughter in the provincial town of Shirley Falls, Maine, to create a stunning awakening in the daughter Amy and foster the admission of a long-hidden secret by Amy’s mother Isabelle. As much as Amy thinks her development is about her sexuality, it is more about forming a relationship with her lonely mother. After Amy learns her mother’s story, she learns her most important moment of identity has not been sexual initiation, but her self-acceptance. The relationship between mother and daughter fosters Amy’s coming of age. 

Amy and Isabelle

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Man Booker Prize longlisted author of My Name is Lucy Barton

Isabelle Goodrow has been living in self-imposed exile with her daughter Amy for 15 years. Shamed by her past and her affair with Amy's father she has submerged herself in the routine of her dead-end job and her unrequited love for her boss. But when Amy, frustrated by her quiet and unemotional mother, embarks on an illicit affair with her maths teacher, the disgrace intensifies the shame Isabelle feels about her own past.

Throughout one long, sweltering summer as the events of the small town ebb and…


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