94 books like Sympathy

By Olivia Sudjic,

Here are 94 books that Sympathy fans have personally recommended if you like Sympathy. 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 My Sister, the Serial Killer

Isabel Ashdown Author Of 33 Women

From my list on sinister sisters and strange sisterhoods.

Why am I passionate about this?

In both reading and writing fiction, the inciting incident – the murder, accident, or main event of a story – is less fascinating to me than the rich characters that surround it. I’m deeply interested in the lives of women and the ties between them, be they family or not. Whether we’re talking about familial sisters or sisterhood as a broader concept, the tensions, fierce loyalties, oppressions and liberations of women are where my interests will always lie. To my own sister and every one of the wise women who have cheered me on and helped shape my life so far, power to you all! I hope you enjoy these recommendations.

Isabel's book list on sinister sisters and strange sisterhoods

Isabel Ashdown Why did Isabel love this book?

It’s always refreshing to read portrayals of unconventional female relationships, something I’m particularly interested in when writing my own novels. Because our relationships are rarely straightforward or predictable, are they?

As the title suggests, the relationship between Korede and her serial killer sister, Ayoola, is far from conventional…and while the story delves into some dark and gruesome places, it is a thriller that had me laughing as much as covering my eyes in horror. This accomplished debut goes firmly on my ‘couldn’t put it down’ list – it’s warm, funny, and page-turningly good!

By Oyinkan Braithwaite,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked My Sister, the Serial Killer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sunday Times bestseller and The Times #1 bestseller

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
Winner of the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller
Capital Crime Debut Author of the Year 2019
__________

'A literary sensation'
Guardian

'A bombshell of a book... Sharp, explosive, hilarious'
New York Times

'Glittering and funny... A stiletto slipped between the ribs and through the left ventricle of the heart' Financial Times
__________

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber…


Book cover of Notes on a Scandal

S.P. Miskowski Author Of The Worst is Yet to Come

From my list on women doing terrible things.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, my mother offered daycare at our house. The kids, the regulars, had moms who worked outside their homes. I’ve been listening to the personal, social, and economic worries of adult women since I was in kindergarten. I hope my stories portray their vulnerability, resilience, kindness, and capacity for violence. I set women centerstage as a sign of respect and to make the full range of women as people—our personhood—visible and undeniable. I’m drawn to stories of women who lash out and commit terrible acts. To be counted, I think we must be perceived as human and therefore fallible, potentially dangerous, capable of anything.

S.P.'s book list on women doing terrible things

S.P. Miskowski Why did S.P. love this book?

I recommend this book as often as I can. Edgier and more disturbing than the film adaptation, Heller’s novel offers not one but two women doing terrible things.

Sheba is the art instructor hiding her illicit meetings with a student and running around like a teenager in what must be one of recent literature’s more reprehensible midlife crises. Barbara is the cynical older woman, the veteran teacher with a busy schedule and a barren personal life.

Sheba appeals to Barbara as a friend, to keep her secret. Barbara responds with feigned concern, then with affection, desire, jealousy, and a malicious desire to control Sheba, to jerk her chain and watch her dance. For sheer emotional power dynamics between two women, this book is hard to beat.

By Zoe Heller,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Notes on a Scandal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Film tie-in edition of Zoe Heller's darkly compelling Booker shortlisted novel. The film of Notes on a Scandal received four Oscar nominations and stars Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.

From the first day that the beguiling Sheba Hart joins the staff of St George's history teacher Barbara Covett is convinced she has found a kindred spirit. Barbara's loyalty to her new friend is passionate and unstinting and when Sheba is discovered having an illicit affair with one of her pupils, Barbara quickly elects herself as Sheba's chief defender. But all is not as it first seems in this dark story…


Book cover of The Majesties

Laura Elizabeth Woollett Author Of The Love of a Bad Man

From my list on badly behaved women.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my reading and writing, I’m drawn to complex characters, who embody the unpleasant impulses and mixed motivations we all have. I especially love well-drawn antiheroines, as women tend to be judged more harshly for being badly behaved, in life. All my books revolve around women who fit this description, from the wives and girlfriends of notorious serial killers in The Love of a Bad Man to the inner-circle of Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in Beautiful Revolutionary to Paulina Novak, the reckless, alcoholic murder victim at the heart of The Newcomer. To me, fiction is a playground for exploring the extremes of human thought and behaviour. 

Laura's book list on badly behaved women

Laura Elizabeth Woollett Why did Laura love this book?

Originally published as Under Your Wings in Australia, The Majesties could just easily be titled My Sister, the Mass-Murderer. It has one of my favourite openings of all time: beginning in a hospital, where Chinese-Indonesian fashion designer Gwendolyn lies comatose, the sole survivor of her sister Estella’s mass-poisoning of their 300-strong family dynasty. Though it has been compared to Crazy Rich Asians with its globe-trotting plot (taking place in Jakarta, Paris, and Melbourne, among other settings), The Majesties is a more sombre read, exploring corruption and racial tension in the upper echelons of Indonesian society. 

By Tiffany Tsao,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Best Books to Read in August - The Independent

Gwendolyn and Estella are as close as sisters can be. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor after Estella poisons their entire family.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to such a brutal act.

Journeying from the luxurious world of Indonesia's rich and powerful, to the spectacular shows of Paris Fashion Week, and the melting pot of Melbourne's student scene, The Majesties is a haunting novel about the dark secrets that can build a family…


Book cover of Two Girls Fat and Thin

Laura Elizabeth Woollett Author Of The Love of a Bad Man

From my list on badly behaved women.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my reading and writing, I’m drawn to complex characters, who embody the unpleasant impulses and mixed motivations we all have. I especially love well-drawn antiheroines, as women tend to be judged more harshly for being badly behaved, in life. All my books revolve around women who fit this description, from the wives and girlfriends of notorious serial killers in The Love of a Bad Man to the inner-circle of Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in Beautiful Revolutionary to Paulina Novak, the reckless, alcoholic murder victim at the heart of The Newcomer. To me, fiction is a playground for exploring the extremes of human thought and behaviour. 

Laura's book list on badly behaved women

Laura Elizabeth Woollett Why did Laura love this book?

Almost any of Mary Gaitskill’s books would have suited this theme (and her short story collection Bad Behavior is the obvious choice), but Two Girls, Fat and Thin is a recent discovery and new favourite of mine. Dorothy Never is the titular fat girl, and a former acolyte of an Ayn Rand-like guru, Anna Granite. Thin girl Justine Shade is a journalist who tracks her down while writing a takedown of Granite. From this setup, the novel backtracks to tell the girls’ life stories, in parallel, building up to Justine’s journalistic betrayal of Dorothy, and its surprising aftermath.  

By Mary Gaitskill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two Girls Fat and Thin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This captivating novel shimmers with dark intensity and wicked wit. In a stunning synthesis of eroticism, rage, pathos, and humor, Gaitskill's "fine storyteller's pace and brilliant metaphors" (The New York Times Book Review) create a haunting and unforgettable journey into the dark side of contemporary life and the deepest recesses of the soul.


Book cover of Someday, Somewhere

Anna Hecker Author Of When the Beat Drops

From my list on YA about girls who literally rock.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a painfully awkward teenager, two years younger than the rest of my class and a little too “extra” to fit in anywhere. I spent all of high school desperately seeking my weirdos—people who would accept me the way I was, rabid-puppy enthusiasm and all. One night I met a colorfully-dressed trio on the street who invited me to a loft party that changed my life. That night I fell in love with NYC’s underground party scene: the high-energy music, grimy locations, and most of all the people. I had found my weirdos. When the Beat Drops is my love letter to discovering your people and finding your scene. 

Anna's book list on YA about girls who literally rock

Anna Hecker Why did Anna love this book?

I was dying to read this book because I'd heard it was structured after Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano, and even though it's not a piece I'm intimately familiar with I could almost hear the music as I read. Even though it's billed as a love story, it's not so much a typical romance as it is an ode to following your passions, listening to your heart, and falling in love with New York City...for the first time, or all over again. As a longtime New Yorker I found myself rediscovering the city through Dominique's eyes, and I even learned some cool NYC facts I'd never heard before (not going to spoil anything, but I listen to the subway in a whole new way now)! Highly recommended for anyone who loves music, New York, or lyrical writing about flawed but shimmering characters.

By Lindsay Champion,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someday, Somewhere 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?

Structured like a sonata, this heartbreaking debut novel hits all the right notes.

Dominique is a high school junior from gritty Trenton, barely getting by. Ben is a musical prodigy from the Upper East Side, a rising star at a top conservatory.

When Dom’s class is taken to hear a concert at Carnegie Hall, she spots Ben in the front row, playing violin like his life depends on it — and she is transfixed.

Posing as an NYU student, Dom sneaks back to New York City to track him down. Soon, the two are desperately in love, each seeing something…


Book cover of The Folded Clock: A Diary

Kate Doyle Author Of I Meant It Once

From my list on making sense of your life by writing about it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of the short story collection I Meant It Once. I often say it’s a book about being a mess in your twenties, but to speak more personally, writing it was a necessity, a way to make sense of both the intensity and mundanity of my own experiences. I love a book where you can palpably feel the author working to make sense of their own life, through language—and, in turn, sorting out what it is for any of us to be a person. Books like these are essential reading when life feels thorny, beautiful, and impossible to make sense of, and all you can do is try to write it down.  

Kate's book list on making sense of your life by writing about it

Kate Doyle Why did Kate love this book?

I don’t set much store by orderly chronology, in life or writing—as might be clear from my book, where old memories live vividly alongside the present moment!

More interesting to me is how memory accumulates and morphs over time, and how stories live in our minds. Needless to say I adore Julavits’s non-chronological diary The Folded Clock (and what a title)! In gorgeously detailed individual sections, she immerses us in her life without regard for the precise sequence of events. We’re left with a beautiful jumble, which is surely truer than how life is anyway. 

By Heidi Julavits,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book

Rereading her childhood diaries, Heidi Julavits hoped to find incontrovertible proof that she was always destined to be a writer. Instead, they “revealed me to possess the mind of a phobic tax auditor.” Thus was born a desire to try again, to chronicle her daily life—now as a forty-something woman, wife, mother, and writer. A meditation on time and self, youth and aging, friendship and romance, faith and fate, and art and ambition, in The Folded Clock one of the most gifted prose stylists in American letters explodes the typically confessional diary form with…


Book cover of #famous

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a YA contemporary author that enjoys falling back into the realm of the teenager with all its newness, awkwardness, and angst. I grew up with the Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, the genre that encapsulated and empowered the young adult voice. The coming-of-age story is so important because it molds the future of that character which in turn can mold the reader as well. What happens to a young person in their developing years will set the tone for their entire life. As a writer and a mother, I want to share stories that not only entertain but help young adults navigate difficult situations.

Gabi's book list on books that capture the tender moments while growing up under difficult circumstances

Gabi Justice Why did Gabi love this book?

Humor. Sometimes I need some humor. I read a lot of heavy stories about young adults trudging through an unfair world that beats them down for 300 pages or intricate fantasy worlds with oppressed creatures and evil beings. So reading an uplifting, fun story between more daunting stories can be just what I need.

#famous is a breath of fresh air. And I admit I swooned over the love interest, Kyle. He is just so likeable.

By Jilly Gagnon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked #famous 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?

Debut author Jilly Gagnon bursts onto the scene with a story equal parts bite and romance, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Jennifer E. Smith, about falling for someone in front of everyone. In this modern day love story: Girl likes boy. Girl snaps photo and posts it online. Boy becomes insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent photo turns into a whirlwind adventure that forces them both to question whether fame-and love-are worth the price...and changes both of their lives forever. Told from alternating points of view, #famous captures the sometimes-crazy thrill ride of social media and…


Book cover of Meow or Never: Wish Novel

Sylvia Liu Author Of Manatee's Best Friend

From my list on animal and human friendships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with the natural world and our relationship with it since I was young. In my first career, as an environmental attorney, I worked to protect oceans and endangered species. Now, as a children’s author, I enjoy exploring environmental themes, as well as the unique bonds people have with animals, in my stories. The books I am recommending are recently published middle-grade novels that capture the magical connection between humans and animals, or animals with each other, whether in contemporary or fantasy settings. I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and live in Virginia with my family and our adorable hypoallergenic cat.

Sylvia's book list on animal and human friendships

Sylvia Liu Why did Sylvia love this book?

This is a heartwarming story about Avery, an anxious 12-year-old prone to panic attacks, with a secret crush on one of the popular girls in her school. In part to impress her, she auditions for the school musical, and to her horror, lands the lead role. She finds solace in a stray cat, Phantom, who hangs around the school theater, and slowly opens up to two new human friendships, including her crush. Avery learns how to become comfortable with asking for and receiving help while dealing with her anxiety, as well as figuring out how to face her stage fright.

By Jazz Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Meow or Never as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A heartwarming story of secret pets and secret crushes... and learning to take center stage!

Avery Williams can sing, but that doesn't mean she can sing in front of people. She likes to stay backstage at her new school, which is where, to her surprise, she finds a cat tucked away into a nook. Avery names the stray Phantom and visits any time she's feeling stressed (which is a lot these days).

As she sings to Phantom one day, her crush, Nic, overhears her and ropes Avery into auditioning for the school's musical. Despite her nerves, Avery lands the lead…


Book cover of Through My Window

Whitney D. Grandison Author Of The Right Side of Reckless

From my list on YA romances with bad boys to swoon over.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading ever since kindergarten, and when I entered high school and discovered YA books, I found my home. Even when I read adult books now, I tend to gravitate towards rough-around-the-edges male leads. There’s just something fun and tempting about an anti-hero, bad boy, or morally gray male lead that always delivers spice and yearning. I’m a sucker for those bad boys who are only good for the girl who has their heart. While not all of my male leads are “bad boys,” naturally, I do tend to find myself writing quite a few of them and enjoying them, especially when you can show they’re multidimensional and have a soft side. 

Whitney's book list on YA romances with bad boys to swoon over

Whitney D. Grandison Why did Whitney love this book?

This title is for the upper YA crowd, I’m talking sixteen going on seventeen because while set in high school, this read is steamy. What I love about this book is the humane side of things. Ares Hidalgo is far from perfect. He messes up with our heroine Raquel quite a few times, and I love that he’s flawed and kept trying to right his wrongs. I just loved Ares’s boldness, from stealing Raquel’s WiFi, to climbing through her window to fix said WiFi when it’s down, to calling her out on her crush on him. This book is total wish fulfillment, because imagine obtaining your crush!! Do watch the Netflix movie as well!

By Ariana Godoy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through My Window as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW ON NETFLIX! Read the steamy romance that started the international sensation…

It used to be that I obsessed over Ares Hidalgo from afar.
But that was before he climbed
Through My Window

Raquel Álvarez is hardworking and serious about her future. She’s only got one goal―to become a psychologist. Well, that and to get Ares Hildago to notice her.

For as long as Raquel can remember, she has been obsessed with Ares. Even though he lives next door, Raquel has never spoken to him. Yet, she can’t help thinking there’s more to him than his rich, hot playboy image.…


Book cover of Better Than the Movies

Sarah Dass Author Of When the Vibe Is Right

From my list on YA rom-com to make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rom-coms have always been my favorite type of escapism. Give me all the witty banter, romantic tension, quirky characters, and – of course – the well-earned happily-ever-afters. Yes, humor is subjective, so there is a chance these YA books won’t have you roll-on-the-floor laughing like me, but I’m pretty sure they’ll inspire at least a chuckle from even the stoniest reader. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Sarah's book list on YA rom-com to make you laugh

Sarah Dass Why did Sarah love this book?

The banter in this one is next-level fantastic.

Liz Buxbaum – a fellow rom-com fan – is trying to get the attention of her crush who recently moved back to town. She enlists the help of her annoying neighbor Wes Bennett to get her crush’s attention, but things don’t go according to plan.

Liz and Wes have amazing chemistry. Really enjoyed this one.

By Lynn Painter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Better Than the Movies 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?

Perfect for fans of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, this "sweet and funny" (Kerry Winfrey, author of Waiting for Tom Hanks) teen rom-com follows a hopelessly romantic teen girl and her cute yet obnoxious neighbor as they scheme to get her noticed by her untouchable crush.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he's back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar-and maybe snag him as a prom date-even befriend Wes Bennet.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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