100 books like Tender

By Sofia Samatar,

Here are 100 books that Tender fans have personally recommended if you like Tender. 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 The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Chiara Terzuolo Author Of Hidden Japan: A guidebook to Tokyo & beyond

From my list on books before visiting Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying Japanese since 2008, studied in the country twice, and then finally made my home here in 2011. Over the years, I have been to 43 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, writing articles about my experiences and constantly searching for new, hidden places where I could still find a touch of the Japan of yore. With so many people visiting the country, I want to do my part to give folks options that are off the beaten path and away from the crowds. 

Chiara's book list on books before visiting Japan

Chiara Terzuolo Why did Chiara love this book?

While, of course, as a fiction book, it gets a bit fantastical at times, this book captures the true oddity and tension of the end of Japan’s sakoku era, when the country was cut off from the world, except for a few highly controlled ports like Dejima in Nagasaki.

I loved how well the author expressed the feeling of time and place and laughed at how some things still haven’t changed. 

By David Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller, from the author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010

'Brilliant' - The Times
'A masterpiece' - Scotsman

Be transported to a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th-century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.

Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two…


Book cover of Piranesi

H.J. Reynolds Author Of Without a Shadow

From my list on unique and memorable magic systems.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read almost any genre, but fantasy is what I love most, both reading and writing. Stories are magic, but when they have actual magic in them, I’m hooked. Having studied both Film and Creative Writing at university, I love to go in-depth on storytelling and have reviews aplenty on my website if you want further recommendations. The books I’ve chosen for this list have incredibly unique worlds full of bizarre magic. When I enter a new world, I want it to be exactly that: new and exciting with a touch of the surreal. To me, these books showcase magic at its most vivid and creative. 

H.J.'s book list on unique and memorable magic systems

H.J. Reynolds Why did H.J. love this book?

I very nearly stopped reading this book–even though it’s so short as it starts off unbelievably abstract. I didn’t know what was going on, and the descriptions only added to the confusion. But I’m so glad I kept going.

The main character does amnesia in the most charming way, and discovering his past and the strange world he seems both lost in and totally at home in was absolutely enchanting. This has stuck with me ever since, like the most vivid fever dream.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction
A SUNDAY TIMES & NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, 'one of our greatest living authors' NEW YORK MAGAZINE
__________________________________
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend,…


Book cover of St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Kevin J. Fellows Author Of At the End of the World

From my list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both.

Why am I passionate about this?

After reading The Enormous Egg as a child, I’ve been devoted to stories where the strange, the uncanny, and the magical are all elements of the worlds characters must negotiate. I’m most drawn to fiction containing seemingly unreal elements because, in my experience, that is reality. Those moments when the past suddenly feels present, or when you glimpse something at the edge of your vision that feels significant, but you can’t quite catch it. Moments when anything is possible. No surprise that I write fiction that explores those moments of uncertainty and leaves the reader unmoored, thinking about the people and their experiences long after they’ve left the book.

Kevin's book list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both

Kevin J. Fellows Why did Kevin love this book?

I’m always impressed by how Karen Russell pulls the reader into her stories with no warning about what we’re getting into. No easing into strange situations. She places her characters in what we publicly claim can’t be real but privately know to be true.

To make a fabulist story work, images must cling to the reader’s mind like golden treacle. Each one either grounding us in the familiar or firmly establishing the unfamiliar as quotidian. Russel is a master at this. Her stories flow so easily, and her characters’ unforgettable voices hit the reader in the first paragraph.

By Karen Russell,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charting loss, love, and the difficult art of growing up, these stories unfurl with wicked humour and insight. Two young boys make midnight trips to a boat graveyard in search of their dead sister, who set sail in the exoskeleton of a giant crab; a boy whose dreams foretell implacable tragedies is sent to 'Sleepaway Camp for Disordered Dreamers' (Cabin 1, Narcoleptics; Cabin 2, Insomniacs; Cabin 3, Somnambulists. . . ); a Minotaur leads his family on the trail out West, and finally, in the collection's poignant and hilarious title story, fifteen girls raised by wolves are painstakingly re-civilised by…


Book cover of Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic

Kevin J. Fellows Author Of At the End of the World

From my list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both.

Why am I passionate about this?

After reading The Enormous Egg as a child, I’ve been devoted to stories where the strange, the uncanny, and the magical are all elements of the worlds characters must negotiate. I’m most drawn to fiction containing seemingly unreal elements because, in my experience, that is reality. Those moments when the past suddenly feels present, or when you glimpse something at the edge of your vision that feels significant, but you can’t quite catch it. Moments when anything is possible. No surprise that I write fiction that explores those moments of uncertainty and leaves the reader unmoored, thinking about the people and their experiences long after they’ve left the book.

Kevin's book list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both

Kevin J. Fellows Why did Kevin love this book?

I wish publishers translated more fantastical fiction from around the world. This collection by Mexican authors offers a buffet of the weird, fabulist, and otherworldly.

The translated prose is masterful. Many stories draw the distant, decaying realm lying between life and death, directly and viscerally, into the homes and lives of the characters.

Anthologies can often suffer from an unevenness between authors, but this collection is consistently surprising and offers something for any reader of fabulist fiction.

By Eduardo Jimenez Mayo (editor), Chris N. Brown (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Messages and a Warning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A huge, energetic, and ambitious groundbreaking anthology from emerging and established Mexican authors which showcases all-new supernatural folktales, alien incursions, ghost stories, apocalyptic narratives, and more. Stereotypes of Mexican identities and fictions are identified and transcended. Traditional tales rub shoulders with mindbending new worlds. Welcome to the new Mexican fantastic. Eduardo Jimenez Mayo's translations include books by Bruno Estanol, Rafael Perez Gay, and Jose Maria Perez Gay. Chris N. Brown lives in Austin, Texas. He is a contributor to the blog No Fear of the Future. Bruce Sterling lives in Turin, Italy, and blogs at Wired's Beyond the Beyond.


Book cover of The Thousand Faces of Night

Berlie W. Doherty Author Of Rose Doran Dreams

From my list on the psychological power of fairy stories and fables.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much of my writing is influenced by Fairy Stories. Sometimes I retell the stories in my own words, sometimes I create my own, and sometimes, as in Rose Doran Dreams, I weave them into the narrative so that they shape the central character in a way that affects or explains her development. There is a darkness about Fairy Stories that fascinates me, that gives psychological depth to a character or a narrative as I write. I am dizzy with the notion that Fairy Stories don’t belong to the teller or the writer, the listener or the reader; they transcend time and place. 

Berlie's book list on the psychological power of fairy stories and fables

Berlie W. Doherty Why did Berlie love this book?

I was given this book thirty years ago by an Indian poet, who promised me I would love it. It is a feast of stories, told to the central character Devi throughout her life. Through her grandmother’s ancient stories, she learns about love, beauty, riches, and womanhood. Her father-in-law tells her stories that teach her about life, how to survive her lonely marriage, how to belong. Stories and dreams give her wealth and power, but they evaporate and still she is there, empty, alone, and desperate for the love that the old stories are about. 

Two other women’s stories weave through the narrative. Her mother Seta, and her husband’s old retainer, Mayamma share exotic tales of ancient India, Gods, mysteries, magic, and rituals. 

The Thousand Faces of Night is trancelike and beautiful.

By Githa Hariharan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A debut novel which interweaves the fabled myths and legends of India with a young woman's search for self, exploring such universal themes as freedom, independence and desire.


Book cover of Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

Steven G. Rogelberg Author Of The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance

From my list on navigating out of meeting hell.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an organizational psychologist, I am driven to study and work to improve work activities that are causing great frustration and not working effectively—meetings are the perfect fit. And, for 20 years I have been actively publishing in this space and have spoken to well over 100,000 leaders through my keynotes/events/videos. What excites me is that meeting science can truly help leaders, teams, and organizations. The books I recommend are well-aligned with the science, and can be difference makers. I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful.  

Steven's book list on navigating out of meeting hell

Steven G. Rogelberg Why did Steven love this book?

This is a really unique and different meeting book – it basically teaches about how to run meeting effectively by inserting them naturally into a fable. The fable is really quite engaging and something most of us can relate to. The learnings, although not extensive, align quite well with the science. Overall it is a fun and informative book.

By Patrick M. Lencioni,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death by Meeting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Casey McDaniel had never been so nervous in his life. In just ten minutes, The Meeting, as it would forever be known, would begin. Casey had every reason to believe that his performance over the next two hours would determine the fate of his career, his financial future, and the company he had built from scratch. 'How could my life have unravelled so quickly?' he wondered. In his latest page-turning work of business fiction, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni provides readers with another powerful and thought-provoking book, this one centred around a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of…


Book cover of Aesop's Fables for Little Children (Story Collections for Little Children): 1

Mike Amante Author Of The Puppy Who Lost His Woof

From my list on animals that teaches good morals and values.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Filipino illustrator who draws children’s books for both publishers and for private commissions. I also have been reading children’s books as part of my job. My go-to children's stories are often about animals and nature. I hope you'll like the books on this list as much as I do!

Mike's book list on animals that teaches good morals and values

Mike Amante Why did Mike love this book?

I like reading a lot of animal stories and Aesop’s Fables is definitely on top of my list. The Town Mouse and Country Mouse fable is my favorite. When I was young, I never got to appreciate it but reading it as a grown-up, I can totally relate to how Town Mouse and Country Mouse felt about their hometowns. For me, no matter what place I travel to, I will still always prefer to live in my hometown. I recommend this version in particular because it’s geared towards younger readers. The morals are indicated at the start of every story to guide the readers on what lesson is being taught. I love the aesthetic of this book as well. It has a beautiful painterly and cartoony style to it.

By Various,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aesop's Fables for Little Children (Story Collections for Little Children) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

A delightful collection of six stories, with lively retellings and colourful artwork by Columbian illustrator, John Joven. A perfect first introduction to Aesop for little children. Stories include well-known classics The Lion and the Mouse, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and The Ant and the Grasshopper.


Book cover of The Whale Who Wanted More

Kevin Asla Author Of Autumn's Halloween

From my list on fables with moral through the eyes of animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I enjoy stories with morals & adventure! The animal kingdom has always been a favourite of children around the world, and a perfect way of conveying these fables without boring the reader. My particular love for foxes has always been there but also extends to other forest creatures. They are always my first choice when picking a book that kids will love and also for my video game designs.

Kevin's book list on fables with moral through the eyes of animals

Kevin Asla Why did Kevin love this book?

The theme of this book is universal. Many of us have always desired more and find little solace in what we have, when what we have is truly all we need. The Whale Who Wanted More reflects a society that needs too much of everything and never has enough. The book tells the story of not living the life one should and depriving ourselves of real happiness only because we think we need more. Humphrey the whale wonders in the deep blue too busy and stressed to think about what he really wants in life. 

By Rachel Bright, Jim Field (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whale Who Wanted More as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

A stunning undersea tale of friendship, community and discovery from the bestselling creators of The Lion Inside.

Under glittering waves of a vast ocean blue, a beautiful world is hidden from view.
And there, in the cool and the quiet of the deep, a great, gentle giant was stirring from sleep . . .

Humphrey the whale is on a quest: to find the one perfect object that will make him feel complete. He roams far and wide, gathering endless undersea treasure as he goes. Yet, no matter how many goodies he accumulates, Humphrey still doesn't feel content. Could it…


Book cover of The Wolf’s Secret

Coralie Bickford-Smith Author Of The Fox and the Star

From my list on children’s stories that adults will love as well.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author, illustrator, and book designer. I never lost my childhood wonder at the printed page. When I write my own books, I create stories for both adults and children with deep meaning weaved into seemingly naive text and images. I enjoy creating worlds in which stories are told for children's and adults' imaginations to coexist. I think being dyslexic led me to enjoy aspects of visual storytelling so much. I have worked in publishing for many years and I am well known for my work on the Penguin clothbound classics where I use my visual illustration style to entice readers new and old to read classic stories and escape into new worlds.

Coralie's book list on children’s stories that adults will love as well

Coralie Bickford-Smith Why did Coralie love this book?

As soon as I opened this book, I could see the inspiration from all the things that I personally love had been weaved into this beautiful visual story. I enjoy how illuminated manuscripts and ancient books inspire the pages with tiny detail. This book adds to its rich storytelling by playing with these elements. So beautifully designed and such wonderful integration of text and image. A stunning tale for young and old, with a message that makes my heart happy.

By Myriam Dahman, Nicolas Digard, Julia Sardà (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Wolf’s Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Wolf is a hunter, feared by every creature. But he has a secret: in the middle of the forest lives a girl whose beautiful voice has entranced him . . .

The Wolf longs for friendship. But is he prepared to sacrifice his own true nature in order for his wish to come true?

A beautiful and lyrical contemporary fairy tale about difference, trust and the power of friendship to overcome any obstacle.

This sumptuous hardback gift book, with gold foil detail, is perfect for lovers of fairy tales and fables, new and old. It is gloriously illustrated by acclaimed…


Book cover of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue

Scott Menchin Author Of Wiggle

From my list on for funny and artistic young children.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a curious Pratt Institute art school professor and loving parent of a daughter who has also written and/or illustrated sixteen children’s books I want to share my favorite books with other children’s book connoisseurs. It also helps that I have lots of opinions. Too many to count. And when someone actually wants to listen to my opinions I get very excited. I’m hoping one of my favorites becomes one of your favorites. 

Scott's book list on for funny and artistic young children

Scott Menchin Why did Scott love this book?

This classic teaches a bored child why it’s important to care.

With brilliant rhyming by the man who created Where The Wild Things Are along with a lion, this child learns a lesson that will never be forgotten. A helpful parenting tool for all overburdened mothers and fathers

By Maurice Sendak,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pierre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A story
with a moral air
about Pierre,
who learned
to care.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fables, selkie, and Galicia Spain?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about fables, selkie, and Galicia Spain.

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