100 books like The Arrival

By Shaun Tan,

Here are 100 books that The Arrival fans have personally recommended if you like The Arrival. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Thalia Verkade Author Of Movement: how to take back our streets and transform our lives

From my list on letting you perceive the world differently.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing my first book, I found out how dependent my thinking about the world beyond my doorstep was on language made up by engineers (“Please don’t block the driveway”). Engineering language defined how I saw the street. It was a shock to realize how severely this had limited my thinking about public space but also a liberation to become aware of this: now I could perceive streets in completely new and different ways. The books I recommend all have made me perceive the world differently. I hope they do the same for you. Also, see the recommendations by my co-author, Marco te Brömmelstroet.

Thalia's book list on letting you perceive the world differently

Thalia Verkade Why did Thalia love this book?

This book made me see life on Earth in a new way.

Fungi live mostly underground, much less visible than plants or animals. When Merlin Sheldrake started studying fungi at Cambridge, he did this in the Department of Plant Sciences. There is no Department of Fungi Sciences, which helps explain why scientists know so little about them and why society keeps regarding them as less important than plants or animals.

Merlin explains fungi are closer to animals than plants. They are crucial, fascinating, and intelligent beyond ways Western man has words for. He uses language in a sensitive and creative new way to describe and visualize the fungi world. This book is not for fungi lovers (I’m not one); it is for anyone who wants to expand his view of life.

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Entangled Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “brilliant [and] entrancing” (The Guardian) journey into the hidden lives of fungi—the great connectors of the living world—and their astonishing and intimate roles in human life, with the power to heal our bodies, expand our minds, and help us address our most urgent environmental problems.

“Grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world.”—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Time, BBC Science Focus, The Daily Mail, Geographical, The Times, The Telegraph, New Statesman, London Evening Standard, Science Friday

When we think…


Book cover of A Monster Calls

Sarah Allen Author Of The Nightmare House

From my list on where the monsters are more than monsters.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my high school creative writing class, my teacher once said that good writing was a bit like looking at a star. If you look directly at it, it gets a little fuzzy and hard to see. But if you look just off to the side, the star becomes vivid and clear. That, to me, is exactly the power of spooky stories for young readers. We all deal with monsters, to varying degrees, throughout our lives. Even kids. But if we look at it just off to the side, through the angle of a fun, spooky story, those monsters suddenly become much more comprehensible. More faceable. More beatable. 

Sarah's book list on where the monsters are more than monsters

Sarah Allen Why did Sarah love this book?

It’s been said by smarter people than me how writing horror for kids isn’t about scaring them, it’s about showing them how brave they are.

A Monster Calls is the perfect illustration of that. The scariness and the spookiness are a stand-in for the real-life horrors that this kid is facing. Kids deal with a lot, and this book is the perfect example of how to survive when the worst happens.

The artwork too—wow! I wish I could get some of this artwork to hang on my walls. Absolutely gorgeous book.

By Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Monster Calls 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?

The bestselling novel and major film about love, loss and hope from the twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness.

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It's ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking…


Book cover of Klara and the Sun

Joseph Pitkin Author Of Exit Black

From my list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My science fiction and fantasy writing is concerned with the values I was exposed to growing up. As a lifelong Quaker, I have struggled—often unsuccessfully—to live out Quakerism’s non-conformist, almost utopian commitment to equality, simplicity, peace, and community. Not only have I tried to bear witness to those values in my writing, but those ideals led me to my career as an instructor at a community college, one of America’s great socioeconomic leveling institutions. My background as a speculative fiction writer has also made me into a teacher of science fiction and fantasy literature at my college, where I read and came to love the books I recommend here. 

Joseph's book list on fantasy-science fiction books that explore class and inequality

Joseph Pitkin Why did Joseph love this book?

Haunting and beautiful, it gave me a new perspective on what science fiction can accomplish: Ishiguro’s book is subtle, humane, and deeply concerned with the troubles of the real world.

This story of Klara, an “artificial friend” purchased to keep a sick little girl company, takes up questions of eugenics, artificial intelligence, and, ultimately, what it means to be a human being.

Along the way, the book explores the gulf between economic and social classes with as much care and compassion as Charles Dickens or Thomas Hardy—Klara and the Sun is some of the most inspiring science fiction I have ever read.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Klara and the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021*
*A Barack Obama Summer Reading Pick*

'A delicate, haunting story' The Washington Post
'This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go . . . tender, touching and true.' The Times

'The Sun always has ways to reach us.'

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges…


Book cover of Austerlitz

Elizabeth Baines Author Of Astral Travel

From my list on fighting to overcome the legacy of their parents’ past.

Why am I passionate about this?

From an early age, I was steeped in stories. My mother is a great storyteller and would tell vivid and exciting stories of her childhood, giving me a great sense of my own life as a part of the story of generations. We moved around a lot for my father’s job, which was sometimes disorientating and could lead to loneliness, and I took refuge in libraries and in writing stories of my own. By the time I left school, literature was my big love and mainstay, and I took a degree in English and later taught it in schools. Reading and writing stories has since become my life.

Elizabeth's book list on fighting to overcome the legacy of their parents’ past

Elizabeth Baines Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I honestly felt my life had more meaning after I first read this book, as it touched on so much that was close to my heart.

I totally identified with the protagonist’s emotional journey: a childhood imbued with a sense of things lost and hidden, which, in adulthood, he tries to quell with erudition before the past erupts and he learns the truth of his tortured origins.

I found it really haunting and more in touch with the truth about the human condition than most books I’ve read. I’ve read it three times, once with my reading group, and I’m sure I’ll read it again. 

By W.G. Sebald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he…


Book cover of The Beast Player

Henry Lien Author Of Future Legend of Skate and Sword

From my list on readers seeking unique Asian fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I had a tough time finding books with characters who looked like me after moving from Taiwan to America. That’s usually bad for most kids. However, I was a hideously self-absorbed kid. Having to read about characters who didn’t look or live like me made my childhood infinitely richer. Since becoming an author, I’ve written books that draw from my heritage and lectured about East Asian storytelling at various universities and writing programs. I do this as a love letter to my own heritage but also as a thank you letter to America for sharing its culture with me. Here’s a bit of mine in return.

Henry's book list on readers seeking unique Asian fantasy

Henry Lien Why did Henry love this book?

This wonderful Asian fantasy (the first of a duology) is about a young woman who has the rare ability to control flying wolf-like creatures. This ability plunges her into the middle of political intrigue as forces push her to weaponize this ability and use the beasts as battle mounts. The most unique thing about the book is how it questions the ethics of humans using animals for their purposes. Most fantasies unquestioningly use animal mounts as weapons/vehicles or at most use an animal’s death to trigger a cheap emotional response. This book puts the ethics of using magnificent creatures for human concerns at its very heart. It demonstrates a respect for the natural world that seems consistent with Shinto teaching and that I find too rare in fantasy.

By Nahoko Uehashi, Cathy Hirano (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Beast Player 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?

Elin's family have an important responsibility: caring for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom's army. So when some of the beasts mysteriously die, Elin's mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath she manages to send her daughter to safety.

Alone, far from home, Elin soon discovers that she can talk to both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill gives her great powers, but it also involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. Can she save herself and prevent her…


Book cover of Moon Theater

James Christopher Carroll Author Of A Song

From my list on adults, children, and other dreamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My books may never be a child’s favorite nighty-night story, but I think they offer fresh minds opportunities to visit some unusual places. There are goblins in the forest; so let’s go there together, in delight, holding hands. My poems and illustrations have been featured in numerous books and magazines and honored by the National  Council of Teachers of English and the Society of Illustrators. I live with my youngest son in upstate New York, in a house filled with bikes and balls, color, and music.

James' book list on adults, children, and other dreamers

James Christopher Carroll Why did James love this book?

If you are anything like me, and of course you are, you’ll feel like you are dream-reading your way through this deliciously enchanting book. Mr. Delessert is a true master of this craft, and these pages are filled with soul food.

By Etienne Delessert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moon Theater as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A young stagehand must complete a host of tasks before the moon can take center stage in the theater of night.


Book cover of Little Nemo in Slumberland: 302+1 full-page weekly comic strips (October 15, 1905 - July 23, 1911)

James Christopher Carroll Author Of A Song

From my list on adults, children, and other dreamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My books may never be a child’s favorite nighty-night story, but I think they offer fresh minds opportunities to visit some unusual places. There are goblins in the forest; so let’s go there together, in delight, holding hands. My poems and illustrations have been featured in numerous books and magazines and honored by the National  Council of Teachers of English and the Society of Illustrators. I live with my youngest son in upstate New York, in a house filled with bikes and balls, color, and music.

James' book list on adults, children, and other dreamers

James Christopher Carroll Why did James love this book?

Now c’mon, was this guy Winsor fer-real? This stuff is off the charts other-realm, lucid sleeping material. His work was done as comic strips, but can now be found in book form in a variety of volumes. It may be the century between us, but these images and text make me feel a little tilted, off-center, and in the best way possible.

By Winsor McCay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Nemo in Slumberland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Little Nemo is a fictional character created by American cartoonist Winsor McCay. Nemo was originally the protagonist of the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. The full-page weekly comic strip depicted Nemo having fantastic dreams that were interrupted by his awakening in the final panel. The strip is considered McCay's masterpiece for its experiments with the form of the comics page, its use of color, its timing and pacing, the size and shape of its panels, perspective, architectural and other detail.

Little Nemo in Slumberland ran in the New York Herald from October 15, 1905, until July 23, 1911 for…


Book cover of Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems & Drawings

Danna Smith Author Of How Do You Haiku? A Step-by-Step Guide with Templates

From my list on hooking your kids on poetry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved words from the moment I met them. I wrote my first poem when I was eight years old and haven’t stopped yet! As a children’s book author, I love incorporating rhyme, poetry, or lyrical prose in the stories I write. I was a shy kid and often felt like my poetry wasn’t “good enough.” It is my goal to get kids excited about all forms of poetry and I want them to know that they can be poets if they want to and that writing, reading, and sharing poetry is fun and rewarding. 

Danna's book list on hooking your kids on poetry

Danna Smith Why did Danna love this book?

I dare you to read this book with a straight face!

This is a super fun classic collection of silly poetry that will tickle funny bones young and old. The simple line drawings tip the humor scale of each poem. The book is thick, 176 pages of rhyming nonsense. Just what the doctor ordered to put seriousness on the back burner and enjoy a giggle with friends and family.

By Shel Silverstein,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Where the Sidewalk Ends 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?

Shel Silverstein, the New York Times bestselling author of The Giving Tree, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, and Every Thing On It, has created a poetry collection that is outrageously funny and deeply profound. Come in...for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein's world begins. This special edition contains 12 extra poems. You'll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow…


Book cover of In the Night Kitchen

James Christopher Carroll Author Of A Song

From my list on adults, children, and other dreamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My books may never be a child’s favorite nighty-night story, but I think they offer fresh minds opportunities to visit some unusual places. There are goblins in the forest; so let’s go there together, in delight, holding hands. My poems and illustrations have been featured in numerous books and magazines and honored by the National  Council of Teachers of English and the Society of Illustrators. I live with my youngest son in upstate New York, in a house filled with bikes and balls, color, and music.

James' book list on adults, children, and other dreamers

James Christopher Carroll Why did James love this book?

The best book ever of all time, for instructing humans how to be more human is Where the Wild Things Are. I think you probably already know that those pages are complete perfection. So I will now turn your attention to Mr. Sendak’s other completely perfect pages of In the Night Kitchen. Maybe the second-best book ever of all time.

By Maurice Sendak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Night Kitchen 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?

From the acclaimed author-artist Maurice Sendak comes a Caldecott Honor-winning tale of a fantastical dream world. This comic fantasy will delight readers of all ages with playful illustrations and an imaginative world only Sendak could create.

In the Night Kitchen is the classic story of Mickey's adventures in the bakers’ kitchen as they prepare our morning cake. "Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake and nothing’s the matter!" the bakers sing.

The bakers in the night kitchen need more milk for their batter, but then Mickey falls into the cake! They decide to put him in…


Book cover of Across the Nightingale Floor

Henry Lien Author Of Future Legend of Skate and Sword

From my list on readers seeking unique Asian fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I had a tough time finding books with characters who looked like me after moving from Taiwan to America. That’s usually bad for most kids. However, I was a hideously self-absorbed kid. Having to read about characters who didn’t look or live like me made my childhood infinitely richer. Since becoming an author, I’ve written books that draw from my heritage and lectured about East Asian storytelling at various universities and writing programs. I do this as a love letter to my own heritage but also as a thank you letter to America for sharing its culture with me. Here’s a bit of mine in return.

Henry's book list on readers seeking unique Asian fantasy

Henry Lien Why did Henry love this book?

This book, the first in the rollicking The Tales of the Otori series, has been called “Shogun meets The Lord of the Rings.” The first book centers on a young man with some special abilities who is groomed to become an assassin due to one special talent — the ability to walk silently across a special floor composed of boards that chitter like birds when stepped on, which warlords sleep in the middle of as an alarm system. The series is one of the most gripping, wildly entertaining, and moving fantasies I’ve ever read. It is proof that it is possible for an artist to come to understand a culture deeply enough to honor its spirit, even if they weren’t born into that culture.

By Lian Hearn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Across the Nightingale Floor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most compelling novel to have been published this year' - Amanda Craig, "Observer". In his palace at Inuyama, Lord Iida Sadamu, warlord of the Tohan clan, surveys his famous nightingale floor. Its surface sings at the tread of every human foot, and no assassin can cross it. But 16-year-old Otori Takeo, his family murdered by Iida's warriors, has the magical skills of the Tribe - preternatural hearing, invisibility, a second self - that enable him to enter the lair of the Tohan. He has love in his heart and death at his fingertips...The stunningly powerful bestseller, "Across the Nightingale…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in immigrants, magical realism, and surrealism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about immigrants, magical realism, and surrealism.

Immigrants Explore 167 books about immigrants
Magical Realism Explore 415 books about magical realism
Surrealism Explore 105 books about surrealism