100 books like The Astonishing Color of After

By Emily X. R. Pan,

Here are 100 books that The Astonishing Color of After fans have personally recommended if you like The Astonishing Color of After. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Tuck Everlasting

By Natalie Babbitt,

Book cover of Tuck Everlasting

Jill K. Sayre Author Of The Fairies of Turtle Creek

From the list on realistic fiction with a dollop of magic.

Who am I?

Like most writers, I am extremely interested in the “what if” factor. What if food ingredients could make a person feel specific emotions? What if drinking from a spring in the woods could give you a superpower? What if fairies really do take care of and grow all plants and trees in the world? I love to read and write about ordinary people, living everyday life, who encounter threads of magic. Influenced by reading books in the genre of “magical realism,” I love to explore how a dab of magic can be used in realistic fiction to emotionally affect the characters and story arc.

Jill's book list on realistic fiction with a dollop of magic

Why did Jill love this book?

So, this book was made into two movies, the first in 1981 and the other in 2002, but I first experienced this story by reading the book when I was a young girl in sixth grade in 1978. I remember reading the epilogue over and over again—it broke my heart to think how the greed of one man could ruin something so magical. I pondered whether it was a blessing or a curse to live forever, and the town of Treegap felt like it could exist in any wooded place. Whenever I find myself in a thick forest, I still search for springs that bubble up from the ground, taking me right back to those emotions when reading this great classic.

By Natalie Babbitt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winnie Foster is in the woods, thinking of running away from home, when she sees a boy drinking from a spring. Winnie wants a drink too, but before she can take a sip, she is kidnapped by the boy, Jesse Tuck, and his family. She learns that the Tuck family are blessed with - or doomed to - eternal life since drinking from the spring, and they wander from place to place trying to live as inconspicuously as they can. Now Winnie knows their secret. But what does immortality really mean? And can the Tucks help her understand before it's…

Hour of the Bees

By Lindsay Eagar,

Book cover of Hour of the Bees

Carla Kessler Author Of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

From the list on where kids who believe in nature make a difference.

Who am I?

As a child, one of my favorite places was in the top branches of a tree. From up there I could watch the world pass by, remaining invisible. I could make up stories about the world below and no one would challenge me. The second best place for me was inside the story of a book, the kind that took you to magical places where children always found a way to win the day. I knew when I “grew up” I would write one of those empowering books. I became a middle school teacher and have since read many wonderful books for this age. Enjoy my list of favorites.  

Carla's book list on where kids who believe in nature make a difference

Why did Carla love this book?

Carolina walks a fine line between reality and magic, a state of mind many a struggling child understands.

Stuck with her grandfather, whose mind is failing, she finds a special connection to the fantastical stories he tells of a lake and bees and a tree, all connected with love of family and one’s roots. She forms a special bond with her “crazy” grandfather.

His stories about the tree with the magical power to bring people back together especially rings true. Who doesn’t believe in the magic of trees, especially old trees with deep roots (I still do). When Carolina rescues her grandfather from the old folks home and convinces her parents not to sell the family ranch, everything comes together.

Reality and magic really do belong together.

By Lindsay Eagar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A beautifully written debut novel that weaves together magic and reality, about a girl's relationship with her mentally ill grandfather.

This powerful debut novel delicately blurs the line between truth and fiction as Carol unravels the fantastical stories of her mentally ill grandfather. When she and her family move to his deserted ranch in order to transfer him to a care home, Carol struggles to cope with the suffocating heat and the effects of her grandfather's dementia. Bees seem to be following her around, but the drought means this is impossible. She must be imagining things. Yet when her grandfather…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman, Elise Hurst (illustrator),

Book cover of The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Lindsey Lamh Author Of A Voracious Grief

From the list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists.

Who am I?

Reading Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and other “scary stories” in high school ignited a hunger for suspense. In writing my own gothic horror novel, I explored the why’s and how’s a bit, and discovered that the thing I love about lurking, terrifying danger in books is that it bares a character’s soul more rapidly, and more believably, than almost any other plot device. When we face a fate worse than death, we confront our deepest motivators and challenge bedrock beliefs. I hope you’ll enjoy the books on this list as much as I do! I feel like their particular uniqueness is hard to find.

Lindsey's book list on a lurking horror preying on relatable protagonists

Why did Lindsey love this book?

Something about the cover called to me from an airport bookshelf—I just knew it was about grief.

Using the reminisce of a 40-year-old attending a funeral, this story illustrates the strangeness of human connection and its unassuming power. Much of the book is a mourning of lost memory, lost friendships, and lost innocence as time has carried the boy he was to the unfamiliar, sterile territory of middle age.

He had somehow forgotten encountering otherworldly evil and watching horrors unfold around him. He’d nearly lost his life. Apart from the sacrifice of one special someone, his story would have ended at age 11. And he’d forgotten.

The antagonist of this story is incredibly creepy, but that’s not the chord that struck deepest for me. It was the stinging, metallic smell of grief that soaks every page that made this a story I’ll never forget. 

By Neil Gaiman, Elise Hurst (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Ocean at the End of the Lane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'Neil Gaiman's entire body of work is a feat of elegant sorcery. He writes with such assurance and originality that the reader has no choice but to surrender to a waking dream' ARMISTEAD MAUPIN

'Some books just swallow you up, heart and soul' JOANNE HARRIS

'Summons both the powerlessness and wonder of childhood, and the complicated landscape of memory and forgetting' GUARDIAN


'My favourite response to this book is when people say, 'My childhood was nothing like that - and it was as if…

Garden Spells

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of Garden Spells

Kris Neri Author Of Magical Alienation

From the list on magic to make you feel happy and even enchanted.

Who am I?

Having heard Celtic legends as a kid made me want to either become a leprechaun or a goddess with the power to remake the world’s worst parts. Although I didn’t achieve either, I write about both, as well as other quirky people who march to the rhythm of delightfully offbeat drummers. I so adore eccentric people and jaunty environments, I’ve built a career out of writing them. That has allowed me to capture the sassy voice of the daughter of madcap Hollywood stars, the outrageous garments worn by a cheerfully fake psychic, and the journey of a brokenhearted chef who can’t quote an adage normally to save her life.

Kris' book list on magic to make you feel happy and even enchanted

Why did Kris love this book?

The Waverley women all possess magical abilities.

Claire, as a caterer, can alter moods by cooking with her edible flowers. Even their garden is delightfully eccentric, with an apple tree whose fruit possesses prophetic abilities. Although I adored the journeys of the major characters, my favorite character is Evanelle. This elderly relative experiences irresistible impulses to bring objects to people.

Often it's something ordinary, like a kitchen tool, though sometimes it’s more substantial. Neither Evanelle nor the recipients understand her need to share the object, but the recipients soon invariably require it; at times, it changes their lives.

I’ve read Garden Spells several times, and though I now know what will happen, I still never want the novel to end. Seeped in magic and thoroughly enchanting.

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome to Bascom, North Carolina, where it seems that everyone has a story to tell about the Waverley women. The house that's been in the family for generations, the walled garden that mysteriously blooms year round, the rumours of dangerous loves and tragic passions. Every Waverley woman is somehow touched by magic.

Claire has always clung to the Waverleys' roots, tending the enchanted soil in the family garden from which she makes her sought-after delicacies - famed and feared for their curious effects. She has everything she thinks she needs - until one day she waked to find a stranger…

All the Honey

By Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer,

Book cover of All the Honey

Colin Campbell Author Of Finding the Words: Working Through Profound Loss with Hope and Purpose

From the list on helping cope with grief and loss.

Who am I?

I’ve sat in many grief circles and listened to fellow grievers share their pain at being abandoned or misunderstood by their friends and families as they grieve. Often we suffer the secondary loss of community because our culture has not taught us how to grieve or how to be a friend to those in grief. My wife and I found some invaluable tools that helped us communicate our needs to our community, and keep them close on our grief journey. One of those tools is grief books. I’ve read dozens of them, and while everyone responds to grief books differently, I think these five books are the very best.

Colin's book list on helping cope with grief and loss

Why did Colin love this book?

This is a collection of poems, most of which were written shortly after the death of her son by suicide. They are all about grief and love. They feel so true and honest and heartbreakingly naked.

Reading these poems makes me want to write poems about my own grief, because her words are so exactly right and to the point. I feel seen in these poems. She inspires me to articulate my own feelings, and have my own honest encounter with my grief.

By Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Honey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In All the Honey, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer holds both fine, honest sensuality and slow explorations of soul. What is shared here is a way forward in life, a fierce openness that refuses nothing—that knows damage and healing, darkness and radiance, sorrow and winged resurgence, reflection and laughter and learning.

Luna's Red Hat

By Emmi Smid,

Book cover of Luna's Red Hat: An Illustrated Storybook to Help Children Cope with Loss and Suicide

Anthony Lloyd Jones Author Of The Princess and the Fog: A Story for Children with Depression

From the list on understanding depression, loss, grief, and anxiety.

Who am I?

I had depression when I was young, but I didn’t know what that meant or what to do about it. So much of mental health is invisible and nobody knew. I didn’t have the language to explain how I felt, or to ask for help, and I didn’t know how to find out. Any book that could have helped me jump those hurdles would have been incredibly valuable. Children relate to stories, characters, metaphors and pictures more than words. Giving children the tools to explore how they feel in ways they can relate to is really important. I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel as alone as I did. 

Anthony's book list on understanding depression, loss, grief, and anxiety

Why did Anthony love this book?

Luna’s Red Hat does a fantastic job of explaining suicide to its readers in a way that is blameless and sensitive, delicate but not sugar-coated. It’s a hard topic to talk about, especially with children or people who haven’t ever felt suicidal themselves. You can tell in the way that Luna and her father talk to each other and about Luna’s mother that this was and is a very close and loving family, and that nobody is to blame for Luna’s mother taking her own life. This book has been a big inspiration for me. I hope I am able to write about mental health and other difficult topics with as much grace as Emmi does in this book.

By Emmi Smid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Luna's Red Hat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is a beautiful spring day, and Luna is having a picnic in the park with her family, wearing her Mum's red hat. Luna's Mum died one year ago and she still finds it difficult to understand why. She feels that it may have been her fault and worries that her Dad might leave her in the same way. Her Dad talks to her to explain what happened and together they think about all the happy memories they have of Mum.

This beautifully-illustrated storybook is designed as a tool to be read with children aged 6+ who have experienced the…

The Madness of Grief

By Richard Coles,

Book cover of The Madness of Grief: A Memoir of Love and Loss

James Withey Author Of How to Get to Grips with Grief: 40 Ways to Manage the Unmanageable

From the list on to get to grips with grief.

Who am I?

I'm the author of the best-selling books How to Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life BackHow to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back, The Recovery Letters, and What I Do to Get Through. My sixth book will be, How to Smash Stress: 40 Ways to Manage the Unmanageable.

James' book list on to get to grips with grief

Why did James love this book?

He describes the death of his partner from alcoholism and the events leading up to it in an unflinchingly honest and moving way. It's raw and personal but that's what grief is. It's beautiful and respectful and shows how grief is both a shared experience and so completely individual at the same time. 

By Richard Coles,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Madness of Grief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Immensely moving and disarmingly witty' Nigella Lawson
'Such a moving, tough, funny, raw, honest read' Matt Haig
'Beautifully written, moving and gut-wrenching, but also at times very funny' Ian Rankin
'Captures brilliantly, beautifully, bravely the comedy as well as the tragedy of bereavement' The Times
'Will strike a chord with anyone who has grieved' Independent

Whether it is pastoral care for the bereaved, discussions about the afterlife, or being called out to perform the last rites, death is part of the Reverend Richard Coles's life and work. But when his partner the Reverend David Coles died,…

Grandad's Island

By Benji Davies,

Book cover of Grandad's Island

Christyan Fox Author Of The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma's Wardrobe

From the list on bereavement and loss.

Who am I?

I’ve illustrated and written over 50 children’s picture books and now teach the subject of writing and illustration for all stages up to University level. I’m particularly interested when a student presents a challenging theme a publisher might balk at on commercial grounds: we have plenty of books about pirates, fairies, dinosaurs, and monsters under the bed, but relatively few on the important lessons that life can throw at a child. Race, abuse, depression, or disability (with which I have personal experience) are subjects rarely seen in book stores and can be difficult starting points for a successful children’s book. But the restrictions themselves can often be the source of great creativity.    

Christyan's book list on bereavement and loss

Why did Christyan love this book?

I’m in two minds about this recommendation: on the one hand, it’s one of the few commercially successful books that deals with the loss of a grandparent head-on, while managing to do it in a vibrant, rich book that a child reader is likely to enjoy and request again and again. Benji Davies’ beautiful, detailed illustrations are a visual delight and hit exactly the right note for the subject matter. My reservations come in the fact that the ending seems fudged and confusing: did Grandad actually die? Did he retire to an island? Or did he go to whatever version of ‘Heaven’ your particular (secular or non-secular) beliefs allow? It certainly encourages questions.  

By Benji Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grandad's Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the phenomenal success of The Storm Whale and On Sudden Hill, this new book by Benji Davies deals with the emotional topic of losing a grandparent. Subtly told, this beautifully illustrated book tackles a difficult subject with great sensitivity and depth.

At the bottom of Syd's garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad's house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn't in any of the usual places. He's in the attic, where he ushers Syd through a door, and the two of them journey…

Book cover of The Year of Magical Thinking

Eve Joseph Author Of In the Slender Margin: The Intimate Strangeness of Death and Dying

From the list on grief to normalize mourning and confirm you're not going crazy.

Who am I?

I was eleven when my brother died in a car accident and, although I didn’t know it at the time, this experience shaped me in ways I couldn’t anticipate. Many years later, when I began working as a social worker at a local hospice, I realized that I was drawn to the work as a way to finally grieve that early loss. As I helped people navigate their own losses I found myself feeling my own grief for the first time. It wasn’t until I started writing about the hospice work that I found my brother again. I am powerfully drawn to the parallels between writing and the work of dying. 

Eve's book list on grief to normalize mourning and confirm you're not going crazy

Why did Eve love this book?

This book, by the late American essayist, Joan Didion, will not be a surprise choice for many people who are looking for a companion to not just guide them through the grieving process but also to reassure them that they are not going crazy.

I was disheartened in March 2022 when I learned that prolonged grief had been added to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health) and classified as a mental disorder. There is no uniform end date on normal grief and The Year of Magical Thinking exquisitely underscores this idea.

Charting her own journey after her husband’s death, Didion writes openly about grief and how it can seem, at times, as if we are losing our minds when, in fact, it is a normal part of the grieving process. This book is a treasure.

By Joan Didion,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Year of Magical Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of America's iconic writers, a portrait of a marriage and a life - in good times and bad - that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. A stunning book of electric honesty and passion.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later - the night before New Year's Eve -the Dunnes were just…

One Amazing Elephant

By Linda Oatman High,

Book cover of One Amazing Elephant

Uma Krishnaswami Author Of The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic

From the list on middle grade featuring elephants.

Who am I?

I was born and grew up in India and I’ve always been fascinated by elephants. When I wrote The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic, it felt natural to have Mini, the elephant, become part of its world. She’s not the main character, yet her presence raises questions about the place of these amazing animals in our world and in our hearts. I picked five titles in which elephants are secondary characters, raising similar questions for readers about who these extraordinary creatures are and why we should care. Curiously, I couldn’t find a single novel featuring African elephants. 

Uma's book list on middle grade featuring elephants

Why did Uma love this book?

Linda’s a graduate of the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I’ve taught since 2006. I love it when my reading mind seems to make a conversation out of the books I’ve read. For me, this novel seemed to be speaking to all the other books on this list—through the large, tender presence of the elephant, Queenie Grace, especially in the chapters written in her first-person voice; the growing affection between the child, Lily, and the elephant; the shifting family dynamics, so that blame and guilt give way to communication and empathy; all kinds of chains and ways to loosen them and be free. I even found a surprising little nugget of historical information in the author’s note. 

By Linda Oatman High,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Amazing Elephant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A poignant middle grade animal story from talented author Linda Oatman High that will appeal to fans of Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. In this heartwarming novel, a girl and an elephant face the same devastating loss—and slowly realize that they share the same powerful love.

Twelve-year-old Lily Pruitt loves her grandparents, but she doesn’t love the circus—and the circus is their life. She’s perfectly happy to stay with her father, away from her neglectful mother and her grandfather’s beloved elephant, Queenie Grace.

Then Grandpa Bill dies, and both Lily and Queenie Grace are devastated. When Lily travels…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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