100 books like The Five Wounds

By Kirstin Valdez Quade,

Here are 100 books that The Five Wounds fans have personally recommended if you like The Five Wounds. 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 Olive Kitteridge

Ellen Baker Author Of The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson

From my list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved reading novels about strong, quirky women since childhood (Nancy Drew, Ramona Quimby, Harriet the Spy, the heroines of Judy Blume novels, just for starting examples!). As I grew into writing my own stories, I also started studying women’s history. I merged these two interests to begin writing historical novels with strong women protagonists. I love the challenge of researching to figure out the details of women’s day-to-day lives–so many unrecorded stories!–and I love to advocate for the idea (fortunately not as revolutionary as it once was) that a woman can be the hero of her own story and that each woman’s story is important to tell.  

Ellen's book list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart

Ellen Baker Why did Ellen love this book?

I found this book absolutely riveting.

Outspoken, cantankerous, deep-hearted Olive Kitteridge is a character unlike any other, and I loved how the interconnected stories let us see her, her family, and her community at various points in time and how their decisions and ways of being affect the arcs of their lives.

I loved the complexity and uniqueness of all the characters, as well as the insights that this book offers about the intricacies, nuances, difficulties, and joys of being human. 

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
 
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Plain Dealer • The Atlantic • Rocky Mountain News • Library Journal
 
At times stern, at…


Book cover of Edinburgh

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

This is a book about many things—guilt, artmaking, and love among them—but when I think of it, I think of a novel that depicts the complexities of making and sustaining a life more deftly than anything else I’ve read. How things like cruelty and beauty, innocence and evil, truth and lies all coexist. How we move forward despite this uneasy balance.

The novel follows Fee, a boy who grows up in Maine and sings in an all-boys choir. The choir director turns out to be an abuser, and his actions haunt Fee and the other boys in the choir into adulthood.

On a prose level alone, Chee’s writing is unparalleled, his sentences sharp enough to cut glass. I don’t see how anyone could read this book and come away unchanged. 

By Alexander Chee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A poignant work of mature, haunting artistry, Edinburgh heralds the arrival of a remarkable young writer. Fee, a Korean-American child growing up in Maine, is gifted with a beautiful soprano voice and sings in a professional boys' choir. When the choir director acts out his paedophilic urges on the boys in the choir, Fee is unable to save himself, his first love, Peter, or his friends.


Book cover of Real Life

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

A perfect fit for the not-the-same-old-queer novel list, Taylor’s story features a Black gay biochemist who is working on his degree at a Midwestern university.

I love this book for the intimacy in its portrayal of the protagonist, Wallace, the way his thoughts and feelings and decisions are revealed with such precision. I felt his joys and his pains so clearly.

A science nerd gay character! What’s not to love?

By Brandon Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award 
 
“A blistering coming of age story” —O: The Oprah Magazine

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Public Library, Vanity Fair, Elle, NPR, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Harper's Bazaar, Financial Times, Huffington Post, BBC, Shondaland, Barnes & Noble, Vulture, Thrillist, Vice, Self, Electric Literature, and Shelf Awareness

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and…


Book cover of The Idiot

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

This book marries two excellent elements: the campus novel and the 90s. Set on Harvard’s campus in 1995, this is an especially satisfying read for those of us who remember the rise of email, a mode of communication explored at length in the book.

Batuman captures the awkwardness of coming-of-age so precisely that you’ll either be compelled to look at your old Facebook photos or delete them entirely. Her deft depiction of growing up aside, this is also a beautiful exploration of finding intellectual and artistic community. 

By Elif Batuman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book * Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction * Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

"Easily the funniest book I've read this year." -GQ

"Masterly funny debut novel . . . Erudite but never pretentious, The Idiot will make you crave more books by Batuman." -Sloane Crosley, Vanity Fair

A portrait of the artist as a young woman. A novel about not just discovering but inventing oneself.

The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up…


Book cover of Cantoras

Christopher DiRaddo Author Of The Family Way

From my list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a queer author based in Montreal. When I came out in the early 1990s, at the age of 21, I remember feeling concerned about my future. Family has always been important to me, but I couldn’t imagine what mine would look like as I got older. I knew I wasn't going to have a traditional family like my parents, but I didn’t know what else was possible. Thankfully, I found the answer in books… As queer people, we must seek out and learn our traditions and history. We’re not taught them from birth. Finding books that demonstrate and uplift the bonds that queer people share provides a roadmap for those of us seeking community.

Christopher's book list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family

Christopher DiRaddo Why did Christopher love this book?

Five women find salvation in each other in a beachside hamlet on Uruguay’s eastern coast. With no running water or electricity, the isolated Cabo Polonio becomes their sanctuary, a place where these cantoras (women who "sing”) can exercise their voice – something denied them as queer women under the Uruguayan dictatorship of 1970s and 80s.

The book follows the friends over the span of 35 years as they continue to return to this family home of theirs, sometimes together, sometimes with new lovers. Beautifully written, the book is brimming with heart and is a testament to the power of activism and solidarity. 

By Carolina De Robertis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Cantoras is a stunning lullaby to revolution—and each woman in this novel sings it with a deep ferocity. Again and again, I was lifted, then gently set down again—either through tears, rage, or laughter. Days later, I am still inside this song of a story." —Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award–winning author

From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of The Gods of Tango, a revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find one another as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family.

In 1977 Uruguay, a military government crushed political dissent with ruthless force.…


Book cover of Rainbow Rainbow

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

Conklin’s collection of short stories offers storylines that are utterly and marvelously original.

These queer characters are quirky, but not quirky for the sake of being quirky. They are so fully themselves, and their passions drive them through their relationships and actions so believably, that you don’t question the strangeness of the situations for a second.

Mainly I just love the big heart in Conklin’s stories. Their prose, the actual word choices, are a delight in the same way the characters are—they surprise you and yet are spot-on right.

By Lydia Conklin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of stories that celebrate the humour, darkness and depth of emotion of the queer and trans experience that's not typically represented: liminal or uncertain identities, queer conception and queer joy.

In this delightful debut collection of prize-wining stories, queer, gender-nonconforming and trans characters struggle to find love and forgiveness, despite their sometimes comic, sometimes tragic mistakes. In one story, a young lesbian tries to have a baby with her lover using an unprofessional sperm donor and a high-powered, rainbow-coloured cocktail. In another, a fifth-grader explores gender identity by dressing as an ox - instead of a matriarch -…


Book cover of Nightcrawling

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Author Of Tell the Rest

From my list on not-the-same-old queer stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading queer fiction for, well, I guess about 50 years. First, brilliant novels by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and cheesy lesbian pulp novels. In the eighties, feminist presses and a wealth of new queer literature sprung into existence. It’s easier now to find great queer fiction, if you dig a little. My approach is to read widely, all kinds of authors, from all kinds of backgrounds. So the whole idea of a “best 5” is hard for me to get my mind around. I could have listed 25 more. Thank you for reading!

Lucy's book list on not-the-same-old queer stories

Lucy Jane Bledsoe Why did Lucy love this book?

I can’t resist a book set in Oakland, very near to where I live.

I also love a novel that tells deep truths, and Nightcrawling does that, showing the horrors of police abuse and the failures of the justice system. However, this book isn’t “trauma porn.” On every page, protagonist Kiara owns her story, drives her agency, makes the best choices she can in the moment, and loves with a huge heart.

The way she finds her way to queer love is organic and beautiful.

By Leila Mottley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK • BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST • A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system. This debut of a blazingly original voice “bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole” (Tommy Orange, author of There There).

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, TIME, GOODREADS

Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called…


Book cover of Idaho

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

I first fell in love with Emily Ruskovich’s short fiction, and this novel, which takes place near a fictionalized version of Mt. Hoodoo, captures the same uncanniness of the ordinary that first drew me to her work.

She captures the landscape’s strange darkness and stark beauty in such detail that I actually dreamt about it. And if you’re obsessed with memory like I am, you’ll be drawn to the way she exposes the shakiness of what we remember as “truth.” 

By Emily Ruskovich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER • A stunning debut novel about love and forgiveness, about the violence of memory and the equal violence of its loss—from O. Henry Prize–winning author Emily Ruskovich

WINNER OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST BOOK AWARD • WINNER OF THE DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED

Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s…


Book cover of Down by the River

Pamela Mulloy Author Of As Little As Nothing

From my list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with the lives of women around the period of World War Two when I discovered the female aviators of the Air Transport Auxiliary based in England. It wasn’t until I researched the history of reproductive rights after attending the Women’s March in 2017 in Toronto, Canada that I realized the period of the 1930s was a particularly progressive time for women, a time of early feminism. As a novelist I am drawn to the social history and the impact of wars. My first novel explored PTSD, and in this one I’m exploring the lives of women who fought against the gender norms at the time.

Pamela's book list on women in history challenging the limitations of gender

Pamela Mulloy Why did Pamela love this book?

This is a devastating story but O’Brien is a master wordsmith and I was dazzled by the writing while being distressed by the events, that of a young teen in Ireland who gets pregnant in abominable circumstances, then tries to find a way out of it. The church looms large in the novel, and the helplessness this young girl feels is palpable. That she keeps fighting against the forces against her despite the gaslighting is a testament to her strength. Even her one chance to escape is foiled in the most frustrating manner. I’ve been reading about the history of reproductive rights for my own novel, and the stories are never easy. The expected thing to do would be to acquiesce and accept the circumstances, but she chose otherwise.  A beautifully written and necessary book.

By Edna O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Down by the River is a newly reissued novel from Edna O’Brien, the author of Girl—“one of the most celebrated writers in the English language” (NPR’s Weekend Edition).

Set in the author’s native Ireland, a powerful and passionate novel about a young girl who becomes pregnant by her father—a situation made worse when it becomes fodder for the gossip mill of church, state, and the town square.


Book cover of Cravings: An Extreme Horror Novelette

Angel Gelique Author Of Man Cave

From my list on disturbing horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a passionate lover of all things horror. I strive to take my readers on an unforgettable journey, one that often places them well out of their comfort zone. I believe that horror should make readers uncomfortable, whether through a mounting sense of unease or full-blown exposure to gore and depravity. I do my best to pull readers into my stories so that they can almost personally experience the horrors. If I don’t make them cringe and wince, then I have failed. As outrageous as my books may be, they're not full of violence and gore for the sake of mere shock value. I do my best to create well-developed characters with thought-provoking and immersive storylines. 

Angel's book list on disturbing horror

Angel Gelique Why did Angel love this book?

Some might say that this is a really crappy story. I will agree only to the extent that this book does, in fact, center on feces. Sara Todd is pregnant and she’s not craving pickles and ice cream!

This book is brilliantly written. McCluskey presents a most vile and disgusting story—one that is ripe with imagery and depravity. There’s not much that shocks and disturbs me, to be honest, but this book had me muttering, “No, oh no, no, no” in anticipation of the nasty deeds. Each one seemed progressively worse. It will likely turn your stomach and surely disgust you!

By D.E. McCluskey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sarah Todd doesn’t believe in cravings. She’s pregnant and determined to live the next seven months giving the baby all they nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy baby boy, or girl. The baby, however, has other plans. How far is she willing to go to succumb to her… CRAVINGS?From the dark mind of D E McCluskey, author of CRACK and The Twelve, comes this disturbing novelette. The baby must have what the baby needs…


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