100 books like The Garden of Secrets

By Juan Goytisolo, Peter Bush (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Garden of Secrets fans have personally recommended if you like The Garden of Secrets. 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 Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse

Joseph Fasano Author Of The Magic Words: Simple Poetry Prompts That Unlock the Creativity in Everyone

From my list on greatest book-length poems of the past 50 years.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a poet and a novelist, I'm fascinated by the places where these two genres meet, undo each other, and create something new again. That sounds a lot like what love can do, and whenever I read a long poem that achieves a unique aesthetic unity, I feel the writer has found a new way to love the world, to love the reader. And, as usual, both the world and the reader are challenged by that love—to grow.

Joseph's book list on greatest book-length poems of the past 50 years

Joseph Fasano Why did Joseph love this book?

 On the spectrum that ranges from narrative fragmentation to narrative linearity, this verse novel triumphs in its capacity to compel the reader both to turn the page and linger over every fine phrase.

A remarkably contemporary retelling of ancient myth, Autobiography of Red reminds us that the ancient stories are the new ones. As the poet Linda Gregg once wrote, “The singers change, the music goes on.” This is a must-read for all students of poetry and lovers of literary experimentation.

By Anne Carson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Autobiography of Red as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this extraordinary epic poem, Anne Carson bridges the gap between classicism and the modern, poetry and prose, with a volcanic journey into the soul of a winged red monster named Geryon.

There is a strong mixture of whimsy and sadness in Geryon's story. He is tormented as a boy by his brother, escapes to a parallel world of photography, and falls in love with Herakles - a golden young man who leaves Geryon at the peak of infatuation. Geryon retreats ever further into the world created by his camera, until that glass house is suddenly and irrevocably shattered by…


Book cover of Annihilation

Dwain Worrell Author Of Androne

From my list on suspenseful science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

To be honest, and this will sound strange, but suspense is the air I breathe. I’m a pretty calm, boring human being, and the only thing that gets my heart pumping are films, TV, books, and video games in this genre. Suspense and thrillers are genres that make up ninety percent of the entertainment that I consume, and one hundred percent of the entertainment that I write.

Dwain's book list on suspenseful science fiction

Dwain Worrell Why did Dwain love this book?

What can I say about Annihilation? It’s a novel where the reader isn’t quite sure what is going on, nor can any two readers agree on what they just read and that’s the amazing part about it.

Hypnosis, genetic deviation, and something utterly alien make this such an intense read. And that suspense is heightened because there is a level of mystery and weirdness in Jeff VanderMeer’s world, where things aren’t quite grounded in the reality that we are used to.

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A contemporary masterpiece' Guardian

THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE EXTRAORDINARY SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ALEX GARLAND (EX MACHINA) AND STARRING NATALIE PORTMAN AND OSCAR ISAAC

For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border - an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness.

The Southern Reach, a secretive government agency, has sent eleven expeditions to investigate Area X. One has ended in mass suicide, another in a hail of gunfire, the eleventh in a fatal cancer epidemic.

Now four women embark on the…


Book cover of The Hellbound Heart

Richard S. Sargent Author Of The Horror Movie Night Cookbook: 60 Deliciously Deadly Recipes Inspired by Iconic Slashers, Zombie Films, Psychological Thrillers, Sci-Fi Spooks, and More

From my list on delicious horror stories to devour in one sitting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a student of horror since my mother first sat me down in front of the TV to watch the old monster movies with her. It's a genre for the outsiders, the underdogs, which I've certainly felt at several points throughout my life. Good horror is both an escape and a vessel to affect change in the world. Many people in my life believe horror is just boobs and blood, so I feel like it's my job to educate them. This is why I started hosting my horror movie nights, which later developed into my first cookbook. Horror is a major part of my life and I hope it gets the appreciation it deserves.

Richard's book list on delicious horror stories to devour in one sitting

Richard S. Sargent Why did Richard love this book?

It is a beautifully gruesome story about love, desire, and greed. Though I found it to be absolutely frightening, I also found it strangely comforting.

As a young gay man in the early 00s, as the AIDS epidemic was slowing down a bit, Barker's depiction of sexuality and openness was quite refreshing. I can only imagine what it must have been like reading this story for the first time as a gay man in the 1980s.

By Clive Barker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic tale of supernatural obsession from the critically acclaimed master of darkness—and the inspiration for the cult classic film Hellraiser

From his scores of short stories, bestselling novels, and major motion pictures, no one comes close to the vivid imagination and unique terrors provided by Clive Barker. The Hellbound Heart is one of Barker’s best—a nerve-shattering novella about the human heart and all the great terrors and ecstasies within its endless domain. It is about greed and love, desire and death, life and captivity, bells and blood. It is one of the most frightening stories you are likely to…


Book cover of Tomb of Sand

Cyril Wong Author Of This Side of Heaven

From my list on tackling surrealism, memory, and desire.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mortality, desire, memory, and time are my favourite themes, not just in my writing but in my life. I also love anything—music, art, literature—that is evocative, bizarre, and surreal. As a meditator, lover, and writer of poetry and poetic prose, I love books that expand our minds and hearts in ways that conventional acts of writing and creative expressions fail to do.

Cyril's book list on tackling surrealism, memory, and desire

Cyril Wong Why did Cyril love this book?

Set in India, the central story traces the transformation of 80-year-old Ma, who is depressed after the death of her husband. Suddenly she decides to travel to Pakistan, confronting past traumas connected to the Partition riots. She is accompanied by Rosie, a hijra who is her best and wisest friend. The book is not just about its protagonists, but full of divertissements that tackle the meaning of relationships, memory, and time. There are also talking crows and a sequence of “performance art” when writers of the Partition take the page-as-stage.

By Geetanjali Shree, Daisy Rockwell (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2022 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE

A playful, feminist, and utterly original epic set in contemporary northern India, about a family and the inimitable octogenarian matriarch at its heart.

“A tale tells itself. It can be complete, but also incomplete, the way all tales are. This particular tale has a border and women who come and go as they please. Once you’ve got women and a border, a story can write itself . . .”

Eighty-year-old Ma slips into a deep depression after the death of her husband. Despite her family’s cajoling, she refuses to leave her bed. Her…


Book cover of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

James Stoorie Author Of AfterWitch

From my list on supernaturally troubled teenagers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As long as I can remember I have found the world a terrifying yet magical place. My first memories are of reading ghost stories, the best mirrors for my emotional experiences. As a teenager supernatural tales continued to inspire me and still do. Sometimes a starkly realistic approach can prove too dull or intrusive; far better to process or confront issues by presenting them as fantastical. When I return to these books, or discover similar stories, I listen hard to what they are trying to tell me. I won’t learn overnight for, as the villain in The Doll Maker states: “the life so short, the craft so long to learn.”

James' book list on supernaturally troubled teenagers

James Stoorie Why did James love this book?

“I’m still not certain you really are a woman?” Whenever Valerie has her period she is transported to a magical if sinister otherworld (yes, this novel was written by a man). A surreal, Freudian, East European coming-of-age fairytale that lies somewhere between Alice In Wonderland and a gothic pastiche. In the 70s it was also adapted into a film that apparently influenced Angela Carter. Not unjustifiably, the teenage experience is portrayed as a disorientating, eroticized nightmare from which Valerie must use all her wiles to escape, fending off vampiric family members after her inheritance and hypocritical authority figures keen to simultaneously sexualize her and burn her as a witch. At least she owns a set of magic earrings. “I’m acting like a sleepwalker. Is it all a dream?”

By Vitezslav Nezval, Kamil Lhotak (illustrator), David Short (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Valerie and Her Week of Wonders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written in 1935 at the height of Czech Surrealism but not published until 1945, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a bizarre erotic fantasy of a young girl's maturation into womanhood on the night of her first menstruation. Referencing Matthew Lewis's The Monk, Marquis de Sade's Justine, K. H. Macha's May, F. W. Murnau's film Nosferatu, Nezval employs the language of the pulp serial novel to construct a lyrical, menacing dream of sexual awakening involving a vampire with an insatiable appetite for chicken blood, changelings, lecherous priests, a malicious grandmother, and an androgynous merging of brother with sister.

In…


Book cover of Full Throttle

Matt Durand Author Of White Space: Short Fictions

From my list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong lover of short fiction, novels, and comic books since I can remember. Ideas were always king, leading me to a career in the creative arts as a graphic designer with years of experience in the world of advertising. Much of the core of what I did for advertising—crafting brief tales to engage with an audience in a creative/unique way—translated over well to when I began writing my own short stories. And all of the book recommendations here directly inspired me to write White Space.

Matt's book list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism

Matt Durand Why did Matt love this book?

If you’re looking for a darker, more violent set of short stories, look no further. Another running theme in this collection I loved is the cleverness that goes into the plots, many of which deal with revenge and murder in unique ways. I liked how the things doing the killing were varied and utilized in unexpected styles. Whether that was a truck driver seeking revenge on a gang of bikers or carousel horses coming to life to terrorize teens, or a faun doling out justice to a group of hunters, these stories left me unsettled yet creatively satisfied. 

By Joe Hill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this masterful collection of short fiction, Joe Hill dissects timeless human struggles in thirteen relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including "In The Tall Grass," one of two stories co-written with Stephen King, basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.

A little door that opens to a world of fairy tale wonders becomes the blood-drenched stomping ground for a gang of hunters in "Faun." A grief-stricken librarian climbs behind the wheel of an antique Bookmobile to deliver fresh reads to the dead in "Late Returns." In "By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain," two young friends stumble on the…


Book cover of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth

Matt Durand Author Of White Space: Short Fictions

From my list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong lover of short fiction, novels, and comic books since I can remember. Ideas were always king, leading me to a career in the creative arts as a graphic designer with years of experience in the world of advertising. Much of the core of what I did for advertising—crafting brief tales to engage with an audience in a creative/unique way—translated over well to when I began writing my own short stories. And all of the book recommendations here directly inspired me to write White Space.

Matt's book list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism

Matt Durand Why did Matt love this book?

I loved this collection of short stories primarily for the characters that Kevin Wilson created. The humanity and eclectic traits that he puts into them connected with me on a personal level. It’s almost as if the characters could live in a Wes Anderson film. While the people shine in these stories, the plots still have that inventive odd twist that left me smiling. And the story from which the collection takes its name was a melancholic surreal tale that left me thinking about its layers of meaning long after I finished reading it.

By Kevin Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tunneling to the Center of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A debut short story collection in the tradition of writers like Kelly Link, Aimee Bender, and George Saunders—strange, imaginative, and refreshingly original—now back in print as part of Ecco’s “Art of the Story” Series, and with a new introduction from the author


Kevin Wilson’s characters inhabit a world that moves seamlessly between the real and the imagined, the mundane and the fantastic. “Grand Stand-In” is narrated by an employee of the Nuclear Family Supplemental Provider—a company that supplies “stand-ins” for families with deceased, ill, or just plain mean grandparents. And in “Blowing Up On the Spot,” a story singled out…


Book cover of The Exploits of Engelbrecht

Rhys Hughes Author Of My Rabbit's Shadow Looks Like a Hand

From my list on underrated offbeat humorous fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

The world is a strange place and life can feel very weird at times, and I have long had the suspicion that a truly imaginative and inventive comedy has more to say about reality, albeit in an exaggerated and oblique way, than much serious gloomy work. Comedy has a wider range than people often think. It doesn’t have to be sweet, light, and uplifting all the time. It can be dark, unsettling and suspenseful, or profoundly philosophical. It can be political, mystical, paradoxical. There are humorous fantasy novels and short story collections that have been sadly neglected or unjustly forgotten, and I try to recommend those books to readers whenever I can.

Rhys' book list on underrated offbeat humorous fantasy

Rhys Hughes Why did Rhys love this book?

The stories that appear in this book were first published in Lilliput in the 1940s, a British monthly magazine. They relate the perilous, often diabolical activities of the Surrealist Sportsman’s Club, a society devoted to playing games that no one else would dream of attempting. Engelbrecht is a diminutive boxer who fights clocks, zombies, witches, and other assorted horrors and marvels, and he generally wins because of pluck combined with luck. Richardson’s prose style here is a blend of gothic horror, period science fiction, and the wisecracking of Damon Runyan, and the reader can expect no respite from the tumult of ideas, images, situations, jokes, and subversion of clichés.

By Maurice Richardson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Published for the first time in a low cost edition, Maurice Richardson's cult classic is one of the strangest works of fiction ever written. Fifteen stories that relate the activities of the Surrealist Sportsman's Club, a society with very dubious morals that spends the time it has left between the collapse of the moon and the end of the universe taking the concept of the 'game' to its logical limit.

A club can't operate without members, and those of the SSC are as strange and astonishing as some of the events they compete in. Most formidable of all, and more…


Book cover of The Dedalus Book of Surrealism: The Identity of Things

Mike Russell Author Of Strange Medicine

From my list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on strange, weird, surreal short story collections

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

Some of the stories in this collection, like my own stories, use surreal metaphor, expressing poetic imagery in prose form; others are more about the thrill of absurdity. Though surrealism existed before the term or movement existed (in visual art and literature e.g. Lewis Carroll, Hieronymus Bosch, etc.), Andre Breton and his mates really went for it. Here you can read works by Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Louis Aragon, Leonora Carrington, and more. What I love about all of these artists is their obvious joy in discovering the surreal or poetic image, a joy I know well, and their absolute passion for the importance and potency of expressing such imagery. 

By Michael Richardson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Comprised of works by authors from 17 countries, these volumes provide the most extensive assemblage of surrealist writing, much of which is here translated into English for the first time. "The Identity of Things" introduces surrealism's reworking of the fairy tale and the Gothic novel, its essays in the myths, desires and mysteries underlying modern reality.

"I went to fetch my car, but my chauffeur, who has no sense at all, had just buried it', writes Leonora Carrington in this captivating collection of tales from 17 languages."
The Observer


Book cover of Man V. Nature

Matt Durand Author Of White Space: Short Fictions

From my list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lifelong lover of short fiction, novels, and comic books since I can remember. Ideas were always king, leading me to a career in the creative arts as a graphic designer with years of experience in the world of advertising. Much of the core of what I did for advertising—crafting brief tales to engage with an audience in a creative/unique way—translated over well to when I began writing my own short stories. And all of the book recommendations here directly inspired me to write White Space.

Matt's book list on blending science fiction, horror, and surrealism

Matt Durand Why did Matt love this book?

This collection of short stories left me a bit depressed but in a good way. Cook writes with pure beauty and poetry. The ideas of this collection were, at times, odd and uncomfortable, but they succeeded in making me consider the darker elements that exist within all of us as humans. These stories kept me engaged through their balance of settings as well. Some stories felt present, while others crafted bleak futures that were all too believable. A few of the stories had some racy elements too, so if you’re into that kind of thing, you won’t be disappointed.

By Diane Cook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*SHORTLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 2015*

SHORTLISTED FOR THE LA TIMES BOOKS PRIZE 2015

A SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE NOTABLE BOOK OF 2014

A BOSTON GLOBE BEST FICTION OF 2014

ROXANE GAY'S TOP TEN BOOKS OF 2014

AN AMAZON BEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION OF 2014

AN iBOOK BEST OF 2014

Perfectly pitched and gorgeously penned, this astonishingly bold collection of stories explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized. Pitting human beings against the extremes of nature, Diane Cook surgically peels back the layers of civilization to lay bare our vulnerabilities and the ease with which our darker,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in surrealism, the Spanish Civil War, and Spain?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about surrealism, the Spanish Civil War, and Spain.

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