97 books like The Light in the Window

By June Goulding,

Here are 97 books that The Light in the Window fans have personally recommended if you like The Light in the Window. 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 Heart's Invisible Furies

Bart Yates Author Of The Language of Love and Loss

From my list on wiseass narrators and dysfunctional families.

Why am I passionate about this?

The stories I’ve loved the most in my life have all been about the richness of human relationships, told by a memorable narrator who can find humor and hope in almost everything, no matter how screwed up. Whether it’s Charles Dickens poking fun at his contemporaries in Victorian England or Armistead Maupin sending up friendship and love in San Francisco in the 1980s, I’m a sucker for well-told, convoluted, and funny tales about people who find life with other human beings difficult, but still somehow manage to laugh about it and keep on going. As the author of six novels myself, these are the kinds of stories I always try to tell.  

Bart's book list on wiseass narrators and dysfunctional families

Bart Yates Why did Bart love this book?

This is a peculiar and marvelous book about birth families, adopted families, and “found” families, and how each of these can be equally screwed up.

Starting in Ireland in the 1940s, the story is peppered with sharp, clever dialog and vivid, fully-human characters. I love how the narrator struggles with his own heart for decades, unable to decide what he wants, who he loves, what’s right, what’s wrong, etc.—in other words, all the stuff I haven’t figured out yet myself. 

Coincidence also plays a huge role in this book, basically making an ass of everyone, which I find oddly comforting since it reminds me that part of being human is having very little control over my own life. Painfully funny and brilliant from cover to cover. 

By John Boyne,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Heart's Invisible Furies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Compelling and satisfying... At times, incredibly funny, at others, heartrending' Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit

Forced to flee the scandal brewing in her hometown, Catherine Goggin finds herself pregnant and alone, in search of a new life at just sixteen. She knows she has no choice but to believe that the nun she entrusts her child to will find him a better life.

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery, or so his parents are constantly reminding him. Adopted as a baby, he's never quite felt at home with the family that treats him more as…


Book cover of Fear of the Collar: The True Story of the Boy They Couldn't Break

Heidi Daniele Author Of The House Children

From my list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am first generation American - my mother is from Ireland and my father is from Germany. I’ve always had an interest in my heritage and developed a passion for genealogy. My curiosity led me to researching Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes in Ireland. I’ve read many books about these institutions and also wrote a book of my own based on stories of former residents of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway.

Heidi's book list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes

Heidi Daniele Why did Heidi love this book?

Fear of the Collar is Patrick Touher’s personal account of his experience in the Artane Industrial School. Artane was the largest Industrial School in Ireland and operated from 1870 – 1969.

At times Artane housed nearly 1,000 boys and was known to be self-sufficient – with the “inmates” making their own clothes, shoes, and the boys produced and grew their own food.

Touher takes the reader through the daily military-like regiment and discipline imposed upon young boys being cared for by the Christian Brothers. His story will evoke an array of feelings. It is important to read the epilogue as you will be in awe of the man Patrick Touher has become despite the harshness of his childhood.

By Patrick Touher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sent to an Industrial School in Dublin at the age of seven, Patrick Touher was forced into a tough regime of education and training, prayer and punishment, strict discipline and fearful nights. No allowances were made for emotion, sentiment or boyhood worries, and anyone who disturbed the routine was severely punished. Artane demanded absolute obedience, absolute submission; Patrick's was an education in cruelty and fear.

Patrick Touher spent eight long years in Artane Industrial School. Run by the Christian Brothers, the school has become synonymous with the widespread abuse of children in Ireland in the 1940s and 1950s which is…


Book cover of For the Love of My Mother

Heidi Daniele Author Of The House Children

From my list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am first generation American - my mother is from Ireland and my father is from Germany. I’ve always had an interest in my heritage and developed a passion for genealogy. My curiosity led me to researching Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes in Ireland. I’ve read many books about these institutions and also wrote a book of my own based on stories of former residents of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway.

Heidi's book list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes

Heidi Daniele Why did Heidi love this book?

John Rodgers tells the story of his mother’s experience in three Irish institutions, including an industrial school, a Mother Baby Home, and a Magdalene Laundry. Bridie Rodgers’ story reveals the psychological and emotional burdens of an inmate and how they are also felt by their future generations. It is a devastating reality to learn of the many innocent children and women who had been isolated from society and powerless over their own lives. 

By J.P. Rodgers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For the Love of My Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the Love of My Mother is the tragic and uplifting story of one Irish mother and her son. Born into a life of poverty and detained at the tender age of two for begging in the streets, Bridget Rodgers proceeded to spend the next 30 years of her life locked away in one institution or another. The orphanage came first but after being raped and falling pregnant, she was sent to a home for unmarried mothers where she gave birth, had her son taken away from her and then was sent to one of the infamous Magdalen Laundries. And…


Book cover of Belonging: A Memoir

Heidi Daniele Author Of The House Children

From my list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am first generation American - my mother is from Ireland and my father is from Germany. I’ve always had an interest in my heritage and developed a passion for genealogy. My curiosity led me to researching Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes in Ireland. I’ve read many books about these institutions and also wrote a book of my own based on stories of former residents of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway.

Heidi's book list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes

Heidi Daniele Why did Heidi love this book?

In her book Belonging: A Memoir of Place, along with her personal journey, Corless shares her research and activism work towards justice for the lost babies of the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Her book is an excellent resource to learn about the institutions where unmarried mothers paid their penance and gave birth to their “illegitimate” children. Her book includes heart-wrenching accounts from former residents. 

I’ve had several exchanges with Catherine since 2010 when she responded to a query I had posted regarding the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Catherine Corless has brought worldwide attention to a scandal she uncovered: 796 missing burial records of children born in the Tuam Mother Baby Home.

By Catherine Corless,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ONE WOMAN, THE SECRETS OF A SMALL TOWN, AND A QUEST FOR JUSTICE THAT ROCKED A NATION.

Catherine Corless could not have known where her interest in local history would lead her, as she began researching the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Galway in 2010. Uncovering no less than 796 missing burial records of children born there, the stark truth of their place of rest became clear: a disused sewage tank on the old home site, where two boys had once stumbled upon bones.

But who were these lost children, and what had happened to them in the care…


Book cover of Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland

Heidi Daniele Author Of The House Children

From my list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am first generation American - my mother is from Ireland and my father is from Germany. I’ve always had an interest in my heritage and developed a passion for genealogy. My curiosity led me to researching Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes in Ireland. I’ve read many books about these institutions and also wrote a book of my own based on stories of former residents of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway.

Heidi's book list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes

Heidi Daniele Why did Heidi love this book?

Moira J. Maguire has written a book that could be used by academics yet still fascinates a curious reader. Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland gives a full view of the system implemented to care for needy children. The study examines the roles of religion and state involved in providing services. Maguire references documents and quotes from reports to give the reader an authentic view of how destitute, abused, and illegitimate children were cared for. 

By Moira J. Maguire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This fascinating study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, illegitimate, and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to cherish and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines closely the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, and breaks new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens.

Maguire gives voice to those children who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population, but have been ignored in the historical record. More importantly, she uses their experiences as lenses through which to re-evaluate Catholic influence in post-independence…


Book cover of The Baby Laundry for Unmarried Mothers

Esther Freud Author Of I Couldn't Love You More: A Novel

From my list on Mother and Baby Homes and the unplanned babies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Aged eighteen and living in London, my mother fell in love with an older man and was soon pregnant. Fearful of repercussions, she kept the pregnancy secret from her Catholic parents and continued to keep this secret for many years. This was something I’d always known, but it was only recently that I decided to investigate what happened to so many girls who went to the wrong people for help. What I found was devastating, and it gave me a greater understanding of the choices my mother made. I'm a writer who often draws on autobiographic material for my novels, plays, and stories. I like to feel a subject is truly mine.

Esther's book list on Mother and Baby Homes and the unplanned babies

Esther Freud Why did Esther love this book?

I was so struck by this candid memoir from Angela Patrick about what happened to her when she became pregnant in the early sixties at nineteen that it made me consider my mother’s lucky escape when the same thing happened to her. Both were Catholic and unmarried, but Patrick, unlike my mother, turned to her family for help and was exiled to a mother and baby home. It’s a tale of shame and sorrow, coldness and cruelty – and the scars that remain when a baby is given up.

By Angela Patrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Baby Laundry for Unmarried Mothers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1963, Angela Brown was 19, enjoying her first job working in the City of London, when her life turned upside down. A brief fling with a charismatic charmer left her pregnant, unmarried and facing a stark future. Not yet 21, she was still under the governance of her parents, strict Catholics who insisted she have the baby in secret and then put it up for adoption.

Forced to leave her job and her family, Angela was sent to a convent in Essex for her 'confinement'. Run like a Victorian workhouse, she was vilified by the nuns for her 'wickedness'.…


Book cover of Small Things Like These

David W. Berner Author Of The Islander

From my list on the essence of the Irishman’s melancholic emotions.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dugan was my grandmother’s maiden name. Her family was from County Wexford, Ireland near Rosslare on the island’s east coast. In recent years I have extensively studied my Irish heritage and have discovered much about my family, and about the DNA running through my own Irish blood. The inquiry has revealed much about my love of storytelling, good conversation, and generally about the way I move through the world. As a writer of several books of personal narrative and fiction, I have tried to write books that capture a certain emotion, and now through my own ancestral discoveries, I understand how those emotions and familial ties are so tightly linked. 

David's book list on the essence of the Irishman’s melancholic emotions

David W. Berner Why did David love this book?

This stunning short novel captures everything about the deep ties that both religion and family have on the Irish experience.

As a boy, I remember my grandmother’s deep religious devotion and how it fueled her way of life. The story touches on this, including an affection for the land, love of community, and the power in doing the right thing. Its moodiness reflects both the story’s unspoken depth and its sublime tenderness.

In Small Things Like These, the protagonist struggles with what he should or should not do after hearing rumors about the local convent and the young girls who live there.

Keegan is a master at delivering the below-the-surface emotions that drive men and women through life’s difficult decisions.

By Claire Keegan,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Small Things Like These as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize

"A hypnotic and electrifying Irish tale that transcends country, transcends time." —Lily King, New York Times bestselling author of Writers & Lovers

Small Things Like These is award-winning author Claire Keegan's landmark new novel, a tale of one man's courage and a remarkable portrait of love and family

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him…


Book cover of The Millstone

Ashley Wurzbacher Author Of How to Care for a Human Girl

From my list on brainy women who are ambivalent about motherhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many women my age, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the possibly discordant relationship between the things I love doing—writing, reading, spending time in solitude with stories and ideas—and the expectation of motherhood. For many of us, the prospect of parenthood can feel less like a choice than a cultural imperative, and it can be difficult to reconcile brain and body, self and society. The novels on this list feature razor-sharp, highly educated female protagonists who experience, recall, or imagine pregnancy and motherhood in complicated ways. Their minds and bodies are sometimes in sync, sometimes painfully at odds, but always fascinating to behold.

Ashley's book list on brainy women who are ambivalent about motherhood

Ashley Wurzbacher Why did Ashley love this book?

This 1965 novel by English author Margaret Drabble follows protagonist and PhD student Rosamund as she becomes a single mother.

Educated, upper-middle-class Rosamund narrates with a quintessentially British and—for me—highly enjoyable blend of primness and humor. Fascinatingly and somewhat frustratingly, Rosamund keeps her pregnancy a secret from her daughter Octavia’s father, even after Octavia is born. She’s like a strange English Virgin Mary who studies Elizabethan sonnets and really doesn’t want to “put anyone out”.

Her story also offers an interesting glimpse into class issues in 1960s London and the way that experiences of pregnancy and motherhood can both transcend and accentuate class divisions.

By Margaret Drabble,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A celebration of the drama and intensity of the mother-child relationship, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

It is the Swinging Sixties, and Rosamund Stacey is young and inexperienced at a time when sexual liberation is well on its way. She conceals her ignorance beneath a show of independence, and becomes pregnant as a result of a one night stand. Although single parenthood is still not socially acceptable, she chooses to have the baby rather than to seek an illegal abortion, and finds her life transformed by motherhood.

'Rosamund is marvellous, a true Drabble heroine . .…


Book cover of A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

Nora Jaffary Author Of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905

From my list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began gathering stories about pregnancy and its avoidance in Mexican archives twenty-five years ago when I was working on my dissertation on religious history. This topic fascinated me because it was central to the preoccupations of so many women I knew, and it seemed to present a link to past generations. But as I researched, I also realized that radical differences existed between the experiences and attitudes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexican women and the concerns, practices, and understandings of my own period that I had assumed were timeless and unchanging. For me, this was a liberating discovery. 

Nora's book list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history

Nora Jaffary Why did Nora love this book?

This book is one of the reasons why I became a historian.

Ulrich uncovered the nearly illegible diary of an eighteenth-century midwife in Maine and included excerpts of the original at the start of each chapter. When I read the excerpts, I thought: How could these possibly be significant and what do they mean, anyway?

And then, like a detective, a gifted mind-reader, and a learned botanist all rolled into one, Ulrich unpacked each entry, weaving each snippet into the fabric of a wide textile of social history that includes reproductive history, gender and marital relations, local economies, political conflicts, and religion.

Abortion and abortifacients play a marginal role in the story Ulrich tells, but the history of midwifery and reproductive health are central to it. 

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked A Midwife's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • Drawing on the diaries of one woman in eighteenth-century Maine, "A truly talented historian unravels the fascinating life of a community that is so foreign, and yet so similar to our own" (The New York Times Book Review).

Between 1785 and 1812 a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of that diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and…


Book cover of Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Wendy Kline Author Of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

From my list on the history of childbirth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Purdue University and the author of several articles and three books that focus on controversies surrounding women’s reproductive health. I have also appeared on national television and radio, most recently on the PBS documentary, American Experience (the Eugenics Crusade), as well as the Vox/Netflix documentary “sex, explained.”

Wendy's book list on the history of childbirth

Wendy Kline Why did Wendy love this book?

I could not put this book down. Vincent is a licensed home birth midwife in California, and Baby Catcher represents her accounts of many of her clients’ births. Her stories capture the diversity of experiences, the fears and joys of each mother who has opted for an out-of-hospital birth, and the beauty of bringing new life into the world. I have assigned this book in college courses and students love it; they come out angry at how broken our system is when it comes to maternity care.

By Peggy Vincent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A former nurse chronicles her journey into midwifery, from her dissatisfaction with formulaic delivery room procedures in the 1960s to her eventual career as a "baby catcher," and chronicles her diverse birth experiences, the women she has encountered along the way, and role of midwifery in the Unit


5 book lists we think you will like!

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