100 books like The Lonesome Era

By Jon Allen,

Here are 100 books that The Lonesome Era fans have personally recommended if you like The Lonesome Era. 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 Life in Yop City

Susi Wyss Author Of The Civilized World

From my list on from French-speaking Africa translated into English.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a public health professional, author, and reader. During part of my childhood and my subsequent career in international public health, I lived in Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic; I’ve also worked throughout West and Central Africa, primarily in Francophone African countries. My experiences in these parts of the continent have not only influenced my fiction writing, but also what I read. While there are plenty of books by Anglophone African authors, few of their Francophone counterparts see their work translated into English. As a result, stories from French-speaking Africa are underrepresented in the literature available to English-speaking audiences. This list is an attempt to make a dent in this disparity.

Susi's book list on from French-speaking Africa translated into English

Susi Wyss Why did Susi love this book?

I’ve added this graphic novel to my list in part for nostalgic reasons. Although the book and its two sequels were published in the 2000s, they are all set in 1970s Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, when I had the good fortune to live there. Aya is an adolescent girl living in the vibrant neighborhood of Yopougon, where everyone knows each other’s business. While she just wants to focus on her studies, she keeps getting distracted by the drama of those around her—from the boy-chasing machinations of her girlfriends to the foolish missteps of her parent's generation.

By Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie, Helge Dascher (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Aya is an irresistible comedy, a couple of love stories and a tale for becoming African. It's essential reading." -Joann Sfar, cartoonist of The Rabbi's Cat

Ivory Coast, 1978. It's a golden time, and the nation, too-an oasis of affluence and stability in West Africa-seems fueled by something wondrous. Aya is loosely based upon Marguerite Abouet's youth in Yop City. It is the story of the studious and clear-sighted nineteen-year-old Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It's a wryly funny, breezy account of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in…

Book cover of Beautiful Darkness

Erik Kriek Author Of In the Pines

From my list on dark themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

From an early age I have been drawn to dark themes in stories. I always wanted to hear the dark fairy tales when I was a kid. My mother is from Finland originally, so I was weaned on Finnish folk tales and the Finnish mythology, the Kalevala, which has very many dark stories. Being a graphic novelist myself, I tend to favor morally ambiguous, darker broken characters in my stories. Happy characters make for boring stories I believe. There needs to be conflict for there to be drama. And there needs to be drama to make interesting stories.

Erik's book list on dark themes

Erik Kriek Why did Erik love this book?

An incredibly haunting book. At first glance it looks like a fairy tale for children but after only a few pages in you realise it is quite a sinister tale and something much darker altogether. It is a very brave book I think and I’m not really sure how to categorize it other than it being very, very dark indeed.

By Fabien Vehlmann, Kerascoët,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Newly homeless, a group of fairies find themselves trying to adapt to their new life in the forest. As they dodge dangers from both without and within, optimistic Aurora steps forward to organize and help build a new community. Slowly, the world around them becomes more treacherous as petty rivalries and factions form. Beautiful Darkness became a bestseller and an instant classic when it was released in 2014. This paperback edition of the modern horror classic contains added material, preparatory sketches, and unused art. While Kerascoet mix gorgeous watercolors and spritely cartoon characters, Fabien Vehlmann takes the story into bleaker…

Book cover of Exit Wounds

Vince Galea Author Of Leviathan

From my list on graphic memoirs with creativity and flair.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I have always had a passion for art and literature. I started drawing at a young age and never stopped. Constantly drawing on scrap papers from my father’s graphic arts business. Always pulling from my imagination and the world around me for inspiration. Books were a major outlet for my creativity. Graphic novels in particular were always my favorite form of expression. To be able to tell a story using pictures and share my own personal feelings with others was a means of communication for me. I began to study illustration in school and college. I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Marywood University. I currently work as a graphic designer and illustrator.

Vince's book list on graphic memoirs with creativity and flair

Vince Galea Why did Vince love this book?

Not only is Rutu Modan one of my favorite illustrators she is also an extremely talented story writer and Exit Wounds is no exception. This was also one of the first graphic novels I had ever read and was so captivating. Her unique art style and writing are truly amazing. I love her color pallet and how it really keeps you engaged from panel to panel. Without giving away spoilers this book is based on real-life events and really gives you a greater sense of life in other countries can be like for better and for worse. 

I love all of Rutu Modan’s books but this one really hit home for me.

By Rutu Modan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in modern-day Tel Aviv, Exit Wounds is the first graphic novel to be published in Britain by one of Israel's best-known cartoonists.

A young man, Koby Franco, receives an urgent phone call from a female soldier. Learning that his estranged father may have been a victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera, Koby reluctantly joins the soldier in searching for clues. His death would certainly explain his empty apartment and disconnected phone line. As Koby tries to unravel the mystery of his father's death, he finds himself not only piecing together the last few months of his father's life,…

Book cover of Polina

Nick Abadzis Author Of Laika

From my list on a sensory reading experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been creating books, magazines, comics, and stories for both adults and children for more than thirty-five years. If you’re after more graphic novels with a certain textural and/or emotional depth and storytelling heft to them, I’ve also compiled the following list that might work as a starting point. The search for the archetypal “good” graphic novel is of course one that will be peculiar to one’s own tastes. While it’s primarily a visual medium, the best of them can be as nuanced and complex as storytelling in any other art form and means of communication. 

Nick's book list on a sensory reading experience

Nick Abadzis Why did Nick love this book?

Polina is about a would-be ballerina and a teacher and the methods he employs to get the best from his students. Polina ages from child to young adult through its pages, and as her comprehension of the world about her and the people in it changes, so too does the reader’s impressions of her. Like any good character piece, much depends on the performance of the players, and therefore Vivès and his ability to convey subtleties of emotional reactions. He always leaves enough room for the reader’s own interpretations, and so hooks you into the nuances of Polina’s feelings. Vivès can draw anything, but this beautiful, delicately balanced story depends as much on what he leaves out as what he puts in. A small masterpiece.

By Bastien Vives,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a very young girl, Polina Oulinov is taken on as a special pupil by the famous ballet teacher Professor Bojinsky. He is very demanding and refuses to adapt his standards to the talents of his pupils, and Polina has to work hard and make great sacrifices in order to reach the level Bojinsky senses she has the talent for. When she graduates and is admitted to the official theatre school, she discovers that Bojinsky's view of ballet is only one of many and that she can't adapt to new rules, new visions. She flees Russia for Berlin, where she…

Book cover of Call Me by Your Name

John Glynn Author Of Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer

From my list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi! I'm John Glynn, and I'm excited to share some book recommendations inspired by one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs, "Cruel Summer."  To me, this song perfectly encapsulates the heightened emotions of summer love—a theme at the heart of my memoir Out East. I chose books that capture the "fever dream highs" of the season. But at the same time, as Taylor sings, "Summer's a knife," filled with longing and heartache, primed for nostalgia. All of these books carry the kind of moonlit shimmer I crave in a smart beach read. As a Swiftie, a beach lover, an avid reader, and a hopeless romantic, I hope you enjoy.

John's book list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”

John Glynn Why did John love this book?

Like pretty much every Taylor Swift song, this book made me feel big emotions.

Over the course of one summer in Italy, the main character, Elio, falls in love with a visiting scholar named Oliver. It’s a gay love story filled with all the tension, heat, and anguish that accompanies first love.

It brought me back to my own experiences of falling in love for the first time when every exchange and every gesture felt latent with meaning. 

By André Aciman,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Call Me by Your Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a Major Motion Picture from Director Luca Guadagnino, Starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, and Written by James Ivory

Nominated for Four Oscars

A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
A Vulture Book Club Pick

An Instant Classic and One of the Great Love Stories of Our Time

Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared…

Book cover of Alan Cole Is Not a Coward

Chad Lucas Author Of Thanks a Lot, Universe

From my list on middle grade books to counter toxic masculinity.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was in school, I often struggled to figure out where I “fit”. Yeah, I know that’s a common struggle among angsty teens. But as a biracial, bisexual kid who loved basketball and books, I didn’t feel totally at home in any of the stereotypical Breakfast Club-style categories that showed up even in many of the books I read: jock, nerd, prep, etc. Now, as a dad, coach, and writer, I know those boxes aren’t real. I’m passionate about giving kids stories that challenge old ideas about what boys are “supposed” to be and help them explore the full range of who they can be.

Chad's book list on middle grade books to counter toxic masculinity

Chad Lucas Why did Chad love this book?

Between his cruel older brother and his rigid, overbearing father, Alan Cole doesn’t have it easy—especially when his brother discovers he has a crush on a boy. But with some help from his friends, Alan learns to stand up for himself and challenge his family’s expectations. This is the kind of book I wish I could send back in time to my younger self, and I know a lot of kids will relate to Alan’s struggles—and celebrate his triumphs.

By Eric Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alan Cole Is Not a Coward as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gary Schmidt, this is a hilarious and poignant tale about the trials of middle school when you’re coming of age—and coming out.

Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And—scariest of all—he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.

But when Nathan discovers Alan’s secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks;…

Book cover of Lie with Me

Jefferey Spivey Author Of The Birthright of Sons: Stories

From my list on capturing the complexity of the queer experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader of queer literary fiction not only because I write it but because I’m looking to see my life experience captured on the page. As a gay man, a father of two young boys, and one-half of an interracial married couple, I know the complexity of modern queer living firsthand. In recent years, I’ve been astounded by the breadth of great LGBTQ+ books that examine queerness fully and empathetically. I seek out these books, I read them feverishly, and I become a champion for the best ones. In an era of intense book banning, it’s so important to me to elevate these books and their authors.

Jefferey's book list on capturing the complexity of the queer experience

Jefferey Spivey Why did Jefferey love this book?

In this book, Philippe Besson captures the experience of longing in equally sumptuous and excruciating detail.

The prose percolates with sensuality and elegance, yet there’s also a sadness beneath it all. And Besson balances these elements effortlessly.

It’s a slim novel yet an effective one, dripping with richness. When I finished reading, I craved more pages. I wanted to spend more time in this world, in the luxury of Besson’s gorgeous grasp of craft.

By Philippe Besson, Molly Ringwald (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“I remember the movement of his hips pressing against the pinball machine. This one sentence had me in its grip until the end. Two young men find each other, always fearing that life itself might be the villain standing in their way. A stunning and heart-gripping tale.” —André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name

A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

The critically acclaimed, internationally beloved novel by Philippe Besson—“this year’s Call Me By Your Name” (Vulture) with raves in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal,NPR, Vanity Fair, Vogue, O, The Oprah…

Book cover of The Black Flamingo

Abdi Nazemian Author Of Only This Beautiful Moment

From my list on queer youth to make you laugh, cry, and grow.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up feeling invisible in media, and absent in history. My Iranian history was hidden from me by a culture that believed shielding young people from trauma was the right thing to do, and my queer history was hidden from me by a homophobic time. I’m passionate about the power of seeing yourself represented in storytelling and in history, and have devoted much of my life to telling queer stories, and queer historical stories. As a parent, as a queer Iranian storyteller, as a passionate believer in art as a tool for empathy, these are books I think will both entertain readers and inspire them to love their fellow humans a little more.

Abdi's book list on queer youth to make you laugh, cry, and grow

Abdi Nazemian Why did Abdi love this book?

My novel received a Stonewall Honor, which was one of the great thrills of my life. But the winner of the Stonewall Award that year was The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, and let me tell you, this is the book you want to lose to, the book you want to laugh to and cry to and cling to.

I’ve read it multiple times. Written in brilliant poetic verse, it’s a celebration of Blackness and queerness and all the complex emotions that make us human. I love it and cherish it, and you will too. 

By Dean Atta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Black Flamingo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'I loved every word' - Malorie Blackman

'Atta's bold verse novel calls to its readers to find their own blazing, performative inner truth' - Guardian


A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen - then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

'I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am…

Book cover of All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages

Robin Stevenson Author Of When You Get the Chance

From my list on queer communities throughout history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love reading about queer history: It’s the story of a diverse, courageous, and creative community, and it’s filled with inspiring actions and fascinating people. It’s also a history I had to seek out for myself because it was never taught at school—and although there has been progress since I came out as queer three decades ago, this is still true for most teens today. Over the last few years, I have written LGBTQIA+ books for all ages, and spoken to thousands of students. The books on this list explore queer history in ways that I think many teens will find highly enjoyable as well as informative.

Robin's book list on queer communities throughout history

Robin Stevenson Why did Robin love this book?

This one’s a bit different: not a novel, but a collection of short stories. And what a collection! Featuring short stories by a wonderfully talented group of authors (including two who are also on this list!), it covers hundreds of years of history, spans the globe, and dives into multiple genres. It is a great way for readers to explore queer history—the real thing and some fantasy versions--and discover new authors.

By Sara Farizan, Shaun David Hutchinson, Kody Keplinger , Mackenzi Lee , Malinda Lo , Tehlor Kay Mejia , Robin Talley , Alex Sanchez , Dahlia Adler , Saundra Mitchell , Natalie C. Parker

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Out 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?

Take a journey through time and genres to discover stories where queer teens live, love, and shape the world around them.

Seventeen young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens.

From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier…to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain…to forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent…and an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across…

Book cover of They Both Die at the End

Terry Bartley Author Of Tyranny of the Fey

From my list on casually queer sci-fi fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, especially anything involving superheroes or D&D-style adventure. For the longest time, I had to find queer representation through subtle glances and creative readings of characters. I loved these stories for the sci-fi and fantasy elements, but it was frustrating that every love story that came up was straight. It didn’t feel possible for queer love to be a part of a plot, and even when there was a queer character it had a “very special episode” vibe to it. Finally, queer characters are becoming part of the story, and it doesn’t have to be a “big deal.”

Terry's book list on casually queer sci-fi fantasy

Terry Bartley Why did Terry love this book?

I love a soft sci-fi and Adam Silvera knows how to deliver.

What makes his world different from ours is a technology that can let people know the day they are going to die, on that day, so they have a chance to say goodbye. It provides such potential for deep introspection (for his readers as much as his characters) and heartbreak. 

By Adam Silvera,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked They Both Die at the End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

From the author of the INTERNATIONAL NO. 1 BESTSELLER THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END comes an explosive examination of grief, mental illness, and the devastating consequences of refusing to let go of the past.

Please note that covers may vary.

You're still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you're having an open casket funeral. I know you're out there, listening. And you should know I'm really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn't the first promise you've…

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