100 books like The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern,

Here are 100 books that The Night Circus fans have personally recommended if you like The Night Circus. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Into the Wild

M. R. Reed Author Of Enthrall

From my list on doing what is right when others are against you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m drawn to the idea of doing what you think is right when others are against you because I’ve always felt the desire to row against the current and just do my own thing. I tend to avoid following the crowd because oftentimes I simply don’t agree with them. Am I being purposely difficult? Maybe. But I fear a society that goes with the flow simply because it’s easier and it doesn’t require them to think for themselves. It’s okay to listen to other people, but before you make any major decisions, ask yourself a question: Is this right for me?

M. R.'s book list on doing what is right when others are against you

M. R. Reed Why did M. R. love this book?

Here’s my confession: I hated Chris McCandless by the time I finished this book. I hated his cockiness and lack of respect for the power of the wilderness.

But you know what I give him credit for? His ability to leave his life of privilege and the courage to go out into the world and forge his own destiny. He did what he thought was best for him despite the pushback he received from his friends and family.

I think I hated him so much because I wanted him to succeed, and he doomed himself through his own hubris. 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Into the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." —New York Times

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all…

Book cover of The Odyssey

Sylvia Kelso Author Of Everran's Bane

From my list on journeys in them.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I wanted to be either a chook (chicken) farmer or an archaeologist. In high school, my Latin teacher gave me a copy of The Hobbit and changed my passion to travel, which, for Australians, mostly means, Overseas. In second year University, The Lord of the Rings cemented that longing, and I have "travelled" Overseas almost annually ever since. But a long research trip for a historical novel taught me that the best travel is a journey: travel with a purpose. And whether or not I'm on a plane, train, bus, or foot myself, some of my favourite reading has always been books with journeys at their heart. 

Sylvia's book list on journeys in them

Sylvia Kelso Why did Sylvia love this book?

Journeys are most often linear – Here to There – or circular – "There and Back Again." The Odyssey is actually a return leg in the most traumatic and perennial circular journey: going to war, and then, getting back. "Wily" (in modern terms, read, "sneaky," "trickster")  Odysseus left Troy a famous warrior, but takes seven years to get home. The fabulous episodes of that journey, the Cyclops, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, Circe, and Calypso, the wreck in Phaeacia that leaves him bereft even of clothes, have grounded the Western imagination. But the concluding little things – the recognition scenes, the dog that dies, and the nurse who doesn't – push that epic past into a close, human Now.

By Homer, T.E. Shaw (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Homer's epic chronicle of the Greek hero Odysseus' journey home from the Trojan War has inspired  writers from Virgil to James Joyce. Odysseus  survives storm and shipwreck, the cave of the Cyclops  and the isle of Circe, the lure of the Sirens' song  and a trip to the Underworld, only to find his  most difficult challenge at home, where treacherous  suitors seek to steal his kingdom and his loyal  wife, Penelope. Favorite of the gods, Odysseus  embodies the energy, intellect, and resourcefulness  that were of highest value to the ancients and that  remain ideals in out time.

In this  new…

Book cover of Everything I Never Told You

Emma Ling Sidnam Author Of Backwaters

From my list on Asian identity and heritage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a fourth-generation Asian New Zealander who always felt ‘other’ growing up. When I was little, I hated being asked ‘where are you from?’ because I wanted to be seen as ‘just’ a New Zealander. This frustration shaped a lot of my race and identity journey, and I started reading books about other people’s personal experiences because it made me feel seen. These books also helped me recognize the richness and humanity behind my family’s story. I hope this beautiful list of books will resonate with your experiences or give you insight into a new corner of the world. 

Emma's book list on Asian identity and heritage

Emma Ling Sidnam Why did Emma love this book?

I thought I was reading a mystery thriller but found myself in a layered investigation of a family. Celeste Ng uses intrigue and family tragedy to explore parental trauma and the impacts of racism and sexism. I felt connected with every character at different points in the story, which shows how empathetically Ng told this story. She really understands the complicated dynamics of family—and all the love, yearning, and jealousy that comes with it.

By Celeste Ng,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Everything I Never Told You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed debut novel by the author of Little Fires Everywhere and Our Missing Hearts

"A taut tale of ever deepening and quickening suspense." -O, the Oprah Magazine

"Explosive . . . Both a propulsive mystery and a profound examination of a mixed-race family." -Entertainment Weekly

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia's body…

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of The Transformational Path: How Healing, Unlearning, and Tuning into Source Helped Me Manifest My Most Abundant Life

From my list on completely transforming your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve known I was “special” since I was a child. I saw, felt, and heard things that others did not. Eventually I embraced my clairaudient mediumship gifts and turned it into a thriving business, allowing me to live a life of purpose: helping others find their passions and live their most joyful lives. But the journey never ends; I am always on a mission to transform. Consistently, literature has been where I turn when I am seeking wisdom on becoming the best version of myself. I also pursued certification as a Book Therapist - the first thing I’ll recommend to friends, family, or clients is the best book for their dilemma!

Claudia's book list on completely transforming your life

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Why did Claudia love this book?

J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful storytelling is unmatched, and The Lord of the Rings weaves together moral dilemmas and profound philosophical ideas seamlessly, encouraging me to contemplate the nature of power, the importance of preserving the natural world, and the significance of individual choices.

The book's themes of heroism, friendship, sacrifice, and the struggle between good and evil resonate deeply. In addition, each of his characters feels like an aspect of oneself; the introspection it inspires is brilliant!

The Lord of the Rings instills a sense of wonder, ignites the imagination, and imparts timeless wisdom, which heavily transformed my perspective on life, my values, and my understanding of the human condition.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings 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?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…

Book cover of Sabriel

D.P. Vaughan Author Of Ethereal Malignance

From my list on complex identities.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been engrossed by the complexities of identity, a theme I explore as an Australian speculative fiction writer. My own identity comes with its quirks—I hold a Bachelor of Music in Composition, spent a decade in admin roles, and the better part of another decade teaching English to adult migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. This eclectic background enriches my narratives, which blend supernatural elements with grounded realism and diverse representation. Whether it's exploring loneliness or delving into the lives of victims of bullying, my unique lens makes me well-suited to recommend books that tackle intricate themes of identity.

D.P.'s book list on complex identities

D.P. Vaughan Why did D.P. love this book?

Sabriel by Australian author Garth Nix is a YA dark fantasy that captivated me with its visceral descriptions of Charter magic and the brutal realism of life in the Old Kingdom—where the dead do walk.

The protagonist, Sabriel, is raised in a mundane, magic-less world beyond the Wall but is thrust into a realm teeming with dark magic as she searches for her missing father. This journey forces her to grapple with her identity as she navigates the expectations of others who see her only as her father's successor while she remains steadfast in her determination to find and rescue him.

This struggle for self-definition amidst external pressures is a theme that resonates deeply, making Sabriel a must-read for those who appreciate immersive worlds.

By Garth Nix,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Sabriel 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?

A stunning anniversary gift edition of the second in the bestselling Old Kingdom fantasy series.

Sabriel has spent most of her young life far away from the magical realm of the Old Kingdom, and the Dead that roam it. But then a creature from across the Wall arrives at her all-girls boarding school with a message from her father, the Abhorsen - the magical protector of the realm whose task it is to bind and send back to Death those that won't stay Dead. Sabriel's father has been trapped in Death by a dangerous Free Magic creature.

Armed with her…

Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Duncan Hubber Author Of Notes from the Citadel: The Philosophy and Psychology of A Song of Ice and Fire

From my list on The best philosophical fantasy novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an academic at the University of Queensland whose research areas include horror films, screen trauma theory, the cinematic representation of urban spaces, and the collision of romanticism and postmodernism in fantasy literature. My first book, POV Horror: The Trauma Aesthetic of the Found Footage Subgenre, was adapted from my PhD thesis. I am an avid member of the A Song of Ice and Fire fandom, and my second book represents over a decade of talking and writing about George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, having grown out of conversations in forums, podcasts, symposiums, and fan conventions, as well as my own background in literary analysis and research.

Duncan's book list on The best philosophical fantasy novels

Duncan Hubber Why did Duncan love this book?

Clarke transports the reader to England during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. There is, however, one small twist: magic once existed in this world and has now returned through two men, drastically changing the course of history and society.

The story is rich in gothic atmosphere and wry humour, and is positively bursting with ideas (there are almost 200 footnotes!). Clarke imbues her protagonists with conflicting approaches to the pursuit of knowledge, with Norrell representing cautious rationality and conservative methodology, while Strange embodies an adventurous spirit and a willingness to embrace the arcane and often the dangerous.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of…

Book cover of Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War

Merryn Corcoran Author Of The Silent Village

From my list on for lovers of French and Italian history, romance, and mystery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in New Zealand and now live half the year in London and the other half on the border of The French and Italian Riviera. I am fascinated by the history of the buildings and the color of the European lifestyle. I love to write novels about the past and how that past relates to scenarios of present day. I am keen to tell the untold stories of WW2 that are based on fact. Then weave them with embellishment from my own imagination.     

Merryn's book list on for lovers of French and Italian history, romance, and mystery

Merryn Corcoran Why did Merryn love this book?

I have always adored the Chanel brand and have been intrigued by Coco Chanel’s childhood story and her rise to fame. Then to read the back story of her activities during World War 2 in Paris, I was gutted. The author depicts her as a full-on collaborator. All done in a bid to save her fortune, but at the expense of others. In this explosive narrative the author pieces together Chanel’s hidden years, her relationships with top-ranking Nazis, and her anti-Semitism.  

By Hal Vaughan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This explosive narrative reveals for the first time the shocking hidden years of Coco Chanel’s life: her collaboration with the Nazis in Paris, her affair with a master spy, and her work for the German military intelligence service and Himmler’s SS.

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was the high priestess of couture who created the look of the modern woman. By the 1920s she had amassed a fortune and went on to create an empire. But her life from 1941 to 1954 has long been shrouded in rumor and mystery, never clarified by Chanel or her many biographers. Hal Vaughan exposes the…

Book cover of A Discovery of Witches

Caren Simpson McVicker Author Of Henderson House

From my list on believing in magic again.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a debut novelist at the age of fifty-seven, I’ve spent most of my life as a reader, not an author. My love of reading began with The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and flourished when I discovered the genre of fantasy with The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin. Is it any wonder I giggle with delight when I stumble upon a book that makes me believe in magic again? When an author weaves the supernatural into their story in a natural way, my expectations shift, and my heart opens to the power of the unknown to teach me something new and take me somewhere extraordinary.

Caren's book list on believing in magic again

Caren Simpson McVicker Why did Caren love this book?

I love books about books, so I was thrilled when Oxford's Bodleian Library and a bewitched alchemical manuscript turned up as the linchpin of this enchanting love story between a vampire and a reluctant witch.

While this story was made into a television series, do yourself a favor and read the entire trilogy. Harkness creates a compelling framework of history and heroics, love and loss, and friendship and betrayal for her underworld creatures to inhabit. And these are not your typical creatures of the night, but accomplished scholars, physicians, and scientists.

This book is one of those rare novels I wish I could read again for the first time and fall under its magical and mesmerizing spell anew.

By Deborah Harkness,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked A Discovery of Witches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Verlyn Flieger Author Of Spiderweb Alley

From my list on fantasy that takes you from reality to imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love fantasy novels because they highlight the disparities between reality and individual perception, whether between the reader and the text or among the characters within it. All the books I listed pull the reader from the actual into the fantastic world I prefer! This is probably why I spent my time as an author, editor, and professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland, teaching courses in comparative mythology, medieval literature, and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

Verlyn's book list on fantasy that takes you from reality to imagination

Verlyn Flieger Why did Verlyn love this book?

Ursula Le Guin’s book uses gender identity to address reader estrangement. I love that Le Guin ruthlessly runssacks all our preconceptions, interrogates the assumptions we mistake for laws, and deconstructs conventional notions of what makes a viable society.

The locale is the planet of Winter, where it is always either cold or colder. There is sex but no gender, and individuals can father a child or give birth to one. This circumstance becomes endlessly confusing to Genly Ai, the male visitor from planet Earth, who doesn’t know how to respond to his guide and benefactor Estraven or even what pronoun to use.

It isn’t that he gets the signals wrong, it’s that there are no signals and he doesn’t know how to navigate without them—learning how to respond to people as individuals instead of gendered types.  

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Left Hand of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an…

Book cover of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Julie Anderson Author Of The Midnight Man

From my list on evocative stories set in a hospital.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical crime fiction, and my latest novel is set in a hospital, a real place, now closed. The South London Hospital for Women and Children (1912–1985) was set up by pioneering suffragists and women surgeons Maud Chadburn and Eleanor Davies-Colley (the first woman admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons) and I recreate the now almost-forgotten hospital in my book. Events take place in 1946 when wartime trauma still impacts upon a society exhausted by conflict, and my book choices also reflect this.

Julie's book list on evocative stories set in a hospital

Julie Anderson Why did Julie love this book?

This book’s celebration of rebelliousness of spirit and anti-institutionalism is why I like it.

Set in a psychiatric hospital, like Regeneration, its medical staff are closer in spirit to Dr. Yealland in that book, who prefers inflicting pain in order to cure than to the humane Dr. Rivers. I enjoyed the humour and the scandalous behaviour of McMurphy, the sane con-man in the asylum who battles the authoritarian and controlling Nurse Ratched. It is very much in the spirit of the anti-establishment 1960s when it was written.

Other inmates rebel too and draw down Ratched’s ire upon themselves, leading to suicide, and McMurphy attacks Ratched because, however rebellious, he cannot stomach this tragedy. There is a sad and bleak end for him, as ‘authority’ wins out. The ending is one of hope, but not for McMurphy. Like the other books on my list so far, this, too, was filmed.

By Ken Kesey,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey's 1962 novel has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. Now in a new deluxe edition with a foreword by Chuck Palahniuk and cover by Joe Sacco, here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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