100 books like The Rock Eaters

By Brenda Peynado,

Here are 100 books that The Rock Eaters fans have personally recommended if you like The Rock Eaters. 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 The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories

Jacqueline Vogtman Author Of Girl Country: and Other Stories

From my list on magical realism by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves all kinds of fiction, but I’m most passionate about magical realism and related genres (like fabulism and speculative fiction). I love when writers skirt several genres, especially when their use of the “strange” holds a funhouse mirror up to our world and allows us to see a deeper truth. My favorite writers craft prose that rivals poetry and delve into their characters’ interior worlds; for me, one of fiction’s greatest magic tricks is the ability to enter another’s world and create empathy. The five authors on this list do all of these things and more, and they serve as some of my greatest inspirations.  

Jacqueline's book list on magical realism by women writers

Jacqueline Vogtman Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This was one of the books (along with Anthony Doerr’s The Shell Collector) that inspired me to pursue fiction writing rather than poetry.

For the longest time, poetry was my preferred genre, and while I had dabbled in writing fiction, I struggled. It wasn’t until reading The Girl in the Flammable Skirt near the end of my undergrad that I realized fiction doesn’t have to be straight realism—it can be magical, strange, symbolic, weird, fabulist, dreamlike.

Two of Bender’s stories that had the most impact on me were “The Rememberer,” where the narrator’s lover experiences reverse evolution,” and “Drunken Mimi,” a love story between an imp and a mermaid. Maybe not coincidentally, my book also contains a story about a mermaid. 

By Aimee Bender,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Girl in the Flammable Skirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Girl in the Flammable Skirt Aimee Bender has created a world where nothing is quite as it seems. From a man suffering from reverse evolution to a lonely wife who waits for her husband to return from war; to a small town where one girl has a hand made of fire and another has one made of ice. These stories of men and women whose lives are shaped and sometimes twisted by the power of extraordinary desires take us to a place far beyond the imagination.


Book cover of Light from Other Stars

Rita Chang-Eppig Author Of Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

From my list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an immigrant, an Asian American, and a gender-questioning person, I’ve never fit comfortably anywhere. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my writing isn’t easily categorizable either: many have told me that my work is too literary to be considered SF/F and too SF/F to be strictly literary. But what is genre anyway? My favorite books have always been the ones that straddled genres, and every time I read a wonderful book that can’t be easily labeled or marketed, I grow even more sure that the future of literature lies in fluid, boundary-crossing, transgressive texts. Here are some of my favorites—I hope you enjoy them.

Rita's book list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly

Rita Chang-Eppig Why did Rita love this book?

It is my sincerest belief that science fiction loses its purpose when it focuses too much on the science and too little on the humans (or aliens, or sentient spores) at the center of the story.

No one can accuse Swyler’s Light from Other Stars of that. Straddling the line between literary and science fiction, this novel is about space travel, yes, but it’s also about parent-child bonds, friendship, and the people of a small town in Florida in all their idiosyncrasies, virtues, and flaws.

This novel will make you think (mostly about physics), but it will also make you deeply feel.     

By Erika Swyler,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Light from Other Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Long Island Reads 2020 Selection * A Real Simple Best Book of 2019

From the bestselling author of The Book of Speculation, a “tender and ambitious” (Vulture) novel about time, loss, and the wonders of the universe.

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach--if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda's newborn brother several…


Book cover of Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

Kelley Skovron Author Of No Filter

From my list on deliciously dark horror novels that are more sad than scary.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the author of over 15 novels written for kids, teens, and adults across several genres. The thing all my books have in common is that they are sad and they are dark. My most recent novel is my most distilled, compressed delivery of deliciously dark sadness yet! Oddly, I'm rarely sad in real life. My daughter suggested that I write books to get the darkness out of my head and onto the page, which I think is very insightful (she is my kid, after all). I enjoy the beauty in the breakdown, I savor the sublime catharsis of tragedy, and I want to share that perspective with everyone.

Kelley's book list on deliciously dark horror novels that are more sad than scary

Kelley Skovron Why did Kelley love this book?

I found this story collection by Machado to be not only dark and sad, but wickedly funny. How often does our laughter turn to tears, or vice versa? These things are not mutually exclusive, and Machado lives within that uncomfortably liminal space with obvious relish.

I also appreciate it's unabashed feminism. So much of the horror genre is seen through a male lens that leaves me feeling cold and left out. In Machado's writing, I feel not only seen but celebrated, and I will happily live within her ferociously accepting stories of darkness as many times as she offers them.

By Carmen Maria Machado,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Her Body and Other Parties as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FICTION PRIZE 2017
SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE 2018

'Brilliantly inventive and blazingly smart' Garth Greenwell

'Impossible, imperfect, unforgettable' Roxane Gay

'A wild thing ... covered in sequins and scales, blazing with the influence of fabulists from Angela Carter to Kelly Link and Helen Oyeyemi' New York Times

In her provocative debut, Carmen Maria Machado demolishes the borders between magical realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. Startling narratives map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited on their bodies, both in myth and in practice.

A…


Book cover of By Light We Knew Our Names: Stories

Jacqueline Vogtman Author Of Girl Country: and Other Stories

From my list on magical realism by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves all kinds of fiction, but I’m most passionate about magical realism and related genres (like fabulism and speculative fiction). I love when writers skirt several genres, especially when their use of the “strange” holds a funhouse mirror up to our world and allows us to see a deeper truth. My favorite writers craft prose that rivals poetry and delve into their characters’ interior worlds; for me, one of fiction’s greatest magic tricks is the ability to enter another’s world and create empathy. The five authors on this list do all of these things and more, and they serve as some of my greatest inspirations.  

Jacqueline's book list on magical realism by women writers

Jacqueline Vogtman Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Full disclosure: Anne is a dear friend and was an MFA workshop-mate of mine.

But even if she wasn’t, I’m confident this would still be one of my favorite collections. There is so much magic in Valente’s writing, in the gorgeous prose but also in the content of the stories: ghosts, pink dolphins, tiny librarians, Northern Lights.

Much of the magic is not supernatural, but just the magic of the natural world, and Valente is a master of place; I’ve always admired her use of setting. Many of the stories deal with loss, grief, and pain, but the magic acts as a way to transcend these things, which is what I aim to do in my stories as well.

By Anne Valente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Light We Knew Our Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From ghosts to pink dolphins to a fight club of young women who practice beneath the Alaskan aurora borealis, By Light We Knew Our Names examines the beauty and heartbreak of the world we live in. Across 13 stories, this collection explores the thin border between magic and grief.


Book cover of Interior Chinatown

Rita Chang-Eppig Author Of Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

From my list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an immigrant, an Asian American, and a gender-questioning person, I’ve never fit comfortably anywhere. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my writing isn’t easily categorizable either: many have told me that my work is too literary to be considered SF/F and too SF/F to be strictly literary. But what is genre anyway? My favorite books have always been the ones that straddled genres, and every time I read a wonderful book that can’t be easily labeled or marketed, I grow even more sure that the future of literature lies in fluid, boundary-crossing, transgressive texts. Here are some of my favorites—I hope you enjoy them.

Rita's book list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly

Rita Chang-Eppig Why did Rita love this book?

Yu’s Interior Chinatown won the National Book Award because it married form and function in the most spectacular way.

Written in part like a screenplay, the novel tells the story of Willis Wu, an actor trying to break out from the role of “Generic Asian Man.” Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard about the push for better Asian representation in Hollywood. That certainly plays a role in the book, but there is also interrogation and critique here.

A novel written in the form of a screenplay could have easily turned into a gimmick. Yu made it art.

By Charles Yu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • “A shattering and darkly comic send-up of racial stereotyping in Hollywood” (Vanity Fair) and adeeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant,…


Book cover of Lone Women

Rita Chang-Eppig Author Of Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

From my list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an immigrant, an Asian American, and a gender-questioning person, I’ve never fit comfortably anywhere. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my writing isn’t easily categorizable either: many have told me that my work is too literary to be considered SF/F and too SF/F to be strictly literary. But what is genre anyway? My favorite books have always been the ones that straddled genres, and every time I read a wonderful book that can’t be easily labeled or marketed, I grow even more sure that the future of literature lies in fluid, boundary-crossing, transgressive texts. Here are some of my favorites—I hope you enjoy them.

Rita's book list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly

Rita Chang-Eppig Why did Rita love this book?

I first learned about “proving up” from the eponymous Karen Russell story.

The history of the practice was so fascinating that, when I heard Victor LaValle had written an entire novel about it, I immediately preordered. And wow did it not disappoint.

Part horror and part Western, the story centers a Black woman named Adelaide in the early 1900s who has moved to Montana to prove up as a “lone woman,” carrying with her only a single steamer trunk bearing her “curse.”

LaValle ratchets up the suspense in every chapter while beautifully capturing the desolation of life in the Wild West.    

By Victor Lavalle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Blue skies, empty land—and enough wide-open space to hide a horrifying secret. A woman with a past, a mysterious trunk, a town on the edge of nowhere, and an “absorbing, powerful” (BuzzFeed) new vision of the American West, from the award-winning author of The Changeling.

“Propulsive . . . LaValle combines chills with deep insights into our country’s divides.”—Los Angeles Times

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023: The New York Times, Time, Oprah Daily, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Essence, Salon, Vulture, Reader’s Digest, The Root, LitHub, Paste, PopSugar, Chicago Review of Books, BookPage, Book Riot, Tordotcom, Crime Reads,…


Book cover of The Great Frustration: Stories

Rita Chang-Eppig Author Of Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

From my list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an immigrant, an Asian American, and a gender-questioning person, I’ve never fit comfortably anywhere. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my writing isn’t easily categorizable either: many have told me that my work is too literary to be considered SF/F and too SF/F to be strictly literary. But what is genre anyway? My favorite books have always been the ones that straddled genres, and every time I read a wonderful book that can’t be easily labeled or marketed, I grow even more sure that the future of literature lies in fluid, boundary-crossing, transgressive texts. Here are some of my favorites—I hope you enjoy them.

Rita's book list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly

Rita Chang-Eppig Why did Rita love this book?

Is Fried’s short story collection The Great Frustration literary, science fiction, fantasy, absurdist, or something else? I have no idea, and I suspect neither does he, but that’s one of the reasons I love this book so much.

Whether Fried is writing about the animals in the Garden of Eden or a town that refuses to change its ways despite its pesky recurrent problem of massacres, these stories will make you laugh.

After you’re done laughing, when you’ve had some time to think, you’ll realize that you were only laughing because Fried is adept at pointing out those aspects of society and human nature that we find uncomfortable—which, of course, the best comedians have always done.       

By Seth Fried,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Equal parts fable and wry satire, The Great Frustration is a sparkling debut. Seth Fried balances the dark--a town besieged, a yearly massacre, the harem of a pathological king--with moments of sweet optimism--researchers unexpectedly inspired by discovery, the triumph of a doomed monkey, the big implications found in a series of tiny creatures.

In "Loeka Discovered," a buzz flows throughout a lab when scientists unearth a perfectly preserved prehistoric man who suggests to them the hopefulness of life, but the more they learn, the more the realities of ancient survival invade their buoyant projections. "Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre" meditates on…


Book cover of In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination

Paul Mendes-Flohr Author Of A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs

From my list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My engagement in the topic has two distinct vectors, academic, and personal, or, if you wish, existential. My academic engagement began when Buber's son Raphael (1900-91), who served as the Executor of  the Martin Buber Literary Estate, invited me to assemble and edit his father's writings on the "Arab Question." He explained that of all of his father's publications, his ramified writings promoting the political and human dignity of the Palestinian Arabs spoke most dearly and, as a citizen of the State of Israel, most immediately to him. I accepted Rafael's invitation with alacrity, for like Raphael I'm an Israeli by choice, having emigrated to the country in 1970. 

Paul's book list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did Paul love this book?

Partition—the idea of separating Jews and Arabs along ethnic or national linesis a legacy at least as old as the Zionist-Palestinian conflict. Challenging the widespread "separatist imagination" behind partition, Gil Hochberg demonstrates the ways in which works of contemporary Jewish and Arab literature reject simple notions of separatism and instead display complex configurations of identity that emphasize the presence of alterity within the selfthe Jew within the Arab, and the Arab within the Jew. In Spite of Partition examines Hebrew, Arabic, and French works that are largely unknown to English readers to reveal how, far from being independent, the signifiers "Jew" and "Arab" are inseparable.

By Gil Z. Hochberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Partition--the idea of separating Jews and Arabs along ethnic or national lines--is a legacy at least as old as the Zionist-Palestinian conflict. Challenging the widespread "separatist imagination" behind partition, Gil Hochberg demonstrates the ways in which works of contemporary Jewish and Arab literature reject simple notions of separatism and instead display complex configurations of identity that emphasize the presence of alterity within the self--the Jew within the Arab, and the Arab within the Jew. In Spite of Partition examines Hebrew, Arabic, and French works that are largely unknown to English readers to reveal how, far from being independent, the signifiers…


Book cover of The 13th Witch

L.W. King Author Of Carrie's Legacy

From my list on supernatural with a sprinkling of realism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From an early age, I have been fascinated with anything supernatural and occult. My Aunt would read my palm, and then, as a teenager, I would visit clairvoyants to see what the future held for me. As I grew older, I found I had an ability, a gift of seership, and after reading many books, embarked on my pagan journey, from which I have never looked back, and am now studying Druidry,which is very much nature-based. I hope you love the books on this list as much as I do!  

L.W.'s book list on supernatural with a sprinkling of realism

L.W. King Why did L.W. love this book?

I was genuinely devastated when I finished the book, which took only two days to finish. It filled my thoughts constantly and was my saving grace through the beginning of the COVID lockdown. I found that absorbing myself into the story and characters was an amazing source of escapism for me.

I loved the way the author introduced the magical realism and locations of the story. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and I laughed a lot along the way!

By Mark Hayden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 13th Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Did you know that the gods can use mobile phones?
They can, and Odin has a message for Conrad

Conrad Clarke, former RAF pilot and alleged gangster gets a text – and a visit – from The Allfather.
Odin has a challenge for Conrad: sign up to protect England from wild magick and get a commission in the King’s Watch.
All he has to do is find a missing witch. Simple.
Conrad never could resist a challenge. Before you can say “Ragnarok”, he’s plunged into a world of gods, mages, witches, dwarves and one very aggressive giant mole.
But the…


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