100 books like The Secret World of Connie Starr

By Robbi Neal,

Here are 100 books that The Secret World of Connie Starr fans have personally recommended if you like The Secret World of Connie Starr. 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 Dinner with the Schnabels

Nicky Pellegrino Author Of P.S. Come to Italy

From my list on all the feels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written fourteen novels about family, friendship, food, and love; stories that I hope transport people so completely and utterly, that they almost forget they are reading and instead find themselves walking in the shoes of the characters. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway. As a reader it’s what I want also – to laugh and cry, and feel the characters are people that I know and feel sorry to leave them behind when I turn the last page. 

Nicky's book list on all the feels

Nicky Pellegrino Why did Nicky love this book?

This novel is elegantly written and emotionally authentic, and while it is a light and zippy read, the more you think about it, the more it seems to say. 

It is about a week in the life of Melbourne man Simon Larsen. Things are not going very well for Simon. He was a successful architect but during lockdown his business failed and his beautiful home had to be sold. Now Simon has moved his family to a tiny flat, and he is unemployed, broke, and can hardly get off the sofa. 

While Simon seems hopeless, the family he has married into are formidable, from his beautiful wife Tansy to his terrifying mother-in-law Gloria. I loved the Schnabels but still, I’m not sure I would want to be related.

By Toni Jordan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'I loved every page of this funny, warm, delightful novel!' LIANE MORIARTY

'A smart, funny novel about love, marriage and family.' Weekend Australian

'With sharply observed characters and comic set-pieces to make you laugh out loud, Dinner with the Schnabels is great fun to read and casts a more mature and acerbic eye on modern masculinity.' Sydney Morning Herald, Fiction Pick of the Week

You can marry into them, but can you ever really be one of them?

A novel about marriage, love and family.

Things haven't gone well for Simon Larsen lately. He adores his wife, Tansy, and his…


Book cover of Early Morning Riser

Daisy Buchanan Author Of Pity Party

From my list on break your heart, then put it back together again.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe that books have saved my life. When I was a child, I was often depressed and anxious, and I instinctively found refuge in reading. I sought books acknowledging that the world can be a painful and difficult place but showed that it was also filled with happiness, love, and joy as long as you knew where to look. My passion for reading has stayed with me, I host the You’re Booked podcast where I talk to iconic authors about the books that have brought them comfort and joy. And whenever I feel anxious, I still reach for a book–because reading heals my heart. 

Daisy's book list on break your heart, then put it back together again

Daisy Buchanan Why did Daisy love this book?

This book had me laughing from the first page. I could see the town immediately and hear every character’s voice clearly in my head. I found it incredibly easy to read. Before I knew it, I was halfway through the story and I loved Jane, Duncan and Jimmy as though they were members of my own family.

Because this book is so funny, I found that the sad, serious parts affected me deeply. But ultimately, I found it hugely uplifting. It reminded me that the worst events can bring out the best in me and the people I love. I can’t think of anyone I know who wouldn’t love this book. 

By Katherine Heiny,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Early Morning Riser as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alternately bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, a wise, bighearted novel of love, disaster, and unconventional family—from the acclaimed author of Standard Deviation, who has been called the "literary descendant of Jane Austen, sharing Austen's essentially comic world view" (NPR).     

Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan's old girlfriends everywhere—at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away.

While Jane may be able to come to terms with dating the world's most prolific seducer of women, she wishes…


Book cover of We All Want Impossible Things

Daisy Buchanan Author Of Pity Party

From my list on break your heart, then put it back together again.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe that books have saved my life. When I was a child, I was often depressed and anxious, and I instinctively found refuge in reading. I sought books acknowledging that the world can be a painful and difficult place but showed that it was also filled with happiness, love, and joy as long as you knew where to look. My passion for reading has stayed with me, I host the You’re Booked podcast where I talk to iconic authors about the books that have brought them comfort and joy. And whenever I feel anxious, I still reach for a book–because reading heals my heart. 

Daisy's book list on break your heart, then put it back together again

Daisy Buchanan Why did Daisy love this book?

I fell in love with Ash and her best friend Edi before I was halfway down the first page. I can see why other readers have compared this book to Nora Ephron’s novels. It’s funny, heart-filled, sexy, and sweet, but never twee. I could totally relate to Ash, who grieves unconventionally and tries to be the best friend, mother, and human in the world while secretly rebelling and acting up.

Most of all, I adored how this book focuses on family and how we build our families through love. It’s a book I haven’t stopped talking about since I read it, and I think I will read it every year.

By Catherine Newman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked We All Want Impossible Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Catherine Newman sees the heartbreak and comedy of life with wisdom and unflinching compassion. The way she finds the extraordinary in the everyday is nothing short of poetry. She’s a writer’s writer—and a human’s human.”—New York Times bestselling author Katherine Center

“A riotously funny and fiercely loyal love letter to female friendship. The story of Edi and Ash proves that a best friend is a gift from the gods. Newman turns her prodigious talents toward finding joy even in the friendship’s final days. I laughed while crying, and was left revived. Newman is a comic masterhand and a dazzling philosopher…


Book cover of The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding

Nicky Pellegrino Author Of P.S. Come to Italy

From my list on all the feels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written fourteen novels about family, friendship, food, and love; stories that I hope transport people so completely and utterly, that they almost forget they are reading and instead find themselves walking in the shoes of the characters. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway. As a reader it’s what I want also – to laugh and cry, and feel the characters are people that I know and feel sorry to leave them behind when I turn the last page. 

Nicky's book list on all the feels

Nicky Pellegrino Why did Nicky love this book?

This gently-paced and richly atmospheric story is a real experience to read.

It is filled with myths and wonders, raw sadness, and exquisite beauty. The main character Esther is not always easy to like. She can be self-centred and destructive. But her journey over the course of this novel is deeply moving.

Esther is grieving for her elder sister Aura who is missing presumed drowned. The story begins a year after her disappearance as Esther returns to her childhood home in coastal Tasmania for Aura’s memorial. There her parents ask her to do something she isn’t sure she can manage.

They want her to travel to Denmark, where Aura spent time before she died, to find out what happened there and why she returned home such a different person.

By Holly Ringland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From international bestselling author of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland, comes a haunting and magical novel about joy, grief, courage, and transformation.


'On the afternoon that Esther Wilding drove homeward along the coast, a year after her sister had walked into the sea and disappeared, the light was painfully golden.'

The last time Esther Wilding's beloved older sister Aura was seen, she was walking along the shore towards the sea. In the wake of Aura's disappearance, Esther's family struggles to live with their loss. To seek the truth about her sister's death, Esther reluctantly travels from Lutruwita,…


Book cover of War and Millie McGonigle

Charlotte Herman Author Of My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes

From my list on for children on WW2 at home and across the ocean.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on Chicago’s home front during WW2. President Roosevelt wanted everyone—adults and children—to do their part for the war effort. So we neighborhood kids formed a Victory club, where we marched around singing, “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor,” and other patriotic songs. And though we had fun, we understood the meaning of the gold stars in the windows, and knew that terrible things were happening on the other side of the world. There are so many wonderful books set during this time period, and I can never read enough of them. These books, along with my memories, are what inspire me to write historical fiction of my own.

Charlotte's book list on for children on WW2 at home and across the ocean

Charlotte Herman Why did Charlotte love this book?

Even though I lived across the country from San Diego where this story takes place, and even though I was several years younger than Millie McGonigle, the picture of home front USA during WW2 is familiar in many ways. Soldiers and sailors filled the streets of Chicago, and kids scanned the sky for “enemy planes.” There was the fear of polio, the struggles with rationing, and the shortage of bubble gum. 

This story is filled with humor and memorable characters. But most memorable of all is Millie, who tries to deal with the death of a grandmother and her worries about the war getting closer to home. And even though she’s obsessed with drawing in her Book of Dead Things, she comes to understand what her grandmother had told her when she said, “Whatever is lost stays alive if you remember it.”

By Karen Cushman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Newbery Award-winning author of Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice tells a heartfelt and humorous story of WWII on the homefront.

Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect--but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie's sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn't be more of a pain if she tried. It's all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.

Still--there's…


Book cover of Flora

Ellen Prentiss Campbell Author Of Frieda's Song

From my list on life in a haunted house.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my stories and novels, in my reading, and in my life, I'm inspired and captivated by what I call resonant places, places with deep connections to the past as well as the present moment. I grew up in a mid-century modern house my parents built. Although no other family had lived in it before, our own family—like all families—was haunted by ghosts of our past. My childhood home was bulldozed by the next owners; the house has become a ghost itself. But memories remain long after a family or a home is gone. As a writer, a reader, and a psychotherapist, I believe that memories are the seeds for both remembering and imagining.

Ellen's book list on life in a haunted house

Ellen Prentiss Campbell Why did Ellen love this book?

Godwin’s psychological mystery Flora takes place in a remote, isolated house, a former mountaintop sanatorium in Tennessee. Adult narrator Helen looks back on her ten-year-old self, and her premature coming of age the summer she lived there with her young adult cousin and temporary guardian, Flora. Helen’s father has gone to do war work, her mother is dead. Flora and Helen cannot leave the mountaintop due to a polio threat in the valley. Both child and caretaker fall under the spell of a charismatic jack of all trades, Quinn. The consequences of their unconscious competition play out in the shadowy rooms of the big house.

This is a tale of psychological possession in a lonely estate; Godwin’s homage to Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. Years ago, I visited my great-aunt in her mountaintop summer home in Tennessee. Reading this book unlocked memories of that mysterious house. Good novels…

By Gail Godwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ten-year-old Helen and her summer guardian, Flora, are isolated together in Helen's decaying family house while her father is doing secret war work in Oak Ridge during the final months of the Second World War. At three Helen lost her mother and the beloved grandmother who raised her has just died. A fiercely imaginative child, Helen is desperate to keep her house intact with all its ghosts and stories. Flora, her late mother's twenty-two-year old first cousin, who cries at the drop of a hat, is ardently determined to do her best for Helen. Their relationship and its fallout, played…


Book cover of From Here to Eternity

Sam Foster Author Of Non-Semper Fidelis

From my list on showing that a man is the sum of his choices.

Why am I passionate about this?

I heard a Jordan Peterson interview in which he boiled down my entire life’s struggle in a single phrase.  The interviewer was pushing Jordon on the subject of male toxicity. Jordon said something like, “If a man is entirely unwilling to fight under any circumstance, he is merely a weakling. Ask in martial arts trainer and they will tell you they teach two things – the ability to fight and self-control. A man who knows how and also knows how to control himself is a man.”

Sam's book list on showing that a man is the sum of his choices

Sam Foster Why did Sam love this book?

James Jones's brilliant debut novel must have had a great effect on me because I admit, in many ways, my book covers the same ground – how does a man maintain honor and dignity when constrained to live his life by the choices of other, and much more powerful men? I suppose the difference between our two themes is that the question in my book is about those same choices but wrapped in the question of race. Jones’s characters, while in the military, were dealing with personal issues. My Corporal Buck is dealing with an issue about which all of America is on fire.

From Here to Eternity is 70 years old. I read it in 1969, an eternity ago and it has lasted with me from there to here.  When I was in the Marine Corps I knew everything that was happening to me. But I didn’t know what…

By James Jones,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked From Here to Eternity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I'll never understand the fucking Army.'

Prew won't conform. He could have been the best boxer and the best bugler in his division, but he chooses the life of a straight soldier in Hawaii under the fierce tutelage of Sergeant Milt Warden. When he refuses to box for his company for mysterious reasons, he is given 'The Treatment', a relentless campaign of physical and mental abuse. Meanwhile, Warden wages his own campaign against authority by seducing the Captain's wife Karen - just because he can. Both men are bound to the Army, even though it may destroy them.

Published here…


Book cover of They Were Expendable

Marvin J. Wolf Author Of M-9

From my list on to safely satisfy your lust for action and mystery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 13 years a soldier and saw combat in Vietnam. There I met some of the finest men this country has ever produced and became hooked on the exploits of brave men. I have written many books about men—and women—in peril, and strive always for accurate accounts.

Marvin's book list on to safely satisfy your lust for action and mystery

Marvin J. Wolf Why did Marvin love this book?

The author recreated as a novel the adventures of a handful of Navy officers whose tiny Patrol Torpedo Boats more than held their own against the full might of the Japanese Navy during the fall of the Philippines. Told in the first person by three of the principal characters, we meet Douglas MacArthur, seasick and soaking wet, as he flees Manila in an overloaded PT Boat, and eventually reaches a smaller island from which he is flown to safety in Australia. And we see and are in awe, of these young naval officers. In 1951, when I was ten and perched on my father's shoulders, I saw MacArthur from just a few feet away as he passed during a Chicago parade. I became fascinated with the man and his legend, and here he is presented as a very human creature.

By W. L. White,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A national bestseller when it was originally published in 1942 and the subject of a 1945 John Ford film featuring John Wayne, this book offers a thrilling account of the role of the U.S. Navy's Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three during the disastrous Philippine campaign early in World War II. The author uses an unusual, but thorough, spellbinding format to tell the story: an interview with four heroic young participants. Ranked "with the great tales of war" by the Saturday Review of Literature, it is a deeply moving book that describes the four officers' extraordinary exploits from the first appearance…


Book cover of The Men of Company K: The Autobiography of a World War II Rifle Company

Philip Sherman Mygatt Author Of Innocence Lost – A Childhood Stolen

From my list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been born two months before Pearl Harbor, as I grew older, I vaguely remember hearing my parents talking about the war. When I was able, I used to pull my little red wagon around the neighborhood to collect bacon grease I donated to the local butcher shop to support the war. After retiring from the technology industry, I tried my hand at writing books. After a few futile attempts, I finally started writing novels about WWII. I first wrote Return to La Roche-en-Ardenne, then Innocence Lost - A Childhood Stolen, and finally Thou Shall Do No Harm – Diary of an Auschwitz Physician which will be re-released in early 2023.

Philip's book list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of

Philip Sherman Mygatt Why did Philip love this book?

I love reading true stories of WWII told by people who lived through it. I find it difficult to understand how ordinary men could live, fight, and die in a foreign land without questioning in order to protect the United States; they were certainly true patriots. In the fall of 1944, two hundred true patriots of K Company, 333rd Infantry, 84th Division landed in Europe. For the next one hundred days, they were on the edge of the Allied spearhead into Nazi territory. If you ever wanted to be in the infantry, you need to read this book. 

By Harold P. Leinbaugh, John D. Campbell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Offers a moving dramatic portrait of the soldiers and officers of the K Company and their experiences on the Siegfried Line, at the Battle of the Bulge


Book cover of The Notebook, the Proof, the Third Lie: Three Novels

Em Strang Author Of Quinn

From my list on short reads that dare to offer something deep.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a poet and creative mentor, and it’s the intensity of poetic language – its expansiveness and limitations – that shows up in my fiction and in the novels I love. Quinn is an exploration of male violence, incarceration, and radical forgiveness. I’ve spent a decade working with long-term prisoners in Scotland, trying to understand and come to terms with notions of justice and responsibility: does guilt begin and end with the perpetrator of a violent act or are we all in some way culpable? How can literary form dig into this question aslant? Can the unsettled mind be a space for innovative thinking?

Em's book list on short reads that dare to offer something deep

Em Strang Why did Em love this book?

Kristóf (1935-2011) was a Hungarian writer who fled to Switzerland during the war and wrote in French.

The Notebook (the first in the trilogy) is currently number one on my list of all-time favourites. It has all the elements of storytelling that I love: deep, psychological insight into the human heart; adroit use of archetypes, which give the book a timeless, folkloric feel; concision (no waffling) and a poetic, pared-back language that creates a sense of startling immediacy.

Kristóf writes about World War II through the eyes of two young brothers in a Nazi-occupied country (unnamed), and she shocks us awake not through sensationalised violence but through matter-of-fact narration.

It reads like a cross-between dramatic monologue and biblical parable – she stretches the novel form and opens up new possibilities for writing. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

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