100 books like The Sound of Waves

By Yukio Mishima, Meredith Weatherby (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Sound of Waves fans have personally recommended if you like The Sound of Waves. 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 Convenience Store Woman

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This contemporary, quirky tale centers around the life of Keiko, a young woman who has never done anything in a conventional way and has her mother very worried that her daughter will never find a man and settle down into a conventional life. No, Keiko’s ways of thinking are startling and odd in ways that are both amusing and somewhat horrifying, as she really does fall outside the realm of conventional thinking and socially rewarded behavior. The reader comes to love her as she grows into womanhood (and personhood) as a worker in a fast-paced convenience store, where she memorizes hundreds of products and practices behaving more “normally” by mimicking the actions and words of her co-workers. Then a man named Shiraha enters the picture, for a new twist.

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Convenience Store Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store...


Book cover of Kwaidan: Ghost Stories and Strange Tales of Old Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Whether a fan of anime and video games, or an admirer of ancient Noh drama and Kabuki dances, one can’t really know the heart of Japan without reading Lafcadio Hearn’s translations of ghostly tales, all contained in this amazing volume. There are demons and goblins that exist way-y-y beyond the average Westerner’s mind. There are legends that send chills up and down the spine, creatures without faces, a man who marries the love of his life only to lose her after just five years because she is really the soul of a tree… Enjoy these stories of the bewitched and karmically affected characters.

By Lafcadio Hearn, Yasumasa Fujita (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A blind musician with amazing talent is called upon to perform for the dead. Faceless creatures haunt an unwary traveler. A beautiful woman — the personification of winter at its cruelest — ruthlessly kills unsuspecting mortals. These and seventeen other chilling supernatural tales — based on legends, myths, and beliefs of ancient Japan — represent the very best of Lafcadio Hearn's literary style. They are also a culmination of his lifelong interest in the endlessly fascinating customs and tales of the country where he spent the last fourteen years of his life, translating into English the atmospheric stories he so…


Book cover of Kitchen

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Kitchen is an utterly charming short novel by a modern writer whose protagonist, Mikage, is a young woman who must find a way to carry on after the death of her beloved grandmother who served as her sole caregiver-guardian. Her voice engages immediately: “The place I like best in this world is the kitchen.” Orphaned amidst the bustling world around her, Mikage hesitatingly accepts an invitation to move in with Yuichi, a boy who’d worked part-time in her grandmother’s flower shop. His situation is also unusual, as he lives with his trans mother—an elegant woman who actually is his biological father. Food serves as a compelling bond and plot twister. Expect lots of food and cooking in this novel, plus generous doses of pure kindness and unconditional love. 

By Banana Yoshimoto, Megan Backus (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kitchen juxtaposes two tales about mothers, transsexuality, bereavement, kitchens, love and tragedy in contemporary Japan. It is a startlingly original first work by Japan's brightest young literary star and is now a cult film.

When Kitchen was first published in Japan in 1987 it won two of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, climbed its way to the top of the bestseller lists, then remained there for over a year and sold millions of copies. Banana Yoshimoto was hailed as a young writer of great talent and great passion whose work has quickly earned a place among the best of modern…


Book cover of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Looking for a well-curated, wide variety of Japanese short stories written by nearly all the famous modernist novelists revered in Japan? This collection contains everything from Kawabata’s "The Izu Dancer" to Satomi Ton’s marvelously deep story called "Blowfish", wherein the hero—a famously talented Kabuki actor succumbs to the kind of brain-fogging, body-busting death that only blowfish poison can deliver. The author manages to get inside the head of his character, uncovering what transitioning into death feels like, with humor sprinkled here and there, and an emotional recollection/revelation about his own actor-father dying in a theater fire. 

By Theodore W. Goossen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of short stories, including many new translations, is the first to span the whole of Japan's modern era from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Beginning with the first writings to assimilate and rework Western literary traditions, through the flourishing of the short story genre in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Taisho era, to the new breed of writers produced under the constraints of literary censorship, and the current writings reflecting the pitfalls and paradoxes of modern life, this anthology offers a stimulating survey of the development of the Japanese short story. Various indigenous…


Book cover of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Paul Burman Author Of The Snowing And Greening Of Thomas Passmore

From my list on time-bending that turn reality inside-out.

Who am I?

I’m the author of three novels, several short stories and quite a few articles about writing and literature. While I’ve haven’t aimed to write for a specific genre—all three of my novels are different in this respect—my plots usually focus on a mystery. I enjoy novels with strong, credible characters, which are based in a recognisable, everyday reality, but where bizarre events can turn the world upside down.

Paul's book list on time-bending that turn reality inside-out

Paul Burman Why did Paul love this book?

This is the first novel I read by Haruki Murakami and it got me hooked on his writing.

Toru Okada is tasked with finding his lost cat but, as he searches, the past stories of other characters constantly intersect and become inescapable detours, which often foster ambiguity and a sense of becoming lost in a charmed world.

We’re left with an impression of a world slipping into the surreal, where reality becomes blurred like Okada’s memory of what his missing cat looks like, and where “Ten minutes is not ten minutes” because time can stretch and shrink. I was frequently surprised and sometimes confounded by this but, because of Murakami’s skill as a writer, felt pleasantly lulled with the same dreamlike acquiescence as his hero into following Okada’s convoluted journey.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INCLUDES A READING GUIDE

Toru Okada's cat has disappeared and this has unsettled his wife, who is herself growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has started receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada's vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.


Book cover of 1Q84

Daryl Qilin Yam Author Of Lovelier, Lonelier

From my list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers.

Who am I?

I’m one of those writers who’d identify themselves as readers first, and as an oft-bullied queer kid growing up in Singapore, I often found refuge and salvation in writers whose works were able to refashion and reimagine our lives, however intimately or grandly. I grew up devouring fantasy of all kinds; I went from Enid Blyton to Charmed, for instance, before discovering in my later adolescence the manifold possibilities of magical realism and the other expanses contained within the realm(s) of speculative fiction. Many of the books in this particular list were especially useful in crafting my second novel, Lovelier, Lonelier

Daryl's book list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers

Daryl Qilin Yam Why did Daryl love this book?

Here’s another book with two lovers occupying two parallel realities, though I would say that the romance is almost beside the point in this book, where a multitude of stranger, more engrossing things are always threatening to steal the spotlight: Cults! A town of cats! The return of Ushikawa! Two moons! A novel named Air Chrysalis! You couldn’t ask for more, really.

By Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip ­Gabriel (translator)

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked 1Q84 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her.

She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course…


Book cover of The Housekeeper and the Professor

Mark Hummel Author Of Man, Underground

From my list on unlikely friendships or unexpected pairings.

Who am I?

Two instincts drive this list, one “writerly” and one about being human: 1) all good fiction maximizes various kinds of tension, particularly between people, and unusual or unexpected character pairings offer rich tensions; 2) I think we live in times when we are in desperate need of human kindness and must recognize that people from very different backgrounds can come together in their humanity. I love novels with complex characters and in books, as in life, I like to see people grow and change, and a big part of change is letting other people into your life.

Mark's book list on unlikely friendships or unexpected pairings

Mark Hummel Why did Mark love this book?

I am fascinated with “made families,” those connections of strangers who pass into such intimate friendships that they become de facto, chosen families.

While the core premise of The Housekeeper and the Professor will seize your imagination—the “professor” has suffered a traumatic brain injury that leaves him with only 8 minutes of short-term memory—it is the beauty of the friendship that emerges between him, the “housekeeper” hired to care for him, and her ten-year-old son that will stay with you.

In the present-tense living of having to reintroduce themselves anew to this math genius every morning, all the characters learn the value of a moment, and together they experience the “curious equations that can create a family.”

This thin, lovely, uplifting novel helped me re-learn the potency of fleeting moments and the enduring lessons of unexpected love.

By Yoko Ogawa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is one of those books written in such lucid, unpretentious language that reading it is like looking into a deep pool of clear water...Dive into Yoko Ogawa's world and you find yourself tugged by forces more felt than seen' New York Times

Each morning, the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to one another. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant mathematical equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles - based on her shoe size or her birthday - and the numbers reveal a sheltering and…


Book cover of Blue Flag, Vol. 1

Hannah Krieger Author Of All My Friends Are Ghosts

From my list on for kids who feel like outcasts.

Who am I?

As someone who struggled with connections growing up, I have a big heart for outcasts. When Shane-Michael Vidaurri and I collaborated on All My Friends are Ghosts, we wanted to reach out to kids who may be experiencing the same struggles with loneliness that we faced in our own childhoods. When it feels like the whole world is against you, it’s important to find those alcoves in your life where you feel safe and seen… and books can be exactly that! 

Hannah's book list on for kids who feel like outcasts

Hannah Krieger Why did Hannah love this book?

Blue Flag features an intense love rectangle between four unlikely friends and explores everything from cliques, crushes, self-hatred, projecting your insecurities onto others, and figuring out how to grow as a person. The relationships in Blue Flag are very complex, and almost uncomfortably real in their strengths and shortcomings. This is a series I wish I could have read as a teen; I would have loved it to be my companion in navigating the unnavigable maze of school social life.

By Kaito,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unexpected love quadrangle with a dash of unrequited love as two classmates, a boy and a girl, begin to fall for each other when each of their best friends have already fallen for them.

Love is already hard enough, but it becomes an unnavigable maze for unassuming high school student Taichi Ichinose and his shy classmate Futaba Kuze when they begin to fall for each other after their same-sex best friends have already fallen for them.

For some reason, Taichi Ichinose just can't stand Futaba Kuze. But at the start of his third year in high school, he finds…


Book cover of Norwegian Wood

Marcia Yudkin Author Of Marketing for Introverts

From my list on overlooked stories about introverts.

Who am I?

A bookworm and word lover from the get-go, I always pushed back a bit on society’s expectations that we all act like extroverts. I studied philosophy at school, taught it for a few years, but quit academic life to become a freelance writer and then a marketing expert. When I took a personality test sometime around 2008 and realized I was an introvert – and a fairly extreme one at that – I began seeing more and more ways in which our culture misunderstands and disparages introverts. Now retired from marketing, I explore prejudices against introverts and introverts’ special talents in my weekly newsletter, Introvert UpThink.

Marcia's book list on overlooked stories about introverts

Marcia Yudkin Why did Marcia love this book?

All of the five or six novels of Murakami’s that I’ve read feature an introverted protagonist not quite at home in the world, someone who wonders about reality and latches on to other strange people. Norwegian Wood, named after a song by the Beatles, may be the most accessible and this-worldly of his books.  It’s a coming-of-age story about a Japanese college student who falls in love at the end of the 1960s and never quite resolves his feelings. But after you read Norwegian Wood assuming you like it – be sure to go on to Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and IQ84, which I feel is his masterpiece.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

DISCOVER THE SHORT STORY COLLECTION THAT GAVE THE WORLD DRIVE MY CAR, THE BAFTA AND OSCAR WINNING FILM

A dazzling Sunday Times bestselling collection of short stories from the beloved internationally acclaimed Haruki Murakami.

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humour that has defined his entire body of work, in…


Book cover of The Great Reclamation

Daryl Qilin Yam Author Of Lovelier, Lonelier

From my list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers.

Who am I?

I’m one of those writers who’d identify themselves as readers first, and as an oft-bullied queer kid growing up in Singapore, I often found refuge and salvation in writers whose works were able to refashion and reimagine our lives, however intimately or grandly. I grew up devouring fantasy of all kinds; I went from Enid Blyton to Charmed, for instance, before discovering in my later adolescence the manifold possibilities of magical realism and the other expanses contained within the realm(s) of speculative fiction. Many of the books in this particular list were especially useful in crafting my second novel, Lovelier, Lonelier

Daryl's book list on thick novels about star-crossed, ill-fated lovers

Daryl Qilin Yam Why did Daryl love this book?

This is what I said when Singapore Unbound invited me to nominate my personal Book of the Year on their blog, Suspect: “Rachel Heng's The Great Reclamation is a novel that thoroughly deserves the moniker of the Great Singapore Novel.”

And I mean it: I’m hardly patriotic, so trust me when I say that I was totally swept away with its vision, its heart, its loving attention to detail. Here, the only parallel realities that split our lovers apart are the sides of history they’ve chosen to occupy. 

By Rachel Heng,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NEW AMERICAN VOICES AWARD

LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE AND THE JOYCE CAROL OATES PRIZE

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY TIME, TOWN & COUNTRY, KIRKUS, ELECTRIC LITERATURE AND BOOKPAGE!

"Stunning…epic…impressive…It is a pleasure to simply live alongside these characters.”—The New York Times

"A deep and powerful love story."—NBC The Today Show

"A beautifully written novel. I loved so much in this book: the richly imagined setting, the complicated love story, and the heartbreaking way history can tear apart a family."—Ann Napolitano, New York Times bestselling author of Hello Beautiful

Set against…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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