86 books like The Suicide Index

By Joan Wickersham,

Here are 86 books that The Suicide Index fans have personally recommended if you like The Suicide Index. 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 Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California

Tom Bissell Author Of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

From my list on trying to understand your parents.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a journalist, fiction writer, and screenwriter, as well as the author of ten books, the most recent of which is Creative Types and Other Stories, which will be published later this year. Along with Neil Cross, I developed for television The Mosquito Coast, based on Paul Theroux’s novel, which is now showing on Apple TV. Currently, I live with my family in Los Angeles.

Tom's book list on trying to understand your parents

Tom Bissell Why did Tom love this book?

This is a memoir about being a writer—and failing. With scholarly rigor and tenderhearted sympathy, Specktor excavates the lives of artists forgotten (Carol Eastman, Eleanor Perry), underappreciated (Thomas McGuane, Hal Ashby), and notorious (Warren Zevon, Michael Cimino), while always circling back to his own benighted Hollywood upbringing, complete with a lovely tribute to his mother, a failed screenwriter. This is an angry, sad, but always somehow joyful book about not hitting it big, and I've never read anything quite like it.

By Matthew Specktor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Always Crashing in the Same Car as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year at The Atlantic

Los Angeles Times Bestseller

"[An] absorbing and revealing book. . . . nestling in the fruitful terrain between memoir and criticism." ―Geoff Dyer, author of Out of Sheer Rage

Blending memoir and cultural criticism, Matthew Specktor explores family legacy, the lives of artists, and a city that embodies both dreams and disillusionment.

In 2006, Matthew Specktor moved into a crumbling Los Angeles apartment opposite the one in which F. Scott Fitzgerald spent the last moments of his life. Fitz had been Specktor’s first literary idol, someone whose own passage through Hollywood…


Book cover of Experience: A Memoir

Edmund Gordon Author Of The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography

From my list on writers’ lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an award-winning biographer and critic. My essays and reviews appear regularly in the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement, and I teach literature and creative writing at King’s College London. I’ve always loved stories about the lives of great writers – stories that seek to illuminate genius, without ever explaining it away.

Edmund's book list on writers’ lives

Edmund Gordon Why did Edmund love this book?

This is a magnificent autobiography, a work of intricate self-portraiture that takes in everything from the author’s dental troubles, through his relationship with his father, to his reaction to his cousin’s murder. Amis’s comic energy and stylistic brio are on sizzling display throughout, but so are qualities that aren’t often associated with his fiction: gentleness, generosity, emotional vulnerability…

By Martin Amis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this remarkable work of autobiography, the son of the great comic novelist Kingsley Amis explores his relationship with his father and writes about the various crises of Kingsley's life, including the final one of his death. Amis also reflects on the life and legacy of his cousin, Lucy Partington, who disappeared without trace in 1973 and was exhumed twenty years later from the basement of Frederick West, one of Britain's most prolific serial murderers.

**ONE OF THE GUARDIAN'S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 21st CENTURY**


Book cover of Borrowed Finery: A Memoir

Tom Bissell Author Of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

From my list on trying to understand your parents.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a journalist, fiction writer, and screenwriter, as well as the author of ten books, the most recent of which is Creative Types and Other Stories, which will be published later this year. Along with Neil Cross, I developed for television The Mosquito Coast, based on Paul Theroux’s novel, which is now showing on Apple TV. Currently, I live with my family in Los Angeles.

Tom's book list on trying to understand your parents

Tom Bissell Why did Tom love this book?

Paula Fox, the late great novelist and revered children’s book author, wrote a wonderful memoir of effectively not having parents. Oh, Fox’s parents were around, but they were drunk, careless, and inattentive, often shuffling young Paula to and from locales as varied as Hollywood and pre-Revolutionary Cuba. Her parents are depicted in this memoir as both monstrous and sympathetic, providing aspiring memoirists with a model of artful ambivalence. The book is also filled with extraordinary walk-ons by Orson Welles, James Cagney, Stella Adler, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s a beautiful book by one of the most effortlessly commanding writers this country has ever produced. (Full disclosure: As a twenty-eight-year-old greenhorn editor, I had the pleasure of line-editing this book, which wasn’t editing so much as polishing silver.)

By Paula Fox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An astonishing, devastating memoir of a 1930s American childhood. A New York Times Best Book of 2001

Born in the 1920s to young, bohemian parents, Paula Fox was left at birth in a Manhattan orphanage. Rescued by her grandmother, Fox eventually landed with a gentle, poor minister in upstate New York. Uncle Elwood, as he came to be known, gave Paula a secure and loving home for many years, but her parents constantly re-surface. Her father is a good-looking, hard-drinking Hollywood screenwriter (among his credits is The Last Train to Madrid, which Graham Greene declared was 'the worst movie I…


Book cover of Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son

Tom Bissell Author Of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

From my list on trying to understand your parents.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a journalist, fiction writer, and screenwriter, as well as the author of ten books, the most recent of which is Creative Types and Other Stories, which will be published later this year. Along with Neil Cross, I developed for television The Mosquito Coast, based on Paul Theroux’s novel, which is now showing on Apple TV. Currently, I live with my family in Los Angeles.

Tom's book list on trying to understand your parents

Tom Bissell Why did Tom love this book?

Sullivan is probably best known today for his instant-classic essay collection Pulphead, but I actually prefer his first book, Blood Horses, a memoir he wrote in the aftermath of losing his beloved sportswriter father, whose special focus was horse racing and the Kentucky Derby. Sullivan, who cares nothing about horses and horse racing, tries to get closer to his lost father by covering the grand race and learning everything about the sport, and horses, that he can. This puts Sullivan on the grounds of the Kentucky Derby on the morning of September 11, 2001, while standing next to the Saudi owner of a celebrated racing horse. What happens when the Saudi’s phone starts ringing is too good to spoil here. An extraordinary memoir.

By John Jeremiah Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One evening late in his life, veteran sportswriter Mike Sullivan was asked by his son what he remembered best from his three decades in the press box. The answer came as a surprise. 'I was at Secretariat's Derby, in '73. That was ... just beauty, you know?'

John Jeremiah Sullivan didn't know, not really, but he spent two years finding out, journeying from prehistoric caves to the Kentucky Derby. The result is Blood Horses, a wise, humorous and often beautiful memoir exploring the relationship between man and horse and the relationship between a sportswriter's son and his late father.


Book cover of In Pieces

Gerri Bauer Author Of Growing a Family in Persimmon Hollow

From my list on Catholic historical romance novels from someone who adores them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love Catholic historical romance novels for what they do and don’t include. They feature history, multiple characters, community and faith that together set a rich stage for love stories. The novels don’t include graphic violence or sex scenes. A former journalist, I started writing in the genre because I couldn’t find what I wanted to read. I’m both traditionally and indie published. I’m a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, as are the authors whose books are listed here. Family and community play important roles in my books. They show how a couple is never an isolated pair but always part of a multilayered world. Just like real life.

Gerri's book list on Catholic historical romance novels from someone who adores them

Gerri Bauer Why did Gerri love this book?

In Pieces is the first of a two-book series. The romance develops in this book while subplots thicken. I was quickly drawn to the characters and early American setting. I felt immersed in the ambience of the Boston waterfront during the Federalist years. Themes of redemption, forgiveness and understanding weave through the novel and affect more than the hero and heroine. For example, the hero’s family grapples with his growing interest in Catholicism. As the love story reaches resolution, another subplot deepens: a need for American spies to help protect the young country. I ended the book feeling as though the characters had become friends. In Pieces is subtitled Molly Chase Book 1 and fits the Christian historical fiction genre as well as Catholic historical romance.

By Rhonda Ortiz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Certain things ruin a girl’s reputation, and madness is one.

BOSTON, 1793—Beautiful and artistic, the only daughter of a prominent merchant, Molly Chase cannot help but attract the notice of Federalist Boston—especially its men. But she carries a painful secret: her father committed suicide and she found his body. Now nightmares plague her day and night, addling her mind and rendering her senseless. Molly needs a home, a nurse, and time to grieve and to find new purpose in life. But when she moves in with her friends, the Robbs, spiteful society gossips assume the worst. And when an imprudent…


Book cover of The Reenactments: A Memoir

Nicholas Montemarano Author Of If There Are Any Heavens: A Memoir

From my list on grief: literary companions after loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

My most recent book, If There Are Any Heavens, tells the story of my mother’s death from COVID-19 at the peak of the pandemic in America. As I wrote this book, I returned to some of the most powerful books I had read about grief. Because my book is a memoir in verse, I found myself reading mostly memoirs and poetry. My previous books are all fiction—three novels and a short story collection. No matter the book or genre, I’m attuned to the sonic qualities of the writing. My favorite writing, the kind I aspire to, strives for the emotional immediacy of music.

Nicholas' book list on grief: literary companions after loss

Nicholas Montemarano Why did Nicholas love this book?

I met the poet Nick Flynn over twenty years ago, not long before the publication of his most famous book, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, a memoir about his father’s homelessness. Since then, he has become one of my favorite writers. The Reenactments—for my money, his best book—takes us through the surreal experience of Another Bullshit Night being turned into a film. Robert De Niro plays his father and Julianne Moore plays his mother. De Niro meets Flynn’s father, studying him for character traits. In the most heartbreaking sections, Flynn relives his mother’s suicide as it’s filmed. As Flynn writes: “How often are you offered the chance for a complete reenactment of the day of the disaster?”

By Nick Flynn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For Nick Flynn, that game we all play-the who-would-play-you-in-the-movie-of-your-life game-has been resolved. The Reenactments chronicles the surreal experience of being on set during the making of the film Being Flynn, from his best-selling memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and watching the central events of his life reenacted: his father's long run of homelessness and his mother's suicide. Flynn tells the story of Robert De Niro's first meeting with his real father in Boston and of watching Julianne Moore attempt to throw herself into the sea. The result is a mesmerizingly sharp-edged and kaleidoscopic literary tour de force as…


Book cover of Voicing Suicide

Penn Kemp Author Of Poems in Response to Peril: An Anthology in Support of Ukraine

From my list on Canadian anthologies for social justice, women, and the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love gathering poets together to celebrate different causes. In fact, I hosted a weekly literary radio show, Gathering Voices, for seven years and published a book/cd collection, Gathering Voice. Since 1972, I have been publishing poetry as well as editing anthologies that collect differing voices, as an activist and poet/editor: gathering voices for women, nature, and social justice is my passion. Given the immensity of suffering in the war on Ukraine, I was galvanized to gather together poems in solidarity with Ukrainians. The anthology, co-edited with Richard-Yves Sitoski, was launched 3 months after the invasion began: a huge endeavor that included 48 activist poets.

Penn's book list on Canadian anthologies for social justice, women, and the environment

Penn Kemp Why did Penn love this book?

Voicing Suicide is a collection of poems about suicide and its impact on lives. When my stepdaughter killed herself, I desperately needed an anthology like this. Decades later, the poems here still resonate and console me. The book arises out of a conviction that poetry offers an opportunity to understand some of the difficult aspects of suicide by allowing us to give it voice; through memory, and elegy, through an honest declaration of the draw of death. In poetry, we can enter the spaces suicide shapes around loss and sorrow and give it voice. Poems can speak to the loss of a loved one, to considering suicide, to struggling to make sense of suicide and poems can offer the words of those who have suicided. Although intense and sometimes painful, the book is honest, in moments delicate and tender. It offers an important exploration of suicide by writers who have…

By Daniel G. Scott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Voicing Suicide is a collection of poems about suicide and its impact on lives. The book arises out of a conviction that poetry offers an opportunity to understand some of the difficult aspects of suicide by allowing us to give it voice; through memory, and elegy, through an honest declaration of the draw of death. In poetry, we can enter the spaces suicide shapes around loss and sorrow and give it voice. Poems can speak to the loss of a loved one, to considering suicide, to struggling to make sense of suicide and poems can offer the words of those…


Book cover of I, Afterlife: Essay in Mourning Time

Madison Davis Author Of The Loved Ones: Essays to Bury the Dead

From my list on honest portrayals of death, grief, and mourning.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I turned twenty-five, I lost my father to illness, my brother to a car accident, and a cousin to murder. Experiencing this string of tragedies so young profoundly changed me. As a writer, I’ve often worried that my naked grief on the page would come across as soft, cloyingly sentimental, and wholly without bite. Over the years, I have looked to examples of books that deal with death, grief, and mourning with a kind of brutal honesty. I sought out writing that conveyed the reality of loss in all its messiness. Reading these beautiful, honest accounts of grief have always made me feel less alone in mine.

Madison's book list on honest portrayals of death, grief, and mourning

Madison Davis Why did Madison love this book?

In I, Afterlife, Prevallet writes, “The text that is grieving has no thesis: only speculations.”

This short, sturdy book has been something of a roadmap for me when writing about grief. After her father commits suicide, Prevallet is left with many unanswerable questions, so she presents for her reader the questions, big and small, along with her speculations.

The subtitle, Essay in Mourning Time, points toward what I find so compelling about this work. The book is written from the place of grief—the way it shifts our relationship to time and truth and objects—and in the voice of mourning. 

By Kristin Prevallet,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Poetry. Essays. Much admired by her contemporaries for her experiments in poetic form, Kristin Prevallet now turns those gifts to the most vulnerable moments of her own life, and in doing so, has produced a testament that is both disconsolate and powerful. Meditating on her father's unexplained suicide, Prevallet alternates between the clinical language of the crime report and the lyricism of the elegy. Throughout, she offers a defiant refusal of east consolations or redemptions. Driven by "the need to extend beyond the personal and out the toward the intolerable present," Prevallet brings herself and her readers to the chilling…


Book cover of 13 Reasons Why

Kathleen Fine Author Of Girl on Trial

From my list on contemporary YA about peer pressure and addiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started to experiment at a very early age with alcohol. During my teen years, like so many of my peers, I had low self-esteem. I wanted to fit in so I understand firsthand the effects that peer pressure can have on a teenager. When I think back to those years, I sometimes wonder: what if? There were so many terrible outcomes that could have occurred in my life. These novels show their readers a “what if.” I hope that teens who read these books think twice before following a crowd and stand firmly with what they know is right in their heart as well as hope for healing.

Kathleen's book list on contemporary YA about peer pressure and addiction

Kathleen Fine Why did Kathleen love this book?

This book has had many mixed reviews, but in my opinion, it is an excellent story for adults of teens and mature teens to read.

Hannah, a teenage girl, commits suicide. She leaves her classmate a package with a cassette tape in it, explaining the 13 reasons why she decided to end her life. This novel demonstrates the cruelties of teen life, from rumors, to reputations, to rape. It shows the reader: “in the end, everything matters.”

Hopefully, people who read this book will better understand how much their actions affect one another, and they’ll think twice before causing even the littlest amount of harm to someone else. We all need to have more empathy for one another, because this world is cruel enough as it is. 

By Jay Asher,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked 13 Reasons Why 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?

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

Featuring cover art from the Netflix original series, with exclusive interviews and photos inside!
"Eerie, beautiful, and devastating." --Chicago Tribune
"A stealthy hit with staying power. . . . thriller-like pacing." --The New York Times
"Thirteen Reasons Why will leave you with chills long after you have finished reading." --Amber Gibson, NPR's "All Things Considered"
 

You can't stop the future. 
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his…


Book cover of Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Troy Tassier Author Of The Rich Flee and the Poor Take the Bus: How Our Unequal Society Fails Us During Outbreaks

From my list on connecting poor health and poverty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in rural northern Michigan. My family lived in comfort, never lacking essentials. Yet, many of those living around me had difficulty making ends meet. Many lacked health insurance and year-round jobs. As a child, I viewed my community as normal and typical of the American experience. In many ways, it was–in part, that is the point of this list. At the time, I didn’t know that we could do better for those around me who worked so hard daily. Now I do. I selected these books to highlight the vast disparities between those with and without the comfort and luxury of good health.    

Troy's book list on connecting poor health and poverty

Troy Tassier Why did Troy love this book?

Life expectancy among the working-class population in the United States was decreasing at an astounding rate well before the Covid-19 pandemic. While I was aware of growing inequality and decreasing access to health care for many, I didn’t realize how desperate the conditions of life seemed for many working-class Americans.

This book forced me to confront the uncomfortable reality of the health crisis among the many blue-collar workers living in the heartland of America.  

By Anne Case, Angus Deaton,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book of 2020
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book to Read

From economist Anne Case and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton, a groundbreaking account of how the flaws in capitalism are fatal for America's working class

Life expectancy in the United States has recently fallen for three years in a row-a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times. In the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in suicide, Boston, and philosophy?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about suicide, Boston, and philosophy.

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