100 books like Things We Lost in the Fire

By Mariana Enriquez,

Here are 100 books that Things We Lost in the Fire fans have personally recommended if you like Things We Lost in the Fire. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Tenth of December

By George Saunders,

Book cover of Tenth of December: Stories

Giselle Leeb Author Of Mammals, I Think We Are Called

From the list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination.

Who am I?

I had no expectations about what the first short stories I wrote would end up being like. Although I’d read mostly realistic literary fiction before starting to write, most of my stories included fantastical elements. This set me off reading and writing stories categorised as weird, cross-genre, slipstream, magical realist, fantastic, fabulist, horror, soft sci-fi, and surreal. The thing that struck me was how slippery these categories are. But what unites them is their openness to unbounded imagination. Like a lens concentrating a fire, their strange and fantastical techniques amplify feelings and reality in unique ways, while always paying attention to language. It’s been a thrilling, exciting ride!

Giselle's book list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination

Why did Giselle love this book?

One of my top short story writers, the word ‘unique’ was invented for Saunders. Selling in the literary category, he has a vernacular style all his own. His stories comment on American society and the horrors of capitalism but never shove a message down your throat. Saunders is simply immersed in these concerns and it comes out naturally in his writing. His stories contain sci-fi and futuristic elements, and use these, as well as a deadpan surrealism, to comment on the now. The story I will never forget from this collection is "The Semplica Girl Diaries", in which ‘Semplica Girls’, women from ‘third-world’ countries, are trafficked to be used as human lawn ornaments. Saunders faces things head-on, with dark hilarity.

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Tenth of December as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**ESCAPE FROM SPIDERHEAD NOW STREAMING ON NETFLIX - STARRING CHRIS HEMSWORTH AND MILES TELLER** The prize-winning, New York Times bestselling short story collection from the internationally bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo 'The best book you'll read this year' New York Times 'Dazzlingly surreal stories about a failing America' Sunday Times WINNER OF THE 2014 FOLIO PRIZE AND SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2013 George Saunders's most wryly hilarious and disturbing collection yet, Tenth of December illuminates human experience and explores figures lost in a labyrinth of troubling preoccupations. A family member recollects a backyard pole dressed for…


One Hundred Years of Solitude

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Book cover of One Hundred Years of Solitude

Lois Parkinson Zamora Author Of Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community

From the list on capturing the magic of magical realism.

Who am I?

I fell in love with Latin American literature when I was in the Peace Corps in the late 1960s in the highlands of Colombia. My husband and I were in a program of rural community development. The Colombian writer, Gabriel García Márquez, published his now-famous novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, while we were there (in 1967), and when I read it, I said, “This is the kind of fiction that I want to keep on reading and studying forever!” And so I have. I am on the faculty of the University of Houston, where I teach Latin American literature and history, including a course on Magical Realism. 

Lois' book list on capturing the magic of magical realism

Why did Lois love this book?

I was in the Peace Corps in Colombia when I read One Hundred Years of Solitude, and fell in love with this kind of fiction (which we now call magical realism).

It is set in a poor village where magical things happen, and no one gives it a second thought. There is also a political story that reflects historical events in Colombia and in other parts of Latin America.

The author won the Nobel Prize in 1982, and no writer can be more highly acclaimed than that. Oprah chose it for her book club (well, that’s pretty high acclaim, too), and I love it. 

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women -- brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul -- this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.


Pedro Páramo

By Juan Rulfo, Margaret Sayers Peden (translator),

Book cover of Pedro Páramo

Lois Parkinson Zamora Author Of Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community

From the list on capturing the magic of magical realism.

Who am I?

I fell in love with Latin American literature when I was in the Peace Corps in the late 1960s in the highlands of Colombia. My husband and I were in a program of rural community development. The Colombian writer, Gabriel García Márquez, published his now-famous novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, while we were there (in 1967), and when I read it, I said, “This is the kind of fiction that I want to keep on reading and studying forever!” And so I have. I am on the faculty of the University of Houston, where I teach Latin American literature and history, including a course on Magical Realism. 

Lois' book list on capturing the magic of magical realism

Why did Lois love this book?

This short novel is by a Mexican writer and takes place underground. At first, we cannot tell who is living and who is dead, but we eventually accept the fact that the characters are ghosts. 

The ghosts come and go, remembering their past lives together. They remind each other of the events of the Mexican Revolution that they lived through, and they especially remember the strongman in the village. Pedro Páramo runs things with an iron hand, and he also pines for a woman who is beyond his control—the only thing he wants that he can’t have.

The voices in this novel are like a chorus of whispers breathing the picture of a poor village. I love the beauty and mystery of the writing. Many Mexicans consider this their greatest novel, and for all readers, it is a small masterpiece. 

By Juan Rulfo, Margaret Sayers Peden (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner, Fred Whitehead Award for the Best Design of a Trade Book from Texas Institute of Letters Western Books Exhibition Selection, Rounce & Coffin Club, 2003 Deserted villages of rural Mexico, where images and memories of the past linger like unquiet ghosts, haunted the imaginations of two artists-writer Juan Rulfo and photographer Josephine Sacabo. In one such village of the mind, Comala, Rulfo set his classic novel Pedro Paramo, a dream-like tale that intertwines a man's quest to find his lost father and reclaim his patrimony with the father's obsessive love for a woman who will not be possessed-Susana San…


Ficciones

By Jorge Luis Borges, Anthony Bonner (translator),

Book cover of Ficciones

A. R. Silverberry Author Of Shadow House

From the list on mind-bending dystopian science fiction.

Who am I?

Realms of the imagination have always called to me. My father had shelves of Astounding Science Fiction and Galaxy magazines. The covers alone were enough to streak me to far-off worlds, aliens, and spaceships. Here, I discovered Robert E. Howard, creator of sword and sorcery. A walk in the woods was a quest to find pixies in a magic kingdom. And a much-loved babysitter read every Oz book to me, easing me to sleep. With all this to get lost in, it’s a wonder I earned a PhD in psychology. Or not. The mind is a limitless universe. Who knows what we might discover in our dreams?

A. R.'s book list on mind-bending dystopian science fiction

Why did A. R. love this book?

I read these short stories when I was twelve, reread them countless times as an adult, and was forever changed. Entering these pages is like journeying through the looking glass, only to enter a labyrinth of mystery, secrets, and chance. It may seem like an outlier from the books above. Yet Borges was a pioneer in speculative fiction and one of a kind. One of the stories has been called the greatest ever written. Just saying.

By Jorge Luis Borges, Anthony Bonner (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the gargantuan powers of imagination, intelligence, and style of one of the greatest writers of this or any other century.

Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal's abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. More playful and approachable than the fictions themselves are Borges's Prologues, brief elucidations that offer the uninitiated a passageway into the whirlwind of Borges's genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony,…


Fever Dream

By Samanta Schweblin, Megan McDowell (translator),

Book cover of Fever Dream

Akil Kumarasamy Author Of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea

From the list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you.

Who am I?

Ursula K. Le Guin said science fiction is a metaphor of the now. It allows us to defamiliarize ourselves with the issues around us, so we can see everything from a new lens. As someone who worked in tech spaces and once wrote a poetry-generating program, I am interested in how people use language to write about technology, at all levels. I appreciate the blend of older forms of technology like phonographs along with newer forms like ChatGPT. Languages interest me: how we translate to speak to machinery or people, and how translation itself can feel like a kind of wormhole into another world. 

Akil's book list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you

Why did Akil love this book?

This is a wild, one-sitting read. At first you might not know where you are, but after a few pages, you’re completely hooked.

It’s creepy and visceral about what it means to be a mother when the world is turning more and more toxic. It might be considered an eco-horror book. This story works on your subconscious, leaving you with a sticky, unsettling feeling.

Also, it’s translated from Spanish. The title of the Spanish version is The Rescue Distance.    

By Samanta Schweblin, Megan McDowell (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Fever Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2017

'The book I wish I had written' Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women and Animal

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a remote Argentinian hospital. A boy named David sits beside her.

She's not his mother. He's not her child.

At David's ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past, a conversation that opens a chest of horrors. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.

A chilling tale of maternal anxiety and ecological…


Feeling Very Strange

By James Patrick Kelly (editor), John Kessel (editor),

Book cover of Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology

Giselle Leeb Author Of Mammals, I Think We Are Called

From the list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination.

Who am I?

I had no expectations about what the first short stories I wrote would end up being like. Although I’d read mostly realistic literary fiction before starting to write, most of my stories included fantastical elements. This set me off reading and writing stories categorised as weird, cross-genre, slipstream, magical realist, fantastic, fabulist, horror, soft sci-fi, and surreal. The thing that struck me was how slippery these categories are. But what unites them is their openness to unbounded imagination. Like a lens concentrating a fire, their strange and fantastical techniques amplify feelings and reality in unique ways, while always paying attention to language. It’s been a thrilling, exciting ride!

Giselle's book list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination

Why did Giselle love this book?

I’d been writing for a few years, when I came across this book. It was an exciting discovery because it introduced me to a type of story I’d never read before, stories that did weird things I hadn’t thought possible, and included brilliant writers I hadn’t heard of, like Kelly Link and Aimee Bender. I was also excited by the inclusion of writers who were considered literary, who no one would usually put in the strange category, like George Saunders and Michael Chabon. The sheer range of stories and styles was mindblowing. It broadened my ideas about what stories could be, and what I could do in my writing. The introduction by the editors is titled "Slipstream, the Genre That Isn’t," and for me that says it all.

By James Patrick Kelly (editor), John Kessel (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If it is true that the test of a first-rate mind is its ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time, then we live in a century when it takes a first-rate mind just to get through the day. We have unprecedented access to information; cognitive dissonance is a banner headline in our morning papers and radiates silently from our computer screens. Slipstream, poised between literature and popular culture, embraces the dissonance.

These ambitious stories of visionary strangeness defy the conventions of science fiction. Tales by Michael Chabon, Karen Joy Fowler, Jonathan Lethem, Carol Emshwiller, George Saunders, and…


Black Water

By Alberto Manguel (editor),

Book cover of Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature

Giselle Leeb Author Of Mammals, I Think We Are Called

From the list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination.

Who am I?

I had no expectations about what the first short stories I wrote would end up being like. Although I’d read mostly realistic literary fiction before starting to write, most of my stories included fantastical elements. This set me off reading and writing stories categorised as weird, cross-genre, slipstream, magical realist, fantastic, fabulist, horror, soft sci-fi, and surreal. The thing that struck me was how slippery these categories are. But what unites them is their openness to unbounded imagination. Like a lens concentrating a fire, their strange and fantastical techniques amplify feelings and reality in unique ways, while always paying attention to language. It’s been a thrilling, exciting ride!

Giselle's book list on genre-bending stories to fire your imagination

Why did Giselle love this book?

Published in 1983, I only recently came across this anthology. A Sunday Times review says: “As an introduction to the delights of fiction about “the impossible seeping into the possible” Black Water has not been surpassed.” This book is on my indispensable reading list. It includes seventy-two stories that span a broad range of writers, many of whom would not be considered writers of the fantastic, from D.H. Lawrence and Edith Wharton to Julio Cortázar and Ray Bradbury. An eye-opening book that demonstrates a myriad of techniques for using strangeness to illustrate reality, and is an absolute reading feast of wonder and imagination. My favourite story is "The Third Bank of the River" by João Guimarães Rosa.

By Alberto Manguel (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Short stories by authors including Julio Cortazar, Saki, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ray Bradbury deal with hauntings, time warps, prophetic dreams, strange creatures, and bizarre occurrences


Magic for Beginners

By Kelly Link, Shelley Jackson (illustrator),

Book cover of Magic for Beginners

Patrick Barb Author Of Pre-Approved for Haunting: And Other Stories

From the list on single-author weird and horrifying short stories.

Who am I?

Whether it’s campfire tales told with the moon high or bedtime fables told to get children to stay in their beds after lights out, I believe horror fiction is at its purest, most effective form as short prose. These collections of horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and Western tales are all touched by the weird and terrifying. The twin sensations of being unsettled by something you’ve read and of being unable to resist reading on are guiding lights in my own writerly pursuits. These collections and many more played a defining role in shaping my own debut dark fiction collection Pre-Approved for Haunting and Other Stories. 

Patrick's book list on single-author weird and horrifying short stories

Why did Patrick love this book?

While trending more toward the fantasy side, then the previous picks on the list here, Link still manages to pull out some of the most unsettling moments in a short story that I’ve ever read.

When I finished her story “Some Zombie Contingency Plans,” I found myself immediately flipping back to the beginning of the story and reading it fresh. Link is masterful when it comes to weaving together narrative threads, playing literary sleight of hand. While the collection and one of the stories within are called “Magic for Beginners,” she’s very much an expert.

The cross-genre blending is very much following in the footsteps of Bradbury, giving a more fantasy-style focus where his work trends toward science fiction.

By Kelly Link, Shelley Jackson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Best of the Decade: Salon, The A.V. Club "If I had to pick the most powerfully original voice in fantasy today, it would be Kelly Link. Her stories begin in a world very much like our own, but then, following some mysterious alien geometry, they twist themselves into something fantastic and, frequently, horrific. You won't come out the same person you went in."-Lev Grossman, The Week "Highly original."-Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Dazzling."-Entertainment Weekly (grade: A, Editor's Choice) "Darkly playful."-Michael Chabon Best of the Year: Time Magazine, Salon, Boldtype, PopMatters. Kelly Link's engaging and funny stories riff on haunted convenience stores,…


Like Flies from Afar

By K. Ferrari, Adrian Nathan West (translator),

Book cover of Like Flies from Afar

F.E. Beyer Author Of Buenos Aires Triad

From the list on crime novels set in Argentina.

Who am I?

At twenty-six I was living in Wuhan. I had been in China for a couple of years and was looking for a change. Not ready to go back home to New Zealand, I made my way across Europe, through the USA, and on to Argentina. Since that visit, I’ve followed Argentina's economic crises and scoured its newspapers for quirky crime stories. I started to send out true crime articles to various magazines. Eventually, I had enough material to write a novel. For years I’ve wanted to find a literary yet straightforward crime novel set in Argentina. The search goes on, but below are the best I’ve come across so far.

F.E.'s book list on crime novels set in Argentina

Why did F.E. love this book?

This is a concise noir with clear and simple prose. There is no metafiction, magical realism, or non-linear narrative to contend with. The protagonist, Mr. Machi, is a terrible person, almost psychopathic, a symbol of everything that is wrong in Argentina. The book is a critique of unbridled capitalism and its status symbols. To kick things off, Machi finds a dead body inside the boot of his beloved BMW and from there the action and the hilarity don’t stop. Told from the point of view of Machi, we have an uncomplicated antihero, a person completely without redeeming features. According to legend, the author still works as a subway station cleaner.

By K. Ferrari, Adrian Nathan West (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Like Flies from Afar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This novel should come not with blurbs but with a hazardous-material warning: There's bone and gristle here, be ready for that taste in your mouth you can't spit out. First words to last, it's strong stuff." —James Sallis, author of Drive

The first novel to appear in English by the "subway janitor by night, novelist by day," who began his writing career while an undocumented immigrant in the United States, Like Flies from Afar will demonstrate why K. Ferrari is already an award-winning star of international crime fiction. A hardboiled noir thriller, a whodunit, a black comedy, and a filthy…


Money to Burn

By Ricardo Piglia, Amanda Hopkinson,

Book cover of Money to Burn

F.E. Beyer Author Of Buenos Aires Triad

From the list on crime novels set in Argentina.

Who am I?

At twenty-six I was living in Wuhan. I had been in China for a couple of years and was looking for a change. Not ready to go back home to New Zealand, I made my way across Europe, through the USA, and on to Argentina. Since that visit, I’ve followed Argentina's economic crises and scoured its newspapers for quirky crime stories. I started to send out true crime articles to various magazines. Eventually, I had enough material to write a novel. For years I’ve wanted to find a literary yet straightforward crime novel set in Argentina. The search goes on, but below are the best I’ve come across so far.

F.E.'s book list on crime novels set in Argentina

Why did F.E. love this book?

More about hiding out and the lead-up to the final shoot-out than the bank robbery at the start, this novel is based on a real case from the 1960s. After they rob a bank in the Province of Buenos Aires, Dorda and Brigone, escape with the money over the Rio de la Plata. They find a bolthole in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, a country much like Argentina culturally and historically, but with fewer hysterical tendencies. Not happy about this are the politicians and police officers involved in the robbery and anxious for their cut of the loot. Piglia does a good job of recreating Argentina in the 1960s. Despite some stylistic pretensions and his overwriting of the main characters, the author manages not to get in the way of the story.

By Ricardo Piglia, Amanda Hopkinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on original reports and witness statements, Money to Burn tells the story of a gang of bandits who, fancying themselves as urban guerillas, raided a bank in downtown Buenos Aires. They escaped with millions of dollars in cash but six weeks later found their hideout surrounded by three hundred military police, journalists and TV cameras. The subsequent siege and its shocking outcome have become a Latin American legend.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Argentina, magical realism, and Buenos Aires?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Argentina, magical realism, and Buenos Aires.

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