100 books like Vanishing Acts

By Jodi Picoult,

Here are 100 books that Vanishing Acts fans have personally recommended if you like Vanishing Acts. 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 The Couple Next Door

Kate Robards Author Of The Three Deaths Of Willa Stannard

From my list on missing children.

Why am I passionate about this?

A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Emotionally driven, tense, full of despair and hope, these stories captivate me. When I decided to include a cold case mystery of a toddler’s disappearance in my debut novel, I dove deep into both true crime and fictional novels on the subject. These books represent a range of gripping mysteries about not only finding missing children, but the scrutiny and heartache their mothers face. I hope you find these stories as absorbing, powerful, and suspenseful as I do!

Kate's book list on missing children

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

The Couple Next Door is an addictive page-turner. It’s clever and creative, and nearly every chapter ends with a cliffhanger that practically requires you to keep reading.

Lapena pulls you into the frenzied search for the missing baby while casting doubt onto nearly every character. The use of multiple points of view ratchets up the tension. Entertaining and fast-paced, this is perfect as a beach read. Bonus points as this is a debut novel!

By Shari Lapena,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Couple Next Door as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Another thrilling domestic suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Not a Happy Family

"The twists come as fast [as] you can turn the pages." -People

"I read this novel at one sitting, absolutely riveted by the storyline. The suspense was beautifully rendered and unrelenting!" -Sue Grafton

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors-a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it…


Book cover of The Butterfly Garden

Jeannette de Beauvoir Author Of Dead in the Water

From my list on stories involving kidnapping.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the joys of writing a mystery series is you have time to explore your characters—who they are, where they come from, what motivates them. In this particular series, I’d established a rift between the protagonist and her family, and I began to wonder why it was there. My own sister died when still a baby, yet her absence cast a long, complicated shadow over our family for decades. I wanted to explore more about the family dynamics around a missing child—and kidnapping seemed the best tool to get there. So I read everything I could about kidnapping to present that absence in both intimate and compelling ways.

Jeannette's book list on stories involving kidnapping

Jeannette de Beauvoir Why did Jeannette love this book?

This book is both absolutely gorgeous and deeply disturbing.

The premise is simple: in an FBI interview, a young woman recounts the horrific ordeal she’s survived as a member of a serial killer’s “garden” of kidnapped victims. The reading experience is considerably more complex. Much of the story is told in flashbacks, allowing the reader to explore Maya’s experience in the Garden; that’s then balanced with her FBI interview, filling in blanks and establishing her as an almost-reliable narrator.

The dual timeline—one of my favorite devices to read and write—is handled brilliantly, and Hutchinson successfully achieves a formidable tightrope act, balancing the brutality of torture and murder with an elegant and refined narrative.

Her darkness is graceful—but it’s still darkness. 

By Dot Hutchison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees...and a collection of precious "butterflies"-young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle…


Book cover of A Stolen Life: A Memoir

Jeannette de Beauvoir Author Of Dead in the Water

From my list on stories involving kidnapping.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the joys of writing a mystery series is you have time to explore your characters—who they are, where they come from, what motivates them. In this particular series, I’d established a rift between the protagonist and her family, and I began to wonder why it was there. My own sister died when still a baby, yet her absence cast a long, complicated shadow over our family for decades. I wanted to explore more about the family dynamics around a missing child—and kidnapping seemed the best tool to get there. So I read everything I could about kidnapping to present that absence in both intimate and compelling ways.

Jeannette's book list on stories involving kidnapping

Jeannette de Beauvoir Why did Jeannette love this book?

This memoir is both haunting and oddly inspirational.


On 10 June 1991, eleven-year-old Jaycee Dugard was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in Tahoe, California. It was the last her family saw of her for over eighteen years. In 2009 an investigation discovered her living in a tent behind her kidnapper’s house.

I love this memoir for a whole lot of reasons, but in large part because there’s not a trace of self-pity in her account—despite her having had so much of her life “stolen” from her—and because of her determination to find faith in humanity again.

By Jaycee Dugard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A raw and powerful memoir of Jaycee Lee Dugard's own story of being kidnapped as an 11-year-old and held captive for over 18 years

On 10 June 1991, eleven-year-old Jaycee Dugard was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in Tahoe, California.

It was the last her family and friends saw of her for over eighteen years.

On 26 August 2009, Dugard, her daughters, and Phillip Craig Garrido appeared in the office of her kidnapper's parole officer in California. Their unusual behaviour sparked an investigation that led to the positive identification of Jaycee Lee Dugard, living…


Beautiful and Terrible Things

By S. M. Stevens,

Book cover of Beautiful and Terrible Things

S. M. Stevens

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Charley Byrne isn’t really living. She hunkers down in her apartment above the bookstore she manages, until quirky activist Xander Wallace lures her out of social exile with the prospect of friendship and romance. Charley joins Xander’s circle of diverse friends and thrives, even leaving her comfort zone to join protests in a city struggling with social justice ills.

But the new friendships bring back-to-back betrayals that threaten the bookstore—Charley’s haven—and propel her into a dangerous depression, in a stark reminder that friendship has the power to destroy as well as save lives. Can her friends save the store? And Charley?

Beautiful and Terrible Things

By S. M. Stevens,

What is this book about?

"A beautifully crafted story of friendship and self-discovery set amidst the harsh realities of today's world. Superb!" -Eileen O'Finlan, author of Erin's Children

Charley Byrne isn't really living. At age 29, she hunkers down in her apartment above the bookstore she manages, afraid of a 7-year curse. Then quirky activist Xander Wallace lures her out of social exile with the prospect of friendship and romance. Charley joins Xander's circle of friends diverse in their heritage, race, gender and sexual orientation. She thrives, even leaving her comfort zone to join protests in a city struggling with social justice ills.

But the…


Book cover of The Face on the Milk Carton

Jane Buckingham Author Of A Lie for a Lie

From my list on YA books for any age reader.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a BIG reader of mysteries and thrillers, but I hate it when you read a thriller and guess who did it on page 20, or it turns out it’s a character so obscure you could never have guessed it! But it’s easy to criticize! I’ve wanted to write a young adult thriller since I was young, and over the last few years, I found myself more able to try. For me, writing my book was like running a marathon…I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but now I’m really happy that I did! 

Jane's book list on YA books for any age reader

Jane Buckingham Why did Jane love this book?

Caroline B. Cooney instantly drew me in with her book's gripping premise: Janie Johnson, your typical high school girl, spots her three-year-old self on a missing child alert on a milk carton during lunch. Suddenly, she's swept into a deep, psychological journey filled with doubt and fear about her own family. Could the parents she loves actually have kidnapped her? I was hooked by the exploration of identity and belonging, as Janie's turmoil—her fear, confusion, and anger—felt really real and relatable.

I found it impossible to put down because you're desperate to uncover the truth alongside Janie. Each revelation about her past tests her relationships and challenges her understanding of love and family. This novel is so unforgettable for me because it blends intense personal drama with the thrill of a mystery. It's not just a story about a potential kidnapping; it's a journey into what defines a family and…

By Caroline B. Cooney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Face on the Milk Carton 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?

In the vein of psychological thrillers like We Were Liars and One of Us Is Lying, bestselling and Edgar Award nominated author Caroline Cooney’s JANIE series seamlessly blends mystery and suspense with issues of family, friendship and love to offer an emotionally evocative thrill ride of a read.

No one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar—a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years…


Book cover of She Rides Shotgun

Christopher Swann Author Of Never Back Down

From my list on crime fiction featuring powerful female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love crime fiction, but the genre can be very much a boys’ club where women are sometimes reduced to femmes fatales or victims who need to be saved. When I look at my bookshelves, I realize how many of the books I’ve read are written by men about men. There’s nothing wrong with stories about men, but I have a lot of strong women in my life, and I’ve learned so much from listening to their perspectives. As a writer, I like pushing myself to try and create strong female characters who find themselves ensnared in a crime and have to figure their way out.

Christopher's book list on crime fiction featuring powerful female characters

Christopher Swann Why did Christopher love this book?

This book grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go.

Jordan Harper does more with suggestion and a few well-crafted sentences than some writers accomplish in an entire novel. When he needs to be brutal, he’s a monster. When he needs to be tender, your eyes sting.

Polly is both a badass and a little girl—I don’t know how Harper pulled that off. And I have never cared so much about a stuffed animal as I have Polly’s teddy bear.

By Jordan Harper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF A 2018 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST DEBUT NOVEL*

*WINNER OF AN ALEX AWARD FROM THE ALA*

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Booklist

A propulsive, gritty novel about a girl marked for death who must fight and steal to stay alive, learning from the most frightening man she knows—her father.

Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school…


Book cover of Heroes of the Frontier

Céline Keating Author Of The Stark Beauty of Last Things

From my list on immersing yourself in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved nature and being outdoors since childhood, when I would escape our apartment complex by berry-picking in a park or sneaking onto the lush grounds of a local mental hospital. I grew up in Queens, New York, at a time of rapid development, and mourned as trees were felled for housing. I became an avid hiker, canoeist, and gardener as an adult, and serve on the board of an environmental organization in Montauk, Long Island. What we lose when we lose our connection to nature, saving our last wild places, and leaving a sustainable world to the next generation are key themes in my forthcoming novel--and personal motivation.

Céline's book list on immersing yourself in nature

Céline Keating Why did Céline love this book?

I love camping out in the wild, so for me reading this novel was a vicarious extended vacation.

The novel centers on a woman who escapes to Alaska with her two children and makes her way across the state in a beat-up rented recreational vehicle they call the Chateau. The fantastically flawed and appealing Josie and her two children are all wonderfully drawn. Anyone who has ever gone camping will get a kick out of all the details of life in this wreck on wheels.

The novel is not just laugh-out-loud funny; it’s also profound and deeply felt. I also wouldn’t have expected a novel that makes a compelling argument that we need to address climate change to be set in Alaska, where there’s so much untrammeled wilderness. But this novel taught me that in fact, the effects of climate change are actually more harsh closer to the poles.

Heroes…

By Dave Eggers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BESTSELLER

'The mirror image of Eggers's brilliantly dystopian The Circle... [A] state of the nation novel, cleansing the spirit and lifting the heart' Guardian

A hilarious and heart-warming misadventure through modern America: it's time for the family vacation...

Josie's life is falling apart - lawsuits raining down, her business down the drain and a feckless husband long gone - so she gathers up her two kids and lights out for the wilderness. The Alaskan wilderness, to be specific.

This is a story about the trip of a lifetime. It involves one battered old RV,…


Book cover of Parable of the Talents

Iris Bolling Author Of S.I.B.s: The Society of Intellectual Beings

From my list on saving mankind from itself using fantasy elements.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Black woman who writes stories that will give readers an insight into areas of corporate and governmental politics, with a touch of reality, suspense, humor, and romance. Oh, let me add…a touch of fantasy. At times, I will mix the genres simply because that is where the story takes me. Writing is a passion; messaging is a responsibility (I aim to intrigue you!), and humor is my way of balancing the intense topic. I have a degree in Organizational Management, 30 years of working in state agencies, and a vivid imagination to share. I'm enjoying the second chapter of my life by doing what I love…writing stories that entice your mind.  

Iris' book list on saving mankind from itself using fantasy elements

Iris Bolling Why did Iris love this book?

It would be criminal not to recommend the follow-up to The Parable of the Sower. The Parable of Talent takes place years after the hard fraught ideal community is formed. You are going to want to know what happens in this perceived utopia. The unrest on the survival of Christian values is happening all around them. The effect uncovers elements that existed beneath the surface of the somewhat pleasant surroundings of the community. Therein lies the reality that a change is going to come.  

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The stunning sequel to Parable of the Sower, the NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling novel.

'In the ongoing contest over which dystopian classic is most applicable to our time... for sheer peculiar prescience, Butler's novel may be unmatched' NEW YORKER

'Octavia Butler was playing out our very real possibilities as humans. I think she can help each of us to do the same' GLORIA STEINEM

---

In order for me to understand who I am, I must begin to understand who she was.

Asha was born into a broken world. There are many things she needs to know: how her country could…


Book cover of The Other Me

C.J. Washington Author Of The Intangible

From my list on the fluidity of reality.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in computer science, specifically artificial intelligence. As a student, I was most interested in how our knowledge of the human brain could inform AI and vice versa. As such, I read as much neuroscience and psychology as I could and spent a lot of time thinking about how our minds create reality out of our senses. I always appreciate a novel that explores the fluidity of reality.

C.J.'s book list on the fluidity of reality

C.J. Washington Why did C.J. love this book?

On her 29th birthday, Kelly Holter walks through a door and into a life that barely resembles her own. And yet it is her own.

Is her reality wrong? Or are her memories wrong? Or are they both somehow correct? Part sci-fi, part thriller, all-consuming, The Other Me explores how the decisions we make influence the person we become, or don’t. The novel raises many fascinating questions and provides plenty of unexpected answers.

By Sarah Zachrich Jeng,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Who hasn't wondered what alternate versions of their lives might look like?...As relatable as it is suspenseful cleverly exploring adulthood, identity, and shifting realities.”
—Margarita Montimore, USA Today bestselling author of Oona Out of Order

An inventive page-turner about the choices we make and the ones made for us.

One minute Kelly’s a free-spirited artist in Chicago going to her best friend’s art show. The next, she opens a door and mysteriously emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She's got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she's married to Eric, a man…


Book cover of A Theatre for Dreamers

Cynthia Watson Author Of Wind

From my list on capturing the unusual charm of other countries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love books that take the reader to another country. Travel (even vicariously in a book) takes us out of our comfort zones and inspires us to open our minds to other cultures, ways of life and thought. These books constantly challenge us, not only to understand different surroundings, but also to understand unique people, to embrace adventures, glamour and romance and to share these new and meaningful thoughts and ideas with others.

Cynthia's book list on capturing the unusual charm of other countries

Cynthia Watson Why did Cynthia love this book?

A Theatre for Dreamers captures the halcyon days of the 60s artistic community on the Greek Island of Hydra. It focuses on the international bohemian set, including the authors Charmian Clift and George Johnston. Among the artists, poets and hangers-on are a Norwegian couple—Axel Jensen and Marianne Ihlen—and a young, charismatic Canadian by the name of Leonard Cohen. It is narrated by the likable ingenue Erica, a novitiate novelist in her late teens whose mother’s dying wish was for her daughter to go off on an adventure. Erica is like Nick Carraway, mainly on the periphery of events, observing and learning from the more experienced, glamorous people she has fallen in with. Interesting fact: author, Polly Samson, is married to David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.

By Polly Samson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Theatre for Dreamers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'Delicious' Nigella Lawson
'Clever and beguiling' Guardian
'Sublime and immersive' Jojo Moyes

Erica is eighteen and ready for freedom. It's the summer of 1960 when she lands on the sun-baked Greek island of Hydra where she is swept up in a circle of bohemian poets, painters, musicians, writers and artists, living tangled lives. Life on their island paradise is heady, dream-like, a string of seemingly endless summer days. But nothing can last forever.

'A surefire summer hit ... At once a blissful piece of escapism and a powerful meditation on art and sexuality' Observer
'Heady armchair…


Book cover of Literally Show Me a Healthy Person

Emma Smith-Stevens Author Of The Australian

From my list on “funny-sad” contemporary novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much laughter is born out of sadness. Humor can be a way to cope or even reinvent our realities in ways that bring relief—and release. There's a misconception that “serious literature” should be humorless; crack a smile and you’re a fraud. However, the worlds and characters that emerge from this way of thinking do not ring true to me. Who among us hasn’t joked to help deal with sorrow? Or to satirize the outrageous? Or simply because life--however brutal—is also sometimes funny? The more a writer allows laughter to intermingle with tears, the more I believe in the story, and the more I enjoy it. That is why I wrote a “funny-sad” novel, The Australian.

Emma's book list on “funny-sad” contemporary novels

Emma Smith-Stevens Why did Emma love this book?

Darcie Wilder’s Literally Show Me a Healthy Person is a novel in short fragments perfect for the social media era, narrated by a woman unflinching and at times brutal—and brutally hilarious—in her honesty, reflecting on the death of her mother and chronicling sexual escapades, deep in her sadness yet lively within the freedom and energy of her early 20s. This novel is slim but packs a ferocious punch; it will make you laugh—out of surprise, relief, identification—and it will make you cry for the very same reasons.

By Darcie Wilder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Literally Show Me a Healthy Person as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Darcie Wilder's literally show me a healthy person is a careful confession soaking in saltwater, a size B control top jet black pantyhose dragged over a skinned knee and slipped into unlaced doc martens. Blurring the lines of the written word, literally show me a healthy person is a portrait of a young girl, or woman, or something; grappling with the immediate and seemingly endless urge to document and describe herself and the world around her. Dealing with the aftermath of her mother's death, her father's neglect, and the chaotic unspoken expectations around her, this novel is a beating heart…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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