100 books like Where the Heart Is

By Billie Letts,

Here are 100 books that Where the Heart Is fans have personally recommended if you like Where the Heart Is. 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 “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

Richard Feynman was unique. A brilliant theoretical physicist, humorous, eccentric, and independent.

Feynman’s genius gave him a certain freedom, which he exploited to the full. The book is autobiographical and shows his often irresponsible behavior but also a relentless curiosity, and willingness to try anything, the essence of a successful scientist.

One cannot hope to imitate Feynman (and perhaps we should not: he was often mischievous, even mildly malicious); but any scientist should envy the way he approached problems in engineering as well as science—and the book is fun!

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard P. Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. In this lively work that "can shatter the stereotype of the stuffy scientist" (Detroit Free Press), Feynman recounts his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets-and much more of an eyebrow-raising nature. In his stories, Feynman's life shines through in all its eccentric glory-a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Included for this edition is a new introduction by Bill Gates.


Book cover of Travels with Charley in Search of America

Eyal Halfon Author Of They Were Here Before Us: Stories from Our First Million Years

From my list on traveling the world from your armchair.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I became a filmmaker and many years before I knew what pre-history meant, I was a restless traveler. I was an adventurer and a hiker, fascinated by maps and mountain peaks and constantly searching for the best place for a coffee break. In my list, I have tried to combine my passion for traveling with what is really important in life: people, friends, and travel companions.

Eyal's book list on traveling the world from your armchair

Eyal Halfon Why did Eyal love this book?

I wish I could be there, in the back seat of Steinbeck’s pickup truck…with a 10-year-old French poodle named Charlie.

Steinbeck's travelogue is a farewell to the America he knew and an observation of a country that is changing before his eyes. What a joy it could have been to join this great writer (and the poodle) if only for a part of his 10,000-mile road trip across the USA at the beginning of the 60s.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Travels with Charley in Search of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light-these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Bees

Jude Berman Author Of The Die

From my list on metaphysical and visionary stories with a call for social justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I realized years ago that the universe isn’t merely a concrete reality, I turned to metaphysical/visionary books to understand my experience. There weren’t that many books, but the ones I found became dear friends. Now, after decades as a freelance editor, I am writing fiction in this genre because I believe stories can be as powerful as expository writing for awakening consciousness. However, I’ve noticed many metaphysical writers discourage the engagement and commitment needed to make this world a better place. For this reason, I seek to gather—and contribute to—writing that is visionary and also advocates for democracy and social justice.

Jude's book list on metaphysical and visionary stories with a call for social justice

Jude Berman Why did Jude love this book?

This book is one of my all-time favorite books because it is so deeply spiritual, yet its spirituality is fully and unapologetically wedded to the everyday world, its trials and traumas, and its crying need for social justice.

I love how the spiritual nourishment of a sisterhood of strong women holds the potential to save a young girl’s life. Sue Monk Kidd’s writing grabbed me so powerfully that I have often picked up this book and read a few pages to inspire me before I began my own writing session.

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Secret Life of Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings and The Book of Longings

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted Black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina-a town that holds the secret to her mother's…


Book cover of Playing Beatie Bow

Robert Shaw Author Of Girlfriend Trouble

From my list on to grab your emotions and not let go.

Why am I passionate about this?

What can better give expertise on the books one loves than decades of reading? I’ve always had a passion for sympathetic, strong characters, especially women. At the core of all my novels, readers will find a sympathetic and strong heroine. In Girlfriend Trouble, Lian is the catalyst that changes the lives of everyone around her for the better; or, more precisely, Lian’s compassion, wisdom, and serene nature are what change things. I’m probably too idealistic, but it’s better than being a cynic. There’s an element of this in all the books I’ve recommended, and those I’ve written. I like to think there’s more of it in the real world too.

Robert's book list on to grab your emotions and not let go

Robert Shaw Why did Robert love this book?

Like with my first recommendation, I feel that this book appeals to a desire for adventure that we all had as kids. Who didn’t dream of Time Travel adventures as a kid? And again, as an adult, I have of course come to realize that I’d not last a day if I were to fall into this sort of adventure – and although time travel is supposedly possible, albeit only as a one-way journey due to the nature of time-dilation, the undertaking of such a journey, and the physical aspects of what is involved, I’d never want to do it now. Of course, in Playing Beatie Bow, Abigail’s time travel method is very simple (and impossible), but the trouble she gets into in the past is complicated, complex, and dangerous. The book’s dual settings might not appeal to young readers of today, but its lessons about learning to live…

By Ruth Park,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Playing Beatie Bow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Disturbed that her mother could welcome back her unfaithful father, Abigail Kirk undergoes a mysterious voyage to nineteenth-century Australia, where her experiences help her to understand the power of love and to accept her father


Book cover of About a Boy

Robert Shaw Author Of Girlfriend Trouble

From my list on to grab your emotions and not let go.

Why am I passionate about this?

What can better give expertise on the books one loves than decades of reading? I’ve always had a passion for sympathetic, strong characters, especially women. At the core of all my novels, readers will find a sympathetic and strong heroine. In Girlfriend Trouble, Lian is the catalyst that changes the lives of everyone around her for the better; or, more precisely, Lian’s compassion, wisdom, and serene nature are what change things. I’m probably too idealistic, but it’s better than being a cynic. There’s an element of this in all the books I’ve recommended, and those I’ve written. I like to think there’s more of it in the real world too.

Robert's book list on to grab your emotions and not let go

Robert Shaw Why did Robert love this book?

While not written for Young Adults, one of this book’s main characters is a young teen that I believe many of us can relate to; I know I certainly could, having been a total outsider and outcast when I was in school. Thank God, though, that I had both my parents and they were wonderful, and not ‘loopy’ like Marcus’s mom is made out to be. Still, I think that many of us are either going through similar experiences to what Marcus deals with throughout this story, or we went through them as teens. And I believe that, even though the character of Will starts out to be a somewhat reprehensibly selfish person, he learns, as we all need to, that the world doesn’t revolve around us as individuals. At least not all the time. 

By Nick Hornby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE MILLION COPY NO. 1 BESTSELLER THAT BECAMEAN ACCLAIMED FILM STARRING HUGH GRANT AND NICOLAS HOULT

'A very entertaining and endearing read' The Times
___________________

Thirty-six-year-old Londoner Will loves his life. Living carefree off the royalties of his dad's Christmas song, he's rich, unattached and has zero responsibilities - just the way he likes it.

But when Will meets Marcus, an awkward twelve-year-old who listens to Joni Mitchell and accidentally kills ducks with loaves of bread, an unlikely friendship starts to bloom.

Can this odd duo teach each another how to finally act their age?

Hugely funny and equally heartfelt,…


Book cover of She's Come Undone

Ellen Baker Author Of The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson

From my list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved reading novels about strong, quirky women since childhood (Nancy Drew, Ramona Quimby, Harriet the Spy, the heroines of Judy Blume novels, just for starting examples!). As I grew into writing my own stories, I also started studying women’s history. I merged these two interests to begin writing historical novels with strong women protagonists. I love the challenge of researching to figure out the details of women’s day-to-day lives–so many unrecorded stories!–and I love to advocate for the idea (fortunately not as revolutionary as it once was) that a woman can be the hero of her own story and that each woman’s story is important to tell.  

Ellen's book list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart

Ellen Baker Why did Ellen love this book?

Dolores Price is one of the most honest, funny, and irresistible narrators I’ve ever encountered, and the story of her coming of age grabbed me by the heart and didn’t let go until the very last page. I found the trauma she suffers to be highly relatable, and her way of plowing through it is both admirable and heartbreaking.

I’ve read this book at least three times over the last several years, and each time, it has made me cry harder than any other book I’ve read. For me, each time I’ve read this book, it’s been an amazing, cathartic experience.

By Wally Lamb,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked She's Come Undone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dolores Price is the wry and overweight, sensitive and pained, cynical heroine of this novel. The story follows her from four to 40, from her shattered family life through the hellish circles of sexual and food abuse to her gradual recovery and her fight to love again.


Book cover of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Sally J. Pla Author Of The Fire, the Water, and Maudie McGinn

From my list on children’s novels depicting real adversity—and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through some very tough times growing up. I was an undiagnosed autistic teen, terribly shy, with no real guidance, and I was often bullied and bewildered. But my heart was filled with only goodwill and good intentions, and a yearning to connect meaningfully with others. So, stories of adversity, of characters making it through very tough times, through trauma—these stories were like shining beacons that said, “survival is possible.” Now that I’m a grownup writer, it’s at the root of what I want to offer—hope—to today’s kids who may be going through similar tough stuff. Survival is possible.

Sally's book list on children’s novels depicting real adversity—and hope

Sally J. Pla Why did Sally love this book?

I absolutely marveled at the strength Charlotte showed in this excellent, rollicking high-seas adventure.

It was terrible, it was life or death for her every day. And she found her way through it. The beautiful survivor strength of the main character is what inspired me. 

By Avi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Avi's treasured Newbery Honor Book now with exclusive bonus content!

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!A Newbery Honor Book* "A thrilling tale, tautly plotted, vividly narrated." --Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewThirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832. But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a…


Book cover of Made in the U.S.A.

Robert Shaw Author Of Girlfriend Trouble

From my list on to grab your emotions and not let go.

Why am I passionate about this?

What can better give expertise on the books one loves than decades of reading? I’ve always had a passion for sympathetic, strong characters, especially women. At the core of all my novels, readers will find a sympathetic and strong heroine. In Girlfriend Trouble, Lian is the catalyst that changes the lives of everyone around her for the better; or, more precisely, Lian’s compassion, wisdom, and serene nature are what change things. I’m probably too idealistic, but it’s better than being a cynic. There’s an element of this in all the books I’ve recommended, and those I’ve written. I like to think there’s more of it in the real world too.

Robert's book list on to grab your emotions and not let go

Robert Shaw Why did Robert love this book?

For me, personally, this book taught me how truly lucky I was while living in my truck for 5 years in the early 2000s. 15-year-old Lutie and her 12-year-old brother, Fate, are thrown into a desperate adventure after their stepmom dies. Their odyssey across America in an attempt to find their long-lost father, and the perils of being homeless in Las Vegas and avoiding the life-threatening perils of living in a car and dodging unsavory and predatory people, is a harshly realistic depiction of...well, reality.

By Billie Letts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Made in the U.S.A. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid attachments...to people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father.
While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart,…


Book cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

David Ciminello Author Of The Queen of Steeplechase Park

From my list on quirky wisdom filled love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up queer and Italian in suburban New Jersey in the late 1960s and early 70s, it was the passionate love of food and family that got me through the tough times. I learned to cook from my mother and my grandmothers. I gardened and picked tomatoes with my grandfathers. There was always a pot of simmering tomato gravy and magic meatballs on the stove. My mother’s chicken parmigiana, my paternal grandmother’s homemade ravioli, my maternal grandmother’s stuffed clams, my great aunt’s baked chicken. As a writer, it became my mission to share these secret family recipes and the loving life lessons that saved me.

David's book list on quirky wisdom filled love stories

David Ciminello Why did David love this book?

Through a series of tall tales told by an impish old lady to a lost, lonely woman visiting a nursing home, Fannie Flagg whisks the reader back to the deep south circa 1929 to an off-beat love story between two women who run a cozy café, and a rich mystery that gives the lost woman the courage to make heroic changes in her life.

This delectable book was a huge inspiration for me when writing my debut novel. I love how the wisdom-filled folk-tale-like chapters are quilted together to tell a larger story. And, like my own book, it contains a bucket full of tasty recipes!

By Fannie Flagg,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a now-classic novel about two women: Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women—the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter—even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present will never be quite the same again.
 
Praise for Fried Green Tomatoes at…


Book cover of Ellen Foster

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From my list on kids with attitude.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

David Haynes Why did David love this book?

I saw this quirky little book on the “New Titles” table, “little” being the keyword. Algonquin published this short novel’s first edition in a smaller format, and I was, honestly, drawn to the size and to its evocative cover art—rumpled lines on an ornate cast iron bed. Inside I found feisty eleven-year-old Ellen, abused and ill-treated her family, abandoned to the foster care system. This wise and smart and funny narrator holds her next to the best talkers in all of literature. Among other things, Ellen (by way of Kaye Gibbons) taught me some of what I needed to know to write my own book. I fell in love with Ellen Foster and you will too!

By Kaye Gibbons,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Filled with lively humor, compassion, and intimacy."
—Alice Hoffman, The New York Times Book Review

"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy." With that opening sentence we enter the childhood world of one of the most appealing young heroines in contemporary fiction. Her courage, her humor, and her wisdom are unforgettable as she tells her own story with stunning honesty and insight. An Oprah Book Club selection, this powerful novel has become an American classic.

Winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the Ernest Hemingway…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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