100 books like Writers & Lovers

By Lily King,

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

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Book cover of Olive Kitteridge

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Who am I?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

Elizabeth Strout is a master of character, and this cycle of linked stories, which takes place in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine, is no exception; following the eponymous Olive over several years, she appears as a major character in some stories, and a minor one in others.

I grew up in a small town beside the ocean, and Strout’s descriptive powers transported me to the salinated air and buoy-knocked waters of my youth.

But it’s her observations about human nature, filtered through the town’s tight-knit community, that makes the book so powerful. She examines questions that haunt us all: How do we take care of those around us—especially those who don’t want our help? What does it mean to be a caring partner, a good friend? How do we find grace and joy in a world where no one goes untouched by tragedy? 

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
 
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Plain Dealer • The Atlantic • Rocky Mountain News • Library Journal
 
At times stern, at…


Book cover of Anxious People

Lauri Robinson Author Of An Unlikely Match for the Governess

From my list on that create great discussions for book club.

Who am I?

As a kid, I read by flashlight under the covers and loved family vacations because long car rides meant hours of reading time (they still do!). I love belonging to book clubs because of the variety. Stories I might not have chosen, but end up loving. For years I devoured romance novels, especially historical and westerns. When my husband said, “You should write a book, you’ve read so many.” I decided to try and now have over 70 published romance novels, 50+ with Harlequin, Mills & Boon, and one young adult book that I co-wrote with two of my granddaughters. I hope my recommendations provides your book club with lively discussions!     


Lauri's book list on that create great discussions for book club

Lauri Robinson Why did Lauri love this book?

This is a book where the author’s ability to draw you into a story without telling you all you need to know about the main character until the very end makes for lively discussions. A failed bank robber and prospective buyers at an open house for an apartment are brought together in such a way, it truly seems believable. Even the end! 

The quirky characters are real to life, and the journey they take together reveals true human nature, hope, and the bond of friendships, old and new, but ultimately, it’s the unique storytelling that makes this such a fun book to discuss.

Have snacks ready because this is one that will make book club meetings run late! Mine did!

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Anxious People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The funny, touching and unpredictable No. 1 New York Times bestseller, now a major Netflix TV series

'A brilliant and comforting read' MATT HAIG
'Funny, compassionate and wise. An absolute joy' A.J. PEARCE
'A surefooted insight into the absurdity, beauty and ache of life' GUARDIAN
'I laughed, I sobbed, I recommended it to literally everyone I know' BUZZFEED
'Captures the messy essence of being human' WASHINGTON POST

From the 18 million copy internationally bestselling author of A Man Called Ove
_______

It's New Year's Eve and House Tricks estate agents are hosting an open viewing in an up-market apartment when…


Book cover of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Bettina Aptheker Author Of Communists in Closets: Queering the History 1930s-1990s

From my list on helped me claim identity as a lesbian and feminist.

Who am I?

I'm an activist/scholar and I taught in the Feminist Studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz for 40 years. My most popular class was Introduction to Feminism. Then I taught another large, undergraduate course Feminism & Social Justice. By the time I retired I had taught over 16,000 students, and worked with scores of graduate students. My online class, Feminism & Social Justice, on the Coursera Platform has been taken by over 107,000 people located on literally every continent. My teaching and writings are always anti-racist, and explicitly queer. They've drawn on my life experiences. They come out of my passion to lessen suffering, and embrace compassion. 

Bettina's book list on helped me claim identity as a lesbian and feminist

Bettina Aptheker Why did Bettina love this book?

Alison Bechdel is a graphic artist, and for many years her weekly comic strip was syndicated in queer newspapers across the United States, and then published in a marvelous and hilarious series of books called Dykes to Watch Out For.

It was so wonderful to have a comic strip that reflected back to me so much of my own interior life and also the queer people and communities I knew. Then in 2006 Allison Bechdel took the queer world by storm when she published this memoir based on her childhood in a small New England town in which her father ran the funeral home (the fun home of the title) and taught English in the local high school.

He was gay, a secret he kept from everyone in his family and in the town, until an incident leaked it out into the family and beyond. Bechdel recreates her childhood,…

By Alison Bechdel,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Fun Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

DISCOVER the BESTSELLING GRAPHIC MEMOIR behind the Olivier Award nominated musical.

'A sapphic graphic treat' The Times

A moving and darkly humorous family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Alison Bechdel's gothic drawings. If you liked Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis you'll love this.

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high-school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and the family babysitter. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is…


Book cover of Atonement

Harper Ford Author Of Divorced Not Dead

From my list on beautifully sad love stories.

Who am I?

I write romcoms as Harper Ford, yet I also write historical fiction as Rebecca Mascull and Mollie Walton. You’ll probably notice that all of my choices are either historical fiction or writers from the past. I just love an old-timey love story! My romcoms are funny (or at least they’re trying to be). But funnily enough, it’s the tragic, heart-rending love stories that stick in my mind when I think about romance in books. I hope you enjoy these novels as much as I have. But don’t forget to have a box of tissues to wipe away the inevitable tears…there aren’t many laughs to be had here! But hopefully a transcendent reading experience instead.

Harper's book list on beautifully sad love stories

Harper Ford Why did Harper love this book?

Atonement is a historical novel by McEwan, also made into a very fine movie with James McAvoy and Keira Knightley. Before you watch the film though (and even if you have), try the book as it’s a different experience (as books to films often are).

This book is really all about stories, narratives, and lies. Set in 1935 and beyond, the protagonist is a young girl Briony – a budding writer from a wealthy family and highly observant kid – who becomes fascinated by her older sister Cecilia’s relationship with local working-class lad Robbie.

The central romance between Cecilia and Robbie is beautifully wrought, passionate, and sexy, especially with its taboo across-the-class-divide vibe. Prepare for some tears though…

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a…


Book cover of Little Women

Virginia Pye Author Of The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann

From my list on a woman writer finding her own voice.

Who am I?

I love novels that show female characters finding their way in life, and especially women who use writing to help themselves to grow and evolve. Finding my own voice through writing has been my way of staking my claim in the world. It hasn’t always been easy for us to tell our stories, but when we do, we’re made stronger and more complete. The protagonist of my novel The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann fights hard to tell her own story. I know something about being held back by male-dominated expectations and Victoria’s situation could easily take place today. But when women writers finally find their voices, the works they create are of great value. 

Virginia's book list on a woman writer finding her own voice

Virginia Pye Why did Virginia love this book?

The much-loved American tale Little Women tells the story of four sisters in Civil War era Concord, Massachusetts, and their quests for love and happiness.

Based on author Louisa May Alcott herself, the character of Jo March, the second daughter, is headstrong, independent, and loves to read and write. Many young female readers have taken Jo as a role model because she speaks her mind and pursues her goals—writing first among them.

Much like my own character Victoria Swann, writing helps Jo forge her independence and it becomes clear as the story progresses that it’s her voice telling the family’s tale. Many bookish girls—me included—can thank Jo for encouraging the dream of becoming a writer.  

By Louisa May Alcott,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Little Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Louisa May Alcott shares the innocence of girlhood in this classic coming of age story about four sisters-Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy are responsible for keeping a home while their father is off to war. At the same time, they must come to terms with their individual personalities-and make the transition from girlhood to womanhood. It can all be quite a challenge. But the March sisters, however different, are nurtured by their wise and beloved Marmee, bound by their love for each other and the feminine…


Book cover of The Year of Magical Thinking

Maddie Norris Author Of The Wet Wound: An Elegy in Essays

From my list on creative nonfiction books to gift your grieving friend.

Who am I?

After my dad died, I didn’t know where to turn. People felt uncomfortable talking to a seventeen-year-old girl about her dead dad. They felt even more uncomfortable talking to me about it one, two, ten years later. Still, I couldn’t, can’t, stop thinking about it. I turned, then, to books. These books made and make me feel seen. They aren’t about “moving on” or “letting go” but the ways in which leaning into grief’s deep well connects us to love’s true depths. These books are honest and pure, and if you don’t know what to say to a friend who’s mourning, let these authors speak for you.

Maddie's book list on creative nonfiction books to gift your grieving friend

Maddie Norris Why did Maddie love this book?

I read Didion’s book a few months after my dad died. People told me it was “hard” and “intense,” but the book only made me feel held.

With its repetitions and circling, it emulates the grief mind, the way we are always returning to what happened in an effort to comprehend the incomprehensible. Didion looks straight at the absence that she must live with for the rest of her life, the death of her husband. Through its looping prose, her searching memoir exposes the way grief rewires us.

In a time when I felt disconnected from the world, reading this book did what the best of literature does: it made me feel less alone.

By Joan Didion,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Year of Magical Thinking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of America's iconic writers, a portrait of a marriage and a life - in good times and bad - that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child. A stunning book of electric honesty and passion.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill. At first they thought it was flu, then pneumonia, then complete sceptic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later - the night before New Year's Eve -the Dunnes were just…


Book cover of The World According to Garp

J.M. Unrue Author Of The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

From my list on showing that somebody has it worse than you do.

Who am I?

I’m an old guy. I say this with a bit of cheek and a certain amount of incongruity. All the books on my list are old. That’s one area of continuity. Another, and I’ll probably stop at two, is that they all deal with ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances—those curveballs of life we flail at with an unfamiliar bat; the getting stuck on the Interstate behind a semi and some geezer in a golf cap hogging the passing lane in a Buick Le Sabre. No one makes it through this life unscathed. How we cope does more to define us than a thousand smiles when things are rosy. Thus endeth the lesson.

J.M.'s book list on showing that somebody has it worse than you do

J.M. Unrue Why did J.M. love this book?

Irving took the Keseyian banner and supercharged it.

An eccentric novel with eccentric characters that all made perfect sense. I especially liked the wrestling sub-theme. A foray into a competitive sport that is both mundane and allegorical. Rich in whimsy. The term pre-disastered is a master stroke of piquant invention.  

By John Irving,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The World According to Garp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A masterpiece from one of the great contemporary American writers.

'A wonderful novel, full of energy and art, at once funny and heartbreaking...terrific' WASHINGTON POST

Anniversary edition with a new afterword from the author.

A worldwide bestseller since its publication, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, struggling writer and illegitimate son of Jenny Fields - an unlikely feminist heroine ahead of her time.

Beautifully written, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP is a powerfully compelling and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers…


Book cover of I Capture the Castle

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Author Of Ark

From my list on living big in small spaces.

Who am I?

I’m an American author who lived three years in a backyard tiny house with my family: husband, two young children, and a part-time dog. We wanted to live a bigger life, focused on our favorite activities and most important relationships. I wrote this book during the first spring of COVID-19, partly as a way to record my family’s experience weathering a pandemic in under 300 square feet, and partly as a way to explore the ways that children can be resourceful when life gives them a pinch. I've been a writer for most of my life, and I love to teach writing. Ark is my first middle-grade novel, and my lucky thirteenth book to publish!

Elisabeth's book list on living big in small spaces

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did Elisabeth love this book?

Granted, nobody would call a castle a small space, but the world of 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain—the narrator of this full-of-life novel-in-journal-form—is hemmed in by her father’s writer’s block and his innate dislike of neighbors, resulting in their family’s life of dwindling gentile poverty in a dilapidated rented castle.

Much of the novel’s long-lasting enchantment is how Cassandra makes the best of the stone walls that contain and border her life. Cassandra has a wonderful imagination and a knack for seeing her life as a story. A very funny and wise coming-of-age story about how our homes shape our world-views.

By Dodie Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked I Capture the Castle 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?

One of BBC's 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

A wonderfully quirky coming-of-age story, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, author of The Hundred and One Dalmatians is an affectionately drawn portrait of one of the funniest families in literature.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is illustrated by Ruth Steed, and features an afterword by publisher Anna South.

The eccentric Mortmain family have been rattling around in a…


Book cover of Light from Other Stars

Rita Chang-Eppig Author Of Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

From my list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly.

Who am I?

As an immigrant, an Asian American, and a gender-questioning person, I’ve never fit comfortably anywhere. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my writing isn’t easily categorizable either: many have told me that my work is too literary to be considered SF/F and too SF/F to be strictly literary. But what is genre anyway? My favorite books have always been the ones that straddled genres, and every time I read a wonderful book that can’t be easily labeled or marketed, I grow even more sure that the future of literature lies in fluid, boundary-crossing, transgressive texts. Here are some of my favorites—I hope you enjoy them.

Rita's book list on if you find genre boundaries kind of silly

Rita Chang-Eppig Why did Rita love this book?

It is my sincerest belief that science fiction loses its purpose when it focuses too much on the science and too little on the humans (or aliens, or sentient spores) at the center of the story.

No one can accuse Swyler’s Light from Other Stars of that. Straddling the line between literary and science fiction, this novel is about space travel, yes, but it’s also about parent-child bonds, friendship, and the people of a small town in Florida in all their idiosyncrasies, virtues, and flaws.

This novel will make you think (mostly about physics), but it will also make you deeply feel.     

By Erika Swyler,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Light from Other Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Long Island Reads 2020 Selection * A Real Simple Best Book of 2019

From the bestselling author of The Book of Speculation, a “tender and ambitious” (Vulture) novel about time, loss, and the wonders of the universe.

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach--if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda's newborn brother several…


Book cover of Nothing to See Here

Carolyn Banks Author Of The Importance of Being Erica

From my list on that have a beating heart.

Who am I?

Because both of my parents worked, I had to go somewhere after school. The public library was selected, thank the stars! A librarian watched me gobbling up all the young adult books and suggested maybe I’d like to tackle some from the grown-up room. Wow! I was only 11 years old, but that woman steered me into what has become my career, a reader and reviewer and, best of all, a writer! My first grown-up book? A Portrait of Jenny by Robert Nathan. 

Carolyn's book list on that have a beating heart

Carolyn Banks Why did Carolyn love this book?

I like quirky plotlines, especially when the writer is talented enough to make the most farfetched thing accepted by even a cynical reader. Let me backtrack a bit.

The kids, Bessie and Roland, live with their mom until she dies and then go to the mansion where their politician father lives with his hot new wife. This is bad news because when angry, the two children catch on fire.

Bessie and Roland are stashed in a guest house on the estate, and the wife calls a best friend from boarding school, Lillian, to nanny the kids and, especially, to keep them out of sight. It’s Lillian who tells this topsy-turvy tale and who, an oddball herself, bonds with the children to give us the happiest of endings.

By Kevin Wilson,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Nothing to See Here 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 Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, People, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, TIME, The A.V. Club, Buzzfeed, and PopSugar

“I can’t believe how good this book is.... It’s wholly original. It’s also perfect.... Wilson writes with such a light touch.... The brilliance of the novel [is] that it distracts you with these weirdo characters and mesmerizing and funny sentences and then hits you in a way you didn’t see coming. You’re laughing so hard you…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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