100 books like X'ed Out

By Charles Burns,

Here are 100 books that X'ed Out fans have personally recommended if you like X'ed Out. 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 Beautiful Darkness

Erik Kriek Author Of In the Pines

From my list on dark themes.

Who am I?

From an early age I have been drawn to dark themes in stories. I always wanted to hear the dark fairy tales when I was a kid. My mother is from Finland originally, so I was weaned on Finnish folk tales and the Finnish mythology, the Kalevala, which has very many dark stories. Being a graphic novelist myself, I tend to favor morally ambiguous, darker broken characters in my stories. Happy characters make for boring stories I believe. There needs to be conflict for there to be drama. And there needs to be drama to make interesting stories.

Erik's book list on dark themes

Erik Kriek Why did Erik love this book?

An incredibly haunting book. At first glance it looks like a fairy tale for children but after only a few pages in you realise it is quite a sinister tale and something much darker altogether. It is a very brave book I think and I’m not really sure how to categorize it other than it being very, very dark indeed.

By Kerascoët, Fabien Vehlmann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Newly homeless, a group of fairies find themselves trying to adapt to their new life in the forest. As they dodge dangers from both without and within, optimistic Aurora steps forward to organize and help build a new community. Slowly, the world around them becomes more treacherous as petty rivalries and factions form. Beautiful Darkness became a bestseller and an instant classic when it was released in 2014. This paperback edition of the modern horror classic contains added material, preparatory sketches, and unused art. While Kerascoet mix gorgeous watercolors and spritely cartoon characters, Fabien Vehlmann takes the story into bleaker…


Book cover of Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume

Raea Gragg Author Of Mup

From my list on graphic novels for reluctant readers.

Who am I?

Growing up, there was nothing I hated more than reading. Struggling with dyslexia and learning disabilities made books miserable and the distractions of screens didn’t help. However, everything changed when I discovered graphic novels and comics! That led to a newfound love of stories and books (especially graphic novels) which took me on a journey of not being able to read at age ten, to publishing my first novel at age fifteen. Since then, I’ve written and illustrated children’s books and young adult novels, but Mup is my first graphic novel. This has inspired me to create more graphic novels designed specifically for those who are just like me – reluctant readers.

Raea's book list on graphic novels for reluctant readers

Raea Gragg Why did Raea love this book?

Bone was the first book I ever read on my own as a 5th grader. For the first time, I didn’t use an audiobook or need a parent/teacher to read it to me. For that alone, I’ve put it at the top of the list. Bone follows the story of three wayward brothers as they each find their way to a fantastical valley filled with mythical dragons, bizarre creatures, and a lost princess. What starts off as this fun and goofy comic, spirals into this adventure of epic proportions as the author-illustrator takes young readers into a world they never imagined before. 

This fast-paced saga helped captivate me from the first page to the last and I personally owe a lot to this book for helping me overcome my dislike for reading as a young person. This book helped me on my journey to becoming a reader and it…

By Jeff Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

BONE – The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume

Winner of 41 National and International Awards including 10 Eisner Awards and 11 Harvey Awards!

Meet the Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, three misfits who are run out of Boneville and find themselves lost in a vast uncharted desert. They make their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. With the help of the mysterious Thorn, her tough-as-nails Gran’ma Ben and the Great Red Dragon, the boys do their best to survive in the middle of brewing trouble between the valley’s denizens.…


Book cover of My Friend Dahmer

Erik Kriek Author Of In the Pines

From my list on dark themes.

Who am I?

From an early age I have been drawn to dark themes in stories. I always wanted to hear the dark fairy tales when I was a kid. My mother is from Finland originally, so I was weaned on Finnish folk tales and the Finnish mythology, the Kalevala, which has very many dark stories. Being a graphic novelist myself, I tend to favor morally ambiguous, darker broken characters in my stories. Happy characters make for boring stories I believe. There needs to be conflict for there to be drama. And there needs to be drama to make interesting stories.

Erik's book list on dark themes

Erik Kriek Why did Erik love this book?

An amazing personal tale of someone who went to high school with, what was to become, infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. What makes it so good, in my opinion, is, that it doesn’t become sensationalist in any way. It clearly shows how a vulnerable, very disturbed child could fall through the cracks in 70’s America. It is drawn in a cartoony style, which helps to create a distance from the reader to the incredibly dark and sad subject matter. It works amazingly well as it is told from the perspective of Dahmer’s classmates. Well recommended!

By Derf Backderf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Friend Dahmer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My Friend Dahmer is the hauntingly original graphic novel by Derf Backderf, the award winning political cartoonist. In these pages, Backderf tries to make sense of Jeffery Dahmer, the future serial killer with whom he shared classrooms, hallways, libraries and car rides. What emerges is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a young man struggling helplessly against the urges, some ghastly, bubbling up from the deep recesses of his psyche. The Dahmer recounted here, although universally regarded as an inhumane monster, is a lonely oddball who, in reality, is all too human. A shy kid sucked inexorably into madness while the…


Book cover of My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

Betty Rocksteady Author Of Soft Places

From my list on story told in an unconventional manner.

Who am I?

While I love straight-up fiction and read plenty of novels, I’ve always been just as interested in art as I have been in writing. The further into my writing career I get, the more it becomes obvious that art and illustration are just as vital to the way I want to tell my stories. I did the covers for my first few books and started experimenting with illustrating them as well with The Writhing Skies, creating a very strange blend of splatterpunk horror and Betty Boop-inspired illustration. Soft Places is a further step in the direction of telling stories in a way that’s a little different. 

Betty's book list on story told in an unconventional manner

Betty Rocksteady Why did Betty love this book?

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is described as a graphic novel, but it takes the form of the notebook of a 10-year-old girl who is obsessed with monsters. The art is terrific and the story is haunting and mysterious. I’ve always been a notebook person myself, filling up stacks of sketchbooks through my childhood and teens, so the way the main character processed her life by scribbling on a page really resonated with me. This book is super unique, from the way the character always draws herself as a werewolf, to the mysterious death of her upstairs neighbor, and the way she remembers conversations by drawing them as comics.

By Emil Ferris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Favorite Thing Is Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.


Book cover of Easy

Emery Darsy Author Of Leaving Home

From my list on love after trauma.

Who am I?

I’m a survivor of childhood and domestic violence who grew up and still lives in South Africa. We don’t talk about abuse much, but it's everywhere. It’s a beautiful place to live, and a hard and heartbreaking place, as well. I wanted to write my books to make sense of my experiences, then also to extend hope and possibility to others dealing with similar things. I admire hard-headed female characters who are making their way on their own terms, and I'm a believer in the power of love. I hope that readers will see themselves in Iris, and even though they might want to shake her at times, they’ll cheer for her through it all!

Emery's book list on love after trauma

Emery Darsy Why did Emery love this book?

I am always interested in stories about women surviving and overcoming abuse, and Easy depicts that sort of violence in a careful and mature manner, but never downplays the seriousness of it all. Tammara Webber doesn’t avoid the issue, but she doesn’t let it be a book of darkness and despair, either. Jacqueline is a great character, complicated and maybe even messy, who faces a lot of difficult choices. The storyline is mostly about her own search for hope and love. Maybe even forgiveness. There’s plenty of sweet and sometimes steamy romance, too!

By Tammara Webber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Easy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Easy is the New York Times Bestseller by Tammara Webber and first novel in the Contours of the Heart series, for fans of Colleen Hoover!

Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret.
Sometimes, love isn't easy...

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior...

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he'd worked so hard to overcome, and the future she'd put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth-and find the unexpected power of…


Book cover of On the Way Home,

Sally Grindley Author Of Shhh!

From my list on picture books with scary things.

Who am I?

I’ve been a children’s author for over 35 years, had over 150 books published, and won a number of awards. But I began my professional life as Editorial Director of a major children’s book club, during which time I read thousands of books for young readers, from tiny tots to teenagers. As for scary books, I’ve written quite a number and read them to hundreds of children during school visits. I know what works, and I understand how to control scariness so that it delivers a delightful frisson that leaves children wanting to experience more of the same over and over again.

Sally's book list on picture books with scary things

Sally Grindley Why did Sally love this book?

This book is another great classic full of scary characters dreamed up by a young girl to explain her hurt knee. On the way home, she bumps into one friend after another and to each of them she provides an even more dramatic description of what happened. Did a wolf try to snatch her for his tea? Did a crocodile knock her over? Was it the witch, the snake, the dragon, the flying saucer that was responsible for her injury? This is such a great story for encouraging children to fire up their own imaginations – and to think about description. It encapsulates how they sometimes exaggerate events to make them appear more impressive or to feel better about what has happened to them. Finally, when the young girl gets home to Mum we discover how she actually hurt her knee, and Mum supplies the all-important plaster to make everything…

By Jill Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Way Home, as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Filled with a little girl's inventive stories, On the Way Home is by Jill Murphy, the author and illustrator of the bestselling Peace at Last and Whatever Next!

Claire has hurt her knee so she sets off home to tell her mum all about it. On the way she meets her friends and tells them how the fall happened. But just how did it happen . . .? Was she dropped by a wolf, a slithering snake, an enormous dragon or a hairy gorilla?!

On the Way Home is a fantastic journey of the imagination that every small child who…


Book cover of Shame, Pride, and Relational Trauma: Concepts and Psychotherapy

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

From my list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma.

Who am I?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

Antonieta Contreras Why did Antonieta love this book?

Shame is often more traumatizing than we realize, and there hasn't been enough exploration of its connection to prolonging the impact of initial traumatic events. In my first book, I dedicated an entire section to shame, and it was this work that significantly aided in delving deeper into its various forms and consequences.

This book's ability to distinguish between shame and guilt is particularly enlightening. While it may not be the most enjoyable read, it was undoubtedly a valuable reference for me when I needed to develop a better understanding of this crucial aspect of trauma.

By Ken Benau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shame, Pride, and Relational Trauma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Includes inter-relational, intra-relational, emotion focused and somatic approaches to this work.

Includes session transcripts that discuss both what's happening within the patient psychologically and neurobiologically, and between patient and therapist

Provides guiding principles, concepts, and attitudes when working with shame and pride in relational trauma, regardless of theoretical orientation of reader.

Book cover of Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon

Dave Horowitz Author Of Emergency Monster Squad

From my list on for and about emergency medicine.

Who am I?

I am a paramedic. I like being a medic. Not so much because of the science and medicine related to the job, but I like connecting with people. People from every walk of life. I like the chaos and unpredictability of the streets. The books on my list portray what it’s like to be out there. Not just war stories. But stories of humility and grace.  

Dave's book list on for and about emergency medicine

Dave Horowitz Why did Dave love this book?

I found Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon when I was on a read-all-the-books-about-emergency-medicine kick. I had recently gotten my paramedic certification and was trying to learn all I could about the science of medicine. My brain does not do well with textbooks, so I gravitated towards memoirs.

Unfortunately, being a great doctor and being a great—or even good—writer, seldom go hand in hand. Most of the doctor memoirs I came across were as thrilling as an Anatomy and Physiology textbook.

Dr. Cole’s book was different. He’s a skilled writer and his experiences are exciting and varied.

By James Cole,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Trauma" is Dr. Cole's harrowing account of a career fighting to save lives. But unlike the authors of other medical memoirs, Cole trained to be a surgeon in the military and served as a physician member of a Marine Corps reconnaissance unit, United States Special Operations Command, and on a Navy Reserve SEAL team. From treating war casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq to his experiences as a civilian trauma surgeon treating alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, and the mentally deranged, "Trauma" is an intense look at one man's commitment to his country and to those most desperately in need of aid.


Book cover of What I Would Do For You

Belle Jay James Author Of Hearts Redress Series: Undesirable Book One

From my list on fiction authors that hide the scars of trauma.

Who am I?

As an author I emerged from a divergent path in life. Having navigated a hard childhood, new adulthood, and careers I didn’t love, I found my passion. I want to evoke deep emotions, drawing from the depths of my and others past experiences. Finding myself came with the realization that PTSD was something I didn't have to only suffer from. I wanted to advocate for PTSD. My dream is to continue The Hearts Redress series by taking others' pasts and weaving them into fiction. Giving them a voice they didn't have. Everyone deserves love, belonging, and redemption!

Belle's book list on fiction authors that hide the scars of trauma

Belle Jay James Why did Belle love this book?

If intense and enthralling are what you are looking for, What I Would Do For You by Willow Winters is my recommendation. 

This gripping romance has an unforgettable anti-hero that left me with a lasting impression. The story tells of betrayal and all-consuming love, something that is all too close to my heart. What had me turning the pages was the depth of emotion. The emotion guides us into a journey of love, sacrifice, and redemption. All things that truly hit home. 

By Willow Winters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What I Would Do For You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

USA Today best-selling author, Willow Winters, brings you an all-consuming, sizzling romance featuring an epic, anti-hero you won't soon forget. 

He enters the car accompanied by a chill from the evening wind and the car rocks gently, until he’s seated behind me and the door is shut. His scent fills my lungs first and as it does, I remember that I’ve been told that smell is the sense that holds the most memory. Maybe I read it somewhere, but I’ve never known something to be truer than that fact is now. 

When I open my eyes, his chilling gaze is…


Book cover of A to Z Healing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Navigating Grief and Trauma with Intention

Rachel Blythe Kodanaz Author Of Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to Do with Your and a Loved One's Personal Possessions

From my list on embracing life’s challenges.

Who am I?

Rachel is a heart-minded professional specializing in current and relevant approaches in support of individuals and workplaces following a loss or trauma. She is a best-selling author, seasoned keynote speaker, and business consultant. She began her career serving in management of Fortune 500 companies, overcoming her own adversity following the sudden death of her husband while raising a 2-year-old. She was immediately confronted with the see-saw created when personal and professional trajectories collide, giving her the opportunity to provide invaluable insights about loss. Her books include best-selling Living with Loss One Day at a Time, Finding Peace, and Grief in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide for Being Prepared.

Rachel's book list on embracing life’s challenges

Rachel Blythe Kodanaz Why did Rachel love this book?

The book is a great collection of healing methods, with practical application ideas. Each of the healing techniques described has been used by the author and others who share how it worked for them. I encourage anyone needing help to find a way through their grief journey to use this book.

By Susan Hannifin-Macnab,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A to Z Healing Toolbox as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When grief and trauma come barreling into life, how does one restore, renew, and rebuild a new sense of self? What does one do after hopes, dreams, assumptions, and core beliefs have been shattered? Social worker and educator Susan Hannifin-MacNab tackled these difficult questions after her husband was killed suddenly, leaving her to pick up the pieces of her young family's life. She eventually realized that grief and trauma healing do not occur by waiting for time to pass. Action and intention are the pillars needed to lay a foundation for rebirth and build a powerful roadmap for healing mind,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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