99 books like You Go First

By Erin Entrada Kelly,

Here are 99 books that You Go First fans have personally recommended if you like You Go First. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

Kit Rosewater Author Of The Derby Daredevils

From my list on middle grade with radical and epic friend groups.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I had a lot of experience having a close group of friends… and a lot of experience looking into other groups from the outside. I waded from circle to circle, trying on friendships like some people try on hats. The books I’m recommending represent the best of fictional friend groups—the groups that topped any clique I saw in real life. Reading these books made me feel like an in-kid in the best possible way. Many of the characters remain the absolute coolest people I know, and serve as inspiration for the friend group dynamics I get to explore in my own stories. 

Kit's book list on middle grade with radical and epic friend groups

Kit Rosewater Why did Kit love this book?

I’ve often whined about epic friend groups being featured in tons of films and not enough in books—but Strange Birds is the delightful exception that gets every detail of the cinematic friend group perfectly right. There’s mysterious invitations hidden in a library, scary treks through the woods, artistic activism in the face of wrong, and a wickedly cool group initiation featuring some mighty powerful crystals. If nothing else, the group’s shenanigans will make you want to go out and spend all your money on hoards of plastic flamingos. (Just trust me on this.)

By Celia C. Pérez,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Strange Birds 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?

When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up. Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn't love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn't know they needed:…


Book cover of Wishtree

Laura Anne Bird Author Of Crossing the Pressure Line

From my list on for girls who love the outdoors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I live in Madison, Wisconsin, and when I’m not reading my way through a tall stack of library books, I love to exercise and explore the outdoors, particularly in the Northwoods and in the Driftless Area (Google it—it’s the coolest!). My debut novel, Crossing the Pressure Line, is about identifying the lifeboats that have the power to save us during turbulent times. One of my own personal lifeboats is nature. I spend time outdoors every single day, even when the temperature is below zero, because I find deep peace in breathing fresh air, using my muscles, and watching for signs of wildlife. 

Laura's book list on for girls who love the outdoors

Laura Anne Bird Why did Laura love this book?

Red, a monoecious oak tree, narrates this luminous and beautifully illustrated novel. Red is two hundred and sixteen rings old and happily provides shelter for seven opossums, four raccoons, five owls, six skunks, and a witty crow named Bongo. Together, Red and the animals concoct a plan to support Samar, a girl whose family has just moved into the neighborhood. Samar hasn’t made any friends yet, and she’s feeling sad and lonely. Wishtree is about inclusion and community, but at its heart, it’s a love song to the trees and creatures that call urban areas home. Have tissues ready: Samar’s comforting middle-of-the-night visits to Red and Bongo will have readers wiping away a tear or two. 

By Katherine Applegate,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Wishtree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?



An Amazon Top 20 Children's Books of 2017

The New York Times-bestselling story of kindness, friendship, and hope.

Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.
You might say Red has seen it all.
Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's…


Book cover of Beyond the Bright Sea

Kate McCarroll Moore Author Of Elinormal

From my list on navigating middle school years with honesty & empathy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former middle school teacher and librarian, I know first-hand the power of story to motivate and teach. Over the years, I have also been lucky enough to facilitate several mother-daughter book groups and have found that books that show characters wrestling with decisions about doing the right thing, and recovering from bad choices, help to show children that there is always hope. Middle school is a time of such challenge and change, and stories that show authentically drawn characters navigating this tough terrain can act as guideposts. Becoming independent, finding your voice, growing empathy, and cherishing family and friends are necessary steps to becoming confident and healthy humans.

Kate's book list on navigating middle school years with honesty & empathy

Kate McCarroll Moore Why did Kate love this book?

I read this book with my mother-daughter book group and we all loved it!

The story focuses on the quest for twelve-year-old Crow to discover where she came from and who she truly is. It’s a story filled with suspense and intrigue fueled by Crow’s insatiable curiosity. There are powerful lessons here for Crow and for the lucky readers who follow her journey. The writing is hauntingly beautiful!

By Lauren Wolk,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Beyond the Bright Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

'Harper Lee has a worthy successor. Wolk is a big new talent' - The Times

Crow has lived her whole life on a tiny, starkly beautiful island. Her only companions are Osh, the man who rescued her from a washed-up skiff as a baby and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their neighbour across the sandbar. But it is only when a mysterious fire appears across the water that an unspoken question of her own history forms in Crow's heart, and an unstoppable chain of events is triggered. Crow sets out to find her lost identity - and, ultimately, to learn…


Book cover of Lena, the Sea, and Me

Laura Anne Bird Author Of Crossing the Pressure Line

From my list on for girls who love the outdoors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I live in Madison, Wisconsin, and when I’m not reading my way through a tall stack of library books, I love to exercise and explore the outdoors, particularly in the Northwoods and in the Driftless Area (Google it—it’s the coolest!). My debut novel, Crossing the Pressure Line, is about identifying the lifeboats that have the power to save us during turbulent times. One of my own personal lifeboats is nature. I spend time outdoors every single day, even when the temperature is below zero, because I find deep peace in breathing fresh air, using my muscles, and watching for signs of wildlife. 

Laura's book list on for girls who love the outdoors

Laura Anne Bird Why did Laura love this book?

Maria Parr’s timeless novel takes place in Norway’s fictional Mathildewick Cove. The story centers on Lena and her best friend Trille, who are dealing with typical 12-year-old matters, including family arguments, rapidly growing bodies, and drama-filled school days. The setting of Lena, the Sea, and Me is especially charming, featuring mountains, hills, farm animals, and of course the water, which plays a significant role in the book. I appreciate that Lena and Trille spend all their time outside. Lena in particular—with her strong limbs and ruddy cheeks—is formidable as she builds rafts and plays goalkeeper for her soccer team. Irascible and lively, she will delight and inspire readers everywhere.

By Maria Parr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lena, the Sea, and Me 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?

A heartwarming and action-packed story of friendship from Norway's answer to Astrid Lindgren.
This classic in the making from award-winning author Maria Parr is packed full of laugh-out-loud adventures and paints an honest picture of the highs and lows of friendship and growing up.

Dark clouds are looming in Mathildewick Cove. The arrival of a new football coach is putting twelve-year-old Lena's goalkeeping career in doubt. And in the house next door, Trille is wondering how to impress the girl who has just joined his class.

The stage is set for a dramatic year ahead. What are Trille and Lena…


Book cover of Reckless Memories

Willow Aster Author Of True Love Story

From my list on to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.

Why am I passionate about this?

As well as being an author of romance and an upcoming thriller, I am an avid reader. I’ve been passionate about books since I was a little girl, and I read a ton every year…often reading several at any given time. Books are my favorite pastime and my favorite subject to talk about, hands down. I did a podcast for several years—Living in the Pages—where I talked to authors from all over the world about their books and their process in writing. My TBR (to-be-read) list is never-ending.

Willow's book list on to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night

Willow Aster Why did Willow love this book?

Reckless Memories is the first book in the standalone Wrecked series. Ford and Bell will capture your heart with their second chance at love. There’s angst and tension and a swoon-worthy love story brewing amidst suspenseful moments. If you love a good romance with Nora Roberts’ feels, you’ll enjoy this story!

By Catherine Cowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I loved him before I knew what the word meant. From skinned knees to first dates and everything in between. But he was never mine to love.I settled for friendship, even though I always wanted more.That was before. Before he ripped my world apart and didn’t bother sticking around to help me pick up the pieces. I knit every last shred back together all on my own. And I’ve all but forgotten his name.Now, he’s back, and everything is torn apart once more. But he’s not the only one doing the tearing this time. And there might be no stopping…


Book cover of Pump: A Natural History of the Heart

Roy A. Meals Author Of Muscle: The Gripping Story of Strength and Movement

From my list on friend your body’s marvelous machines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been in love with biology since first playing with earthworms and marveling at the sprouting of radish seeds as a five-year-old. Further interest and curiosity led me to positions as nature counselor at summer camps and an eventual college degree in biology. Medical school was at times tedious, but the efficient, compact, durable mechanics of the musculoskeletal system totally engaged my interest. A residency in orthopedic surgery and a fellowship in hand surgery were natural follow-ons. My other passion is a love of teaching, taking a learner from where ever their understanding is presently and guiding them to what they need to know next. And they should have fun in the process.

Roy's book list on friend your body’s marvelous machines

Roy A. Meals Why did Roy love this book?

Since zoologist Bill Schutt previously wrote the very popular Cannibalism, A Perfectly Natural History, you might expect that his more recent expose of the heart would be equally wide-ranging, engaging, and touched with macabre. It is.

With clarity and wit, Schutt describes circulation from worms to bats to whales along with the curious adaptations that explain why frog hearts can freeze solid and resume function and why the blood of horseshoe crabs is favored by researchers. Schutt not only describes this living pump across the animal kingdom but also through time as philosophers and scientists have pondered, and eventually discovered, its true function.

If you have an interest in biology, history of science, or your own inner workings, Pump will make your heart throb.

By Bill Schutt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Fascinating . . . Surprising entertainment, combining deep learning with dad jokes . . . [Schutt] is a natural teacher with an easy way with metaphor.”—The Wall Street Journal

In this lively, unexpected look at the hearts of animals—from fish to bats to humans—American Museum of Natural History zoologist Bill Schutt tells an incredible story of evolution and scientific progress.

We join Schutt on a tour from the origins of circulation, still evident in microorganisms today, to the tiny hardworking pumps of worms, to the golf-cart-size hearts of blue whales. We visit beaches where horseshoe crabs are being harvested for…


Book cover of The Heart and the Bottle

Robin Hall Author Of The Littlest Weaver

From my list on picture books for healing from loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

All my life, books have been a safe space for me to explore emotions, recognize that what I’m experiencing is universal, and see that we can cope with difficult situations. As I pursued my MFA in Writing, I studied and wrote books that address heavy topics in hopeful ways. As Matt de la Pena says, “I can’t think of a safer place to explore complex emotions … than inside the pages of a book.” The picture books I have chosen address the heavy topic of loss in sensitive, hopeful, and empowering ways. I hope these books will touch your life as much as they’ve touched mine.

Robin's book list on picture books for healing from loss

Robin Hall Why did Robin love this book?

Oliver Jeffers is a master storyteller. Like the girl in this story, when I lost my father, I wanted to build walls to protect myself from the pain of grief so my heart could never hurt so much again. It took time to find a way to open my heart again and continue to find wonder.

Reading The Heart and the Bottle felt like reading my own story, like Jeffers understood me. With sparce text and simple, but poignant, illustrations, Jeffers clearly shows the process of healing from loss.

By Oliver Jeffers,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Heart and the Bottle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Award-winning picture book star Oliver Jeffers explores themes of love and loss in this life-affirming and uplifting tale.

Once there was a girl whose life was filled with wonder at the world around her...
Then one day something happened that made the girl take her heart and put it in a safe place. However, after that it seemed that the world was emptier than before. But would she know how to get her heart back?

In this deeply moving story, Oliver Jeffers deals with the weighty themes of love and loss with an extraordinary lightness of touch and shows us,…


Book cover of The Dream Daughter

Linda Wisniewski Author Of Where the Stork Flies

From my list on time travel dealing with women’s issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid lifelong reader who became a librarian, my dream job that kept me close to books and everything about them. I’ve seen so many changes in women’s lives since then. My oldest known ancestor was a woman born in 1778. What was her life like compared to mine? What would she think of me? In my time travel novel, I try to answer those questions. I’m drawn to stories that deal with universal women’s themes – family, love, fulfilling work, inequality, domestic abuse, motherhood, sisterhood, daughterhood – the list seems endless, as are the many ways authors use time travel to explore them.   

Linda's book list on time travel dealing with women’s issues

Linda Wisniewski Why did Linda love this book?

Carly is pregnant but her baby has a fatal heart defect. Her brother-in-law knows how to fix this: travel from 1970 to a future time where fetal surgery will save her child’s life. And the portals are all over the place! All you have to do is find one on his computer, go there and step off a roof or ledge. The scientific explanation for this is so believable I was half-convinced it’s real. Of course, it’s not that simple. What will a mother do to save her child? This brought back all the sleepless nights when my kids were sick or going through tough times. Mothers do what we have to do.

By Diane Chamberlain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Dream Daughter is a page-turning and unforgettable story of love and hope from bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before - and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.…


Book cover of The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature

Liz Koch Author Of Stalking Wild Psoas: Embodying Your Core Intelligence

From my list on re-wilding our relationship with life.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both an international somatic educator and conceptual artist, I have explored direct perception through the sensory system for over 45 years. Focusing on human potential and core awareness through the portal of the neuro-core tissue called Psoas, I am the author of The Psoas Book and Core Awareness: Enhancing Yoga, Pilates, Exercise and Dance. I have come to appreciate that fostering personal integrity requires changing our language of the body from an object to a dynamic living process. To restore our core coherency, humans must wake up from our mechanistic separateness to once again be innovative organisms dancing in reciprocity with a living, dynamic Earth.

Liz's book list on re-wilding our relationship with life

Liz Koch Why did Liz love this book?

This book offers a response to a deep longing to be in the world with childlike curiosity. It encourages our direct perception of life through the energetic heart field. Although it is meant as a knowledgeable guide for listening to and communicating with plants, it elicits a poignant call during a time of profound alienation. Encouraging the letting go of top-down linear thinking, Buhner offers a step-by-step somatic path for decolonizing the soul. I discovered by exchanging the word “psoas” for “plant” the book easily becomes a personal guide for increasing our core awareness as it inspires opening the heart by rooting into a reciprocal relationship with the living Earth. To me, re-wilding my relationship with the deepest aspects of self is vitally personal and imperative if all life is to truly flourish. 

By Stephen Harrod Buhner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Teachings of Plants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All ancient and indigenous peoples insisted their knowledge of plant medicines came from the plants themselves and not through trial-and-error experimentation. Less well known is that many Western peoples made this same assertion. There are, in fact, two modes of cognition available to all human beings--the brain-based linear and the heart-based holistic. The heart-centered mode of perception can be exceptionally accurate and detailed in its information gathering capacities if, as indigenous and ancient peoples asserted, the heart's ability as an organ of perception is developed. Author Stephen Harrod Buhner explores this second mode of perception in great detail through the…


Book cover of The Other Brother

Devin Sloane Author Of Live Again

From my list on to take your heart on an emotional rollercoaster.

Why am I passionate about this?

At age five, I was reading under the blankets with a flashlight far past my bedtime. It’s an often told story of how I believed I was getting away with something while my makeshift tent, held up by my head, was lit up like a snowglobe. By age eleven, when I picked up my aunt’s book, I discovered romance novels. I was hooked. I’ve read thousands of romance novels in the almost four decades that have since passed, and I’ve learned that each person who reads a book takes something different from it, and I hope these five books that gave so much to me, might do the same for you.

Devin's book list on to take your heart on an emotional rollercoaster

Devin Sloane Why did Devin love this book?

I loved the entire series for which this book is the fourth, but this book ensured that I can never go back and read the series again; it hurt that much. Still. I loved it. The characters in this series are family in the deepest, most loving and loyal sense of the word, and it is that sense of family that drives the storyline of this book. This series is sexy and taboo, and yet the biggest thing I took from it was the love and trust that pulsed between them. I wondered, often, if there could not have been a different way, if the author could not have chosen a different storyline, but it is in the difficulties that we sometimes find the stunning. And this story was stunningly beautiful.

By Dyan Layne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Things happen as they’re meant to.

There’s no avoiding your destiny…

Dillon Byrne always believed in fate.

He would meet someone. Fall in love. Be a family.

All in that order.

Sometimes fate has other plans…

Life changes in an instant. Love is lost.

But how do you let go of the life you once had?

To appreciate the magic of a brand new beginning, you have to make peace with the ending first.

Endings are never easy, but a beautiful beginning is destined to follow, isn’t it?

And just maybe out of sorrow, joy can grow…

The Other Brother,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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