The best books about brothers

64 authors have picked their favorite books about brothers and why they recommend each book.

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Cutting for Stone

By Abraham Verghese,

Book cover of Cutting for Stone

This sweeping historical novel took me from Addis Ababa to New York. It gave me insight to the missionary medics and the political landscape of Ethiopia. Marion and his conjoined twin brother Shavia are the central characters in this multigenerational saga. After their mother’s death and the father’s disappearance they were orphaned. Marion’s quest is to find the identity of his biological father which takes us to New York where Marion, like his father, is a renowned surgeon. The reason the novel remains one of favorites is that there are many levels to the story, historical and philosophical, it's also emotive and wise with a cast of unforgettable characters. 

Who am I?

I’m fascinated with our familial, political, and cultural legacies, particularly events that displaced or forced immigration upon its people. Being Irish, we are dispersed to the four corners of the earth and often, I think about the millions of Irish immigrants who fled our shores to start again in a different country with a different culture and my imagination comes alive at the sights and changes they saw and how they had to adapt. I’ve written four historical fiction novels. One is based solely in Ireland, the others are based between Ireland and Jamaica, New York, and the American West. All of my novels are multigenerational.

I wrote...

The Tide Between Us

By Olive Collins,

Book cover of The Tide Between Us

What is my book about?

1821: A cargo of Irish children is deported to the cane fields of Jamaica. 1991: Their story is uncovered. Bestselling author Olive Collins “brings history to life in this mesmerizing epic spanning 5 generations and 170 years,” The Post.

The Crossover

By Kwame Alexander,

Book cover of The Crossover

Written in poetic verse, this novel is captivating, clever, and emotional. I love it when a book is written with so much emotion that I have to wipe away the tears. Yes, I cried. Alexander combined sport with heart, and this book has depth, and covers so much more than basketball. The family scenes are realistic and powerful.

Who am I?

As a child I loved to read and write but I also loved sports. I played every sport I could, and races and games fueled me. My mother called me the “joiner.” Teams create bonds and friendships and I’m still in touch with former teammates. This gives me inspiration to write human interactions. Determination and perseverance are part of being an athlete and I write about strong characters who want to succeed but often meet obstacles along the way. I honestly believe that my sports background has helped me survive publishing, because both are full of highs and lows. Please, enjoy my recommended list because they’re books with heart.

I wrote...

When You Least Expect It

By Lorna Schultz Nicholson,

Book cover of When You Least Expect It

What is my book about?

Seventeen-year-old Holly Callahan desperately wants to make the national rowing team so she can compete overseas, but she is the last rower cut. Her summer dreams are shattered, and she finds herself back at home, living with her mother's annoying new boyfriend, Super Stew.

Holly's not a quitter. She lands a summer job, and then is handed an unexpected lifeline in the person of a man who offers to coach her in a single rowing boat. For a girl raised without a father, the coach's generosity — and rigorous demands — are a gift. But where did he come from and who is he, really? Discovering the answer plunges her into sadness — but then he inspires her to work beyond her comfort zone.

King and the Dragonflies

By Kacen Callender,

Book cover of King and the Dragonflies

This book, on the younger range of YA, features twelve-year-old King in Louisiana bayou country. Not only is King Black, but he thinks he might be gay. He has a special friendship with Sandy, who is white and whose father is a known KKK member. The story opens with the sudden and unexpected death of King’s big brother Khalid, a soccer star. Khalid had told King not to hang with Sandy because he would appear to be gay and be shunned by his classmates. While suffering deep grief, King complies for a time, but without Khalid, without Sandy, he has no one to help him sort out his uncertainty and loneliness. He retreats to the bayou and the many dragonflies in this poetic winner of the National Book Award for Young Readers 2020.

Who am I?

Patricia Hruby Powell’s former careers include dancer/choreographer, storyteller, and librarian. She is the author of the YA documentary novel Loving vs. Virginia which is on ALA, NCTE, Indie Pics, and Kirkus ‘best books lists’. From a young age, her parents instilled in her a social conscience and a will to try to right injustice. She attempts to do this, in part, by writing books that might shine a light on injustice, for young readers, such that they will care and perhaps become activists—for whatever impassions them. Her books have earned Sibert, Boston Globe-Horn Book, International Bologna/Ragazzi, Parent’s Choice Honors among others.

I wrote...

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

By Patricia Hruby Powell, Shadra Strickland (illustrator),

Book cover of Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

What is my book about?

From acclaimed author Patricia Hruby Powell comes the story of a landmark civil rights case, told in spare and gorgeous verse. In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

The New Small Person

By Lauren Child,

Book cover of The New Small Person

Elmore Green is perfectly happy being an only child and likes his life just the way it is, so when the ‘new small person’ arrives and throws everything out of line, Elmore Green wishes they would go back to wherever they came from. One night when Elmore has a nightmare though, everything changes, and he begins to find that there are upsides to having a sibling after all. With heart and humor, The New Small Person embraces the complex emotions surrounding becoming an older sibling and shows that while sometimes a sibling bond takes a little time to form, it can be pretty spectacular.

Who am I?

I am a picture book author living in Los Angeles with my husband and two small children. Through my work, I hope to make children laugh, to inspire curiosity, and to create a magical world readers can lose themselves in time and time again.

I wrote...

How to Return a Monster

By Charlotte Offsay, Rea Zhai (illustrator),

Book cover of How to Return a Monster

What is my book about?

In this hilarious and heartfelt book about sibling relationships, a girl can't believe it when her parents bring home a fussy, stinky, attention-stealing monster. She hatches a plan to send it back to where it came from, with hilarious results . . . and along the way, she learns that maybe monsters--and baby siblings--aren't so bad after all.

East of Eden

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of East of Eden

What is a story without great characters? Steinbeck himself believed this novel was the apex of his career, citing all his previous works as working towards this summit. East of Eden has some very dark and chilling moments and captures a rawness of human nature rarely seen in books of his era. This emotional grit draws the reader in and showcases Steinbeck’s literary skills as a progressive, one perhaps not welcomed as readily in his day, but one that’s proven to withstand the test of time. For a vivid recreation of a distant era with characters that sizzle with emotion, consider reading East of Eden.  

Who am I?

Having penned several history books, Historical Fiction is as natural to me as wooden teeth were to George Washington. And hopefully, my writing speaks as authentically. But Historical Fiction’s real attraction is that it not only adds realism and depth but also offers readers the chance to learn about our past in an enjoyable format that isn’t tedious or boring. Naturally, that’s if it's crafted well. However, history shouldn’t be just a backdrop, its myriad of events should impact the characters’ lives, and in turn, impact the reader. In that vein, Historical Fiction packs a punch to the intellect and emotions. So I hope you’ll enjoy these timeless classics. 

I wrote...

A Blazing Gilded Age: Episodes of an American Family and a Volatile Era

By Rich DiSilvio,

Book cover of A Blazing Gilded Age: Episodes of an American Family and a Volatile Era

What is my book about?

A Blazing Gilded Age is the epic story of a volatile nation burning with ambition yet bleeding with injustice. It was a time of profound change, boldly transforming from an agrarian backwater into an industrial superpower. Center stage is the Wozniak family; poor coal miners struggling to achieve the American dream. During their quest, they encounter such icons as Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla, five presidents, Susan B. Anthony, and many others, thus painting a broad and vivid canvas of 19th century America.

Poised to be an American Classic, A Blazing Gilded Age is an award-winning triumph of literary genius.

Only Killers and Thieves

By Paul Howarth,

Book cover of Only Killers and Thieves

In interviews, Paul Howarth has discussed the ways in which colonial Australia was essentially a second Wild West, albeit one scarcely explored in fiction. Only Killers and Thieves leans into that understanding and in doing so creates a vivid, blood-soaked, Biblical saga about revenge, redemption, and the lies upon which nations are built, full of unforgettable characters and passages of writing that will make your breath catch. That it is followed by an even better sequel is the icing on a magnificent cake.

Who am I?

I love a good thriller, as my bookshelf will attest. Anything that can drag me to the edge of my seat, desperate to see how it ends, will always get a recommendation from me, but the books that endure and inspire me the most have always been the ones that keep turning over in my head long after I’ve discovered whodunnit or seen the villain taken down. I have so much admiration for the art of taking what is often the pulpiest genre and infusing it with something more. Closely studying the books that successfully pull that off, for me, gives thriller writers everywhere a benchmark to aspire to.

I wrote...

The Inheritance

By Gabriel Bergmoser,

Book cover of The Inheritance

What is my book about?

A young woman is hiding out in a sleepy North Queensland tourist town, trying to stay under the radar, when she stumbles across a dangerous drug cartel. Anyone else might back away shaking their head, pretend they hadn't seen anything, keep quiet, even though people are getting hurt. But Maggie is no ordinary girl. She's got skills, as well as plenty of secrets to keep, burdens to carry - and anger to burn. When circumstances mean that she has to get out of town - fast - she heads towards Melbourne, where she just might find the answers that she needs - answers about her family and who she really is. With a bent cop for a dubious ally, the police tracking her, and furious bikers on her trail, Maggie is in deep trouble. She's only got her ingenuity and wits on her side - and a determination not to inherit the sins of her father.

A powerhouse, fast-paced, high-adrenaline, and tense thriller from Gabriel Bergmoser, author of the critically acclaimed bestselling outback noir The Hunted.

When Aidan Became a Brother

By Kyle Lukoff, Kaylani Juanita (illustrator),

Book cover of When Aidan Became a Brother

I think this is one of the most remarkable books about transgender experiences available now. Aiden gives voice to both his excitement about becoming a big brother and his frustration with the practice of assigning babies a gender based on their body parts. I have never read another picture book that better reflects my own feelings as a trans person. This book is warm, funny, honest, and will help both parents and children better understand trans experiences and each other. 

Who am I?

When I was a kid, I knew that my gender was different. I didn’t feel like a boy or a girl, but I didn’t know the word “nonbinary.” There were no kid’s books about people like me. I grew up with a lot of questions, which drove me to become a doctor of Women’s and Gender Studies and an expert on transgender history. Now I’m passionate about writing the kind of picture books that I needed as a child. If you want the kids in your life to understand transgender identity and feel loved whatever their gender may be, you’ll enjoy the books on my list. 

I wrote...

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History

By Joy Ellison, Teshika Silver (illustrator),

Book cover of Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution!: The Story of the Trans Women of Color Who Made LGBTQ+ History

What is my book about?

"Someday girls like us will be able to wear whatever we want. People will call us by the names we choose. They'll respect that we are women. The cops will leave us alone and no one will go hungry."

Sylvia and Marsha are closer than sisters. They are kind and brave and not afraid to speak their truth, even when it makes other people angry. This illustrated book introduces children to the story of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, the two transgender women of color who helped kickstart the Stonewall Riots and dedicated their lives to fighting for queer and trans liberation.

As Brave as You

By Jason Reynolds,

Book cover of As Brave as You

Two African American brothers spend their summer in rural Virginia while their parents navigate a rough patch in their marriage. Genie, 11, and Ernie, 13, get to know their blind grandfather who has a special room filled with plants and songbirds. I identified with Genie, a worrier who likes to pose questions in his notebook. As the two brothers respond differently to their grandfather’s announcement that a brave man learns to shoot a gun at 14, Reynolds is also asking readers to consider what it means to be brave and how we should define family. I loved the themes and vivid setting of the book. As someone who visited a grandparent in a small, rural town each summer, I identified with the boys’ sense that they have travelled not just a state but a whole world away from home.

Who am I?

I grew up in suburban Chicago as the middle of five children. My siblings were and are at the center of my world. Now I work with school-age children, and my fascination with the love/annoyance these relationships engender continues. I loved Little Women as a child, and stories of siblings, especially sisters, still tug at my heart. It’s no wonder my first middle-grade novel is just such a tale.

I wrote...

The Trouble with Twins

By Kathryn Siebel,

Book cover of The Trouble with Twins

What is my book about?

Kate DiCamillo meets Lemony Snicket in this darkly comic novel about two sisters who learn they are each others' most important friend! Imagine two twin sisters, Arabella and Henrietta--nearly identical yet with nothing in common. They're the best of friends . . . until one day they aren't. Plain and quiet Henrietta has a secret plan to settle the score, and she does something outrageous and she can't take it back.

When the deed is discovered, Henrietta is sent to live with her eccentric great-aunt! Suddenly life with pretty, popular Arabella doesn't seem so awful. And, though she's been grievously wronged, Arabella longs for her sister, too. So she hatches a plan of her own and embarks on an unexpected journey to reunite with her other half.

We the Animals

By Justin Torres,

Book cover of We the Animals

My favorite! Some people think it’s too flowery and abstract, but I think Torres’s ability to capture brutality and adolescence almost entirely through a sensual reckoning is incredible. I’d love to hear the entire book read aloud as a single monologue. No, I have not seen the movie because I don’t want to corrupt my experience. Keywords: sad, gay, hot.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing poetry for most of my life and only recently began a real crash course in fiction with my first novel. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but not for the reasons I thought. In poetry, you learn to locate meaning, but you don’t learn narrative structure. Who knew being an existential genius was easier than finishing a sentence? Once I started studying literature that I felt embodied both, I was able to visualize how my poetic voice wasn’t just applicable, but useful, in the world of fiction.

I wrote...

Life of the Party: Poems

By Olivia Gatwood,

Book cover of Life of the Party: Poems

What is my book about?

Lauded for the power of her writing and having attracted an online fan base of millions for her extraordinary spoken-word performances, Olivia Gatwood now weaves together her own coming-of-age with an investigation into our culture’s romanticization of violence against women. At times blistering and riotous, at times soulful and exuberant, Life of the Party explores the boundary between what is real and what is imagined in a life saturated with fear.

Gatwood asks, How does a girl grow into a woman in a world racked by violence? Where is the line between perpetrator and victim? In precise, searing language, she illustrates how what happens to our bodies can make us who we are.

Tikki Tikki Tembo

By Arlene Mosel, Blair Lent (illustrator),

Book cover of Tikki Tikki Tembo

This is another book that some might find problematic, in that it is clearly a caricature of an old Imperial Chinese village, but the rhyming wordplay in Tikki Tikki Tembo’s name is delightful, and the moral of Brother Chang’s worth and value is an important one for anyone with a child looking to step out of the shadow of an older sibling.

Who am I?

The role of the parable is an important one to help understand the roots of right and wrong. We live in such a fractured and untrusting world, that I think it’s important to rediscover the simple truths of honesty and integrity over-ambition, and the pursuit of power for its own sake. And so, I have an interest in the topic because I am a citizen hoping for a better world, and an expertise in the subject because I’m a father raising two children in that same fractious environment.

I wrote...

The Lying King

By Alex Beard,

Book cover of The Lying King

What is my book about?

The Lying King is a fable about an ambitious warthog, who lies his way to the top of the animal kingdom only to fall from grace caught in the web of his own lies. The book is a modern parable about what happens to those who tell lies to advance their own nefarious purposes, and while not overtly political, it does take a clear stand against those who deceive and divide.

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