The most recommended books about identity

Who picked these books? Meet our 158 experts.

158 authors created a book list connected to identity, and here are their favorite identity books.
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What type of identity book?


Horse Girls

By Halimah Marcus,

Book cover of Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond

Janet Jones Author Of Horse Brain, Human Brain: The Neuroscience of Horsemanship

From the list on horse-and-human teams.

Who am I?

Horses have helped me negotiate the world since early childhood. I’ve worked as a horse trainer, show competitor, catch rider, barn grunt, and riding instructor. As a UCLA-trained brain scientist and full professor, I also taught human perception, language, memory, and thought for almost 25 years. Combining these interests produced an “aha” moment, leading to my development of brain-based horsemanship. Successful horse-and-human teams require an understanding of how prey and predator brains interact. With that understanding, both species learn to communicate mutually via body language. We humans cooperate in this fashion and degree with no other species of prey animal—it’s a rare and special bond! 

Janet's book list on horse-and-human teams

Why did Janet love this book?

A collection of stories written by respected authors explaining how horses help their everyday lives. Jane Smiley, Maggie Shipstead, and Carmen Maria Machado are all here, along with many other excellent women writers. I feel deep appreciation and respect for all the horses I have known—especially those who taught me the most painful lessons, and even the few who taught in a painful or frightening way. Every horse is unique, and every horse offers something you can’t get anywhere else. It was magical to read what some of the world’s best writers have to say about the bonds they created with their own mounts. 

By Halimah Marcus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A wild, rollicking ride into the heart of horse country—these essays get at what it means to love horses, in all that love's complexity.” —Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

A compelling and provocative essay collection that smashes stereotypes and redefines the meaning of the term “horse girl,” broadening it for women of all cultural backgrounds.

As a child, horses consumed Halimah Marcus’ imagination. When she wasn’t around horses she was pretending to be one, cantering on two legs, hands poised to hold invisible reins. To her classmates, girls like Halimah were known as “horse girls,”…

Book cover of Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone

Kathryn Holmes Author Of Madison Morris Is NOT a Mouse!

From Kathryn's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Reader Mom Dancer Cupcake enthusiast

Kathryn's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Kathryn's 6-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Kathryn love this book?

Tae Keller turns the sci-fi conceit of the weird kid who believes in aliens into a heartbreaking tale of friendship and bullying.

Mallory abides by the social rules of middle school, whereas her new neighbor, Jennifer, disregards them completely. When Jennifer disappears, Mallory decides to find her, using clues from the missing girl’s journals. Along the way, she has to confront the part she and her friends played in Jennifer’s disappearance.

Keller digs deep into the painful process of trying to fit in. This is a tough, worthwhile read.

By Tae Keller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal for When You Trap a Tiger, Tae Keller offers a gripping and emotional story about a girl who is alienated by her friends . . . for believing in aliens.

Sometimes middle school can make you feel like you're totally alone in the universe...but what if we aren't alone at all?

Thanks to her best friend, Reagan, Mallory Moss knows the rules of middle school. The most important one? You have to fit in to survive. But then Jennifer Chan moves in across the street, and that rule doesn't seem to…


By Jane Eagland,

Book cover of Wildthorn

Rosie Garland Author Of Vixen

From the list on positive LGBTQ+ characters.

Who am I?

It’s no surprise to hear I’m drawn to stories featuring outsiders, people who don’t / won’t conform and are fed up trying to force themselves into the narrow roles society offers. Folk who slide under the radar, and never make it into history books (which is all of us, right?). This springs from being an outsider myself, the weird kid who didn’t fit. I’ve chosen novels where the LGBTQ+ characters strive and struggle but do not die tragically. Put simply, they are real people, complete with flaws and strengths. These books are your very own Time Machines: wonderful stories to transport you into the past.

Rosie's book list on positive LGBTQ+ characters

Why did Rosie love this book?

Set in 19th century England, this novel is aimed at Young Adult readers and is a reminder that a good read is simply good, whatever age bracket it’s aimed at. It resonated with my own teenage struggles to break free of restrictive expectations – even though mine were trifling compared to what the heroine Louisa has to go through! She resists the restrictions of Victorian society and the limited choices available to women, and is locked up in an asylum. It prompted me to read more about the era and discovered the shocking truth of how this really happened to women who stepped out of line…

By Jane Eagland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove has never enjoyed the life of the pampered, protected life girls of wealth were expected to follow in nineteenth century England. It was too confining. She would have much rather been like her older brother, allowed to play marbles, go to school, become a doctor. But little does she know how far her family would go to kill her dreams and desires. Until one day she finds herself locked away in an insane asylum and everyone--the doctors and nurses--insist on calling her Lucy Childs, not Louisa Cosgrove.
Surely this is a mistake. Surely her family will rescue…

Love & Gelato

By Jenna Evans Welch,

Book cover of Love & Gelato

Kristina Miranda Author Of Perfume Princess

From the list on YA contemporary romances that take you abroad.

Who am I?

I write romantic comedies for readers who want adventure in the great wide somewhere and can’t wait until the next time they hear the words bon voyage! Even as a young, midwestern farm girl, I always had a passion for languages and a strong desire to travel. As soon I flew the coop and went to college, I made friends with students from all over the world. Eventually, I followed my travel plans, learned to speak three languages, and now can’t decide whether to adopt London or Paris as my European hometown. 

Kristina's book list on YA contemporary romances that take you abroad

Why did Kristina love this book?

Let’s take this European adventure to Italy. Like most of the books on my list, Love & Gelato doesn’t go heavy on the romance, which is an aspect I really appreciate. Lina, the sixteen-year-old protagonist, comes to terms with grief and uncertainty in this beautiful, tender story. The fact that it’s set in Italy is a big bonus.

Jenna Evans Welch has written similar books with settings in Ireland and Greece. She has a great voice and takes the reader to some of my favorite settings in the world. That’s amore!

By Jenna Evans Welch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a Netflix movie, starring Susanna Skaggs

A New York Times bestseller

The dying wish of 16-year-old Lina's mother was for her daughter to live in Tuscany and get to know her father, whom Lina has never met. "Howard is the best man I've ever known," her mother says, "he'll keep you safe." Why did her mother wait so long to tell her about him? Lina has a happy life in Seattle and doesn't want to leave. Shortly after she arrives at Howard's home, Lina meets Sonya, who gives Lina a diary that belonged to Lina's mother, the one she…

Jacob Have I Loved

By Katherine Paterson,

Book cover of Jacob Have I Loved

Faye Gibbons Author Of Halley

From the list on coming-of-age for almost any age.

Who am I?

All my life I’ve been pushing against limits. Being the oldest of five children born to a farm couple who became mill workers, I was frequently reminded by family that “people like us” did not need much education, didn’t get the good jobs, and shouldn’t “rise above themselves.” Being a girl, I had additional limits. Naturally, when I learned to read, I was drawn to books in which characters broke through unfair restraints to have adventures and accomplish great deeds. I wanted to be one of those people. By the time I came of age, I knew I had a shot at becoming the heroine of my own story!

Faye's book list on coming-of-age for almost any age

Why did Faye love this book?

This book is for any girl, like me, who grew up with a sister she envied. I loved seeing Louise come to terms with her own worth and her own beauty. I felt that I was fighting her battles with her. In the end we both made peace with our sisters and gained confidence in our own merits.

By Katherine Paterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jacob Have I Loved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Katherine Paterson's remarkable Newbery Medal-winning classic about a painful sibling rivalry, and one sister’s struggle to make her own way, is an honest and daring portrayal of adolescence and coming of age. 

A strong choice for independent reading, both for summer reading and homeschooling, as well as in the classroom, Jacob Have I Loved has been lauded as a cornerstone young adult novel and was ranked among the all-time best children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal.

"Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated . . ." With her grandmother's taunt, Louise knew that she,…

The Girl from Foreign

By Sadia Shepard,

Book cover of The Girl from Foreign

Andrew Otis Author Of Hicky's Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India's First Newspaper

From the list on non-fiction journalism and history in India.

Who am I?

As the author of Hicky's Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India's First Newspaper I have great interest in journalism and history in the Indian subcontinent. There are relatively few books that explore these topics in a narrative nonfiction way. It is my hope that this shortlist will help readers find a few good books to start with.

Andrew's book list on non-fiction journalism and history in India

Why did Andrew love this book?

A beautiful and haunting tale. The Girl from Foreign is my favourite book, a memoir of Shepard’s journey to discover her family’s heritage. Shepard discovered that her grandmother, a member of Bombay’s Jewish community, had secretly converted from Judaism to Islam to marry her grandfather during partition. The book is about her discovering her grandmother’s – and her own – secret identity, hidden from the world for decades.

By Sadia Shepard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A search for shipwrecked ancestors, forgotten histories, and a sense of home

Fascinating and intimate , The Girl from Foreign is one woman's search for ancient family secrets that leads to an adventure in far-off lands. Sadia Shepard, the daughter of a white Protestant from Colorado and a Muslim from Pakistan, was shocked to discover that her grandmother was a descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny Jewish community shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago. After traveling to India to put the pieces of her family's past together, her quest for identity unlocks a myriad of profound religious and…

The Lightning Thief

By Rick Riordan,

Book cover of The Lightning Thief

Nadine Haruni Author Of The Hat Diaries: The Secret Life of Ryan Rigbee

From the list on fantasy adventure to travel to a new world.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning author of The Hat Diaries fantasy adventure series and the Freeda the Frog children’s book series. The Hat Diaries The Secret Life of Ryan Rigbee is the first book in The Hat Diaries trilogy. The Hat Diaries collection is written for teens and adults, expanding readers’ imaginations as they enter Ryan’s secret world. The Freeda the Frog™ books focus on acceptance for every type of family and comfort children as they experience real-life situations. I frequently do author events, radio & TV interviews, and podcasts. I am also a practicing attorney, certified yoga instructor, and the proud mother of a blended family of five children. 

Nadine's book list on fantasy adventure to travel to a new world

Why did Nadine love this book?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a must-read for young readers or anyone young at heart who enjoys fantasy adventure books.

I love books like this one which are geared for young readers, but tend to appeal to adults as well. Before reading this book, I had zero interest in books covering the Greek mythological world. This five-book series takes you on an extraordinary journey through Greek mythology with Percy Jackson, who is a relatable and funny demigod. The writing is light-hearted, fast-paced, and humorous, making it a true page-turner.

Without jamming it down your throat, the series educates readers about Greek myths while also emphasizing various themes including friendship, bravery, and self-discovery. I found it to be a thrilling combination of action, humor, and touching parts that drew me into this Greek mythological world of adventures.

By Rick Riordan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Lightning Thief: the First book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.

The first bestselling book in Rick Riordan's phenomenally successful Percy Jackson series.

Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood. I never asked to be the son of a Greek God. I was just a normal kid, going to school, playing basketball, skateboarding. The usual. Until I accidentally vaporized my maths teacher. That's when things started really going wrong. Now I spend my time fighting with swords, battling monsters with my friends, and generally trying to stay alive.

This is the one where Zeus, God of the Sky,…

The Face on the Milk Carton

By Caroline B. Cooney,

Book cover of The Face on the Milk Carton

Jeannette de Beauvoir Author Of Dead in the Water

From the list on stories involving kidnapping.

Who am I?

One of the joys of writing a mystery series is you have time to explore your characters—who they are, where they come from, what motivates them. In this particular series, I’d established a rift between the protagonist and her family, and I began to wonder why it was there. My own sister died when still a baby, yet her absence cast a long, complicated shadow over our family for decades. I wanted to explore more about the family dynamics around a missing child—and kidnapping seemed the best tool to get there. So I read everything I could about kidnapping to present that absence in both intimate and compelling ways.

Jeannette's book list on stories involving kidnapping

Why did Jeannette love this book?

I don’t often read YA novels, so I’m grateful to the friend who insisted I read this one.

Imagine picking up a milk carton imprinted with images of missing children—and seeing your own face there. This story is written with a kind of hectic immediacy through the eyes of 15-year-old Janie Johnson, who now must find out who she really is. Confronted, her parents share what they believe to be her story: she is really their grandchild, the child of their long-missing daughter who disappeared into a cult.

 As it turns out, even the story within the story offers another distortion. (The only caveat I’ll add is that this book is a little dated, clearly written before #metoo, and the reader may experience some slight discomfort in that area.)

There is now a series of novels about this protagonist.  

By Caroline B. Cooney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Face on the Milk Carton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the vein of psychological thrillers like We Were Liars and One of Us Is Lying, bestselling and Edgar Award nominated author Caroline Cooney’s JANIE series seamlessly blends mystery and suspense with issues of family, friendship and love to offer an emotionally evocative thrill ride of a read.

No one ever really paid close attention to the faces of the missing children on the milk cartons. But as Janie Johnson glanced at the face of the ordinary little girl with her hair in tight pigtails, wearing a dress with a narrow white collar—a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years…

Holly's Secret

By Nancy Garden,

Book cover of Holly's Secret

Sarah Hagger-Holt Author Of Proud of Me

From the list on LGBTQ plus families.

Who am I?

Thirteen years ago, when my partner and I started our family, we didn’t know any other LGBTQ+ parents. We decided to learn all we could about the experiences of LGBTQ+ families. Our interviews with more than 70 families grew into an LGBTQ+ parenting guide called Pride and Joy. These real-life stories blew us away with their diversity; made us laugh, cry and gasp as we saw how families thrived, often against the odds. Yet we rarely saw families like these in the books our children read, so I started writing stories of my own. Thankfully, there are now many more - you’ll find some of my favourites on this list. 

Sarah's book list on LGBTQ plus families

Why did Sarah love this book?

I wasn’t sure whether to include this book at first. It’s over twenty years old now - probably one of the first middle-grade titles where a character has same-sex parents. But while some attitudes feel dated, the story is still gripping and relevant. There are still many kids, like Holly, who love their families but feel like they have to keep them hidden to fit in with their friends. Holly learns that keeping secrets leads to bigger problems than the ones she was trying to avoid. Nancy Garden is a pioneer in writing for young adults about LGBTQ+ themes. She is one of my inspirations in becoming a writer. I hope each generation will continue to discover and be inspired by her work, just like I was.  

By Nancy Garden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Holly's Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new town and new classmates, but the same family -- with two moms

Dear Diary,
...Until today I was Holly Lawrence-Jones. But starting tomorrow I'm going to be Yvette Lawrence-Jones. My family doesn't know that yet, but I'll tell them tomorrow, and that's the name I'll tell the people at school, too. Yvette's going to be sophisticated and grownup-feminine enough to have white ruffled curtains, and maybe even a boyfriend. She's also going to have a NORMAL family. Kids are not going to make jokes about her and say mean things, because there won't be any reason for them…

The Best at It

By Maulik Pancholy,

Book cover of The Best at It

Chad Lucas Author Of Thanks a Lot, Universe

From the list on middle grade books to counter toxic masculinity.

Who am I?

When I was in school, I often struggled to figure out where I “fit”. Yeah, I know that’s a common struggle among angsty teens. But as a biracial, bisexual kid who loved basketball and books, I didn’t feel totally at home in any of the stereotypical Breakfast Club-style categories that showed up even in many of the books I read: jock, nerd, prep, etc. Now, as a dad, coach, and writer, I know those boxes aren’t real. I’m passionate about giving kids stories that challenge old ideas about what boys are “supposed” to be and help them explore the full range of who they can be.

Chad's book list on middle grade books to counter toxic masculinity

Why did Chad love this book?

Rahul Kapoor isn’t sure where he belongs as he starts seventh grade as one of the few Indian American kids in his midwestern town, but he latches onto his grandfather’s advice to figure out what he’s “the best” at… with sometimes disastrous results. This sweet, funny novel tackles relatable issues like facing anxiety and discovering your passion, all with a delightful cast. Rahul’s aunties are a force to behold!

By Maulik Pancholy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From award-winning actor Maulik Pancholy comes a hilarious and heartfelt middle grade debut about a gay Indian American boy coming into his own. One of Time Out's “LGBTQ+ books for kids to read during Pride Month,” this is perfect for fans of Tim Federle’s Nate series. A Stonewall Honor Book!

Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the…

Breasts and Eggs

By Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett (translator), David Boyd (translator)

Book cover of Breasts and Eggs

Michael Grothaus Author Of Beautiful Shining People

From the list on reads set in Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan, and my new novel, Beautiful Shining People, is a direct result of two profound experiences I had there. The first was when I was hiking through the hills of Kyoto late one night and turned around to see a glowing creature–some have said they think I saw a kami. The second experience happened when I was in Hiroshima at the Peace Park. I immediately started crying, seeing all the schoolchildren learning about the horrible atrocity committed against their ancestors. I have no idea why it affected me so much, but it was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

Michael's book list on reads set in Japan

Why did Michael love this book?

Where do I start? Breasts and Eggs is a fantastic example of contemporary Japanese literature.

The main character comes from a broken family that saw her mother die early. She feels that she is getting older and that if she is to ever have children she must act soon. But that’s only one small facet of this richly-drawn protagonist.

The novel also takes some great shots at the publishing industry, which, as a novelist, I found quite enjoyable. But most interesting is the history of this book. Kawakami originally wrote the first part as a novella, which was published in 2008.

Breasts and Eggs, published in 2019, saw her rewriting that novella and adding a second part to continue the story. If I have a favorite contemporary Japanese writer, it’s Mieko Kawakami.

By Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett (translator), David Boyd (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Breasts and Eggs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

TIME Magazine・The Atlantic・Book Riot・Electric Literature・The New York Times (Notable Book of the Year)

The story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan’s most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE.

On a sweltering summer day, Makiko travels from Osaka to Tokyo, where her sister Natsu lives. She is in the company of her daughter, Midoriko, who has lately grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with adolescence. The story of these three women reunited in a working-class neighborhood of Tokyo is told through…

The Music of What Happens

By Bill Konigsberg,

Book cover of The Music of What Happens

Heather DiAngelis Author Of Speech and Debacles

From the list on queer YA exploring mental health.

Who am I?

I’ve struggled with mental health for most of my life, as have family members and friends I love. It’s extremely important to me that we normalize discussions of mental health so that we can find the best solutions. Anxiety and depression have been major themes in all of the young adult novels I’ve written; it’s my little way of furthering these conversations with the people who need them. I hope you’ll find these suggestions relatable, enjoyable, and question-inducing!

Heather's book list on queer YA exploring mental health

Why did Heather love this book?

Author Bill Konigsberg has always pulled me in with his entertaining, well-written, and deep stories. In The Music of What Happens, Max and Jordan bond over their effort to save a 1980s-era food truck to help Jordan’s family stay afloat. Jordan’s secret, though, is that his mom’s mental health is spiraling out of control, and he carries the burden of being the only person able to hold everything together—financially and emotionally. I fell hard for Max and Jordan’s chemistry as well as for Jordan’s struggle of helping his mother through her mental health struggles. 

By Bill Konigsberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author of Openly Straight, a story about two teens falling in love over a summer that throws everything possible to keep them apart.

* "Konigsberg demonstrates once again why he is one of the major voices in LGBTQ literature." -- Booklist, starred reviewMax: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn't want to think about, ever.Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His "wives" and the…

Superman Smashes the Klan

By Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru (illustrator),

Book cover of Superman Smashes the Klan

Jess Hong Author Of Lovely

From the list on I wish existed when I was a kid.

Who am I?

Growing up Asian American, the lack of representation I felt was constant and palpable. I think often about what it would have meant and how beneficial it could have been had I been able to see myself in picture books as a child. This is a list of books I wish little me could have read growing up because when I read them now they speak to that same vulnerable space in me that I still carry. They are a balm to my heart and mind, making me feel connected to both myself and others that look like me and share similar experiences.

Jess' book list on I wish existed when I was a kid

Why did Jess love this book?

This is another masterful creation by Gene Luen Yang! After falling in love with American Born Chinese, this recent work of his did not disappoint. This story based on an old radio play is a tale of self-acceptance and standing up to hatred. Yang brilliantly intertwines the narrative of the Lee family and the issues of discrimination and violence they are faced with moving into a new suburban town along with the struggles of a younger, less experienced Superman coming to terms with being himself, an alien among humans.

By Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Superman Smashes the Klan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Harvey Award winner for Best Children or Young Adult Book! The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the centre of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan? Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial Clan of the Fiery…

The Lie

By William Dameron,

Book cover of The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out

Loren A. Olson, M. D. Author Of No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays

From the list on for mature men who have sex with men.

Who am I?

I’ve been gay for half my life; the other half I was confused, questioning, and considered a pathologic deviant by the American Psychiatric Association. I am no longer confused, or considered pathologic or deviant. I’m a father, psychiatrist, and author who grew up in Nebraska. I was a good boy, followed all the rules, and lived the life that was expected of me. I fit in but I never felt like I belonged. I took back control of my life and threw off expectations of what I should be. I want others to believe that they can have a richer life by living the life they were meant to live.

Loren's book list on for mature men who have sex with men

Why did Loren love this book?

When I explored coming out in my forties, I was lonely and searched for answers. I found nothing. So, I wrote my own book.

Gay people who’ve been in heterosexual marriages, especially those with children, face a predicament: a bad choice and a worse one. The Lie is a story of hope for anyone caught in the dilemma of either living a lie or leaving a family they love. Many consider suicide; many have attempted it.

The Lie is an emotional and honest story of Dameron’s coming out to live the life he was meant to live. He owns up to his past, sheds the shame and guilt, and seeks and finds forgiveness as he begins to live his life honestly.

By William Dameron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A candid memoir of denial, stolen identities, betrayal, faking it, and coming out.

Do you know me?, the email began, sparking tremors of fear that turned into a full quake of panic when William Dameron discovered that his selfie had been stolen by strangers. On social networks and dating sites, his image and identity-a forty-year-old straight white male-had been used to hook countless women into believing in lies of love and romance. Was it all an ironic cosmic joke? Almost a decade prior, William himself had been living a lie that had lasted for more than twenty years. His secret?…

Where Are You From?

By Yamile Saied Méndez, Jaime Kim (illustrator),

Book cover of Where Are You From?

Patrice Gopo Author Of All the Places We Call Home

From the list on celebrating stories of home, identity, and belonging.

Who am I?

As the Black American daughter of Jamaican immigrants born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, I love stories that depict the beauty of being multifaceted human beings. Stories steeped in broad understandings of place and home. Stories that encourage us to delight in being the people we are. I also believe our children are natural poets and storytellers. Lyrical picture books filled with rich language and sensory details encourage the thriving of such creativity. In addition to writing All the Places We Call Home, I'm the author of All the Colors We Will See, an essay collection about race, immigration, and belonging. 

Patrice's book list on celebrating stories of home, identity, and belonging

Why did Patrice love this book?

Where Are You From? boasts breathtakingly gorgeous text and expansive illustrations. I love this book because it first draws attention to how our world wants to simplify a person’s story. The book then counters with the beautiful reality that we are complex. As the child of immigrants, I could relate to this little girl seeking answers to the narrow question people keep asking her. She turns to Abuelo, who refuses to answer in ways that might categorize her. Instead, his poetic words sweep her up in a triumphant story rooted in deep ties to generations past and ongoing connections with place. Ultimately, this story transforms that feeling of not belonging into a celebration of who you are. What a joy!

By Yamile Saied Méndez, Jaime Kim (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Where Are You From? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This resonant and award-winning picture book tells the story of one girl who constantly gets asked a simple question that doesn't have a simple answer. A great conversation starter in the home or classroom-a book to share, in the spirit of I Am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo.

When a girl is asked where she's from-where she's really from-none of her answers seems to be the right one.

Unsure about how to reply, she turns to her loving abuelo for help. He doesn't give her the response she expects. She gets an even better one.

Where am…

Born Confused

By Tanuja Desai Hidier,

Book cover of Born Confused

Reenita Malhotra Hora Author Of Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life... and a Man

From the list on South Asian young adults.

Who am I?

I have a passion for this topic because I too am a South Asian author. I read these books to stay informed about the latest ideas shaping our understanding of the South Asian young adult, both within and outside of the geographical boundaries of South Asia. I want to see more stories out there with South Asian themes, characters, settings— contemporary stories in particular. I’d like to see South Asians in ordinary life and not stereotypical situations like The Indian Wedding. We have so many stories to tell! I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Reenita's book list on South Asian young adults

Why did Reenita love this book?

Indians born in the USA are all clubbed under the euphemism, “ABCD.” In other words, American Born Confused Desi. Desi loosely translates as Indian native. There is some truth to this as the question of identity hits each of us when we enter young adulthood. Ethnicity is a huge part of this, and for Indian Americans it is a double whammy—they are so different from their peers born and raised in India, yet so different to their American peers too. I love how Tanuja addresses these challenges in her story.

By Tanuja Desai Hidier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tanuja Desai Hidier's fantastically acclaimed cross-cultural debut comes to PUSH!

Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she's spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course it doesn't go well -- until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your…

Cuckoo Song

By Frances Hardinge,

Book cover of Cuckoo Song

Katrina Monroe Author Of Graveyard of Lost Children

From the list on changeling lore.

Who am I?

Most people don’t realize how deeply ingrained folklore is to our daily lives. Superstitious habits like tossing spilled salt over the shoulder seem silly now, but had grave implications a hundred or more years ago. I love books that draw lines between folklore and reality, that weave tales laced with superstition, especially through the lens of modern issues. Stories like these have always helped me to not only understand myself better, but the world around me. The things people do and say aren’t nearly as important as why. Folklore, like changeling stories, I’ve found, is the key to human understanding.

Katrina's book list on changeling lore

Why did Katrina love this book?

Cuckoo Song is not just a book about growing up, it’s a book about growing up in an environment where you suddenly don’t fit in.

Triss is a character I instantly related to. Once young adulthood hit, I found I’d pulled away from the rest of my family, a black sheep. Wrong. In Cuckoo Song, Triss bravely faces her darkest fears in order to find the truth of herself. And though it might be terrifying, it is her truth, and she will claim it.

By Frances Hardinge,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cuckoo Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read this thought-provoking, critically acclaimed novel from Frances Hardinge, winner of the Costa Book of the Year and Costa Children's Book Awards for The Lie Tree.

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry, her sister seems scared of her, and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In…

New Babylonians

By Orit Bashkin,

Book cover of New Babylonians: A History of Jews in Modern Iraq

Lior B. Sternfeld Author Of Between Iran and Zion: Jewish Histories of Twentieth-Century Iran

From the list on Jewish histories of the Middle East.

Who am I?

I always felt that Middle Eastern studies is different from other fields of history. Its ever-presence in our life, the news cycle, religious life, political life, yet, because of language barriers and other filters, there’s a gap in knowledge that is highly conspicuous when forming one’s opinion. When I started my academic training, I felt like I was swimming in this ocean of histories that were completely unknown to me. I studied the Jewish histories of the region only later in my training and found that this gap is even more visible when talking about the history of Jews in the Middle East, because of misconceptions of antisemitism, the Israel-Palestine conflict, political tilt of media outlet, and more. For me, entering this field was a way to understand long-term processes in my own society, and expand the body of scholarship to enrich the public conversation on top of the academic one.

Lior's book list on Jewish histories of the Middle East

Why did Lior love this book?

Iraq was home to about 150,000 Jews until 1948-1951. Baghdad was a very much Jewish city. Iraqi Jews were very assimilated, but there was very little known about the political and social history of Iraqi Jews beyond the Zionist story. While many of the Iraqi Jews did indeed view Zionism as a viable solution for them, overlooking Jewish involvement in Iraqi national and communist organizations misses several of the most fascinating transformations of any Jewish community in the world. In this book, Bashkin analyzed the social, cultural, and national participation of Iraqi Jews from within the perspective of Iraqi society. Interestingly, many of the patterns continued even after their migration to Israel.

By Orit Bashkin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although Iraqi Jews saw themselves as Iraqi patriots, their community-which had existed in Iraq for more than 2,500 years-was displaced following the establishment of the state of Israel. New Babylonians chronicles the lives of these Jews, their urban Arab culture, and their hopes for a democratic nation-state. It studies their ideas about Judaism, Islam, secularism, modernity, and reform, focusing on Iraqi Jews who internalized narratives of Arab and Iraqi nationalisms and on those who turned to communism in the 1940s. As the book reveals, the ultimate displacement of this community was not the result of a perpetual persecution on the…

The Girl I Used to Be

By April Henry,

Book cover of The Girl I Used to Be

Taylor Hale Author Of The Summer I Drowned

From the list on small town YA mysteries to keep you up all night.

Who am I?

I'm a full-time author and freelance editor from a small Canadian city, and I’ve always been fascinated by a good mystery—flipping through the pages, trying to guess who did or didn’t do it. Dark and gritty are my favorites, and the titles on this list do a good job of staying in that realm while still being very much YA. I hope you love them as much as I did!

Taylor's book list on small town YA mysteries to keep you up all night

Why did Taylor love this book?

In this book Ariel—AKA Olivia—is the daughter of a couple who was killed when she was a child. Olivia got away and was raised in foster care, but she’s always been haunted by what happened to her parents. The fact that his story was true crime fodder for the public doesn’t help, with many online speculations as to what really happened.

When new details arise in the case that make it seem as though the events of her parents’ deaths might not be what the public previously thought, Olivia is compelled to return home to her small Oregon hometown to uncover the truth. Equipped with enough red herrings to make your head spin, The Girl I Used to Be is a book that will keep you guessing until the end.

By April Henry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl I Used to Be as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Anthony Award for Best Young Adult Mystery Novel

The Girl I Used to Be is another thrilling murder-mystery that'll have you on the edge of your seat from the New York Times-bestselling author April Henry, the author of the Point Last Seen series, Girl, Stolen, and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die.

Olivia was only three years old when her mother was killed and everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother…


By Mat Heagerty, Sam Owen (illustrator),

Book cover of Lumberjackula

Darcy Marks Author Of Grounded for All Eternity

From the list on Halloween for middle grade readers.

Who am I?

When I was five my dad had to carry me, crying, out of the Salem Witch’s Dungeon. You’d think that would put a damper on my love of spooky things, but it absolutely did not! Bela Lugosi was my first crush. I set up Haunted Houses in my garage and read every single book my local library had on the Salem Witch Trials. I made my way from Bunnicula and The Halloween Tree, to books by Stephen King and Anne Rice. Halloween and horror will always have a special place in my heart, and yet…I still don’t let my legs dangle off my bed, lest the monsters get me.

Darcy's book list on Halloween for middle grade readers

Why did Darcy love this book?

I firmly believe that Halloween books are for everyone, even kids who don’t want their pants scared off or kids who aren’t big readers. In comes Lumberjackula! An adorable graphic novel with a great Halloween esthetic.

Jack is a half vampire, half lumberjack kid who has to make a big decision: should he go to Lumberjack school like Mom wants, or Vampire school like Dad wants? Jack doesn’t want to disappoint either parent, but he has a secret…he wants to dance!

Lumberjackula has all the fun of Halloween without the fear, and the illustrations are adorable. It’s a great book to make sure all of your middle graders get to join in the Halloween fun. (And as a former goth myself, Dad’s band is awesome!)

By Mat Heagerty, Sam Owen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For fans of The Okay Witch and Fake Blood, this hilarious middle grade graphic novel follows a half-vampire, half-lumberjack boy who feels torn between his parents and just wants to be a dancer.

Jack is in a pickle. His lumberjack mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep to learn how to chop wood and wear flannel. His vampire dad wants him to go to Sorrow's Gloom Vampire School to learn how to turn into a bat and drink blood-orange juice. And Jack has a secret: what he really wants to do is dance.

When he finds out…