The most recommended magical realism books

Who picked these books? Meet our 654 experts.

654 authors created a book list with magical realism books, and here are their favorites.

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What type of magical realism book?


Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Erica Bauermeister Author Of No Two Persons

From the list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books.

Who am I?

I've been book-besotted my entire life. I've read, studied, taught, reviewed, and written books. I went to “gradual” school, as John Irving calls it, earning a PhD in literature before gradually realizing that what I really loved was writing. For me, books contain the intellectual challenge of puzzles, the fun of entertainment, the ability to fill souls. They have changed my life, and the best compliments I have received are from readers who say my books have changed theirs. I read widely and indiscriminately (as this list shows) because I believe that good books are found in all genres. But a book about books? What a glorious meta-adventure. 

Erica's book list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books

Why did Erica love this book?

Magical doors that appear out of nowhere, a fantastical book that may not be fiction, some truly sketchy villains, a quest, and an intrepid heroine.

The author had me at fantastical book, but what I love about this novel is the world and character building, that feeling of opening the cover and being somewhere that has nothing to do with ordinary life.

And yet, there is mystery. And romance. A lost father. A daring daughter. You’ll want to race through it, but slow down at the same time, just to savor the ride.

By Alix E. Harrow,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Ten Thousand Doors of January as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers, and the doors they lead us through...absolutely enchanting."—Christina Henry, bestselling author of Alice and Lost Boys

LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER! Finalist for the 2020 Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. 

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely…

First Frost

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of First Frost

Tina Wainscott Author Of Until I Die Again (Love and Light)

From the list on to escape into another world.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by things paranormal and supernatural. There is so much in the “real” world that we don’t understand and can’t prove their existence, but there is enough video and photos, as well as stories, that I don’t see how we can say there’s not more beyond our five senses. Many of my own books center on paranormal abilities and events, and I do love reading about them as well!

Tina's book list on to escape into another world

Why did Tina love this book?

This book is also set in an ordinary world in a small Georgia town (I think it’s Georgia!), with an extraordinary family whose lineage has women with magical powers. The townsfolk know about the “odd” family, but they aren’t wholly shunned. Each woman has her own vulnerabilities and life journey. I loved the magic and cranky apple tree!

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Readers fell in love with Sarah Addison Allen's debut novel, GARDEN SPELLS. Now the tale of the Waverley women is to be revisited with a magical sequel.

Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beaten-up suitcase. He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever. But the Waverleys have enough trouble on their hands. Quiet Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley's Candies, but it's nothing like she thought it would be, and it's slowly taking over…

The Revisionaries

By A.R. Moxon,

Book cover of The Revisionaries

Scotto Moore Author Of Wild Massive

From the list on SFF that take an improbable premise and go nuts.

Who am I?

I’m a former playwright, current novelist, future designation unclear but maybe something like really committing to being the person that always carries one of every kind of charging cable, just in case. I’m old enough to be properly jaded about our media landscape, not simply to “fit in” with “people” who are “theoretically out there somewhere” but because I’ve genuinely seen so much and I’m just like, I mean, whatever. But sometimes a novel forges a new path across the imagination with such an unexpected angle on worldbuilding or a blatant assault on the propriety of common plot structure that I literally swoon with excitement. I’m about to tell you about some of those novels.

Scotto's book list on SFF that take an improbable premise and go nuts

Why did Scotto love this book?

My new book features the classic “book within a book” trope as a key plot mechanic, but I think Moxon is going for the gold medal in the category of “books within books within books,” with multiple competing characters claiming to be authors and demonstrating unnatural control over their domains, while bemused but frequently baffled readers attempt to decipher what nested reality is foregrounded and what the hell it all means regardless.

It starts off as a spiritual quest for inner-city redemption, starring the inmates of a forgotten asylum and the local parish that tries to tend to them; then an inmate reveals a deeper story of solipsistic villainy that blows away their current problems, and then at least one if not multiple authors involved throws all the cards up in the air and reshuffles them into a multiverse-spanning road movie.

All this, plus the prose is dense and thoughtful…

By A.R. Moxon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A modern-day classic."—Ron Charles, Washington Post
“A spectacular invention.”—The New York Times
"Compulsively readable."—NPR
Things do not bode well for Father Julius. . . A street preacher decked out in denim robes and running shoes, Julius is a source of inspiration for a community that knows nothing of his scandalous origins.
But when a nearby mental hospital releases its patients to run amok in his neighborhood, his trusted if bedraggled flock turns expectantly to Julius to find out what’s going on. Amid the descending chaos,
Julius encounters a hospital escapee who babbles prophecies of doom, and the growing palpable sense…

Fifteen Dogs

By André Alexis,

Book cover of Fifteen Dogs

Sharon Ledwith Author Of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

From the list on immersing you into another time and place.

Who am I?

Escape to the past and have a blast is definitely my motto as a Canadian young adult author. With a penchant for escapism fiction, I’ve always loved books that pull me into different places and adverse time periods. Enter time traveling and original storytelling. Legends, myths, and mysteries of the unexplained thrill me. A lover of anything arcane and ancient mysteries, I delve into our written past to give my fiction the facts I need to immerse readers into my imaginary universe—one book at a time.

Sharon's book list on immersing you into another time and place

Why did Sharon love this book?

Imagine a bet between the Greek gods Hermes and Apollo who both agree to grant human intelligence to a group of dogs staying overnight in a veterinary clinic. The wager? If the dogs end up more unhappy than humans with their newfound consciousness, then Hermes must bow to a year of servitude to Apollo. The catch? When the dogs find they’re more capable of complex thought, the pack is split between the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. Not used to human thoughts and feelings, the dogs become divided while struggling between their old familiar world and a strange new one. Though I found this fantasy novel disturbing at times, Alexis proves that you can indeed teach an old genre new tricks.

By André Alexis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Finalist for the 2015 Toronto Book Awards

Winner of the 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

"[Alexis] devises an inventive romp through the nature of humanity in this beautiful, entertaining read ... A clever exploration of our essence, communication, and how our societies are organized." - Kirkus Reviews

"This might be the best set-up of the spring." - The Globe & Mail

"Andre Alexis has established himself as one of our preeminent voices." - Toronto Star

- I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.
- I'll…


By Akwaeke Emezi,

Book cover of Pet

Erik Christopher Martin Author Of The Case of the French Fry Phantom: Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth Book One

From the list on middle-grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ protagonist.

Who am I?

The world is an amazing, diverse place that needs stories that represent everyone. I identify as gender fluid and am part of my city’s LGBTQIA+ community. For kids, there aren’t enough stories that feature non-straight cis protagonists where that identity isn’t the focus. LGBTQIA+ kids exist. They are normal. Let a gay kid go into space. Let a teenage lesbian solve a mystery. Let a trans girl defeat a dragon. Let an ace teen be a witch. Everybody deserves their adventure. 

Erik's book list on middle-grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ protagonist

Why did Erik love this book?

The City of Lucille has gotten rid of all its monsters.

That’s what Jam, a teenage trans girl, believed until the demonic-looking Pet emerged from one of her mother’s paintings. But despite their monstrous appearance, Pet isn’t the monster, but came forth to hunt a monster already living among the people of Lucille undetected. 

Pet contains vivid imagery, powerful themes, and a sensitive and brave protagonist. Be bold. Be vigilant. Monsters never entirely go away because we are the monsters.

By Akwaeke Emezi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

She stumbled backwards, her eyes wide, as the figure started coming out of the canvas
She tried to be brave. Well, she said, her hands only a little shaky, at least tell me what I should call you.
Well, little girl, it replied, I suppose you can call me Pet.

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson…

Sea Change

By Gina Chung,

Book cover of Sea Change

Alison B. Hart Author Of The Work Wife

From the list on women’s ambition and battle for our souls at work.

Who am I?

I’ll tell you a secret. I’m obsessed with money—not fast cars, designer labels, and McMansions, but the accumulation of capital: who has it, how they got it, and what lengths they’re willing to go to to keep it. So I’ve always loved novels about work. They cut right to the heart of a character’s true motivations, revealing what they’ll fight for and who they’ll love. Don’t show me what a person looks like, show me how they earn (or don’t earn) their living, and I’ll remember them forever.

Alison's book list on women’s ambition and battle for our souls at work

Why did Alison love this book?

Do you have to be captivated by aquariums and otherworldly travel to enjoy this book? No, but if, like me, you’ve always wondered what it would be like to have an octopus for a work wife or a boyfriend who’s moving to Mars, you’ll love Sea Change.

Come for the reality-bending critique of life on Earth; stay for the achingly true-to-life portrait of a daughter of Korean immigrants who’s just trying to make her way in the world.

By Gina Chung,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK • An enchanting novel about Ro, a woman tossed overboard by heartbreak and loss, who has to find her way back to stable shores with the help of a giant Pacific octopus at the mall aquarium where she works.

“Immersively beautiful.... A kaleidoscope of originality." —Weike Wang, acclaimed author of Joan is Okay

Ro is stuck. She's just entered her thirties, she's estranged from her mother, and her boyfriend has just left her to join a mission to Mars. Her days are spent dragging herself to her menial job at the aquarium, and…

The Measure

By Nikki Erlick,

Book cover of The Measure

Sophie Jaff Author Of Love Is Red

From the list on escaping reality.

Who am I?

When I was eleven, I immigrated to a new country and was bullied at school. I retreated into books where I could visit secret worlds filled with ghosts, magicians, and dark power. I needed a place to hide and dream up my revenge. It seems I was destined to write scary novels. My books and various short stories are a blend of mystery, psychological thriller, romance, paranormal, and the supernatural. I still love to visit new worlds but am content to live near an official Halloween town with my young family. If you haven’t read these books yet, I envy you for the mind-bending journey you’re about to embark upon. Bon Voyage.

Sophie's book list on escaping reality

Why did Sophie love this book?

During the pandemic I couldn’t bear to read much. It was hard to focus and I shut down. 

The Measure was the book that pulled me out of it. It held my attention with an iron grip, and it never let go. The premise is frighteningly simple; everyone in the world who is twenty-two will receive a box with a string it in. The length of the string dictates the length of your life. The prose was so sharp and clear that I expected at any moment to receive my own box. 

The Measure got me excited about fiction again, I was enraged, excited, and enchanted and at one point moved to tears. I can count on the fingers of one hand how often a book has made me cry, The Measure is one of them. 


By Nikki Erlick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'GRIPPING AND POIGNANT' RUTH HOGAN, bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things



Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice.

It seems like just another morning.

You make a cup of tea. Check the news. Open the front door.

On your doorstep is a box.

Inside the box is the exact number of years you have left to live.

The same box appears on every doorstep across the world.

Do you open yours?




Once Upon a Broken Heart

By Stephanie Garber,

Book cover of Once Upon a Broken Heart

Rachael Loper Author Of Anathema's Curse

From the list on to pull your soul into another realm.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing fantasy since I was a very young child. My need to escape a world that I viewed with fear was satiated by writing worlds that gave me control over how I could create and master them. I would read books that I adored but wanted to implement changes to better fit my own personal feelings and perception. For example, unicorns were terrifying creatures in my head, so I gave them fire-covered horns and eyes of flames. Nothing in the world felt pure or safe to me, so I write in a way that gives a dark twist to any and all mythological creatures and magical realms.

Rachael's book list on to pull your soul into another realm

Why did Rachael love this book?

I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re in a reading slump. This is the exact one that brought me out of mine. I needed to not only feel I was in another world but escape my very own.

With Stephanie Garber’s writing ability being able to make you hear, taste, feel, see and smell every single detail of her words, I promise you’ll never want to leave her vision. Jacks starts out very mischievous and cruel, but his protective behavior of his “little fox” leaves you begging for his heart. It’s no wonder they call him the prince of hearts.

There’s so much mystery and puzzle pieces to put together, you’ll feel like a detective while lost in a story of love.

By Stephanie Garber,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Once Upon a Broken Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Make a wish . . .

'An unputdownable fairy tale' Kerri Maniscalco, New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom of the Wicked

From the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in happily ever after. Until she learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, and her dreams are shattered.

Desperate to stop the wedding, and heal her wounded heart, Evangeline…


By Samuel R. Delany,

Book cover of Dhalgren

A. R. Davis Author Of Refuge for the Khymera

From A.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Writer Wonderer Teacher Computer scientist Mathematician

A.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did A.R. love this book?

Each time I have read this book over the years, new images are revealed of the post-apocalyptic dream city, Bellona. Now, as a published author, I am even more drawn to Kid, the poetic drifter.

I particularly relate to the mysterious notebook found by the fire late at night at the Hippie commune. Whoever lost it, has written on only one side of each page. The first thing Kid finds written inside is, “to wound the autumnal city...”, which is exactly how the mythic and symbolic novel Dhalgren begins.

How much of what happens is the direct result of what Kid writes, reads, or has already written in the mysterious notebook is open for interpretation. I enjoy the ambiguity, since it mirrors the mystery of Bellona itself.

By Samuel R. Delany,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nebula Award Finalist: Reality unravels in a Midwestern town in this sci-fi epic by the acclaimed author of Babel-17. Includes a foreword by William Gibson.

A young half–Native American known as the Kid has hitchhiked from Mexico to the midwestern city Bellona—only something is wrong there . . . In Bellona, the shattered city, a nameless cataclysm has left reality unhinged. Into this desperate metropolis steps the Kid, his fist wrapped in razor-sharp knives, to write, to love, to wound.
So begins Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany’s masterwork, which in 1975 opened a new door for what science fiction could mean.…

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

By Haruki Murakami,

Book cover of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Paul Burman Author Of The Snowing And Greening Of Thomas Passmore

From the list on time-bending that turn reality inside-out.

Who am I?

I’m the author of three novels, several short stories and quite a few articles about writing and literature. While I’ve haven’t aimed to write for a specific genre—all three of my novels are different in this respect—my plots usually focus on a mystery. I enjoy novels with strong, credible characters, which are based in a recognisable, everyday reality, but where bizarre events can turn the world upside down.

Paul's book list on time-bending that turn reality inside-out

Why did Paul love this book?

This is the first novel I read by Haruki Murakami and it got me hooked on his writing.

Toru Okada is tasked with finding his lost cat but, as he searches, the past stories of other characters constantly intersect and become inescapable detours, which often foster ambiguity and a sense of becoming lost in a charmed world.

We’re left with an impression of a world slipping into the surreal, where reality becomes blurred like Okada’s memory of what his missing cat looks like, and where “Ten minutes is not ten minutes” because time can stretch and shrink. I was frequently surprised and sometimes confounded by this but, because of Murakami’s skill as a writer, felt pleasantly lulled with the same dreamlike acquiescence as his hero into following Okada’s convoluted journey.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Toru Okada's cat has disappeared and this has unsettled his wife, who is herself growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has started receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada's vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.


By Zoe Gilbert,

Book cover of Folk

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Author Of She Never Told Me about the Ocean

From the list on fairy tales for adults.

Who am I?

I’m an American author and writing teacher both at Harvard and Oxford’s online programs. I've mostly written poetry and nonfiction, then in 2021 I published my first novel, She Never Told Me about the Ocean. I started writing the book when my daughter was born as a way to explore the complicated feelings and fears that suddenly washed over me. The book—like a daughter—outgrew my plans and expectations for it. It became, unexpectedly, a mythology of mothers and daughters. For two decades I've studied fairy tales and myths. Fairy tales deal in fears and the stories we tell ourselves to feel safe—which is why I read them and use them in my writing.

Elisabeth's book list on fairy tales for adults

Why did Elisabeth love this book?

I just discovered this book and want to teach it in every one of my classes! Folk is a series of stories about the villagers in a tiny, closed-off island filled with strange rituals and a cacophony of alliances and grudges. Her language is simply thrilling, and the fairy tales are shocking in all different ways. We hear a different perspective in each story, so the book results in a fairy tale about how small communities work and what the ‘folk’ in them must do—and believe—in order to get along.  

By Zoe Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A captivating, magical and haunting debut novel of breathtaking imagination, from the winner of the 2014 Costa Short Story Award LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 INTERNATIONAL DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE 'That rare thing: genuinely unique' OBSERVER 'Will win you over ... Magical' THE TIMES 'Absolutely stunning. I loved it' MADELINE MILLER, AUTHOR OF CIRCE On the remote island of Neverness, the villagers' lives are entwined with nature: its enchantments, seductions and dangers. There is May, the young fiddler who seeks her musical spirit; Madden Lightfoot, who flies with red kites; and Verlyn Webbe, born with a wing for an arm. Over the…

Book cover of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Tobi Ogundiran Author Of Jackal, Jackal: Tales of the Dark and Fantastic

From the list on modern mythology and folktale for the curious.

Who am I?

I am fascinated with mythology in all its shapes and forms. It fascinates me how cultures the world over have similar pantheons, for example, without any cultural cross-pollination. What I like to do in my fiction is blend various myths to create something new. And sometimes I create my own myths. It takes a curious, imaginative mind to come up with these myths, and most importantly a child-like sense of wonder, which, sadly, is extinguished by society as one is forced to “grow up”. I don’t ever want to lose that sense of wonder—to observe the world and see beauty and possibilities at every corner—so I preserve and interrogate it in my fiction.

Tobi's book list on modern mythology and folktale for the curious

Why did Tobi love this book?

This book is a phantasmagorical trip. This was one of the first, if not the first, African novel to be written in English.

The language, told in a broken English that is nonetheless poetic, (Tutuola’s education was incomplete) adds to the surreal nature of the story. I like it because it is the kind of story I grew up listening to: tales of people venturing into the forest and the wondrous adventures they have therein.

The basic premise goes thus: When war comes to a Nigerian village, a young boy and his brother flee into the forest and begin a surreal journey through the realm of ghosts. Folktales and legends abound in the pages of this book.

By Amos Tutuola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life in the Bush of Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Amos Tutuola's second novel, was first published in 1954. It tells the tale of a small boy who wanders into the heart of a fantastical African forest, the dwelling place of innumerable wild, grotesque and terrifying beings. He is captured by ghosts, buried alive and wrapped up in spider webs, but after several years he marries and accepts his new existence. With the appearance of the television-handed ghostess, however, comes a possible route of escape.

'Tutuola ... has the immediate intuition of a creative artist working by spell and incantation.' V. S. Pritchett,…

Dreams Underfoot

By Charles de Lint,

Book cover of Dreams Underfoot

Stephen Dedman Author Of Shadowrun: For A Few Nuyen More

From the list on lovers of urban fantasy.

Who am I?

I’ve had a passion for weirdness in mundane settings since my childhood days watching The Addams Family in a boring suburb. I grew up with the Apollo program, but as I realized I’d never be an astronaut, I increasingly turned to writing science fiction and fantasy set on Earth. I discovered role-playing games shortly after D&D came out, but when I became bored with characters who were only after money and mayhem, I found other RPGs and began writing for them. FGU’s Bushido introduced me to Japanese mythology, which inspired my first urban fantasy novel, The Art of Arrow Cutting, which led me to being invited to write Shadowrun novels.

Stephen's book list on lovers of urban fantasy

Why did Stephen love this book?

This is a collection of wonderful short stories, not a novel. It was my introduction to de Lint’s Newford, the setting of many of de Lint’s later novels and collections, a fictional composite of the best aspects of several North American cities, where beings from different mythologies co-exist with humans and interact with those who believe in them. It's such a fascinating setting, and feels so real, that I wish I could live there.

By Charles de Lint,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome to Charles de Lint’s first collection of Newford stories. Immerse yourself in his gritty fictional city—as much a character as Jilly who paints fey wonders, fiddle player Geordie seeking his stolen beloved, the conjure man and his Tree of Tales, or Paperjack revealing fortunes. Meet Gemmins who live in abandoned cars and Katrina, a mermaid so entranced by love that she’s left the cold dark water to walk in the moonlight. Visit the music clubs, the waterfront, and the alleyways where myths and magic spill into the modern world.

This collection of conceptually innovative, thematically simple stories proves…

The Angel's Game

By Carlos Ruiz Zafón,

Book cover of The Angel's Game

Margaret Duarte Author Of Between Will and Surrender

From the list on metaphysical themes that plunge you into the surreal.

Who am I?

Books have the power to do so much more than to simply entertain. I believe it’s my job as a fiction writer to condense research of complex subjects into understandable language and then play it out in story. My Enter the Between fiction series introduces readers to the world of metaphysics—the bridge between the seen and the unseen, science, and spirituality—which serves as a key to understanding consciousness, death, and the meaning of life. I’ve spent twenty years researching contemporary paganism, holistic theory, quantum mechanics, and transpersonal psychology to come up with stories that bridge science and spirituality with paranormal, supernatural underpinnings, and contemplative messaging that aims toward a kinder, wiser, more peaceful world.

Margaret's book list on metaphysical themes that plunge you into the surreal

Why did Margaret love this book?

I’ve read the first sentence of The Angel’s Game over and over, never tiring of the simple wisdom—and truth—of protagonist David Martin’s words: “A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story…” And for the rest of the novel, I’m caught in the web of an author whose prose is as pleasurable to read as the story itself. The Angel’s Game is an example of visionary/metaphysical fiction, a little-known genre under the umbrella of speculative fiction containing paranormal and/or supernatural elements that don’t exist in the real world. Carlos Ruiz Zafon, however, makes the unreal seem real and the impossible seem possible, a sign of a truly gifted writer.

By Carlos Ruiz Zafón,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The stunning new novel from the internationally bestselling author of THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man - David Martin - makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books, and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner. Like a…

A Rose for Emily

By William Faulkner,

Book cover of A Rose for Emily

Vicki Olsen Author Of A Sparrow Falls

From the list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets.

Who am I?

My idyllic childhood while following my father, a US Air Force JAG officer, around the country and around the world did not prepare me to understand and recognize an abusive relationship. I had never seen or experienced abuse until I married. After twenty years of emotional abuse, which eventually led to domestic violence, I was able to leave it behind. It is only with therapy that I came to understand the early warning signs, why I had ignored them and why I stayed so long. While preparing to write A Sparrow Falls, I read many personal accounts of domestic violence and child abuse and conducted an interview with a survivor of child sexual abuse.

Vicki's book list on vulnerable protagonists with family secrets

Why did Vicki love this book?

I cheated a little here; this one isn’t a novel, it is instead, a short story (or perhaps a novella). I couldn’t put it down and stayed up into the wee hours reading it in a single sitting. Granted, it is a short story, but this is still an unusual feat for me. 

What an unforgettable ending.

If you haven’t experienced classic Southern Gothic, this is a wonderful introduction to the genre...follow it with Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” and you will be hooked. If your high school English teacher did not introduce you to William Faulkner, A Rose For Emily is a great place to start – or “As I Lay Dying.” 

Faulkner’s characters are among some of the most memorable in American literature.

By William Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Rose for Emily as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The short tale A Rose for Emily was first published on April 30, 1930, by American author William Faulkner. This narrative is set in Faulkner's fictional city of Jefferson, Mississippi, in his fictional county of Yoknapatawpha County. It was the first time Faulkner's short tale had been published in a national magazine.
Emily Grierson, an eccentric spinster, is the subject of A Rose for Emily. The peculiar circumstances of Emily's existence are described by a nameless narrator, as are her strange interactions with her father and her lover, Yankee road worker Homer Barron.


By Jenni Fagan,

Book cover of Luckenbooth

Nicola Morgan Author Of Fleshmarket

From Nicola's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Practising word sculptor Ruminator Gardener Almost perfectionist Friend

Nicola's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Nicola love this book?

I was re-reading this book for a reason: to get myself back into old Edinburgh because I’m embarking on a sequel to one of my novels, and I needed to reconnect with the ancient parts of the city I used to live in.

Luckenbooth is set much later than my book, so there is no danger of undue influence, but the atmosphere is very reminiscent. And wow, that atmosphere! In her novel, Jenni Fagan imagines that in 1910 an event happened that led the main character to place a curse on a nine-story building in Luckenbooth Close.

The novel darts about over the next 100 years and reveals how that curse plays out for each occupant. This brings an exceptionally vivid and inventive cast of characters and glimpses inside these lives against the backdrop of a changing world outside.

By Jenni Fagan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Featured in Damian Barr''s picks for 2021
Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize 2021
Chosen as one of the Best Books of 2021 in the Telegraph

''If this addictive slice of Edinburgh Gothic isn''t on all prize lists, there is no justice.'' iNews

''Over time, 10 Luckenbooth Close sinks from grand residence to condemned squat with secrets seething in its walls ... Luckenbooth is a place of compacted time, where the past manifests as unquiet ghosts and the future bleeds into the present ... There''s a force in Luckenbooth''s bizarre assemblage.'' The Times

''Definitely going to be one of my…

Book cover of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

S.R. Algernon Author Of Cooling Season

From the list on science fiction that will change your perspective.

Who am I?

I am an American author and have been an avid reader of science fiction for nearly forty years. I studied science fiction in college, along with biology and other subjects. My undergraduate honors thesis was a discussion of postwar Japanese science fiction that included a translation from the original. I have a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and have published papers on learning in machines, humans, and humpback whales. I have taught and studied in Japan and Singapore, and critiqued fiction for several years with I have published many science fiction stories from various perspectives. The Hugo finalist, "Asymmetrical Warfare" tells the story of an alien invasion of Earth from the invader’s perspective.

S.R.'s book list on science fiction that will change your perspective

Why did S.R. love this book?

This Japanese novel is actually two interleaved and interconnected stories, one set in the bustling, alienating landscape of contemporary Japan and the other taking place… well, as the title suggests, at the End of the World. It makes for a gripping page-turner with a unique perspective on the human mind.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A narrative particle accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami's international following.

Tracking one man's descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy.

The Magus

By John Fowles,

Book cover of The Magus

Gregg Dunnett Author Of Little Ghosts: My sister's name was Layla. I know who killed her. She told me.

From the list on blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

Who am I?

I’m not an expert on very much. Certainly not the biggest questions of all, such as are we really here, and if not, what’s this all about? But I’ve always enjoyed books that touch upon these questions and find a way to connect them to our everyday reality (I find them easier than actual philosophy). If I am well placed to curate this list, that’s why. I hope it reminds you how we all grapple with these same universal questions. How we all share our doubts and face the same fears. How we’re all whittled away by the same relentless flow of time. 

Gregg's book list on blurring the line between fantasy and reality

Why did Gregg love this book?

A young man takes a job as an English teacher on a Greek island, and is quickly drawn into a bewildering mystery involving the island mythological roots, and an impossibly beautiful woman who seems to want him as much as he wants her.

This mix proved irresistible to me when I read it as a young man, teaching English abroad. The novel ultimately weaves a web of psychological intrigue so powerful there can be no answer to the riddles it sets. Which is perhaps why the ending blurs reality so that I still don’t really know the why for what happens.

It’s a credit to the strength of Fowle’s characters that I’d still pick this as my favourite ever read. If I had to pick just one.   

By John Fowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Magus is the story of Nicholas Urfe, a young Englishman who accepts a teaching assignment on a remote Greek island. There his friendship with a local millionaire evolves into a deadly game, one in which reality and fantasy are deliberately manipulated, and Nicholas must fight for his sanity and his very survival.

A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens,

Book cover of A Christmas Carol

Andi Brooks Author Of Ghost Stories For Christmas Volume One

From the list on ghostly Christmas stories.

Who am I?

I am an Anglo Irish writer who is as filled with a wide-eyed wonder of the magic of Christmas in my middle age as I was as a small child. Alongside my lifelong love of Christmas and its traditions, I have enjoyed an equally long love of ghost stories. Combining these two passions, I am the editor of the Ghost Stories For Christmas anthologies of classic Christmas ghost stories, the first of which was published in 2022. I am also the writer of Ghostly Tales of Japan, a collection of original stories set throughout Japanese history.

Andi's book list on ghostly Christmas stories

Why did Andi love this book?

Out of all of the books I have read, I have read A Christmas Carol more times than any other. An instant phenomenon when it was first published in 1843, it has never been out of print. It is the embodiment of not just a Christmas ghost story, but of a story that encapsulates the very essence of the spirit of Christmas in the popular imagination in a way that no other story ever has. Although I had always loved watching the 1951 classic film Scrooge with the wonderful Alastar Sim in the title role, I didn’t read the book until I was in my teens, when I came across a lovely copy of a 1950 edition in a charity shop. Since then, I have read, and shed a tear over, A Christmas Carol every Christmas – I won't embarrass myself by revealing exactly how many times that is, but…

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked A Christmas Carol as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tom Baker reads Charles Dickens' timeless seasonal story.

Charles Dickens' story of solitary miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is taught the true meaning of Christmas by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, has become one of the timeless classics of English literature. First published in 1843, it introduces us not only to Scrooge himself, but also to the memorable characters of underpaid desk clerk Bob Cratchit and his poor family, the poorest amongst whom is the ailing and crippled Tiny Tim.

In this captivating recording, Tom Baker delivers a tour-de-force performance as he narrates the story. The listener…


By Akwaeke Emezi,

Book cover of Freshwater

Saleem Haddad Author Of Guapa

From the list on novels that capture modern global queer experiences.

Who am I?

Saleem Haddad was born in Kuwait City to an Iraqi-German mother and a Palestinian-Lebanese father. He has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières and other international organisations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt. His first novel, Guapa, is a political and personal coming-of-age story of a young gay man living through the 2011 Arab revolutions. The novel received critical acclaim from the New Yorker, The Guardian, and others. It was awarded a Stonewall Honour and won the 2017 Polari First Book Prize. His directorial debut, Marco, premiered in March 2019 and was nominated for the 2019 Iris Prize for ‘Best British Short Film’.

Saleem's book list on novels that capture modern global queer experiences

Why did Saleem love this book?

Freshwater is difficult to describe, and is best approached with an open mind and no expectation. Emezi has described the novel as an autobiography of their discovery of themselves as ogbanje, a spirit within Igbo mythology. What strikes me about Freshwater is its radically new approach to understanding and talking about mental health and transness, or rather, the presence of different selves within the body. It is a subtly decolonial story, and the experience of reading it can profoundly change the way we perceive ourselves and others.

By Akwaeke Emezi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Completely blew me away.' Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under

'One of the most dazzling debuts I've ever read.' Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go

'I'm urging everyone to read it.' Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

Ada has always been unusual. Her parents prayed her into existence, but something must have gone awry. Their troubled child begins to develop separate selves and is prone to fits of anger and grief.When Ada grows up and heads to college in America, a traumatic event crystallises the selves into something more powerful. As Ada fades into the background of her…