The best orphan books

Who picked these books? Meet our 341 experts.

341 authors created a book list connected to orphans, and here are their favorite orphan books.
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What type of orphan book?


The Culling

By Steven dos Santos,

Book cover of The Culling

B.F. Moorman-Fuzi Author Of Beautiful Night

From the list on sending you into an action-packed adventure.

Who am I?

In order to read, I need fast-paced action, adventure, compelling characters with depthful backstories and motives, and a way of challenging and commentating on the most controversial morals of the present day. To write, I need the exact same thing. Every world I create is filled with action in every chapter, characters with invincible will-strength, and situations that bend the very borders of moral thinking.

B.F.'s book list on sending you into an action-packed adventure

Discover why each book is one of B.F.'s favorite books.

Why did B.F. love this book?

The Culling, The Sowing, and The Raising by Steven Dos Santos provides one of the most compelling stories of conflicting choices I have ever encountered. My strongest love for this story is the main protagonist, Lucky, and his stoicism through the hardships that he is forced to endure. This story taught me to always search for the best option in life, and that there is always a choice, even when it seems that there isn’t. From this story, I will always take with me the ability to love fiercely and do what I must for that love.

By Steven dos Santos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother. Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even…

News of the World

By Paulette Jiles,

Book cover of News of the World

John Hough Jr. Author Of The Sweetest Days

From the list on love stories that are even better than the movie.

Who am I?

Genre fiction and Robert Louis Stevenson aside, I can’t imagine loving a novel that has no strong thread, or threads, of love running through it. Fiction is written to entertain, it is true, but fiction’s higher aim is to put us in touch with our own humanity—our capacity to love, and to feel loss. We write to make people feel, and a powerful evocation of love will do that. I wouldn’t write a novel with no romantic love at its center, but I work hard too at love between siblings, friends, children, and parents. 

John's book list on love stories that are even better than the movie

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

Another adventure novel that will keep you turning pages. The grizzled Captain Kidd, veteran of the War of 1812, finds himself obligated to take Joanna, an 11-year-old white girl who was captured when a baby and raised by Kiowas from Kansas to her family in Texas. The journey is long and hazardous, and by the time it is over, the old man and the frightened feral girl who spoke no English are devoted to each other. 

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked News of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his…

Nowhere Boy

By Katherine Marsh,

Book cover of Nowhere Boy

Doug Wilhelm Author Of Street of Storytellers

From the list on YA that place an American kid in another culture.

Who am I?

I spent much of my twenties traveling, teaching, and writing in Asia, and ever since I’ve passionately searched out good novels that transport me into another culture, often another time. On author visits to schools across the U.S., I’ve talked with hundreds of young readers who are curious about the world but are caught up in the right-now intensity of their own lives. In writing Street of Storytellers, I sought to connect with that intensity—and through that connection to bring readers into a vivid experience that opens a window onto the history, humanity, and shared struggles that are out there to discover in the world. 

Doug's book list on YA that place an American kid in another culture

Discover why each book is one of Doug's favorite books.

Why did Doug love this book?

This very involving story centers on two boys who find themselves in Brussels. Max’s American family is here for his dad’s posting with NATO; Ahmed, a young Syrian, is broke and alone after losing his family in the civil war. Getting to know Ahmed brings a sense of purpose to Max’s life—but one he has to hide from almost everyone. Nowhere Boy pulls us in as its characters struggle and everyone is swamped by the confusing tension that the flood of Muslim refugees has brought to Europe. There are no simple answers here, but one simple truth: The vast majority of refugees are just people and families, not furthering violence but seeking safety from it.

By Katherine Marsh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A resistance novel for our time." - The New York Times
"A hopeful story about recovery, empathy, and the bravery of young people." - Booklist
"This well-crafted and suspenseful novel touches on the topics of refugees and immigrant integration, terrorism, Islam, Islamophobia, and the Syrian war with sensitivity and grace." - Kirkus, Starred Review

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s…

The Cruel Prince

By Holly Black,

Book cover of The Cruel Prince

Maxym M. Martineau Author Of Kingdom of Exiles

From the list on fantasy with kick-ass heroines.

Who am I?

I’m a fantasy romance author with a love of creating real, in-depth characters with agency. To me, that’s the very definition of a “kick-ass” heroine. It doesn’t matter how she’s kick-ass (e.g., loud/vocal vs. quiet and cunning; the one charging ahead of the army or the one strategizing the attack), just that she’s in control of her own destiny. It’s important for me to have my characters feel like actual people, facing real decisions and the consequences of said decisions, and then I want those characters to have onus and show off their true bad-assery. 

Maxym's book list on fantasy with kick-ass heroines

Discover why each book is one of Maxym's favorite books.

Why did Maxym love this book?

Basically, I’d recommend the whole Folk of Air series, but you should start with The Cruel Prince, as they build upon one another.

Jude is the definition of a kick-ass heroine. She takes absolutely no prisoners, even in a setting where she seemingly has less power than those around her. She will fight tooth and nail to get the respect she deserves, and I love that about her. Also, Cardan. Cardan.

I don’t even know what else to say about him without starting a whole different review thread, but specifically, Jude and Cardan’s interactions. Just read it.

By Holly Black,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Cruel Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Lush, dangerous, a dark jewel of a book . . . intoxicating" - Leigh Bardugo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Six of Crows

Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three…

Book cover of Paint the Wind (Scholastic Gold)

Troon Harrison Author Of Cold Freedom

From the list on brave kids and horses.

Who am I?

I was four years old when I was given a pony. The freedom of roaming the countryside with her was amazing, and I was hooked! All horse breeds have supported humans; their strength and speed have enabled farming, war, travel, and settlement. Horses feature in the art, religion, and sports of diverse cultures. My Historical Horse series contains three books—each one is a completely different story about a specific breed of horse, and a fictional girl who loved it and depended on it, even to stay alive. Writing the books was like time-traveling with horses!

Troon's book list on brave kids and horses

Discover why each book is one of Troon's favorite books.

Why did Troon love this book?

This book contains two stories that intertwine: that of a girl who has lost her mother, and a mustang mare struggling to keep her foal safe. I like how the mare is portrayed as intelligent and brave, just as the girl is. Both living beings are important characters in the plot, which is wonderful. The prose is skillful and beautiful, and suits competent, older middle-grade readers who will be transported into the wild landscape. 

By Pam Muñoz Ryan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paint the Wind (Scholastic Gold) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maya lives like a captive. At Grandmother's house in California, everything is forbidden: friends, fun, even memories. And her life is built on lies: lies Grandmother tells her about her dead mother, lies Maya tells to impress or manipulate. But then she moves to the vast Wyoming wilderness where her mother's family awaits - kind, rugged people who have no tolerance for lies. They challenge Maya to confront the truth about who she is. And a mysterious mustang called Artemisia waits, too. She holds the key to Maya's freedom. But to find it, Maya will have to risk everything, including…

True Places

By Sonja Yoerg,

Book cover of True Places

Kathleen Basi Author Of A Song for the Road

From the list on finding beauty in the crap life throws at you.

Who am I?

I suspect my passion for this topic was born when my doctor came into my C-section recovery room and uttered the words “chromosomal abnormality.” My daughter has Down syndrome, and full disclosure: I had zero interest in being a disability mom. Yet as I fell in love with this beautiful, funny, sassy girl, my whole worldview shifted. I am a far better person than I was when she entered my life. She has taught me the beauty and the blessing wrapped up in the things that first appear to be the most difficult. 

Kathleen's book list on finding beauty in the crap life throws at you

Discover why each book is one of Kathleen's favorite books.

Why did Kathleen love this book?

Sometimes you get caught up in who you’re “supposed” to be, or the image you’re supposed to project, and you end up losing your authentic self—and your connection with those you love suffers because of it. In True Places, Suzanne’s life of quiet desperation is interrupted when a girl emerges from the forest right in front of her—a girl who’s never encountered civilization. As Suzanne takes this girl under her wing, she starts to question everything she has accepted as sacrosanct. In that, she stands in place of us all: caught in the rat race, longing for permission to cut through the crap and be who we are meant to be. The courage with which she faces the opposition of her family—and finds her way to a new, healthier relationship with them—is inspirational.

By Sonja Yoerg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller.

"True Places is a beautiful reminder that though we may busy ourselves seeking what we want, what we need has an uncanny way of finding us." -Camille Pagan, bestselling author of Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

A girl emerges from the woods, starved, ill, and alone...and collapses.

Suzanne Blakemore hurtles along the Blue Ridge Parkway, away from her overscheduled and completely normal life, and encounters the girl. As Suzanne rushes her to the hospital, she never imagines how the encounter will change her-a change she both fears and desperately needs.

Suzanne has the…

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Susanna Beard Author Of The Best Friend

From the list on featuring a feisty female.

Who am I?

Since I was a girl, I’ve had an enduring sense that women must work harder, be cleverer, think more creatively than men, both at work and sometimes at home. So I love a woman who stands up for herself, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. At one time, when the series Spooks was popular on TV, I wanted to be Ros, the operator who, when a dodgy guy followed her, hid around a corner. She flattened him with some nifty moves, stole his car keys and said: “Never follow me again.” Brilliant! I hope you enjoy all the feisty females on my book list. 

Susanna's book list on featuring a feisty female

Discover why each book is one of Susanna's favorite books.

Why did Susanna love this book?

This is a book of many parts. It’s essentially a coming-of-age murder mystery, but there’s so much more to enjoy in this book – not least the wonderful filmic descriptions of the setting. 

The lead character is a young girl named Kya who grows up alone in the marshes of North Carolina when her family deserts her. For me, she’s the classic clever, feisty girl who has no choice but to survive on her wits.

She learns to feed herself and finds ways to survive on her own – she’s a problem-solver, a lover of nature, a free spirit – and when the locals decide she’s bad news, she gets herself out of an accusation of murder. What a girl!

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

33 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…


By Jude Watson,

Book cover of Loot

Stacy Nockowitz Author Of The Prince of Steel Pier

From the list on mobsters, schemers, and thieves.

Who am I?

I’m a middle school librarian, former language arts teacher, and middle grade author. I have a passion for all things literary, especially as they relate to kids in grades 5-8. I also grew up in New Jersey, so I come by my fascination with the Mob as a result of proximity. What I enjoy most about books about criminals is the moral gray area that some criminals exist in. They’re doing bad things—robbing banks, selling stolen goods, killing peoplebut their hearts are pulling them in another direction. Middle school kids also feel that tug of moral dilemmas, figuring out what is just and unjust, and I love to help them wrestle with those ideas.

Stacy's book list on mobsters, schemers, and thieves

Discover why each book is one of Stacy's favorite books.

Why did Stacy love this book?

Loot is a really fun book about kids for whom thievery runs in the family. Twelve-year-old March sees his father die during a heist, and now March is on a mission to find the precious stones that will reverse the curse on his family. On the way, he meets the twin sister he never knew he had, and together, they set out to find the jewels. What I love most about this book is that March is kind of an anti-hero. He’s not the all-around good guy that readers find in so many middle grade books. He loves being a thief and wants to carry on his father’s legacy. But, of course, March is a great kid at heart, and I couldn’t help but root for him all the way through this maze of a mystery.

By Jude Watson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"LOOT hits the jackpot." -- Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author

On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It's Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he's dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: "Find jewels."But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He's talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they're picked up by the police…

Train I Ride

By Paul Mosier,

Book cover of Train I Ride

Kate McGovern Author Of Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen

From the list on trains.

Who am I?

I took my first cross-country train ride with my mom when I was seven years old. That gave me the train bug. Since then, I’ve been across the United States three times via rail, across Europe, and all over northern India with my husband, too. I think train travel is a very special way to see a place. You’re going past backyards and back roads. You see the whole landscape, and you meet so many people you wouldn’t otherwise. I’ve never set out to write a “train book,” but trains play an important role in two of my three novels. I can’t get away from them, even in my imagination. 

Kate's book list on trains

Discover why each book is one of Kate's favorite books.

Why did Kate love this book?

Rydr is on her way from California to Chicago via rail, to meet a relative who will take care of her now that her grandmother no longer can. What I love most about this book—aside from the fact that it takes place on the California Zephyr, one of my very favorite train rides in the world—is that Rydr’s experience is so influenced by the strangers she meets on the train. That’s why I love train travel so much: you never know who you’re going to meet. And you almost always end up sharing a meal and a story with someone you would never have met otherwise. 

By Paul Mosier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A beautifully poignant debut perfect for fans of authors such as Rebecca Stead and Sharon Creech and books like Ali Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish. When Rydr travels by train from Los Angeles to Chicago, she learns along the way that she can find family wherever she is. Rydr is on a train heading east, leaving California, where her gramma can't take care of her anymore, and traveling to Chicago, to live with an unknown relative. She brings with her a backpack, memories both happy and sad, and a box, containing something very important. As Rydr meets her fellow passengers…

The Boxcar Children

By Gertrude Chandler Warner, L. Kate Deal (illustrator),

Book cover of The Boxcar Children

Elizabeth Doyle Carey Author Of Summer Lifeguards

From the list on girls with the skills to survive.

Who am I?

I’ve been in the children’s book publishing industry for more than twenty-five years, as an editor, bookseller, author, library volunteer, school visit coordinator for authors, and more! I love connecting readers with great books, especially if the readers are middle schoolers, which is my favorite reading level. I see book searches as scavenger hunts—give me a small clue and I’ll find you the book!—and I find it especially gratifying to pair a reader with a book they’ve never heard of before. I’m also good at pairing books with ice cream flavors (Anne of Green Gables + Cinnamon Apple, Little House In the Big Woods with Maple Sugar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Darkest Fudge, and so on!), but that’s a story for another time.

Elizabeth's book list on girls with the skills to survive

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

In The Boxcar Children, four siblings run away from an abusive home and live by their wits and skills in an abandoned boxcar in the woods. As a young reader, I loved this book because the kids seemed magic to me. How did they know how to sew and cook and get jobs and build things? As a parent, I loved this book because it modeled great values (honesty, hard work, loyalty) for my kids. I say to my sons now as we teach them to make bread or sew on a button or catch a fish: you never know when these skills will come in handy. Some skills just add dimension to your life, but others may turn out to be skills you need in a pinch. 

By Gertrude Chandler Warner, L. Kate Deal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are brothers and sisters. They're orphans too, and the only way they can stay together is to make it on their own. When the children find an abandoned boxcar in the woods, they decide to call it home―and become the Boxcar Children!

The Shakespeare Stealer

By Gary Blackwood,

Book cover of The Shakespeare Stealer

Nancy McDonald Author Of One Boy's War

From the list on historical middle grade exceptional child heroes.

Who am I?

A longtime student of history, particularly WW2 and the Cold War, my interest was personally piqued when I started to discover more about how my husband’s family narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo – and certain death in a concentration camp. I’m driven to write novels set in this era for middle grade kids – featuring brave young heroes faced with moral dilemmas– so they can learn about the horrors of antisemitism, tyrants, and war because “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

Nancy's book list on historical middle grade exceptional child heroes

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

Widge is an orphan in Elizabethan England, where orphans are sadly too common. But Widge is unusual. He has a unique talent which he learned from his first master: he knows a secret kind of shorthand. Sold to a dastardly villain who wants to use that talent to steal Shakespeare’s newest play, Widge finds himself in London apprenticing with the theatre company. Will he steal the play or risk his life to be loyal to the only “family” he’s ever known? Inspired by Shakespeare’s Lord Chamberlain's Men – and a very real problem of plays being stolen – there’s plenty of action, including swashbuckling swordplay. From the first page, I found myself rooting for Widge, hoping he would make the right choice and live to become an actor in the company.

By Gary Blackwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A delightful adveture full of humor and heart set in Elizabethan England!

Widge is an orphan with a rare talent for shorthand. His fearsome master has just one demand: steal Shakespeare's play "Hamlet"--or else. Widge has no choice but to follow orders, so he works his way into the heart of the Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare's players perform. As full of twists and turns as a London alleyway, this entertaining novel is rich in period details, colorful characters, villainy, and drama.

* "A fast-moving historical novel that introduces an important era with casual familiarity." --School Library Journal, starred review


Book cover of The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World

Isabel Strychacz Author Of Starling

From the list on capturing the magic of small towns.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town myself and have always loved books that create characters from the setting. I want to feel immersed and captivated by the place, as well as the people and stories within the pages. The setting of an eerie small town is one of my favorites, because of the feeling that anything magical or mysterious could happen there. My book Starling takes place in a strange small town where odd things are everyday occurrences. There are many books that use small towns as setting for a speculative story, but these are some of my favorites!

Isabel's book list on capturing the magic of small towns

Discover why each book is one of Isabel's favorite books.

Why did Isabel love this book?

This book is weird—in the very best way possible. When I finished reading it, I cried—I loved it that much! It’s one of the most unique stories, following two teenage loners in a small town split by differences and old grievances. But when the town itself turns into an impossible, semi-apocalyptic mess, they’re thrust together to make things right. The setting is so unique, and there is so much heart in this surrealist gem of a book.

By Amy Reed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Tinges of the supernatural add to the electric sense of place in a caustic and original novel' Financial Times

Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don't have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms.

When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia's cynicism is met with Billy's sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are…

To Zenzi

By Robert L. Shuster,

Book cover of To Zenzi

L. Annette Binder Author Of The Vanishing Sky

From the list on German complicity and resistance in WW2.

Who am I?

I was born in Germany and came to the US as a small child. My parents spoke only German at home but rarely talked with me about their years in Germany. Years after my father had died, I came across a photograph of him wearing a Hitler Youth uniform. What I learned about his childhood and his family inspired much of my novel The Vanishing Sky. Though my novel is finished, I continue to read about the German experience of WW2 because it resonates for me personally and because the lessons it teaches us are still relevant today.

L. Annette's book list on German complicity and resistance in WW2

Discover why each book is one of L. Annette's favorite books.

Why did L. Annette love this book?

Another epistolary novel, this time about a Hitler Youth boy who finds himself working as Hitler’s personal artist. Through a strange series of events, young Tobias Koertig must prowl the streets of Berlin, draw pictures of the devastation from the Allied air raids and bring the drawings back to Hitler as he cowers in his bunker. Tobias is desperately in love with Zenzi, a young Jewish girl he’s known since his childhood. Part love story, part war story, the novel is dark, strange, and often funny, affirming the beauty and unpredictability of life under even the most terrible circumstances. I had a hard time putting this book down.

By Robert L. Shuster,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To Zenzi is the extraordinary story of Tobias Koertig's odyssey through the apocalypse of Berlin in 1945. An orphaned thirteen-year-old who loves to draw, Tobias is coerced into joining the German youth army in the last desperate weeks of the war. Mistaken for a hero on the Eastern Front, he receives an Iron Cross from Hitler himself, who discovers the boy's cartoons and appoints Tobias to sketch pictures of the ruined city.

Shuttling between the insanity of the Fuhrer's bunker and the chaotic streets, Tobias must contend with a scheming Martin Bormann, a deceitful deserter, the Russian onslaught, and his…

The Quick and the Dead

By Joy Williams,

Book cover of The Quick and the Dead

Emma Smith-Stevens Author Of The Australian

From the list on “funny-sad” contemporary novels.

Who am I?

Much laughter is born out of sadness. Humor can be a way to cope or even reinvent our realities in ways that bring relief—and release. There's a misconception that “serious literature” should be humorless; crack a smile and you’re a fraud. However, the worlds and characters that emerge from this way of thinking do not ring true to me. Who among us hasn’t joked to help deal with sorrow? Or to satirize the outrageous? Or simply because life--however brutal—is also sometimes funny? The more a writer allows laughter to intermingle with tears, the more I believe in the story, and the more I enjoy it. That is why I wrote a “funny-sad” novel, The Australian.

Emma's book list on “funny-sad” contemporary novels

Discover why each book is one of Emma's favorite books.

Why did Emma love this book?

Alice, Corvus, and Annabel, children without mothers, traverse air-conditioned buildings and desert landscapes, strewn with symbols and signs of mortality—from the preservation of those teetering on the brink of death at a nursing home to a wildlife museum full of taxidermies; and these teenagers are orbited by agitated, confused adults who seem wholly unaware of the strangeness—and messages—defining their lives. Joy Williams is a master at dark humor in literary fiction, and The Quick and the Dead is one of her finest achievements.

By Joy Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • From one of our most heralded writers comes the “poetic, disturbing, yet very funny” (The Washington Post Book World) life-and-death adventures of three misfit teenagers in the American desert.

Alice, Corvus, and Annabel, each a motherless child, are an unlikely circle of friends. One filled with convictions, another with loss, the third with a worldly pragmatism, they traverse an air-conditioned landscape eccentric with signs and portents—from the preservation of the living dead in a nursing home to the presentation of the dead as living in a wildlife museum—accompanied by restless, confounded adults.

A father lusts after…

The Alloy of Law

By Brandon Sanderson,

Book cover of The Alloy of Law

Luke Steele Author Of Earth's Child: Plagues Result

From the list on the most developed mechanical magic systems.

Who am I?

I am a person with nearly unlimited curiosity who has been telling stories since I was small. There is literally almost no topic I have not read or inquired about, and fantasy is where curiosity has fueled my imagination. Learning, exploring, and sharing what I discover are my passion so I hope you will enjoy my first publicly shared story.

Luke's book list on the most developed mechanical magic systems

Discover why each book is one of Luke's favorite books.

Why did Luke love this book?

This book combined the old west with a very thought-out magic system that enhanced the setting. The humor was sometimes tear-drawingly funny for me. The characters seemed alive, complex, and independent. The world seemed real and tangible if not quite like our world. The magic also had a refreshing take and allows for infinite speculation on how the powers might cross-combine. It also had moments of monumental exercises of power as well as monumental limits on powers complicating the storyline.

By Brandon Sanderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, the Mistborn series is a heist story of political intrigue and magical, martial-arts action.

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to…

Brothers in Hope

By Mary Williams, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Book cover of Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan

Nicki Cornwell Author Of Christophe's Story

From the list on asylum-seeking and displaced children and war.

Who am I?

Two books that I read as a young child were very important to me. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss made me think about riches, poverty, and the power that rich people have to make stupid rules; and poor people have no choice but to obey them. The Japanese Twins from Lucy Fitch Perkins' series on twins from different cultures gave me a life-long interest in cultural differences. Not only did they think differently, depending on their culture, they also had different skin colours. Later I learned about racism when I worked with unhappy displaced children and interpreted for asylum-seekers. I write from a child's perspective, making books accessible to all ages.

Nicki's book list on asylum-seeking and displaced children and war

Discover why each book is one of Nicki's favorite books.

Why did Nicki love this book?

30,000 children some of whom were as young as six were orphaned and displaced from their homes when their villages were attacked in the Civil War. They met and banded together to trek across Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya, looking for a new home. This was a journey of almost 1,000 miles. Thousands died on the way, but over 3,000 survived and many were resettled in America. I learned what can happen to children when their village is attacked and their parents killed. It's a fascinating story of perseverance and the importance of hope.

By Mary Williams, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor, American Library Association (ALA)
Notable Children's Book, Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
Best Children's Books of the Year: Outstanding Merit, Bank Street College of Education
Notable Books for a Global Society, International Literacy Association (ILA)
Children's Book Award Notable, International Literacy Association (ILA)
Books Reflecting Diversity: - A Look Into a Wilder World, Bank Street College Children's Book Committee

Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Brothers in Hope is a story of remarkable courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power…

The Thief Lord

By Cornelia Funke, Christian Birmingham (illustrator),

Book cover of The Thief Lord

Ben Guterson Author Of Winterhouse

From the list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature mysterious locales and secret objects and strange or magical occurrences, so books with these elements—particularly when the main characters in the books are young people learning about themselves and the world around them—are often very satisfying to me. There’s something naturally engaging, I believe, in tales where someone is thrust into a disorienting situation and has to make sense of the uncertainty he or she faces. The books I’ve written for young readers all tend in this direction, and so I’m always on the hunt for stories along these same lines.

Ben's book list on kids suddenly caught up in mysterious circumstances

Discover why each book is one of Ben's favorite books.

Why did Ben love this book?

Long a favorite of mine, every couple of years I enjoy returning to this book about two brothers who fall in with a group of Venetian street children and the young master-thief who oversees them. Funke's classic, assured style grants this relatively contemporary novel (first published in Germany in 2000) a charming, old-fashioned sensibility, while the pacing and characterization should appeal to the most modern of readers, at least to my eyes. The book has everything I love in stories for young readersmystery, magic, friendship, and startling plot twists–and the interior illustrations done by Funke herself are lovely.

By Cornelia Funke, Christian Birmingham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The magical multi-award-winning modern classic from master
storyteller and New York Times-bestselling author,
Cornelia Funke - over a million copies sold worldwide!

'A completely delicious read.' THE OBSERVER

'Today's young readers will probably love this book as they
love the Harry Potter series' THE NEW YORK

'My enjoyment of The Thief Lord grew and grew as

has come early to Venice.

Two orphaned children are
on the run, hiding among the crumbling canals and misty alleyways
of the city. Befriended by a gang of street children and their
mysterious leader, the Thief…


By Jake Halpern, Peter Kujawinski,

Book cover of Edgeland

Mark Cheverton Author Of Gameknight999 in Adopt Me meets Jailbreak

From the list on exciting middle-grade adventures.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing middle-grade action/adventure novels since 2007. My first four books were fairly terrible, but I continued to write and learn the craft until I saw success in 2014 with my Minecraft-inspired novels. Throughout my entire writing career, I have read other middle-grade novels, many of them I loved and some of them I hated. I probably read 10 novels a year since I started writing (my bookcase in the basement is getting kinda full), and I’ve come to realize that there are some books that stand out far above the rest. I’m still writing, and of course, still reading, but I continue to read this genre that I love so much.

Mark's book list on exciting middle-grade adventures

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

I found Edgeland after hearing an interview with the authors. Their book sounded so incredibly creative that I had to pick up a copy. The story is about an orphan, Wren, banished from the House of Aron and left to live on the streets. Wren struggles to find safety and security while her friend, Alec, both age 12, has risen from apprentice to a high-ranking position within House Aron. The comparison of their lives are in stark contrast from Alec living with safety and security, to Wren seeking to find her place with the banished and forgotten. But the really interesting thing about Edgeland is the Drain.

It is a large, circular waterfall where the dead are sent in hopes of an afterlife. The story starts to accelerate at a fever pitch when Wren and Alec end up going over the edge of the Drain. They will uncover secrets about…

By Jake Halpern, Peter Kujawinski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The companion novel to the New York Times bestselling NIGHTFALL

Thousands of miles due south from the Polar North is is the island of Edgeland. Here, day and night last for 72 hours. And here is one of the natural wonders of this world: a whirlpool thirty miles wide and a hundred miles around. This is the Drain. Anything sucked into its frothing, turbulent waters is never seen again.

Wren has spent most of her life on Edgeland, watching people bring their dead to the island's famous bone houses to be blessed and prepared for the afterlife. There the dead…

Clockwork Princess

By Cassandra Clare,

Book cover of Clockwork Princess

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

Discover why each book is one of Rachael's favorite books.

Why did Rachael love this book?

Clockwork Princess opened me up to a love trio and connection I’d not known possible before.

With Will and Jem’s respect, and care for one another, I was heavily inspired by the possibility of a dynamic that didn’t fall into jealousy, but instead shared a mutual love for the same girl. This is the only book that has ever made me cry. Not only is there very well written character development, but the plot is so unique and alluring.

The oddity of Tess was my inspiration behind one of my very own characters. Nothing says unique like being the only one of your kind.

By Cassandra Clare,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

Danger intensifies for the Shadowhunters as the New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy comes to a close.

If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?

The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.

Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.

Beyond the Bright Sea

By Lauren Wolk,

Book cover of Beyond the Bright Sea

Kate McCarroll Moore Author Of Elinormal

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

Who am I?

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

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

Discover why each book is one of Kate's favorite books.

Why did Kate love this book?

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

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

By Lauren Wolk,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Beyond the Bright Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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

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