The most recommended books about orphanages

Who picked these books? Meet our 36 experts.

36 authors created a book list connected to orphanages, and here are their favorite orphanage books.
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What type of orphanage book?


The Field Agent

By R. S. Twells,

Book cover of The Field Agent

Céline Perron Author Of The Next Right Thing

From the list on women in fiction taking center stage.

Who am I?

I personally love to draw attention to not only books in women’s literature but also to encourage and support my fellow female authors whom I see as the best company a girl can ask for. Knowing that these strong individuals are living out their dreams while also filling page after page of stories varying anywhere from mystery, intrigue, love, loss, grief, etc. fills me with such gratitude and hope for the future. Because their stories are just the beginning. I'm a proud indie author and female author who enjoys writing mysteries and thrillers. I'm forever encouraging my fellow author colleagues to embrace their dreams and unique skillsets as it’s one no one else has. 

Céline's book list on women in fiction taking center stage

Why did Céline love this book?

R. S. Twells is a phenomenal new writer and has already taken great leaps and bounds not only when it comes to her writing but also with her author platforms where she aids other writers and aspiring authors learn the tools of the trade. Her book is the first in a series. 

By R. S. Twells,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recruited as babies by a mysterious organization known as the Orphanage, sixteen-year-old twin brothers Bennet and Collin mean the world to each other, even though they’re complete opposites. Collin is training to be a field agent while Bennet is an earpiece, in constant communication with his brother, monitoring his activities and providing computer support from a safe distance.

When a mission goes horribly wrong, Bennet is left bereft, missing his other half. Already introverted, he retreats into himself. In his final statement, Collin urged him to leave the Orphanage, but it’s the only home he’s ever known. Instead, he makes…

The Orphan Collector

By Ellen Marie Wiseman,

Book cover of The Orphan Collector

Debra Chapoton Author Of The Highlander's Secret Princess

From Debra's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Cruise fanatic Chocoholic Log home enthusiast Outlander fan

Debra's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Debra love this book?

Having just gone through the pandemic, I thought I was prepared to read a fictional account of the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic.

The author made this so much more real and terrifying than what we went through this century. This is a story that made me shudder, cry, hope, and go through myriad emotions. Well worth the read!

By Ellen Marie Wiseman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia's overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead in the streets and desperate survivors wear white masks to ward off illness. When food runs out in the cramped tenement she calls home, Pia must venture alone into the quarantined city in search of supplies, leaving her…

Iron House

By John Hart,

Book cover of Iron House

Polly Iyer Author Of Murder Deja Vu

From the list on characters who overcome adversity.

Who am I?

One review of my books mentioned that I make heroes out of damaged people, so it’s natural I would read that kind of book. I love to see lost souls, losers, battlers for justice, and the underdogs rise above all the elements that hold them down. I think most people root for the underdogs, whether in life, in sports, or the weaker in any competition. It’s in our nature to do so. I’m a wife, mother, writer, former commercial artist, former store owner, former importer, which makes me ripe to be something new. But I think I’m done. I’ve shot my wad, done my best at whatever, and it’s always been fun.

Polly's book list on characters who overcome adversity

Why did Polly love this book?

Iron House, short for the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, is a thriller that features orphaned brothers: weakling Julian, and his strong and fiercely protective brother, Michael. After being bullied to the point of cracking, Julian kills his abuser. Michael escapes Iron House and takes the blame as he leaves.

This leads the brothers on two very different paths. Julian is adopted and, though mentally unbalanced, becomes a writer of dark children’s stories. Michael is also adopted off the streets by the head of a crime syndicate who teaches him how to kill. Iron House is a complicated story of abuse, torment, and love. The book is not for the faint of heart.

By John Hart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An old man is dying.

When the old man is dead they will come for him.

And they will come for her, to make him hurt.

John Hart has written three New York Times bestsellers and won an unprecedented two back-to-back Edgar Awards. His books have been called "masterful" (Jeffery Deaver) and "gripping" (People) with "Grisham-style intrigue and Turow-style brooding" (The New York Times). Now he delivers his fourth novel—a gut-wrenching, heart-stopping thriller no reader will soon forget.


At the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, there was nothing but time. Time to burn and time…

The Tiger's Wife

By Téa Obreht,

Book cover of The Tiger's Wife

Eugenia Cheng Author Of X + Y: A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender

From the list on beyond romance, motherhood, or emulating men.

Who am I?

I have been thinking a lot about what feminism means for me. In this interview, I said, "I wish more authors would write about strong women, beyond the strength and importance of motherhood, but not just emulating traditional male behavior." I feel that this is the kind of strong woman I am, as a woman forging a non-traditional path in mathematics. I have been on something of a mission to find books like this, and particularly ones written by women. I find such books frustratingly rare, so I wanted to recommend a few that I have found. There is more to being a woman than falling in love and having children.

Eugenia's book list on beyond romance, motherhood, or emulating men

Why did Eugenia love this book?

This is a gorgeous, poetic, magical book, with a strong female character with a mission that is not about falling in love and having children. Although there are love stories in the book, they are unusual ones (as shown by the title) and that is not the main narrative arc of the central protagonist. I long for books where women do something other than fall in love, have children, or emulate men.

By Téa Obreht,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011! 'Having sifted through everything I have heard about the tiger and his wife, I can tell you that this much is fact: in April of 1941, without declaration or warning, the German bombs started falling over the city and did not stop for three days. The tiger did not know that they were bombs...' A tiger escapes from the local zoo, padding through the ruined streets and onwards, to a ridge above the Balkan village of Galina. His nocturnal visits hold the villagers in a terrified thrall. But for one boy, the…

Run Away Home

By Elinor Lyon,

Book cover of Run Away Home

Marsali Taylor Author Of The Shetland Sea Murders

From the list on women who rescue themselves.

Who am I?

I love reading crime but oh, it does annoy me when an otherwise competent sensible female detective insists on going into the lonely house to tackle the murderer without backup, and needs to be rescued by her male sidekick. Cass is the cool-in-a-crisis heroine we’d all like to be. Like her, I’m a solo sailor (I’ve lent her my yacht for the series) and I’d love to say I’ve learned to be quick-thinking, self-reliant, and prudent—the sea doesn’t forgive stupidity. I also live in a village where everyone sees the lifeboat going out, and having to be rescued would be the ultimate embarrassment. 

Marsali's book list on women who rescue themselves

Why did Marsali love this book?

Through Covid I revisited childhood favourites, and found I still loved this series. Cathy has grown up in a Birmingham orphanage, and the only clues to her identity are a locket with a portrait of a Highland lady and a torn luggage label. She escapes north, where she meets Ian and Sovra. They spend their time messing about in their boat on the loch or camping in a remote bothy. Their determination to help Cathy gets them all into trouble, but it’s Cathy’s own character that gives her the chance of a happy ending.

By Elinor Lyon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this, the third Ian and Sovra story, the pair discover that life in Edinburgh can be as thrilling as life in their own Western Highlands. For there they meet Cathie, who's escaped from an orphanage. They smuggle her out to a secret hut on the coast, where, after her rides in lorries and rolls of carpet, she's only too delighted to enjoy the free outdoor life of her new friends, while Ian and Sovra do a spot of detection for her. How they solved the mystery and found that this land of mountains, lochs and white sand really was…

Book cover of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

S.B. Norton Author Of Dave Bi-Plane Fights the Red Winged Death Command

From the list on wildly worldly invention in fantasy and steampunk.

Who am I?

I have been drawn toward tales and stories of the bizarre since childhood. As a reader, I look for works that will surprise me. The real world in general, I find very unsurprising (lord yes, I do!). When I read, when I enter the fictional world (my favorite!) I want to be inspired to read on. I have put down many a book through boredom. I am not a plough. If I am uninterested, I stop. These books have inspired me in my own craft. Currently writing my sixth novel of the unpredictable, I feel I have experienced enough to forward on some irregular reads of the pure and the awesome.  

S.B.'s book list on wildly worldly invention in fantasy and steampunk

Why did S.B. love this book?

Ransom Riggs has created quite the extraordinary book here. It also reads like a graphic novel of sorts as there are a lot of odd photos to accompany the text. It crosses genres rather seamlessly as well, between Urban YA to Fantasy to Horror to a Speculative fictional realm where Miss Peregrines' home resides. It is a rare read with well-developed characters and plot. The children are all quite odd, though strangely likable. If you want different, this is as different as it gets. Gave me chills of the good and ill-feeling variety. That’s what you want, yes? I do.   

By Ransom Riggs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather…

Finding Chika

By Mitch Albom,

Book cover of Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

Keith Madsen Author Of The Sons and Daughters of Toussaint

From the list on the life and history of Haiti.

Who am I?

From the time I heard of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed over 200,000 people, my heart was drawn to that country. From 2012 to 2017 I lead five mission trips to Cap Haitian, where we toured mission work, helped Haitians build an elementary school, and met so many of these beautiful people. I ate the great cooking of “Mama Jo” who, along with her husband, hosted us. I gave “horsey” rides to children at a Port-au-Prince orphanage; and shared in prayer and singing with churches near Cap Haitian. In short, I fell in love with these people. How could I not write a novel of hope about them? 

Keith's book list on the life and history of Haiti

Why did Keith love this book?

This is an incredibly touching book! Mitch Albom is the author of other excellent books, but Finding Chika has become my favorite. The story of how he and his wife brought a little Haitian child into their orphanage in Haiti, and then eventually when it was discovered she had brain cancer, into their own home, was hard to put down. As an author who has visited Haiti many times and played with children orphaned by the 2010 earthquake, I strongly empathized with this story of a suffering Haitian child. Albom’s prose is flawless, and his ability to draw in the reader is inspiring, and you will not regret checking this book out. 

By Mitch Albom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Mitch Albom sees the magical in the ordinary' Cecilia Ahern

Chika Jeune came into Mitch Albom's life by chance. Growing up in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 Haiti Earthquake, at three years old she tragically lost her mother and was brought to the orphanage run by Mitch and his wife, Janine.

Chika made a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, she delighted those around her. But everything changed when Chika was diagnosed with a terminal disease that no doctor in Haiti could treat.


Book cover of The Secret of Crickley Hall

S.P. Oldham Author Of Wakeful Children: A Collection of Horror and Supernatural Tales

From the list on creepy British ghost stories.

Who am I?

I grew up in South Wales, where ghost stories are cherished. As a child, I spent many a winter evening telling spooky tales with my mum and my sisters, sitting before the fire. We would record them on tape (I am that old) complete with homemade sound effects, then play them back to listen to. I loved the combined fear and excitement these stories instilled in me. My father also loved to read horror and scary fiction, which had some influence on what I chose to read as I grew older. For someone who always loved to write, I think publishing in this genre is simply a natural extension of all that.

S.P.'s book list on creepy British ghost stories

Why did S.P. love this book?

What I love about this story is that it is set very firmly along the traditional lines of a ghostly tale rather than outright horror. It is set against the tragic backdrop of the history of Crickley Hall. 

The suspense is built up beautifully, initially by means of the children and the family dog, who are all nervous and uneasy in their temporary new home. Parents Eve and Gabe also experience strange happenings in the house, but are less willing to admit it, even to themselves. That rings true, for me.

These events are exacerbated by the fact that the entire family is living in the aftermath of a devastating loss. At first, they attribute much of what is happening to their grief, guilt, and sadness. A very normal thing to do, even in such strange circumstances. I love how this is acknowledged, even used as a line of reasoning,…

By James Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Caleighs have had a terrible year... They need time and space, while they await the news they dread. Gabe has brought his wife, Eve, and daughters, Loren and Cally, down to Devon, to the peaceful seaside village of Hollow Bay. He can work and Eve and the kids can have some peace and quiet and perhaps they can try, as a family, to come to terms with what's happened to them...

Crickley Hall is an unusually large house on the outskirts of the village at the bottom of Devil's Cleave, a massive tree-lined gorge - the stuff of local…

Potkin and Stubbs

By Sophie Green, Karl Mountford (illustrator),

Book cover of Potkin and Stubbs

Jon Glass Author Of Worcester Glendenis, Kid Detective

From the list on middle grade detective fiction.

Who am I?

As a child I loved reading detective stories, and I still retain strong memories of Tintin and Sherlock Holmes, after which I graduated to Agatha Christie. As an adult my tastes changed and I lost interest in mysteries (with the exception of Edgar Alan Poe). However recently my interests have reversed, partly because I became a grandfather, and partly for the reason that I teach ethics to primary school children, as a volunteer. So it’s possible that Worcester Glendenis is a re-incarnation of me, but as the 12-year-old I wish I had been (as far as my memory can be relied upon to go back 60 years): more emotionally mature and more extrovert.

Jon's book list on middle grade detective fiction

Why did Jon love this book?

This book resonates for me because it successfully lands a very adult approach to detective work in the hands of a young female character.

Many of the tropes of Chandler and Hammett are employed, such as the seedy dive of an office, the spooky house, and others to build an atmosphere suitable for young readers, but that will also appeal to parents.

By Sophie Green, Karl Mountford (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A brilliant new series bursts onto the scene filled with ghostly goings-on and an unusual investigative duo. With illustrations from Karl Mountford.

Lil Potkin lives in bleak Peligan City. Her mum works in City Hall and is rarely at home, so aspiring journalist Lil has all the time she needs to explore the city in her bright yellow raincoat, investigating unsolved stories.

One rainy evening Lil meets a sad-looking boy sitting by himself in the bus station and buys him a hot chocolate. That night Lil wakes to find him in her bedroom. He doesn't want to admit to being…


By Rosaria Munda,

Book cover of Fireborne

Bridget Tyler Author Of The Pioneer

From the list on bold narrators.

Who am I?

I tell stories for the page and the screen (and sometimes to bribe my kid to brush her teeth). The stories I tell have one thing in common – they transport the reader to another world. For me, building a new world starts with building a new character a narrator with strong opinions and a complicated past that will shape how the reader experiences their world. We don't experience the real world objectively no matter how hard we try, our past, our feelings, and even our bodies affect how we experience the world. That's why the worlds I build and the stories I tell are all filtered through the particular truth of a bold narrator.

Bridget's book list on bold narrators

Why did Bridget love this book?

Fireborne is the first book of a YA crossover fantasy series called The Aurelian Cycle trilogy.

The primary narrators – dragon riders Annie and Lee – are best friends born on opposite sides of a class uprising and civil war that ripped their lives apart. Annie and Lee’s world is complicated. There are no easy choices or untarnished heroes – including Annie and Lee.

By telling this story through two very different points of view, Munda forces us to draw our own conclusions about right and wrong. She doesn’t make it easy. I can’t promise you won’t throw the book across the room in outrage at least once, but you will chase after it and keep reading until the (not that bitter, I promise) end. 

By Rosaria Munda,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Fireborne is everything I want in fantasy." -Rachel Hartman, New York Times bestselling author of Seraphina

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that's full of rivalry, romance . . . and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone-even the lowborn-a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn't be more different. Annie's lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee's aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the…

The Cider House Rules

By John Irving,

Book cover of The Cider House Rules

Chuck Augello Author Of A Better Heart

From the list on fathers and sons.

Who am I?

When I started writing my novel A Better Heart, the focus was not on fathers and sons, but from the moment the narrator’s estranged father walked through the door, I knew their relationship would drive the story. As a reader, I enjoy following characters as they navigate the potholes of their lives, and family often present the biggest holes. Our primary relationships are with our parents, and their influence is a big part of who we become as adults. Exploring that bond often makes great fiction. My father died of cancer ten years ago. In writing about fathers and sons, perhaps I’m trying to imagine a different ending.          

Chuck's book list on fathers and sons

Why did Chuck love this book?

The most loving father-son relationship I’ve ever read features Dr. Wilbur Larch and the orphan Homer Wells, who becomes the doctor’s apprentice before seeking a better life at an apple orchard in Maine.  Larch creates a fake heart ailment to keep Homer from World War 2, eventually conjuring an alternate identity to allow Homer to continue the doctor’s work caring for orphans and their mothers. But what if that life differs from what Homer wants? Irving’s novel shows how rifts between fathers and sons can exist without it diminishing the love and respect. Larch and Homer differ strongly in their beliefs on abortion, yet their bond is unbreakable. In a beautiful moment, both men gaze at their paired shadows on a hillside and wonder what their futures will bring.        

By John Irving,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The reason Homer Wells kept his name was that he came back to St Cloud's so many times, after so many failed foster homes, that the orphanage was forced to acknowledge Homer's intention to make St Cloud's his home.'

Homer Wells' odyssey begins among the apple orchards of rural Maine. As the oldest unadopted child at St Cloud's orphanage, he strikes up a profound and unusual friendship with Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's founder - a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether. What he learns from Wilbur takes him from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to…


By Pam Smy,

Book cover of Thornhill

Dawn Kurtagich Author Of The Dead House

From the list on YA with unusual formats.

Who am I?

I was a late reader. I was, in fact, forcefully against reading. You’d have had to drag me by my ear to get me anywhere near a book. I was dyslexic, suffered with Irlen syndrome, and detested the embarrassing fact that I found reading too difficult. I thought my mother had invented some kind of cruel torture when she insisted I read to her every day. It never worked. And then… it did. I read my first book at the age of 12, and it was written in the form of letters. It was Animorphs Book 1 by KA Applegate, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Dawn's book list on YA with unusual formats

Why did Dawn love this book?

Thornhill tells the story of two girls—Ella, recently moved into a new house, which has a perfect view of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door, and Mary, the mysteriously evasive girl who seems to live in the dilapidated building. Ella’s narrative is told in a graphic novel style with blackwork drawings, heavy and bold, while Mary’s narrative is told via diary entries. Each narrative informs the other until they eventually meet to reveal the truth on both sides. Thornhill was one of those rare gems that pull me firmly into the story by use of the unusual format—and keeps me there until the end. 

By Pam Smy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room…

Chasing Eleanor

By Kerry Chaput,

Book cover of Chasing Eleanor

Tanya E. Williams Author Of Welcome To The Hamilton: A Hotel Hamilton Novel

From Tanya's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Lover of emotional stories History nerd Avid traveler Wine enthusiast

Tanya's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Tanya love this book?

When a novel unfolds in my mind’s eye like a movie, I know I have found gold!

Kerry Chaput’s Chasing Eleanor is the hopeful tale of newly orphaned Magnolia Parker who took me by the hand and walked me through hardship, friendship, love, and what it means to do your best in a world gone astray. As Magnolia and friends traveled from state to state searching for Eleanor, I felt as though I was tagging along and seeing it all through my own eyes.

Bursting with words of wisdom from none other than Eleanor Roosevelt, herself, this beautifully told, emotion filled, coming-of-age story reminds us that love doesn't always come from the places we expect but if we open our hearts, love will surely find us anyway.

By Kerry Chaput,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Newly orphaned Magnolia Parker must protect her sick little brothers, but when the authorities send the boys to an unknown orphan asylum, Magnolia calls on her unwavering grit to bring them home. She's lost everything but still has a secret weapon—a promise from Eleanor Roosevelt, the most famous woman in America. Setting out on a cross country quest, she befriends two unlikely travelers: Hop, a migrant worker with a big heart, and Red, a young girl traumatized into silence. Hunger and dust storms aren't the only dangers this found family faces on the rails. After an assault, they're forced to…

Book cover of The House in the Cerulean Sea

Justine Laismith Author Of Secrets of the Great Fire Tree

From Justine's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Chinese diaspora living in UK Peranakan China history and culture lover

Justine's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Justine love this book?

The main character took his work seriously and kept a low profile, but when he was summoned to a meeting with "Extremely Upper Management," this book promised something warm and quirky. It more than delivered.

What I love about this book is the layers beneath the story. I work with young people and immediately saw the parallels between school inspections and the safeguarding of vulnerable children. The "orphans," despite their magical nature, feel very real, with their boisterous energies, vivid imaginations, fears, and night terrors.

The author even touched on thoughts like nature vs nurture and how early experiences shape the rest of our lives. This could easily be a literature text. This book stayed with me for days after I finished it. I went back and reread sections that moved me.

By TJ Klune,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The House in the Cerulean Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not…

Book cover of The Home for Unwanted Girls

Vered Hazanchuk Author Of Life As An Almost

From the list on to make you wish you joined that book club.

Who am I?

I love book club. If I could make it a requirement for everyone in the universe to give it a try, I would. I was an English major in college, so that feeling of ending an amazing story and needing someone to discuss it with never fully went away. All book club books should be thought-provoking, but the best add that intricate and wholehearted understanding, I think, that only literature can. Why do the characters you least understood or felt a kinship with suddenly have your heart, what do they want, need, feel, think? I hope these novels help you better understand. The who and what are beside the point. 

Vered's book list on to make you wish you joined that book club

Why did Vered love this book?

I think I’ll be recommending this book to people until the end of time. It’s just so, so good.

What I love most about it is it brings a forgotten part of history to life: a time when orphanages in 1950s Quebec misdiagnosed children as mentally ill to qualify for the better funding allocated to psychiatric hospitals. An obscure moment in history, generations of family scandals and secrets, and a forbidden love story? Yes, please.

By Joanna Goodman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby…

George Muller

By Roger Steer,

Book cover of George Muller: Delighted in God

Jennifer Delamere Author Of Line by Line

From the list on unique insights on the Victorians.

Who am I?

I’m the sort of person who reads history books for fun. It’s perhaps odd to be a novelist who prefers nonfiction for my personal reading, but then again, I’ve managed to utilize those traits for writing 9 historical novels. The Victorian era has fascinated me since childhood. (The first play I ever saw was Oliver!, inspired by Dickens’ Oliver Twist. I still remember it vividly.) The Victorian era was a time of momentous change, becoming more like the world we know today and yet still within living memory of a very different way of life. The books I’ve chosen here reflect that time of upheaval and how, for better or worse, people dealt with it.

Jennifer's book list on unique insights on the Victorians

Why did Jennifer love this book?

The Victorian era is known for technological and scientific advancements, but it’s also worth noting that religious and spiritual inquiry was a very real part of most Victorians’ lives.

Their convictions often fueled their desire to better themselves and the lives of others, spurring efforts for improvements in living conditions, housing, sanitation, medicine, and education. The life of George Muller is a vivid example of one man’s application of Christian principles in everyday life.

In 1836, Muller opened a small home for orphans in Bristol, England. He never solicited donations or money; he was a man of fervent prayer and believed God would provide.

In time the work grew, along with the buildings, until the orphanage housed over 2,000 children! The children were cared for in modern, purpose-built housing and benefited from Muller’s forward-thinking ideas about education and training.

In 1857, Muller’s work was written about admiringly in Household Words…

By Roger Steer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

George Muller's life is a powerful answer to modern scepticism. His name has become a by-word for faith throughout the world. In the early 1830s he embarked upon an extraordinary adventure. Disturbed by the faithlessness of the Church in general, he longed to have something to point to as 'visible proof that our God and Father is the same faithful creator as he ever was'. He was more successful than anyone could have believed possible and is as much an example to our generation, as he was to his.

A Secret Of Birds & Bone

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave,

Book cover of A Secret Of Birds & Bone

Jennifer Frances Adam Author Of The Last Windwitch

From the list on middle grade fantasy featuring birds.

Who am I?

I’ve always been passionate about horses – in fact, I’ve adopted five wild mustangs over the years and ride often – so it’s no surprise that they often find their way into my stories. But birds and feathers tend to be important elements of my books, too. I live on a working family farm surrounded by hawks, bald eagles, blue herons, swans, owls, and countless others… but I suspect the true reason there are birds in my books has to do with the little sparrows who like to perch on my windowsill as I write!

Jennifer's book list on middle grade fantasy featuring birds

Why did Jennifer love this book?

Sofia lives a quiet life with her mother, brother, and a pet crow. But her mother is a bone-binder, famous for magic keys and keepsakes made of bone, and when a silver-veiled stranger suddenly appears with a request one day a chain of events is set in motion that will challenge everything Sofia thought she knew. Taken to the city orphanage after her mother’s arrest, Sofia discovers a sinister mystery and meets a thief hiding secrets of his own. With nothing but a bone locket made by her mother, she must find the courage to escape through the catacombs and save everyone she loves. This is a dark, spooky book perfect for young readers wanting a scary thrill. It’s beautifully written and richly textured with imagery of birds and bones, shadows and secret places. 

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Secret Of Birds & Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A spellbinding story from the Sunday Times-bestselling
author of The Girl of Ink & Stars, winner of the Waterstones
Children's Book Prize.
'A story bursting with imagination, sparkle and tender heart
... I adored it!' JASBINDER BILAN

'Both souful poetry and thrilling adventure; powerful and
delicate, chilling and comforting' SOPHIE ANDERSON

'Ripping propulsive plot, gorgeous imagery, floating fairytale
prose ... absolutely loved it' ROSS MONTGOMERY

In an Italian city ravaged by plague, Sofia's mother carves beautiful
mementoes from the bones of loved ones. But one day, she
doesn't return home. Did her work lead her into danger?

Sofia and her…

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

By Claire Legrand, Sarah Watts (illustrator),

Book cover of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

David Neilsen Author Of Lillian Lovecraft and the Harmless Horrors

From the list on spooky middle grade books.

Who am I?

I've been writing Spooky Middle Grade for a number of years, and before that, I wrote horror for Hollywood. Living in Sleepy Hollow, spooky is in my blood, and if I didn't write creepy stories, they'd kick me out. I'm also a professional storyteller and have scared the bejeebus out of kids and adults in places like Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, and Washington Irving's Sunnyside. Halloween is my favorite time of year. It more or less becomes a month-long village-wide celebration in October. Being inundated with all this crazy rubs off on you, and I have been well-steeped.

David's book list on spooky middle grade books

Why did David love this book?

When I read this book, I was thrown sideways and bowled over. It is just so unique! The creep factor is ridiculously high, and it goes places that are totally unexpected and unheard of in a middle-grade novel. This is not your standard spooky tale, but rather one that will eat into your soul and give you series willies.

By Claire Legrand, Sarah Watts (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. An atmospheric, heartfelt, and delightfully spooky novel for fans of Coraline, Splendors and Glooms, and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster-lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he's not the only one. Victoria soon discovers…

Orphan X

By Gregg Hurwitz,

Book cover of Orphan X

Gordon Anthony Author Of Bloody April

From Gordon's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author History nerd Avid reader

Gordon's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Gordon love this book?

This is a real page-turner of a thriller. Think Mission Impossible meets The Equalizer, with the principal character using his deadly training to help people in trouble.

Well told and fast paced, this is the first in a series of excellent thrillers. Suspend your disbelief and hold on for a gripping ride.

By Gregg Hurwitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Outstanding in every way' Lee Child

'The page turned of the season' The Times

'Do you need my help?'
It was the first question he asked.
They called him when they had nowhere else to turn.

As a boy Evan Smoak was taken from an orphanage.
Raised and trained in a top secret programme, he was sent to bad places to do things the government denied ever happened.

Then he broke with the programme, using what he'd learned to vanish. Now he helps the desperate and deserving.

But someone's on his trail.

Someone who knows his past and believes…

Little Princes

By Conor Grennan,

Book cover of Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

Patti Shales Lefkos Author Of Nepal One Day at a Time: One woman's quest to teach, trek and build a school in the remote Himalaya

From the list on inspiration to leap out of your comfort zone.

Who am I?

Currently a journalist, author, and adventure traveller, I am a former inner-city educator from Vancouver, BC, Canada with a Masters of Environmental Education degree, a Wilderness Leadership certificate, and a post-graduate certificate in Journalism. Solo and with my husband I have completed several major treks in Europe, Tibet, and Nepal including Mount Kailash kora, Everest Base Camp north (Tibet), The Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp, Everest Base Camp south (Nepal), Upper Mustang, the Manaslu Circuit and Tsum Valley for a total of about 800 km. I am currently training to complete Nepal’s Great Himalayan Trail (low route), 1,500 km from one end of Nepal to the other.

Patti's book list on inspiration to leap out of your comfort zone

Why did Patti love this book?

When Conor Grennan embarked on a journey around the globe, beginning with a three-month stint volunteering at an orphanage in civil war-torn Nepal, he never imagined the children were not actually orphans but had been taken from their families by child traffickers. He became attached to the rambunctious children and decided to reunite them with their parents. Little Princes illustrates how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of others. I noticed a percentage of book profits goes to Next Generation Nepal, the non-profit he founded to assist the children. I was hooked. That cemented my resolve to tell my story of solo travel and the village that asked for my help. I founded the non-profit Nepal One Day at a Time Society, wrote my first book (noted above), dedicated profits back to the children, and created a partnership with Kathmandu-based NGO Sambhav Nepal. Thanks, Connor!

By Conor Grennan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The riveting story of Conor Grennan's year in Nepal reads like a cross between Into Thin Air and Three Cups of Tea. While volunteering at an orphanage, Conor discovers that the children are not orphans: they are trafficked. Despite the danger, Conor treks up dirt paths with photographs of the children, miraculously reuniting dozens of families.

It's 2006 and Nepal is a country torn apart by war, greed and corruption. Caught in the middle are the Nepalese children, snatched and sold into slavery, the kidnappers promising their families that they will be taken to a safe haven from where they…