122 books directly related to sisters 📚

All 122 sister books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Sense and Sensibility

By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Sense and Sensibility

Why this book?

I love, love period pieces especially when they include historical events along with a good story. Jane Austen’s stories tell of a time when women were treated almost as property or second-class citizens and the ordeals they had to endure for love or just survival. Women had to swallow their pride and sense of accomplishment if they wanted to survive. If they happened to marry for love, then they were fortunate, but most married out of duty, financial need, or some other loyalty.

I like the book because it shows that women can survive and make the best out of a bad situation. It’s not just a disadvantage for women here but as the story goes, Willoughby also lost the love of his life (Marianne Dashwood) in order to keep his family property. I also like this story because while things may appear to be worked out for everyone, It shows that not every story has a happy ending.


Three Ways to Disappear

By Katy Yocom,

Book cover of Three Ways to Disappear

Why this book?

Katy Yocom’s Three Ways to Disappear won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and was named a Barnes & Noble Top Indie Favorite—well-deserved recognition for this gorgeous debut novel. Three Ways to Disappear reveals the plight of the endangered Bengal tigers through the stories of two sisters who come together years after a family tragedy changes their lives—journalist Sarah, in India to help preserve the tigers, and Quinn, in Kentucky, dealing with family issues. The novel shows the complicated balance of tiger conservation among humans who themselves are struggling, and portrays the complexities of family bonds as well as the immense challenges facing the natural world. Both the human and tiger characters are beautifully rendered, empathetic, and unforgettable.


Little Women

By Louisa May Alcott,

Book cover of Little Women

Why this book?

What I loved most about Little Women was that it focuses on living the values of honor, family, being a good person, and finding the path that is right for you—these are some of the most important lessons of a life well spent. A semi-autobiographical novel Little Women follows the lives of March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy during the time of the Civil War as they grow up and each of them dreams of their own destiny. Something that was particularly inspiring to me was Jo’s burning desire to become a writer and the difficulties she encounters until she ultimately succeeds through a combination of hard work and sheer will. Alcott weaves her own meaningful experiences into the book which helps to create a strong emotional connection with readers.


A Dance of Silver and Shadow: A Retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses

By Melanie Cellier,

Book cover of A Dance of Silver and Shadow: A Retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Why this book?

This is the Twelve Dancing Princesses meets the Hunger Games! It’s a great start to a new series of fairytale retellings that manages to take some well-known stories and make them feel new. All while maintaining that familiar comfort of what we expect from a classic tale. It’s a great weaving of old and new that has you rooting for these princesses and wondering whose story you’ll get to read next.


The Night Sister

By Jennifer McMahon,

Book cover of The Night Sister

Why this book?

My first experience reading a book with dual storylines, this novel held me spellbound cover to cover. McMahon has since become an auto-buy author for me, thanks to this fantastical story that puts a magnifying glass on the life of two sisters, a childhood friend, and an unexplained disappearance. The story moves between past and present and revolves around the Tower Motel in Vermont, now a ruined shell that refuses to yield its secrets. Secrets the girls discovered while playing games there as children. 

An unexpected splash of the paranormal and the use of letters from one sister to Mr. Hitchcock (yes, that Hitchcock) add the perfect touch to this disturbing gem.


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery

By Alan Bradley,

Book cover of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery

Why this book?

Meet Flavia DeLuce, a precocious eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and murder. Do not underestimate her! This is no children’s story. It’s a brilliantly written cozy set in the quaint English village of Bishop’s Lacey. 

Flavia is a charming sleuth, untainted by adult cynicism yet wise enough to unravel tricky mysteries. When she’s not conducting chemical analyses on suspicious substances, she pedals through the countryside on her trusty bicycle, Gladys (delightfully brought to life by Flavia’s imagination).

Once you meet this cast of eccentric and memorable characters, you’ll be as eager as I am for another visit to Bishop’s Lacy to watch the indomitable Flavia in action. Yaroo!


Wildwood Dancing

By Juliet Marillier,

Book cover of Wildwood Dancing

Why this book?

Wildwood Dancing is a fairytale set in the mysterious forests of Transylvania. We explore the world of Faerie through the eyes of Jena, the second eldest of five sisters who live at the castle Piscul Draculi, a name that already evokes a mystical ambiance. The cover of the book is perfectly suited to the Faerie realm and the adventure Jena embarks on as she discovers this unknown world and herself. Although I also love a concrete magic system with spells and formulaic magic, the mystery of the magic in the Other Kingdom brings the story to life as we venture with the characters into the unknown on a beautiful and vivid journey.


Magic in the Wind (Drake Sisters, Book 1)

By Christine Feehan,

Book cover of Magic in the Wind (Drake Sisters, Book 1)

Why this book?

I’ve always loved books about families, but imagine seven sisters living together. Family relationships are the heart of many books and often I’m enthralled by the intricacies of these stories. Since I grew up with just my brother, I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a family so large. Sarah Drake has been away and has come home. The town is abuzz with gossip because when Sarah comes home, something big always happens. Also newly arrived in Sea Haven is Damon Wilder, and he arrives with his own secrets and possibly danger is following. A wonderful book that introduces the first of the Drake sisters. I love a good series, and this book is the beginning of one of the best.


Secret Scribbled Notebooks

By Joanne Horniman,

Book cover of Secret Scribbled Notebooks

Why this book?

I’m a sucker for endpapers so, with inside covers that appear browned with age, this book instantly grabbed me. I was even more drawn in by the edges of all pages looking aged, with the book’s title repeatedly running along the bottom of each one like a handwritten footer. Once I was reading, the flavour of classics like those by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austin meant I couldn’t put it down.

Set in the later part of the 20th century, Kate’s story explores self-worth and finding purpose. First-person narrative uses language cleverly. It is easy to read, the voice unpretentious. I felt like I knew Kate. We have so much in common, including the ability to write in the dark and a penchant for taking laneways rather than main roads.


Lemon

By Kwon Yeo-Sun, Janet Hong (translator),

Book cover of Lemon

Why this book?

This novel is a murder mystery, of sorts, that also has a lot to say about socio-economic divides in contemporary Korea. This was particularly interesting to me because when I lived there in the 1970s, everyone was poor. No one owned a motorbike, much less a car, and they were all barely scraping by. Now, though, great wealth and privilege have emerged alongside persistent poverty, and that class divide looks too familiar to Americans. The rich are privileged and have access to things the poor do not, including justice.


Roses and Rot

By Kat Howard,

Book cover of Roses and Rot

Why this book?

This book is such a heartfelt tale surroundings two sisters raised by a woman who cared little of their emotional states and only of perfection in the arts. While revolving around the real world, readers are taken to a mystical realm with the protagonists as they discover magic and the fae exist. It’s the struggles we all face in life that this book touches on. As an artist I can understand the need for perfection in my art, like the characters.


Perennials

By Julie Cantrell,

Book cover of Perennials

Why this book?

What a wonderful, moral-rich, non-preachy, feel-good, tapped several of the big societal issues (adultery, death, divorce, pride, bullying, regret, work vs. family; you get the point), without ever once making me squirm with too many religious overtones, or want to run off to confess my improprieties. As a flower child at heart, I loved the continual nuances of people and growth compared to good soil and water, seasons, and blooms. This book was beautifully done.

When the matriarch of a loving family is diagnosed with cancer and determined to live out her days without treatment, there are twists and turns of reality that make this book a must-read. I too, nearly chose the path of non-treatment and this book resonates.

Well done, Julie Cantrell!


Dance on the Volcano

By Marie Vieux-Chauvet,

Book cover of Dance on the Volcano

Why this book?

Chauvet is another of the all-time great Haitian novelist, best known for her Amour, Colère, Folie, which depicted the horrors of the Duvalier regime--- obliquely and somewhat allegorically, but sharply enough that the book was banned and most copies destroyed—it did not become generally available until after the author’s death. La Danse sur le Volcan, a historical novel, is equally powerful and gives a wonderfully complete and complex view of all the complications of race, class, and culture that existed in Haiti while still a French sugar colony, on the eve of Revolution.


Atonement

By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Atonement

Why this book?

Of all the characters on this list who have trouble keeping their stories straight, McEwan’s lead character Briony Tallis is the most conscious of her motives for keeping the truth at bay. A writer herself, Briony spends her life writing and revising everything that happens to her. The first time I reached the end of this novel, I immediately flipped back and read the last 10 pages again – I was so staggered by the conclusion that I simply couldn’t believe it was true. 


Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott

By Joyce Scott, Brie Spangler, Melissa Sweet (illustrator)

Book cover of Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott

Why this book?

I loved reading this book to my kids, who were immediately drawn into the heartbreaking story of Judith, a girl with Down Syndrome, who was separated from her twin sister, Joyce, and institutionalized for many years. This separation led to great pain for both sisters, until decades later, when Joyce brought Judith home, and enrolled her in an art program for differently-abled people. Slowly, Judith flourished, going on to become an artist of renown, with work displayed in museums and galleries around the world. 

This tremendous story, of the bond between sisters, the therapeutic value of the creative process, and the potential for creating meaning and joy through artistic expression, helped my very young children develop empathy for and a deeper understanding of differently-abled people.


A Baby Sister for Frances

By Russell Hoban, Lilian Hoban (illustrator),

Book cover of A Baby Sister for Frances

Why this book?

It’s a family of badgers but Frances has some very human emotions about having a baby sibling. She is not outright hostile but does pack a rucksack with snacks and runs away – as far as under the dining table. Her very understanding parents handle it in an exemplary fashion and Frances sees there are advantages to being the older sister, since babies can’t eat chocolate cake.


Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China

By Jung Chang,

Book cover of Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China

Why this book?

Having interviewed hundreds of Chinese Canadians, I knew that many of Canada’s earliest Chinese migrants met and gave money to Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, though most were less enthusiastic about Chiang Kai-shek. This book presented a complicated narrative of US-Chinese relations from the perspective of the Soong sisters, who straddled the boundaries of west and east and lived in a world where most Chinese were excluded because of their race. Similar to many of the bachelors in my book, the sisters were also influenced by KMT politics and religion. Both the Soong sisters and the bachelors knew that religion trumped race and that Christian identities and faith helped them open doors to dominant society that remained closed to most Chinese of the era. 


In Her Shoes

By Jennifer Weiner,

Book cover of In Her Shoes

Why this book?

Taking the notion of the ugly stepsister to new lengths, Weiner gives a spunky voice to a character that is often overlooked by her prettier, if not dizzier sister. At turns, funny and heartbreaking, the fearless and flawed heroine creates a life with her own happily ever after.


When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

By Janie Reinart, Morgan Taylor (illustrator),

Book cover of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

Why this book?

Janie Reinart’s lyrical telling of this story, coupled with Morgan Taylor’s beautiful illustrations, takes the reader on a ride filled with love and emotion. It’s about refugee children who have, as the author says, “nothing but dreams.” Big Sister wants Little Sister to be happy, so she decides she can create something from nothing. She makes amazing things, but they don’t last. However, when Big Sister makes a mud doll, the two sisters play together, create other mud dolls, and continue to dreamWhat affected me the most as I read this is that this book is based on a real refugee camp, and proceeds are donated to UNICEF where our collective kindness can have the power to heal. 


The Makioka Sisters

By Jun'ichiro Tanizaki,

Book cover of The Makioka Sisters

Why this book?

Although longer than most Japanese novels in English translation, The Makioka Sisters was a novel that in my college years helped solidify my interest in Japan and helped put me on the path of a novelist whose own works are set in that country. This has long been a novel I’ve greatly admired and is far and away my favorite work by Tanizaki. The novel, set mostly in Osaka, tells one of the most emotionally resonant and deeply engaging family stories I’ve encountered in the Japanese canon. It’s a classic story of a well-to-do family in decline at the same time that WWII is about to change the world—and Japan especially—forever.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ott (illustrator),

Book cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Why this book?

Though her Haunting of Hill House, is much more famous, I actually found that to be an underwhelming read. And had given up on Jackson as a result, until catching the Netflix film version of Castle. That muted but creepy take on this material made me want to read the novel, and I’m glad I did, as it proves to have been a faithful adaptation. The tone here somehow walks a perfect line between understated and menacing throughout the novel, while also maintaining this sense of the young narrator’s childlike whimsy. So much so that you don’t even think of the central question at the heart of this tale, which makes the twist all that more shocking when it arrives.


The Sky Is Everywhere

By Jandy Nelson,

Book cover of The Sky Is Everywhere

Why this book?

I read The Sky is Everywhere shortly after it was published in 2010, very early in my own pursuit to become a published author. So clearly, I remember absorbing the novel’s final words, closing its cover, and thinking I want people to feel like this after reading the stories I write. In other words: enchanted, affected, and wonderfully content. Lennie’s story of loss and recovery, punctuated by rash decisions, dreamy poetry, and swoony first love, is one that’s stayed with me for more than a decade. 


Clap When You Land

By Elizabeth Acevedo,

Book cover of Clap When You Land

Why this book?

I’m fascinated by the stories of DNA secrets that unite, confuse, and complicate lives. Camino Rios and Yahaira Rios had no idea they shared the same father—until he perished in an airplane disaster. Told in verse with alternating viewpoints, this novel drew me in right away. Camino Rios had her father every summer while Yahaira had her father the rest of the year, both living very different lives—until their father’s death changed everything. Suspense builds as the two girls follow clues to the shocking realization that they are sisters. Once I started reading, I could not put the book down. 


The Two Princesses of Bamarre

By Gail Carson Levine,

Book cover of The Two Princesses of Bamarre

Why this book?

This fairytale fantasy for young readers is one of the most poignant books I have ever read, in any genre. My best friend, Emma, and I were both fans of Levine growing up. A few months ago, we realized we could both recite the epic poem that concludes this book word for word. Step follows step, hope follows courage. It’s a beautiful story of familial love, growing up and finding yourself, and grappling with the inevitability of illness and loss, all set in a delightfully adventurous fantasy world. The tone is playful and bright throughout, the message ultimately hopeful, but there’s no denying the heartbreak along the way.


The Truth about Twinkie Pie

By Kat Yeh,

Book cover of The Truth about Twinkie Pie

Why this book?

"I guess my family likes to do things pretty different. Kind of weird, huh?" From the first page, I was swept up by GiGi’s say it like it is voice. For her entire life, her older sister, DiDi, has raised her on stories and recipes from their deceased mama. When they move to a new town, GiGi longs for a fresh start—something different than the study, study, study her sister insists upon. As GiGi’s friendships blossom, the gulf between her and DiDi widens, and I was reminded of how our impulses often lead to trouble. GiGi’s choices made me wince, gasp, sniffle, but ultimately cheer! (Did I mention recipes? This book has lots!)


Divisadero

By Michael Ondaatje,

Book cover of Divisadero

Why this book?

Although it begins in California, this novel develops into a story set in France. Two sisters, separated by their father after a violent incident, search for each other and eventually connect via a French recluse, whose life one sister is researching. I love Michael Ondaatje’s writing and this book in particular for its daring sweep of geographical and emotional territory. 


Getting Near to Baby

By Audrey Couloumbis,

Book cover of Getting Near to Baby

Why this book?

This award-winning, middle grade novel begins with Willa Jo and her little sister refusing to come down off their Aunt Patty’s roof. Drawn to get as close to the sky as possible, they stay up, wrestling with the recent death of their sibling. I read this book shortly after my baby died, and it gets everything right about the confusion, the magical thinking, the incomprehensible behavior of those who don’t know grief, and especially, the inability to understand a world that has, in an instant, been so dramatically altered. 


What Happened That Night

By Deanna Cameron,

Book cover of What Happened That Night

Why this book?

This is a dual-timeline murder mystery from a unique perspective. Without giving away too many spoilers, this story follows Clara, whose sister has been accused of murdering Griffin Tomlin—the “golden boy” who Clara once had a crush on.

There is a lot to unpack here, and the dual-timeline makes it a fascinating read; piece-by-piece, we slowly learn Clara’s past with Griffin leading up to the events of him being allegedly murdered by her sister. Why would Clara’s sister do such a thing? And was Griffin Tomlin really the “golden boy” he seemed to be? This story gets dark, and as a fair warning, sometimes graphic—but if that sounds like a good read for you, I’d definitely pick it up!


Garden Spells

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of Garden Spells

Why this book?

Sarah Addison Allen writes beautiful descriptions. Many of her books are set in the south, transporting to humid air, chirping cicadas, and food expressing love—Garden Spells is a wonderful example of southern literature with a twist of magic. Similar to two of my favorite movies, Simply Irresistible (food that makes people feel things) and Practical Magic (two sisters who use magic to deal with a difficult situation), this story is even more emotionally complex. Claire and Sydney give the reader insight into the downfalls of selflessness and how everyone has a unique gift to be embraced, not shunned due to worries about a “reputation.” And as a foodie myself, I love the idea of gardens and apple trees providing magical ingredients. 


The Painted Girls

By Cathy Marie Buchanan,

Book cover of The Painted Girls

Why this book?

This historical work is fiction but based on the true story of Edgar Degas and his models. It was a revelation for me to learn about the brutish lives led by the dancers in the ballet and the hard lives of most women outside the middle and upper class in Paris in 1878. We are taken behind the scene in the ballet, into cramped, unheated, dirty living quarters, brothels, and prisons. Of the three sisters in the story, only one will manage to make a marriage that will lift her out of the inevitability of having to survive through a life of thievery and prostitution on the mean streets of Paris. Unlike the first four books I recommended, this is not a story of a woman’s triumph, but rather one of how incredibly difficult it was for a girl without the trappings of wealth, to simply survive. 


Everything Here Is Beautiful

By Mira T. Lee,

Book cover of Everything Here Is Beautiful

Why this book?

In all honesty, what I liked most about this book is out of all the books I’ve read about mental illness, this one comes closest to my own book.  

It looks at the ramifications of mental illness through the gaze of a person that loves the main character. In the case of this book, it is two Asian American sisters: Lucia and Miranda.  

Lucia, like many people with a mental health diagnosis, like the character Bowie in my novel, suffers from anosognosia - a lack of insight about having a mental illness; making her oppositional to any treatment that would help level off her symptoms. Mira T. Lee compellingly describes the arrogance of ‘experts’ who know nothing about Lucia, ignoring the well-informed input from Miranda, prescribing meds that Miranda already knows from experience will have adverse effects. 

The book also examines how people with severe mental illness endure shifting diagnoses: is Lucia bipolar? Schizophrenic?  Schizo-affective? This uncertainty leads to treatment modalities in direct opposition to what Miranda deems appropriate - which, of course, leads to ineffective treatment.

The other similarity with my book was that many fictional accounts of mental illness don’t go into detail about specific medications and their usefulness/lack of efficacy, but Everything Here Is Beautiful does not shy away from that.  

One more thing about this book before I go: Lee writes very convincingly about other cultures.  There are Eastern Europeans, Mexicans, African Americans, people of both legal and illegal immigration status, and all fully developed and three-dimensional, all cultures are depicted intelligently and with interesting backstories.


Fall on Your Knees

By Ann-Marie MacDonald,

Book cover of Fall on Your Knees

Why this book?

This book had me at the first line… “They’re all dead now.” Fall on Your Knees is haunted with ghosts and music and religion and set in a dark, lonely coal mining community of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia Canada. From there it meanders to New York and through the no man’s land of WWI, all the while spewing secrets and lies of five generations of the Piper family. The mysterious atmosphere of this book and the compelling characters kept me reading constantly. I couldn’t put the book down until I had consumed all five hundred sixty-six pages.  


The Transit of Venus

By Shirley Hazzard,

Book cover of The Transit of Venus

Why this book?

In this masterpiece, we follow two sisters from post-World War Two onward through love, betrayal, marriages, and widowhood. She manages to cover a good part of adult female experiences as lovers and wives and beyond. But truly, this is a book worth reading and re-reading because with every new pass, you’ll find something new to marvel at. The twists and turns of the plot are subtle…this is sentence by sentence prose amazingness. The book was published in the 1980s but it feels edgy and modern in its way of slipping into the minds of the two sisters as they make their way through the challenges of their lives. Somehow Shirley Hazzard manages to inject a dark story with so much humor. It’s one of those laughing and crying at the same time reads. And once you’ve read it, we can discuss!


The Easter Parade

By Richard Yates,

Book cover of The Easter Parade

Why this book?

I’m both inspired and depressed by this book. Yes, the book itself is on the depressing side, but what truly saddens me about it is that I’ll never write as well as Richard Yates. He packs so much into this 57,000-word work that it almost defies logic. Still, he’s an inspiration as a writer, and I will always use him as a guidepost. No one’s ever going to confuse me with Michael Jordan, either, but I’m still going to shoot hoops (poorly) in my driveway.


A Guide for the Perplexed

By Dara Horn,

Book cover of A Guide for the Perplexed

Why this book?

Although this is my fun pick, it is also a serious book that I use in the classroom. There have been countless attempts by modern authors to retell biblical stories. Horn’s book creatively transfers the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers to the modern period, with a feminist twist. This book is engaging and coherent enough that it can be read and enjoyed without any knowledge of the Bible or Jewish history, although such knowledge makes it all the better!


The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah,

Book cover of The Nightingale

Why this book?

Kristin Hannah made me realize that I could write a historical fiction novel and make it feel human, and flawed and beautiful. That was what her book did for me (and all of her books do, really). This book in particular immersed me in the war narrative, and it showed how a backdrop of war can create a tension between the characters that really moves the reader. Kristin is an expert at showing how families navigate conflict.


The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

By Helen Rappaport,

Book cover of The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

Why this book?

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia: the four daughters of Nicholas II are sometimes known as OTMA and often seen as a collective. With their carefully curated public images, Rappaport refers to them as the “Princess Dianas of their day.” At the same time, their individual personalities come to life via diary entries, correspondence, and fascinating reconstructions of their experiences as young women coming to age in the last days of imperial Russia, nurses during WWI, and prisoners after the Revolution.


Once There Were Wolves

By Charlotte McConaghy,

Book cover of Once There Were Wolves

Why this book?

I’ve been a fan of Australian author Charlotte McConaghy since reading her first novel, Migrations—and Once There Were Wolves is just as beautifully written and page-turning, with the same reverence for nature and its creatures. The novel is about biologist Inti Flynn, who leads a team in Scotland to reintroduce gray wolves to the Highlands, bringing along her identical twin, Aggie. Like the wolves, Inti and Aggie are closely bonded, instinctually and fiercely protective of each other. Aggie has suffered a trauma, and Inti herself lives with a condition called “mirror-touch synesthesia,” in which her brain causes her body to viscerally feel what she witnesses happening to any sentient being, human or animal. With these unforgettable characters, including the wolf families, Once There Were Wolves is sure to inspire readers to protect what we’re in danger of losing.


The Ones We're Meant to Find

By Joan He,

Book cover of The Ones We're Meant to Find

Why this book?

The cover drew me in with its soft yet powerful art that at first reminded me of a Studio Ghibli movie but was so much more than that. He beautifully captures the voices of two sisters trying to find each other in a world that is decaying and is pushing morally-sound science to ensure humanity’s survival. Mystery upon mystery is peeled back with each chapter and I had no idea what to expect until I got to the end. The plot twist was one of the best I’ve read in a long time. What drew me in the most was that this sci-fi book focuses on the relationship of sisters trying to get back to each other. 


Reason and Romance: A Contemporary Retelling of Sense and Sensibility

By Debra White Smith,

Book cover of Reason and Romance: A Contemporary Retelling of Sense and Sensibility

Why this book?

As a longtime fan of Jane Austen, this modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility is the epitome of romance for me, containing all the feels. There is a beautiful sense of longing, as Elaina attempts to be the voice of reason in her highly emotion-driven family while struggling between her natural caution and a yearning attraction for Ted Farris. It’s the sense of emotional constraint that makes this romance so powerful to me, as Elaina’s qualities of reticence seem rare these days. If you want an inspiring, sweet romance with a hint of Jane Austen, then this is a great book to check out.


The Girl Next Door

By Jack Ketchum,

Book cover of The Girl Next Door

Why this book?

Reading this book was one of the most intense experiences of my life and I will never forget reading it. Based on a true story of the extreme abuse of a young girl by an evil aunt and some neighborhood kids, this book makes you feel like you were actually present at the crime. While most books I read are tame in comparison, this book is truly and uniquely disturbing and deserving of its reputation as a top-notch horror novel.


The Viscount Who Loved Me: Bridgerton

By Julia Quinn,

Book cover of The Viscount Who Loved Me: Bridgerton

Why this book?

Bridgerton. Need I say more? Well, yes. This is my favorite of Quinn’s Bridgerton series, and every time I re-read this book, I laugh at the scene in the Viscount’s study. I am laughing right now. Quinn’s historicals are full of fun and joy, perhaps epitomized in a Bridgerton sibling game of Pall Mall that is both merciless and screamingly funny. There’s nobody better at joyful stories than Quinn. If you want to spend a few hours being delighted, read this book. Then go watch Ava Duvernay bring that joy to the screen.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

By Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith,

Book cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Why this book?

Few books can make you laugh just from the title alone, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was just one such book. Before the book blew up, became a movie, and spawned its own subgenre of fantastical reimaginings of classical literature, I remember seeing it on display at a Barnes and Nobles and laughing just at the title alone. The good news is that, much like a zombie who just ate a clown, the book continues to be funny on the inside.


The God of Small Things

By Arundhati Roy,

Book cover of The God of Small Things

Why this book?

The God of Small Things is a beautiful book filled with multi-layered characters, compelling prose as lyrical as poetry and complex, heart-breaking themes. The hint of an unknown threat looming over the story adds a melancholic tone to this book about post-colonial India. Perhaps that’s why this book resonated so deeply with me – because here too, in post-colonial and post-apartheid South Africa, our small lives are shadowed by larger forces than we can comprehend and yet hope and the beauty of love echo throughout our land. Switching timelines from present to past, often speaking in a “special” language, Roy’s intense narrative highlights how small acts can have tragic consequences


A Good Kind of Trouble

By Lisa Moore Ramée,

Book cover of A Good Kind of Trouble

Why this book?

A Good Kind of Trouble is the beautiful story that follows the main character, Shayla, as she learns to use her voice and speak up for things that matters to her. The book has everything I love in a middle grade novel like humor and heart (Lisa is a master at describing junior high friendships and crushes!), but also engages honestly with the reader about important things like racism and social justice. This book can serve as a fantastic conversation starter for kids and parents and kids and teachers.


Rules for Stealing Stars

By Corey Ann Haydu,

Book cover of Rules for Stealing Stars

Why this book?

Haydu’s voice in Rules for Stealing Stars feels incredibly authentic to the middle-grade age group. The main character, Silly, walks a fine line between being childish enough to believe in magic, and old enough to begin to question her deeply dysfunctional family situation. Silly’s honest, first-person narrative beautifully expresses both the wonder of the escapist worlds to which she travels, as well as the trauma of living in a dysfunctional household. Haydu expertly weaves together this child-like voice and fantastical story with underlying themes of trauma and dysfunction to create a whimsical, yet meaningful story.


See What I Have Done

By Sarah Schmidt,

Book cover of See What I Have Done

Why this book?

When a friend recommended this book to me, I asked what it was about. Lizzie Borden he said. Which made me sigh and shake my head because I’m not a fan of the Lizzie Borden story. And yet – there was this book. And this book is simply one of the best books I’ve read. Incredible language, tension that twists tighter and tighter, dread that takes away the breath, a complicated family that barely tolerates each other…this is a great gothic read. Dark and haunting and so deliciously good. If you think you know the Lizzie Borden story, you may need to think again.


Jacob Have I Loved

By Katherine Paterson,

Book cover of Jacob Have I Loved

Why this book?

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


To All the Boys I've Loved Before

By Jenny Han,

Book cover of To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Why this book?

There has been lots of hype around this book series and for a reason! Jenny Han is super talented and like so many readers out there I was charmed by Lara Jean’s story, especially since I had trouble openly admitting my own crushes in high school! I adored the storyline, the tight bond between the three sisters, and must admit to having watched the Netflix film a few too many times too.


Milkman

By Anna Burns,

Book cover of Milkman

Why this book?

Anna Burns won the booker for this novel and rightly so. Burn plays with the norms of novel writing both in the unique voice she uses and in not giving any of her characters' names. It takes a page or two to get there but when you do it is a treat. We meet Middle Sister who is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her Maybe-Boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. Set in Belfast, this is a fabulous book, exploring teenage inhibition in the backdrop of troubles. It is funny and sad and captures the quirks and cruelties of growing up in a divided community. 


Three Dark Crowns

By Kendare Blake,

Book cover of Three Dark Crowns

Why this book?

I knew I would love Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake from the premise. This plot twist doesn’t come until later in the book, but there is a lot to enjoy before we get there! The story is set on an island hidden from the world, where every generation, the queen gives birth to triplet daughters. These daughters are separated and trained until their sixteenth birthday, where the fight for the throne begins. Whoever kills the other two first wins.

The book has a slower pace as it follows all three sisters so we can’t guess who will be the winner, and has plenty of emotional twists and turns as it leaves them on the edge of death many times. It’s a four-book series with all the books released.


Court of Fives

By Kate Elliott,

Book cover of Court of Fives

Why this book?

Kate Elliott’s young adult series feels a bit like Game of Thrones meets Little Women (both of which I loved, so Elliott’s concept was a dream mash-up for me!). The protagonist, Jessamy, lives in a fantasy world divided by class, a domain where laudable competitors compete in a series of various trials and tribulations called the Fives. As a writer, I found Elliott’s world so well thought out and executed, but it was the Little Women elements of this series that most claimed my reader heart. I treasured the quieter moments between Jessamy and her sisters, who are all memorable, fully rendered, and compelling, and the relationships between them, complex and real.


The Good Sister

By Sally Hepworth,

Book cover of The Good Sister

Why this book?

As someone who has only recently discovered my own neurodiversity (having been diagnosed late in life with ADHD), I’m drawn to books with neurodiverse characters as I try to navigate my new understanding of myself and my world. In The Good Sister, Fern, who is on the autism spectrum, works hard to keep her life carefully structured. When her sister Rose can’t fall pregnant, Fern sees an opportunity to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. But as the book delves into the sisters’ past, it becomes clear that there is a dark history between these sisters, and with plenty of clever twists it makes for a truly compelling read.


And the Trees Crept In

By Dawn Kurtagich,

Book cover of And the Trees Crept In

Why this book?

Hoping for a better life, Silla and her little sister Nori escape their abusive childhood home and journey to their aunt’s eccentric mansion, ensconced in a cloyingly dark forest. But despite their Aunt Cath’s warm, maternal welcome, something isn’t quite right at La Baume. The looming trees seem to draw closer every day, Nori’s new imaginary friend is a strange, faceless man in the woods, and Aunt Cath’s quirky, odd behavior quickly devolves into madness. Not to mention that strange creeaaking night and day, that sets Silla’s teeth (and nerves) on edge. This was my most recent read, which I chose to enjoy as an audiobook, where the excellent production quality brings Kurtagich’s prose alive with creepy sounds, music, and Polly Lee’s brilliant narration. Truly an immersive experience!


After the Party

By Cressida Connolly,

Book cover of After the Party

Why this book?

As the daughter of a wartime internee, I was particularly affected by this novel. It is 1938, and socialite Phyllis Forrester is unaware that her family life is soon to be destroyed by circumstance. A privileged wife and mother, Phyllis is politically naïve. There are subtle hints of the darkness to come as she, along with her kin, becomes increasingly involved with Oswald Mosley’s political party. When war breaks out and Phyllis is interned, she endures her downfall and imprisonment with equanimity. The book carries a quiet, sad sense of regret as she tries and fails to pick up the post-war threads of her former life. There is no going back.


The Words We Keep

By Erin Stewart,

Book cover of The Words We Keep

Why this book?

Oh my goodness, this book hits all the feels. Stewart is a beautiful writer. Her unique style is refreshing and captivating. This definitely deals with the darker side of anxiety, including self-harm and suicide. Stewart perfectly nails that inner beast, that voice in our heads telling us we’re not going enough. That voice questioning everything anyone says or does, thinking it’s directed at us. This book is heavy and dark, yet light and uplifting. It’s brilliant.


The Sisters of Auschwitz: The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters' Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory

By Roxane van Iperen,

Book cover of The Sisters of Auschwitz: The True Story of Two Jewish Sisters' Resistance in the Heart of Nazi Territory

Why this book?

An incredibly powerful book that sheds light on Jewish Resistance in the Netherlands, by two women. Both topics are rare and especially the combination of them. The style of narrative non-fiction is brilliantly chosen. The book is historically informative and accurate, but told with the arts and craft of a novelist. A New York Times bestseller. This is exactly what my platform ‘Sophie’s Women of War’ sheds light on. 


My Sister's Keeper

By Jodi Picoult,

Book cover of My Sister's Keeper

Why this book?

Choices and the freedom to make them. Choices and the burden of making them. This is the crux of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult which I first read in 2006 shortly after giving birth to my twin daughters. I was a blubbering, emotional mess by the time I finished it, but I immediately had to start over and reread it. 

What would I have done?  

What clues did I miss on the journey?

I wasn’t an author when I read My Sister’s Keeper, but I decided in that moment that if I was ever to write a book, I would emulate Jodi Picoult; I would force the reader to question everything, even their own moral tenets.


The Mermaid's Sister

By Carrie Anne Noble,

Book cover of The Mermaid's Sister

Why this book?

Clara knows two things about her adopted sister: one, she’s the best friend Clara has ever had and, two, once she turns into a mermaid, she’ll rejoin her birth family in the sea and be gone forever. Nothing Clara does can stop the process, and once Maren is fully transformed, longing for the sea begins to kill her. But it’s a dangerous journey from the hills of Pennsylvania to the Atlantic—especially when there are nefarious characters who would love to get their hands on a real mermaid. Personally, as a mother of two sons, the theme of choosing to help someone you love fulfill their own destiny rather than keeping them back to complete your own happiness is a bittersweet one to ponder. 


Drowning Ruth

By Christina Schwarz,

Book cover of Drowning Ruth

Why this book?

Christian Schwarz deftly creates a rising tension between two sisters who are torn apart by secrets. Ruth gradually pieces together memories from her childhood, bringing the story to a climax when her secrets are revealed and the consequences come to pass. This story was one I read and studied multiple times during my journey to publication.


Disappeared

By Bonnar Spring,

Book cover of Disappeared

Why this book?

Two American housewives—sisters—are on vacation in Morocco (a place I’ve really enjoyed visiting) and one of them disappears. Her sister is determined to find her, but neither has any preparation for the dangers they face. A foreign setting is mysterious, exotic, and always holds unknown possibilities. Finding themselves in a rural area, the women don’t know whom to trust, and they cannot rely on the usual social safeguards. The police and military are actually a threat. For me, a standalone thriller like this packs extra tension because you can’t be certain the characters will survive!


The Daughters of Mars

By Thomas Keneally,

Book cover of The Daughters of Mars

Why this book?

The Daughters of Mars provides a unique account of war through the lens of two sisters from New South Wales who serve as nurses on an Australian ship carrying soldiers wounded at the Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.  After the ship is sunk, the sisters end up nursing on the Western Front.  The novel is a page-turning, authentic account of the personal and professional experiences of Australian nurses dealing with the horrific impacts of war.


Blood-Tied

By Wendy Percival,

Book cover of Blood-Tied

Why this book?

When Esme Quentin’s sister, Elizabeth, is assaulted, Esme discovers that her sister has a secret. Who is the elderly, Mrs Roberts and what is her connection to Elizabeth? Esme’s attempt to unravels the sixty-year-old family mystery becomes a hazardous mission and she has to reassess her perception of blood ties.


The Once and Future Witches

By Alix E. Harrow,

Book cover of The Once and Future Witches

Why this book?

Did I mention that I am a sucker for alternative histories? This one takes place in a nineteenth-century America where both witchcraft and women’s rights are ruthlessly suppressed, but three sisters, all witches, are working to revive magic by tracking down forgotten spells. I found this novel much scarier than many fantasy novels because, well, the authorities’ efforts to keep women in line felt all too true to life. The relationships among the sisters are thorny, warm, and satisfyingly complex, and Alix Harrow’s rich, evocative language makes their magic powerfully real.


Big Red Lollipop

By Rukhsana Khan, Sophie Blackall (illustrator),

Book cover of Big Red Lollipop

Why this book?

In a heartfelt but also comic story, the eldest of three sisters in an immigrant family comes home from school with her first-ever birthday party invitation and much to her chagrin, her mom insists she must call the classmate to ask if she can bring along her annoying “I wanna go too!” sister. It’s hard having her sister with her at the party, and even worse when they get home.  I Iove the sibling rivalry, depicted so perfectly here, and the sibling love and family solidarity that goes with it.


Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

By Joanna Ho, Dung Ho (illustrator),

Book cover of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

Why this book?

This all-around stunning picture book is representative of the last type of book that I believe to be the most meaningful to give at a baby shower. Find a book, whether it was planned to be read to a baby or not, that focuses at the heart of what is special about the baby and provides a great way to celebrate the baby’s uniqueness throughout their life.

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners is a revolutionary text that celebrates the beautiful shape of the character’s eyes, her incredible familial bond, and the story of her ancestors. As long as the book touches the parent’s soul, then the book will be read and reread countless times to their child, and what better gift is there than that?


Chirri & Chirra, the Rainy Day

By Kaya Doi, David Boyd (translator),

Book cover of Chirri & Chirra, the Rainy Day

Why this book?

These two girls’ everyday adventure series! I adore these twin books since I am a twin myself! Color penciled illustration is always beautiful but I like how Kaya draws the rain here. You can see a drizzle, a shower, a downpour, and even an upside-down rain here. Surely the rain hater like myself can become a rain person.


Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix

By Aminah Mae Safi,

Book cover of Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix

Why this book?

While this novel is not set in another world, it does show a side of our world and history too often ignored. Travelers Along the Way is a heartfelt and humorous take on the Robin Hood tale, brimming with sisterhood, cunning disguises, and dangerous heists. It transports through clever details and unforgettable characters. 


Welcome to Temptation

By Jennifer Crusie,

Book cover of Welcome to Temptation

Why this book?

This is an older book, but Jennifer’s sizzle is unsurpassed. A movie assignment brings Sophie Dempsey to Temptation, Ohio. From the moment she drives into town, she has a bad feeling: Everything is a little too right. And when she has a run-in with the town's unnervingly sexy mayor, Phineas Tucker, making her little movie morphs into something downright dangerous.

Choosing the hottest scene out of several scorchers in this book was hard. There’s the sex scene on the table in the kitchen, but the scene where Phin decides that Sophie is turned on by discovery fantasies—so when her friend arrives at her house he makes increasingly louder noises until they are discovered—mmm hmm, that’s a masterpiece.

Oddity

By Sarah Cannon,

Book cover of Oddity

Why this book?

A story about evil puppets? Sign me up! Oddity is a town only the Addams Family could love, with weird, strange, unusual, and downright wrong things taking place at all hours of the day and night. What I love about this book is the way it manages to give us an entire town of spookiness, and yet still find a plot that is even more spooky. The characters are unforgettable, and the villains are a joyous wonder.


Caraval

By Stephanie Garber,

Book cover of Caraval

Why this book?

Scarlett has always wanted to attend Caraval, a mysterious game/performance that often incorporates an audience member and blurs the line between reality and fantasy. She finally gets her chance just as she’s on the cusp of marrying and moving away. But Scarlett’s in for far more than she bargained for: the audience member chosen for this round of Caraval is her beloved sister, who is whisked away and must be found before the conclusion of Caraval’s five nights. This first-in-series is chock full of fantasy, adventure, and romance.


Bumped

By Megan McCafferty,

Book cover of Bumped

Why this book?

In Bumped, a worldwide pandemic of the Human Progressive Sterility Virus renders the adult population sterile. About three-quarters of teenagers are infected and will go irreversibly sterile sometime between their eighteenth and twentieth birthdays. This changes attitudes about teen pregnancy. The survival of humanity depends on it.

The situation spurs a variety of responses. Trendy stores at the mall sell provocative clothing and “fun bumps,” strap-on bellies that show the girls how sexy they’ll look when pregnant. School clubs put the focus on procreation. The main character’s parents are determined to cash in on their daughter’s great genes and virginity and broker her first child to the highest bidder.

I read this book when my daughter was a teenager. Yikes! I know how much teenagers are influenced by social media, advertising, and their peers. It was horrifying how the government tried to manipulate the teens into having as much sex as they could and to get pregnant as often as they could, while downplaying the teen parents’ natural attachment to their children.  


Glow

By Megan E. Bryant,

Book cover of Glow

Why this book?

When I decided I wanted to read more and write about the Radium Girls, this was the only novel I could find featuring them. It is an accessible, young adult novel with a dual timeline. A contemporary young woman discovers a painting at a thrift shop that reveals glow-in-the-dark elements. The story of a fictional early dial painter is told alongside the struggle of the main protagonist in today’s world.


Miss Austen: A Novel of the Austen Sisters

By Gill Hornby,

Book cover of Miss Austen: A Novel of the Austen Sisters

Why this book?

Miss Austen is Cassandra, sister of the more famous Jane, who takes centre stage in this story, though Jane is there, too, as the beloved missed sister, not the novelist. The year is 1840, Jane has been dead for twenty years, Cassandra is in her sixties and though frail is on a quest to find some missing letters which may reveal secrets about Jane and Cassandra which must not be known. It’s a mystery and we want to know if Cassandra will find those letters, but it is also a touching portrait of sisterly devotion. Cassandra makes an admirable heroine, determined and resourceful despite her frailty. It also tells much about the way in which spinsters, usually ignored by society, have a rich and complex inner life.


So Far from God

By Ana Castillo,

Book cover of So Far from God

Why this book?

When I read So Far From God, it did two things. First, it helped me understand this genre that was created by Latin American authors. Lois Parkinson Zamora said, “Magical realism is characterized by...its capacity to create (magical) meanings by envisioning ordinary things in extraordinary ways.” I understood what that meant when I read So Far From God. In the first chapter alone, one of the main characters, La Loca, dies and comes back to life. Her death was ordinary and extraordinary. I was hooked. 

Perhaps more importantly, in reading Castillo’s novel, I saw our shared Latina history, culture, and perspective through the stories she told. It was the first book that validated my experience as a Latina which is why it’ll always be close to my heart.


The Key to Happily Ever After

By Tif Marcelo,

Book cover of The Key to Happily Ever After

Why this book?

During the worst of the COVID pandemic, I found myself, like many people around the globe, in need of comfort reads. This delightful rom-com delivers. It explores the push-pull and power of sisterhood. It’s about three sisters who are in the wedding-planning business together. While they deal with wedding fiascos and Bridezillas, the de la Rosa sisters must each define her role in the family business and the family itself. They squabble and butt heads, but when disaster strikes, they have each other’s backs. Growing up, my sisters and I were forever teasing and tormenting each other, but we always turned to one another when in need. The Key to Happily Ever After was both a reminder of my bonds with my sisters and a cure for my pandemic blues.


Fighting Words

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley,

Book cover of Fighting Words

Why this book?

Mental illness can be so serious and depressing, even striking fear in some people’s hearts. Here are five of my favorite titles for young and old readers alike—award winners, all, that use excellent storytelling and beautiful writing, draw freely on humor (or at least irony), and responsibly, hopefully, honestly, sometimes disturbingly, demystify mental illness for readers wishing to walk a mile in these shoes. If you or your teen reader like your novels real and edifying, you’re sincerely welcome.

This story gently exposes the mental health fallout from long-term sexual abuse, including depression and a suicide attempt, but it’s told through the point of view of foster kid ten-year-old Della whose laugh-out-loud humor will have you snorting coffee out your nose. Della only slowly comes to realize what her beloved sixteen-year-old sister Suki has suffered and the novel contains nothing graphic. Best of all, these characters speak up, get help and support, and triumph. This won a Newbery Honor so I’m not the only one who thinks well of it.


Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832

By Stella Tillyard,

Book cover of Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832

Why this book?

This book is a fascinating insight into the sisters of the 3rd Duke of Richmond and their lives played out among the country houses of England and Ireland. They were all brilliant letter writers, and although they were separated for long periods, kept up a constant correspondence. After reading it, I felt I knew the sisters personally, even though they had lived 250 years ago. It became an instant bestseller when it first came out over twenty years ago and was made into a film, with Julian Fellowes playing the 2nd Duke of Richmond. 


When You Trap a Tiger

By Tae Keller,

Book cover of When You Trap a Tiger

Why this book?

This was a touching book about a mixed Korean girl who tries to help her sick grandmother, Halmoni, get better through the power of stories. With a bit of magical realism and Korean folklore brought to life, Lily finds her own voice (so she is no longer what she describes as a “QAG – quiet Asian girl”) and begins to understand her own ancestry. Like Lily, I found a connection to my heritage via stories and folklore.


The Wicked Deep

By Shea Ernshaw,

Book cover of The Wicked Deep

Why this book?

The sense of place is so strong in this book! Not only does it take place in an isolated town by the sea, it’s a cursed town as well. When a mysterious boy arrives, the reclusive townspeople begin to turn against each other as tensions rise. The book is full of eerie atmosphere, and you’ll really feel as if you’re swept off to the windswept town full of history, lore, and curses.


Middletown

By Sarah Moon,

Book cover of Middletown

Why this book?

Most books with a 13-year-old protagonist tone reality down to get the story past gatekeepers, but this one digs into the gritty mess of what middle school life is actually like, and it’s so refreshing. I’d been searching for a book that accurately reflected my middle-school trans kid’s experience of gender exploration and social interactions that didn’t make eighth-graders sound like fourth graders, and this was it. Pubescent kids talk rough. They are rough. And they laugh constantly to cope with the mobius loop of disasters that is life in the 2020s. I loved how Eli’s experience of gender didn’t fit neatly into a box, and how it was presented as one facet of Eli’s complicated, resilient personality rather than as a single defining feature. 


Down Among the Sticks and Bones

By Seanan McGuire,

Book cover of Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Why this book?

This slim novel is actually the second in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, which I wholeheartedly recommend in its entirety. The premise: a school for teenagers who once found secret, magical doors to other worlds when they were younger—and who, for various reasons, are sent back from those worlds to ours again. I particularly loved Jack, the burgeoning mad scientist sister in Down Among the Sticks and Bones, as well as her complicated relationship with her sister, Jill. I’m also a big fan of unique worlds and high-concept premises, and McGuire’s series absolutely checks both of those boxes!


What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

By Henry Farrell,

Book cover of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Why this book?

It’s well worth digging up Henry Farrell’s grotesque, sadistic 1960 tale of two aging sisters – one a former kiddy vaudeville sensation, the other a movie star of the '30s and '40s -- living out their animosities and regrets in a faded Los Angeles mansion. It’s also fascinating to compare the novel to its crueler and less impactful 1962 film incarnation starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, let alone the miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan” about those two ferocious dueling divas as they made the movie. Maybe most fun of all is speculating how Farrell may have fictionalized details from the lives of such Hollywood Golden Age real-life acting siblings as Lillian and Dorothy Gish and Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. Farrell's penchant for all-out melodrama still packs a punch.

Bad Girls Don't Die

By Katie Alender,

Book cover of Bad Girls Don't Die

Why this book?

Bullies beware! Bad Girls Don’t Die features a vengeful poltergeist that possesses the little sister of protagonist Alexis Warren.

Alexis is a lonely misfit teenager on the fringes of her high-school social scene. Her home life isn’t much better as her mother’s desire for corporate success leads to regular dinner table conflict. The sisters find comfort in each other, but that’s when Alexis notices a change in her sibling Kasey. Subtle at first, Kasey’s transformation into a malicious psychopath sends Alexis into an investigation that reveals a small-town secret of a fatal bullying incident. 

Bad Girl’s Don’t Die is a story of sisterly bonds, secret pasts, and the sacrifices that are sometimes made to protect loved ones.


Silver Sparrow

By Tayari Jones,

Book cover of Silver Sparrow

Why this book?

I have to tip-toe around descriptions of this book as they are hard to give without spoilers, but that’s a testament to how good it is and how amazing it is to read. The twist and turns across the lives of two young girls in Atlanta, Dana Lynn and Chaurisse, only get more winding as they age with (drumroll) the same father who just happens to be married to both their different mothers. You’re in for a ride as the story progresses with readers knowing the secret some characters know, some don’t and some will find out. Filled with humor but always reverent to themes of race in America and Black women’s lives in it, this contemporary novel shows what it truly is for friends to be just like sisters.


Book Lovers

By Emily Henry,

Book cover of Book Lovers

Why this book?

How can banter be this sexy? Emily Henry’s characters jump off the page. A tough cynical self-described serial dumpee takes a trip to a small town only to find the one person grumpier than her. Nora is a hard case with a soft spot for her hilarious sister. She absolutely should not be attracted to her fellow book agent, but the sizzle is undeniable. It’s not just the kissy parts of this book that will melt your sheets. The reason I recommend the Hell out of this book is because the banter is just so so sexy. The way the main characters relate to each other makes me yearn to be understood this way. If you want a cerebral romp this book is my number one pick.


Sun and Moon Sisters

By Khoa Le,

Book cover of Sun and Moon Sisters

Why this book?

This is a lovely book about two celestial sisters, one is the sun and the other the moon. As siblings do, they argue about who is more important. They decide to swap roles and the sun begins to shine day and night so nobody can sleep and the earth and growing things suffer. Then the moon takes over and at first everybody is relieved. But gradually the lack of warmth and light makes the world an unhappy place. The sisters realize the importance of harmony in the world and in their relationship. The pictures softly reflect the hues of sun and moon. This would make a lovely bedtime story and the end picture shows the girls' love for each other.


Patty Jane's House of Curl

By Lorna Landvik,

Book cover of Patty Jane's House of Curl

Why this book?

Lorna Landvik’s experience as a stand-up comic shines through in her debut novel, a Minnesota tale about what happens when Patty Jane's husband leaves her, and how she and her sister, Harriett, reinvent themselves by opening a neighborhood beauty parlor – complete with live harp music and Norwegian baked goods. You don’t have to be from Minnesota to appreciate the regional humor, and the narrative voice sounds like an old friend who has shared your joys and heartbreaks over years of good times, bad times, and all those times in between.


Shades of Milk and Honey

By Mary Robinette Kowal,

Book cover of Shades of Milk and Honey

Why this book?

Being a Jane Austin fan myself, it’s hard for me not to love the Glamorist series by Kowal. I deeply enjoyed the magic system she built in the series, and the characters were like… well, like old friends. Vincent provides enough of a Mr. Darcy feel for me that I was pleased by the romance written in here and I quite liked the fact that Jane was “plain” as opposed to the stunning beauties often written in the romance genre. 


The Lying Game

By Sara Shepard,

Book cover of The Lying Game

Why this book?

Mystery. Suspense. The fear of getting found out at any moment. The Lying Game has it all and it's got it in a heart stopping read. You want to keep unraveling the mystery and finding clues right along with the main character. It's impossible to call her by her name because even her name has to change as the events of the story unfold. 

The idea of switching places definitely wasn't new by the time this book came out but in this version of the classic plot, you're terrified every minute and on your guard the entire time. This is delightfully tense and suspenseful in a way that captures classic Hitchcock movies and that feeling that you're alone...but you're not alone.


Death Comes to Pemberley

By P. D. James,

Book cover of Death Comes to Pemberley

Why this book?

What do you get when you combine the great 20th-century mystery writer P. D. James and the great 18th-century social commentator Jane Austen? You get Death Comes to Pemberley, that’s what. Austen’s beloved Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice are happily married living at Pemberley with their children until along comes that dastardly George Wickham (also from P & P) who has the nerve to get murdered, leaving it up to Lizzy to figure out the culprit! A Regency whodunit is the best of both worlds.  


Eligible: A Novel

By Curtis Sittenfeld,

Book cover of Eligible: A Novel

Why this book?

Sittenfeld is one of my very few “auto-buy” authors: I gobble up everything she writes. Eligible is arguably her breeziest book, updating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to the modern day, complete with Cross-Fit workouts, Paleo diets, and reality TV dating shows. All of your favorite characters—the Bennet sisters, Bingley, and of course swoon-worthy Darcy (elevated from Mr. to Dr. here)—are represented, and Sittenfeld’s wry dissection of contemporary life would make even Ms. Austen smile.


Playing by Heart

By Carmela Martino,

Book cover of Playing by Heart

Why this book?

I didn’t realize Playing By Heart was a Young Adult book until I finished reading. I was too engrossed in the story about a musical prodigy in 18th century Italy. The romance arc is central but subdued, as the heroine is still a young teenager when this coming-of-age story begins. Her behavior is shaped by family, faith and cultural restrictions. The story placed me in the world of Italian nobility as I followed the heroine and her sisteras they received above-average educations for their time. (Their father has a reason.) Mature adults will enjoy this book. At least I did! I was delighted to learn the main character and her sister are based on real sisters who were 18th century Italian musical and academic prodigies.


My Sister, the Serial Killer

By Oyinkan Braithwaite,

Book cover of My Sister, the Serial Killer

Why this book?

Of all family relationships, I am particularly intrigued by the bond between sisters—think: Little Women, Sense and Sensibility, The Vanishing Half. In Braithwaite’s debut novel, older and more practical sister Korede is hopelessly devoted to younger and more impetuous sister Ayoola. This familiar family dynamic is given a fresh and fabulous take when it turns out Ayoola’s boyfriends keep ending up dead, leaving Korede to clean up the mess. Sister melodrama and serial murder—what could be more fun, right?


The Lost Crown

By Sarah Miller,

Book cover of The Lost Crown

Why this book?

It is generally not easy to find quality historical fiction, and this goes tenfold for fiction about the last Russian imperial family. This book is a definite exception to the rule. Historically accurate down to minute details, and at the same time very well written, the story in The Lost Crown starts just before the revolution and covers the events that lead up to the assassination of the Russian imperial family.

Seen through the eyes of the four historically neglected daughters of the last Tsar - Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia (OTMA), who are usually treated as a collective whole (unless you count trashy novels like Tsarina's Daughter or Anastasia-"survivor"-pseudo-non-fiction, which of course you shouldn't). In this novel, the sisters are portrayed sensitively and realistically, and most importantly as individuals. They are depicted as neither saints, nor as brats, but as normal girls/young women, as they most certainly were. The novel is told from the perspective of each individual sister, each takes a turn with the narrative. Their personalities develop as each chapter unfolds, and it is all based on historical descriptions of those who knew the girls personally, so it will satisfy even the most "purist" Romanov-phile. OTMA are presented, atypically, as multi-dimensional characters, with numerous factual anecdotes effectively incorporated into each girl's narrative, which adds a lot of reality to the story. At times they are funny, at other times - touching or sad, but they are all very real. IMO, this is arguably the best depiction, fiction or non-fiction, of the ill-fated OTMA sisters. 

The Virgin Suicides

By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Book cover of The Virgin Suicides

Why this book?

Before Jeffrey Eugenides won the Pulitzer Prize for his sophomore effort, he debuted on the literary scene with one of my very favorite books, The Virgin Suicides, a dark and haunting novel about a group of five repressed teenage sisters who each commit suicide over the course of a year. In Eugenides’ subversive coming-of-age tale, he explores themes of religion, isolation, and mental illness through the collective narrative voice of the neighborhood boys who obsessed over the sisters and want to understand why they killed themselves.


The Secret Life of Bees

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Book cover of The Secret Life of Bees

Why this book?

Grieving over the loss of her mother and the relentless abuse of her father, Lily goes in search of clues about her mother, hoping to find answers in a place she thinks her mother may have been connected with. During this quest, she finds herself having to examine her attitudes about interracial relationships. Kidd includes information about beekeeping and the black Madonna, both bodies of knowledge that symbolically contribute to the theme about roles that females play in the social order.


Crown of Feathers

By Nicki Pau Preto,

Book cover of Crown of Feathers

Why this book?

A thoughtfully built world that includes people who ride into battle on the backs of phoenixes? Yes. Everyone needs this in their life. Sister queens, found family, and bonds with magical creatures -- Crown of Feathers is brimming with details that make this world feel real and lived in. 


The Night Rainbow

By Claire King,

Book cover of The Night Rainbow

Why this book?

Five-year-old Peony narrates the story of her life in Southern France and the imaginary world which she creates with the younger Margot. Known as Pea, she lives in a rundown farmhouse, where her recently bereaved and heavily pregnant English mother sleeps most of the time. Bold and brave, Pea’s ability to cope with absent parenting is beautifully imagined. She looks after herself and Margo and makes forays into the community her mother has rejected. The language she uses and her understanding of the world is delightfully quirky.


When the Moon Was Ours

By Anna-Marie McLemore,

Book cover of When the Moon Was Ours

Why this book?

Honestly, I could’ve picked any book by McLemore. They are all absolutely stunning. McLemore’s prose is lush and poetic, rich in metaphor and nuance. Their stories have a timeless quality about them at once grounding them in reality and yet offering glimpses of the surreal and ephemeral. When the Moon Was Ours is an incredibly poignant love story between Sam, a Pakistani trans boy, and Latinx Miel who has literal roses growing out of her wrists. This story provided insight into both Pakistani and Latinx culture while weaving a breath-taking tale of love and identity.


The Cruel Prince

By Holly Black,

Book cover of The Cruel Prince

Why this book?

If you want to read a book with a strong female character, this is the book for you. It’s a fun read with enemies that you find yourself secretly wishing to get together. The ending was something I lived for, making me read the rest of the series, and I have no doubt you’d be interested in staying for the rest of the ride as well.

Kira-Kira

By Cynthia Kadohata,

Book cover of Kira-Kira

Why this book?

This beautiful, bittersweet novel tells the story of Katie; her sister, Lynn; and their brother, Sammy. Growing up in 1950s Georgia, in one of the few Japanese families in their town, the kids stand out and must struggle against prejudice, economic hardship, and Lynn’s eventual illness. What could be a bleak story is redeemed by Katie’s dry humor and the author’s portrayal of the deep bond between the children and within the family and the Japanese community. Lynn teaches Katie that however difficult life becomes, one must look for Kira-Kira—the things that glitter like the stars above. This book doesn’t flinch from hard topics: the labor conditions in the poultry industry, Lynn’s illness, racial prejudice. As a writer, I admire Kadohata’s willingness to tackle these issues and her faith that kids will learn from having such stories as part of their reading lives. 


First Frost

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Book cover of First Frost

Why 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!


The Last Hour of Gann

By R. Lee Smith,

Book cover of The Last Hour of Gann

Why this book?

All of R. Lee Smith’s novels are dark, explicit, and fascinating, but my favorite (and it was a Sophie’s Choice, for sure!) is The Last Hour of Gann. The heroine, Amber, and her spaceship full of fellow pioneers crash land on a dystopian alien world inhabited by lizard people. The humans are woefully unprepared to survive in the wild and all too willing to turn on one another. When a passing lizard/warrior/judge, Meoraq, stumbles upon their camp, Amber jumps at the opportunity to beg for his aid, a near-impossible task without knowing his language. Together, they learn to communicate, and as Meoraq embarks on the futile task of keeping “his humans” safe, so begins the delicious, inexplicable, slow-burn romance between woman and lizard that I never knew I needed.


Under the Broken Sky

By Mariko Nagai,

Book cover of Under the Broken Sky

Why this book?

Under the Broken Sky is a powerful story of twelve-year-old Natsu in Manchuria near the Soviet border in 1945. Natsu sets out on a desperate quest to rescue her younger sister. She refuses to quit under dangerous conditions and exemplifies tenaciousness and clever thinking. A heartwarming novel written skillfully in verse.


One Crazy Summer

By Rita Williams-Garcia,

Book cover of One Crazy Summer

Why this book?

My favorite MG historical novels all seem to have certain things in common. A setting that offers a poignant slice of history. Challenging family dynamics. Protagonists called to be stronger than they ever imagined. One Crazy Summer checks every box and adds a bonus of bittersweet humor and an empathy-rich plot. My heart ached for all of the characters: the little sisters, the Black Panthers, Big Mama and the father, the mother who chose art over mothering, and Delphine, stuck in the middle of them all. A book like this, one that’s able to offer a deeply-immersive experience of slipping your own skin and for a while, wearing someone else’s, feels like a rare, enlightening, incredible gift.


My Sister's Grave

By Robert Dugoni,

Book cover of My Sister's Grave

Why this book?

New clues have surfaced surrounding a missing girl. Despite warnings from colleagues, Detective Tracy Crosswhite takes the investigation into her own hands. For years she’s been searching for answers to her sister’s disappearance. Tracy is determined, emotional, and driven to follow up on information that finally makes sense. Dugoni’s descriptive, fast-paced thriller is raw and unsweetened. He gives you the sense of urgency, the sweat, and the dirty truth. Tracy reminded me in many ways of Morgan Jewell in my book. She’s a smart, fierce woman. She’s the type of woman I love to read about, and the type I love to write. 


These Vicious Masks

By Tarun Shanker,

Book cover of These Vicious Masks

Why this book?

Set in 1882 England, These Vicious Masks has so many tropes I love in a book. Evelyn’s dry wit and sarcasm are exactly my sense of humor and she’s an intelligent character I enjoyed following. She travels to London to find her missing sister, discovers a society of individuals with X-Men-like abilities, and must use both literal and metaphorical masks to achieve her goals. It’s these metaphorical masks that interest me, how we act differently in different situations, and how we remove them as we grow closer to one another. 


Lilla the Accidental Witch

By Eleanor Crewes,

Book cover of Lilla the Accidental Witch

Why this book?

While staying with her aunt in Italy, Lilla comes across a book that reveals she’s a witch. But the Stregamama, an ancient witch, wants to use Lilla for her own means. Meanwhile, Lilla’s crushing on her aunt’s assistant and trying to avoid the local boy her family is trying to set her up with. As a bookish introvert who wanted space to read, draw, and grow on my own terms, I couldn’t help but see myself in Lilla. Slightly artwork brings movement to the story while the palette adds spots of spookiness. A cute, queer graphic novel of realizing and voicing one’s identities, this book charms. 


I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

By Erika L. Sánchez,

Book cover of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Why this book?

Can sibling rivalry persist even after the death of your sibling? Absolutely, according to Sánchez, who has written a searing novel fraught with impossible expectations, crippling depression, and first love.

After Julia’s sister’s unexpected death, her mother insists that Julia be exactly like her older sister. But how can Julia be this perfect Mexican daughter when she is nothing like her sister? 

As Julia unmasks her sister’s darker hidden life, the impossibility of this question nearly destroys her. Julia spends the novel trying to untangle her sister’s secrets and finds herself in the process.


It Takes a Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery

By Heather Blake,

Book cover of It Takes a Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery

Why this book?

Heather Blake’s first Wishcraft mystery is a captivating story that delightfully blends crime, magic, romance, and self-discovery. The suspense remains high throughout the book and is not an easy mystery to solve. The characters and plot are spellbinding and full of charm, enchantment, and humor. I especially love the animals who speak and help provide the clues.


War Girls

By Tochi Onyebuchi,

Book cover of War Girls

Why this book?

War Girls is a sci-fi novel set almost 200 years in a futuristic Nigeria and is inspired by the Biafran War, a civil war that nearly tore apart the country in late 1960. The world around sisters Onyii and Ify has been ravaged by climate change and nuclear disaster forces the humanity that's left to fight over what is left. I hadn't read many science fiction or fantasy novels set in Africa, and War Girls drew me in with its found family premise as well as being a coming-of-age story filled with Wakanda-style tech. Despite the heavy subject manner Onyebuchi manages to showcase the sisters's hope and vulnerability despite how they were used as pawns by forces out of their control.


Two Summers

By Aimee Friedman,

Book cover of Two Summers

Why this book?

This charming parallel universe story is like two contemporary realistic novels in one. Fifteen-year-old Summer Everette makes a choice at the beginning of the book (no spoilers, here!) that will either take her to France or keep her in upstate New York for the summer. So why not see what would happen in both worlds?

This book has all the elements I love. A relatable protagonist, two adorable love interests, and tons of heart. Add the French countryside element and voila! Parfait!


The Queen of Nothing

By Holly Black,

Book cover of The Queen of Nothing

Why this book?

Holly Black delivered a lush world within the Cruel Prince trilogy, and each book got better and better. The ending of book two, The Wicked King, had me running to the library to get the third book and I couldn’t put it down. It’s set in a land of the fae where a mortal girl refuses to be outmatched by their power, proving herself to be a foe much more dangerous than any of them predicted. As she gets closer to the throne, things become more dangerous, and she must be lethal and cunning if she is to survive.

Each book has plot twists, but the third was my favorite. This is a finished trilogy perfect for those who love the fae, fierce heroines, enemies to lovers, or political intrigue.


Here There Are Monsters

By Amelinda Bérubé,

Book cover of Here There Are Monsters

Why this book?

When I went into this book, I sensed that Amelinda would pull zero punches. I was so right it was glorious. Skye is fed up. Fed up of being responsible for her insufferable little sister, Dierdre. Fed up with the stories, with the games, with their endless childhood fantasies. Moving halfway across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over. Finally, in this new, isolated neighbourhood, Skye is managing to fit in. Not Dierdre, though. No, Dierdre seems to be slipping more and more into a world of her own. And then one day: Dierdre vanishes. When a creature unlike anything Skye has ever seen comes scratching at her door claiming to know who took Dierdre, Skye is going to have to suspend her disbelief and re-enter a childhood of warped imagination.


Sister Dear

By Hannah Mary McKinnon,

Book cover of Sister Dear

Why this book?

If you happen to like the type of books that end with a gut punch, then you are going to love Sister Dear. This had an ending that I didn’t see coming, which is probably why I love it so much. I have a few authors on my ‘must read’ list and this one holds the title for #1 because of her endings. Warning: you start reading the book thinking you know where it’s headed, but trust me when I say you don’t!


It Will Just Be Us

By Jo Kaplan,

Book cover of It Will Just Be Us

Why this book?

There’s no place like home, especially when it’s Wakefield Manor, where ghosts and memories are trapped in an endless loop. When the introverted, quirky protagonist Sam (who reminded me of my favorite Shirley Jackson character—Merricat Blackwood) is forced to welcome her estranged, pregnant sister back to the decaying family manor, Sam’s already-frayed nerves are pushed to the limit. But when her sister’s arrival becomes the catalyst for disturbing visions of a faceless boy with a penchant for cruelty, Sam seeks answers in the claustrophobic halls of her ancestral home. Who is this monstrous, cruel boy? What does he want? Seething with tumultuous family dynamics and a plot as complex as it is unsettling, the atmosphere of It Will Just Be Us had me enraptured from the very first pages and didn’t let go until the gasp-inducing ending. 


The Dollhouse Murders

By Betty Ren Wright, Leo Nickolls (illustrator),

Book cover of The Dollhouse Murders

Why this book?

In this book the dollhouse is in the attic. The main character, Amy, is terrified by the scratching noises and flashing lights coming from the dollhouse. And the dollhouse dolls are never where Amy left them. This haunting novel combines complicated family secrets with a spine-tingling mystery. I love that the dollhouse is connected to secrets in Amy’s own family—and a murder long from long ago.


Ghosts: A Graphic Novel

By Raina Telgemeier,

Book cover of Ghosts: A Graphic Novel

Why this book?

I love how Raina reaches out of her largely autobiographical work and delves into the world of spirituality and folklore. There’s also the very realistic, dire, and looming “ghost” of the character Maya’s cystic fibrosis. In the story, Raina masterfully weaves reality and fantasy. It’s an engaging journey about overcoming fear with the help of family and friends. And, as all her books are, it’s beautifully illustrated. As someone with a pretty strong spiritual bent, this book really resonates with me.


The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen, David M. Shapard,

Book cover of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

Why this book?

This is a brilliant book that you will want to read in print—not digitally—because, for every single page of Jane Austen’s classic novel, there is an accompanying page of annotations. This is a great book if you want to dive deeper into Pride and Prejudice. The annotations include pictures of carriages and locations in the novel; historical details that helped me understand property laws, relationships, and societal expectations; definitions and connotations of how words were used in Austen’s time, and much more. It’s written in a very readable style, and you can either read it from start to finish or skip around to your favorite passages.


You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

By Rachel Lynn Solomon,

Book cover of You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

Why this book?

This book is about twin Israeli-American teenage girls whose mom has Huntington’s disease and the different ways they go about handling that as individuals and how it affects the sister’s relationship. I love the way religion is handled in this book, with each sister’s different take where it concerns their Judaism. It’s about life, death, and sisterhood. I loved it. 


The Henna Artist

By Alka Joshi,

Book cover of The Henna Artist

Why this book?

The Henna Artist feels so real, and I'm not Indian, never lived in India in 1955. The main character Lakshmi is a survivor who prevails in a culture committed to religious beliefs that make a woman nothing better than a piece of furniture. Lakshmi uses her talent to become independent and dreams of owning a home. The fly in the ointment is her younger sister, who by her youth and ignorance, spoils everything for Lakshmi. But remember, Lakshmi is a survivor.