The best books about a widower

11 authors have picked their favorite books about widower and why they recommend each book.

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The Fisherman

By John Langan,

Book cover of The Fisherman

This book tells a small, human story of grief and loss, set in a cleverly nested series of reveals about the horror of the history of a particular area. What I loved most about this book was the grandness and scale of the eldritch creatures that the characters face (at different times, with different weapons, and with varied ideas of what on earth is going on)--this felt truly cosmic to me, a real look into the abyss. I also loved how the horrors were presented in the mind as well as the world, which constantly kept me on my toes.


Who am I?

I wouldn't call myself a cosmic horror expert, but I've read quite a few of the expected authors--Dunsany, Machen, Lovecraft, Blackwood, Howard, etc--and I've written novels and short fiction in the genre and have been asked to panel and talk about it for years at professional events. How can a fictional narrative contain villains so powerful that human beings have no way to understand, let alone resist them? I like exploring that impossibility in my own writing, and I feel compelled to subvert its historical legacy of colonialism and racism where I can. It is not a genre that needs reclaiming but rewriting, and it is rife with possibilities. 


I wrote...

Beneath the Rising

By Premee Mohamed,

Book cover of Beneath the Rising

What is my book about?

Nick Prasad has always enjoyed a quiet life in the shadow of his best friend, child prodigy, and technological genius Joanna ‘Johnny’ Chambers. But all that is about to end. When Johnny invents a clean reactor that could eliminate fossil fuels and change the world, she awakens primal, evil Ancient Ones set on subjugating humanity. From the oldest library in the world to the ruins of Nineveh, hunted at every turn, they will need to trust each other completely to survive…

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of American Gods

American Gods has everything to do with mythology and travel and is a social commentary about the morals of modern-day society. We follow the life of Shadow Moon after his release from prison and the death of his wife through a gritty, dark, gory world where ancient gods are struggling against the ‘new’ gods. People have lost their connection to nature, family values, and their spiritual identity, and they no longer pray to Odin, Czernobog, or the Queen of Sheeba. Now they worship media, the internet, and credit cards. The old gods want their place back, the new gods want a monopoly over America, and a war is brewing. While it is not a book for the faint-hearted, it is nothing short of magical and epic. 


Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by stories of fantastical lands where people have powers and meet a variety of otherworldly obstacles that they have to surmount. During my travels as an environmental researcher, I found myself in the depths of the Amazon rainforest and the frozen terrains of Iceland and have become inspired by the nature that surrounded me, as well as the myths and legends of other cultures. Through my words, I try and evoke a sense of enchantment and escapism, in the attempt to invite the reader to travel with me to mysterious lands full of unexpected challenges, inhabited by eccentric people and the persistent threat of powerful enemies.


I wrote...

The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone

By Dael Sassoon,

Book cover of The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone

What is my book about?

All that Jason wanted was to be a travel photographer. When his ship sinks on the coast of Greenland and he crosses through a magical portal, his life takes an unexpected turn. Waking up in a fantastical world, the legendary Flare now rushes through Jason’s veins. He is given the chance to save an enchanted world from the ominous grasp of the tyrant Emperor Darkstrom, who spreads death across the land. Before he can go back home, Jason must embrace his new identity as a Lightbringer and learn how to control his newfound powers. The people and nature of Valkadia depend on it. Will he be able to come to terms with his new identity, or will the journey get the better of him?

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

By Max Porter,

Book cover of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

Difficult to categorize into a specific genre, Max Porter’s novel uses a tragi-comic approach to deal with how the grief of a husband and father of two sons is experienced using the metaphor of a crow. “Crow” is an anthropomorphic figure who represents grief in this short book. He talks to the husband, telling him that he will take him through the vestiges of grief until, as Crow finally states, “You don’t need me anymore.” The book ends with Crow bidding the bereaved husband/father goodbye. This book helped my understanding—along with several essays on the sad, dark, and comical aspects of grief.


Who am I?

Grief is something I grew up with. I was a toddler when my infant sister died and it devasted my family. They weren’t able to grieve her death properly because the family code was not to talk about our losses. Now, as a psychologist, I treat patients who are bereaved. Many books have been written about grief, but few focus on what happens to the brain, the heart, and the body of the bereaved. I wrote a book about grief because of my research on the human brain as a faculty investigator at Harvard Medical School, my understanding of grief through my clinical work, my personal life, and my review of the grief literature. 

I wrote...

The Anatomy of Grief: How the Brain, Heart, and Body Can Heal After Loss

By Dorothy P. Holinger,

Book cover of The Anatomy of Grief: How the Brain, Heart, and Body Can Heal After Loss

What is my book about?

This original new book by psychologist Dorothy P. Holinger uses humanistic and physiological approaches to describe grief’s impact on the bereaved. Taking examples from literature, music, poetry, paleoarchaeology, personal experience, memoirs, and patient narratives, Holinger describes what happens in the brain, the heart, and the body of the bereaved.  
 
Readers will learn what grief is like after a loved one dies: how language and clarity of thought become elusive, why life feels empty, why grief surges and ebbs so persistently, and why the bereaved cry. Resting on a scientific foundation, this literary book shows the bereaved how to move through the grieving process and how understanding grief in deeper, more multidimensional ways can help quell this sorrow and allow life to be lived again with joy. 

The Reading List

By Sara Nisha Adams,

Book cover of The Reading List

Working at the local, almost defunct library, Aleisha comes across a reading list in one of the returned books. Bored, with little to do, she begins to read the books. When an old man wanders in one day, she shares the list with him. Reading and discussing the books leads them out of their shells and into new understandings of their worlds and to friendship. Reading this made me reflect on books that impacted me and on my friendships over the years with people much younger or much older and I realized that all of them had such value—value that I did not always recognize at the time 


Who am I?

When I was a kid on the farm in Saskatchewan, I had a handful of books to read and re-read and read yet again. No television, no radio—just books. Then we moved to the city and I discovered the bookmobile, but I could only take out three books at a time. Deciding was torture. From bookmobile to library to bookstore to e-reader. Life is good. With all that reading, I knew I had to write a novel. I finally did. One became seven. How on earth did that happen? Re-reding my books I realized that teens play significant roles in all my novels. I’m a retired teacher—go figure!


I wrote...

When the Sun was Mine

By Darlene Jones,

Book cover of When the Sun was Mine

What is my book about?

Her dream was to go to university. Instead she’s working in a nursing home hunting a killer. When high school graduate, Brittany Wright, gets a job cleaning at Happy Hearts nursing home, she is terrified of old lady Flo and desperately wishes she could be in college instead. As an unlikely friendship develops between the two, Brittany discovers that Flo, who may or may not have Alzheimer’s, is in grave danger. But, from whom and why? 

News of the World

By Paulette Jiles,

Book cover of News of the World

Yes, this is the one they made into a movie (which I will not go to see). I like Tom Hanks, but he doesn’t fit the image I have in my head after reading the book. And, as always, when a book morphs into a movie, I fear the changes that will inevitably be made, will diminish the story. So, I’ll make a bowl of popcorn and read the book again. 


Who am I?

When I was a kid on the farm in Saskatchewan, I had a handful of books to read and re-read and read yet again. No television, no radio—just books. Then we moved to the city and I discovered the bookmobile, but I could only take out three books at a time. Deciding was torture. From bookmobile to library to bookstore to e-reader. Life is good. With all that reading, I knew I had to write a novel. I finally did. One became seven. How on earth did that happen? Re-reding my books I realized that teens play significant roles in all my novels. I’m a retired teacher—go figure!


I wrote...

When the Sun was Mine

By Darlene Jones,

Book cover of When the Sun was Mine

What is my book about?

Her dream was to go to university. Instead she’s working in a nursing home hunting a killer. When high school graduate, Brittany Wright, gets a job cleaning at Happy Hearts nursing home, she is terrified of old lady Flo and desperately wishes she could be in college instead. As an unlikely friendship develops between the two, Brittany discovers that Flo, who may or may not have Alzheimer’s, is in grave danger. But, from whom and why? 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

By Jamie Ford,

Book cover of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Jamie Ford, the great-grandson of Chinese immigrants to the United States, nailed every detail in his debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetHe crafted a gripping love story set against the backdrop of the shameful time in history during WWII when Japanese Americans were imprisoned in internment camps in Seattle. The story begins in modern-day when Henry (Chinese) finds artifacts from his youth at an abandoned hotel and relives the friendship and love he had for young Keiko (Japanese) when they were both school-aged children in the 1940s, despite all the racial barriers that existed at the time. A modern-day Romeo and Juliet if you will. This one will definitely tug at the heartstrings. 


Who am I?

I am an author of short stories, young adult novels, romance, even a reference book, but I will read any genre and any age group. As a librarian, researcher, book reviewer, and former school teacher, I have a long-standing love for historical fiction. When an author gets the details right, and you feel transported in time and place to WWII, or the 18th century, or Victorian England…there is nothing sweeter. Witnessing humankind overcoming huge obstacles, facing the most that human nature can take, and coming out on top? Definitely literary therapy! So put down the cell phone, pour a hot cuppa, and let these favourites of mine transport you.

I wrote...

#NotReadyToDie

By Cate Carlyle,

Book cover of #NotReadyToDie

What is my book about?

#NotReadyToDie offers a unique glimpse into an unimaginably horrific school day from the perspective of the students trapped inside and told in real-time. The suspenseful story focuses on the students, their relationships, how they cope with unimaginable stress, and their impressive strength. 

Extinctions

By Josephine Wilson,

Book cover of Extinctions

Confession: I bought this novel partly for its gorgeous floral jacket...a bait-and-switch for the emotional claustrophobia in which it begins. I fell in love with it because of how deep I was drawn into lives I didn't think I could care about. Fred, a retired engineering professor--wife deceased, son severely disabled, adoptive daughter estranged--has banished himself to wither self-righteously away in a retirement village. But circumstances force him to let someone in: his neighbor, Jan, who's suffered her own misfortunes yet leads the most engaged life she can.

Set in Australia, this increasingly exhilarating and witty novel shows how it's never too late to face down eviscerating truths, make amends, and flout conventions; also, how friendships can save us (as I learned during my year of heartbreak). As a writer, I was stunned by an extended real-time scene in which an automotive mishap lands Jan and Fred in a glamorous…


Who am I?

I grew up in a woodsy Massachusetts town, then spent the first decade of my adult life striving to succeed as a painter in New York--while reading fiction as if inhaling another form of oxygen. In my thirties I traded paintbrush for pencil, persevering until I published my first novel at 46. I've now written six novels and a story collection about the volatile bonds of modern families, through marriages, births, betrayals, illnesses, deaths, and shifting loyalties. I love to tell a single story from multiple perspectives, ages, and genders; to inhabit a different vocation in each new character: bookseller, biologist, pastry chef, teacher. Like actors, fiction writers love slipping into countless other lives.

I wrote...

Three Junes

By Julia Glass,

Book cover of Three Junes

What is my book about?

My first novel follows a Scottish father and son, Paul and Fenno, and a young American artist, Fern, who meets the two men on opposite ends of a decade. It begins in Greece, where Paul has fled after his wife's death—and ends on Long Island, where Fern, also widowed, ponders what to do about a surprise pregnancy. At the center stands Fenno, a bookseller in Greenwich Village, who receives a strange gift that forces him to confront the fear and heartbreak of living as a gay man at the height of the AIDS epidemic. 

I wrote this book after enduring, in one year, divorce, the loss of my only sibling to suicide, and cancer treatment. I realized that all the most powerful fiction is about how we survive devastating grief and rediscover hope.

Grief

By Andrew Holleran,

Book cover of Grief

This is a short novel, a slim book that packs a lot in its pages. A fictional work about the loss of a loved one and the emptiness of one’s life. How do you fill your days? How do you go on with your life when every street, every building holds a memory of the one you lost?

This was a deeply emotional work of fiction that speaks to my own empty days after the loss. It felt as if I was walking with the main character as he went through his days trying to find purpose and meaning. It speaks to my own guilt, my own survivor’s guilt. Why am I alive when someone isn’t? How do I rediscover the colors of the world when all I see is black? What does my life, my future hold when every waking day feels like a struggle to get out of…


Who am I?

I wanted to make sense of death when my brother suddenly died. I wanted an outlet for my grief and I wanted my brother to live on in my story when he couldn’t in reality. I also want to think that there’s life beyond death. I want to believe in it so much because it’s hard to fathom someone being ripped out of your life all of a sudden. I know death. I know grief. I have faced them. I don’t understand why it had to happen, but I could imagine that there’s an extension of life beyond this realm. If I couldn’t find closure in real life, I may as well find closure in my imagination. This story is my imagination writing its own happy ending.


I wrote...

Life, Everlasting

By C.D. Loza,

Book cover of Life, Everlasting

What is my book about?

Peter wakes up with no memory of his life. Who is he? As the truth slowly unfolds, he struggles to come to terms with where he is now. Meanwhile, Gino and Theresa move to the US for a new life. After decades of being apart, they are forced to live together in a foreign land. As past wounds surface, Theresa grapples with what it means to start again.

Told in alternating voices of Peter and Theresa, Life, Everlasting, is a story of new beginnings, of finding one’s place in strange grounds, and of discovering that life goes on for both the departed and those left behind. 

Go, Went, Gone

By Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (translator),

Book cover of Go, Went, Gone

This is a beautiful book about a retired academic and widower who finds himself embroiled in the lives of young African refugees trying to seek asylum in Berlin. What I love about this book, besides the beautiful writing, is that neither the widower nor the refugees are portrayed as saints and neither really finds redemption. It is, rather, a very real story of fragile yet real connections between people who, for entirely different reasons, are very much alone. I love this book because it holds us all accountable as human beings and asks us how we can retain our humanity, our moral center when power is so unequally distributed.


Who am I?

I am the child of refugees from the Holocaust, so displacement and the effects of war and violence have been part of my personal experience. My book, Only the River, is loosely based on my mother’s story. She and her family escaped from Vienna in 1938 and spent the war years in Bolivia, the only country that would give them visas. I am also a high school teacher who works with immigrant students, who have fled violence and poverty. It is my vocation to offer them hospitality and help them find a sense of home here, in an environment that is often hostile. These books bring the stories of the displaced and dispossessed alive. 


I wrote...

Only the River

By Anne Raeff,

Book cover of Only the River

What is my book about?

 Fleeing the ravages of wartime Vienna, Pepa and her family find safe harbor in the small town of El Castillo, on the banks of the San Juan River in Nicaragua. There her parents seek to eradicate yellow fever while Pepa falls under the spell of the jungle and the town’s eccentric inhabitants. But Pepa’s life—including her relationship with local boy Guillermo—comes to a halt when her family abruptly moves to New York.

As the years pass, Pepa’s and Guillermo’s lives diverge, and Guillermo’s homeland slips into chaos. Guillermo’s daughter transforms into an accidental revolutionary. Pepa’s son defies his parents’ wishes and joins the revolution in Nicaragua, only to disappear into the jungle. It will take decades before the fates of these two families converge again.

Tempest

By Beverly Jenkins,

Book cover of Tempest

There’s a reason those in Romancelandia call Beverly Jenkins Ms. Bev. The woman is a queen. Jenkins is a trailblazer in the genre and writes unforgettable historical romances. So many historicals take place in England (mine included), but she prefers an American setting. Catnip tropes in this one include a mail-order bride and a single dad. The heroine makes you care about her personal love story while upending the usual power dynamic. Ms. Bev will always make the path to the happy ever after worth it.


Who am I?

I spent a decade as a single mom, so stories featuring solo parent protagonists make my book antennae perk up. A happy ever after is a must for a relaxing read, and I prefer stories that don’t slam the door in your face when things heat up between the couple. So much character work can happen between the sheets—especially when you’re dealing with people who have been hurt by love before. While there are closed-door or chaste romances out there that feature single parents, those are less likely to end up in my TBR, and thus less likely for me to push them into your hands.


I wrote...

Dukes Do It Better

By Bethany Bennett,

Book cover of Dukes Do It Better

What is my book about?

With my history in mind, it made sense to wrap up my Misfits of Mayfair trilogy with a heroine like Emma.

Dukes Do It Better features Emma Hardwick, a single mother with oodles of secrets and a son she’d do anything to protect, and Captain Malachi Harlow, the man who wasn’t supposed to be more than a one-night stand. Sparks fly and found family saves the day amidst stolen journals, blackmail attempts, grave robbing, and baby goats determined to eat everything that isn’t nailed down. Publisher’s Weekly called this one “a gem,” and I hope you agree.

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