Literary Fiction

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Cover to Life after Life

I love a book with an inventive narrative structure and, like Scheherazade, Kate Atkinson has 1,001 plots in her novel, Life after Life. Ursula Todd, born on a snowy night in 1910 to banker Hugh Todd and his aristocratic wife Sylvie dies and lives--over and over again.  But this is a novel not just about reincarnation but also about how a writer writes and makes choices. The chapters reveal the choices a writer--or a human being--makes and how it changes the path a life takes.

If you like Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.
 
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy:  "It tells the story of the young farmer Gabriel Oak and his love for and pursuit of the elusive Bathsheba Everdene, whose wayward nature leads her to both tragedy and true love. It tells of the dashing Sergeant Troy whose rakish philosophy of life was '...the past was yesterday; never, the day after'. And lastly, of the introverted and reclusive gentleman farmer, Mr Boldwood, whose love fills him with '...a fearful sense of exposure', when he first sets eyes on Bathsheba." 
 
If you enjoyed this book, here are some other novels you may enjoy:
 
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Tells the story of the difficult loves of insular Englishman Charles Ryder, and his peculiarly intense relationship with the wealthy but dysfunctional family that inhabited Brideshead. While at Oxford, Charles Ryder meets boyish, flamboyant Sebastian Flyte, who introduces Charles to a charmed and glamorous way of life that continues until Sebastian's health deteriorates. (catalog description)
 
 
 
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
After the death of her father, orphan Rose Campbell has no choice but to go and live at the 'Aunt Hill' with her six aunts and seven boy cousins. For someone who was used to a girl's boarding school, it all seems pretty overwhelming, especially since her guardian Uncle Alec makes her eat healthy things like oatmeal, and even tries to get her to give up her pretty dresses for more drab, sensible clothes. Will Rose ever get used to her Uncle's strange ideas and all her noisy relatives? Will there come a day when she can't imagine living anywhere else? (catalog description)
 

Dracula’s Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories edited by Michael Sims

Dracula’s Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories

The dying days of summer—hot and bright or fog-drenched and rainy—are a suitable time to escape to another century and into the Old World where vampires lurk in musty tombs and sometimes in the candlelight of high society.  Michael Sims' collection, Dracula’s Guest, does include Stoker’s title story, but it is also a gathering of kindred pieces that lay out tales both plain and highly-embroidered of the pernicious beings known as vampires.  These old school blood-drinkers do not sparkle handsomely in daylight and are decidedly and viciously carnivorous.

If you like The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein

The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein: "After Esther graduates from Northwestern University, she finds herself jobless, directionless, and moving back in with her parents. When her mother finds her a job caring for the four-year-old daughter of a neighboring family, she grudgingly agrees. But the family lost an infant child earlier in the year, and Esther, struggling with her own depression, finds herself caring for both the girl and the grieving mother. As she also navigates through romantic relationships with the girl's father and a friend her own age, we witness her inner conflict and personal growth." (Booklist)

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
A novel that spans fifty years. The Italian housekeeper and his long-lost American starlet; the producer who once brought them together, and his assistant. A glittering world filled with unforgettable characters. (catalog description)
 
 
 
 
Stuck in a dead-end relationship, this fearless narrator leaves her metaphorical baggage behind and finds a comfort zone in the air, feeling safest with one plane ticket in her hand and another in her underwear drawer. She flies around the world, finding reasons to love life in dozens of far-flung places from Alaska to Bhutan. Along the way she weathers unplanned losses of altitude, air pressure, and landing gear (catalog description)
 
 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

As children, Rosemary Cooke, her brother Lowell, and sister Fern are so excited by rolling and jumping in the snow that they look like powdered doughnuts. Their mom says they are all completely beside themselves! It’s a happy memory Rosemary has of her childhood. Author Karen Joy Fowler ponders what we really remember about our pasts. How much of our lives are repressed, forgotten, reordered, retold, and sometimes totally changed or even made up? Do you remember your third birthday, the first day of school, or even what happened last Thanksgiving? I have this lovely photograph of my sister and me on the beach in floaters and have no memory of the event. In Rosemary’s family, a traumatic event changes everything. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves explores the meaning of family and the memories that hold it together.

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

The 1980s has become a time memorialized in current pop culture as a lost, neon wonderland, a time of gargantuan ambition and even more gargantuan hairstyles that would define America for a young generation. Often forgotten are the numerous problems that young people confronted at the time, including the families splintered through divorce, the temptation of easy access to dangerous drugs such as cocaine, and a world that became more individualistic and “winner take all” each passing day. Less Than Zero was Bret Easton Ellis’ first novel, a satire describing the lives of wealthy, young people on their time off from college as they travel through a disorienting haze of drugs, frayed relationships, and pop cultural references. Although not as widely remembered or highly regarded as Ellis’ other “80s novel,” American Psycho, Less Than Zero is still a worthy read for anyone seeking to understand the true essence of the 1980s.

If You Like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer: "As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island."  

A novel told through a series of letters is called “epistolary fiction” - don’t you just love that word?  Some other epistolary fiction you might like:

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanf
Hanff, a New York writer, responds to an advertisement by a London bookseller and inquires about purchasing some out-of-print books. Her inquiry to Marks & Company is answered by a very proper Englishman, Frank Doel. Thus begins a witty, challenging, ever-literate exchange of letters. 
 
 
 
 
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
An epistolary novel set in the fictional island of Nollop situated off the coast of South Carolina and home to the man who invented the phrase The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog.  
 
 
 
 
 

If you like Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

If you like Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.: "After harsh early years, Pip, an orphan growing up in Victorian England, is given the means to become a gentleman by an unknown benefactor and learns that outward appearances can be deceiving." (Book summary) 

 If you enjoyed this title, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
In this novel Trollope continues the story of Mr. Harding and his daughter Eleanor, adding to his cast of characters that oily symbol of progress Mr. Slope, the hen-pecked Dr. Proudie, and the amiable and breezy Stanhope family. The central questions of this moral comedy - Who will be warden? Who will be dean? Who will marry Eleanor? - are skillfully handled with that subtlety of ironic observation that has won Trollope such a wide and appreciative readership. (catalog description)

 

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
In the fictional New England town of Starkfield, an unnamed narrator is forced to stay at the home of Ethan Frome during a winter storm. He relates his encounter with Frome, the most striking figure in Starkfield, he was but the ruin of a man, with a careless powerful look - in spite of a lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain. When the beautiful cousin of Frome's bitter wife comes to help with housekeeping, Frome's attraction to her does not go unnoticed. (catalog description)
 

If you like Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

If you like Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok: "A resolute yet naive Chinese girl confronts poverty and culture shock with equal zeal when she and her mother immigrate to Brooklyn in Kwok's affecting coming-of-age debut. Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly as she is known in the U.S., had been a promising student in Hong Kong when her father died. Now she and her mother are indebted to Kimberly's Aunt Paula, who funded their trip from Hong Kong, so they dutifully work for her in a Chinatown clothing factory where they earn barely enough to keep them alive. Despite this, and living in a condemned apartment that is without heat and full of roaches, Kimberly excels at school, perfects her English, and is eventually admitted to an elite, private high school. An obvious outsider, without money for new clothes or undergarments, she deals with added social pressures, only to be comforted by an understanding best friend, Annette, who lends her makeup and hands out American advice." (Publisher's Weekly)
 
If you like Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
 
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and step-mother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything. (catalog description)
 
 
 
In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. Smart and headstrong, she is encouraged by her mother--but her stern father is determined to maintain tradition, especially as the Japanese steadily gain control of his beloved country. (catalog description)
 
 
 

If you like The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

If you like The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.
 
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly: "After the death of his mother, 12-year-old David mourns her loss alone in his attic bedroom, with only his books to keep him company. As his anger at her death grows with each day, the books begin to speak to him, telling their wild tales of dragons, princes, and knights. Soon reality and fantasy collide, and David finds himself in a land unlike his own, a world where monsters, evil sorceresses, and half-human wolves dwell. With the help of friends he meets in this strange land, David goes on a search for the King, who is said to have The Book of Lost Things; this book will help David find his way home. Along the way, David encounters many challenges that transform the boy into a man." (Library Journal)
 
If you enjoyed this novel, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
 
Reveals the world of Peter Pan through the eyes of Nick, a fatherless teen whose dreams of wonderland are replaced by the gritty reality of life and death, as Peter's recruits are forced into a lethal battle where the line between good and evil is blurred. (catalog description)
 
 
 
 
Even after two hundred years, the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm remain among our most powerful stories. Their scenes of unsparing savagery and jaw-dropping beauty remind us that fairy tales, in all their simplicity, have the power to change us. With some of the most famous stories in world literature, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, as well as some less well known stories like The Seven Ravens, this definitive collection promises to entrance readers with the strange and wonderful world of the Brothers Grimm. Maria Tatar's engaging preface provides readers with the historical and cultural context to understand what these stories meant and their contemporary resonance. Fans of all ages will be drawn to this elegant and accessible collection of stories that have cast their magical spell over children and adults alike for generations. (catalog description)