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15 Books Like SONG OF ACHILLES

If you’ve spent any time on BookTok lately, you might have seen Song of Achilles a lot. This backlist title by Madeline Miller has been making the rounds, and making readers feel all the feels while also giving them a new and interesting perspective on The Iliad. It is told from the perspective of Patroclus, who must follow Achilles to war and finds everything from his friendship to his courage tested in the events that follow. It’s a queer, atmospheric, and dramatic retelling that has certainly captured the hearts of readers around the world, and now you might be wondering–what should I read next? We’ve got 15 great recommendations of books like Song of Achilles for you! 

Note: The subgenre of myth retellings tends to be very white, and we could only find a few authors of color to include on this list of books like Song of Achilles. We hope in the future that publishing will prioritize the voices of people of color in retelling these tales.

Circe by Madeline Miller

This may seem like an obvious choice, but if you haven’t read Circe, pick up Miller’s novel about Circe, which retells the story of the goddess turned witch who was banished by Zeus, and comes to love mortals. As she crosses paths with Medusa, Odysseus, and many others, she must decide where she stands once and for all.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

For a moving retelling of epic mythology, but this time of the Norse variety, pick up this novel about Angrboda, a witch left powerless after Odin curses her. She flees into the woods where she meets and marries a mysterious man who provides her with a home, happiness, and children…until she learns her husband is Loki, and she begins to foresee terrible events ahead.

The Mere Wife by Maria Dhavana Headley

If you’re looking for another different epic tale retold, then pick up this contemporary retelling of Beowulf, which recasts Herot as a gated community and Grendel’s mother as a war veteran living off the grid in the woods outside of that community, and follows the events surrounding their clash.

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

Written by a sci-fi and fantasy master, this novel tells the story of a woman who is voiceless in the original myths and legends. Lavninia grew up happy and ignorant of the politics that would one day take over her life, until a fleet of Trojan ships arrives on the horizon. This is her story, all of the details that are glossed over in Aeneas’s pursuit of her hand in marriage.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Ariadne is a princess whose life seems happy, but she and her people are haunted by the threat of the Minotaur, her brother, who lives in the labyrinth beneath their feet. And then Theseus arrives on Crete, Ariadne sees him as a chance for escape, even if it means betrayal of her family and her people.

Bull by David Elliott

For a different take on Theseus and the Minotaur, here is a playful verse retelling of the story. With anachronistic language and an edgy, funny voice, this book feels like what would happen if Lin-Manuel Miranda decided to retell myth.

Ransom by David Malouf

If you’d like to read another tale of Achilles, this time after Patroclus is lost, then pick up this novel about a grieving Achilles and Priam, who is full of regret after his son Hector killed Patroclus. It’s a story of grief and redemption, and learning how to move forward after tremendous loss.

The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason

This is a playful retelling of Odysseus’s journey, with new tales, insight, and fragments that make readers think more deeply about the original tale, and offer creative revisions to the original.

An Iliad by Alessandro Baricco

Relive the siege of Troy not through the eyes of the main players that we have come to recognize, but through twenty-one different minor and side characters. This is a moving retelling that mines deeper meaning to this classic tale.

The King Must Die by Mary Renault

If you’ve read and loved Madeline Miller, you must read Mary Renault, who rose to prominence after this 1958 release retelling the life of Theseus with fascinating historical detail, and who is widely regarded as one of the best scholars and writers of classic mythology.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

This novella might take some tracking down as many editions are out of print, but for readers who enjoy when women of ancient times are given voices, pick up this story of Penelope, wife of Odysseus, who reclaims her own story after her husband finally returns home and inexplicably kills her maids and companions.

Helen of Troy by Margaret George

Helen of Troy has been regarded throughout history as an exquisite beauty whose “face launched a thousand ships” and started one of the most memorable wars in living memory. In this novel, George retells her story and includes all of the characters that are prominent in her story.

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.

For something a bit different, here is a novel if you enjoyed the beautiful writing and queer love in Song of Achilles. Two men, both enslaved in the American South, fall in love but find their love and lives threatened by a power-hungry man.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

This is the story of Briseis and many other women who are prisoners of Achilles in the Trojan War. Briseis is originally only given a few lines, but here she tells her story, and the stories of her fellow female prisoners.

The Devourers by Indra Das

For a fascinating and fully-realized epic tale, but set in India, pick up this novel about a college professor who agrees to transcribe a story from a jumble of notebooks and manuscripts, and finds himself encountering a strange and magical story set in Mughal India, about a woman who finds herself torn in two very different directions in a magical, epic struggle.

If you’re looking for more books like Song of Achilles, we’ve got them! Check out our list of the best cute LGBTQ+ books, and some great romance novels perfect for your book club!

If you’re looking for something more specific, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as books like Song of Achilles–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

The Best YA Fantasy Books Like SHADOW AND BONE

You might have ben living under a rock if you haven’t heard of Shadow and Bone–either the trilogy of books by Leigh Bardugo, or their TV series adaptation on Netflix! Shadow and Bone was originally released as a trilogy of YA fantasy novels, and then author Bardugo expanded her fantasy world with two more duologies set in the same world–Six of Crows and King of Scars. The Netflix TV series cleverly combines the plots and characters of the first Shadow and Bone book with the characters and backstory of Six of Crows to make for a fantastic TV show, with a second season on the way! If you came to these stories by the TV show, we highly recommend that you pick up Leigh Bardugo’s books! If you’ve already read the books and are dying for season two of the show, then we recommend these books like Shadow and Bone to tide you over!

Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir

Similarly epic with a fully realized fantasy world, this series follows Laia, a girl whose people have been enslaved, and Elias, a soldier in the militaristic regime that has colonized and enslaved Laia’s people. When Laia enters the land’s elite military school as a spy, her path crosses with Elias, who has secretly been harboring doubts about his purpose and future, and their meeting sets their worlds on fire. Start with An Ember in the Ashes.

The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Nestled in a vast fantasy continent is the tiny land of Lumatere, which is enclosed by a stone wall. When the royal family is overthrown in a violent coup, a witch curses the land, shutting the gates of Lumatere to the outside world. Those who remain within are cut off, and the Lumaterans outside are exiled. Finnikin, son of the king’s guard, grow up in foreign courts trying to advocate for his people, until a mysterious young woman appears and tells him she can lift the curse, but first he must unite their people. Start with Finnikin of the Rock.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

This is a high-spirited standalone fantasy novel with a clever world building system and a romantic hero who gives off strong (but less evil) Darkling vibes. Elisabeth is a Librarian’s Apprentice working in magical libraries to protect people from dangerous grimoires. She’s been brought up to distrust all sorcery, but when a grimoire escapes and she’s implicated in the crime, Elisabeth must align herself with a notorious sorcerer and his sly demon servant to clear her name.

Legacy of Orïsha by Tomi Adeyemi

In this West-African inspired fantasy, Zélie remembers a time when her land hummed with magic and her mother was a powerful maji. But when the new king ordered them all to be put to death, magic was stamped down…but not completely. Now, Zélie will fight agains the crown prince in order to restore magic, even as she falls for him. Start with Children of Blood and Bone.

Graceling Realm Series by Kristin Cashore

If you’re looking for a series of books that has a wide cast of characters over many books, and a fully developed fantasy world with many different political powers, you can’t go wrong with this collection of epic, magical books. Set in a world where people possess special magical gift called Graces, this series is about a group of characters struggling against those who would use their Graces for great evil. Start with Graceling.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Like Alina Starkov, Lazlo Strange is a war orphan. Lazlo has been haunted since childhood by a dream of an epic city halfway across the world. When the opportunity presents itself for Lazlo to go in search of his dream, he seizes the chance to go. But discovering the mysteries of this epic city will test him to his limits.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

If you enjoyed the found family and heist aspect of Six of Crows, then pick up this book about Nix, who has grown up on a time traveling ship that can sail anywhere in the world through any time period, as long as the captain has a map from that era. When her father, the captain, finds a map that will take him back to the time and place of Nix’s birth, she fears that he could undo her very existence.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers

If you enjoyed the influences of history, religion, and culture on the Shadow and Bone books, then pick up this novel inspired by medieval France! Ismae has just escaped an arranged marriage and seeks refuge at St. Mortain’s convent…where she realizes that the nuns are all tasked with becoming assassins. She’s given a choice to train for death, or risk losing everything. Start with Grave Mercy.

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Tilla is a bastard daughter of a lord who cast her aside as she grew older, and who spends her days at court with other bastards. They form a ragtag gang who mostly exist off to the side, until a visiting princess shocks the court by choosing to spend time with them. Soon, Tilla and her crew find themselves on various misadventures after dark…until they stumble upon the scene of a crime they were never meant to witness, and must figure out how to avoid civil war. Start with Royal Bastards.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

If “make me your villain” is a line that resonated with you in Shadow and Bone, then you definitely need to read this fantasy trilogy about a young woman’s origin story in villainy. As a child, Adelina survived an epidemic that gave her special powers, but those powers have isolated her from her family. When finally given the chance at belonging, Adeline faces a choice that will change her and her world forever. Start with The Young Elites.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Set in magical historical Paris, this is the perfect read for fans of Six of Crows!  Séverin Montagnet-Alarie’s birthright was stolen from him, so now he decides to assemble of crew of five other lost, orphaned, or otherwise outcast people in order to steal it back.

The Legend of Beka Cooper by Tamora Pierce

If you enjoyed reading about the lower and middle classes of a crowded fantasy city, then you definitely need to pick up the Beka Cooper trilogy. It follows Beka, who joins the Provost’s Guard and is assigned to the toughest part of the city. While on her patrols, she uses her secret magical abilities to discern that there’s a killer on the loose…and hunt him down. Start with Terrier.

City of Steel and Diamond by Francesca Flores

Aina Solís is all on her own after the murder of her parents, but she quickly becomes an assassin in a dangerous city where her boss has a lot of power, and her small found family are the only ones she can depend on. But when she uncovers a dangerous conspiracy, it will take all she has to survive. Start with Diamond City.

The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

Jude was a child when her parents were murdered and she was whisked away to the land of the Fae. Now living in the court, she wants nothing more than to belong there for good, even if everyone there, including the prince of the Fae, despise her. Start with The Cruel Prince.

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

Lia was supposed to be born with the gift of Sight…but when it never materializes, her marriage is arranged to a stranger. Rather than go through with it, she runs away with her maid and best friend and creates a new anonymous life for herself, until two young men turn up in her new town. One is the prince she abandoned at the alter, and one is an assassin sent to kill her. Start with The Kiss of Deception.

Want more book recommendations? Check out our list of the best new LGBTQ+ YA books, and the best fantasy subscription services we recommend. If you still want more, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as Grashaverse readalikes–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

15 Books Like RED RISING by Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown is an exciting dystopian novel about a young man named Darrow who is a Red, the lowest caste of society that has colonized Mars. They work long, hard days to make the surface of the planet habitable for humanity, believing that their work and sacrifice will benefit future generations. But when Darrow’s wife discovers that the surface of the planet has been habitable for decades and that the Reds toil as cheap labor for the ruling class, her discovery leads to her execution…and Darrow becomes a revolutionary. Red Rising is the first in the Red Rising Saga, and it is an exciting dystopian series that has massive appeal for adult and YA readers alike. If you’re looking for more great reads after marathoning the series, then pick up any of the these sci-fi, dystopian, and fantasy books like Red Rising!

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Justin is a failed investigator in the supernatural and religious in futuristic North America, and lives in exile as a result. But he’s surprised when he’s pulled back to invesgitate a new crime: a strong of ritualistic murders. To keep him in line, he’s given a partner, Mae Koskinen, who is an enhanced super soldier. As the two work together to solve the crimes, they find themselves uncovering a vast conspiracy they never dreamed of.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

For a book with a similar rigid caste system, grab this YA novel about Mare, who is born to a red-blooded family that is destined to serve the silver-blooded elites. But when a shocking discovery puts Mare in the spotlight, she is betrothed to a silver and put to the ultimate test in a series of events that will upend her world.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Tau is born into a world where the people are pitted against an enemy they have no hope of defeating. Some are born lucky, and have the strength to stay in the fight. Tau knows he’s not one of them, and has plans to get injured and tap out early…until he’s the sole survivor of a massacre and becomes bent on revenge, leading him to places he never expected.

God’s War by Kameron Hurley

Set on a planet ravaged by war with no hope of it ending anytime soon, this book follows Nyx, a former government assassin who makes her living retrieving heads for cash. But when a deal goes south, she’s asked to do the impossible…but if she succeeds, she just might be able to end the war.

Mind Storm by K.M. Ruiz

Set in the future, hundreds of years after nuclear war nearly wiped out humanity, most of the people live in poverty while the select few have the wealth to escape to another planet. But when one person, Threnody Corwin, develops the ability to channel lightning, she’ll change the course of history.

Leviathan Wakes by S.A. Corey

If you’re looking for another epic series set in space, you can’t go wrong with this first book in the Expanse series. In this future, humanity has colonized Mars and the Asteroid Belt, but the divide between those who grew up on Earth and those in space and on Mars is deep. When the XO of a mining outfit finds a ship containing a dark secret, it will change the universe–and humanity’s expanse into deep space–forever.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

For an action-packed book set in space filled with political intrigue, pick up this novel about Kiem, a prince and disappointing grandson to the emperor who is ordered to marry Count Jainan, a representative from a vassal planet, in a political scheme. But Jainan is mysterious–his first husband died in a strange accident, and when he and Kiem marry, they discover a conspiracy that could get them killed.

Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns

When couple Adda and Iridian graduate from university, their engineering degrees are pretty much worthless in the dismal job market. Rather than try and find jobs and face inevitable separation, they hatch a plan to join a pirate crew at the legendary Barbary Station…but their plan to impress the pirates goes horribly awry when they arrive and realize that the pirates are being held captive at the station by a rogue AI.

Wool by Hugh Howey

This is a great dystopian series about humanity’s struggle for survival and fight agains the unknown. The world has become toxic, so humanity lives underground in a mysterious silo. Those who talk of the outside world are punished by being sent out there to die. When the sheriff is banished, Juliette becomes the head of law enforcement…and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy.

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

Emil and Brighton have grown up in a world where specters prey on those with special powers, and a vigilante group fights back. While Brighton wants to join the fighting, Emil just wants it all to end. But when Emil develops powers of his own, he’s thrust in the middle of an epic battle that will test the brothers’ loyalty.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

In this first book in a trilogy, humanity discovers The Flow, an extradimensional field that allows humanity to travel to many different worlds at the speed of light. Humanity becomes spread out across the universe, but when it’s shown that The Flow is shifting, cutting off worlds from the others, three people must come together to discover how to save humanity.

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

In a future where Earth is no longer habitable but no other planets have been colonized, Seske Kaleigh and her people live in colonies inside giant space beasts, mining their resources until they’re depleted and can move on. Seske is a future matriarch of her people, but right now she’s more interested in discovering why violent tremors are putting people in danger…and when she discovers the shocking reason just as she rises to power and a rival challenges her, any wrong move could spell disaster for her and her people.

The First Sister by Linden Lewis

If you’re looking for a book with the action and thrills of Red Rising, pick up this novel about First Sister, who is a member of the Sisterhood and raced to travel with the soldiers of Earth and Mars, who own her completely. When she’s abandoned, she hopes for freedom…but finds herself in even more of a trap when a new captain orders her to become a spy.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

When Binti sneaks off planet to head to Oomza University for the first time, she thinks that the most daring thing about her journey will be that she is the first of her people to head to the university. But when an enemy of the university attacks her ship and Binti is the only survivor, she becomes an unlikely broker of tenuous peace between the worlds.

Revenger by Alistair Reynolds

Arafura is convinced by her sister to join the crew of a ship searching for relics of past civilizations in order to sell, and Arafura has a few special abilities that make her a good relic hunter. But when their ship is attacked and Arafura’s sister is kidnapped, she must go to great lengths to save her sister.

Want more recommendations? Check out our favorite funny fantasy novels, and then add to your TBR with these best fantasy subscription boxes. If that’s not enough, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as books like Red Rising–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

The Best Cinnamon Roll Heroes in Romance Novels

Romance heroes often get pegged as the strong and silent type, or brooding and overprotective, but we love a good cinnamon roll hero! Cinnamon rolls heroes are kind, supportive, and unfailingly sweet, with lots of layers. They’re almost too good for this world…kind of like the cinnamon rolls they’re named after. Some of these characters’ cinnamon roll qualities might be a bit deceiving or hidden at first, but they’re there, we promise! If you love heroes who are soft and squishy on the inside, then check out this list!

Charlie from Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish

Charlie is a natural born caretaker. He takes in his little brother when his parents die, he takes on his family’s hardware store, and he even rescues stray cats. When a tattooed and scowling man comes into his store and starts buying random supplies, Charlie’s first inclination is to reach out to him, too…and he finds love along the way!

Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Levi is the ultimate YA cinnamon roll character. He’s talkative and sweet, and always willing to help out in a pinch. His love for bison and agriculture is adorable, and his private struggles with school make him a relatable hero. He’s always there for Cath, a lost college freshman who struggles to find a life outside of the fan fiction she’s created, but he’s also no door mat hero either!

Jamie from Yes, No, Maybe So by Aisha Saeed and Becky Albertalli

Jamie is the sweet, awkward hero with political ambitions but also terrible anxiety. He doesn’t do public speaking, and he goes weak in the knees when he’s the center of attention. So when he’s asked to canvas for a political candidate, it seems like his worst nightmare…until he’s paired with Maya!

X from Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

X is the outgoing and easygoing dance partner to heroine Evie. Evie is taking dance lessons to distract herself from a terrible ability that she never asked for, and she can’t understand how X’s philosophy is to say yes to everything, even if it might result in heartbreak.

Drake from How Sweet It Is by Dylan Newton

Drake is a bestselling horror novelist, known to his fans as the Knight of Nightmares…but he’s tired of people making assumptions about him based on his career. At his center, he’s a really sweet guy who falls quickly for Kate, an organized and methodical event planner, and their romance changes things up for the both of them.

Zaf from Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Zaf works as a bodyguard and he might have a tough exterior, but inside he’s just a big softie who tries to raise money for children’s charities. So when a video of him “rescuing” Dani from a fire drill gone wrong goes viral, he begs her to fake date him to try and his his fundraising goal. Who can say no to a hero who cares about the kids?

Michael from The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Michael may be working as a smooth, handsome escort for hire, but it’s not long before heroine Stella uncovers the real reason why he’s working this secret second job: He needs money to pay for his mom’s medical bills. Of course, things get complicated when Stella finds herself completely entranced by Michael, whom she hires to teach her the ins and outs of dating, and sweet Michael can’t help but fall for Stella as well.

Kiem from Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Kiem is the most disappointing of the emperor’s grandchildren, which is why he’s surprised when he’s ordered to marry Count Jainan for political reasons. Kiem is likable, upbeat, can talk to anyone, and self-deprecating…which makes him the perfect person to marry quiet, reserved Count Jainan and help him come out of his shell.

Marcus from Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Marcus is an actor who plays the hottest fantasy character in an epically popular TV series. But what no one knows is that he has a secret online account where he posts fan fiction about the character he plays. What’s even better, when he discovers that April, a fan of the series has been doing plus size cosplay of the skinny heroine, he decides to ask her out to spite the fat phobic internet haters…and then genuinely falls for her. Swoon.

Garrett from Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins

Garrett is a reporter who has traveled all the way to Wyoming to write about interesting people for his Black newspaper on the east coast, but he is surprised when he finds that he’s more interested in his subject’s sister, the strong-willed and assertive ranch owner Spring. Garrett is happy to let her take the lead and support her decisions, even though they come from different worlds.

Want more great romance reads? We’ve got some recommendations for you! Check out our favorite enemies to lovers romances, funny romance novels to make you laugh and swoon, and the best romance book picks for your book club. And if you want more, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as cinnamon roll romances, or other romance tropes–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

10 LONG BRIGHT RIVER Book Club Questions

Long Bright River by Liz Moore has been a popular pick with readers since it first released in 2020, even landing on Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2020 list! If your book club has decided to pick up this book, then we’ve got you covered with a Long Bright River book club questions, summary, and a reading guide to help your club have a great discussion!

Long Bright River Summary

Taking its inspiration from the very real and ongoing opioid epidemic, Long Bright River follows two sisters, Mickey and Kacey. They live and work in the same neighborhood, but in very different roles. Mickey is a detective with the Philadelphia Police Department, and she patrols Kensington, a neighborhood that has bee impacted by drugs and opioids. Kacey is a known user and prostitute who lives on the streets in Kensington, and although the two sisters are estranged, Mickey does her best to keep tabs on her sister when she can. Everything changes when a killer begins targeting women in the neighborhood, and Kacey disappears without a trace. Terrified that her sister could be the next victim, Mickey throws herself into the case, determined to unmask the killer and find her sister. The novel explores the complexities of family history, drugs, and the impact of crime on a community in this fascinating and well-written thriller.

Themes: Sisterhood, family history, class, addiction

Long Bright River Book Club Questions:

  1. Kacey and Mickey are sisters who end up in very different lives as adults. How are they similar? What decisions or events impacted them to diverge in such extreme ways?
  2. Kensington is a rich setting that is as interesting as any of the characters in the book. What did you think of the setting? What stood out to you about it? How does each characters’ relationship to Kensington influence the story or its telling?
  3. One of the major themes of this book is class. Discuss how class is presented in the book, and how each of the characters is affected by class–the class they were born into, the class they strive for, or the class they find themselves in as adults.
  4. Addiction plays a major role in this novel, and many of the characters struggle with addiction to drugs in the past and present. How does the author present addiction in the characters? How all the characters all, to a certain extent, affected by addiction even if they themselves are not addicted to something? What other dark impulses or addictions are present throughout the text? 
  5. Discuss who (or what) served as turning points in Mickey’s life. What characters have served as mentors to Mickey, and what experiences (or lack of opportunities) have led her to her current path? Would her life look different without the mentors and experiences she has?
  6. In many ways, Mickey was forced to be a mother to Kacey at a young age, after the death of their own mother. To what extent does Mickey feel responsible for Kacey’s decisions as an adult? How does she wish to make amends or avoid past mistakes?
  7. Although Kensington suffers from the opioid epidemic, in what ways are the residents a community? What does this community have to offer that might be positive? What are the downsides in this community, aside from the obvious presence of drugs and the murders? What elements of this community do you see reflected in your own communities?
  8. Were you surprised by the direction that the mysteries took? Were you able to anticipate any of the reveals or twists? If so, did that affect your enjoyment of the novel?
  9. Which elements did you find most compelling about this novel? Would you read another book by Liz Moore? Why or why not?
  10. What did you learn, if anything, about the opioid crisis? Did this novel add a human component to your understanding of addiction and the crisis?

For more reading, viewing, and discussion, consider checking out this New York Magazine about the best nonfiction about the opioid crisis. Your book club might also want to watch The Pharmacist on Netflix, an excellent documentary about the start of the opioid crisis in the U.S.

Want more book club suggestions? Check out our best recommended reading for book clubs in 2021. And if you want more great book recommendations, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as book club recommendations–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

18 Of The Best College Romance Books

Heading off to college can be a really exciting time full of firsts–first time on your own, first time in a new setting, first roommates, and for many, first loves and first time having sex. College romance books can be really tricky to find because they often fall in that nebulous age between adult and YA, and while New Adult was popular for a brief period, that age categories never really took off the way it should have. So this list is a nice mix of YA and adult books, all set in college, with some great romances that run the range from sweet to very sexy! Note: There is a notable lack of queer love stories set in college. Hopefully publishing will address this lack in the future.

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

When Chloe wants to get her parents off her back about getting engaged to the odious son of their family friends, she makes a drastic move and hires Drew, a professional stand in boyfriend who aims to please demanding Asian parents. Chloe brings Drew home for the holidays, but is surprised to find that she likes him for real…and so do her parents! But that could be a problem, because Drew’s parent-pleasing persona is not at all his real self.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

A classic college romance book, this novel is about Cath, a shy college freshman who is upset when her twin sister Wren decides she doesn’t want to room with her. Now, Cath is navigating freshman year by mostly never leaving her room except for class, until her bossy older roommate and her friend Levi intervene…and she finds herself falling for charming, easy-going Levi.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Penny is starting college in Austin, TX, and Sam is barely getting by working at a cafe. When their paths cross unexpectedly, they become each other’s emergency contacts, and embark on a text-based relationship. But as their lives get complicated and they come to rely more and more on each other, can they move their new romance IRL?

Fresh by Margot Wood

In this fresh and exciting retelling of Emma, Elliot McHugh is excited to dive into all that Emerson College has to offer…socially, anyway. But when her exploration of freedom, love, sex, and friendship is roadblocked by harsh reality, Elliot will have to re-evaluate to figure out who she really wants to be, and maybe find love in the process.

Just One Day and Just One Year by Gayle Forman

You’ll need to pick up both books to get your HEA, but this is a great duet of novels about Allyson, who is about to start college but first is embarking on a rigidly planned three-week European tour. She longs to be the type of girl who just travels without a plan, and she gets her chance when she meets Willem and impulsively ditches her group to spend the day with him. After a perfect night, she wakes up and he’s disappeared. Allyson spends the next year trying to find herself, and her way back to him.

We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Technically, this is the third book in Jenny Han’s trilogy, but if you read all three you’ll be treated to the sweeping love story between Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah. Belly grew up spending summers with the brothers and always thought that she knew which one would be for her. But when tragedy strikes, Belly finds her life leading her to unexpected choices and places. And now that she’s about to graduate from college, who will be her forever boy?

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Lea and Gabe meet in their college creative writing class, and it’s immediately obvious that there’s something between them. A little something different. They seem meant to be according to everyone around them, and in fourteen unique viewpoints, Hall tells their charming and fated love story.

Check Please! by Ngozi Akazu

In this charming graphic novel romance series, Eric is a new freshman at Samwell University, and he’s just joined the hockey team. A former ice skating champ, he’s completely unprepared for the roughness of hockey….and for his crush on the hockey team captain.

9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno

In this sequel to 99 Days, Molly is. business major in Boston and she’s got a great boyfriend. When they head on a European vacation together, the last thing she expects is to run into her ex and his new girlfriend…and things get very complicated when they merge trips, but don’t tell their significant others who they are to each other.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Alice is a college student with her summer planned out: working at the library and hanging with her girlfriend. But when her girlfriend breaks up with her when Alice comes out as ace, Alice swears off dating. Enter Takumi, who is very hot and sweet and makes Alice’s heart flutter. But will she want to risk a romantic relationship with him if he learns that she’s ace?

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz

Gena is a new college student and Finn is a twenty-something woman who is thinking about marrying her long-time boyfriend. When they meet online and bond over a shared fandom, they find friendship and connection and maybe something more…but they live on opposite ends of the country,

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler

The third book in Adler’s Radleigh University series, this book follows Frankie, who is usually pretty successful at wooing any girl she sets her sights on. Only this time she wants someone she can’t have–Samara, the daughter of a Republican politician. Only, Frankie is shocked when Sam wants her too. The only problem? Frankie is looking for a fling and Sam wants the real thing.

The Professor by Charlotte Stein

Esther is a mediocre student in Professor Halstrom’s class, but one day she accidentally turns in an erotic fantasy about the cold, handsome, and demanding professor in an essay. Humiliated, Esther expects that he’ll grow angry at her, but instead he offers her private lessons in sessions that are about to get very sexy.

How Not to Fall and How Not to Let Go by Emily Foster

This is another case where you have to read both books to get your HEA, but it’s a great duet about Annabelle, who is about to graduate from college when she propositions Dr. Charles Douglas, a man she meets in the lab. He rejects her at first, but the chemistry between them is undeniable as they embark upon a passionate affair.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

August is a twenty-something living in New York City, taking college classes, who doesn’t believe in true love and all that so-called magic. But then she meets Jane, her subway crush…and learns that Jane is from the 1970’s, and she’s been displaced in time. And in order to help her, August will have to start believing in magic.

And They Lived... by Steven Salvatore

Hitting shelves in 2022, this novel is about Chase, a hopeless romantic, Disney fan, and aspiring animator. When he starts college at a competitive arts school, he feels like a fish out of water. Then he meets Jack, a poet who hasn’t quite figured out his sexuality yet and the sparks fly…but do they have what it takes to go the distances and live happily ever after?

Want more great romantic reads? Check out our list of best romantic thrillers. And if you want more college romance books or recommendations, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read.

Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as fairy tales for adults–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

15 Darling Books Like Bridgerton

Dear gentle readers, perhaps you’ve fallen for the Bridgerton siblings as of late, and are pining for more romance series or books like Bridgerton. Whether you’ve read the books or watched the Netflix adaptation, please know that there are plenty more books set in the Regency era that will inspire and delight Bridgerton fans. We’ve compiled a list of romance and YA books like Bridgerton that will keep you swooning until season two makes its debut on Netflix! 

The Season by Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean is a well known Regency era romance novelist, and this is her first book about three friends embarking upon their debut social season in Regency London. Lady Alexandra is known for getting into scrapes, but when she walks into a mystery, she must use all her wits to make it through her season!

Sixteen Scandals by Sophia Jordan

Primrose Ainsworth is the youngest daughter and often forgotten. But when her parents decide to delay her debut into society, Prim decides to mark her sixteenth birthday by crashing a masquerade ball. Things get very interesting when her cover is nearly blown and she’s saved by a mysterious and dashing young man who makes her heart flutter, and the two set off on a memorable night throughout London.

Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen

Lady Victoria is a younger daughter of an earl who isn’t in any hurry to marry since her older sister was married recently. She’s content to help her father run the estate, until a scandal puts her family in a perilous position and Victoria must marry and fast, or risk having her family lose everything.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Catherine is a recent widow who wants to ensure that the scientific text her late husband acquired before his death is translated and published, and then she plans of washing her hands of it all. Lucy is an astronomer who can speak French, and she wants this translation job. Catherine is surprised when Lucy responds to her advertisement, but she gives the beguiling young woman the job and is surprised when she finds herself falling for her as well.

A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley

When Patience Jordan questioned the circumstances behind her English hsuband’s death, the West Indian heiress lost everything–her money, title, position, and even custody of her newborn son. Now, she’s intent on reuniting with him and she gets herself hired as his nanny. Her son’s guardian is an ex-military hero whose strictness belies a passion that Patience can’t resist.

Mine Til Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

Amelia Hathaway is shocked when her family receives an inheritance that elevates them to high society. But learning how to navigate this new echelon of society is especially difficult when she has a passel of siblings to wrangle. Not to mention Amelia soon finds herself attracted to Cam Rohan, whom she turns to for help. He intends to only offer friendship, but very quickly finds himself unable to resist Amelia.

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

When Griffin York, a duke, is ordered by his overbearing mother to choose a bride, he rebels by rejecting her array of choices and designating a servant girl as his bride-to-be. But what starts out as a joke quickly turns into a serious matter when Griffin falls for Pauline. The only problem? Pauline won’t be accepted in high society and Griffin wants nothing more than to make her his duchess.

Unveiled by Courtney Milan

When Ash finally gets the chance to exact vengeance on the person who stole his fortune and his future, he thinks he’s ready for what he must face. But he’s drawn to Lady Margaret, the woman who is placed as a spy in his household to ferry information to his enemy. Lady Margaret finds her loyalties wavering the more she gets to know Ash, putting her in an impossible situation.

The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth, is considered the perfect gentleman and the catch of season, but he has dark secrets that he’d rather keep concealed. When he proposes to Louisa, who must marry in order to see her sisters cared for, she’s not enthusiastic about Felix–she can tell he’s hiding something. But with no other offers, Louisa finds herself married to him and enjoying the way his touch sets her on fire, but can she get him to be honest with her?

Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

Kit Webb is a one time highwayman and currently reformed coffeehouse owner whose days are a little boring, but at least respectable. When Percy, a young lord, approaches him and asks him to steal back a family heirloom, Kit doesn’t want to break the law, but he agrees to show Percy how to get the job done…and finds himself falling hard.

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian

Molly is a lady’s maid who is certain that her days of thieving are behind her and she intends to walk the straight and narrow. But that’s incredibly boring, so she begins a flirtation with Alice, her mistress’s lady’s companion, and when Alice must face an unpleasant person from her past, having Molly on her side proves useful. Soon, they find themselves falling for one another in a genuine way.

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

Violet and James met and married after a whirlwind first season, and now years later they can barely stand the sight of one another. When a misunderstanding sends Violet rushing to James’s side, she’s furious to find he’s perfectly fine and couldn’t care less about the worry he caused her. Thus launches a hilarious series of hoaxes and hijinks to get the other to break first, but pretty soon the couple may have to admit they’re falling for one another all over again.

While the Duke Was Sleeping by Sophia Jordan

Poppy is a shop girl who doesn’t normally spend her days dreaming of dukes, but when she saves the life of a duke and he immediately lapses into a coma, she’s mistaken for his high born fiancé and doesn’t rush to correct anyone. The only problem? The duke’s suspicious half brother who doesn’t believe she is his brother’s fiancé for a single second…

The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham

Seraphina Arden was ruined by a horrible man, so she’s decided to lean into her so-called rakish persona by becoming the scandal everyone says she is. She’s enjoying life, but when she propositions a handsome widower for a fun month of romantic dalliance, the last thing she expects is to actually fall for him…or that by destroying the man who ruined her, she might be hurting her new lover.

My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh

Lady Grace is a quiet, bookish sort but she wants romance and to catch the eye of the most eligible of bachelors. So she comes up with an audacious plan to transform her friend Sebastian into a bit of a rake and form a fake attachment in order to attract the attention of the man she really wants, but quickly finds that her feelings for Sebastian are genuine. 

Want more great romantic recommendations? Check out our list of best enemies to lovers romance, and our romantic thriller recommendations! And if you want more great romance recommendations, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as romance series like Bridgerton–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

20 Of The Best YA Books of 2021

We may only be halfway through 2021, but it’s been a year of incredible YA releases so far! If you’re looking for the best YA books of 2021 to add to your summer TBR, look no further than this list, broken down by genre. No matter what you love to read, you’ll find some of the best new books for teens right here!

Contemporary

Off the Record by Camryn Garrett

Josie is an aspiring journalist, but when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile, she inadvertently stumbles upon a major story that’s a major secret…but it needs to be exposed. The only problem? If Josie writes the story, she might as well kiss her career goodbye.

Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson

Nala is looking forward to a summer of fun, but finds her life getting complicated when she falls for Tye and leads him to believe that she’s as politically active as he is…even though she’s definitely not. While she enjoys the attention of being in a relationship, she also has to face the fact that self love is the most radical act of all.

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

Jayne and June are estranged sisters who both in in New York City, and find themselves shocked and a little uncertain when June is diagnosed with cancer. When June needs treatment and needs to impersonate Jayne for insurance fraud, their lives become tangled in a complicated and irrevocable way.

Romance

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Tessa writes love stories where Black girls get to be the stars, but when she gets into an exclusive creative writing program, she runs into writer’s block. Her best friend convinces her that the only way to get unstuck is to get out there and find a romance of her own!

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

Scottie is struggling to get over a break up when she gets into a fender bender with Irene, the star cheerleader. This turns into an uncomfortable ride share situation, but when Scottie’s ex is jealous, Scottie convinces Irene to fake date her…with unexpected results.

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Johanneau

When Mia gets the chance to study dance in Paris, she’s thrilled to be able to follow in the steps of her great-great grandmother. But Paris is also full of adventure and cute boys, and when one in particular offers to be Mia’s tour guide, how can she say no?

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Noah is the writer of a blog of trans meet cutes, but when its exposed as fiction he needs a way to gain back his credibility, and fast! When Drew offers to fake date him, it could be the thing that saves the blog…but will it also lead to a happily ever after?

Fantasy

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

Clara is a once-in-a-generation everwitch whose power is tied to all four seasons, and who has become humanity’s last hope for saving them all in a world where climate change threatens everything. Clara isn’t sure if she has what it takes to be the savior, but she has one year to come to terms with her power.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

When Deka faces her blood ceremony, which will determine her place in her village, her worst fears come true when her blood runs gold, considered impure. She is facing a fate worse than death…or she could run away and join a group of other impure girls in a dangerous yet glorious destiny fighting for the empire.

Sweet and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Tamsyn is a witch cast out from her coven and cursed to not feel love. Wren is a magical source who has spent her life caring for her ill father. When a magical plague sweeps the country, the two team up in order to find the dark witch causing the plague, but they don’t expect to fall for each other.

Science Fiction

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Tina may look like a normal teen girl, but she’s actually the keeper of an interplanetary beacon that, when activated, will help save the universe from a great evil. She’s looking forward to that day, but when it actually comes it turns out that reality is a lot harder than fantasy, and she’s going to have to find out who she can trust if she’s going to save the world, much less the universe.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Cee has been trapped on a mysterious island with no recollection of who she is or what came before–all she knows is that she has a sister that she must find. Kasey lives in an eco city, where her life is pretty perfect, except that her sister went missing and she can’t find her. As the two search for each other, they expose shocking secrets along the way.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

When Nami Miyamoto dies unexpectedly, she learns that the virtual assistant that everyone relies on while alive has taken over the afterlife, and unless she wants to be a slave for the rest of time, she must team up with a group of rebels to take her down.

Historical

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Lily is a teenager who has always felt she’s different, but it isn’t until she meets a classmate, Kath, and they sneak out to the Telegraph Club that they discover a world of queer women and find the words to describe who they are, and their growing feelings for each other.

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Valora Luck is a Chinese-British acrobat who is determined to stowaway on the Titanic–her brother is on the ship, and so is a wealthy man who could be the ticket to a better life in America. But when the Titanic faces disaster, it will take all of Val’s wits and luck to survive.

A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia

Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided to sit for a portrait in her plantation house in 1860 Louisiana, much to her family’s horror. It’s all a part of plot that will force everyone on the property to reckon with the legacy of slavery, both at home and in the wider world.

Mystery/Thriller

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Nora is the daughter of a con artist, but she’s in hiding from someone who wants her dead. When she walks into a bank with her ex and her current boyfriend, this awkward situation turns deadly as they get caught in a hold up. Nora must rely on all of her usual skills in order to get them all out alive.

Ace of Spaces by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Devon and Chiamaka are star students who’ve just been made prefects at their elite academy, but their achievements are shadowed by an anonymous person named Aces who threatens to reveal secrets that they’d rather keep hidden. And when this prank turns dark, it’ll take everything Devon and Chiamaka have to stay alive and stay one step ahead of Aces.

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

Tress Montor has resented Felicity for years–her ex-best friend was the last person to see her parents alive, but claims she has no idea what happened to them. Tress wants answers, and she decides to take drastic measure to get them, not caring if Felicity is hurt along the way.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

When Daunis witnesses a murder, she becomes a reluctant CI to the FBI’s investigation into an especially dangerous batch of meth that they believe is being distributed from within her tribe.

Need more great YA reads in your life? Check out our best YA book club recommendations, and some of the best LGBTQ+ YA recommendations! And if you want to stay on top of all things YA, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as best new YA fantasy books–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

15 Gorgeous Books That Make You Cry

Do you love a good tearjerker? There’s something so emotionally satisfying and cathartic about reading an emotional book that gets the tears going–and they don’t necessarily have to be sad books, either! The following are a nice mix of sad books for teens, sad romance books that make you cry, and heart-wrenching novels full of big emotions that will make you feel all the feels, and yes, probably give your tear ducts a workout!

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

This heart wrenching trilogy is about Belly, a teen girl who spends every summer at her mom’s best friend’s summer house. This year, she finds herself pulled romantically between two brothers, but before she can decide who is the right one for her, tragedy strikes that will change all of their lives forever.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

When Yadriel, a trans boy, becomes determined to prove himself as a brujo to his conservative family, he inadvertently summons a ghost that won’t leave until Yadriel helps him resolve the issues he left behind in life. And doing so will challenge Yadriel in unexpected and heartrending ways.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Anna Sun is struggling with burnout when her boyfriend delivers a shocking blow: he wants an open relationship. Angry, she agrees and soon finds herself embarking on and failing at this open relationship thing when she meets Quan. Quan is amazing and accepts her in a way no one ever has, and she can’t stop seeing him. But then a family tragedy rocks Anna’s world, and leads her to wonder what she really wants out of life.

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Gay Uncle Patrick loves being uncle to his niece and nephew, Maisie and Grant. But when their mom dies unexpectedly and Patrick’s brother finds himself facing his own health crisis that leaves him unable to care for his kids, Patrick takes in the kids and finds that there’s a big difference between being the fun Guncle and being the guardian these kids need.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor was abandoned by her mom when she was just a kid, and now she’s a student at a boarding school that faces a tough turf war each year. Taylor is named the leader of the students as they wage war against the townies and the cadets who arrive from Sydney each year, and this year one of the cadet leaders is the boy who betrayed her a few years earlier. As they try to come to a truce, Taylor’s guardian goes missing and she finally discovers clues to her mother’s whereabouts and tragic history.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Grace Porter is a recent PhD grad who is uncertain about her future, and things get complicated when she goes to Vegas and accidentally marries a strange woman. Instead of figuring out her life, she abandons all responsibility to move to Brooklyn for the summer and get to know her new wife. But romance and adventure can’t distract Grace from her problems and her issues, and she’s forced to face her painful past once and for all.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

January, a romance novelist, is reeling from the death of her dad and a horrible betrayal that she discovered after his death when she arrives at his secret Lake Michigan house for the summer. She’s got a summer to write a book and pack up the house in order to sell it, and she’s horrified to find that her neighbor for the summer is Gus, her college nemesis. As the two challenge each other to swap genres for the summer, January must confront her pain.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Linus is a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, and he’s very good at his job. But he’s thrown for a loop when he’s given a special assignment to inspect an unusual orphanage and observe its caretaker, Arthur, for a month. The kids there are suspicious of him, and they’re harboring a giant secret. But as Linus spends more time with them and comes to care for them all, especially Arthur, Linus will find that doing the right thing and following the rules aren’t always the same when it comes to these kids.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

In this award-winner, Aristotle is angry at the world and struggling to make sense of the injustices and the wrongs he sees. Dante is calm and quick to smile with a unique perspective on the world. Their friendship is instantaneous but soon they find that maybe they could be something more, if only they’re brave enough to take that step.

The Half-Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith

Lila lost her father to suicide, and as a result her coping mechanism is to not love or trust anyone new. But when she’s sent to a grief camp for teens who’ve lost an immediate family member, she’s forced to confront her grief head on…and soon learns that there’s more to her father’s death than she knows.

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin for years, but they live in Iran where being queer is illegal. However, when Nasrin’s parents announce her engagement, Sahar becomes desperate. It may be illegal to be queer, but it’s not illegal to be transgender. If Sahar transitions, she could be with her love…but does she have the courage to make such a drastic change when she’s not trans, in order to be with the girl she loves?

Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

Jamal’s best friend Q is dead, but when a new technology allows him to come back for just a few weeks (but without knowing about his impending death), Jamal is determined to bring him back in order to make up for all of his mistakes. But with only a few weeks, can Jamal really make things right between them without telling him the whole truth?

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Frankie and her sister weren’t supposed to be at the orphanage for long–their father was supposed to come back for them. But when he heads out west with a new woman and no intentions of collecting them, Frankie must find the strength within her to build a life for herself and her sister and not lose hope.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Marin lost her grandfather at the end of senior year and, unable to face her grief, left for college without saying goodbye to anyone. Now it’s the holiday break and her best friend Mabel is coming to visit. Marin both can’t wait and is dreading facing her best friend, knowing that doing so will force her to confront the secrets and the hurt she’s been avoiding.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Leigh is wracked with guilt–while she was having her first kiss, her mother was dying by suicide. Now in the dark depths of grief, Leigh asks her dad if she can travel to Taiwan to meet the grandparents she doesn’t know and try and make sense of her mother’s life. While there, she encounters a gorgeous bird that Leigh is convinced is her mother. And her mother is trying to tell her something–but what?

Want more great reads or books that make you cry? Check out our best LGBTQ+ YA book recommendations, and our best recommendations for dark academia. And if you still want more great tearjerkers, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations!

TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as books that will make you cry–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!

His Only Wife Book Club Questions

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie was a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club pick, plus a New York Times Notable Pick, which means it’s gotten a lot of great buzz! If your book club is planning on picking it up anytime soon, we’ve got you covered with a book summary, themes, and His Only Wife book club questions to help your meeting run smoothly!

His Only Wife Summary

Set in Ghana, this book is about Afi Tekple, a young seamstress from a small town who works hard to make ends meet. Her mother has convinced her to marry a man that she knows of but doesn’t truly know: Elikem, a wealthy businessman who is in love with another, a woman considered an inappropriate match for him. Afi goes along with the marriage in order to make her mother happy and secure her future, but she’s quickly moved from her small town to the capitol city, where life is very different and Afi is dissatisfied with her new situation. Is this all there is to marriage and life, or can she perhaps find happiness on her own terms?

Themes: Marriage, independence, happiness on one’s own terms, defying tradition

His Only Wife Book Club Questions

  1. What did you think of the fate of Afi and Elikem’s marriage from the beginning, when Elikem couldn’t even be bothered to show up for the wedding? Would you have gone through with the wedding if you were in Afi’s shoes?
  2. Could you marry someone you didn’t love for the financial security of your family? Discuss Afi’s motivations, and the motivations of her mother and Aunty. Do you think that Afi might have married Eli if not for this external pressure? Discuss the influence of money and class on Afi’s decision.
  3. Discuss how Afi interacts with her new husband. What do you think it says about their relationship? What do you think it says about Afi that she wants to please her husband, who seems to have little interest in pleasing her? 
  4. Why do you think Eli went along with this marriage with Afi? What do you think he might have expected from her, or from this relationship? Does he get what he wants? What do you think Eli believes are his duties to his new wife? Does he fulfill these duties?
  5. When Afi moves into a fine home in Accra, does she seem satisfied by the financial status of her life? Does she view it as worth having to put up with an absent husband? 
  6. Discuss how the various characters view marriage and the expectations that come with being a “good” wife. How do they differ, and how are they similar? How does Afi come to shape her own views on marriage?
  7. Discuss how Afi learns of Eli’s girlfriend, the woman that his family disapproves of. Why do you think she is told lies about her, and how do her feelings about this other woman evolve over the course of the novel?
  8. Although Eli is married to Afi, in what ways do we understand that Afi isn’t his main priority? Does Afi see this at first? How does she react when she realizes that she may be his only wife, but not the only woman in his life?
  9. What do you think was the first moment in which Afi chose to rebel–against the other characters, but also in the expectations set out for her?
  10. How does Eli’s behavior towards Afi shift toward the end of the book? Do you think this shift has an impact on Afi’s decision at the end?
  11. What did you think of the ending and Afi’s choice? Were you happy? Disappointed? Surprised? Do you think Afi will be happy with her decision?
  12. Would you read another book by Peace Adzo Medie? Why or why not? What books would you recommend to readers who enjoyed His Only Wife?

Want more great book club recommendations? Check out our recommendations for the best book club picks of 2021! And if you want to stay up to date on the best, most engaging fiction that’s great for book club discussions, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations! TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as book picks for book clubs–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!