If You Liked That, You’ll Like This: Book Recommendations for Every Type of Reader

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You know how, on Amazon, when you go to buy a book (which, don’t do that; buy local), the site lets you know that “customers who bought this item also bought” some totally obvious, uninspired choice? And it’s always like, yeah, we get that customers who bought the first Fifty Shades of Grey also bought the second—not that we were looking up Fifty Shades of Grey or anything. But we appreciate a little more thoughtfulness in recommendations, you know? Our likes and dislikes can’t be so easily predicted by some anonymous algorithm! So in the spirit of wanting to do better than Amazon, we decided to put together a set of recommendations based on some of the most talked about books in the last year or so. And unlike with Amazon, our recommendations aren’t totally obvious choices that are probably already best-sellers in their own rights. Instead, this list was created because we feel lucky to have come across these lesser-known titles, and we want you to get that same feeling—one that will never, ever come from using Amazon Prime.

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If you liked
Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage
2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Murakami’s latest novel starts out as a tale of teenage alienation and then—as Murakami novels are wont to do—spirals out into an epic exploration of loneliness. Isolation is also at the center of Bertino’s magical debut, which weaves together the stories of a tangle of Philadelphians—many of them lovelorn, all searching to be seen and heard by those around them.


If you liked
Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl
Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter

Flynn’s Gone Girl is now the archetype of a novel centering around an amoral woman, but if you want to dive into something that’s even more psychologically probing and unapologetic about the manifold messy ways in which women sometimes act, give Hunter a chance. She offers no excuses for how her characters behave, making for an exhilarating, unflinching look at the damage we are all prone to inflict on one another.


If you liked
Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist
The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum

Gay’s New York Times best-selling book of essays explores the evergreen topic of what it means to be a woman struggling with, well, being a woman. Daum’s essays explore somewhat similar ground but in a wholly new and inventive way; her writing is smart, sardonic, and she specializes in saying the many things that all too frequently go unsaid.

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If you liked
Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment
After Birth by Elisa Albert

Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment is a masterful look at the way marriage and motherhood can warp and even destroy a woman’s sense of self, leaving her grasping and shattered when her marital identity is torn from her. So! Up for another searing look at motherhood and identity? Check out Albert’s novel (Feb 2015) and see why Emily Gould says it “writes FUCK YOU… in menstrual blood” on that all-too-familiar type of essay of what it means to be a woman.


If you liked
Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl
The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure edited by C.D. Rose

So you really enjoyed Lena Dunham’s memoir recounting what it is like to be her? Us too! There’s nothing we like more than reading about how incredibly successful someone our age/younger than us is. Oh, wait. There’s one thing: reading about people who have failed. While it might be true that this Melville House-published book isn’t similar in terms of subject with Dunham’s memoir, it’s still a funny and smart and engaging read, which is all that really counts, right? Right.


If you liked
Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Women by Chloe Caldwell

You know how Waldman’s debut novel was a look at a series of relationships with complicated, real women told through the POV of a smug, irritating male writer? Well! Imagine how awesome it would be to read something about a series of relationships with complicated, real women from the POV of a complicated, real woman? Pretty awesome, right? You have no idea; Caldwell’s Women will blow you away.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


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