If you like x, try y

Hello booklovers! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been using my time in quarantine to revisit some old favorite TV shows and books. There’s just something about the familiarity of a world I already know I love that is so comforting right now. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how many times I can reread Harry Potter or rewatch Project Runway before I’m going to need something new. If you’re like me and you’re looking for something that feels both familiar AND fresh, then look no further! Below, you’ll find popular books and movies you probably already love, and for each one, I’ve recommended similar, but criminally underrated, books. Here are my picks:

 

If you love Normal People, try…

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala: This book follows Niru, a Harvard-bound Nigerian immigrant whose secret of being gay threatens to shake his family, and Meredith, the daughter of D.C.’s political elite, as they come to terms with their own identities and the precarious nature of truth in a highly political world. If you enjoyed Sally Rooney’s sparing prose, you’ll fall right into Iweala’s writing style. The similarities don’t end there, though: like in Normal People, the characters in Speak No Evil are learning to navigate their confusing relationship, and the results are equal parts moving and heartbreaking. 

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard: After a young girl goes missing, the neighborhood boys become consumed by the mystery of what happened to her and what her life could have been. Narrated in the collective voice of these boys, The Fates Will Find Their Way explores themes that readers of Normal People will find familiar, looking at how the legacy of our childhood years stays with us. Pittard’s fresh writing makes for a hauntingly beautiful read.
 

If you love The Phantom Tollbooth, try…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: September is a young girl who is bored of her dreary life, so when a Green Wind comes to offer her passage to Fairyland, she jumps at the chance, and shortly discovers that she has been pulled into an adventure to vanquish the evil Marquess. Full of whimsy and heart, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland hits all the right notes for fans of the classic Phantom Tollbooth. While Valente’s book is written with young readers in mind, it is full of clever wit that will entertain readers of all ages. Escape into this charming world and meet a delightfully eccentric cast of characters. You’ll be happy to stay in Fairyland for a long while!

 

If you love Star Wars, try…

Red Rising by Pierce Brown: Born a lowly Red, Darrow has grown up believing that his people are the pioneers of a new world in space, sacrificing themselves for the upper castes, none more powerful than the elite Golds. When Darrow discovers the world he knows is a lie, he is pulled into an epic rebellion in this wickedly smart first installment. This fast-paced space opera moves between gruesome battles and rebellious hope, and is perfect for Star Wars fans looking for a new narrative just as sprawling and exciting as their favorite movie.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston: If you’re looking for something that feels like Star Wars for a younger crowd, Poston’s world in Heart of Iron is the perfect outer space adventure. Loosely based on the myths surrounding Anastasia Romonov, this book weaves a tale of lost royalty, space rogues, forbidden romance, and deadly AI. Heart of Iron has all the thrills of a Star Wars movie but a lovely charm all its own.
 

If you love The Hate U Give, try…

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: This book has all sorts of award stickers on the cover, and it’s no wonder why. Acevedo’s novel in verse so perfectly captures the messiest and most beautiful parts of growing up and finding first love. The story follows Harlem teenager Xiomara on her quest to find her voice amidst the expectations of her church, her mother, and her teachers, and readers of The Hate U Give will love every moment. If you’re looking for another moving story about finding the courage to speak up and the strength to love someone, The Poet X is the book for you!

 

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi: If you’re an older reader who loved the themes of The Hate U Give but is looking for a sci-fi twist on the story, then you need to read this book. Riot Baby follows the relationship between two siblings—a young man indefinitely jailed in Rikers prison and his sister whose telepathic Thing allows her unthinkable power. But even though the story has a uniquely sci-fi tone, Onyebuchi manages to write an incredibly grounded story drawn from the most dystopian parts of American reality. Like The Hate U Give, this is a novel about race, and about family, justice, and loss, and the writing sizzles with both anger and love.

 

If you love Project Runway, try…

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: A prince secretly sneaks out at night to wear dresses and a dressmaker dreams of becoming a world famous fashion designer in this charming graphic novel. Come for the gorgeously illustrated dresses and stay for the incredible hijinks on this journey of discovery, friendship, and of course, fashion! The artwork in The Prince and the Dressmaker is so stunning, rivaling even your all-time favorite Project Runway designs, and the story is full of hope that shines through every page.

 

—Julia

 

Read more of Julia's picks and reviews here!
 

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
Speak No Evil: A Novel By Uzodinma Iweala Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780061284939
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - March 5th, 2019

The Fates Will Find Their Way: A Novel By Hannah Pittard Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780061996061
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Ecco - January 17th, 2012

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making By Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)
$9.99
ISBN: 9781250010193
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Square Fish - May 8th, 2012

Red Rising (Red Rising Series #1) By Pierce Brown Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780345539809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey - July 15th, 2014

Heart of Iron By Ashley Poston Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780062652867
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - June 25th, 2019

The Poet X By Elizabeth Acevedo Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062662804
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - March 6th, 2018

Staff Pick Badge
Riot Baby By Tochi Onyebuchi Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250214751
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Tordotcom - January 21st, 2020

Staff Pick Badge
The Prince and the Dressmaker By Jen Wang Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626723634
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: First Second - February 13th, 2018