I hate being pigeonholed. I have always been called a women’s author, but 49% of my fan mail comes from male fans, and I think you can legitimately label my novels as legal thrillers, mysteries, romances, or plain old fiction. I think you can consider my books literary, because they make you think, or commercial, because they are a compelling read. Marketing departments like to label authors with just one tag, so that they know how to promote a book, but I think the best books straddle genres and attract a variety of readers. I’d like to think this is one reason my books appeal to people – because I give them something different every time.
Picoult doesn’t really stick to one genre, unless you just consider her a writer of general fiction. While I have yet to read all of her novels, I have read many of them and enjoyed each one. She tackles different subjects and themes, but there is one thing that remains consistent: Picoult weaves great stories while keeping them engaging and accessible.
If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, you likely already have thoughts on which are her best, and where to start. But if you’ve stumbled on this post having heard of Picoult but not having read (m)any of her books, I’ll give you a starting point! I would recommend My Sister’s Keeper (of course), The Tenth Circle, and Nineteen Minutes.
Like Jodi Picoult and want something similar? Check out these ten authors.
Kristin Hannah also “straddles genres,” as Picoult would say. When asked about her books, Hannah said that she “blend[s] a lot of elements from popular genres into [her] work because [she] love[s] reading so many kinds of fiction.” Just like Picoult, you could pick up one of her books and find yourself immersed in the past, or maybe a legal thriller, or maybe a story of family. But no matter what, you will get a good page-turner! I would recommend Magic Hour.
Shreve writes leisurely paced novels that focus on complex characters. Her books tell the stories of women (usually) who have to pick up their lives in the wake of tragedy or difficult circumstance. Like Picoult, Shreve writes about women in today’s society with emotional and psychological depth. Give The Weight of Water a try.
With a background in psychotherapy, Diane Chamberlain now writes compelling, character-driven novels. She focuses on the relationships between people and the ways they tested through tragedy, loss, family, mystery. Her books are thought-provoking and touching, and will keep you turning the pages. I recommend Necessary Lies.
Tackling provocative issues with diverse characters, Bohjalian writes character driven novels that play out in everyday life. Another genre-straddler, there’s something for everyone. Bohjalian and Picoult both write about timely, hot button issues. Their books are often set in New England where they both come from. Bohjalian became popular when, in 1988, his book Midwives was chose for the Oprah book club. That’s probably a good place to start!
Christina Baker Kline
Kline explores the themes of self-discovery and personal growth, the catalyst of which is often a tragic or traumatic event. Again, she is one of those writers that “straddles genres,” and this is much to our benefit! I would recommend Orphan Train.
Trained as a journalist, Mitchard writes character driven stories about family with a straightforward narrative style. She explores the relationships between people in gripping stories with a strong sense of place. She also writes young adult novels! Her book The Deep End of the Ocean is a good starting point. It was the very first book in Oprah’s book club and it was made into a movie!
Gudenkauf’s books generally revolve around a crime or tragedy. From there, her characters come to terms with it in their own way. I love her books because not only do you get a good mystery, you get to connect with the characters on an emotional level and watch them grow. Gudenkauf often uses multiple perspectives to layer her stories. Picoult does this often, too. I would recommend These Things Hidden.
Rice focuses on love, family, and relationships in her novels. She writes strong women that have to deal with complex situations in the context of family life and personal relationships. Try starting with Angels All Over Town.
Moriarty writes about many things but her themes often come back to family. She is witty and humorous while tackling larger subjects. Her website describes her novels as, “often funny, sometimes sad, stories about families and relationships and the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.” That sounds like a pretty apt, and interesting, description of her work. I loved both The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies and highly recommend them both.
Miller’s stories focus on issues and serious subjects. Like Picoult, Miller often focuses on families that have to deal with intense situations. However, her approach is a bit different. She dives a bit deeper into the emotional complexities of her characters. While I Was Gone is a good place to start.
Have you read any novels by these authors? What other authors and novels would you recommend to those that love Jodi Picoult?
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.