7 Books to Read If You Loved 'Little Fires Everywhere'
So you've read Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere and loved it. Maybe you bought it from The Reads. Collection, our curated collection of books available to shop now. Maybe you raced through this tale of wealth, family and secrets set in a gated community in Ohio.
Then you tuned into the Little Fires Everywhere miniseries starring Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon and Joshua "Pacey 4eva" Jackson, and loved that too. So, what next? What else can you read to fill the Little Fires Everywhere-shaped hole in your life?
It's a dilemma we've all encountered, so we're here to help you decide what to read next. Here are seven of our favourite books to read if you loved Little Fires Everywhere.
One of the things that Little Fires Everywhere does is give you a window in the life and mind of its young female characters. Each of them—Pearl, Izzy, Lexie and Bebe, as well as a young Mia as seen in flashbacks—has such a specific perspective and experience, and author Celeste Ng has written them all with such care that they leap from the page. That is also a good description for Kya, the protagonist of Where the Crawdads Sing.
With every chapter, Kya life and emotions and identity, first as a young woman living in the marshes of North Carolina, and later as a writer caught in a romance with two men. It's as much of a page-turner as Little Fires Everywhere, and has the same sense of time and place as that novel, too. You'll devour it.
Here's a subject not currently up for debate: Liane Moriarty is one of the best Australian writers working right now. If you've read Big Little Lies, which is often suggested as a follow up (or precursor) to Little Fires Everywhere, then we think you'll share our opinion. There's no one else like her writing gripping plots, full of fascinating characters, that take us on real journeys. We love losing ourselves in her stories, that's how relatable and unforgettable they are.
Our favourite is What Alice Forgot, which is a slightly underrated Liane Moriarty book, but is a perfect read for anyone who loved Little Fires Everywhere. Because it, too, is about a family with all the privilege in the world, and it too is about the secrets that family is keeping from each other. This story, which follows Alice after she wakes up from an accident having completely forgotten the last ten years of her life, is funny, keenly observed and full of truly touching moments.
A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing is another must read for fans of Little Fires Everywhere. On the surface, they might seem like very different books. One is set in a gated community in Ohio and largely around a wealthy white family, the other in Sydney following a young Asian violinist living with sex addiction.
What unites these two books is the author's perspective as Asian women. Both bring their particular cultural insights into their writing, giving you an insight into what it's like to be an Asian woman through their characters, and how the predominantly white society around them might perceive them. In Little Fires Everywhere, this is achieved through the character of Bebe, whose desperate attempts to protect her baby tear the community apart, and In A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing, it's through Jenna, the story's main character.
Is this a cheat? Is it bad form to recommend the first book by the author of Little Fires Everywhere in an article about books to read if you loved Little Fires Everywhere? Well, whatever. We're doing it.
We love it when we discover an author whose style we love and that we can dig into, going back to read their previous works. We've done it before with writers like Sally Rooney and Liane Moriarty (see above!) and we did it with Celeste Ng, too. The second we finished Little Fires Everywhere we raced to read her first book Everything I Never Told You. And we weren't disappointed.
Like her second novel, Everything I Never Told You is an enthralling story about a family trying to live through a devastating event—if you've read The Lovely Bones, you'll have an idea of how the story unfolds. It's also set in Ohio, like Little Fires Everywhere, and it's also interested in class and race, especially the experience of Asian immigrants in America.
One of the core aspects of Little Fires Everywhere is how the children of the Richardson family, living in their enormous house, become entangled with Pearl Warren, the daughter of their housekeeper Mia. Similar in age, enrolled at the same school and neighbours of sorts, their worlds become entwined in ways that often go beyond mere friendship. It's a dynamic that also plays out in Kokomo, the wonderful debut novel by Australian author Victoria Hannan, about a woman returning home after almost a decade living overseas to find her mother—previously house bound and agoraphobic—has left their house of the first time in years.
Told in two parts, the book is anchored by two families who have always lived opposite each other on the same street, and the ways in which these families are bound together as one in surprising ways. The friendship between main character Mina and her neighbour (and best friend) Kira, as well as the friendship of their parents, has echoes of the relationship between the Warrens and the Richardsons in Little Fires Everywhere.
If what you enjoyed about Little Fires Everywhere was Elena Richardson's amateur sleuthing, and her descriptions of being a young journalist and cub reporter, then Small Pleasures could be the follow up read for you.
This heartbreakingly beautiful book is set in the 50s and follows Jean, a reporter at a London newspaper whose life is lonely: she lives with her ageing mother, and has few friends and no romantic life to speak of. When she begins writing about a family who claim to have experienced a remarkable event, she becomes wrapped up in their lives and life takes on a new texture for her.
But not all is as it should be, and as Jean digs deeper into the story, she will learn more about herself and about her new friends, than she might ever have wanted to know. This book is written with tender and elegant prose, telling its story carefully and with a lot of heart. It is a gorgeous and, at times, tragic read.
We feel like we're constantly recommending this book, and have almost definitely recommended it on the journal before. But we think there's no situation when reading this book is a bad idea. It's that good.
If you read Little Fires Everywhere and longed for another read that digs into notions of class and privilege and how these two things come to a head when it comes to relationships, Circle Of Friends is for you. This truly wonderful novel is about all of those things—set in 50s Dublin, it follows a group of girlfriends from a small town called Knockglen as they navigate life in the big city.
Bennie Hogan is the central character, a girl who dreams of getting out of her small town, and making her way in the world, and maybe getting to kiss Jack Foley, the blue eyed rugby captain and most popular and privileged boy in all of the university. It's a book about desire and ambition and growing up and it's one of our all time favourites. A big warm hug of a novel, perfect for a Sunday afternoon when you want to read something comforting.