Book Recommendations for The Goldfinch | What to Read After The Goldfinch

I remember that when I first finished The Goldfinch I was left with a severe book hangover, and I still remember that time with wonder. I’m hoping this post will serve readers of The Goldfinch well because I went searching for book recommendations for The Goldfinch after I finished it and was never satisfied. Now that I’ve had about a year to digest the novel, I feel like I’m in a better position to advise on this issue. I did not include any Dickens because that’s in practically every list you can think of that addresses read-a-likes for The Goldfinch, so, while I love Charles Dickens, here are some other ideas on reading recommendations for what to read after you’ve finished The Goldfinch.

"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt
“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

So You’ve Read The Goldfinch. Or, What to Read Next

If you loved the first person narrative and retrospection and insight on how a life is constructed…

My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard (2014)

"My Struggle: Book 1" by Karl Ove Knausgaard
“My Struggle: Book 1” by Karl Ove Knausgaard
My Struggle is a six-volume autobiography by Karl Ove (Knausgaard). Or actually it’s a six-volume novel. Or something in between. So far the first three books have been translated into English with the fourth being released this spring. What I love about My Struggle is the confessional style of Karl Ove. He is so brutally honest about things, saying stuff and ranting about his life and the things that complicate his vision, that you have to admire him for going all out. It is so intimate and striking. I find that I need to take it in slowly. Karl Ove looks back on his personal history and is able to pick out singular moments that shaped who he is today. I think this is similar to Theo’s voice and narrative style. Also, if one of the things you liked about The Goldfinch was how long it was, that you could sink your teeth into it and live there for a while, this is a good choice (Though honestly that is true of almost all the books I picked for this list).

If you loved the epic scope of The Goldfinch and that it involved a specific industry and the metropolis of New York City AND you loved the story of two best friends (like Theo and Boris)…

"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon
“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” by Michael Chabon

I read this book a while ago, way back in my senior year of high school, and I would love to reread it. Chabon’s novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and details the story of two young men (the Kavalier and Clay of the title) who create a superman-like character in the Golden Age of Comic. But it’s about so much more. It’s about New York City, and America, and the immigrant experience, and homosexuality, and having a father or not having a father, and World War II, the Holocaust, etc. Like The Goldfinch, Chabon’s novel ushers you into the comics world much like Goldfinch does that with antiques and the art world. It also has an infectious excitement to it; it feels like you are right there on the edge of the moment when the world is about to change.

If you loved the idea that your life could be changed by small actions, and that your life could have turned out differently…

"Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson
“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life is a completely surreal novel. I’ve never read anything like it, except maybe Goldfinch. Atkinson’s novel follows Ursula Todd, a young woman who is born and who dies again and again and again. The background is World War I and World War II in England, and the novel examines the question of, “How would my life have turned out differently if I had or hadn’t done this or that?” It’s a beautiful novel that makes you think about fate, destiny, and the strange structure to our lives. I cannot recommend it enough. Also, bonus: there is a sequel coming out this year about Ursula’s brother.

If you loved the idea of an orphan taken under an old eccentric’s wing and being raised like a child…

"The Children's Book" by A.S. Byatt
“The Children’s Book” by A.S. Byatt
The Children’s Book is another grand, sweeping novel about how lives can be shaped in the wake of no parents. The Children’s Book is about a family, led by the matriarch and children’s book author Olive, who takes in a homeless orphan in 19th century England. The story examines how the boy’s life is shaped by a family that is as eccentric as it gets. Along the way the novel addresses war, art, writing, family, love, and childhood. Plus it’s really, really long (675 pages!), so it should keep you busy for a while.

If you loved learning about the strange culture of Las Vegas…

"Beautiful Children" by Charles Bock
“Beautiful Children” by Charles Bock
Beautiful Children unites different people who live in or around Las Vegas. There are teens, parents, seedy individuals, and shady careers much in the same way that Goldfinch immerses you in the strange and bizarre landscapes and industries that could only happen in Las Vegas. Bock is observant without being overtly judgmental. And he grew up the son of Las Vegas pawnbrokers.

If you were moved by the crushing despair that Theo felt when his mother died and the way his life was forever tinged with grief thereafter…

"The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion
“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking is the shortest book on this list length-wise, yet perhaps it is the most profound. Didion uses the memoir format to reflect on the sudden death of her husband and life afterwards. Didion lost her husband in a way that was similar to how Theo lost his mother: tragic, unexpected, and capable of carving out a giant void. Didion’s prose is lyrical and hypnotic while still being spare and restrained. A National Book Award winner.

Finally, if all else fails and you don’t know what you want, you probably want to read another book by Donna Tartt. In that case I’d recommend…

"The Secret History "by Donna Tartt
“The Secret History “by Donna Tartt

Of Tartt’s two other novels, The Secret History is probably the closest to Goldfinch. In The Secret History, Richard unravels his memories of his early years in college when he was taken under the wing of an influential Classics professor and welcomed into an exclusive clique of like-minded scholars. I have read Secret History twice in the past year and continually have to repress the urge to read it again. Like Goldfinch, Secret History focuses on a small cast of characters and is told in first person. It touches on themes of deviance and immorality (to say the least) and is also a rollicking good time.

So there you have it, my Goldfinch read-a-likes for those who have just read it. I hope you find something that peaks your interest.

What were your favorite parts about The Goldfinch? Have you ever read any books that were like it?

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