10 Lovely Books like On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

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by Charlotte Hopkins


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Have you just finished Ocean Vuong’s emotional rollercoaster of a novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous? Are you also looking for a similar book to pick up next?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous centres around a man in his late twenties who narrates the book and we know as simply Little Dog. This novel-length letter written by Little Dog to his illiterate mother explores themes of family, race, class, masculinity and more.

Flickering between wartime Vietnam and the present day in Hartford, we are shown his family’s history from before our narrator was born up until the present day. A beautiful story with a shocking ending, Vuong provides readers with an intimate story that pulls at the heartstrings.

If you are looking for recommendations for similar books to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous then check out these 10 books!

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel

10 Books like On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

This powerful and moving book about the impact of the past and human arrogance, Never Let Me Go is an excellent book that readers will love.

This sci-fi dystopian literary novel follows Kathy who grows up in Hailsham, a boarding school in the English countryside far from the outside world. The students are well looked after and taught to a high standard but curiously, they learn nothing of the world beyond Hailsham’s walls.

So, when Kathy and her friends graduate and leave the school’s grounds, they realise the truth of what Hailsham is…

Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of books to read after Never Let Me Go!

Never Let Me Go

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara’s epic novel, A Little Life, has captured the attention and hearts of readers all over the world therefore, it is perfect for those looking for something like On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.

The book tells the story of four college graduates and best friends who move to New York to create a new life for themselves. Armed only with pitiful pennies and the ambition of hopeful young boys, we follow the four friends grow into men through the years.

The story takes a deep and dark turn when their undoing might be from within, caused by Jude whose childhood trauma left him broken and haunted. This story of queer love and friendship is poignant and unsettling but a masterpiece nonetheless.

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Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of books similar to A Little Life!

A Little Life

Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman

If you haven’t already read Call Me By Your Name, then this is your sign!

The novel tells the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between a teen boy and a guest at his parent’s Italian countryside manor.

At first, the pair are unsettled by their instant attraction but as the weeks pass and their passion becomes undeniable, a fiery love affair begins.

An unforgettable and honest novel about human attraction and intimacy, try reading Andre Aciman’s queer masterpiece!

Have you already read this? Check out our list of books similar to Call Me By Your Name!

Call Me by Your Name: A Novel

This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar

This queer science fiction novel is revered for its love story that stretches out across time and space, examining how infinite love can truly be.

In a world different from ours, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter that reads: Burn before reading. From this, a surprising correspondence begins between two rival agents who are both determined to win the best future for their opposing factions.

As the pair communicate more, what began as a battlefield taunt becomes an epic romance – one that would end in both their deaths if discovered. After all, a war has to be won and someone will have to lose.

This is How You Lose the Time War is perfect for fans of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous who want a novel in a different genre to switch things up.

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Imagine Me Gone, by Adam Haslett

This book from Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, Adam Haslett, is an intimate and invigorating exploration of the question, how far will we go to save the people we love?

In 1960s London, Margaret’s fiancée is hospitalised for his depression and she finds herself asking herself: to stay or to go? Margaret decides to marry John and what follows is a memorable story of the family that is birthed from this one decision.

The novel is told from the perspective of the married couple and their three children: Michael, Celia and Alec.

Michael is a wonderful yet anxious young man who makes sense of the world through parody. His younger siblings alongside his mother, help to care for Michael’s increasingly worrisome behaviour.

A powerful story about the devotion of siblings and the impact of a father’s pain on his family, Imagine Me Gone also explores the love and torture that families put each other through.

Imagine Me Gone

Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner

A similar book to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Crying in H Mart is a memoir from Michelle Zauner that is intimate and profound, making the reader feel as if it was written for the author’s eyes only.

This recollection of stories about growing up Korean American in Oregon, the loss of her mother and the forging of her own identity that followed.

Growing up with her mother’s high expectations to bonding when visiting Seoul, Zauner explores the reckoning with her identity that followed her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis when she was twenty-five.

A must-read for readers who like thoughtful, honest and tear-jerking words of wisdom.

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

A book with a central queer romance and tragic, powerful themes, The Song of Achilles is a widely acclaimed novel. A retelling of the Ancient Greek hero, Achilles, from the point of view of the narrator, Patroclus – Achilles’ best friend.

The story starts when Patroclus is exiled by his father when he accidentally kills a boy of noble birth and meets Achilles, an extremely talented and equally attractive demi-god.

 This novel is a classic Greek tragedy with a modern twist that Madeline Miller expertly executes and will have readers sobbing with every chapter.

Pick up this book for your next five-star read, but make sure to have some tissues set aside!

Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of books to read after The Song of Achilles!

Song of Achilles, The

In the Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado

If you liked Vuong’s exploration of a queer love story and the deep, honest tone it takes, then you’ll love In the Dream House.

This memoir explores Carmen Maria Machado’s experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship.

Written with admirable candour and wit, the author tackles a difficult subject with tact and creates a unique piece of written work that will have readers pouring over the pages.

In the Dream House: A Memoir

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

This story about familial secrets and the struggle for family members to understand each other, Everything I Never Told You is a profoundly moving story of the Lee family and the tragedy that befell them.

Lydia is the daughter of Marilyn and James Lee, a Chinese American couple living in 1970s small-town Ohio. When Lydia’s body is found, her parents’ dreams for her to live out the dreams they were never able to were destroyed.

The girl who kept the family together, now gone, the Lee family begins to crumble.

If you liked On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, then you’ll love this contemporary novel by Celeste Ng.

Everything I Never Told You

If We Were Villains, by M. L. Rio

M. L. Rio’s enthralling novel, If We Were Villains is the perfect book to pick up next.

With a heartbreaking yet enthralling plot filled with murder, mystery and sexual tension, Rio’s rich worldbuilding and characters that seem to jump off the page will have you enraptured.

Flipping back and forth between the present and the past, we follow Oliver Marks who has just served ten years in prison for a murder he may or may not have committed.

Oliver and his seven friends studied at an elite arts college where they studied Shakespeare, competing against their classmates and each other.

When the casting of their latest play is announced and surprises all of the friends, things begin to spiral out of control and soon enough, a body appears.

Having to use their acting skills to convince both their friends and the police they’re not murderers, this tense and exciting story weaves in romance and friendships that end in tragedy.

Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of books similar to If We Were Villains!

If We Were Villains: A Novel

These books are poignant and thought-provoking that weave in thrilling romances and tear-jerking tragedies.

Vuong and all the authors on this list are able to expertly balance the entertainment of novels with the important themes necessary to create a memorable, exciting read. I hope you find a book on this list you won’t be able to put down!

Are you looking for more books like to read after Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous? Have any recommendations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!

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Charlotte is a writer for Books Like This One. She studied drama and writing for performance and enjoys reading romance, literary fiction and young adult novels. Some of her favourite authors include Donna Tartt and Leigh Bardugo. Read more from Charlotte

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