Books like Remarkably Bright Creatures tell stories about the beautiful yet unexpected bonds or connections that can form between an unlikely pairing. Often, it is these surprising relationships that have a lasting impact on people.
The main character, Tova Sullivan, has been recently widowed. Now alone, after her son disappeared thirty years prior in a boating accident at eighteen years old, she keeps busy by working night shifts at Sowell Bay Aquarium. It is in these early hours of the morning that Tova forms a deep connection with Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus residing in one of the aquarium’s tanks.
Most would think that Marcellus is the attraction but he observes those on the other side of the glass as much as they observe him. Soon after developing a friendship with Tova, he figures out what truly happened the night her son disappeared.
Without a way to verbalise the truth to her, Marcellus must find a way to relay his knowledge to Tova before it is too late.
If you have already devoured Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt and you are looking for a similar contemporary novel with alike themes, then you are in the right place.
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10 Books like Remarkably Bright Creatures
Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we visit a café in a small alley in Tokyo that has served coffee for over a hundred years.
We meet four different visitors to the café, each looking to utilise the time travel that the café offers. Going back in time is not as easy as it seems.
Customers must sit in a particular seat; must not leave the café and they must get back to the present moment before their coffee goes cold.
A moving story that explores regrets, things not said and the lengths people will go to in order to change the past.
The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
There is a place in between life and death: a library. There are shelves upon shelves of books and each of the books offers a chance to try another life you could have lived. With each turned page, you get to see what life might have been like if you’d made other choices.
When Nora Seed finds herself in the library, she travels through each possible timeline and learns what is truly fulfilling in life and what makes it worth living.
A story about the choices we make and the meaning of life, The Midnight Library is a fabulous and thought-provoking story for all.
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The Keeper of Stories, by Sally Page
As a cleaner, Janice has picked up other people’s stories over the years. Whether overheard from the bathroom as she scrubbed a sink or dusted a window sill, she has collected stories like no other.
When she starts cleaning for Mrs B, a sharp-witted ninety-year-old, someone is finally asking for her own story. Insisting that she has no story she can share, Mrs B knows there is more to Janie than she is letting on.
Maybe it is time for Janice to finally reveal her own story.
A beautiful novel about the power of stories and literature and how they can bring people together, The Keeper of Stories is a perfect read for fans of Remarkably Bright Creatures.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo is a Hollywood icon, now aging and hiding away in her home after having lived a life of scandal and glamour. But now, after all the years, she is ready to finally tell her truth.
Monique Grant is a small-time magazine reporter who is shocked when Evelyn contacts her to be the one to write her biography. With a dead-end career and a husband who’s left her, this opportunity is the perfect way to jumpstart her new life.
Summoned to Evelyn’s grand apartment, Monique listens as she tells the story of her life and everything she learned along the way.
A story across the ages, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a book about two women who form an unexpected bond.
Already read this novel? Check out our list of books to read after The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo!
Really Good, Actually, by Monica Heisey
A lot of people use breakups to reinvent themselves in some way, whether that be a new haircut or new wardrobe.
As a young divorcee, Maggie is determined to use her time to take up new hobbies and get back out into the dating game. Her failed marriage lasted only six hundred and eight days, she’s utterly broke and she has no idea what she’s trying to say with her thesis.
We follow Maggie through her first year of single life, making bad and good decisions and asking herself tough questions that she isn’t sure she has – or will ever – have the answers to.
Really Good, Actually is the debut novel by Monica Heisey and is a wonderful story about the search for happiness within one’s self and within the world around you.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein, by Coco Mellors
Remarkably Bright Creatures and books like it show how the meeting of two characters can irrevocably change the course of their lives. This is the same for Coco Mellors’ Cleopatra and Frankenstein.
Cleo is a twenty-four-year-old British student living in New York. As her visa comes to an end and her search for a proper painting gig looks dire, she meets Frank. Twenty years her senior and a self-made success, he offers her a chance to stay in the city and make a name for herself.
The two find themselves hitched so Cleo can apply for a green card. Throughout the novel, we follow Cleo and Frank’s journey through the years and the ups and downs of marriage.
A heart wrenching story about the impact one chance meeting and an impulsive choice can have.
Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Told from the perspective of Klara, an Artificial Friend robot, Klara and the Sun begins as Klara observes the customers who visit her shop, waiting for the day a family will choose her.
Klara tells her story with a robotic and detached narrative that grows warmer and more aware as the story progresses and Klara learns what is truly means to be human and to love.
Klara’s search for her forever home is a heart-warming sci-fi story that lovers of Remarkably Bright Creatures will love.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, by V. E. Schwab
If you like historical fiction with a dash of fantasy thrown in, you’ll love The Invisible Life of Addie Larue.
We follow the protagonist Addie Larue as a woman in France 1714 who makes a bargain to live forever and forgo mortality. As she lives through each century, meeting all sorts of people, she realises she is cursed to be forgotten by everyone who she meets.
Three hundred years is a long time to constantly be forgotten, leaving no trace on the people or places behind her. Now in the 21st Century, Addie meets a man in a bookstore and he remembers her name.
Suddenly, Addie hopes that she might be able to leave a mark on the world.
Already read this novel? Check out our list of books similar to The Invisible Life of Addie Larue!
The Switch, by Beth O’Leary
Perfect for fans of Remarkably Bright Creatures, readers should try picking up The Switch.
After a big presentation at work goes completely awry, Leena Cotton is forced to take a two-month sabbatical to pull herself together. Escaping to a small Yorkshire village to stay with her grandma, Eileen, she takes some much-needed rest.
Eileen, on the other hand, is recently single and fast approaching eighty years old. Desperate for a second chance at love, Leena offers a two-month house swap. Her grandmother can search for love in London whilst she looks after the house in the countryside.
As the pair navigate their new lives and how it impacts their relationships, their exciting swap turns out to be more difficult than they first expected.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin
From the bestselling author Gabriele Zevin, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a book that explores a friendship through the ages.
As children, Sadie and Sam meet in the game room of a hospital’s paediatric ward. Sam has a foot injury and Sadie’s sister has cancer but the pair bond over a mutual love for gaming.
We follow the two friends from childhood to college and to everything that happens beyond. Spanning a thirty-year timeline, Sam and Sadie face trials and tribulations as they navigate their friendship, their careers and relationships.
A truly remarkable story of friendship, this book will bring out raw emotions in every reader.
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Without friendship, love and all the other emotions that bind us together as humans, life would be truly dull. If you like stories that explore these relationships and what it means to be human in all sorts of worlds, then these books will be your next five-star read.
Are you looking for more books like Remarkably Bright Creatures? Have any recommendations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!