There’s nothing like a great book to get lost in reading. From memoirs to picture books, and everything in between, reading can be a rollercoaster experience. Whether you cry or laugh, emotions always surface after a good book. Local libraries and bookstores are full of great reads. But some books always stand head and shoulders above the rest. The Fault in Our Stars is one of those books.
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The Fault in Our Stars stands out because it’s an honest, funny book. It’s a sensitive, dialogue-driven novel about teenage cancer, where both protagonists deal with death before most teens even graduate high school. Sometimes, it can be easier to just think of sad cancer movies as the only genre available to talk about terminal illness. But this book truly is funny.
By being honest about the pain cancer causes, and poking fun at sappy tropes, it’s been well-loved by many people, including teenagers and cancer patients, across the globe. If you’ve already read this book and are yearning for more, we’ve picked out some great reads that may satisfy your inner bookworm.
Fiction Books Similar to The Fault in Our Stars
Young adult fiction often tackles tough topics with humor. With these reads, it’s easy to see why.
1. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
This book showcases the life of Ezra, a stereotypical teenage jock. He seems to have everything going for him. He’s riding a wave of popularity as the captain of the varsity tennis team, looking forward to being accepted into a great college, and has a beautiful girlfriend.
But that all changes. When a car accident destroys his leg, Ezra’s future comes crashing down around him. There doesn’t seem to be any hope in sight. This book is about what happens when life shatters around you, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to pick up the pieces. This book follows Ezra as he stitches his life together around his new identity that seems to be springing from his injury.
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Written before The Fault In Our Stars, this book served as Green’s initial leap to literary fame. It’s a story of dealing with tragedy and the aftermath, wrapped up in a delightful young adult novel. The novel’s protagonist is ‘Pudge’ Halter, who moves to an Alabama boarding school in order to seek a “Great Perhaps.” He finds a friend—the Colonel, an ambitious mastermind of elaborate prank wars. He also finds Alaska, a moody brilliant girl who’s interested in many things.
But when Alaska dies abruptly, Pudge is left reeling in the aftermath. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation. Was it an accident, the product of ill-advised drunk driving? Was it suicide? With a teenage flurry of final papers, prank wars, and young tragedy, Pudge sets out on a quest for the truth. It’s one of the best children’s books on death.
3. Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Being a teenager is hard. For Greg Gaines, that statement is terribly true. He wants to survive high school and his own awkwardness, and that’s about it. Greg doesn’t want to make an impact. He doesn’t want to draw attention to his own weirdness.
He’d rather put his head down and coast through to graduation. Helping him in this endeavor is the titular Earl, who makes weird movies with him. As horrible ripoffs of famous directors, their movies serve as a source of entertainment.
It’s an okay life that passes for mediocre until Greg’s mom interferes. There’s a new girl, Rachel. And she has cancer. In Greg’s opinion, this makes things awkward. He has a whole life of mediocrity ahead of him, and Rachel doesn’t have much of a future to look forward to. Things escalate when Greg’s mom forces him to hang out with Rachel.
4. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is one of the most classic young adult novels ever written. Chbosky dives deep into teenage life through his protagonist, Charlie. Charlie is coping with two deaths—a car crash leading to the death of his aunt, and the recent suicide of his best friend. He’s also trying to cope with mental health issues, made worse by the increasingly complicated lives of his family and friends.
Dealing with these issues, through the lens of high school is an experience that leads Charlie to start writing letters. These letters read like diary entries and are a personal look into Charlie’s life.
5. Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
The most famous line of this novel is, “When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics.” This is from Zac, one of the protagonists suffering from cancer. When he meets Mia, a fellow leukemia patient, everything changes.
Zac wants to believe in hard facts. Mia wants to be angry about her diagnosis, not the resigned sufferer that everyone wants her to be. When they come together, even as they try to get back to ‘normal life,’ everything changes.
6. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Cystic fibrosis comes with an infamous rule: stay six feet apart. This rule applies to patients with cystic fibrosis since they can’t come within six feet of each other.
This could prove deadly under normal circumstances. But dating someone you can’t get close to is impossible, right? Stella and Will, two teenagers stuck in the same hospital with CF, are determined to find out.
7. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Being allergic to the whole world is unimaginable. But that’s exactly what Yoon’s protagonist, Maddie, is dealing with. Thanks to severe combined immunodeficiency, Maddie can’t leave the house.
The only two people she has contact with are her mom and her nurse. She goes to school online, and never leaves the house. Maddie can’t because it’s too dangerous. This novel explores what it’s like to live with illness, take risks, and cope with your whole life being altered because someone else lived in fear.
8. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
This novel’s protagonist, Alice, is staring down at a leukemia diagnosis. There are so many things she’s supposed to do.
Do treatments, rest, hope that her final months aren’t painful. Alice wants something else, though. She convinces her best friend to create a bucket list with her. It’s all about revenge, hope, and adventure.
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Nonfiction Books Similar to The Fault in Our Stars
Memoirs are a great source of empathy, knowledge, and gallows humor.
9. Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto
A powerful career woman in Manhattan. The love of her life. A wedding date. What could go wrong? As it turns out, a lot of things.
According to Marisa, she was living her dream life. Then, she found a lump in her breast. It turned out to be cancerous. This irreverent graphic novel told as a memoir, relates the story of her battle with breast cancer and ultimate triumph.
10. Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person by Miriam Engelberg
Cancer is a weighty topic. It makes sense that people combat it with one of the most lighthearted mediums imaginable—cartoons.
Engleberg’s memoir is told cartoon-style, but it’s incredibly detailed. From her diagnosis to treatments to the recovery process, she narrates with humor and style.
11. Cancer Schmancer by Fran Drescher
Did you watch the ‘90s TV show The Nanny? If so, you may be familiar with Drescher. She lived with cancer symptoms for two years before she received a diagnosis.
Finally, Drescher got diagnosed with uterine cancer. She chronicles her life, her recovery, and what it’s like with classic one-liners that will make you smile.
12. It’s Always Something by Gilda Radner
Gilda was a larger-than-life personality on Saturday Night Live. She was known for her sense of humor, her talent, and her willingness to laugh.
That willingness prompted her memoir. Even though Radner eventually passed away from cancer, she told her story first. With humor, it’s a great read for you to pass away an afternoon with.
13. Bald in the Land of Big Hair by Joni Rodgers
As a cancer survivor, Rodgers has a little perspective on her experience.
She’s able to make her book strong, funny, poignant. She admits, though—cancer wasn’t funny at the time, but at least she can laugh about it now.
14. Cancer Is a Bitch: Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis by Gail Konop Baker
Baker expected a midlife crisis. After all, she was forty-six, which is supposedly the right age for it. Instead of a mid-life crisis, she got breast cancer.
A year-long battle consumed any energy she might have devoted to any other crisis. With an approach that swings from comedy to tearjerker, Baker’s range will warm your heart.
15. Eight Billion Steps: My Impossible Quest for Cancer Comedy by Jeffrey Pen May
Finding humor in cancer? It sounds impossible. What’s there to laugh about? The answer is more than you might expect. With tact and humor,
May tackles cancer. As a survivor of a very rare cancer himself, May knows exactly what it’s like.
16. God Said, Ha!: A Memoir by Julia Sweeney
There’s a common saying: if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. First, Sweeney’s brother was diagnosed with cancer.
Then, days before he died, she was also diagnosed with cancer. From minor disasters to major moments, Sweeney relates this season of her life with gallows humor. It’s one of the funniest books on grief you’ll read.
Why You Should Read Other Books Like The Fault In Our Stars
It’s easy to feel isolated as a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness. Conversely, it can also feel alienating when you’re supporting a loved one through their illness day in and day out. By reading books that also touch upon that pain and the levity that can come with a disease like cancer, you can find others that share your unique outlook.
Or at least you can gain some solace knowing that other people have coped with cancer, too. By laughing through your pain, it might be easier to get through.