10 Poignant Stories You Won’t Soon Forget

Posted on July 6, 2019

by April S

Welcome to our appeal series.

We’re trying to help our readers find that next great read. If you’re looking for reading recommendations beyond the best seller lists – you’ve come to the right place. The appeal series includes a variety of books that share similar appeal factors like genre, pace, storyline, tone, writing style and/or characters.

The books is this blog post were pulled directly from Novelist based on the novel’s tone (or appeal).

What’s Appeal?

According to Novelist, appeal factors (or story elements) help readers decide whether or not a book fits their style or mood.

Basically, appeal factors are elements most people don’t actively think about, but actually matter when you’re looking for a book that will “appeal” to you based on what you enjoy reading.

The recommendations below have a haunting and moving tone.

What does that mean?


Tone is the feeling that a book evokes in the reader. Is the mood of the story light and upbeat, or dark and menacing? Is it inspirational or bleak? Does the setting significantly add to the emotional content of the story? ~ Novelist


Often because of hard-hitting storylines, these books have a memorable, unforgettable quality that stays with the reader. ~ Novelist


Emotionally resonant books that make readers feel invested in both the characters and the story. ~ Novelist

Haunting / Moving Novels

The Irishman's Daughter by V. S. Alexander
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts
The Night Language by David Rocklin

1. The Irishman’s Daughter by V. S. Alexander

Genre: Historical fiction Descriptors: Atmospheric and Compelling

From the acclaimed author of “The Magdalen Girls” and “The Taster” comes a powerful, unforgettable novel of strength and resilience, set against the backdrop of the Irish famine.

2. Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

Genre: Literary fiction Descriptors: Compelling and Disturbing

An eerie, watery reimagining of the Oedipus myth set on the canals of Oxford, from the author of “Fen.”

3. The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

Genre: Historical fiction Descriptors: Authentic, Character-driven, Atmospheric, Bittersweet and Lyrical

Tells the story of two women, one white and one black, in racially charged 1956, who fight personal battles of freedom and form a friendship that neither expected.

4. The Night Language by David Rocklin

Genre: Historical fiction Descriptors: Intricately plotted, Engaging, Lyrical and Richly detailed

Tells the story of a young man, Prince Alamayou of Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia), who is taken from his home and the Abyssinian war to the court of Queen Victoria—a world he knows nothing about.

5. The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

Genre: Psychological Fiction Descriptors: Character-driven, Compelling and Reflective

A French ballerina with self-perception challenges descends into anorexia when an injury sidelines her career, landing her in a support home for women with life-threatening eating disorders.

A Lucky Man: Stories by Jamel Brinkley
The Diplomat's Daughter by Karin Tanabe
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

6. A Lucky Man: Stories by Jamel Brinkley

Genre: Literary fiction and Short stories Descriptors: Complex characters Compelling and Lyrical

In a debut collection of nine expansive, searching stories, the author reflects on the tenderness and vulnerability of black men and boys whose hopes sometimes betray them in a world shaped by race, gender and class—and where lucky may be the greatest lie of all.

7. The Diplomat’s Daughter by Karin Tanabe

Genre: Historical fiction Descriptors: Well-developed characters, Sweeping storyline and Stylistically complex

A Japanese-American woman and a German-American man in a World War II internment camp fall in love before one is extradited and the other enlists in the U.S. Army in the hopes that a Pacific assignment will enable their reunion, a situation that is complicated by her first love and the realities of war.

8. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

Genre: Historical fiction Descriptors: Well-developed characters, Atmospheric, Lyrical and Richly detailed

When a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents is discovered, historian Helen Watt is tasked to find the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”

9. Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

Genre: Literary fiction Descriptors: Character-driven, Compelling, Lyrical and Stylistically complex

Returning to the Cambodian homeland she fled as a child refugee decades earlier, Teera finds herself in a country of survivors and perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge holocaust before bonding with a mysterious musician who claims to have known her late father.

10. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Genre: Psychological Fiction Descriptors: Character-driven, Bittersweet and Stylistically Complex

A family saga about two Irish American families in a New York suburb, the love between two of their children, and the tragedies that threaten to tear them apart and destroy their futures.

Person looking for books to read
Looking for More Recommendations?

Try these great blog posts …

But wait, there’s more …

And even more …

Dig into our new catalog enhancements (powered by Novelist) to find even more great books to read.

Let’s say you really enjoyed a particular book and want to find even more like it.

Simply scroll down in the catalog record to find similar reads (aka: read-alikes), story elements (genre, theme, etc.) and book lists.

Novelist results in the catalog

We hope you find these catalog enhancements helpful.

Happy reading!

Did you like this blog post? Keep up to date with all of our posts by subscribing to the Library’s newsletters!

Keep your reading list updated with our book lists. Our staff love to read and they’ll give you the scoop on new tv-series inspired titles, hobbies, educational resources, pop culture, current events, and more!

Looking for more great titles? Get personalized recommendations from our librarians with this simple form.