When an established author’s book goes viral years after publication, the hype spreading via social media, new fans are eager for more books. In the case of Taylor Jenkins Reid, her backlist is quick to get through, and is quite different from her current work. The second-best thing from new books from your favorite author is to find books or other authors like Taylor Jenkins Reid in one way or another. Taylor Jenkins Reid book recommendations are everywhere, from TikTok to the local library.
Reading through reviews, most readers love TJR’s characters, attention to detail, and realistic historical settings. One of the reoccurring criticisms of Taylor Jenkin Reid’s books, though, is that her characters of color are flat compared to the white characters, or are stereotypes.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is white. Evelyn Hugo, the starlet protagonist of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is Cuban, but changes her name and appearance to suit Hollywood standards. Sure, that’s what really happened (a la Rita Hayworth) but did Jenkins Reid need to include that detail? Was the story of a Cubana’s rise to fame Jenkin Reid’s story to tell? In the same novel, a Black man is left for dead to protect a white man’s reputation. TJR’s latest novel, Carrie Soto is Back features another Latine woman, who comes out of retirement only when an Asian woman beats her record. That feels unnecessary.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is obviously popular for a reason. Her novels are enjoyable and bring readers into the past in an easy, memorable way. However Jenkins Reid’s treatment of characters of color continues to be somewhat problematic. That’s not to say that TJR should not feature characters of color in her novels, but that future characters of color should be as fully realized and purposeful as her white characters.
In the meantime, reading TJR’s current catalogue with a critical eye is vital to understanding the merit in TJR’s work. With the surge on popularity in wide-appealing historical fiction and contemporary fiction, many authors like Taylor Jenkins Reid can usually be found without a waitlist. At your next book club, try one of these books for something new that feels like a favorite!
Like TJR, Cleeton’s most famous work is about a famous Cubana. The Perez Family Saga, starting with Next Year in Havana, follows a Cuban American family over multiple generations in Cuba, Spain, and the U.S. Much of Cleeton’s work is inspired by her own family’s flight from Cuba. Other works by Cleeton include two different romance series.
Denny S. Bryce
If Evelyn Hugo was your favorite, you’ll love Denny S. Bryce’s first novel, Wild Women and the Blues. Set in Jazz-age Chicago, Wild Women and the Blues is the story of a talented dancer and her secrets that she spills decades later with the help of film student Sawyer Hayes. Bryce’s latest dual timeline novel, In The Face Of The Sun, explores themes of family loyalty, greed, betrayal, and resolution, as Frankie makes the dangerous trip from Chicago to Los Angeles to flee her abusive husband.
TJR’s earlier works lean more contemporary fiction/romance with a dash of whimsy. Maybe in Another Life is a cozy happy-sad book that made me want the gooiest cinnamon roll in town. For books with a similar feel, look to British writer Josie Silver. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird offers a parallel perspective on love and heartache. For holiday feels, try One Day in December. Silver’s books capture a range of emotion in a pleasantly cathartic way.
The sibling dynamics in Malibu Rising are some of the most realistic in recent fiction. Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House offers a similar realism in the family dynamics as the Turner family grows and shifts. When the time comes to make big decisions about the family home, the Turners must stand together despite everything they’ve been through and make the choices together.
It’s the realistic details and faux pop culture that make TJR’s historical novels feel real. Yeah, we know Daisy Jones and The Six wasn’t real, but with the turn of the pages, you you can almost hear their vinyl softly crackling in the background. Melanie Benjamin writes across the spectrum of history, but her characters and the events she writes about are emotional and vivid. From early film stars to circus side show artists and the inspiration behind beloved books, Benjamin’s historical novels feel incredibly true to life. Benjamin’s latest novel, The Children’s Blizzard, is based on a real 1888 storm that shook a small farming community.
Much of TJR’s work focuses on American pop culture and mythos, spanning decades as the country changes. Rather than pop culture, Farjado-Anstine’s writing celebrates Indigenous and Chicano culture in the American West. Woman of Light is a sweeping family saga, as the Lopez family makes their way back to their generational home.
Farjado-Anstine incorporates the culturally significant elements of magical realism and nonlinear storytelling in her work.
If you found yourself disappointed that Mick Riva never existed or that you couldn’t ever watch Little Women starring Evelyn Hugo, Marie Benedict’s biographical novels are for you. Step into 1926 with The Mystery of Mrs. Christie to uncover the real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie, or into a Paris laboratory with Rosalind Franklin in Her Hidden Genius. Benedict brilliantly presents historical figures and events in a way that’s both educational and exciting.
For a touch of horror/thriller and magical realism with high glam settings, Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author to read. Mexican Gothic‘s Noemí is a socialite princess who would fit in just fine at Hollywood parties. If noir is more your thing, Velvet was the Night will bring you to 1970s Mexico City. Visit Jazz Age Mexico with ancient gods in Gods of Jade and Shadow. Moreno-Garcia draws readers into her carefully crafted world, not letting you go until the story is complete.
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
A favorite author of TJR, Margret Wilkerson Sexton writes about multiple generations of Black families, their dreams and heartaches, and the bonds that hold them together. Wilkerson Sexton’s latest, On The Rooftop is about a trio of sisters living in 1950s San Francisco. With the help of their mother, the sisters’ lives change instantly from singing at the dinner club to stardom. On the Rooftop is perfect for fans of TJR, with the familial and showbiz themes and historical context.
Celia and Evelyn, best friends/soulmates (apparently?) is supposed to be the real romance of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. However, the treatment of their supposed love for each other feels stereotypically straight-white-male writing women to me.
Queer historical fiction does not have to adhere to 2022 values, nor to preconceived notions about the past. Welsh novelist Sarah Waters writes historical fiction primarily set during the Victorian era featuring queer characters and themes. Tipping the Velvet, Waters’ most well-known novel, is a glittering exploration of sexuality, ambition, and heartbreak, set in Victorian England.
The ball is in your court, Taylor Jenkins Reid! We want more! Bigger, brighter, and better treatment of minority characters!
Until then, check out TBR — our book recommendation service — to get personalized recommendations like your favorite authors!