6 Books to Read If You’re Cuckoo for ‘Coco’

Pixar’s Coco sits comfortably at the top of the box office, and summons tears from audiences of all ages. Seriously, it’s sad. It’s uplifting and everything, but also sad. Oh man, Coco. Poor Coco. If you haven’t seen it, just trust me.


But if you have seen it and are looking to extend the experience, continue reading. These are books about family, loss, memory, and, of course, music. Check out our recommendations!


1. Coraline by Neil Gaiman



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As far as books about death and family go, this pretty much checks all the same boxes as Coco. After moving into a new house, Coraline finds a portal to another dimension, which is really just an alternate version of her new home. The alternate reality also contains alternate parents, who Coraline happens to prefer over her actual parents. Pretty safe choice for any of you Coco lovers.


2. Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières


Corelli's Mandolin

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Following an Italian village during World War II, this probably isn’t the first book to come to mind after watching Coco, but it’s all about music and family. It happens to also be a great romance. The story of Pelagia and Captain Corelli’s troubled love is exciting, touching, and enormously empathetic. And lots of mandolin playing.


3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders


Lincoln in the Bardo

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This book gets almost an unforgivable amount of buzz, having just won the 2017 Man Booker Prize. But it’s also weird as hell in the best possible way. Following the ghost of little Willie Lincoln (i.e. President Lincoln’s son), Saunders’ debut novel charts Willie’s journey through death, his father’s journey through grief, and a bunch of other unrestful spirits’ journey to acceptance. It’s chuckle-worthy, touching, and the most writerly book ever written.


4. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti


Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

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Tinti’s 2017 thriller walks the line between coming-of-age story and action-thriller. Besides having a beautiful book jacket, Tinti constructed the novel around the protagonist’s father’s so-called twelve lives, which are twelve bullet holes in his body. Every other chapter tells the story of how Samuel Hawley received each of his gunshot wounds, and they’re always exciting. The alternate chapters are about his daughter adjusting to a new town and trying to discover more about her family history. It’s a bit more adult and less magical than Coco, but it’s got those strong family vibes.


5. The Living End by Stanley Elkin


Living End

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Elkin’s satirical triptych puts the afterlife, and the popular conception of it, on center stage and it kind of cracks under the pressure. The protagonist Ellerbee dies in a liquor store robbery only to discover everything he’s ever heard about Heaven and Hell and God is, sadly for him, completely accurate. He spends an eternity in Hell for a pretty trivial offense, and it’s satire so it’s funny…kind of. It puts a different spin on death than Coco, for sure, but both bring much needed levity to the topic.


6. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson


Bridge to Terabithia

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The friendship of little kids Jesse and Leslie leads to the creation of a wonderful world of make believe, which Leslie dubs Terabithia. They populate world with made up creatures. Then something happens and… Everything is fine. It’s fine. Oh God, why did I write this list.




Feature Image Via Disney