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5 Gripping Books Like Malibu Rising

Are you a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books? Then here are 5 amazing books like Malibu Rising to add to your reading list!

Books Like Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising (by hugely popular writer Taylor Jenkins-Reid) is an irresistible, unputdownable book about family ties and the price of fame.

With a sumptuous setting, realistic and relatable characters, and an unusual family setup, it’s a good depiction of the reality behind fame and fortune.

It’s also a great story about reconnecting with your own roots, even when your family history is difficult.

If you like Malibu Rising and you’re looking for something similar, here are five books you can add to your reading list.

These books share similar themes: slowly unfolding mysteries, family secrets, and vividly described settings.

If you want some escapism, look no further – these books like Malibu Rising will take you somewhere else for a little while.

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5 Amazing Books Like Malibu Rising

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

True Crime Story shares a similar style to Malibu Rising (as well as the incredibly popular Daisy Jones and the Six).

Written as though the events are real, it investigates the disappearance of Zoe Nolan, a student at Manchester University.

Seven years later, writer Evelyn Mitchell is drawn into the story and turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help.

The book has a journalistic style, using interviews and emails to crack the case. It’s punchily written, and like Malibu Rising, the characters are incredibly believable.

It’s the small details in dialogue that makes it feel as though you’re really eavesdropping on other people’s conversations.

It’s a compelling story about the way our memories work, and how investigators can uncover the truth when recollections vary.

Stylistically, it’s a unique book, and the story unfolds in a slightly different way than a regular novel. If you want to switch things up a bit, this is a great one to try out.

Buy True Crime Story: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

If you want a juicy story about celebrities, this is the one for you. Picture Perfect tells the story of anthropologist Cassie Barrett, married to Hollywood darling Alex Rivers.

Their wedding was a fairytale, but their marriage is a different story.

Stuck in a cycle of abuse and anger, we meet Cassie in the midst of making the most difficult decision of her life. This book shatters the myth of a perfect celebrity couple.

Cassie reminds me of Nina River in Malibu Rising: outwardly, her situation is perfect, but inwardly, the situation is much different. Picoult is excellent at depicting the small, subtle details in long-term relationships.

It’s probably worth noting that this book brings up some hard topics, and if you find books about domestic abuse difficult, you may want to steer clear.

Picoult is excellent at creating realistic characters that you can’t help but root for, even if you don’t agree with their decisions. Cassie’s journey is at times frustrating to observe, but the fight for her own freedom is compelling.

Buy Picture Perfect: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

The setting is important in both Malibu Rising and The Paper Palace, where the place is almost as important as the characters.

Unlike Malibu Rising’s beautiful beach setting, The Paper Palace takes place in an old, rambling house in the woods of Cape Cod.

The main characters in both books find solace and comfort in the water, even if the water doesn’t always treat them kindly in return.

While visiting her childhood holiday home, the main character Elle betrays her husband by sleeping with her best friend.

What follows is a deep dive into Elle’s life up until that point. Similar to Jenkins-Reid, Cowley Heller is excellent at portraying complex relationships.

Elle makes some questionable decisions, which makes The Paper Palace a good choice for book clubs.

A small warning: this book contains some very heavy themes. I won’t mention them here in case you want to avoid spoilers, but it’s worth looking into this a little more if you want to avoid books about difficult subjects.

This makes the book a little divisive, with some loving the brutal depictions of traumatic events, and others hating the lack of warning. Again, it’s another good discussion point for a book club.

Buy The Paper Palace: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X is an excellent summer read. It begins on the tropical island of Saint X, where college student Alison disappears on a family vacation, and it begins with both incredibly vivid depictions of paradise and an underlying sense of unease that will hook you in almost immediately.

The rest of the story follows her little sister, Claire, now living in New York, as she desperately tries to uncover the truth of who her sister really was.

Claire stumbles upon a man, Clive, who was questioned after the disappearance of her sister, and this begins an obsession to find out what happened.

Schaitkin describes the reality behind the paradise of Saint X: the gorgeously maintained resorts, with the overflowing bins around the back.

The beautiful golden beaches, and the tractors scooping up the seaweed before guests wake up in the mornings. It’s these details that make the events in the book feel more believable.

Saint X is the kind of book you’ll devour in a day, just like Malibu Rising. The mystery underpinning the story makes it compulsively readable, but it has some interesting points to make about wealth, poverty, race, and more. Again, it’s a great choice for a book club!

Buy Saint X: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

Set just after the turn of the new millennium, Perfect Tunes begins in New York, where hopeful musician Laura is trying to find her space in the music industry. Her story is waylaid slightly by a tumultuous relationship with another musician.

The two of them grapple with life in New York in the aftermath of 9/11, and the events of this relationship will echo through the years.

Later, Laura’s daughter Marie has some difficult questions that Laura is not prepared to answer. Marie’s quest to uncover her own heritage has echoes of the journey of the siblings in Malibu Rising.

It’s a journey of how far life can take you, and whether or not it is possible to completely disconnect from your past.

It has a lot of similar themes, too: about parenthood, sacrifice, and broken dreams. The characters are believable, and again, you’ll be rooting for them throughout, even if you disagree with some of their choices.

Perfect Tunes is touching, sweet, and memorable. It’s also a light read, perfect for your summer holiday.

Buy Perfect Tunes: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones

If you’re looking for books similar to Malibu Rising, hopefully, these books will help to fill the gap! They’re all suited for a summer holiday, so you can squeeze them into your suitcase and enjoy a break from reality.

If you liked this post, check out these:
Malibu Rising Book Club Questions

Books Like Daisy Jones and the Six
Daisy Jones and the Six Book Club Questions
Books Like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Club Questions
Books Like Where the Crawdads Sing
Books Like Little Fires Everywhere
Books Like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Books Like Normal People

Books Like It Ends With Us
Books Like Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Megan Bidmead

Megan Bidmead

Guest writer

Megan is a freelance writer based in Somerset, England. When she’s not writing about books, videogames, and pop culture, she’s running around after her two kids and trying to squeeze in the occasional walk in the countryside.


Tuesday 26th of July 2022

we just can't seem to get enough of Taylor Jenkins reed. loved these book recommendations