Call Me by Your Name, a novel by André Aciman that was later turned into a successful film, has captured the hearts of countless readers and viewers. With its profound depiction of first love, longing, and heartache, it’s no surprise that fans are eager to immerse themselves in similar narratives.
The goal of this blog post is to help you embark on that literary journey. We’re going to introduce you to a selection of books that mirror the evocative themes, emotions, and eloquent writing style you encountered in Call Me by Your Name.
Whether you’re looking for narratives about blossoming LGBTQ+ love, self-discovery, or tales of passion set against a breathtaking backdrop, we have a list of recommendations that won’t disappoint.
‘Find Me’ by Andre Aciman
“Find Me” is the sequel to “Call Me by Your Name,” penned by the same author, André Aciman. This novel takes us on a journey through the lives of Samuel, Elio, and Oliver years after their summer together. The novel explores themes of fate, love, and time’s influence on both. Given that it’s a direct sequel, it naturally offers continuity to the story, reuniting us with the characters we fell in love with in the original novel.
‘Less’ by Andrew Sean Greer
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Less” follows the story of Arthur Less, a failed novelist about to turn fifty. Arthur decides to accept invitations to all the literary events he has been invited to around the world to escape his problems. This comically rich and satisfying story offers a sensitive study of love, regret, and growing older, similar to what readers appreciated in “Call Me by Your Name.”
‘Giovanni’s Room’ by James Baldwin
James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” is a classic in queer literature. Set in 1950s Paris, the novel tells the story of an American man torn between his love for a man named Giovanni and his fiancée, Hella. Baldwin’s tale explores themes of identity and societal pressure, reminiscent of Elio’s own struggles in “Call Me by Your Name.”
‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara
“A Little Life” follows four college classmates living in New York City and delves deep into their relationships, exploring the joys and traumas of their lives. The novel is unflinching in its portrayal of the human condition, capturing elements of longing, love, and loss that were also central to “Call Me by Your Name.”
‘Maurice’ by E.M. Forster
“Maurice” is a tale of awakening and self-acceptance. This novel, published posthumously, is an honest portrayal of homosexual love in early 20th-century England. The protagonist’s journey towards accepting his identity and seeking love despite societal constraints echoes the internal conflicts we encounter in “Call Me by Your Name.”
Understanding the Themes
Exploring Love and Desire
In all these books, love and desire take center stage, much as they do in “Call Me by Your Name.” The passionate longing between Elio and Oliver is reflected in the pages of these other narratives. For instance, in “Giovanni’s Room,” we find a similar exploration of desire, albeit within the societal constraints of the 1950s. In “Maurice,” the protagonist’s struggle with his desire and his acceptance of his love for another man mirrors Elio’s experiences.
Experiencing Heartache and Loss
The poignant heartache and loss that we encounter in “Call Me by Your Name” is a shared theme in these recommended books. The undercurrent of loss is a major aspect of “A Little Life,” which explores the pain of past traumas and the losses experienced in the course of life. Similarly, “Less” balances humor with the heartfelt depiction of Arthur’s journey through love, loss, and regret.
The Role of Identity and Acceptance
Identity and self-acceptance are central to all these narratives. Just as Elio comes to terms with his feelings for Oliver in “Call Me by Your Name,” characters in these other books grapple with their identities. The struggle and eventual acceptance of identity are beautifully portrayed in “Maurice,” while in “Giovanni’s Room,” the protagonist’s conflict with his identity and societal expectations provides a raw examination of self-acceptance.
The Impact of Setting
How Different Settings Impact the Story
The setting can significantly influence the mood and development of a story. Each of the suggested books employs unique settings that enhance their narratives. In “Find Me,” the cities of Rome and Paris become an essential backdrop for exploring love and longing. “Giovanni’s Room” utilizes the vibrant yet judgmental Paris of the 1950s to present societal pressures on identity and love. Similarly, “Less” takes Arthur on a global journey, each location offering a new backdrop for his self-discovery and acceptance.
Comparison with the Setting in ‘Call Me by Your Name’
Just as the Italian Riviera in “Call Me by Your Name” became an idyllic stage for Elio and Oliver’s love story, each of these books uses its setting to elevate the narrative. The setting becomes more than just a place; it evolves into a character that enriches the narrative with its culture, societal norms, and picturesque details. Whether it’s the diverse metropolis of New York in “A Little Life” or early 20th-century England in “Maurice,” each setting leaves an indelible imprint on the characters and their stories.
‘Tin Man’ by Sarah Winman
A tale of love, loss, and the unyielding power of friendship. Two boys, Ellis and Michael, grapple with their complex feelings for each other. It’s selected for its tender depiction of love and its exploration of the roads not taken, much like Elio and Oliver’s relationship.
‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides
This Pulitzer-winning novel follows the life of Calliope Stephanides, an intersex individual, providing a deep dive into identity, heritage, and self-discovery. Its inclusion speaks to the importance of understanding and accepting oneself.
‘The Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller
A retelling of the Iliad focused on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. This novel was chosen for its beautiful portrayal of a deep, enduring love set against the backdrop of myth and war.
‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ by Ocean Vuong
This novel explores a young man’s relationship with his mother and his first love. Selected for its poetic style and the raw emotion it evokes, this book can offer a similar cathartic experience to that of “Call Me by Your Name.”
‘Tell the Wolves I’m Home’ by Carol Rifka Brunt
This novel tackles love, loss, and the power of art, seen through the eyes of a young girl who loses her uncle to AIDS. It is chosen for its heartbreaking and heartfelt exploration of relationships, grief, and healing.
‘Carol’ (originally ‘The Price of Salt’) by Patricia Highsmith
A story of forbidden love between two women in the 1950s. This book was chosen for its exploration of societal norms, identity, and the lengths one will go to for love.
‘The Great Believers’ by Rebecca Makkai
This novel is a powerful journey through the AIDS crisis and its impact on the Chicago art scene. It has been selected for its exploration of loss, friendship, and the enduring power of love in times of crisis.
‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde
Wilde’s only novel explores beauty, morality, and the desire for eternal youth. It is selected for its complex characters and exploration of desire, similar to Elio’s experience in “Call Me by Your Name.”
‘The Night Watch’ by Sarah Waters
Set in 1940s London, this novel focuses on the interwoven lives of four characters during and after World War II. Chosen for its exploration of hidden love, societal constraints, and the resilience of the human spirit.
‘Call Me By Your Name’ screenplay by James Ivory
The screenplay of the beloved movie adaptation provides a fresh perspective on the story and allows readers to relive the journey of Elio and Oliver in a different format.
From André Aciman’s sequel “Find Me” to the touching portrayal of love in Sarah Winman’s “Tin Man,” these recommended books offer a diverse exploration of themes that made “Call Me by Your Name” resonate with so many readers. Each of these narratives, with their unique settings, characters, and styles, provides a different perspective on love, longing, identity, and acceptance.
We hope this literary journey brings you as much joy, thought-provoking moments, and emotional resonance as “Call Me by Your Name” did. Embrace these stories, delve into their worlds, and let them move you.