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10 Best Sarah Moss Books (2024)

Best Sarah Moss BooksA Published Professor

Sarah Moss was born in Scotland, where she grew up and lived until she was 18 years old. She studied for an entire ten years at Oxford University, where she earned three degrees in English literature. After she graduated, she stayed at Oxford to complete a postdoctoral research fellowship. After this, she moved on as a lecturer at the University of Kent, where she stayed for five years before deciding to pursue her career in writing.

She published her first novel in 2009, and then went to the University of Iceland for a year. She then moved to Exeter University, and eventually to the University of Warwick, where she became the director of the writing program. She continued writing this entire time, publishing eight novels and five works of non-fiction.

Sarah Moss is an award-winning fiction writer, and several more of her works have been shortlisted for various awards. She is a much-loved author around the world, and here we will talk about some of the best Sarah Moss books available.

Best Sarah Moss Books

Ghost Wall


Living in the Past

In one of Sarah Moss’s most popular books, you are invited to take a trek to the ancient island of England, to a time when the Britons survived by using iron tools and the knowledge that had been gained by their ancestors. However, keep in mind that you are really just reading about Silvie and her family: a family interested enough in anthropology that they have abandoned their modern life.

Instead, they have chosen to live as though they are Iron Age Britons, far from civilization. They live this way for two weeks, foraging roots and hunting rabbits to eat. There are other people in this program as well, and they form a sort of Iron Age village, where they all pitch in and help one another survive. The longer Silvie lives like an ancient, the more she starts to see the beauty of this way of living.

An Important Life Lesson

She also begins to realize that her future is in her hands alone, and the possibilities are endless. Soon, the program calls for the students to build a “ghost wall,” a wall meant to scare off their enemies. Historically, these walls included spikes that were decorated with human skulls on top, a decoration that they are forced to go without in the modern day. The students are surprised to feel a certain spiritual connection with their completed wall, leaving them wondering if they are really that different from those ancient humans.

The Tidal Zone


An Accident at School

The day that 15-year-old Miriam collapses at school and stops breathing is the day that Adam’s life spirals out of control. Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is working on a book about the history of Coventry Cathedral. He is also a dedicated father to Miriam and a good and happy man. When Miriam collapses at school, she is pronounced clinically dead, but heroes on the scene are able to bring her back.

However, in a manner of speaking, the damage is done. Adam and his wife sink into a cycle of worrying and agonizing over Miriam, terrified that the same thing may happen to her again. We see the situation through the eyes of a parent who is terrified for their child and worried that they will not be able to help her. It is a terrible place for any parent to be in life, and through the unique voice of Sarah Moss, we are able to truly commiserate with Adam and his wife.

A Plethora of Themes

Every parent has trouble letting their child grow up, but this is infinitely worse for Adam after Miriam’s accident. Overall, this is a beautifully written novel, and one of the top novels by Sarah Moss, about the love that parents have for their children. It is about how families recover from incidents and the lasting effects that could appear during this recovery period. Besides this main theme, Sarah Moss also manages to touch on several other serious themes, including gender roles, economics, and terrorism.

The Fell


A Quarantine Story

In one of Sarah Moss’s latest novels, we are treated to a story of the COVID-19 quarantine that may strike a little closer to home for some of us. Fed up with the closeness of her house, Kate slips out of her yard late one evening and begins a trek up a nearby hill. Kate does not think that she can handle any more being inside by herself in her small house. All she wants is a nice long walk on the moor nearby.

Unbeknownst to Kate, her neighbor Alice was watching out her window at the precise time that Kate tries to make her escape. However, what was meant to be a refreshing walk turns into a rescue mission when Kate falls and injures herself badly. When her son Matt realizes she is missing, he calls the cavalry to rescue his mother.

The Effects of the Quarantine

While a riveting and suspenseful story in itself, the true beauty of this best Sarah Moss book comes from the insight that we get from Kate’s point of view. We are invited into Kate’s mind; into the effects that the loneliness of the quarantine is having on her, which in turn brings to mind the fact that many people went through similar feelings during the quarantine.

We all know that the quarantine was hard, and this novel makes us realize that it may have been harder on some than on others. As always, Sarah Moss is thought-provoking and envelope-pushing with this new Sarah Moss book.



12 Different Vacations

Summerwater is one of Sarah Moss’s new books. It is also the story of 12 individuals who are each on vacation with their family in a Scottish cabin park. Each person is initially caught up in their own worries and their own lives, but that slowly changes as the day wears on. When their vacation is stalled due to the unrelenting rain, each person faces a sense of rain-driven depression and even claustrophobia that adds to the suspense of the story.

We meet a plethora of different characters throughout this book, each one in a different spot in their life and going through something unique to them. We meet a retired couple who are going through an adjustment period in their lives. We meet a teenager who is unfortunately stuck in a cabin with her parents. These people seem very different at first glance until something unites them in their grumbling: a foreign group of loud partiers. Read yourself to discover why this was one of the best-selling novels by Sarah Moss.

A Journey Through Minds

The grumbling increases gradually throughout the story, showing the vacationers’ rather judgmental ways of thinking. As the evening wears on, the vacationers become more and more annoyed at the partiers, until a catastrophe takes place that is sure to leave your jaw on the floor. Sarah Moss showcases her talent with words in this book. She does a fabulous job of taking her readers on a journey through many different minds, all while ensuring that each character is completely unique.

Night Waking


An Overwhelmed Mom

Here we meet Anna, and let’s just say that Anna has a lot going on at this point in her life. She has a very demanding toddler who all but refuses to sleep. She has a seven-year-old who only seems to want to talk about death. Her husband is rarely there, rather he is obsessed with counting puffins. Yes, puffins. As a matter of fact, her husband decided to move them all to a deserted island off the coast of Wales for the sole reason of counting said puffins.

She is also a historian who is trying her hardest to finish her book about residential institutions. Let’s just say that Anna is a very overworked and overwhelmed woman. However, when she discovers a baby’s skeleton in their new garden, Anna can think of little else. Anna’s point-of-view is punctuated by 130-year-old letters from May. May was a young midwife who had a goal of bringing modern medicine to the old-school inhabitants of the island.

Beautiful Writing

Suddenly, Anna is obsessed with solving the mystery of the skeleton and how it got there. Sarah Moss does a fabulous job in this novel of ensuring that her writing is what truly keeps you interested in the story. The storyline itself seems rather basic, especially based on Sarah Moss’s book reviews, but it is the language of the story that truly makes this one of the best Sarah Moss books available.

Names for the Sea


Relocation to Iceland

Welcome to the best Sarah Moss book which also happens to be her autobiography. After spending a summer in Iceland when she was 19, Sarah developed a dream of living in the beautiful country that she remembered so fondly. So, when an opening at the University of Iceland came up, she applied without a second thought. Sure, it would mean moving her family to an entirely new country, but she was still excited when she discovered that she was the one who got the job.

This book covers the time she spent in Iceland, which turned out to be more exciting than she had anticipated. While she was there, Iceland went through an economic collapse, which cut her new University salary almost in half. Additionally, the nearby volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted, throwing everything into chaos for a while. She was also able to make many interesting friends during her time there, including poets, chefs, and people who claimed the ability to speak to elves.

A Beautiful Landscape

Best of all, in Sarah’s opinion, was the landscape that she had relocated to. The landscape of Iceland had always seemed so strange to Sarah, and she loved that it fascinated her so much. She spent much of her time exploring her surroundings: walking the beach, watching the wildlife, and admiring the numerous craters and fissures.

Bodies of Light


Two Sisters and a Neglectful Mother

Remember May from Night Waking? Well, in this best novel by Sarah Moss, we meet Ally, who is May’s older sister. Ally desperately wants her mother’s approval and her affection, but her mom has other interests besides her daughters. Elizabeth, the mother, is deeply religious. She believes it is her duty on this earth to feed all of the hungry people and save all of the women from prostitution.

When Ally is accepted to a university in London, where she will be one of the first females in attendance, her mother still does not seem proud or even interested. There are times when Elizabeth’s treatment of Ally borders on neglect and even abuse. This is a beautifully told story about a girl’s trek to independence and believing that she is good enough, despite never being encouraged by those around her.

A Lost Woman and Charity

While in London, Ally becomes enamored with Tom, a lighthouse engineer, and the two eventually get married. This is also the story of Elizabeth: recently married with a new baby, we can immediately tell that she has a hard time adjusting to motherhood. Instead, she decides to throw herself into her charitable works, especially focusing on women’s rights. She instills these ideals in both of her daughters, which is part of the reason why both of them navigate toward careers in the medical field. According to Sarah Moss’s book reviews, this is one of the best-ranked novels by Sarah Moss.

Signs for Lost Children


A Long-Distance Relationship

Welcome again to the ongoing story of Ally Moberley and another of Sarah Moss’s best novels. In this novel, one of the best-rated Sarah Moss books, we find Ally happily married to Tom and working in an asylum in England. However, Tom is soon called away on a six-month job to Tokyo, Japan, where he has been commissioned to design a new lighthouse. Ally buries herself in her work to escape her new loneliness, sometimes being forced to leave the asylum by her associates.

Tom, though equally as lonely, has more to occupy his mind with navigating the entirely new world that he is now in. Japan is nothing like England; there are new social rules that he must learn, as well as new professional hoops that he must learn to jump through. Sarah Moss does a wonderful job in this novel of separating the voice of the two narrators in the book.

Important Social Issues

Though the characters are so vivid and different, they are both telling their stories of loneliness in their new situations and their determination to make it through this period in their lives. The result is two stronger people reuniting at the end of the book. As always, Sarah Moss also finds creative ways to tie in additional social issues, particularly mental illness and the difficulties of long-distance relationships.

Cold Earth


A Global Pandemic

In one of the best books by Sarah Moss, we meet six new characters and journey along with them for a short while. These six individuals just happen to be archaeologists and students who are stationed in Greenland, excavating old Norse remains. While exploring what exactly happened to this Norse society, some disturbing news begins to reach them from the outside world.

Apparently, a pandemic is currently sweeping around the world, causing a panic at the archaeological dig for a multitude of reasons. First, since the dig site is so remote, news comes to them slowly, and they are always behind with what exactly is going on. Second, each of the six individuals is deeply worried about their loved ones back home.

A Ghost Story

Thus, each of the six decides to write a letter to their loved ones back home, causing wretched feelings all around the camp. At one point, one of the six: a literature student, falls into a panic. She begins having dreams about what happened at the dig site so long ago, and they soon discover a gravesite that seems to back up everything that she sees in her dreams. She claims that she can see and hear the ghosts of the skeletons that they have recently discovered. What happens at the end is sure to shock you.

The Frozen Ship


A Trek to the Poles

In another nonfiction delight brought to you by Sarah Moss, we are taken to the uninhabited world of the poles. This book tells the account of journeys across the ice from all different periods in history, starting with the evidence of Viking settlements. This book also includes the stories of Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott, among many others. It also tells the shocking stories of how dangerous these expeditions were, as well as how deadly.

For instance, Robert Falcon Scott did not survive his trek to the South Pole, though his journals eventually made their way back to civilization. John Franklin’s expedition to the North Pole caused a case of cannibalism, as well as the mummification of one of his men’s bodies, which was discovered over 100 years later. This book even involves some stories of the unknown women explorers of the poles as well.

There’s More!

If you are interested in more Sarah Moss fiction or nonfiction, there are several other works that were not included in this Sarah Moss book list. One of the best features of Sarah Moss’s novels is that they are all standalone books. There is no reason whatsoever to read the Sarah Moss books in order.

Scott’s Last Biscuit: The Literature of Polar Exploration is another nonfiction work by Sarah Moss that covers the exploration of the North and South Poles. Spilling the Beans: Eating, Cooking, Reading and Writing in British Women’s Fiction is one of Sarah Moss’s best nonfiction books that you are sure to enjoy as well.

Alissa Wynn

Alissa is an avid reader, blogger, and wannabe writer. (She's a much better cook than a writer actually). Alissa is married, has one human, one feline, and two canine kids. She always looks a mess and never meets a deadline.