The best books about switching places in all time periods

Jade Varden Author Of Justice
By Jade Varden

Who am I?

Books about switching places and mistaken identity have always interested me. Sometimes, it takes a comedic turn where the hero bumbles through misadventures. Sometimes, there's something sinister at play at the hero must fight to get their own lives back. Whether funny or scary or romantic or thrilling, it’s always a wild ride. The fun of it, and the frightening part, is that the reader must guess what's happening along with the hero. You have to figure out who is who and what is what, so there's always a mystery. 


I wrote...

Justice

By Jade Varden,

Book cover of Justice

What is my book about?

When you build an entire life on a foundation of lies, it only takes one truth for the whole thing to come crashing down. I never invited the truth in. I never went searching for it. I never had any reason to suspect that the two people I loved most were dishonest with me every second of every day.

I made one bad decision, and in a single day my entire world changed. If I'm ever going to discover the truth about myself and my parents, I have to trace all the lies back to their source. I have to try to find the truth that they're hiding.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Prince and the Pauper

By Mark Twain,

Book cover of The Prince and the Pauper

Why this book?

Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper is super well-known, even if you don't know that you know it. This switching places story has been adapted and re-done a hundred different ways. The plot has been featured in multiple TV show episodes, some faithful film adaptations, and children's cartoons. It may be the most well-known story of switching places ever written. Mark Twain is considered to be one of the greatest American authors. He wrote books in the same era as Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, and many of the greats of classic literature. 

This book and its plot still hold up pretty well. It's built on themes of class distinction and rich versus poor that are still relevant and still uncomfortable to discuss to this day. It's full of Twain's characteristic humor and it's a generally fairly easy read, mostly because you've seen the plot enough times to have an idea of where it's all going. Twain was a master wordsmith and in this book, it shows.

The Prince and the Pauper

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Prince and the Pauper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Prince and the Pauper is a classic adventure of mistaken identity set in Tudor London and told with Mark Twain's trademark humour and concern for social justice.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition has an afterword by author and journalist Nicolette Jones.

Penniless Tom Canty wonders what it would be like to be a prince. Heir to the throne Edward Tudor dreams of a life outside the royal palace…


The Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare,

Book cover of The Comedy of Errors

Why this book?

Twain definitely wasn’t the first to cover the topic of switching places. Shakespeare, who was writing 200 years before Twain, wasn't even the first to do it. However, he did it with a great deal of style and a lot of laughs in The Comedy of Errors. This is considered to be one of his great comedies and it's easy to see why. This is a tale about two sets of identical twins who get all mixed up. A whole bunch of hijinks happens next. 

This is a great example of Shakespeare and a plot that has been adapted several times since. And while it's funny, the plot also reveals some deeper truths within the characters and society as a whole. As always with Shakespeare, it's meant to make you think.

The Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Comedy of Errors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Beautifully illustrated with atmospheric paintings by renowned artists, The Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare's earliest plays. It's also his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humor coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play.

* Just as accessible and enjoyable for today's readers as it would have been when first published, the play is one of the great works of English literature and continues to be widely read throughout the world.

* This meticulous digital edition from Heritage Illustrated Publishing is a faithful reproduction…


The Lying Game

By Sara Shepard,

Book cover of The Lying Game

Why this book?

Mystery. Suspense. The fear of getting found out at any moment. The Lying Game has it all and it's got it in a heart stopping read. You want to keep unraveling the mystery and finding clues right along with the main character. It's impossible to call her by her name because even her name has to change as the events of the story unfold. 

The idea of switching places definitely wasn't new by the time this book came out but in this version of the classic plot, you're terrified every minute and on your guard the entire time. This is delightfully tense and suspenseful in a way that captures classic Hitchcock movies and that feeling that you're alone...but you're not alone.

The Lying Game

By Sara Shepard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lying Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the New York Times bestselling PRETTY LITTLE LIARS comes a killer new series, THE LYING GAME.

Sutton Mercer had a life anyone would kill for - and someone did. But thanks to a view from the afterlife and Emma Paxton, her long-lost twin sister, Sutton has a chance to solve her own murder. Emma slips into Sutton's old life to piece together her disappearance. But can Emma keep up the charade long enough to discover what really happened to Sutton...or will she become the next victim?

Let the lying games begin.


Switched

By R.L. Stine,

Book cover of Switched

Why this book?

RL Stine's Switched isn't just a switching places story, it's a switching bodies story. And in this Fear Street installment, one of them is a killer. Yeah, it's intense. Nicole is a super normal teenager with pretty regular problems, like a boyfriend who can't get his act together and homework she can't manage, but a trip to the woods changes all of that. Next thing you know, people start to die. 

Things really take some strange twists and turns so you're in for a wild ride with this one. This is classic Stine and just a fun read, if your idea of fun is being shocked, confused and frightened with every page. What a great time!

Switched

By R.L. Stine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Switched as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nicole always thought her friend Lucy’s life was so much better than hers. She had cooler parents and a cuter boyfriend—next to her, Nicole felt like a loser. So when Lucy asked if she wanted to switch bodies, Nicole thought it sounded like a fun idea. Good for a laugh.

She didn’t realize the switch would actually work. Or that Lucy’s life might not be so sweet after all. Turns out, Lucy’s got a few issues. And she’s about to get her revenge—using Nicole’s body!


Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Book cover of Gone Girl

Why this book?

Seriously, Gone Girl has everything. There's some unreliable storytelling, a big switcheroo, twists and turns and so much going on, you're going to be questioning everything about every character. Revelations start to come hot and heavy and you're trying to piece it all together. Meanwhile, there is no one you can trust and everyone is devious. 

In other words, a great book. This is what they call a "page-turner," so be careful. Once you start turning the pages, you won't be able to stop.

Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in murder, brothers, and twins?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about murder, brothers, and twins.

Murder Explore 497 books about murder
Brothers Explore 67 books about brothers
Twins Explore 50 books about twins

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Once and Future King, The Lord of the Rings, and Dubliners if you like this list.