93 books like A Happy Marriage

By Rafael Yglesias,

Here are 93 books that A Happy Marriage fans have personally recommended if you like A Happy Marriage. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The House of Mirth

Jan Eliasberg Author Of Hannah's War

From my list on exploring the world from a female point of view.

Who am I?

I was raised to believe that I could do everything a man could do, just as Ginger Rodgers did, “backwards and in high heels.” My discovery that social expectations and boundaries for women were vastly different than those for men came as an enormous shock, and struck me as deeply, tragically unfair. I take strength from women in history, as well as from fictional female characters, who passionately pursue roles in a man’s world that are considered transgressive or forbidden. As a glass-ceiling-shattering female film and television director I take inspiration from women who have the gritty determination to live on their own terms. And then tell it as they lived it.

Jan's book list on exploring the world from a female point of view

Jan Eliasberg Why did Jan love this book?

This novel’s power remains intact every time I read it, even as the nature of the tragedy seems to shift – from the perils of living by one’s looks (my teenage reading) to the cruelty of the world towards women (my young adult reading) to the struggle for personal freedom in a money-obsessed culture (my more recent readings).

Edith Wharton’s novel is a masterpiece, both electrifying and relevant, and worth re-reading as often as possible. 

Once you finish the book, watch the Terence Davies-directed film, starring the luminous Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart.

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The House of Mirth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bestseller when it was published nearly a century ago, this literary classic established Edith Wharton as one of the most important American writers in the twentieth century-now with a new introduction from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan.

Wharton's first literary success-a devastatingly accurate portrait of New York's aristocracy at the turn of the century-is considered by many to be her most important novel, and Lily Bart, her most unforgettable character. Impoverished but well-born, the beautiful and beguiling Lily realizes a secure future depends on her acquiring a wealthy husband. But with her romantic indiscretion, gambling debts, and a maelstrom…

Book cover of The Wife

Virginia Pye Author Of The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann

From my list on a woman writer finding her own voice.

Who am I?

I love novels that show female characters finding their way in life, and especially women who use writing to help themselves to grow and evolve. Finding my own voice through writing has been my way of staking my claim in the world. It hasn’t always been easy for us to tell our stories, but when we do, we’re made stronger and more complete. The protagonist of my novel The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann fights hard to tell her own story. I know something about being held back by male-dominated expectations and Victoria’s situation could easily take place today. But when women writers finally find their voices, the works they create are of great value. 

Virginia's book list on a woman writer finding her own voice

Virginia Pye Why did Virginia love this book?

This novel, by Meg Wolitzer, offers such a twist at the end, I’m not sure how to write about it as an example of a woman writer finding her voice without giving too much away.
The Wife is the story of a Noble Prize-winning author, Joe Castelman, and his wife, Joan, who have kept a terrible secret for all the years of their marriage. Because you know the topic of my selections here, you can surmise that Joan is also a writer, though she hides that fact. Her character tells the story, and we only slowly see the facets of their strange and deceptive marriage. It becomes clear that Joan is a very good writer indeed, and she’s tired of keeping her secret.

This clever tale will make you think about what it means to invent a life both on and off the page. And that there’s no stopping a…

By Meg Wolitzer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE WIFE is the story of the long and stormy marriage between a world-famous novelist, Joe Castleman, and his wife Joan and the secret they've kept for decades. The novel opens just as Joe is about to receive a prestigious international award, The Helsinki Prize, to honour his career as one of America's preeminent novelists of the Mailer-Bellow-Updike school. But this isn't a book for writers; it's a book for readers, for people who are interested in questions such as: Is there a 'male' voice and a 'female' voice? Do men and women see the world differently, and how? THE…

Book cover of The Boys of My Youth

Deborah A. Lott Author Of Don't Go Crazy Without Me

From my list on impossible childhoods.

Who am I?

I'm a writer who’s always been obsessed with early childhood. No experience we have later in life is any more emotionally charged, resonant, intense, bewildering, or wondrous as those we have as young children. A day can feel like forever; what we imagine can be so vivid as to be indistinguishable from reality; we’re not wholly sure what’s animate and inanimate; we're still at least half-feral. My interest in childhood led me to write about children’s psychology for Psychiatric Times and for the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Recently, I designed two related university courses that I teach at Antioch University Los Angeles: Representations of Childhood in Literature and the Trauma Memoir.

Deborah's book list on impossible childhoods

Deborah A. Lott Why did Deborah love this book?

This essay collection is not strictly about Jo Jo’s childhood but the pieces like “Bulldozing the Baby,” that are, are indelible. Some might argue that her childhood is not all that impossible, nothing that horrendous happens. The most tragic event for the narrator is when she accidentally damages her doll Hal, a prized transitional object, and her aunt responds by throwing him into the trash. And yet, from the perspective of the toddler JoJo, it feels tragic. Her grief is as deep as any adult’s. If the piece shows us anything, it is that the feelings of childhood are to be taken seriously. Other than that, her father drinks too much, and there is an emotional mismatch between mother and daughter. They don’t understand each other, and not having a parent who sees who you are, even if you grow up relatively privileged – not beaten, not starved, not materially…

By Jo Ann Beard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boys of My Youth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13.

What is this book about?

The "utterly compelling, uncommonly beautiful" collection of personal essays (Newsweek) that established Jo Ann Beard as one of the leading writers of her generation.

Cousins, mothers, sisters, dolls, dogs, best friends: these are the fixed points in Jo Ann Beard's universe, the constants that remain when the boys of her youth -- and then men who replace them -- are gone. This widely praised collection of autobiographical essays summons back, with astonishing grace and power, moments of childhood epiphany as well as the cataclysms of adult life: betrayal, divorce, death.
The Boys of My Youth heralded the arrival of an…

Book cover of The Man in the Wooden Hat

Joanne Serling Author Of Good Neighbors

From my list on the truth about love and marriage.

Who am I?

I’m a novelist, essayist, and short story writer who finds domestic life as fascinating and complex as any board room battle or historical event. I love books about marriage and family because so few people are willing to talk honestly about them. Finding a great book is like meeting a new friend who is willing to tell you their secrets and then share hard-won advice. 

Joanne's book list on the truth about love and marriage

Joanne Serling Why did Joanne love this book?

Don’t worry that this novel is part of a trilogy; it can easily be enjoyed on its own. The Man in the Wooden Hat tells the story of the courtship and marriage of a man referred to as “Old Filth” (stands for “failed in London, try Hong Kong”) and his wife, Betty. Gardam’s hilarious look at ex-pat life in Hong Kong and elsewhere is wildly entertaining and her minor characters are as quirky and surprising as Betty and Old Filth. PS: The surprising reveal at the end makes this portrait all the more delicious. 

By Jane Gardam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man in the Wooden Hat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Second in the Old Filth trilogy. “An astute, subtle depiction of marriage . . . absolutely wonderful” (The Washington Post).

Acclaimed as Jane Gardam’s masterpiece, Old Filth is a lyrical novel that recalls the fully lived life of Sir Edward Feathers. The Man in the Wooden Hat is the history of his marriage told from the perspective of his wife, Betty, a character as vivid and enchanting as Filth himself.

They met in Hong Kong after the war. Betty had spent the duration in a Japanese internment camp. Filth was already a successful barrister, handsome, fast becoming rich, in need…

Book cover of Zelda: A Biography

Libby Sternberg Author Of Daisy

From my list on the tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Who am I?

I’ve loved F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories ever since I read The Great Gatsby as a teenager. After that, I devoured all of his works, thanks to a membership in one of those book subscription services where you have to send back monthly book selections if you don’t want them. I read almost all his short stories, all his novels, including the unfinished The Last Tycoon, and everything I could find on him and his wife Zelda. When The Great Gatsby entered the public domain a couple years ago, I started daydreaming of how I'd love to revisit the story from a fresh perspective, which led me to penning Daisy.

Libby's book list on the tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Libby Sternberg Why did Libby love this book?

Probably the biggest tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life was his wife Zelda’s descent into mental illness.

This magnificent biography chronicles their tumultuous relationship as well as Zelda’s upbringing, and how she became the perfect flapper, independent and even a little wild. While the story is drenched in sadness as we all know its ending, this book reveals the struggles of creative women to be respected and seen as individuals, not just appendages to their famous husbands.

It also illuminates Scott’s enduring love for Zelda. Even as he had an affair at the end of his life, he never abandoned his wife to public institutions, insisting she have the best care, no matter the expense, at private ones.

By Nancy Milford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Zelda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Profound, overwhelmingly moving . . . a richly complex love story.” — New York Times

Acclaimed biographer Nancy Milford brings to life the tormented, elusive personality of Zelda Sayre and clarifies as never before Zelda’s relationship with her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald—tracing the inner disintegration of a gifted, despairing woman, torn by the clash between her husband’s career and her own talent.

Zelda Sayre’s stormy life spanned from notoriety as a spirited Southern beauty to success as a gifted novelist and international celebrity at the side of her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda and Fitzgerald were one of the most…

Book cover of He Said He Would Be Late

Nicole Hackett Author Of The Perfect Ones

From my list on the non-Instagrammable parts of motherhood.

Who am I?

When I was pregnant for the first time, I knew exactly the sort of mother I was going to be. I had read all the articles, bookmarked all the tastefully filtered Instagram posts. But then I had my son, and I realized almost immediately how little I knew. It turns out that while those tender Instagram moments do happen (and they truly are magic), there are just as many moments that can only be described as: WTF? My novel, The Perfect Ones, goes deep behind the screens of two Instagram influencers and their messy, conflicting, and fundamentally human feelings on motherhood. Here are five more books about the parts that don’t make the Instagram grid.

Nicole's book list on the non-Instagrammable parts of motherhood

Nicole Hackett Why did Nicole love this book?

This novel does the very scary thing of looking postpartum directly in the eye.

It follows new mom Liz Bennet along her increasingly unhinged search for clues about her husband’s suspected infidelity. Most moms (hopefully!) won’t relate to Liz’s specific situation, but Justine Sullivan paints a terrifyingly realistic portrait of the madness of those first years of new motherhood.

By Justine Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked He Said He Would Be Late as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Liz Bennett knows that she is one of the lucky ones. Wealthy and charming, Arno is a supportive husband to Liz and a doting father to their daughter, Emma. A rising banker at a top firm in the Boston area, he is the picture of perfection, rounding off their idyllic New England life. But when Liz sees a text on Arno's phone with a kissy-face emoji, her anxiety kicks into overdrive and she begins to worry that her luck has run out.

Plagued by persistent skepticism and countless sleepless nights, Liz decides she must uncover the truth about her husband…

Book cover of Lives of the Wives: Five Literary Marriages

Joel Cabrita Author Of Written Out: The Silencing of Regina Gelana Twala

From my list on literary women you’ve never heard of.

Who am I?

I’m a historian of Southern Africa who is fascinated by questions of visibility and invisibility. I love probing beneath the surface of the past. For example, why is this person famous and renowned, but that person isn’t? To me, recognition and reputation are interesting to scrutinize as social categories in their own right, rather than as factual statements. I’ve written two books focusing on the history of religious expression in Southern Africa, and my most recent book is a biography of the forgotten South African writer and politician Regina Gelana Twala. 

Joel's book list on literary women you’ve never heard of

Joel Cabrita Why did Joel love this book?

I love the way in which this fascinating group biography of the female partners of renowned male writers brings these usually ignored figures into the limelight.

Ciuraru argues that behind the careers of many acclaimed literary figures stand the important contributions of their wives. These women offered intellectual as well as practical support. 

Many of these literary wives shelved their own creative aspirations to tend to the careers of their husbands.

But after their husbands’ deaths, some of these women found they finally had space for their own literary lives to start blossoming. 

By Carmela Ciuraru,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The five marriages that Carmela Ciuraru explores in Lives of the Wives provide such delightfully gossipy pleasure that we have to remind ourselves that these were real people whose often stormy relationships must surely have been less fun to experience than they are for us to read about."-Francine Prose, author of The Vixen

A witty, provocative look inside the tumultuous marriages of five writers, illuminating the creative process as well as the role of money, power, and fame in these complex and fascinating relationships.

"With an ego the size of a small nation, the literary lion is powerful on the…

Book cover of The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

Julie Metz Author Of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal

From my list on for women recovering from betrayal or divorce.

Who am I?

Though I’ve been a great reader since childhood, I sometimes describe myself as an accidental writer—I came to this work later in my life, following the events that I write about in my first memoir Perfection. Before I became a writer, I did spend many years in the publishing business designing book covers, so I appreciate all sides of the work of bringing books to readers. My favorite books help me enter new worlds for a time and re-reading favorites is like visiting a faithful friend. My recommendations here are a mix of both memoir and fiction and include some of my “desert island” favorites. I hope you enjoy them!

Julie's book list on for women recovering from betrayal or divorce

Julie Metz Why did Julie love this book?

This book was published years after mine, but I wish it had been around when I was going through my life upheaval. The author writes about relationships and has an intelligent and thoughtful take on marriage. You might not agree with her philosophy, but her book is eye-opening, will challenge your assumptions, and shares information that might help people as they rebuild their lives after widowhood, infidelity, and divorce.

By Esther Perel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The State of Affairs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Is there such a thing as an affair-proof marriage? Is it possible to love more than one person at once? Why do people cheat? Can an affair ever help a marriage?

Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. But does it have to be? Relationship therapist Esther Perel examines why people cheat, and unpacks why affairs are so traumatic; because they threaten our emotional security. In infidelity, she sees something unexpected - an expression of longing and loss.

A must-read for anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on, or who simply wants a new framework for…

Book cover of Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?

Scott LaPierre Author Of Your Marriage God's Way: A Biblical Guide to a Christ-Centered Relationship

From my list on Christian marriage (from the author of a best-selling Christian marriage book).

Who am I?

I am the teaching pastor of Woodland Christian Church, and in 2016, I published a best-selling marriage book, Your Marriage God's Way, with an accompanying workbook. Soon after that, I began receiving invitations to put on marriage conferences across the nation. My experience teaching on marriage, performing marriage counseling, and meeting so many married couples has given me a strong biblical understanding of marriage.

Scott's book list on Christian marriage (from the author of a best-selling Christian marriage book)

Scott LaPierre Why did Scott love this book?

The subtitle of the book helps you understand Gary Thomas’s purpose: he wants to help his readers see that marriage is not primarily for our happiness.

Although it is a gift and frequently fills us with joy, marriage is also very sanctifying, which is to say it makes us holy. Few things in life help us grow spiritually as much as marriage. When we get married we learn to be patient, gentle, and we frequently have to find ourselves being forgiving. And these are all wonderful graces.

By Gary Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What if God designed marriage to make you holy instead of happy? What if your relationship isn't as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?

In Sacred Marriage, bestselling author Gary Thomas uncovers the ways that your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God and with each other. Join over one million others who have already uncovered Thomas's tips for fostering a sacred marriage.

Within the pages of Sacred Marriage, Thomas invites you to see how God can use your relationship with your spouse as a discipline and a motivation…

Book cover of The Paris Wife

Gill Paul Author Of A Beautiful Rival: A Novel Of Helena Rubinstein And Elizabeth Arden

From my list on historical novels based on real people.

Who am I?

I’ve written fourteen historical novels now and most of them include real historical characters. I particularly like writing about women I feel have been misjudged or ignored by historians, and trying to reassess them in the modern age. Fiction allows me to imagine what they were thinking and feeling as they lived through dramatic, life-changing experiences, giving more insight than facts alone could do. Sitting at my desk in the morning and pretending to be someone else is a strange way to earn a living but it’s terrific fun! 

Gill's book list on historical novels based on real people

Gill Paul Why did Gill love this book?

This was the book that made me want to write historical fiction about real people.

It’s the story of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, who supported him while he was trying to establish himself as a writer. She steps from the pages as a sympathetic, relatable young woman desperately trying to be a good wife to a man who frankly doesn’t deserve her. The Paris Wife brings Hadley to life in the way that biographies sticking to fact never could, and I adored it!

By Paula McLain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A deeply evocative novel of ambition and betrayal that captures the love affair between two unforgettable people, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley—from the author of Love and Ruin and When the Stars Go Dark
“A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s—as a wife and as one’s own woman.”—Entertainment Weekly

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People • Chicago Tribune • NPR • The Philadelphia Inquirer • Kirkus Reviews • The Toronto Sun • BookPage

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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