100 books like A Hell of a Woman

By Jim Thompson,

Here are 100 books that A Hell of a Woman fans have personally recommended if you like A Hell of a Woman. 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 Angels: A Novel

Tom Hansen Author Of American Junkie

From my list on drug addicts and lost souls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been interested in books about lost souls and broken people. Before I got clean it was the story of my life and they’re stories that continue to resonate with lots of readers. I think my being drawn to those kinds of stories was a reaction to the stories I read and tv and movies I saw growing up. The image-conscious suburban American Dream stuff. I grew up without all those illusions and naturally gravitated to gritty realism because it mirrored my experience. My book is less interested in the day-to-day mechanics of the lives of drug addicts and lost souls, but rather how they came to be what they are. 

Tom's book list on drug addicts and lost souls

Tom Hansen Why did Tom love this book?

Most people probably know Denis Johnson from his short story collection Jesus Son but this was his first novel and holds a special place in my heart. Jaime is a young woman fleeing an abusive marriage with her two young children. Bill Houston is a bad guy wandering the American Southwest looking for an easy score to get rich. These two characters meet on a bus and partly because of Johnson’s beautiful spare prose we eagerly follow their tragic and doomed trajectory. A very American novel.

By Denis Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A dazzling and savage first novel' New York Times

Angels tells the story of two born losers. Jamie has ditched her husband and is running away with her two baby girls. Bill is dreaming of making it big in a life of crime. They meet on a Greyhound bus and decide to team up.

So begins a stunning, tragic odyssey through the dark underbelly of America - the bars, bus stations, mental wards and prisons that play host to Jamie and Bill as they find themselves trapped in a downward spiral though rape, alcohol, drugs and crime, to madness and…


Book cover of Baise-Moi

Tom Hansen Author Of American Junkie

From my list on drug addicts and lost souls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been interested in books about lost souls and broken people. Before I got clean it was the story of my life and they’re stories that continue to resonate with lots of readers. I think my being drawn to those kinds of stories was a reaction to the stories I read and tv and movies I saw growing up. The image-conscious suburban American Dream stuff. I grew up without all those illusions and naturally gravitated to gritty realism because it mirrored my experience. My book is less interested in the day-to-day mechanics of the lives of drug addicts and lost souls, but rather how they came to be what they are. 

Tom's book list on drug addicts and lost souls

Tom Hansen Why did Tom love this book?

Baise-Moi won the Prix Goncourt in France, their equivalent of our National Book Award, and was made into a film. It’s the story of Manu and Nadine, a couple of young women who have had it with the people (mostly men) in their lives, take revenge, meet by chance and go on a cross-country crime spree. Sound familiar? It should. Baise-Moi is like Thelma and Louise minus the saccharine sentimentality and the silly fairy tale ending. 

By Virginie Despentes, Bruce Benderson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A sticky, smashed, sweaty, laughing too loud, broken teeth, drunker than drunk adventure” from the filmmaker and author of the Vernon Subutex novels (Bust Magazine).

Baise-Moi is one of the most controversial French novels of recent years, a punk fantasy that takes female rage to its outer limits. The basis for a hit underground film which was banned in France, Baise-Moi is a searing story of two women on a rampage that is part Thelma and Louise, part Viking conquest.

Manu and Nadine have had all they can take. Manu has been brutally raped and determines it's not worth leaving…


Book cover of Christiane F.: Autobiography of a Girl of the Streets and Heroin Addict

Tom Hansen Author Of American Junkie

From my list on drug addicts and lost souls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been interested in books about lost souls and broken people. Before I got clean it was the story of my life and they’re stories that continue to resonate with lots of readers. I think my being drawn to those kinds of stories was a reaction to the stories I read and tv and movies I saw growing up. The image-conscious suburban American Dream stuff. I grew up without all those illusions and naturally gravitated to gritty realism because it mirrored my experience. My book is less interested in the day-to-day mechanics of the lives of drug addicts and lost souls, but rather how they came to be what they are. 

Tom's book list on drug addicts and lost souls

Tom Hansen Why did Tom love this book?

In the 70’s, two journalists from a prominent Berlin newspaper went to Zoo Station, a section of the city where hookers and junkies hung out where they met Christiane F. Over months they documented her story and helped her get it into book form. It’s a typical tale, abusive and/or indifferent parents, marijuana at 12, heroin addict and prostitute by 13. Her story is compellingly told and more tragic than most as we get to know the other 13-year-old boys and girls she hangs out with who also sell themselves for their next fix. The original mass market paperback came out in 1982 and was never reissued. Used copies are over $100. Fortunately, a new translation came out a few years ago under the title Zoo Station a memoir by Christane F that is readily available. 

By Christiane F., Susanne Flatauer (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1 POCKET-SIZE SOFTCOVER BOOK


Book cover of Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction

Trish MacEnulty Author Of The Hummingbird Kiss: My Life as an Addict in the 1970s

From my list on memoirs about or by addicts, drunks, and f#@k ups.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a recovered (not “recovering”) addict and writer. These days I write historical fiction because I enjoy an escape from present-day reality, and research is fun. But I started writing as a way to make sense of my chaotic world and in hopes of healing myself. Something was broken inside me, and I didn’t know how to fix it. So I wrote about the shadowy realms of my life and kept on writing until somehow I was able to let go of the past and create a different life, one which would not land me upside down in a ditch with my neck broken and my tires spinning. 

Trish's book list on memoirs about or by addicts, drunks, and f#@k ups

Trish MacEnulty Why did Trish love this book?

The horror and the humor! This book reminded me of just how absurd the life of an addict is. I found myself laughing out loud at unexpected turns. Of course, we’re talking very dark humor.

The story of his obsession with Candy also reminded me of my own doomed love affairs, the sick love that often mingles with addiction. I’ll never forget the story of his cats, though. Davies’ observations on the behavior of his cats are as compelling (and horrible) as his observations of the behavior of addicts.

All addiction stories are sad in their own way, but as comic John Mulaney has shown, they can also be hysterically funny. And Candy proves it. 

By Luke Davies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Candy is beside me, drenched in sweat. She's breathing gently, long slow breaths. I imagine her soul going in and out: wanting to leave, wanting to come back, wanting to leave, wanting to come back. The day will soon harden into what we need to do. But for now we have each other. . . ."

He met Candy amid a lush Sydney summer. Gorgeous, sexy, free-spirited Candy. They fell in love fast, lots of laughter and lust, the days melting warmly into each other. He never planned to give her a habit. But she wanted a taste. And wasn't…


Book cover of The Hunter

Verlin Darrow Author Of Murder for Liar

From my list on psychological thrillers that expand readers' minds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in how people change, and how trauma and difficulties hasten change. After all, if we have to grow and gain new skills to stay alive, we find a way. Originally, personal transformation was a priority because I was terribly unhappy, scared, and had shielded myself from direct contact with the world around me in an effort to stay “safe.” Don’t do this. It doesn’t work. So I asked myself, as an author, how would murders, deception, and sanity-threatening events affect a depressed therapist? Murder For Liar is the product of exploring this.

Verlin's book list on psychological thrillers that expand readers' minds

Verlin Darrow Why did Verlin love this book?

Westlake gets into the head of a successful career criminal, making available the kind of attitude and thinking that most readers would normally abhor.

Somehow, we don’t in the Parker series. Even as the clever, convoluted plot unfolds, we never stop caring what happens to Parker and we root for him against creepier crooks.

I especially like the authentic feel of the techniques and procedures Parker employs. It’s almost as though Westlake was a criminal himself. His work inspired me to write about what I don’t think most authors have directly experienced—what happens in a therapist’s head.

So I think my books also feel real.

By Richard Stark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You probably haven't ever noticed them. But they've noticed you. They notice everything. That's their job. Sitting quietly in a nondescript car outside a bank making note of the tellers' work habits, the positions of the security guards. Lagging a few car lengths behind the Brinks truck on its daily rounds. Surreptitiously jiggling the handle of an unmarked service door at the racetrack.They're thieves. Heisters, to be precise. They're pros, and Parker is far and away the best of them. If you're planning a job, you want him in. Tough, smart, hardworking, and relentlessly focused on his trade, he is…


Book cover of Pop. 1280

Lynn A. Higgins Author Of Bertrand Tavernier

From my list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a recently retired Professor of French literature and cinema studies at Dartmouth College. Because I love both books and movies, I developed a course on adaptation, which I taught with pleasure for many years. I wanted to give students the opportunity to learn how to analyze literary texts and films, separately and in juxtaposition, and they especially enjoyed discovering how the “same” story works quite differently in different media. In addition to the two volumes on Tavernier, my published books include New Novel, New Wave, New Politics: Fiction and the Representation of History in Postwar France; Parables of Theory: Jean Ricardou’s Metafiction; and Rape and Representation (co-edited with Brenda Silver).

Lynn's book list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations

Lynn A. Higgins Why did Lynn love this book?

I was introduced to this book through Tavernier’s brilliant adaptation, Clean Slate (Coup de Torchon, 1981). Set in Texas, Thompson’s novel was published in 1964, during the Civil Rights Movement, and it offers a portrait of petty-minded racism in the continuing aftermath of slavery. Tavernier’s adaptation transposes the story to 1930s French colonial West Africa. I remain haunted by the ways the two settings illuminate each other. Tavernier’s blending of a deadly serious historical crisis with touches of comedy—slapstick even—brings both eras and the novel itself to life in enjoyable and instructive ways.

By Jim Thompson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Pop. 1280 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic crime novel from 'the best suspense writer going, bar none' New York Times

Nick Corey likes being the high sheriff of Potts County. But Nick has a few problems that he needs to deal with: like his loveless marriage, the pimps who torment him, the honest man who is running against him in the upcoming elections and the women who adore him.

And it turns out that Nick isn't anything like as amiable, easy-going or as slow as he seems. He's as sly, brutal and corrupt as they come.


Book cover of The Getaway

Lee Matthew Goldberg Author Of Stalker Stalked

From my list on noir that are great films.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of thrillers whose debut novel was considered Noir, I’ve always been fascinated by tales of characters that are not always the most likeable. Noir fiction is characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity. Similar to its successful films, I love when you feel for an anti-hero. That despite their questionable motives, the author or director manages to make you root for them in the end.

Lee's book list on noir that are great films

Lee Matthew Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

The Getaway by Jim Thompson and the film directed by Sam Peckinpah is a gritty slice of noir and the classic story of a bank heist gone wrong. It’s a beautifully pulpy showcase for the twisted marriage of Doc and Carol, played by Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw with perfection in the film. It plunges you into the very core of moral ambiguity and the ending of the book is unexpected, sublime, and a sledgehammer to the head. A great first book and film to introduce a reader to noir styles.

By Jim Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work presents a new and important paradigm modification in psychology that attempts to incorporate ideas from quantum physics and postmodern culture. The author feels that the current diagnostic model of the mental health establishment is too entwined with political and economic factors to represent a valid method for healing psychological problems. The predominant model is too linear, reductionist, normative, and based upon an abnormal view of behavior. Exacerbating this problem is our highly accelerated present-day lifestyle in which new processes and interactions are constantly emerging. The postmodern self is evolving into a manipulative, situational self with no authentic core…


Book cover of Killing Floor

Tina O’Hailey Author Of Dark Drink

From my list on unconventional, stubborn, loyal characters with explorer’s hearts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose my favorite books, and through careful psyche analysis, I see a theme in them: stubborn characters who persevere through miserable elements. I cave, hike, kayak, motorcycle, etc. A lot of it is not comfortable. It starts with having an explorer’s heart. It isn’t glamorous. It is 90% talking yourself into the fact that you can do something you at first don’t believe you can do. The similar-minded friends that one finds along the way are lifelong, and there’s a bond that forms from crazy people like this. That comes through in my writing – companionship against a backdrop of stubborn exploration in an indifferent environment.

Tina's book list on unconventional, stubborn, loyal characters with explorer’s hearts

Tina O’Hailey Why did Tina love this book?

Reacher is dedicated to his “family” 5000%. Nothing else matters. Nothing. He is an incredibly simple and driven character who cannot resonate with the world around him nor give a moment to care that he does not. He is. That is all. Family is his team and, in this case, one actual family member. All are on equal footing.

While most details from books fade from my memory, this book (read when it first came out and eons before the TV show) is etched into my memory completely. The characters, the places, the fights, the sights and smells. I fell for Reacher’s plight and his steadfast mission to prove his innocence. My favorite image is hobo Reacher sleeping wherever and thinking nothing strange in that.

By Lee Child,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Killing Floor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He's just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he's arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Reacher knows is that he didn't kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn't stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.


Book cover of The Best American Noir of the Century

G.E. Nordell Author Of Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery

From my list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Among other things, I'm an existentialist. A well-constructed mystery novel is an existential puzzle given to the reader to solve at his/her leisure, and the noir sub-genre has the further subtext that the protagonistand the reader—are doomed in some way even if the solution is nailed. Romance novels are drivel and have no basis in reality, but noir and other types of mystery fiction reflect the way that the world works: you may solve this puzzle problem, but then you are left to a vast world that is rife with puzzles but without a coherent plot. The detective trudges on, achieves a kind of satisfaction, and then is thrust into the next crisis.

G.E.'s book list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories

G.E. Nordell Why did G.E. love this book?

A treasure trove of noir short fiction, an impressive anthology of  American greed, crime, and comeuppance by some of the genre’s greatest authors including Mickey Spillane, Evan Hunter, Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, Cornell Woolrich, and editor Ellroy. The 39 selected stories are a feast of excellence, a wide-ranging buffet of tasty tales from 1923 to 2007makes me drool just thinking about a re-read.

By James Ellroy (editor), Otto Penzler (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best American Noir of the Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A magisterial anthology of American noir writing in the 20th century by the best-selling author of the LA Quartet: The Black Dahlia. The Big Nowhere , LA Confidential and White Jazz. In his intoduction to The Best American Noir of the Century, James Ellroy writes, "noir is the most scrutinised offshoot of the hard-boiled school of fiction. It's the long drop off the short pier and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. It's the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the precise how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad." Offering…


Book cover of The Best of Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective

G.E. Nordell Author Of Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery

From my list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Among other things, I'm an existentialist. A well-constructed mystery novel is an existential puzzle given to the reader to solve at his/her leisure, and the noir sub-genre has the further subtext that the protagonistand the reader—are doomed in some way even if the solution is nailed. Romance novels are drivel and have no basis in reality, but noir and other types of mystery fiction reflect the way that the world works: you may solve this puzzle problem, but then you are left to a vast world that is rife with puzzles but without a coherent plot. The detective trudges on, achieves a kind of satisfaction, and then is thrust into the next crisis.

G.E.'s book list on hardboiled noir detective mystery stories

G.E. Nordell Why did G.E. love this book?

Detective Turner is serious, author Bellem is not. Eleven short stories in 8-page comic format from the monthly pulp magazine Hollywood Detective; humorist S.J. Perelman describes Dan Turner as "the apotheosis of all private detectives"; the Dan Turner stories are the flip side of Chandler and Hammett, with delightful use of real and imagined slang: guns are 'roscoes,' a woman is a 'doll,' 'cutie, 'frail,' or ‘dame.'

By Jerry L. Schneider,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best of Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Included in most issues of "Hollywood Detective" pulp magazine was an eight-page Dan Turner comic. Eleven of those comics are reprinted in this "Best of" trade paperback (comic book sized pages).


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