95 books like A Sultry Month

By Alethea Hayter,

Here are 95 books that A Sultry Month fans have personally recommended if you like A Sultry Month. 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 What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England

Jonatha Ceely Author Of Mina

From my list on understanding women in 19th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some years ago, I believed that after I had read the “famous” 19th-century novelists Jane Austen at the beginning of the century, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens more or less in the middle, and Henry James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton at the end, I had “done” the century and was disappointed that there was no more of worth to entertain me. Wrong, of course. Maria Edgeworth (Anglo-Irish) was a revelation; Catherine Maria Sedgewick (American) opened my eyes to New England; Margaret Oliphant (Scottish) combined the “weird,” spiritual, and a ruthless realism about family dysfunction. So I'm still reading. The 19th-century novels of Great Britain and America are an avocation and a passion.

Jonatha's book list on understanding women in 19th century England

Jonatha Ceely Why did Jonatha love this book?

Curious about the century that produced works as varied as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Bleak House? This is the book for you! Because it is organized by topics—money and social precedence to begin and the workhouse and death to end—it is easy to dip in and out of. It has added greatly to my understanding of 19th-century fiction. The invaluable glossary at the end lists terms that are strange to us in the 21st century and gives clear brief definitions. Now I know that loo was not an English euphemism for a toilet and that a ha-ha was not a joke! 

By Daniel Pool,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "delightful reader's companion" (The New York Times) to the great nineteenth-century British novels of Austen, Dickens, Trollope, the Brontes, and more, this lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules and customs that governed life in Victorian England.

For anyone who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell "Tally Ho!" at a fox hunt, or how one landed in "debtor's prison," this book serves as an indispensable historical and literary resource. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the "plums" in Christmas plum pudding were actually raisins?) on the…


Book cover of Hester

Katie Lumsden Author Of The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

From my list on surprisingly feminist Victorian.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Victorian literature after reading Jane Eyre when I was thirteen years old. Since then, I’ve worked my way through Victorian book after Victorian book, and my own novel, The Secrets of Hartwood Hall, is a love letter to Victorian fiction. One of my key interests within Victorian literature has always been its exploration of gender and gender roles. There are so many fantastic Victorian proto-feminist novels, and while some are still remembered and read, many more have been largely forgotten. These are just a few of my favourite proto-feminist Victorian novels, all of which are very underrated and very much worth a read!

Katie's book list on surprisingly feminist Victorian

Katie Lumsden Why did Katie love this book?

Hester, which came out in 1883, follows two central figures: Miss Catherine, an older woman who runs a bank – in itself quite a surprise to find in a Victorian novel – and Hester, her young relation, who is bored with her dull, ladylike life and wants something more.

What she really wants is to work, as Catherine does, but Catherine is determined that the bank will pass to a man. The novel focuses on their strained relationship – strained partly because they are so very alike. There’s so much I love about Hester, but I especially enjoy how it undermines and undercuts Victorian tropes about the novel and what is and isn’t a happy ending for a female character. It’s an absolutely fascinating read.

By Margaret Oliphant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Margaret Oliphant is one of the great Victorian novelists and "Hester" is a masterpiece of psychological realism published in 1883. 
In exploring the difficulty of understanding human nature, it is also a compulsive story of financial and sexual risk-taking that inevitably results in a searing climax.

"Hester" tells the story of the ageing but powerful Catherine Vernon, and her conflict with the young and determined Hester, whose growing attachment to Edward, Catherine's favourite, spells disaster for all concerned.

Catherine Vernon, jilted in her youth, has risen to power in a man's world as head of the family bank. She thinks…


Book cover of The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations

Jonatha Ceely Author Of Mina

From my list on understanding women in 19th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some years ago, I believed that after I had read the “famous” 19th-century novelists Jane Austen at the beginning of the century, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens more or less in the middle, and Henry James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton at the end, I had “done” the century and was disappointed that there was no more of worth to entertain me. Wrong, of course. Maria Edgeworth (Anglo-Irish) was a revelation; Catherine Maria Sedgewick (American) opened my eyes to New England; Margaret Oliphant (Scottish) combined the “weird,” spiritual, and a ruthless realism about family dysfunction. So I'm still reading. The 19th-century novels of Great Britain and America are an avocation and a passion.

Jonatha's book list on understanding women in 19th century England

Jonatha Ceely Why did Jonatha love this book?

This novel was a big bestseller in 1856! I read it because I saw a reference to it as having religion as a strong theme and I thought it would be useful research for my book. While it turned out to be of little use for that, I found it fascinating for its picture of family life. I did not anticipate the subplot about the abuse of opium in infant care. Critics claim that the portrait of Ethel, the protagonist, made possible the later depictions of Jo March in Little Women and Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. It’s a bit long-winded but a good read. And if you are looking at my list, you probably like long-winded 19th-century novels anyway.

By Charlotte Mary Yonge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Unlike some other reproductions of classic texts (1) We have not used OCR(Optical Character Recognition), as this leads to bad quality books with introduced typos. (2) In books where there are images such as portraits, maps, sketches etc We have endeavoured to keep the quality of these images, so they represent accurately the original artefact. Although occasionally there may be certain imperfections with these old texts, we feel they deserve to be made available for future generations to enjoy.


Book cover of The Famine Ships: The Irish Exodus to America

Jonatha Ceely Author Of Mina

From my list on understanding women in 19th century England.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some years ago, I believed that after I had read the “famous” 19th-century novelists Jane Austen at the beginning of the century, the Brontes, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens more or less in the middle, and Henry James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton at the end, I had “done” the century and was disappointed that there was no more of worth to entertain me. Wrong, of course. Maria Edgeworth (Anglo-Irish) was a revelation; Catherine Maria Sedgewick (American) opened my eyes to New England; Margaret Oliphant (Scottish) combined the “weird,” spiritual, and a ruthless realism about family dysfunction. So I'm still reading. The 19th-century novels of Great Britain and America are an avocation and a passion.

Jonatha's book list on understanding women in 19th century England

Jonatha Ceely Why did Jonatha love this book?

I love primary sources and histories that reproduce them. Here is another amazing feat of historical detection. “Details have been taken from eye-witness accounts; original Certificates of Registration, paintings, and contemporary lithograph drawings have been reproduced,” may sound dry but this book is alive with the voices of immigrants telling both tragic and triumphant tales. Anyone whose Irish ancestors came to North America between 1846 and 1851 will want to examine the numerous passenger lists that Laxton includes. I think of this book and all it taught me when I visit my hometown and stop by the monument commemorating Irish immigrants on the shore of Lake Ontario.

By Edward Laxton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Between 1846 and 1851, more than one-million people--the potato famine emigrants--sailed from Ireland to America. Now, 150 years later, The Famine Ships tells of the courage and determination of those who crossed the Atlantic in leaky, overcrowded sailing ships and made new lives for themselves, among them the child Henry Ford and the twenty-six-year-old Patrick Kennedy, great-grandfather of John F. Kennedy. Edward Laxton conducted five years of research in Ireland and interviewed the emigrants' descents in the U.S. Portraits of people, ships, and towns, as well as facsimile passenger lists and tickets, are among the fascinating memorabilia in The Famine…


Book cover of Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings

Angela R. Hughes Author Of Elanor and the Song of the Bard: The Once and Future Chronicles, Book 1

From my list on historical fantasy with twists on Arthurian legend.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the fantastic since childhood—ever since I read my first book, The Princess & the Goblin. As a young adult, I lived on the Emerald Isle of Ireland and I fell in love with the history and legends of the British Isles. Stories of King Arthur, Saint Patrick, and the mighty warrior Cu Chulainn inspired my imagination. Now through years of studying Arthurian Legend and Celtic Mythos—I write historical fantasy filled with the ageless inspirations of the ancient Celtic world.

Angela's book list on historical fantasy with twists on Arthurian legend

Angela R. Hughes Why did Angela love this book?

Read this book if you want to get inside the heads of the two fathers of Fantasy, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. This book brilliantly ventures into what created the ‘Inklings’, and how they inspired each other to write fantastic stories of hobbits, dragons and magical worlds. This book particularly gripped me, because these two authors are my hero’s and have inspired my imagination above all others. This book even showed me how I could personally become an inkling, and join forces with other creative, and inspired writers to create a new world all our own. 

By Diana Glyer, James A. Owen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An inside look at the Inklings and their creative process

C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the other Inklings met each week to read and discuss each other's works-in-progress, offering both encouragement and blistering critique. How did these conversations shape the books they were writing? How does creative collaboration enhance individual talent? And what can we learn from their example?

Complemented with original illustrations by James Owen, Bandersnatch offers an inside look at the Inklings of Oxford-and a seat at their table at the Eagle and Child pub. It shows how encouragement and criticism made all the difference…


Book cover of Urban Underworlds: A Geography Of Twentieth-Century American Literature And Culture

Stephen Graham Author Of Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers

From my list on the subterranean of cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been obsessed with the material aspects of places - and the infrastructures that make them work - since I was a really young boy! (I remember, aged around 7, sitting on a bridge over the M6 motorway near Preston watching the traffic). This obsession was channeled into studying Geography, becoming a qualified urban planner, and completing a Ph.D. on how digital technologies effect urban life. A preoccupation with the subterranean realms of cities is also long-standing; it drove the 'Below' parts of my 2016 book Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers. (I must admit I suffer from both claustropobia and vertigo! So, sadly, a lot of my work is necessarily desk-based!)

Stephen's book list on the subterranean of cities

Stephen Graham Why did Stephen love this book?

The subterranean worlds of cities have long been represented as a literal ‘underworld’ – a hidden and shadowy realm inhabited by all sorts of marginalised and spectral figures and communities.

Very often, such communities – real, imagined, and mythical – have been deemed by elites to be morally, socially, and biologically threatening the above-surface city. As someone who does not generally read a huge amount of fiction, Heise’s wonderful book was a huge inspiration for me.

It explores and reveals like no other book how American urban underworlds have been represented across a range of American literature.

From New York through Chicago and Los Angeles, what emerges is a rich a vibrant history through which the lived and imagined world below cities have been pivotal in key novels.

By Thomas Heise,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Urban Underworlds is an exploration of city spaces, pathologized identities, lurid fears, and American literature. Surveying the 1890s to the 1990s, Thomas Heise chronicles how and why marginalized populations immigrant Americans in the Lower East Side, gays and lesbians in Greenwich Village and downtown Los Angeles, the black underclass in Harlem and Chicago, and the new urban poor dispersed across American cities have been selectively targeted as ""urban underworlds"" and their neighborhoods characterized as miasmas of disease and moral ruin.

The quarantining of minority cultures helped to promote white, middle-class privilege. Following a diverse array of literary figures who differ…


Book cover of What We Talk about When We Talk about Books: The History and Future of Reading

Beth Luey Author Of Expanding the American Mind: Books and the Popularization of Knowledge

From my list on that tell us why we read and write.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an avid reader, I'm curious about where books come from and what they do. How does a story get to be a book? How does someone become an author? What is happening to us as we read? I worked in publishing, and eventually, I started teaching other people how to become editors and publishers. As a faculty member, I had time to study and write about book history. I joined the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing when it was formed and became its president. The conferences helped me to learn about the history of books throughout the world and from pre-print times to the present.

Beth's book list on that tell us why we read and write

Beth Luey Why did Beth love this book?

As a voracious reader, I’ve often wondered about why exactly reading is so pleasurable—so essential—and whether others feel the same way about books as I do. Leah Price writes about books and reading clearly and entertainingly, busting myths about a “golden age” of books as well as the much-feared “death of the book.” I learned a lot from this book and enjoyed every minute.

By Leah St. James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What We Talk about When We Talk about Books as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Around 2000, people began to believe that books were on verge of extinction. Their obsolescence, in turn, was expected to doom the habits of mind that longform print had once prompted: the capacity to follow a demanding idea from start to finish, to look beyond the day's news, or even just to be alone. The "death of the book" is an anxiety that has spawned a thousand jeremiads about the dumbing down of American culture, the ever-shorter attention spans of our children, the collapse of civilized discourse.

All of these anxieties rely on the idea of a golden age, when…


Book cover of Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths

Asa Maria Bradley Author Of A Wolf's Hunger: A Sexy Fated Mates Paranormal Romance

From my list on the gods and world of Norse mythology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology steeped in Viking history, which fueled my interest in Norse mythology. For example, Uppåkra, the largest and richest Iron Age settlement in Scandinavia, is only a few miles from my childhood home. When my seventh-grade history teacher noticed my fascination with the Viking myths, he started recommending me books. Ever since, I’ve read extensively about the Norse pantheon, and its stories inspire my own writing. I’ve also taken several research trips to historical Viking settlements in Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.

Asa's book list on the gods and world of Norse mythology

Asa Maria Bradley Why did Asa love this book?

The very fact that we have written records of the Viking myths, other than Runestones, is thanks to Icelandic historian, poet, and politician Snorri Sturluson. His Icelandic Sagas inspired many writers, including Tolkien and Lewis. In her biography of this influential medieval writer, Ms. Brown not only tells us about Sturluson’s life but also summarizes much of his writing and puts it into context with Norse fables. If you’ve ever wondered how much of the Viking stories were historical facts and how much of it is Sturluson’s imagination, this is a great book to read.

By Nancy Marie Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Indie Next pick for December 2012, Song of the Vikings brings to life Snorri Sturluson, wealthy chieftain, wily politician, witty storyteller, and the sole source of Viking lore for all of Western literature. Tales of one-eyed Odin, Thor and his mighty hammer, the trickster Loki, and the beautiful Valkyries have inspired countless writers, poets, and dreamers through the centuries, including Richard Wagner, JRR Tolkien, and Neil Gaiman, and author Nancy Marie Brown brings alive the medieval Icelandic world where it all began. She paints a vivid picture of the Icelandic landscape, with its colossal glaciers and volcanoes, steaming hot…


Book cover of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity

Roy Adkins Author Of Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England: How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago

From my list on Jane Austen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was brought up in Maidenhead in Berkshire, a town on the River Thames to the west of London. After studying archaeology at University College, Cardiff, I worked for many years as a field archaeologist. I met my wife, Lesley, on an excavation at Milton Keynes, and we have worked together ever since, both in archaeology and as authors of archaeology and history books. It was only after studying the Napoleonic period, which was when Jane Austen lived and wrote, that I understood the context of her novels and came to a much deeper appreciation of them.

Roy's book list on Jane Austen

Roy Adkins Why did Roy love this book?

Nowadays, Jane Austen’s novels look superficially like historical romances, but she actually wrote contemporary novels for a contemporary audience, and they are much more complicated and subtle than they first appear. This book explains many of the mentions of people, places, and events in her novels that were obvious to her readers, but which are far from obvious now.

By Janine Barchas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Matters of Fact in Jane Austen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity, Janine Barchas makes the bold assertion that Jane Austen's novels allude to actual high-profile politicians and contemporary celebrities as well as to famous historical figures and landed estates. Barchas is the first scholar to conduct extensive research into the names and locations in Austen's fiction by taking full advantage of the explosion of archival materials now available online. According to Barchas, Austen plays confidently with the tension between truth and invention that characterizes the realist novel. Of course, the argument that Austen deployed famous names presupposes an active celebrity…


Book cover of The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Paris

Joan DeJean Author Of How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City

From my list on what makes a city great, especially Paris.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived in cities all my adult life and currently divide my time between Paris and Philadelphia. And while those two cities are strikingly different places, they have in common the fact that they are both great walking cities –- urban centers that can be explored on foot and easily enjoyed by pedestrians. Walking cities, I believe, provide not only an ideal context for today’s tourists but also a model for a future in which urban dwellers become less reliant on automobiles and urban centers more open to foot traffic than to vehicular pollution and congestion. The books I’ll recommend deal in various ways with the building and rebuilding of visionary cities, and of Paris in particular.

Joan's book list on what makes a city great, especially Paris

Joan DeJean Why did Joan love this book?

Beginning in the seventeenth century at the moment when Paris was redesigned, it became a great literary city and the center of the French literary tradition. For anyone interested in how the most important French writers have celebrated their city and depicted the ways in which Paris has changed over the centuries and the impact such changes have had on its inhabitants this is the perfect book.

By Anna-Louise Milne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No city more than Paris has had such a constant and deep association with the development of literary forms and cultural ideas. The idea of the city as a space of literary self-consciousness started to take hold in the sixteenth century. By 1620, where this volume begins, the first in a long line of extraordinary works of the human imagination, in which the city represented itself to itself, had begun to find form in print. This collection follows that process through to the present day. Beginning with the 'salon', followed by the hybrid culture of libertinage and the revolutionary hotbeds…


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