100 books like A Thousand Splendid Suns

By Khaled Hosseini,

Here are 100 books that A Thousand Splendid Suns fans have personally recommended if you like A Thousand Splendid Suns. 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 Invisible Woman

Joyce Tremel Author Of Death On A Deadline

From my list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with historical fiction, especially the World War II era, ever since I listened to my mother playing her Big Band Records. I’ve also loved mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. Once I discovered historical mysteries, I haven’t been able to separate the two. I’ve recently expanded my interest to include the first world war. There are so many great stories that I’m afraid I’ll never get to read them all. It was really hard to narrow down my list to five books and I hope you’ll love the ones I’ve chosen for you.

Joyce's book list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs

Joyce Tremel Why did Joyce love this book?

I love this book. Although it’s a novel, Virginia Hall was a real person. She was recruited by the Allies to be a spy.

The book is written in present tense—which I usually find distracting—but it works in this book. It really lends an air of immediacy to the story. My heart didn’t stop pounding through the entire book. Even though I knew the basics of Virginia Hall’s life, this novel really brings it to life. She was an extraordinary woman.

By Erika Robuck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“An extraordinary profile of immense courage and daring.”—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Left Cuba
 
“If you only read one WWII book this year, make it this one."—Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Orphans
 
In the depths of war, she would defy the odds to help liberate a nation…a gripping historical novel based on the remarkable true story of World War II heroine Virginia Hall, from the bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl
 
France, March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn't like the other young society women back home in Baltimore—she never wanted the debutante…


Book cover of Hamnet

Flora Johnston Author Of The Paris Peacemakers

From my list on historical fiction books with a new take on a famous event.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by stories from the past. I worked for many years in museums and heritage, telling Scotland’s stories through exhibitions and nonfiction publications, but I was always drawn to the question best answered through historical fiction – what did that feel like? Well-researched historical fiction can take us right into the lives of people who lived through the dramatic events we read about in academic books. I found that each of the novels on my list transported me to a different time and place, and I hope you enjoy them, too.

Flora's book list on historical fiction books with a new take on a famous event

Flora Johnston Why did Flora love this book?

Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, right? Yes, but why? This wonderful book manages to tell the story of the writing of perhaps the world’s most famous play without mentioning the playwright by name once.

I loved the way the writer focused on his wife and children, and through their stories shows us not only the world that Shakespeare came from but how he became the writer he was. Oh, and if you like a book that will make you cry this really is the one. I’ve rarely read such a powerful description of grief.

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2020 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION - THE NO. 1 BESTSELLER 2021
'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.

Neither…


Book cover of An Instance of the Fingerpost

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

This is the only ‘whodunnit’ on my list, but it’s so much more. (As are all the best ‘whodunnits’.)

For a start, it’s told from four different points of view. My own books use the early history of the Royal Society, its science, and various of its actual ‘Fellows,’ and this book was undeniably an influence. Pears details the politics and religious turmoil of the time and the excitement of new scientific discoveries.

The mid-17th century’s rigid social structure and manners are shown starkly, as is the misogyny. I found it dark, layered, and although complex, it’s immediately engaging. A very satisfying book indeed!

By Iain Pears,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked An Instance of the Fingerpost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A fictional tour de force which combines erudition with mystery' PD James

Set in Oxford in the 1660s - a time and place of great intellectual, religious, scientific and political ferment - this remarkable novel centres around a young woman, Sarah Blundy, who stands accused of the murder of Robert Grove, a fellow of New College. Four witnesses describe the events surrounding his death: Marco da Cola, a Venetian Catholic intent on claiming credit for the invention of blood transfusion;Jack Prescott, the son of a supposed traitor to the Royalist cause, determined to vindicate his father; John Wallis, chief cryptographer…


Book cover of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Sophie Overett Author Of The Rabbits

From my list on strange and unusual families.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the sub-tropics of Brisbane, there was a magic in the heat. It was one that spoke to me from a really young age, and I’d daydream about finding portals to secret worlds in the stutter of a sprinkler’s spray, or the ooze of a monster in mid-afternoon sweat. There was no way I couldn’t find a story in the oppressive swelter of year-round summers, and in my head, I’d cast roles for my family and my friends. Over the years, that bred into a love of writing and reading stories about strange families finding their own sorts of magic with each other and their environments, and the ways that little taste of the uncanny can reveal and conceal in equal measure. 

Sophie's book list on strange and unusual families

Sophie Overett Why did Sophie love this book?

Okay, this is a little bit of a cheat, as there’s no magical realism exactly in Karen Joy Fowler’s novel, but there’s certainly the uncanny. This story of two sisters separated during childhood trying to find each other in adulthood is wry and funny, but also immensely heartfelt and dramatic, and the twist at the halfway mark (which I won’t spoil for you!) makes this one a personal favourite. 

By Karen Joy Fowler,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club introduces a middle-class American family that is ordinary in every way but one in this novel that won the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.
 
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion...she was my twin, my funhouse…


Book cover of The Great Alone

Anthea T. Piscarik Author Of The Years In Between

From my list on historical fiction about overcoming loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

My favorite genre, historical fiction, inserts characters into real-life events. As a former news reporter, I enjoyed doing research when communicating factual information to readers. I love learning about different time periods and coming away with a fresh perspective on times gone by. History is subjective and always revised and revisited, but factual dates and occurrences remain the same. All the stories I chose to review reveal how fictionalized characters, in real events, deal with coming out on the other side of loss or pain with a stronger spirit. None of us escape loss. It’s inevitable. But there’s healing over time and trust in a God that loves us beyond expectations.

Anthea's book list on historical fiction about overcoming loss

Anthea T. Piscarik Why did Anthea love this book?

In this book, thirteen-year-old Liv captivates my imagination and heart with devotion to her mom, a broken soul that endures her husband’s abuse, endless arguments, and irrational decisions. I’m drawn to coming-of-age stories that tug at memories of my own battles with self-criticism and angst.

As a survival story, the book serves up a double portion that I devour with every turn of the page. At its heart, the story contrasts the expansive, unforgiving, unrelenting climate and terrain of Alaska with a claustrophobic family dynamic. I love stories that weave in the raw beauty of nature and, at times, the brutality of elemental forces beyond our human control. Liv’s embodiment of endurance and the sheer will of the human spirit remains with me. 

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Great Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature.

#1 New York Times Instant Bestseller (February 2018)
A People “Book of the Week”
Buzzfeed’s “Most Anticipated Women’s Fiction Reads of 2018”
Seattle Times’s “Books to Look Forward to in 2018”

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter…


Book cover of Station Eleven

Eric Porter Author Of A People's History of SFO: The Making of the Bay Area and an Airport

From my list on airports teaching us about society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long had an ambivalent relationship with airports. They have been the starting point for my adventures, but I have also known well the discomfort, boredom, stress, surveillance, bad food, and other unpleasantries that often define airport experiences. Despite my ambivalence, I’ve found airports to be fascinating places where differently situated people (travelers and workers) encounter one another. I’ve learned that those encounters, as well as airport operations and design, tell us something about the places where they are located and the broader societies in which we live. I’ve since become aware that reading (and writing) about airports are also great ways to gain such insights. 

Eric's book list on airports teaching us about society

Eric Porter Why did Eric love this book?

In addition to eerily anticipating the COVID-19 pandemic—thankfully, our pathogen was not nearly as virulent and lethal—this post-apocalyptic novel offers interesting commentary about airports as microcosms of society.

The airport that figures prominently here is the gateway to and manifestation of a “secure” society structured as much by those it excludes as by those it includes. It is also the archive of a society defined, for better and for worse, by its relationship to technology. 

By Emily St. John Mandel,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked Station Eleven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Best novel. The big one . . . stands above all the others' - George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones

Now an HBO Max original TV series

The New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
National Book Awards Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in…


Book cover of Three Daughters of Eve

Iulia Dobre-Trifan Author Of Forward

From my list on relationships that define us across time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up overcoming odds and choosing the road less traveled by, which I walked many times, on my own, and sometimes, accompanied by a few others. Having developed a successful career, working with people, as a coach, trainer, entrepreneur, I am fascinated by the multifaceted power relationships exert on us, ranging from keeping us locked into toxicity and hopelessness, up to healing and transforming us into bright, joyful people. I believe our relationships define us, when optimally fueled by the quintessential element of time. I’m writing about this wonderful effect of relationships, both through non-fiction and fiction books. I also like reading about it.

Iulia's book list on relationships that define us across time

Iulia Dobre-Trifan Why did Iulia love this book?

The individual conflicts described in this book stem from the reality of relationships that are supposed to be in a certain way, but somehow get twisted into something different, rather forbidden, or at least with blurred boundaries. I love the interweaving of spirituality, cultural diversity, and the parallel timelines, past and present. The characters are complex and represent different value systems. Swinging between their own personal struggles, trying to find suitable answers to the big questions of life, they get caught in a web of events that lead to surprising consequences. 

By Elif Shafak,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*As mentioned on BBC's Desert Island Discs*

'A fascinating exploration of faith and friendship, rich and poor, and the devastating clash of tradition and modernity' Independent

Set across Istanbul and Oxford, from the 1980s to the present day, Three Daughters of Eve is a sweeping tale of faith and friendship, tradition and modernity, love and an unexpected betrayal.

Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife and mother, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground - an…


Book cover of The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Iulia Dobre-Trifan Author Of Forward

From my list on relationships that define us across time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up overcoming odds and choosing the road less traveled by, which I walked many times, on my own, and sometimes, accompanied by a few others. Having developed a successful career, working with people, as a coach, trainer, entrepreneur, I am fascinated by the multifaceted power relationships exert on us, ranging from keeping us locked into toxicity and hopelessness, up to healing and transforming us into bright, joyful people. I believe our relationships define us, when optimally fueled by the quintessential element of time. I’m writing about this wonderful effect of relationships, both through non-fiction and fiction books. I also like reading about it.

Iulia's book list on relationships that define us across time

Iulia Dobre-Trifan Why did Iulia love this book?

Who would expect a stray cat to be such a fine philosopher and insightful observer of human nature? How deeply affectionate the relationship between a man and his cat could be? This book provides amazing perspectives. Not only is the feline companion of the main character a witty, funny, loving being, but he’s also a witness to what happens in his caretaker’s life, mirroring friendship, love, loss, and standing by his human’s side through unexpected trials. I like how the author personifies the cat and how he uses the travels of the surprising pair (cat-man) to metaphorically picture the main stages of human growth.  

By Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

STUNNING HARDBACK GIFTING EDITION, INCLUDES A RIBBON

RECOMMENDED BY THOUSANDS OF INTERNATIONAL READERS - the feelgood story of a journey around Japan with a cat by your side. Translated by Philip Gabriel, a translator of Murakami.

INCLUDES 6 BEAUTIFUL LINE-DRAWINGS

'Bewitching... as self-possessed and comforting as - well, a cat' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
_____________

It's not the journey that counts, but who's at your side.

Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van.…


Book cover of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Tanya E. Williams Author Of Welcome To The Hamilton: A Hotel Hamilton Novel

From my list on books that take place at a hotel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve admired old buildings, hotels in particular, for many years. When immersed in a historic building, I find myself leaning in to discover what the walls might tell me if only I could listen closely enough. When I began writing The Hotel Hamilton series, I scoured the archives for historic hotels, learning how they came to be and how they've evolved through the years. One of the most fascinating aspects of hotel life for me is the juxtaposition of experiences felt by the guests versus those of the hotel staff. The upstairs/downstairs vibe of hotel life is ripe for creating tension within a novel, and that always intrigues me.

Tanya's book list on books that take place at a hotel

Tanya E. Williams Why did Tanya love this book?

This deeply moving story took hold of my heart and didn’t let it go. Even years after having read this novel, I am still moved by the thought of it.

Struggle, war, injustice, and young love are carefully woven together in a gripping tale that speaks of truths and heartbreak we seldom examine. I can’t recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet enough as it is as moving as it is important.

By Jamie Ford,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so…


Book cover of The Last Garden in England

Iulia Dobre-Trifan Author Of Forward

From my list on relationships that define us across time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up overcoming odds and choosing the road less traveled by, which I walked many times, on my own, and sometimes, accompanied by a few others. Having developed a successful career, working with people, as a coach, trainer, entrepreneur, I am fascinated by the multifaceted power relationships exert on us, ranging from keeping us locked into toxicity and hopelessness, up to healing and transforming us into bright, joyful people. I believe our relationships define us, when optimally fueled by the quintessential element of time. I’m writing about this wonderful effect of relationships, both through non-fiction and fiction books. I also like reading about it.

Iulia's book list on relationships that define us across time

Iulia Dobre-Trifan Why did Iulia love this book?

A delightful blending of strong female characters, lyrism of nature and gardens, historical background of the second world war, and five parallel perspectives over the fate and purpose of a beautiful place, going around a century of transitions. I enjoyed the author’s way of symbolically mirroring the lives of the characters into the garden that connects them unexpectedly and mysteriously, over time. This book is a gentle reminder of how our own destiny may be influenced by total strangers, who are neither aware, nor intentional, about the lasting effects of their actions.

By Julia Kelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the international bestsellers The Light Over London and The Whispers of War comes "a compelling read, filled with lovable characters and an alluring twist of fates" (Ellen Keith, author of The Dutch Wife) about five women living across three different times whose lives are all connected by one very special garden.

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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