10 books like A Ticket to the Circus

By Norris Church Mailer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Ticket to the Circus. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Blood, Bones & Butter

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Book cover of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Gabrielle Hamilton isn’t just a ‘reluctant chef’ (in her own words), she’s also an absolutely exquisite writer (her MFA really paid off!). Her memoir traces her life and love of food from her New Jersey childhood, through her many professional ups and downs and international travels (I especially love the parts where she’s staying at her Italian mother-in-law’s home, describing the incredible produce she was able to get. Oh, the tomatoes!) Did I extra love this because she grew up in the same small town I was born in? Maybe, but it’s a wonderful book no matter where you’re from.

Blood, Bones & Butter

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blood, Bones & Butter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Magnificent' Anthony Bourdain

A sharply crafted and unflinchingly honest memoir. This is a rollicking, passionate story of food, purpose and family.

Blood, Bones & Butter follows the chef Gabrielle Hamilton's extraordinary journey through the places she has inhabited over the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; and the kitchen of her beloved Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her…


Brooklyn

By Colm Toίbίn,

Book cover of Brooklyn

The story of Eilis, a young woman who immigrates from her small town in Ireland to Brooklyn, is deceptively simple. And you, possibly new to the waiting room, sitting outside the chamber in which your beloved parent is undergoing a CT scan or MRI, feel a perhaps unwelcome kinship with Eilis: You are in a scary new country of your own. In New York, Eilis falls in love though she is forced to return home following a family tragedy. Of course, there’s no place like home to bring out the worst in people. Toibin writes with restraint and grace about longing and belonging, and his often ambivalent, always imperfect, characters make for excellent company. 

Brooklyn

By Colm Toίbίn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Colm Toibin's Brooklyn is a devastating story of love, loss and one woman's terrible choice between duty and personal freedom. The book that inspired the major motion picture starring Saoirse Ronan.

It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go, leaving behind her family and her home for the first time.

Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. She is…


The Long-Winded Lady

By Maeve Brennan,

Book cover of The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from the New Yorker

“I saw a little boy on the street today, and he cried so eloquently that I will never forget him.” Maeve Brennan wrote for the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town section as ‘The Long-Winded Lady’ from 1954 to 1968. She roamed the city’s streets, bars, and restaurants, eyes wide open, weaving stories of vivid emotional detail from the most seemingly mundane moments. None of these are too long – in the waiting room concentration can be fleeting – but each sketch engages. Her story of the crying boy ends this way: “He might have been the last bird in the world, except that if he had been the last bird there would have been no one to hear him.”

The Long-Winded Lady

By Maeve Brennan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Of all the incomparable stable of journalists who wrote for The New Yorker during its glory days in the Fifties and Sixties,” writes The Independent, “the most distinctive was Irish-born Maeve Brennan.” From 1954 to 1981, Maeve Brennan wrote for The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town” column under the pen name “The Long-Winded Lady.” Her unforgettable sketches—prose snapshots of life in small restaurants, cheap hotels, and crowded streets of Times Square and the Village—together form a timeless, bittersweet tribute to what she called the “most reckless, most ambitious, most confused, most comical, the saddest and coldest and most human…


Stuffed

By Patricia Volk,

Book cover of Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family

“My family struck me as larger than life, bigger than news,” Volk once said. This memoir imbues her relatives’ stories with all the wonder and glamour children confer on the mere mortals who raise us. In the waiting room, you may still feel that way about the person inside. Volk’s family ran restaurants in New York City – her grandfather owned 14 – and four generations lived within five blocks of each other. The details of their clothes, their couches, and their craziness (Uncle Al had an affair with Aunt Lil for 11 years then refused to marry her because she wasn’t a virgin), hark back to those Sundays forever ago when families chose to visit each other on their only day off. Reading this feels like home. 

Stuffed

By Patricia Volk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'We were a restaurant family, four generations in a six-block radius. When you opened our fridge, food fell on your feet.' Three generations of Patricia Volk's family have been in the restaurant business. Her hallway was the colour of ball-park mustard, the living room was cocoa and the floor was like Genoa salami. At Morgen's, the famous restaurant in the garment district which her grandfather started and which her father ran, she was the princess. Waiters winked at her and twirled her napkin up high before draping it on her lap and when she wanted a hamburger, her grandfather would…


Zelda

By Nancy Milford,

Book cover of Zelda: A Biography

This is the book that introduced me to astonishing research and the art of life writing when I was in high school. Milford’s vivid and deeply researched biography of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald is unsurpassed; she found letters presumed lost and assembled her own archive. Milford’s feminist reading of Zelda’s life is subtle and convincing, suggesting that some of Zelda’s madness may have been induced by her frustration at never becoming a creative artist in her own right. Also possibly a contributing factor: Scott’s theft of many details of her life and letters to fuel his own writing!

Zelda

By Nancy Milford,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


A Happy Marriage

By Rafael Yglesias,

Book cover of A Happy Marriage

It’s been nearly ten years since I first read this book and I can still remember what the characters were wearing in the first chapter. Now that’s visceral storytelling! The author’s ability to capture his intense obsession with his future wife is familiar, poignant, and heart-warming. Yglesias’ portrayal of the couple’s long and, at times, bumpy marriage, makes this one of the most complex and honest portrayals of a marriage that I have ever read. That this is also a book about cancer and death does nothing to diminish the feelings of hope and gratitude embodied on every page. 

A Happy Marriage

By Rafael Yglesias,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Happy Marriage is both intimate and expansive: It is the story of Enrique Sabas and his wife, Margaret, a novel that alternates between the romantic misadventures of the first weeks of their courtship and the final months of Margaret's life as she says good-bye to her family, friends, and children -- and to Enrique. Spanning thirty years, this achingly honest story is about what it means for two people to spend a lifetime together -- and what makes a happy marriage.

Yglesias's career as a novelist began in 1970 when he wrote an autobiographical novel at sixteen, hailed by…


The State of Affairs

By Esther Perel,

Book cover of The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

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.

The State of Affairs

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?

***NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER***

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…


The Paris Wife

By Paula McLain,

Book cover of The Paris Wife

This novel is about Americans in Paris, actually many of them…and most of them are famous. The Paris Wife follows Hadley (Richardson) Hemmingway and her time in Paris with her husband Ernest, the famous writer. Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald pay calls on the Hemmingway household, along with Fitzgerald’s wild wife, Zelda. This novel is a celebration of Americans in Paris and touches on themes such as the artist's calling and how motherhood can change a marriage. Hadley is a compelling and sympathetic character and seeing Paris in the 1920s through her eyes is a magical experience.

The Paris Wife

By Paula McLain,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


Behind Closed Doors

By B.A. Paris,

Book cover of Behind Closed Doors

This is just the kind of twisty/turny bordering on very disturbing domestic-thriller book that I like to read. I was glued to the pages and I found myself regularly trying to figure out the plot twists, etc. That’s one of my favorite things when reading a book of this type and hoping (praying) I got it right when all is revealed. Another regular favorite author of mine, of whose books I have read many.

Behind Closed Doors

By B.A. Paris,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Behind Closed Doors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING DEBUT PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER YOU CAN'T MISS!

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

“A hair-raising debut, both unsettling and addictive...A chilling thriller that will keep you reading long into the night.” ―Mary Kubica, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl

“This is one readers won’t be able to put down.” ―Booklist (starred review)

"A can’t-put-down psychological thriller.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“This debut is guaranteed to haunt you...Warning: brace yourself.” ―Bustle (10 New Thrillers to Read This Summer)

“The sense of believably and terror that engulfs…


Breathing Lessons

By Anne Tyler,

Book cover of Breathing Lessons

Anne Tyler has always written about family. Some critics have called her characters quirky, but I tend to think they are actually quite average. Both endearing and frustrating, I tend to love them the same way I love my own family—flaws and all. Her observations are incredibly nuanced and meaningful at the same time. Breathing Lessons is one of my favorites but pick up any Anne Tyler book and you’re likely to see shades of your own family dynamics on the pages. And you’ll love them anyway.

Breathing Lessons

By Anne Tyler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Evoking Jane Austen, Emma Straub, and other masters of the literary marriage, Breathing Lessons celebrates the small miracles and magic of truly knowing someone.

Unfolding over the course of a single emotionally fraught day, this stunning novel encompasses a lifetime of dreams, regrets and reckonings—and is oftern regarded as Tyler's seminal work. Maggie and Ira Moran are on a road trip from Baltimore, Maryland to Deer Lick, Pennsylvania to attend the funeral of a friend. Along the way, they reflect on the state of their marriage, its trials and…


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