100 books like A Very Private Diary

By Mary Morris,

Here are 100 books that A Very Private Diary fans have personally recommended if you like A Very Private Diary. 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 Unsettled: Refugee Camps and the Making of Multicultural Britain

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

The history of refugees in twentieth-century Britain is hardly known. A map at the beginning of Unsettled reveals how many places in Britain feature in this history, all given the title ‘refugee camp’. Accommodation was in tents or in facilities that were repurposed including workhouses, holiday camps, wartime barracks, internment camps, air bases, and prisoner-of-war camps. Unsettled tells the story of life in these camps and is also about the impact of refugees and camps on local communities and the contexts in which refugees and local populations encountered each other. A striking finding is that homeless Britons sometimes lived in the camps alongside refugees. Unsettled is an unsettling read—it challenges the widespread forgettings of refugee camps in Britain and records a time before the state had the power to detain asylum seekers and deprive them of the right to work. 

By Jordanna Bailkin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today, no one really thinks of Britain as a land of camps. Camps seem to happen 'elsewhere', from Greece, to Palestine, to the global South. Yet over the course of the twentieth century, dozens of British refugee camps housed hundreds of thousands of Belgians, Jews, Basques, Poles, Hungarians, Anglo-Egyptians, Ugandan Asians, and Vietnamese. Refugee camps in Britain were never only for refugees. Refugees shared a space with Britons who had been displaced by war and
poverty, as well as thousands of civil servants and a fractious mix of volunteers. Unsettled: Refugee Camps and the Making of Multicultural Britain explores how…


Book cover of Black Teacher

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

I still remember discovering Beryl Gilroy‘s book—it’s one of the very rare memoirs by Black women about living in England in the 1950s and 1960s. There were many single women who migrated to Britain in what was called—much later—the Windrush generation. Most of Gilroy’s memoir is about teaching in London schools, but although she’d done teacher training in Guyana she was rejected by many schools before she got her first teaching job. Her perspective on teaching in an East End London school reverses racial stereotypes. She describes it as an encounter with dirt, disease, backwardness, and ignorance, and all of it pretty uncivilised—just the same conditions that are attributed to her in racist taunts and slurs. She has some low moments but takes much of this in her stride. The memoir bears witness to the appalling racism she experiences but is entertaining and exhilarating.

By Beryl Gilroy, Bernardine Evaristo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The rediscovered classic: an unforgettable memoir by a trailblazing black woman in post-war London, introduced by Bernardine Evaristo ('I dare anyone to read it and not come away shocked, moved and entertained')
Benjamin Zephaniah: 'A must-read. Her life makes you laugh. Her life makes you cry. Get to know her.'
Jacqueline Wilson: 'A superb but shocking memoir ... Imaginative, resilient and inspiring.'
Christie Watson: 'A beautiful memoir of one woman's strength and dignity against the odds.'
Steve McQueen: 'Gilroy blazed a path that empowered generations of Black British educators.'
David Lammy: 'This empowering tale of courage, resistance, and triumph is…


Book cover of Striking Back: A Jewish Commando's War Against the Nazis

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

I chose this memoir because it tells the compelling story of Germans and Austrians who joined the British forces to strike back against Nazi Germany—a story that is missing from most histories. First, they had to undergo many metamorphoses—a main theme of this memoir. Peter Masters—originally a member of a respectable Jewish family in Vienna—escapes to Britain and is a refugee from Nazi oppression, but in 1940 the British government identify him as an enemy alien and intern him. For his fourth metamorphosis he becomes a soldier in the British army, but the British government bans Austrians and Germans from bearing arms. After this ban is lifted there is a final metamorphosis when he joins a British commando unit. He writes, "The antithesis of 'lambs to the slaughter,' we fought and many of us died... Those who died preferred their fate to being gassed and cremated by the Nazi brute."

By Peter Masters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The amazing, true story of a member of a secret World War II British commando unit, 3 Troop, 10 Commando.


Book cover of Ten Pound Poms: Australia's Invisible Migrants

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

This may seem an odd choice, but many British who migrated to Australia subsequently returned to Britain and some, nicknamed ‘boomerang migrants,’ had lives of to and fro between Australia and Britain. I’ve chosen it because the experiences of migrants who don’t settle but either return or migrate onwards are often missing from histories. In Ten Pound Poms, the voices of people who returned or boomeranged are prominent, talking about intense homesickness, but also about a kind of reverse homesickness since the place they return to doesn’t match the way they imagined it while they were away and has changed during their absence. The book reminds us that people’s attachment to particular places and landscapes and soundscapes can be powerful, and that migration often involves complex feelings of belonging and unbelonging.

By A. James Hammerton, Alistair Thomson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

More than a million Britons emigrated to Australia between the 1940s and 1970s. They were the famous 'ten pound Poms' and this is their story. Illuminated by the fascinating testimony of migrant life histories, this is the first substantial history of their experience and fills a gaping hole in the literature of emigration.

The authors, both leading figures in the fields of oral history and migration studies, draw upon a rich life history archive of letters, diaries, personal photographs and hundreds of oral history interviews with former migrants, including those who settled in Australia and those who returned to Britain.…


Book cover of Revolution

Kathryn Knight Author Of Ghost Moon

From my list on romantic ghost stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a fan of all things spooky! I especially love ghost stories, which is probably abundantly clear from my own novels. I’ve been known to frequent old graveyards, seek out haunted places, and sneak into abandoned buildings for inspiration—and the adrenaline rush! This fascination started when I was a young girl and my dad brought me a YA ghost mystery home from the library—every week, he would have the librarian help him pick out books for me, and I would devour the stack immediately, then re-read until the next library day! My favorite ghost stories have a mix similar to what I write—a tension-filled romance combined with a spooky, suspenseful haunting. 

Kathryn's book list on romantic ghost stories

Kathryn Knight Why did Kathryn love this book?

I fell in love with Jennifer Donelly’s writing when I discovered her historical romance trilogy The Tea Rose, and then devoured her YA novel A Northern Light. So when I found out she had published a YA book with history, young love, and a ghost mystery, I was all in!

In this story, the past and the present are once again woven together, adding fascinating and horrific details of the French Revolution as the main character navigates her new and strange life in Paris. The Catacombs beneath the city play a role in the plot, and it was this setting that made me determined to visit this creepy location myself one day—which I did!

The labyrinth of man-made tunnels wind their way into an underground maze that is filled with the relocated human bones of over 6 million bodies, which line the walls in macabre designs. Exploring the “Land of…

By Jennifer Donnelly,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14.

What is this book about?

Readers of If I Stay and Elizabeth George will love Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light. Revolution artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love; it spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’…


Book cover of The War Nurse

Connie Hertzberg Mayo Author Of The Sharp Edge of Mercy

From my list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses.

Why am I passionate about this?

My mother went back to school for her PhD in Anatomy when I was a pre-teen. During the summers of my high school years I worked with her in her lab, and let me tell you, you see your mother in a new light when you see her dissect a rat. Though I didn’t go into medicine, anyone raised in our household learned an impressive amount of biology just sitting around the dinner table. Consequently, I’ve always loved fiction with a medical bent. My mother was also the one to introduce me to historical fiction, so perhaps I was fated to write a historical novel with a nurse protagonist.

Connie's book list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses

Connie Hertzberg Mayo Why did Connie love this book?

Based on a real-life WWI nurse, this novel is about Julia Stimson who supervised dozens of British nurses in Rouen, France. Horrific battle injuries and a deadly influenza that infiltrates their camp put Julia to the test, all while she tries to advocate for her nursing staff and navigate the egos of some of the male doctors. But when one doctor falls for her, she must decide how this relationship squares with her career aspirations. This book is a wonderful way to learn about this amazing woman who wants to put her career first.

By Tracey Enerson Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Any readers who enjoyed the mix of romance, intrigue, and medical accuracy of Call the Midwife will love The War Nurse."-New York Journal of Books
"[An] impeccably researched, well-drawn, based-on-a-true-story tale, written by a former RN...The War Nurse shines an important light on a woman whose story was, until now, lost to time."-Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names
Based on a true story, The War Nurse is a sweeping historical novel by USA Today bestselling author Tracey Enerson Wood that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through WWI France.
She asked dozens of…


Book cover of American Nightingale: The Story of Frances Slanger, Forgotten Heroine of Normandy

Cheryl Dellasega Author Of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

From my list on wellbeing for nurses.

Why am I passionate about this?

Juggling roles as a professor, nurse practitioner, author, mother, and grandmother would seem to limit my reading time but instead, I always have a book in my car, on my phone, or in my hands. I read broadly and enjoy all genres, from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to medical comics, as well as the creative essay columns nursing journals are beginning to embrace. In particular, I gravitate toward resources that help nurses create a positive relational workplace where their best efforts can be even more effective. Whether it’s ending the RN-RA (relational aggression) Rut, using poetry to express feelings about caregiving, or writing creatively about the many aspects of nursing, I am ready to read! And of course, the best part of reading is having a discussion with colleagues or friends about what exactly that book was about…

Cheryl's book list on wellbeing for nurses

Cheryl Dellasega Why did Cheryl love this book?

I confess to a passion for WW2 fiction and non-fiction, so this book was a no-brainer for me. Frances Slanger, a Polish Jew who immigrated and grew up in Boston, was the first nurse to due during the D-day invasion at Normandy. She left a legacy in writing that helps the author piece together her story and offer insight into what military nurses faced.

By Bob Welch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The heart-wrenching and inspirational WWII story of the first American nurse to die at the Normandy landings, the true account of a woman whose courage and compassion led to what a national radio show host in 1945 called "one of the most moving stories to come out of the war—a story of an army nurse that surpassed anything Hollywood has ever dreamed of."

She was a Jewish girl growing up in World War I-torn Poland. At age seven, she and her family immigrated to America with dreams of a brighter future. But Frances Slanger could not lay her past to…


Book cover of Arthur Young's Travels in France: During the Years 1787, 1788, 1789

Stephen Clarke Author Of The Spy Who Inspired Me

From my list on why the French deny their own history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived almost all my adult life in France, and have spent that whole time wondering what makes the French so French. One of the answers is their attitude to their own history. The French have got a lot of upheaval to process: at least five revolutions since 1789, and two World Wars fought on their soil, including a Nazi occupation that they still haven’t digested. I didn’t start writing about the French until I’d been living in France for about 10 years – I didn’t want to write like a tourist, and it took me that long to unweave the first strands of their DNA. I’ve never stopped writing about them since, half a dozen Merde novels and as many non-fiction books later.

Stephen's book list on why the French deny their own history

Stephen Clarke Why did Stephen love this book?

Young was an English agriculturalist who took time out from farming to analyse life and developments in the countryside. He toured Britain, then Ireland, and finally France. Here, he lucked in. He wandered the fields, lanes, and city streets of France as the Revolution was brewing and then erupting. Although not an aristo himself, he frequented nobility and royalty, and was amazed at the blissful indifference of the idle rich about what was going on around them. He saw the extreme poverty of the peasants, who were being worked and starved to death by their absentee landlords. He witnessed the actual events of the Revolution and had to talk himself out of getting lynched as a potential aristo spy. It’s a book to browse rather than consume whole, and contains whole pages about crop yields and diseases, but at times it is the most measured first-hand view of the Revolution…

By Arthur Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arthur Young's Travels in France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur Young (1741-1820) was an English writer on agriculture, economics and social statistics. At the age of seventeen, he published a pamphlet On the War in North America, and in 1761 went to London and started a periodical, entitled The Universal Museum. He also wrote four novels, and Reflections on the Present State of Affairs at Home and Abroad in 1759. Young produced around 25 books and pamphlets on agriculture and 15 books on political economy, as well as many articles. He was famous for the views he expressed, as an agricultural improver, political economist and social observer. Amongst his…


Book cover of Early One Morning

Mark Chisnell Author Of The Fulcrum Files

From my list on historical thrillers set just before WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by history, and the time immediately preceding the Second World War is one of the most interesting. How inevitable was the tragedy that unfolded in Germany, Europe, and then around the globe? I was drawn to it after the 2008 economic crash, and the parallels of economic hardship and the resurgence in populist nationalism. I’ve read all that history in an attempt to learn from it, and I hope that some of that comes through in The Fulcrum Files.

Mark's book list on historical thrillers set just before WWII

Mark Chisnell Why did Mark love this book?

The key to a successful historical thriller is a strong sense of time and place, but not so strong that it slows down the plot – it’s still a thriller after all, and while it’s so tempting to find somewhere to put all that research, discipline is essential. I loved this book because Robert Ryan does it particularly well. I took a lot from it for The Fulcrum Files, particularly the mix of action and romance and the basis in real events.

By Robert Ryan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the flamboyant 20s, Englishman William Grover-Williams and Frenchman Robert Benoist were fierce rivals racing their elegant Bugattis on the glittering European race circuits. Not only is the World Championship in their sights, but they have both fallen for the sensuous charms of the extravagantly beautiful Eve Aubicq. But when war breaks out, both are signed up by Special Operations Executive for missions behind enemy lines in France, one of which includes investigating rumours of the manufacture of the lethal gas Zyklon B and how it is being used by the Germans. In a series of daring sabotages and assassinations,…


Book cover of The Great War

Andrew Dunkley Author Of All I See Is Mud

From my list on World War 1 in the trenches.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author, radio broadcaster, journalist, and podcaster. I’ve been in the media for almost 40 years. Oddly, writing came to me very late but it hit me light a lightning bolt when it happened. I researched my Grandfather’s time on the Western Front in WW1 after discovering a letter he wrote to a friend. That was the moment I knew I had to write a book. My career has taken me from rock n roll radio to talkback in Commercial, Public, and now Community radio in Australia. I love what I do, but most of all, I just love telling stories to my audience, whatever the platform.

Andrew's book list on World War 1 in the trenches

Andrew Dunkley Why did Andrew love this book?

I read this book cover to cover. It was incredible, full of well-researched detail and analysis. Les really got into the nuts and bolts of the Western Front and why things happened the way they did. It must have been exhausting to research, but well worth it. I found it invaluable in researching my own story. This book chronicles the reality of war in the trenches and goes much deeper than anything I’ve read before. Truly brilliant.

By Les Carlyon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SELF-INTEREST was the dominant note of the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the Great War. In economics and in politics, among individuals, social classes, and nations, flourished a self-interest that tended more and more to degenerate into mere cynical selfishness. Pseudo-scientists there were to justify the tendency as part of an inevitable "struggle for existence" and to extol it as assuring the "survival of the fittest."
            Economic circumstances had provided the setting for the dogma of self-interest. The latest age in world history had been the age of steam and electricity, of the factory and the workshop, of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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