64 books like Arcadia

By Tom Stoppard,

Here are 64 books that Arcadia fans have personally recommended if you like Arcadia. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Mel Laytner Author Of What They Didn't Burn: Uncovering My Father's Holocaust Secrets

From my list on resilience and surviving the horrors of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a foreign correspondent seven time zones from home when my father died of a sudden heart attack. My grief mixed with guilt for never having sat down with him to unravel his vague vignettes about life and loss in the Holocaust. I wondered, how did he survive when so many perished? How much depended on resilience, smarts, or dumb luck? As reporters do, I started digging. I uncovered a Nazi paper trial that tracked his life from home, through ghettos, slave labor, concentration camps, death marches, and more. The tattered documents revealed a man very different from the quiet, quintessential Type-B Dad I knew…or thought I knew. 

Mel's book list on resilience and surviving the horrors of World War II

Mel Laytner Why did Mel love this book?

I first read Slaughterhouse-Five as a callow college student, concluding with the certainty of youth that this was a brilliant but weird amalgam of dark humor and sci-fi wrapped inside an autobiographical anti-war screed. However, my real ‘duh’ moment came after rereading the book decades later.

The opening line, “Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time” – tells you everything you need to know: It’s about PTSD, written from the inside looking out. Like Billy Pilgrim, I could see myself time-jumping and being abducted by aliens to escape the trauma of war. Interestingly, the term “PTSD,” the acronym for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, had not entered our lexicon when Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse Five in the 1960s. Poignant and personal, it's still a brilliant amalgam of dark humor and sci-fi. 

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked Slaughterhouse-Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
 
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had…


Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

John Klawitter Author Of Death Drop

From my list on living normal lives murder deception and love.

Why am I passionate about this?

Looking back, I was surprised at the things I'd done and the distance I'd traveled from my lower-middle-class upbringing in an industrial town. Destined for a life on the hot beds at the steel mill, I worked my way through college, found a job as a cub copywriter, learned documentary filmmaking, won an EMMY Award, moved to Hollywood, and started my 'sho biz' career. 

John's book list on living normal lives murder deception and love

John Klawitter Why did John love this book?

I fell in love with this unique nature-drama-thriller-mystery novel from the first sentence. I know Hemingway taught us the art of the simple sentence, but Delia shows us that Ernest didn’t know everything about writing…or life, for that matter. 

This wonderful tale had me lingering over the delicious descriptions (of all things) of swampland marshes, and at the same time, impatient to see how the story ends for Kya Clark, the clever and yet fragile Swamp Girl. A-plus all around! 

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

45 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 12 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…


Book cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Susan Emshwiller Author Of Thar She Blows

From my list on first-person narrators navigating screwed-up lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by first-person points of view. In writing plays and screenplays, I couldn’t write the inner thoughts of my characters. Now, in novels and short stories, I do that almost exclusively, even if the stories contain multiple narrators. I love the Unreliable Narrator—whether it is someone too young to understand what they are witnessing, someone who is in denial, or mentally ill, or a non-human experiencing the world in an odd way—the discrepancy between their view and mine delights me. I love discovering all those inner thoughts, fears, anxieties, and desires. These first-person stories let me into another’s experience and allow me to empathize with a whole new perspective.  

Susan's book list on first-person narrators navigating screwed-up lives

Susan Emshwiller Why did Susan love this book?

This stunning book puts me in the head of a young boy with a neurodivergent way of seeing the world. I picked up this book before a cross-country flight and couldn’t stand that we landed, and I would have to stop reading for the drive home.

It immersed me in Christopher’s dilemma of trying to make sense of people. The most trivial things become massive. I was hurtled along with him for a harrowing, incredible journey. Profoundly moving!

By Mark Haddon,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

'Outstanding...a stunningly good read' Observer

'Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement... Wise and bleakly funny' Ian McEwan

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the…


Book cover of The Hours

Rachel M. Harper Author Of The Other Mother

From my list on the dazzling lives of queer artists and writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of three books, all featuring characters who feel like outsiders; some are queer, many are artists, most are people of color. I was lucky enough to grow up around artists, in a community where creativity was valued. I wrote poems and invented card games, put on plays in our living room, and made up stories to fall asleep at night. I knew I was an artist before I knew the word queer. When I came out, my outsider status doubled; I wanted to know how other queer artists and writers navigated these dual identities—how they not only survived but thrived. Their stories are my story.

Rachel's book list on the dazzling lives of queer artists and writers

Rachel M. Harper Why did Rachel love this book?

I was obsessed with this novel when it first came out, and every time I go back to it, it offers me another gift.

The writing is lean yet elegant, a perfect combination to tell such a heartbreaking story—of three women connected through time by Virginia Woolf’s singular novel Mrs. Dalloway.

It’s a book about how to sustain ourselves through challenging times—how to literally survive—but it’s also a treatise on creating remarkable characters, the call to be an artist, and a rare glimpse into the imagined writing process of one of the English language’s greatest wordsmiths. (I’m referring to Woolf, but I could just as easily be talking about Cunningham.)

The structure is inventive and compelling, but it is really what he shows us of the characters, how he opens their hearts and whispers their secret sorrows into our eager ears, desires they barely understand themselves, that makes this…

By Michael Cunningham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize and Pen Faulkner prize. Made into an Oscar-winning film, 'The Hours' is a daring and deeply affecting novel inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf.

In 1920s London, Virginia Woolf is fighting against her rebellious spirit as she attempts to make a start on her new novel.

A young wife and mother, broiling in a suburb of 1940s Los Angeles, yearns to escape and read her precious copy of 'Mrs Dalloway'.

And Clarissa Vaughan steps out of her smart Greenwich village apartment in 1990s New York to buy flowers for a party…


Book cover of The Great Believers

Christopher DiRaddo Author Of The Family Way

From my list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a queer author based in Montreal. When I came out in the early 1990s, at the age of 21, I remember feeling concerned about my future. Family has always been important to me, but I couldn’t imagine what mine would look like as I got older. I knew I wasn't going to have a traditional family like my parents, but I didn’t know what else was possible. Thankfully, I found the answer in books… As queer people, we must seek out and learn our traditions and history. We’re not taught them from birth. Finding books that demonstrate and uplift the bonds that queer people share provides a roadmap for those of us seeking community.

Christopher's book list on uplifting and celebrating queer kinship and chosen family

Christopher DiRaddo Why did Christopher love this book?

Many books that tackle the AIDS crisis tend to focus on queer meccas like New York City and San Francisco, but Makkai’s The Great Believers illustrate just how hard the virus hit Chicago.

Jumping back and forth between 1985 and 2005, the book follows a close group of gay men and their straight allies as their communities begin to come under attack. In 1985, Yale Tishman is on the verge of great professional success just as his dreams begin to slip through his fingers.

Meanwhile in 2005, Yale’s friend Fiona Marcus finds herself looking for her runaway daughter in the streets of Paris, while also coming to terms with what she had to give up to care for these men. A masterful book. 

By Rebecca Makkai,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF 2018
LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER
ALA CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER
THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARD WINNER

Soon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler

"A page turner . . . An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it's like to live during times of crisis." -The New York Times Book Review

A dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an…


Book cover of The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Author Of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom

From my list on mathematical mysteries.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are a mother and daughter team of mathematicians (respectively a researcher in mathematics and a math graduate who runs an educational company) and detective novel lovers (with Agatha Christie a firm favorite). We’re also both very passionate about the importance of a good foundational mathematics education for everyone.

Leila's book list on mathematical mysteries

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Why did Leila love this book?

Thomasina’s musings in Arcadia lead us naturally to Nova Jacobs’ entertaining mystery: the titular equation is closely linked to Thomasina’s ‘theory of everything’ (in fact, a quote from Arcadia opens one of Jacobs’ chapters). When Isaac suddenly dies of an apparent suicide, his adoptive granddaughter Hazel is left to follow his enigmatic clues to discover where Isaac has hidden the equation he spent the last years of his life working on, what exactly it calculates, and who else is after it. 

The best thing about this book is the Severy family, a bunch of mathematicians and theoretical physicists living in a hilariously drawn world of academic pettiness, demanding PhD students, dry periods that seem like they might never end, judgmental relatives, and disappointingly un-academic offspring. Sounds just like our family!

By Nova Jacobs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Wall Street Journal’s “Mysteries: Best of 2018”
*Book of the Month Club Selection
*Edgar Award Nominee: Best First Novel by an American Author

A “hugely entertaining” (Wall Street Journal) mystery starring “a Royal Tenenbaums-esque clan of geniuses” (Martha Stewart Living)—perfect for fans of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

In this “riveting…brilliant” (Booklist) debut, Hazel Severy, the owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from her adoptive grandfather—mathematician Isaac Severy—days after he dies in a suspected suicide. In his puzzling letter, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely…


Book cover of The Fractal Murders

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Author Of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom

From my list on mathematical mysteries.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are a mother and daughter team of mathematicians (respectively a researcher in mathematics and a math graduate who runs an educational company) and detective novel lovers (with Agatha Christie a firm favorite). We’re also both very passionate about the importance of a good foundational mathematics education for everyone.

Leila's book list on mathematical mysteries

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Why did Leila love this book?

This book loves to pretend to be a Raymond Chandler type thriller with a hard-boiled detective, but what might be a stereotype is offset by the detective's past and his personal struggle with depression, as well as a romantic interest in his client, an attractive female mathematician who hires him to figure out why three different mathematicians she contacted about the exact same topic have all died recently.  

Pieces are gathered and put together bit by bit to form a well-balanced mystery complete with false leads and a twist at the end. What makes this novel quite unique is the place given to the actual mathematics of fractals, with enough explanation to communicate not only their fascinating nature but also several applications, much of which is even relevant to the mystery. Best of all is the accurate depiction of the passion of the mathematicians for their subject, their lifestyle, and…

By Mark Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Jane Smyers, a math professor specializing in fractal geometry, decides to send an article for proofreading to other specialists around the country, she is shocked to learn that three of them have died under mysterious circumstances. That's where Pepper Keane comes in. An ex-Marine with an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll, he finds himself attracted to Professor Smyers and is determined to find out what he can. At first he can't find any evidence that the three dead specialists even knew each other. But Keane continues to dig, and with the help of his computer hacker best friend…


Book cover of The Truth about Archie and Pye (A Mathematical Mystery)

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Author Of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom

From my list on mathematical mysteries.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are a mother and daughter team of mathematicians (respectively a researcher in mathematics and a math graduate who runs an educational company) and detective novel lovers (with Agatha Christie a firm favorite). We’re also both very passionate about the importance of a good foundational mathematics education for everyone.

Leila's book list on mathematical mysteries

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Why did Leila love this book?

This energetic mystery is populated by a range of extremely colourful characters from reclusive twin brother mathematicians to disreputable biographers and Belarusian Mafiosi, and it has a suitably hapless narrator to guide us through the mess of murder, stolen mathematical documents and unsavoury rumours. 

The final revelation is pretty crude and disappointing but it doesn't matter too much because the book up til there is very great (and very British) fun. There's plenty of mathematical trivia and some discussion of actual maths, including an interesting scene where we get to contrast how two brains - one mathematical and one not - approach a problem.

By Jonathan Pinnock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Truth about Archie and Pye (A Mathematical Mystery) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Something doesn't add up about Archie and Pye ...

After a disastrous day at work, disillusioned junior PR executive Tom Winscombe finds himself sharing a train carriage and a dodgy Merlot with George Burgess, biographer of the Vavasor twins, mathematicians Archimedes and Pythagoras, who both died in curious circumstances a decade ago.

Burgess himself will die tonight in an equally odd manner, leaving Tom with a locked case and a lot of unanswered questions.

Join Tom and a cast of disreputable and downright dangerous characters in this witty thriller set in a murky world of murder, mystery and complex equations,…


Book cover of The Three Body Problem

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Author Of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom

From my list on mathematical mysteries.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are a mother and daughter team of mathematicians (respectively a researcher in mathematics and a math graduate who runs an educational company) and detective novel lovers (with Agatha Christie a firm favorite). We’re also both very passionate about the importance of a good foundational mathematics education for everyone.

Leila's book list on mathematical mysteries

Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez Why did Leila love this book?

The Three Body Problem is a real-life unsolved math problem concerning the motion of three bodies (think a star and two orbiting planets), all acting on each other by the pull of gravity. Given their positions and movements at times, what will happen in the future? Will they eventually fly away or fall into the star?  

The Three Body Problem is also a mathematical mystery by Catherine Shaw (a pen name – shhh), set in Cambridge in Victorian times, which contains three actual dead bodies, all of the mathematicians working on the eponymous problem. Another mathematician, who knew all three well, is accused of the murders. Luckily for him, his fiancée, though not a mathematician herself, is as much a truth-seeker as any, and her actions unravel the mystery while the reader gets a close look into the world of maths and the people who do it. Our amateur detective…

By Catherine Shaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cambridge, 1888, Miss Vanessa Duncan is recently arrived from the countryside to teach. But everything changes when Mr Akers, a Fellow f Mathematics, is found dead. When a second and then third mathematician are murdered, it becomes a race against time to solve the case.


Book cover of Half of a Yellow Sun

Sarah Hart Author Of Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature

From my list on mathematician characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a mathematician and incurable book-lover. It’s been one of the joys of my life to explore the links between mathematics and literature. The stories we tell ourselves about mathematics and mathematicians are fascinating, and especially the ways in which mathematicians are portrayed in fiction. I’m the first female Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, a role created in 1597. I don’t fit the mathematician stereotype of the dishevelled old man, obsessed only with numbers (well, perhaps I am slightly dishevelled), so I particularly relish books featuring mathematicians who bring more to the party than this. I hope you’ll enjoy my recommended books as much as I did!  

Sarah's book list on mathematician characters

Sarah Hart Why did Sarah love this book?

In Odenigbo, the Professor of Statistics at Nsukka University who is a main character in Adichie’s powerful novel, she gives us a mathematician who is both brilliant and flawed, both good and bad.

He is a mass of contradictions, as we all are: a fully-rounded person. Adichie’s parents were caught up in the Biafran-Nigerian civil war – the subject of this book – and her father James Nwoye Adichie was a real-life Nsukka statistician.

There’s a tell-tale gap in his research output: between 1967 and 1974 he published no papers. Call me sentimental, but when Adichie gives to Odenigbo’s lost research articles titles that might fit with her father’s work, I like to think that it’s a tribute to the work he also did not have the chance to complete.

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Half of a Yellow Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE BAILEYS PRIZE BEST OF THE BEST

Winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007, this is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written literary masterpiece

This highly anticipated novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is set in Nigeria during the 1960s, at the time of a vicious civil war in which a million people died and thousands were massacred in cold blood.

The three main characters in the novel are swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. One is a young boy from a poor village who is employed at a university lecturer's house. The other is a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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