100 books like Barney's Version

By Mordecai Richler,

Here are 100 books that Barney's Version fans have personally recommended if you like Barney's Version. 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 The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Norrin M. Ripsman Author Of The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

From my list on novels that nail the endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Too often, I find that novelists force the endings of their books in ways that aren’t true to their characters, the stories, or their settings. Often, they do so to provide the Hollywood ending that many readers crave. That always leaves me cold. I love novels whose characters are complex, human, and believable and interact with their setting and the story in ways that do not stretch credulity. This is how I try to approach my own writing and was foremost in my mind as I set out to write my own book.

Norrin's book list on novels that nail the endings

Norrin M. Ripsman Why did Norrin love this book?

While John Le Carre wrote many fine books, with some unforgettable classics at his peak, this novel was a revelation.

In this short book, he captures the character of the wonderfully crusty, dissatisfied Leamas, the interdependence of love and betrayal, the frustration and interminable waiting of spying, and the moral bankruptcy essential to pursuing higher objectives. 

But for me, the perfect ending, devastating and true to both the character and the Cold War Berlin setting, makes this book memorable.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Spy Who Came in From the Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Our Kind of Traitor; and The Night Manager, now a television series starring Tom Hiddleston.

The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carre's career worldwide

In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse-a desk job-Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered…


Book cover of Vernon God Little: A 21st Century Comedy in the Presence of Death

Alan Daniels Author Of Spank: The Improbable Adventures of George Aloysius Brown

From my list on off-the-wall romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a journalist who worked as a daily newspaper reporter and editor for 40 years for the Daily Mail in London, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, the Sunday Australian in Sydney, and most recently the Vancouver Sun in Canada. My first novel was an erotic comedy, not much in that genre since Chaucer wrote The Miller’s Tale. My second, River Boy is about a skinny Canadian kid who can walk on water. No one has had that gig for 2000 years — and we’re not sure about the last guy. But is River Boy a brilliant illusionist or the long-awaited Second Coming? And if he is the new Messiah, why does the Christian church want to kill him?

Alan's book list on off-the-wall romance

Alan Daniels Why did Alan love this book?

 Pierre’s adolescent high schooler makes JD Salinger’s protagonist in Catcher in the Rye look like a valedictorian. Just as (finally) he is about to score with a teenage crush, who has hitherto rejected him, he ejaculates prematurely. 

"My world dissolves under my belly with a jet like stung snakes squirting out through their own eye holes. Then quiet. Just a slow ocean moving slowly, and spit-curry after-poon drying cold on my face."

What’s worse, at that precise moment, cops burst into the room, catching him with his pants down, and arresting him for a mass killing he didn’t commit.

You couldn’t make this stuff up unless you’re a comic genius like DBC Pierre

By D.B.C. Pierre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hailed by the critics and lauded by readers for its riotously funny and scathing portrayal of America in an age of trial by media, materialism, and violence, Vernon God Little was an international sensation when it was first published in 2003 and awarded the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

The memorable portrait of America is seen through the eyes of a wry, young, protagonist. Fifteen-year-old Vernon narrates the story with a cynical twang and a four-letter barb for each of his townsfolk, a medley of characters. With a plot involving a school shooting and death-row reality TV shows, Pierre’s effortless prose…


Book cover of A Confederacy of Dunces

Toby LeBlanc Author Of Dark Roux

From my list on South Louisiana culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Scott, Louisiana, I didn’t know that everyone else in the United States did not get Mardi Gras off from school and work. I thought everyone knew some French. Crawfish boils were a natural, expectable part of every spring. South Louisiana is a world unto itself. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate my heritage, my Cajun lineage, and the sometimes-befuddling ways we Louisianians look at that world. Between conversations with elders, reading historical documents, and even looking at land transfer maps, I’ve become even more grounded in what being from this little wet corner of the world means. 

Toby's book list on South Louisiana culture

Toby LeBlanc Why did Toby love this book?

This Pulitzer Prize winner remains a time-tested testament to the absurdity that is New Orleans.

I felt like I’d met every one of the characters at least twice in my own walks on the streets of this storied city. I could even taste the Lucky Dogs. This is one of the few books to have me consistently laugh out loud. You can even take a picture with the statue of Ignatius J Reilly (the main character) on Canal Street.

By John Kennedy Toole,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Confederacy of Dunces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF THE BBC'S 100 NOVELS THAT SHAPED OUR WORLD

'This is probably my favourite book of all time' Billy Connolly

A pithy, laugh-out-loud story following John Kennedy Toole's larger-than-life Ignatius J. Reilly, floundering his way through 1960s New Orleans, beautifully resigned with cover art by Gary Taxali
_____________

'This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians . . . don't make the mistake of bothering me.'

Ignatius J. Reilly: fat, flatulent, eloquent and almost unemployable. By the standards of ordinary folk he is pretty much…


The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

By Norrin M. Ripsman,

Book cover of The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

Norrin M. Ripsman Author Of The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Too often, I find that novelists force the endings of their books in ways that aren’t true to their characters, the stories, or their settings. Often, they do so to provide the Hollywood ending that many readers crave. That always leaves me cold. I love novels whose characters are complex, human, and believable and interact with their setting and the story in ways that do not stretch credulity. This is how I try to approach my own writing and was foremost in my mind as I set out to write my own book.

Norrin's book list on novels that nail the endings

What is my book about?

The Oracle of Spring Garden Road explores the life and singular worldview of “Crazy Eddie,” a brilliant, highly-educated homeless man who panhandles in front of a downtown bank in a coastal town.

Eddie is a local enigma. Who is he? Where did he come from? What brought him to a life on the streets? A dizzying ride between past and present, the novel unravels these mysteries, just as Eddie has decided to return to society after two decades on the streets, with the help of Jane, a woman whose intelligence and integrity rival his own. Will he succeed, or is…

The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

By Norrin M. Ripsman,

What is this book about?

“Crazy Eddie” is a homeless man who inhabits two squares of pavement in front of a bank in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. In this makeshift office, he panhandles and dispenses his peerless wisdom. Well-educated, fiercely intelligent with a passionate interest in philosophy and a profound love of nature, Eddie is an enigma for the locals. Who is he? Where did he come from? What brought him to a life on the streets? Though rumors abound, none capture the unique worldview and singular character that led him to withdraw from the perfidy and corruption of human beings. Just as Eddie has…


Book cover of The Miller's Tale

Alan Daniels Author Of Spank: The Improbable Adventures of George Aloysius Brown

From my list on off-the-wall romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a journalist who worked as a daily newspaper reporter and editor for 40 years for the Daily Mail in London, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, the Sunday Australian in Sydney, and most recently the Vancouver Sun in Canada. My first novel was an erotic comedy, not much in that genre since Chaucer wrote The Miller’s Tale. My second, River Boy is about a skinny Canadian kid who can walk on water. No one has had that gig for 2000 years — and we’re not sure about the last guy. But is River Boy a brilliant illusionist or the long-awaited Second Coming? And if he is the new Messiah, why does the Christian church want to kill him?

Alan's book list on off-the-wall romance

Alan Daniels Why did Alan love this book?

Chaucer didn’t invent erotica, but he must be the all-time bestselling writer of medieval smut. He wrote The Miller’s Tale to entertain fellow travellers on a pilgrimage. I bet they lapped it up. This bawdy celebration of lust and trickery is as rude — and hilarious —  as it was 400 years ago.

By Geoffrey Chaucer, Michael Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Miller's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Author Michael Alexander: Michael Alexander is Emeritus Professor of English Literature, University of St Andrews, UK. He is a poet and translator and has international experience of teaching English literature, both medieval and modern.
Author Michael Alexander: Michael Alexander is Emeritus Professor of English Literature, University of St Andrews, UK. He is a poet and translator and has international experience of teaching English literature, both medieval and modern.


Book cover of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Julie Ma Author Of Love Letters

From my list on diverse characters as main characters, not just stereotypes or sidekicks.

Why am I passionate about this?

If I were a supermarket pie, my label would say, ‘Made in the UK with Chinese ingredients.’ Born in Wales to parents from Guangzhou and Hong Kong, my Cantonese is appalling, I’m bad at maths, and I can barely ride a bike without falling off. In short, I am an example of a real-life person and not a cliché or stereotype from the sorts of books we used to have to read if we wanted to see diverse characters. It’s about time the stories we read and the shows we watch become so effortlessly diverse that we don’t even notice. I hope my novels are playing a part in making that commonplace.

Julie's book list on diverse characters as main characters, not just stereotypes or sidekicks

Julie Ma Why did Julie love this book?

This is another book I read that made me think that the story of immigration into a provincial, rather than big city, setting was something people would read. It also made me think, that all parents, immigrants or not, have a massive calling to be deeply embarrassing.

Marina’s story to publication is an inspiring one, too. She was fifty-eight when this, her debut novel, was published.

Concealed inside this comic tale of an octogenarian newly widowed father, finding romance with a much younger Ukrainian barmaid is a lesson that all immigrants must one day learn. Just because someone else is from the old country too, it does not necessarily mean they have your best interests at heart.

By Marina Lewycka,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainianis bestselling author Marina Lewycka's hilarious and award winning debut novel.

'Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.'

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their emigre engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin…


Book cover of Of Mice and Men

Norrin M. Ripsman Author Of The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

From my list on novels that nail the endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Too often, I find that novelists force the endings of their books in ways that aren’t true to their characters, the stories, or their settings. Often, they do so to provide the Hollywood ending that many readers crave. That always leaves me cold. I love novels whose characters are complex, human, and believable and interact with their setting and the story in ways that do not stretch credulity. This is how I try to approach my own writing and was foremost in my mind as I set out to write my own book.

Norrin's book list on novels that nail the endings

Norrin M. Ripsman Why did Norrin love this book?

How can one not love this book? The sensitivity with which Steinbeck renders his lead characters, broody, sensitive George, and childlike, powerful Lenny, is unparalleled. The reader can’t help but love them and feel their pain as their dreams inevitably slip away from their grasp.

The only fitting ending for this masterpiece is Steinbeck’s heartrending ending, foreshadowed throughout the book.  It will leave you in tears, but make you a better person in the process.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Of Mice and Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing Little Clothbound Classics: irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world's greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith.

Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.

Drifters in search of work, George and his childlike friend Lennie have nothing in the world except…


Book cover of The Heart of the Matter

Norrin M. Ripsman Author Of The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

From my list on novels that nail the endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Too often, I find that novelists force the endings of their books in ways that aren’t true to their characters, the stories, or their settings. Often, they do so to provide the Hollywood ending that many readers crave. That always leaves me cold. I love novels whose characters are complex, human, and believable and interact with their setting and the story in ways that do not stretch credulity. This is how I try to approach my own writing and was foremost in my mind as I set out to write my own book.

Norrin's book list on novels that nail the endings

Norrin M. Ripsman Why did Norrin love this book?

I couldn’t make a list like this without including Graham Greene. His introspective art of writing has shaped my own approach to fiction. This book is a brilliant portrait of Scobie, a security officer in West Africa during World War II.

A deeply religious Catholic with simple tastes, Scobie struggles with guilt toward all in his melancholy orbit: his wife Louise, whose hopes to climb the social ladder have been dashed by Scobie’s simplicity and integrity; his mistress Helen; his faithful servant Ali.

The book ends beautifully, with Scobie making the only choice consistent with his quirky beliefs and sensitivities. I could easily have added his The Power and the Glory, but I didn’t want to make this a Graham Greene list.

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork..."
 
Graham Greene's masterpiece, The Heart of the Matter, tells the story of a good man enmeshed in love, intrigue, and evil in a West African coastal town. Scobie is bound by strict integrity to his role as assistant police commissioner and by severe responsibility to his wife, Louise, for whom he cares with a fatal pity.
 
When Scobie falls in love with the young widow Helen, he finds vital passion again yielding to pity, integrity giving way to deceit and dishonor—a vortex…


Book cover of The Inheritance of Loss

Norrin M. Ripsman Author Of The Oracle of Spring Garden Road

From my list on novels that nail the endings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Too often, I find that novelists force the endings of their books in ways that aren’t true to their characters, the stories, or their settings. Often, they do so to provide the Hollywood ending that many readers crave. That always leaves me cold. I love novels whose characters are complex, human, and believable and interact with their setting and the story in ways that do not stretch credulity. This is how I try to approach my own writing and was foremost in my mind as I set out to write my own book.

Norrin's book list on novels that nail the endings

Norrin M. Ripsman Why did Norrin love this book?

There’s so much to love in this book. Desai’s characters come to life, as does Kalimpong's setting on the Himalayan foothills. You can feel the frustrations and humiliations of Sai, her grandfather, their cook, and his son Biju in New York City as the cruelty and callousness of life crush them.

As the book lurched toward its painful conclusion, I desperately warned the characters to avoid a catastrophe, but alas, to no avail. This is one of the best books I have ever read.

By Kiran Desai,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Inheritance of Loss is Kiran Desai's extraordinary Man Booker Prize winning novel.

High in the Himalayas sits a dilapidated mansion, home to three people, each dreaming of another time.

The judge, broken by a world too messy for justice, is haunted by his past. His orphan granddaughter has fallen in love with her handsome tutor, despite their different backgrounds and ideals. The cook's heart is with his son, who is working in a New York restaurant, mingling with an underclass from all over the globe as he seeks somewhere to call home.

Around the house swirl the forces of…


Book cover of Varina Palladino's Jersey Italian Love Story

Elizabeth Amber Love Author Of Full Body Manslaughter: A Farrah Wethers Mystery

From my list on women starting over.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my life recreating myself as many times as Madonna. If things aren’t working, I move on to something new. I’ll go to classes, learn something else, change careers, and struggle the whole way as I look for pieces of life that fit the puzzle of me. It takes me a lot longer to read so when I try to diversify my bookshelf and don’t always stick to my genre (as the professionals tell an author to do). What I “stick to” is finding female characters who struggle and want to give up, but somehow, something deep inside them makes them move forward one step at a time.

Elizabeth's book list on women starting over

Elizabeth Amber Love Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This isn’t a mystery, but Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story instantly became my new favorite book.

First of all, it’s close to home for me. I’m a Jersey Girl and my grandmother married into an Italian family. The food, the colloquialisms, the (loud) holiday feasts – it’s all there.

This book has an interesting presentation as well. Each chapter begins with a few words of Jersey-Italian pidgin, traces the origins from Italian, and gives an example of how to use it properly.

Varina is a grandma who has worked herself to the bone running a gourmet food store even after her husband died. All she wants to do is take the little bit of money she’s managed to save and take one vacation to France. Her mother, her kids, the grandkids – everyone always needs her for something. There is a happy ending and a beautiful epilogue.

By Terri-Lynne DeFino,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Varina Palladino's Jersey Italian Love Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Varina Palladino's Jersey Italian Love Story is fun and funny, wonderfully exuberant, and incredibly wise. These endearing characters-their voices and stories- will be with me for a long time to come. I didn't want to say good-bye." -Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Hieroglyphics

An utterly delightful and surprising family drama-think Moonstruck and My Big Fat Greek Wedding set in New Jersey-about a boisterous, complicated Italian family determined to help their widowed mother find a new boyfriend.

Lively widow Varina Paladino has lived in the same house in Wyldale, New Jersey, her entire life. The town might be…


Book cover of Happy Place

Luci Beach Author Of Happy For You

From my list on "then and now" relationships and second chances at love.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first published novels were light-hearted romances for teenagers, so when I started writing for adults, I couldn’t help exploring the youthful origins of my characters’ grown-up relationships. Then, it dawned on me that most of my favorite novels include an element of this, too. I love reading about couples who didn’t quite make things work as young people but rekindled their relationship later in life or those who have been together a long time and maybe need a refresher to remember what they ever saw in each other. These kinds of stories leave me feeling uplifted, cheerful, and hopeful, and I hope you’ll enjoy them too. Happy reading!

Luci's book list on "then and now" relationships and second chances at love

Luci Beach Why did Luci love this book?

I love all of Emily Henry's books–the characters feel so real, and the relationships develop beautifully. In this book, a couple who have broken up go on their usual annual stay with their group of friends in Maine, all the while pretending to be together for the sake of the others.

Everyone has viewed Harriet and Wyn as the perfect couple since they got together in college, so I couldn’t wait to discover what could possibly have gone wrong. It's also clear that their chemistry is still fizzing, and I was rooting for their reunion. It was full of passion and emotion. Gorgeous.

By Emily Henry,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Happy Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'At turns hilarious and wise, another knockout from the champ' Taylor Jenkins Reid, DAISY JONES AND THE SIX
'One of my favourite authors' Colleen Hoover, IT ENDS WITH US
'Smart, sunny, sexy and also a gorgeous story of female friendship' Beth O'Leary, THE FLATSHARE

-----

Two exes. One pact.
Could this holiday change everything?

Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple - they go together like bread and butter, gin and tonic, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

Every year, they take a holiday from their lives to drink far too much wine with their favourite people in the world.

Except…


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