100 books like Borrowed Finery

By Paula Fox,

Here are 100 books that Borrowed Finery fans have personally recommended if you like Borrowed Finery. 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 Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order

Tom Bissell Author Of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

From my list on trying to understand your parents.

Who am I?

I'm a journalist, fiction writer, and screenwriter, as well as the author of ten books, the most recent of which is Creative Types and Other Stories, which will be published later this year. Along with Neil Cross, I developed for television The Mosquito Coast, based on Paul Theroux’s novel, which is now showing on Apple TV. Currently, I live with my family in Los Angeles.

Tom's book list on trying to understand your parents

Tom Bissell Why did Tom love this book?

This striking, intense, and beautifully meditative book offers a daughter struggling to understand her father in the wake of his suicide. It’s structured, yes, like an index, which does nothing to dilute its immense emotional power. There’s a lot of love and anger in this book, yet it’s told with extraordinary calm and exemplary clarity. Simply put, The Suicide Index is one of the most inventive, affecting memoirs I’ve ever read—a drop-everything-and-read-this-now book if there ever was one.

By Joan Wickersham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sixteen years ago, Joan Wickersham's father shot himself in the head. The father she loved would never have killed himself, and yet he had. His death made a mystery of his entire life. Using an index - that most formal and orderly of structures - Wickersham explores this chaotic and incomprehensible reality. Every bit of family history - marriage, parents, business failures - and every encounter with friends, doctors, and other survivors exposes another facet of elusive truth. Dark, funny, sad, and gripping, at once a philosophical and deeply personal exploration, "The Suicide Index" is, finally, a daughter's anguished, loving…


Book cover of Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California

Tom Bissell Author Of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

From my list on trying to understand your parents.

Who am I?

I'm a journalist, fiction writer, and screenwriter, as well as the author of ten books, the most recent of which is Creative Types and Other Stories, which will be published later this year. Along with Neil Cross, I developed for television The Mosquito Coast, based on Paul Theroux’s novel, which is now showing on Apple TV. Currently, I live with my family in Los Angeles.

Tom's book list on trying to understand your parents

Tom Bissell Why did Tom love this book?

This is a memoir about being a writer—and failing. With scholarly rigor and tenderhearted sympathy, Specktor excavates the lives of artists forgotten (Carol Eastman, Eleanor Perry), underappreciated (Thomas McGuane, Hal Ashby), and notorious (Warren Zevon, Michael Cimino), while always circling back to his own benighted Hollywood upbringing, complete with a lovely tribute to his mother, a failed screenwriter. This is an angry, sad, but always somehow joyful book about not hitting it big, and I've never read anything quite like it.

By Matthew Specktor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Always Crashing in the Same Car as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year at The Atlantic

Los Angeles Times Bestseller

"[An] absorbing and revealing book. . . . nestling in the fruitful terrain between memoir and criticism." ―Geoff Dyer, author of Out of Sheer Rage

Blending memoir and cultural criticism, Matthew Specktor explores family legacy, the lives of artists, and a city that embodies both dreams and disillusionment.

In 2006, Matthew Specktor moved into a crumbling Los Angeles apartment opposite the one in which F. Scott Fitzgerald spent the last moments of his life. Fitz had been Specktor’s first literary idol, someone whose own passage through Hollywood…


Book cover of Experience: A Memoir

Edmund Gordon Author Of The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography

From my list on writers’ lives.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning biographer and critic. My essays and reviews appear regularly in the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement, and I teach literature and creative writing at King’s College London. I’ve always loved stories about the lives of great writers – stories that seek to illuminate genius, without ever explaining it away.

Edmund's book list on writers’ lives

Edmund Gordon Why did Edmund love this book?

This is a magnificent autobiography, a work of intricate self-portraiture that takes in everything from the author’s dental troubles, through his relationship with his father, to his reaction to his cousin’s murder. Amis’s comic energy and stylistic brio are on sizzling display throughout, but so are qualities that aren’t often associated with his fiction: gentleness, generosity, emotional vulnerability…

By Martin Amis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this remarkable work of autobiography, the son of the great comic novelist Kingsley Amis explores his relationship with his father and writes about the various crises of Kingsley's life, including the final one of his death. Amis also reflects on the life and legacy of his cousin, Lucy Partington, who disappeared without trace in 1973 and was exhumed twenty years later from the basement of Frederick West, one of Britain's most prolific serial murderers.

**ONE OF THE GUARDIAN'S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE 21st CENTURY**


Book cover of Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son

Tom Bissell Author Of The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

From my list on trying to understand your parents.

Who am I?

I'm a journalist, fiction writer, and screenwriter, as well as the author of ten books, the most recent of which is Creative Types and Other Stories, which will be published later this year. Along with Neil Cross, I developed for television The Mosquito Coast, based on Paul Theroux’s novel, which is now showing on Apple TV. Currently, I live with my family in Los Angeles.

Tom's book list on trying to understand your parents

Tom Bissell Why did Tom love this book?

Sullivan is probably best known today for his instant-classic essay collection Pulphead, but I actually prefer his first book, Blood Horses, a memoir he wrote in the aftermath of losing his beloved sportswriter father, whose special focus was horse racing and the Kentucky Derby. Sullivan, who cares nothing about horses and horse racing, tries to get closer to his lost father by covering the grand race and learning everything about the sport, and horses, that he can. This puts Sullivan on the grounds of the Kentucky Derby on the morning of September 11, 2001, while standing next to the Saudi owner of a celebrated racing horse. What happens when the Saudi’s phone starts ringing is too good to spoil here. An extraordinary memoir.

By John Jeremiah Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One evening late in his life, veteran sportswriter Mike Sullivan was asked by his son what he remembered best from his three decades in the press box. The answer came as a surprise. 'I was at Secretariat's Derby, in '73. That was ... just beauty, you know?'

John Jeremiah Sullivan didn't know, not really, but he spent two years finding out, journeying from prehistoric caves to the Kentucky Derby. The result is Blood Horses, a wise, humorous and often beautiful memoir exploring the relationship between man and horse and the relationship between a sportswriter's son and his late father.


Book cover of Elsewhere: A Memoir

Bill Scheft Author Of Shrink Thyself

From my list on that make me feel like an absolute fraud.

Who am I?

Why do I use the word “fraud?” The answer is agonizingly simple. My whole life, and I mean since I was ten, I wanted to be “a real writer.” Whatever that was. And now here we are, 55 years later. Despite my great good fortune to spend 24 years coming up with jokes for Dave Letterman, three years as a columnist at Sports Illustrated, and to have my name on four novels, if you asked me, “Are you a real writer?” I would tell you, “not yet….” Here are five real writers.

Bill's book list on that make me feel like an absolute fraud

Bill Scheft Why did Bill love this book?

A memoir of his mother and his life in Glovershville, New York from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. It is utterly unfair that such a singular writer of fiction can be this deft at non-fiction. The best piece of advice I ever got as a writer was “Make your characters complicated…” Some characters, like Jean Russo, come complicated out of the factory. (By the way, Russo is a friend, and once told me at a book event in his honor that he felt like a fraud. So, I am in fine company). 

By Richard Russo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist turns to memoir in this "intimate and powerful" account (Chicago Tribune) of his lifelong bond with his high-strung, spirited mother—and the small town she spent her life trying to escape. 

Anyone familiar with Russo’s novels will recognize Gloversville—once famous for producing nine out of ten dress gloves in the United States. By the time Rick was born, ladies had stopped wearing gloves and Gloversville was on its way out. Jean Russo instilled in her son her dream of a better life elsewhere, a dream that prompted her to follow him across the country when he went…


Book cover of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City

John Rosengren Author Of The Greatest Summer in Baseball History: How the '73 Season Changed Us Forever

From my list on stories about a single baseball season.

Who am I?

My father used to take me to watch the Twins play at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, a twenty-minute drive from our house in suburban Minneapolis. As soon as the Twins announced their schedule each year, he would buy tickets for the doubleheaders. Our favorites were the twilight doubleheaders, when we watched one game by daylight, and the other under the night sky. Baseball was pure to me then: played outdoors on real grass. Seated beside my dad during those twin bills, I felt his love for the game seep into me and take root. All these years later, almost two decades after his death, that love remains strong.

John's book list on stories about a single baseball season

John Rosengren Why did John love this book?

I came of age in the seventies, and this book took me through that time, specifically 1977 again, able to view events through the lens of a particularly insightful adult.

This book encompasses more than baseball. There’s the battle to be mayor between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo, Rupert Murdoch buying the New York Post, disco and dancing at Studio 54, the dawn of punk rock, but at its heart is the story of the Yankees and that crazy love triangle of Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, and George Steinbrenner. I was delighted to relive all of that craziness.

By Jonathan Mahler,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Masterful . . . In Mahler’s expert hands, the city’s outsized citizens are flawed, fierce,
bickersome, and as indomitable as the metropolis itself.” —Mike Sokolove, author of The Ticket Out

A passionate and dramatic account of a year in the life of a city, when baseball and crime reigned supreme, and when several remarkable figures emerged to steer New York clear of one of its most harrowing periods.

By early 1977, the metropolis was in the grip of hysteria caused by a murderer dubbed “Son of Sam.” And on a sweltering night in July, a citywide power outage touched off…


Book cover of The Basketball Diaries: The Classic about Growing Up Hip on New York's Mean Streets

Andrew Mann Author Of Such Unfortunates

From my list on stories so powerful you have to read them twice.

Who am I?

I have expertise and a passion for this topic because I suffered from a terrible addiction to drugs for many years and was considered a hopeless case. If I can beat my addiction then anyone can!

Andrew's book list on stories so powerful you have to read them twice

Andrew Mann Why did Andrew love this book?

This was another true story of someone who suffered a terrible addiction and was able to overcome it. I liked it because Jim was a regular guy and not a celebrity sharing his life story as so many of these book are. It was one of the first books that gave me inspiration to write a book. It also became a movie where Leonardo DeCaprio played Jim Carrol.

By Jim Carroll,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Basketball Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The urban classic coming-of-age story about sex, drugs, and basketball

Jim Carroll grew up to become a renowned poet and punk rocker. But in this memoir of the mid-1960s, set during his coming-of-age from 12 to 15, he was a rebellious teenager making a place and a name for himself on the unforgiving streets of New York City. During these years, he chronicled his experiences, and the result is a diary of unparalleled candor that conveys his alternately hilarious and terrifying teenage existence. Here is Carroll prowling New York City--playing basketball, hustling, stealing, getting high, getting hooked, and searching for…


Book cover of Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter

Fiona Sampson Author Of Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

From my list on literary biographies.

Who am I?

Fiona Sampson is a leading British poet and writer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, awarded an MBE for services to literature. Published in thirty-seven languages, she’s the recipient of numerous national and international awards. Her twenty-eight books include the critically acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and she’s Emeritus Professor of Poetry, University of Roehampton.

Fiona's book list on literary biographies

Fiona Sampson Why did Fiona love this book?

Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter is a classic. First published in France in 1958, it’s the opening volume of an autobiographical trilogy. This exploration of the childhood and young womanhood that created the world-famous writer and intellectual is compendious, descriptive – and alert at every turn, as befits the mother of existentialism, to how the emerging psyche understands the world around it.

By Beauvoir Simone De, James Kirkup (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“[Beauvoir’s] graciously written memoirs carry distinct appeal in recording the emotional and intellectual birth pangs of a fascinating woman.” —Time

A superb autobiography by one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century, Simone de Beauvoir's Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter offers an intimate picture of growing up in a bourgeois French family, rebelling as an adolescent against the conventional expectations of her class, and striking out on her own with an intellectual and existential ambition exceedingly rare in a young woman in the 1920s.

Beauvoir vividly evokes her friendships, love interests, mentors, and the early days of the…


Book cover of Gamelife: A Memoir

Caleb J. Ross Author Of Suddenly I was a Shark! My Time with What Remains of Edith Finch

From my list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers.

Who am I?

I’m a lifelong video game obsessive. I think about video game worlds and my relationship with them in the ways most people think about family vacations to the beach or a trip with friends to Las Vegas. Every game I play is an opportunity to experience a new world, and a new culture, and to change myself along the way. Video games are a younger industry than either the music industry or the movie industry, but it’s more than 2.5x bigger than those two industries combined! There are reasons humans are so enamored by video games. The books on my list explore those reasons.

Caleb's book list on to defend your video game obsession to non-gamers

Caleb J. Ross Why did Caleb love this book?

Where David Sudnow’s Breakout: Pilgrim in the Microworld focused on the flamboyant poetry of gaming, Michael W. Clune’s Gamelife opts for minimalism.

Clune himself describes the book as a memoir about computer games, which is true, and that description alone warrants inclusion in my list. Why? Any topic that can be a lens through which to reflect on one’s own life is noteworthy.

Clune isn’t a game developer recounting a life spent developing games. Clune isn’t a games industry executive doling out business advice. Clune is a gamer with a childhood he’s able to better understand when filtered through video games.

Tell your non-gaming friends: video games are therapy!

By Michael W. Clune,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In telling the story of his youth through seven computer games, critically acclaimed author Michael W. Clune (White Out) captures the part of childhood we live alone.

You have been awakened.

Floppy disk inserted, computer turned on, a whirring, and then this sentence, followed by a blinking cursor. So begins Suspended, the first computer game to obsess seven-year-old Michael, to worm into his head and change his sense of reality. Thirty years later he will write: "Computer games have taught me the things you can't learn from people."

Gamelife is the memoir of a childhood transformed by technology. Afternoons spent…


Book cover of This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World

Mikki Hernandez Author Of Cake Mix: Learning to Love All Your Ingredients

From my list on using food to celebrate diverse cultures.

Who am I?

Growing up as a mixed kid (Mexican, African, Indigenous, and Eastern European) in a homogenous rural town, I relied on stories to offer a peek into different cultures. My love for storytelling strengthened during my studies at UCLA, leading to a career as an actress and author. In my debut children’s book, food is at the center of my mixed character’s journey because of its inviting, universal nature. I truly believe stories centered on food are a lovely way to introduce children to diverse cultures. I hope you enjoy my picks and feel inspired to share a meal with someone new. 

Mikki's book list on using food to celebrate diverse cultures

Mikki Hernandez Why did Mikki love this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures, geography, and traveling so reading this book was such a delight.

The author profiles the daily lives of 7 different children from around the world so you really feel like you’re taking a quick trip to meet a new friend. My favorite parts of the book are when the kids describe what they eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I loved seeing the similarities and differences between each meal. It reminded me of times when I’ve traveled to other countries and tried new types of foods or ways of dining. This book definitely left me eager to start planning my next trip! 

By Matt Lamothe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Is How We Do It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Follow one day in the real lives of seven kids from around the world-Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia!

In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope. While the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days-and this one world we all share-unites them.

This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as mirrors reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamonthe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book. Perfect…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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