100 books like Bright Young Women

By Jessica Knoll,

Here are 100 books that Bright Young Women fans have personally recommended if you like Bright Young Women. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Room

Kate Robards Author Of Only The Guilty Survive

From my list on thrillers inspired by real events.

Why am I passionate about this?

My new thriller centers around a small, mysterious cult and their shocking demise. For years, I’ve read true crime books on the subject, and I wanted to infuse the reality and truth of real-life events into my fictional novel. In a similar vein, these books represent a range of thrillers inspired by true events, ranging from cults to serial killers to teenage criminals. I hope you find these books as gripping and haunting as I do.

Kate's book list on thrillers inspired by real events

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

I first read Room more than a decade ago, and it’s one of those haunting stories that’s stayed with me ever since. It’s loosely inspired by the kidnapping of a woman named Elisabeth Fritzl. The author has been quoted saying that she was “triggered” by the case. The real-life story is chilling, and so is Donoghue’s fictional take on the subject.

I consider the novel to be an absolute standout. I find it particularly captivating because it’s told from the point of view of the imprisoned woman’s five-year-old son. At times, it is a difficult read because of its subject matter, but it has heart, and by telling the story through the eyes of a child, Donoghue crafted a novel you won’t soon forget.

By Emma Donoghue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A major film starring Brie Larson.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Picador Classics edition with an introduction by John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra.

Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen…


Book cover of We Need to Talk about Kevin

Kate Robards Author Of Only The Guilty Survive

From my list on thrillers inspired by real events.

Why am I passionate about this?

My new thriller centers around a small, mysterious cult and their shocking demise. For years, I’ve read true crime books on the subject, and I wanted to infuse the reality and truth of real-life events into my fictional novel. In a similar vein, these books represent a range of thrillers inspired by true events, ranging from cults to serial killers to teenage criminals. I hope you find these books as gripping and haunting as I do.

Kate's book list on thrillers inspired by real events

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

I find this book to be an unsettling but impactful read, both thought-provoking and complex. We Need to Talk about Kevin follows the mother of a troubled teenager responsible for a school shooting.

It’s about nature versus nurture, the relationship between mother and child, and deeply seated guilt. It draws inspiration from real events, including the 1999 shooting at Columbine, which wasn’t the U.S.’s first mass shooting at a school, but it would become one of the most infamous.

Shriver’s novel raises unsettling questions about a mother’s guilt and self-justification and a community’s heartache and blame. I consider it to be a captivating and moving book.

By Lionel Shriver,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked We Need to Talk about Kevin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2010

ONE MILLION COPIES SOLD

Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of a boy named Kevin who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who had tried to befriend him. Now, two years after her son's horrific rampage, Eva comes to terms with her role as Kevin's mother in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband Franklyn about their son's upbringing. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to…


Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Kate Robards Author Of Only The Guilty Survive

From my list on thrillers inspired by real events.

Why am I passionate about this?

My new thriller centers around a small, mysterious cult and their shocking demise. For years, I’ve read true crime books on the subject, and I wanted to infuse the reality and truth of real-life events into my fictional novel. In a similar vein, these books represent a range of thrillers inspired by true events, ranging from cults to serial killers to teenage criminals. I hope you find these books as gripping and haunting as I do.

Kate's book list on thrillers inspired by real events

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

I’m fascinated by the in-depth character development and details in this book. The film is a classic, but I think the book is even better. Many people think of Hannibal Lecter as the obvious villain of Silence of the Lambs, forgetting that Clarice and the FBI were seeking his guidance to find “Buffalo Bill,” a fictional serial killer attacking women.

Buffalo Bill is an amalgamation of real serial killers, including Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, and Gary Heidnik. By cherry-picking the methods and traits of real killers, I think Harris created a truly terrifying villain. I find the characters, and especially the villain, to be rooted in reality, making them stick in your mind long after the last page.

By Thomas Harris,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Silence of the Lambs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of the search for a serial murderer nicknames "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him.

That man, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs--an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.


Book cover of The Girls

Kate Robards Author Of Only The Guilty Survive

From my list on thrillers inspired by real events.

Why am I passionate about this?

My new thriller centers around a small, mysterious cult and their shocking demise. For years, I’ve read true crime books on the subject, and I wanted to infuse the reality and truth of real-life events into my fictional novel. In a similar vein, these books represent a range of thrillers inspired by true events, ranging from cults to serial killers to teenage criminals. I hope you find these books as gripping and haunting as I do.

Kate's book list on thrillers inspired by real events

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

I found this book to be a compelling and eerie read. Evie Boyd leaves home to join a cult reminiscent of Charles Manson’s “family.”

Even if you’re largely unaware of the actions of Manson and his followers in the late sixties, you’d likely pick up on how closely the fictional storyline is modeled after the infamous group and its crimes. While Cline doesn’t recreate the events of the Manson cult, the trajectory the story follows is reminiscent of reality, especially when the girls break into a home—the calling card of Manson’s followers.

I really enjoy that while the story is very much linked to Manson and his family, Cline’s vivid writing style sets it apart.

By Emma Cline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping and dark fictionalised account of life inside the Manson family from one of the most exciting young voices in fiction.

If you're lost, they'll find you...

Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed.

It's the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.

If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where…


Book cover of The Locked Door

Matt Witten Author Of Killer Story

From my list on thrillers you'll devour in one sitting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime novels and TV shows for years. For TV, I wrote for Law & Order, Pretty Little Liars, CSI: Miami, and several other crime shows. In the book world, I used to write amateur sleuth novels, and now I write thrillers. My favorite form of relaxation is to get a cup of tea, put my feet up, and read a great thriller. They inspire me. As I read, I study how they’re structured. There’s nothing I appreciate more than a twist I didn’t see coming, a morally good character who turns out to be evil, or a flawed character who ultimately turns out to be good.

Matt's book list on thrillers you'll devour in one sitting

Matt Witten Why did Matt love this book?

I enjoyed this novel about a serial killer's daughter. The main character is flawed but very rootable, and the ending took me by surprise.

I especially admired the way all the different strands of the plot came together. The author laid out some good cookie crumbs for the reader to follow, and I missed several of them in a way that was very satisfying when they were revealed to me. I also liked that the main character gets a happy ending that I found very believable.

By Freida McFadden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Housemaid and The Coworker!

Some doors are locked for a reason…

While eleven-year-old Nora Davis was up in her bedroom doing homework, she had no idea her father was killing women in the basement.

Until the day the police arrived at their front door.

Decades later, Nora's father is spending his life behind bars, and Nora is a successful surgeon with a quiet, solitary existence. Nobody knows about her past, and she'll do anything to keep it that way.

Then one of her young…


Book cover of Chasing the Boogeyman

Michelle Godard-Richer Author Of Fatal Hunt

From my list on fiction with realistic portrayal of crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a fascination with crime and human behavior which led me to complete an Honours Degree in Criminology at the University of Ottawa. I studied the minds of criminals and what drives their behavior. It’s truly disturbing that under the right circumstances, people are capable of horrific things. I also studied victims of crime and the impact their suffering has on their lives and the way it can influence their behavior in the future. Naturally with this background, I gravitate towards writing and reading books that explore these topics in depth.

Michelle's book list on fiction with realistic portrayal of crime

Michelle Godard-Richer Why did Michelle love this book?

Richard’s novel did a good job of pulling the rug out from beneath the reader as he leads them on a journey to discover who the murderer is in his hometown. Along the way, he does a brilliant job of conveying how murders can impact a whole town and affect human behavior.

By Richard Chizmar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The acclaimed New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novel of small-town evil that “is genuinely chilling and something brand-new and exciting” (Stephen King) and “unforgettable” (Harlan Coben).

In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI, are certain that the…


Book cover of Truly, Darkly, Deeply

Niki Mackay Author Of The Due Date

From my list on thrillers with unreliable narrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written nine crime novels, mostly psychological thrillers, but some blend procedural and PI elements and two are gangland stories. I went to the BRIT school in the 90’s and studied Drama and English Literature at University. I always think that my Performing Arts background gave me a great tool kit for ‘getting into character’ which is useful for writing. I also have an MA in journalism but I definitely prefer fiction to fact. I love the immediacy of first person prose and I am a sucker for an unreliable narrator.

Niki's book list on thrillers with unreliable narrators

Niki Mackay Why did Niki love this book?

This story is told from the perspective of a serial killer's stepdaughter, Sophie, and I swallowed it in two sittings.

Matty Melgren, Sophie’s stepfather, is dying and wants to meet. He’s in prison and his imminent death takes Sophie right back to her childhood. The story is told from Sophie’s perspective as a twelve-year-old observing the breakdown of her mother and Matty’s relationship and as an adult debating how much she wants answers and what they might cost her.

I loved the dual timeline and thought it was a really fresh way to approach a serial killer novel. 

By Victoria Selman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**THE INSTANT SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER**

'Victoria Selman is an exciting and powerfully fresh voice' Patricia Cornwell

Twelve-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.

When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murder, questions remain as to his guilt -- questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her…


Book cover of The Last

Melissa Caribou Annen Author Of The Midwest Madman: An Agent Raines Casefile

From my list on murderous serial killers that keep you up at night.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe my love of horror and mystery started young. My first favorite book was The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree. I started writing my first mystery novel when I was in high school. It wasn’t very good, but I still have it. I have so many stories in my head that it’s hard to keep them straight. I also co-host a True Crime podcast, Nothing Happens in A Small Town

Melissa's book list on murderous serial killers that keep you up at night

Melissa Caribou Annen Why did Melissa love this book?

This is a mystery within a mystery—an end-of-the-world survival story that slowly unfolds how the world's end happened. The mystery of a little girl found dead, but not from anything happening in the world. This book made me think about how I’d react in a similar situation. We all hope we’d be level-headed and survive. But as this book tells, you never know.

By Hanna Jameson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This propulsive post-apocalyptic thriller “in which Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None collides with Stephen King’s The Shining” (NPR) follows a group of survivors stranded at a hotel as the world descends into nuclear war and the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic…


Book cover of The Poet

Thomas A. Burns Jr. Author Of Sister!

From my list on dark mysteries you should read with the lights on.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not sure why the dark side of humanity has always fascinated me, as it does so many others. I’ve read mystery and horror stories ever since I was a young boy, gravitating to ever darker books as I aged. I’m a pantser—that means that I don’t totally know where a story is going when I start, so I discover it right along with the characters. I think evoking emotion is key to writing a riveting tale, so I try to imagine what my character is feeling as I chronicle their experience. Part of being able to do this well is reading other writers who can, such as the authors on this list.

Thomas' book list on dark mysteries you should read with the lights on

Thomas A. Burns Jr. Why did Thomas love this book?

Michael Connelly is the immensely successful author of the Harry Bosch books, but The Poet is the first book in his much shorter Jack McEvoy series.

McEvoy is a reporter who has a penchant for chasing down serial killers, and unfortunately becoming a target as well.

The psychological horror here comes from Connelly’s exacting and precise account of who the killer, dubbed the Poet, is and how he came to be.

I discovered this along with McEvoy and came to realization that he was becoming a target before he did. It’s a long book, but I found that I did not want to put it down before I learned how it played out.

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Jack begins to investigate the phenomenon of police suicides, a disturbing pattern emerges and he soon suspects that a serial killer is at work, one who sets up his victims and leaves "suicide" notes drawn from the dark poems of Edgar Allan Poe.


Book cover of Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Why am I passionate about this?

When I decided to write about psychopathic killers, I studied real stories and facts about these people. I also read about 80 novels a year as well as writing crime thriller novels. I’ve won more than a few awards and keep studying my craft. Makes me feel young. I love stories with action that make you think and are a little different and unique. I want to make a reader cry and laugh, which is what I look for in a good novel. So, when I write about serial killers, I try to keep it real. I love it!

Mike's book list on serial killer novels that are unique, thought-provoking, action-filled, and that you won't forget

Mike Slavin Why did Mike love this book?

Who hasn't heard of Dexter? A serial killer, a psychopath, who only kills bad guys: a great book, a TV series, and an iconic character.

Dexter is funny and carefree. He likes kids, but he's not sure why. He cares for his foster sister. He doesn't kill anyone who's not bad. He doesn't like sex, so that takes an icky part of most serial killers away too.

All of this is the genius of the author. I loved it! And this is just the first book in the series.

By Jeff Lindsay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He’s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. • The Killer Character That Inspired the Hit Showtime Series Dexter

And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ted Bundy, serial killers, and Florida?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ted Bundy, serial killers, and Florida.

Ted Bundy Explore 9 books about Ted Bundy
Serial Killers Explore 290 books about serial killers
Florida Explore 127 books about Florida