100 books like City of Thieves

By David Benioff,

Here are 100 books that City of Thieves fans have personally recommended if you like City of Thieves. 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 Suite Française

David Snell Author Of Sing to Silent Stones: Part One

From my list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My reading is almost entirely influenced by my own family’s extraordinary history. My mother and father-in-law were both illegitimate. Both suffered for the fact and my father-in-law was 11 years old when he first found out and was reunited with his mother, albeit on a second-class basis compared to his half siblings. My mother trained bomb aimers. My father flew Lancaster bombers and was just 19 years old in the skies above wartime Berlin. My own books combine history, my personal experiences, and my family’s past to weave wartime stories exploring the strains that those conflicts imposed on friendships.

David's book list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2

David Snell Why did David love this book?

An abiding theme within my own book is that love and friendship can supplant racial and cultural differences, and this book, set in a village in France during the 2nd World War, highlights a growing and reluctant friendship between an occupier and the occupied.

The hatred that invasion induces causes any fraternisation to be labelled ‘collaboration.’ Sometimes it is. Sometimes, it is just people caught out of context seeking comfort and normality.

It is easy for those whose countries have never been occupied to scoff at the behaviour of those who had to live in the atmosphere and the reality of a hostile invasion. Let’s hope we never have to find out firsthand.

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Suite Française as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through, not in terms of battles and politicians, but by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. She did not live to see her ambition fulfilled, or to know that sixty-five years later, "Suite Francaise" would be published for the first time, and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during a year that begins with France's fall to the Nazis in June 1940 and ends with Germany turning its attention to Russia, "Suite Francaise" falls…


Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Bruce Borgos Author Of The Bitter Past

From my list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved peculiar heroes and heroines. Characters with strange gifts and an equal number of challenges. It started with Sherlock Holmes, whose mind fascinated me. As a child, I gravitated to the unnatural protagonist, Tarzan, in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was never a big fan of Superman, I preferred people who adapted quickly to new surroundings and could think on their feet. Once I began my writing career, I kept those protagonists in my mind. Four novels in, I do my best to capture their spirit and determination to overcome whatever lands in front of them.

Bruce's book list on a protagonist who has extraordinary capabilities

Bruce Borgos Why did Bruce love this book?

I loved this book because it’s a World War II story (my favorite time period), which I can’t get enough of, and its protagonist, Marie-Laure, is a young blind girl. By the time she’s twelve, she has learned to navigate Nazi-occupied Paris from a miniature of the city her father has built for her.

This is a girl with many fears, her blindness being just one, but she pushes through them all in order to help her country overcome its worst nightmare. Her bravery is off the charts!

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR FICTION

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…


Book cover of The Glass Room

Lucy Hughes-Hallett Author Of Peculiar Ground

From my list on houses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by houses and the memories that haunt them. I grew up on a private estate in rural England where my father worked. When I was little I knew a witch. She rode a bicycle, not a broomstick: she cured my warts. The trees I played under were planted when the big house belonged to the 17th-century statesman and historian, Lord Clarendon. I knew storytellers who performed in the local pubs – part of an oral tradition that goes back millennia. I moved to London, but I kept thinking about those rural enclaves where memories are very long. I set my novel in that beautiful, ghost-ridden, peculiar world. 

Lucy's book list on houses

Lucy Hughes-Hallett Why did Lucy love this book?

Set in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, this story of a newly-married couple overseeing the construction of their dream home is as clean-cut, luminous and full of hints of fragility as the building itself – a modernist cube of glass. The husband is rich, the wife excited by her new role as patron.  Their architect -  a sharply observed portrayal of a tetchy artist who will insist on sticking to his vision regardless of his clients’ doubts – wants to make them a masterpiece, and he does.  But the husband is Jewish.  We are in the 1930s.  Glass walls are not going to keep them safe. 

In lucid, elegant prose Mawer conjures up central European culture in those edgy, febrile years when artistic and intellectual energy were so vital, and politics were so deadly.

By Simon Mawer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE

The inspiration for the major motion picture The Affair, now available on demand.

Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room.

High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes…


Book cover of We Were the Lucky Ones

Michael C. White Author Of Beautiful Assassin

From my list on WW2 that breathe new life into a subject.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of seven published novels and a recently retired English professor. I was the founder and director of the Fairfield University MFA program. My latest novel is called Lebensborn and is set in Germany near the end of World War II. The novel concerns a little-known project hatched by Heinrich Himmler called Lebensborn (“the fount of life”). Concerned about Germany’s falling birth rate, Himmler began the program in 1935 hoping to encourage unwed mothers not to have abortions but to give birth to their babies at Nazi-run homes and then to give their babies up for adoption to “pure Aryan” officers. Lebensborn follows the story of Renate Dressler, a young German girl who falls in love with an SS officer. 

Michael's book list on WW2 that breathe new life into a subject

Michael C. White Why did Michael love this book?

What I appreciate about Hunter's novel is that it takes a new approach to the subject of the Holocaust. With the outbreak of WWII, the Kurcs, a Polish-Jewish family, find themselves driven into another diaspora, with their family members cast to the four corners of the globe. Hunter touches on the plight of Poland during the early years of the war when the country was torn asunder by Germany from the west and the Soviet Union from the east. The plot follows the various family members as they struggle to survive the Holocaust in Poland, in Stalin's Gulag, and as one member tries to flee to South America. A big, sprawling, family epic filled with tragedy and humanity, brutality and heroism.

By Georgia Hunter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Were the Lucky Ones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller with more than 1 million copies sold worldwide

Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive-and to reunite-We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.

"Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn't be more timely." -Glamour

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family…


Book cover of The Kite Runner

Ram Gidoomal Author Of My Silk Road: The Adventures & Struggles of a British Asian Refugee

From my list on refugees, inclusion, diversity and equality.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a refugee myself, I was attracted to read about the lives and experiences of other refugees, not merely those from my own community or background, but especially those from other backgrounds–which is probably reflected in the books that I’ve chosen for my list.

Ram's book list on refugees, inclusion, diversity and equality

Ram Gidoomal Why did Ram love this book?

I found myself involved with the characters and came to care for them. Moreover, I was struck by the author's desire to inspire readers to encourage discussion of Afghanistan and so keep the nation in the wider public consciousness.

The book certainly did that for me and is unforgettable, even though I read it over 20 years ago! It brought me alive and helped me understand issues facing those in Afghanistan and in my own community of Sindhis from my country of origin, Pakistan (formerly British India when my family had to flee following the partition of British India in 1947).

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.


Book cover of Piranesi

Kevin J. Fellows Author Of At the End of the World

From my list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both.

Why am I passionate about this?

After reading The Enormous Egg as a child, I’ve been devoted to stories where the strange, the uncanny, and the magical are all elements of the worlds characters must negotiate. I’m most drawn to fiction containing seemingly unreal elements because, in my experience, that is reality. Those moments when the past suddenly feels present, or when you glimpse something at the edge of your vision that feels significant, but you can’t quite catch it. Moments when anything is possible. No surprise that I write fiction that explores those moments of uncertainty and leaves the reader unmoored, thinking about the people and their experiences long after they’ve left the book.

Kevin's book list on fabulist fiction books where the real and unreal collide, leaving us questioning both

Kevin J. Fellows Why did Kevin love this book?

I love novels that evolve as I read them. I don’t want to feel I know exactly how a book will turn out from the first page. Give me the unknown and the mysterious, a strange setting and an otherworldly tone.

I also love novels with descriptive chapter titles. Piranesi satisfied all those impulses. The story begins by creating a deep, almost mythological atmosphere, which quickly reveals itself to be a mysterious epistolary, perhaps an ancient diary.

The unfolding mystery is intriguing, but the emerging and disturbing relationship between the novel’s two characters is the heart of the book. It drew me in by building a hidden history I could fall into, then slowly layering secrets and discoveries until masterfully revealing a devastating truth.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction
A SUNDAY TIMES & NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL, 'one of our greatest living authors' NEW YORK MAGAZINE
__________________________________
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend,…


Book cover of East of Eden

John Paul Godges Author Of Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

From my list on multigenerational family sagas.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a kid, as the grandson of Italian immigrant farmers and the son of a Polish-immigrant father, I wondered how my family fit into the American story. As I grew older, I learned that the American story could not be limited to a single race, a single religion, or even a single generation. Rather, the essence of any culture lies in the story that gets passed down from one generation to the next. That is where my passion lies: tapping into the essence of multiple cultures by tracing the multigenerational family wisdom that is often imparted quietly, humbly, and painfully, which makes it durable, meaningful, and indelible.

John's book list on multigenerational family sagas

John Paul Godges Why did John love this book?

An outpouring of kindness for families despite their flaws—or because of their flaws.

I miss the Hamiltons and Trasks because of the forgiving portrayal of their human limitations. One tragedy involving a brother and sister left a lasting impression on me precisely because of its gentle, restrained depiction, as if the tragedy were being viewed from the seat of heaven, with an infinite and eternal compassion.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked East of Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

California's fertile Salinas Valley is home to two families whose destinies are fruitfully, and fatally, intertwined. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons will helplessly replay the fall of Adam and Eve and the murderous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

East of Eden was considered by Steinbeck to be his magnum opus, and its epic scope and memorable characters, exploring universal themes of love and identity, ensure it remains one of America's most enduring novels. This edition features a stunning new cover by renowned…


Book cover of Middlesex

Eric Schlich Author Of Eli Harpo's Adventure to the Afterlife

From my list on dysfunctional family novels about mythmaking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a debut novelist who loves a good family drama. I’m a fiction professor at the University of Memphis, where I teach a course on the dysfunctional family novel featuring books on this list. I’m also an atheist, a bisexual, and a father to a one-year-old—all of which influenced my book. In addition to the novel, I’ve written a story collection called Quantum Convention. My stories have aired on Public Radio International’s Selected Shorts and appeared in American Short Fiction, Gulf Coast, and Electric Literature, among other journals. I also have a new essay up at Lit Hub about channeling my bisexuality through queer characters.

Eric's book list on dysfunctional family novels about mythmaking

Eric Schlich Why did Eric love this book?

When it comes to family sagas turned myth, it’s hard to top Calliope Stephanides tracing the passage of the hermaphroditic gene—transforming Callie into Cal—through three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family.

An epic origin story that moves from Asia Minor to Detroit, Michigan, complete with incest and a nuanced exploration of gender identity. It also has one of my all-time favorite novel openings ever. “Sing now, O Muse, of the recessive mutation on my fifth chromosome!”

By Jeffrey Eugenides,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974.'

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and her truly unique family secret, born on the slopes of Mount Olympus and passed on through three generations.

Growing up in 70s Michigan, Calliope's special inheritance will turn her into Cal, the narrator of this intersex, inter-generational epic of immigrant life in 20th century America.

Middlesex won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.


Book cover of The Night Bell

Laurie Loewenstein Author Of Funeral Train

From my list on immersive settings of time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

Even though I have not lived in the Midwest for fifty years, I remain a Midwesterner. It is in how I speak (adding an “r” to wash), what I like to eat (Cincinnati chili), and explains my favorite smell (the inside of a barn). Both as a reader and writer, I want to know where the story is “from.” What does this place look like? Smell like? What is the cadence of the characters’ speech? All this translates into an immersive experience and that is something I look for both in a book I pick up and in one I write. 

Laurie's book list on immersive settings of time and place

Laurie Loewenstein Why did Laurie love this book?

Hazel Micaellef, 62, a police officer in a small town in Ontario, is divorced, overweight, has back problems, and drinks too much. I am from a small town and divorced. Liquor is not my vice. I am, however, completely at home in the fictional and slightly seedy Port Dumas where locals have long memories. When human bones are found on land that formerly housed orphans, many of the town’s ugly secrets bubble up. The plot is complex and the setting immersive. I would not necessarily want to live in a place like Port Dumas…but I have.

By Inger Ash Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The new novel in this acclaimed series is brilliantly paced, addictively suspenseful—the author's best yet. Hazel Micallef (played by Susan Sarandon in the recent film of the series' debut, The Calling) has become one of crime writing's most memorable detectives. The Night Bell moves between the past and the present in Port Dundas, Ontario, as two mysteries converge. A discovery of the bones of murdered children is made on land that was once a county foster home. Now it's being developed as a brand new subdivision whose first residents are already railing against broken promises and corruption. But when three…


Book cover of Metropolis

Nina Wachsman Author Of The Gallery of Beauties

From my list on a peak into the world of art and artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having taken up the brush myself, I can attest to some sort of mystical, out-of-body experience that sometimes surfaces as an artist creates. Emotions and senses become directly connected to one’s hands, releasing the unconscious, allowing the artist to bring something to life that was buried deep inside. My favorite class in art school was Aesthetics, which explored the philosophy of art – what possessed the artist to paint – and what passions and beliefs were behind some of the art movements, including Surrealism, Dadaism, and Futurism. Books that delve into the craft and passion behind great works of art are my favorite reads.

Nina's book list on a peak into the world of art and artists

Nina Wachsman Why did Nina love this book?

This is the last Bernie Gunther novel, in a series that is über noir, and whose protagonist is a police detective who is a member of the SS in Nazi Germany. 

In Metropolis, Gunther learns that murder has become the subject of an art movement, Lustmord, or “lust murders” which focused on the brutal, sexual-tinged serial killings of women and prostitutes in 1930s Berlin.

A scene in the book of a famous German expressionist sketching a murder victim in the morgue is all the more chilling, since I know it to be true. I’ve been fascinated with the art movements of this era, and have seen the exhibits of Lustmord paintings, which are still in museums today. 

By Philip Kerr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"[Metropolis is] a perfect goodbye--and first hello--to its hero...Bernie Gunther has, at last, come home."--Washington Post

New York Times-bestselling author Philip Kerr treats readers to his beloved hero's origins, exploring Bernie Gunther's first weeks on Berlin's Murder Squad.

Summer, 1928. Berlin, a city where nothing is verboten.

In the night streets, political gangs wander, looking for fights. Daylight reveals a beleaguered populace barely recovering from the postwar inflation, often jobless, reeling from the reparations imposed by the victors. At central police HQ, the Murder Commission has its hands full. A killer is on the loose and though he scatters many…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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