100 books like Clueless in New England

By Michael C. Dooling,

Here are 100 books that Clueless in New England fans have personally recommended if you like Clueless in New England. 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 Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Jake S. Friedman Author Of The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age

From my list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching.

Who am I?

I'm an expert in animation history, having written three books on it, dozens of articles, and appeared on TV documentaries about it. I've also been a college professor for about 13 years, so I know what a story needs to maintain interest. These books have that. They're about different chunks of American history, some political, some artistic, all cultural. But they're also focused on the people who made the history, and showing how they got to where they were, and why they matter. These books let me walk in the shoes of subjects, and whisk me back to their time and place. If a book passes the empathy/time-machine test, it has won me over.

Jake's book list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching

Jake S. Friedman Why did Jake love this book?

I never leaned toward crime stories, but this true telling of America’s first serial killer, while simultaneously recounting one of the grandest expositions in American history, was too good to put down.

I was shocked by how quickly I devoured this book. It’s the closest you can get to time-traveling to 1890s Chicago. It’s the near-impossible feat of building the greatest World’s Fair of all, and also the gruesome story of a killer building a “murder house” and luring single women into it.

This is the book that inspired Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio to almost make it a series on Hulu, just saying.

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Devil in the White City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chicago World Fair was the greatest fair in American history. This is the story of the men and women whose lives it irrevocably changed and of two men in particular- an architect and a serial killer. The architect is Daniel Burnham, a man of great integrity and depth. It was his vision of the fair that attracted the best minds and talents of the day. The killer is Henry H. Holmes. Intelligent as well as handsome and charming, Holmes opened a boarding house which he advertised as 'The World's Fair Hotel' Here in the neighbourhood where he was once…


Book cover of In Cold Blood

Katherine Ramsland Author Of The Serial Killer's Apprentice: The True Story of How Houston’s Deadliest Murderer Turned a Kid into a Killing Machine

From my list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with true crime since a serial killer operated in my hometown when I was a kid. I’m now an expert on criminal psychology, which I teach at DeSales University. I’ve appeared in more than 200 crime documentaries and was an executive producer on Murder House Flip (my idea) and A&E’s Confession of a Serial Killer: BTK. I’ve published more than 72 books, and over the past 12 years, I’ve penned a blog on the dark side of the human psyche for Psychology Today. Currently, I’m writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist who runs a PI agency and consults on unique death investigations. 

Katherine's book list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers

Katherine Ramsland Why did Katherine love this book?

I think this book is the classic true crime to show the power of using fictional devices for fact-based narratives.

Truman Capote explored the psyches of a killing team, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, as he reported on the 1959 quadruple homicide of the Herb Clutter family in Holcombe, Kansas. He wasn’t a journalist, but he adopted the role, hedging his work as “narrative nonfiction.” I learned a lot about this technique for my own work.

With him was his childhood companion, Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), and she helped Capote gain access to the inside story. He extensively interviewed Perry Smith, giving readers a sense of how and why this convict got involved in the terrible mass murder of a family. 

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked In Cold Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The chilling true crime 'non-fiction novel' that made Truman Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly…


Book cover of The Man From the Cave

Silvia Pettem Author Of Cold Case Chronicles: Mysteries, Murders & the Missing

From my list on historical true crime books.

Who am I?

Years ago, I stumbled upon the gravestone of an unidentified murder victim from 1954. Then I entered into a partnership with my local sheriff and with forensic experts to successfully determine the young woman's identity. At the time, I was (and still am) a historical researcher, newspaper columnist, and author. The Jane Doe case, however, gave me the opportunity and insight to investigate and research the young woman's murder, allowing me to dig into the context of the times. Now, as a researcher and writer of historical true crime, I've found a niche, allowing me to combine my investigative skills and interests with a deep passion for the past.

Silvia's book list on historical true crime books

Silvia Pettem Why did Silvia love this book?

Mysteries also are a part of historical true crime, including people who were (or still are) missing and/or those who lived under changed identities. In the Nevada desert in 1968, Fletcher literally bumped into a trunk filled with decades-old possessions. Whose were they? Fletcher then documented his own investigation as he managed to find newspaper articles and National Archive records to piece together an old prospector's life. Armchair sleuths and others who are proficient in searching the internet today will find this book is a real eye-opener, as it shows what it was like to reconstruct a person's hidden life, without even getting online. For Fletcher, the process evolved a bonus –– a spiritual adventure of his own.

By Colin Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The discovery in a Nevada desert cave of what appeared to be a man's total belongings inspired this carefully researched account of a man who was a soldier, a prospector, and a wanderer


Book cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Ken Sheldon Author Of Deep Water: Murder, Scandal, and Intrigue in a New England Town

From my list on true-crime that reads like Agatha Christie mystery.

Who am I?

I started out as a technical writer for computer magazines and my specialty was explaining complex subjects in language the average person could understand. I got tired of that and began writing for general interest magazines, then wrote a couple of thrillers, then plays. For years, I’d been hearing the story of a gentleman farmer who was murdered in 1918, toward the end of WWI, not far from where I live. The murder was never solved and was rumored to involve German espionage. I decided to tackle the story, which involved a mountain of research into historical documents and uncovered a case that was as compelling as any fictional mystery.

Ken's book list on true-crime that reads like Agatha Christie mystery

Ken Sheldon Why did Ken love this book?

On an early trip to Savannah, I stayed a block from the mansion where the murder at the heart of John Berendt’s bestselling book took place and where the movie was filmed. I wrote much of my own book in another apartment not far away. In my writing, I was inspired by the way Berendt included himself in his story and I decided to incorporate some of my own struggles to uncover the truth about the brutal murder of William K. Dean.

By John Berendt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands' suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a 'walking streak of sex'.

These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed - and whose dirty linen…


Book cover of The Wendy Project

Kindra Neely Author Of Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting

From my list on to help process big emotions.

Who am I?

I’m deeply passionate about helping others find ways to work through their emotions. After surviving a mass shooting in 2015 the first place I turned to was the library. I quickly found myself frustrated and lacking when I couldn’t find books to help me understand what I was going through and what to expect next. It was terribly discouraging as I found it difficult to express myself to my loved ones. When I started to find books like the ones on this list, it opened a world to me that I had to be a part of – books that help people process difficult emotions. 

Kindra's book list on to help process big emotions

Kindra Neely Why did Kindra love this book?

Although shorter than the other books on my list, I think the story and art is none the less impactful. The Wendy Project deals with grief, especially grief in younger readers with a gentle understanding. I loved the unique approach to the whole book as well. The book is the journal of the main character Wendy, who receives it and starts to draw in it during the events of the story. I found The Wendy Project in my hands at a time when I was struggling to acknowledge my own grief, and it certainly nudged me to face it.  

By Melissa Jane Osborne, Veronica Fish (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy, once a rational teenager, shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is The Wendy Project merely…


Book cover of Colonial Ecology, Atlantic Economy: Transforming Nature in Early New England

Eric H. Ash Author Of The Draining of the Fens: Projectors, Popular Politics, and State Building in Early Modern England

From my list on early modern environmental history.

Who am I?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, especially 16th- and 17th-century England, and my work pulls together threads from different historical disciplines, including political history, the history of science and technology, and environmental history. I am fascinated by the ways that human history is intimately linked with the environment, and I am most interested in how early modern European states and empires worked to understand, manage, and profit from the natural world, especially with respect to using and conserving natural resources such as water, wood, and wildlife. I have chosen books that explore these issues in innovative and exciting ways.

Eric's book list on early modern environmental history

Eric H. Ash Why did Eric love this book?

A superb history of a particular landscape in the midst of profound political, economic, and environmental transformation; it is a wonderful example of interdisciplinary research.

The book explores the Connecticut River valley in colonial New England, and shows how the economic needs and interactions of the Native American and European inhabitants completely reshaped the ecology of the region.

My favorite chapter is Roberts’s brilliant analysis of the lucrative trade in beaver pelts, which not only shifted the balance of power between Native Americans and European settlers, it also eradicated the beavers and their extensive network of dams, erasing the vast wetlands of the region and leaving the river itself unrecognizable.

By Strother E. Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Colonial Ecology, Atlantic Economy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Focusing on the Connecticut River Valley-New England's longest river and largest watershed- Strother Roberts traces the local, regional, and transatlantic markets in colonial commodities that shaped an ecological transformation in one corner of the rapidly globalizing early modern world. Reaching deep into the interior, the Connecticut provided a watery commercial highway for the furs, grain, timber, livestock, and various other commodities that the region exported. Colonial Ecology, Atlantic Economy shows how the extraction of each commodity had an impact on the New England landscape, creating a new colonial ecology inextricably tied to the broader transatlantic economy beyond its shores.
This…


Book cover of The Width of the Sea

Céline Keating Author Of The Stark Beauty of Last Things

From my list on immersing yourself in nature.

Who am I?

I’ve loved nature and being outdoors since childhood, when I would escape our apartment complex by berry-picking in a park or sneaking onto the lush grounds of a local mental hospital. I grew up in Queens, New York, at a time of rapid development, and mourned as trees were felled for housing. I became an avid hiker, canoeist, and gardener as an adult, and serve on the board of an environmental organization in Montauk, Long Island. What we lose when we lose our connection to nature, saving our last wild places, and leaving a sustainable world to the next generation are key themes in my forthcoming novel--and personal motivation.

Céline's book list on immersing yourself in nature

Céline Keating Why did Céline love this book?

I found this to be one of the most compelling novels I’ve read to draw me deep into the fabric of the hardscrabble life of a New England community down on its luck with the crash of the cod fishing industry.

The sympathetic but thwarted characters are all entangled in dangerous waters of one kind or another, from drug smuggling to physical danger to marital issues. I was as fascinated to learn about the economics and lifestyle of the fishing life as I was moved by the struggles of characters caught in a complex net of change outside their control. 

By Michelle Chalfoun,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the story of empty oceans and the men who fish them. It's the story of Rosaline, a New England fishing community facing the loss of its traditional way of life, struggling against the imposition of fishing quotas, the closing of the local cannery and the encroachment of the heritage industry, which exploits with nostalgia a way of life before it has even given up its last breath. It's the story of the denizens of Rosaline: John Fitz and his best friend Chris who work on John's father's fishing boat, The Pearl; barmaid Kate, indifferent mother and neglected wife…


Book cover of The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World

From my list on witch hunting in Colonial America.

Who am I?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Colonial America

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

A ground-breaking work, which demonstrates how the theoretical witch was embodied by real women, and how a seemingly bizarre fantasy was plausible in among the shapes and rhythms of daily life. This influential study is as much a social, economic and cultural history of seventeenth-century New England as it is strictly speaking a history of witchcraft – indeed, Karlsen demonstrates clearly that the latter cannot be assimilated with an appreciation of the former. Context is everything, and without it we just fall back on stereotypes and tired assumptions.

Witches and neighbours were two-sides of the same coin, the former a projection of the hostile emotions of the latter, and, as Karlsen explains, this fraught relationship was fundamentally gendered. To appreciate how some people were accused of witchcraft, we need first to explore relationships between people in the community, including relations between women. Honour, reputation, age, status and so on, were…

By Carol F Karlsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil in the Shape of a Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Confessing to "familiarity with the devils," Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648. A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors. The case of Ann Cole, who was "taken with very strange Fits," fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events at Salem.

More than three hundred years later, the question "Why?" still haunts us. Why were these and other women likely witches-vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft and possession? Carol F. Karlsen reveals the social construction of witchcraft in seventeenth-century New England…


Book cover of Jackaby

Amy Carol Reeves Author Of Ripper (A Ripper Novel)

From my list on to get your Sherlock Holmes fix.

Who am I?

I think the lure of the detective novel lies in our human instinct to problem solve. There’s something satisfying about following a smart, observant, and even flawed character as they solve a crime. We’re working through a complicated puzzle, deciphering clues and theorizing, alongside the detective. Personally, I love detective novels set in richly drawn historical settings. I grew up addicted to Edgar Allan Poe and Sherlock Holmes stories. I remember reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins in a few days because I couldn’t put it down. The following books are a must-have for any Sherlock Holmes fans.

Amy's book list on to get your Sherlock Holmes fix

Amy Carol Reeves Why did Amy love this book?

This book has all my favorite detective fiction elements: a beautiful cover, an independent heroine, Abigail Rook, crime-solving alongside an elusive detective, R.F. Jackaby, and a solid plot that kept me guessing until the end. Set in late nineteenth-century New England, Rook teams up with Jackaby in a parallel to a Watson-Holmes relationship except this detective novel features the supernatural. Rook learns quickly that Jackaby stands out among detectives as he can see supernatural creatures. I love so much about this book, particularly the chemistry between Rook and Jackaby as co-investigators. This is a must-read not only for detective fiction fans, but for Dr. Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans as well.  

By William Ritter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jackaby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Alone and newly arrived in New Fiddleham. 1892, Abigail Rook finds work as the assistant to R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with the ability to see supernatural beings. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose in New Fiddleham. The police are convinced it's an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain the foul deeds are the work of the kind of creature whose very existence the local police - with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane - seem adamant to…


Book cover of Mighty Storms of New England: The Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Blizzards, and Floods That Shaped the Region

Timothy Minnich Author Of Blizzard!! The Great White Hurricane

From my list on the drama of historic Northeast US snowstorms.

Who am I?

I have always been obsessed with the weather.  From the third grade, I knew that I would be college-bound to get my degree in meteorology (I have two). I can still distinctly recall, as a very young boy in the early 1960s, sneaking my trusty transistor radio under the pillow, eagerly anticipating the latest update every time a snowstorm was on the horizon. And my passion for big storms—especially those of the snow variety—has only grown greater over time.  Whenever a snowstorm is occurring, I’m up every hour or so all night long “just to check the radar”—my patient, long-suffering Sweetheart (wife) will attest to that!

Timothy's book list on the drama of historic Northeast US snowstorms

Timothy Minnich Why did Timothy love this book?

Eric Fisher has been Chief Meteorologist at WBZ-TV in Boston since April 2013, and was an on-camera meteorologist for The Weather Channel before that. In this 2021 book, Fisher is able to strike the perfect balance between the “what’s so” and the “why” behind these historic storms (as well as with other types of natural disasters affecting New Englanders). This rare quality, augmented by his meticulous research of historical accounts of these events, including the impressive array of meteorological records broken along the way, enables him to present an enjoyable, educational read—especially for the interested layperson. 

By Eric P. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mighty Storms of New England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New England landscape has long been battered by some of the most intense weather in US history. Discover the legendary storms that have devastated New England, including: the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 that killed 564 people; the Worcester Tornado of 1953; the Snow Hurricane of 1804 that demolished orchards and killed dozens of sailors off the coast; and the Blizzard of 1978 that brought Boston to a standstill for weeks.


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