10 books like Crime and Punishment

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Crime and Punishment. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

By John Le Carré,

Book cover of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

John Le Carré is one of the reasons I became a spy thriller writer. Like Joseph Conrad who wrote great novels that happened to be set at sea, Le Carré writes literary novels set in the world of spies. Spare, authentic, intensely realistic, this book plunges you deep into the duplicitous world of spy tradecraft, reeling you in with a brilliant plot, spot-on characterizations and line after line of dialogue you’ll want to quote. The story depicts Alex Leamas, a burnt-out British agent who defects in a scheme to eliminate a powerful East German spymaster, but what it's really about are the choices we make—and the costs. This book made me realize that genre could be a tool and not a walled-in garden.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

By John Le Carré,

Why should I read it?

8 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…

Les Miserables

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Book cover of Les Miserables

I could relate to the convict who found the path toward redemption by helping other people. I believe that directing our thoughts and actions toward other people could be the only way to redeem ourselves from crimes we have committed and to attain forgiveness. The convict persists on this path despite being persecuted for crimes of his past. The minor characters are on this same path, which exemplifies the saying that love is not a feeling, it’s action.

Les Miserables

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Why should I read it?

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


The Stranger

By Albert Camus,

Book cover of The Stranger

The 1942 in-depth examination of a man accused of murder or was it self-defense? The book shows how complex and entangled the truth around crime can be and how quickly society turns on those charged with homicide. It raises timeless questions that we struggle with today with the media and talk shows playing such a large role in current high-profile criminal cases.

The Stranger

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

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


In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote,

Book cover of In Cold Blood

Always on the Top 100 Lists of Best Books Ever, Capote's masterpiece tells the story of the senseless, brutal killing of a rural Kansas farming family in 1959. It is beautifully written from start to finish, and in a somewhat understated way. He defines his book as a “nonfiction novel,” employing fictional storytelling devices based on actual facts of the murder investigation and the various colorful town characters. Gripping and unrelentingly emotional, this book will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

9 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…


The Executioner's Song

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of The Executioner's Song

Mailer’s novels from the 1960s-2007 are notoriously challenging, and I’ve seen readers wanting to see what Mailer is about sometimes make the mistake of starting with one of his more difficult, convoluted novels—Ancient Evenings or Harlot’s Ghost, for example. But The Executioner’s Song is thought by many critics to be not only his best novel (winning his second Pulitzer Prize), but his most readable, despite its length. It recounts the story and ultimate execution in January of 1977 of Gary Gilmore, who murdered two men during his release from prison on parole. But what Mailer does is work outward from that basic fact to go beyond the media circus that surrounded the case and the execution to try to understand Gilmore, his girlfriend Nicole, and the whole American setting—particularly the American West—that defined their lives. 

Joan Didion’s wonderful review in the NYTBR said Mailer had written a book…

The Executioner's Song

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Executioner's Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW O'HAGAN

In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row - and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years.

But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity - and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.


Fatal Vision

By Joe McGinniss,

Book cover of Fatal Vision: A True Crime Classic

A highly controversial 1983 book about Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald who was accused of murdering his wife and two children in their home in 1970. Initially, MacDonald hired McGuiniss to prove his innocence, but the author eventually changed his mind about the physician’s guilt. He was convicted and the book underscored the perils of writers getting too close to their subjects, especially when they're criminals.

Fatal Vision

By Joe McGinniss,

Why should I read it?

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


Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

This is the book that, after three years of a long and often turgid English degree, made me fall back in love with reading. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on boardis there a better opening line in the English language? The novel tells the story of Janey, an African American woman in Florida in the 1920s, and her three husbands. A candidate for shaming and marginalisation if ever there was one. But Janey resists every constraint that society seeks to impose on her. I read this book whenever I need a good weep. 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Their Eyes Were Watching God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


A Clockwork Orange

By Anthony Burgess,

Book cover of A Clockwork Orange

This is a book that had an air of danger about it when I was at school. Perhaps mostly because the excellent Kubrick adaptation had been banned (although, as I later discovered, it was ‘banned’ by the director himself because of copycat morons and threats towards his family.) The book contains an invented language. Invented words have been used by authors before, of course, from James Joyce to Lewis Carroll, and many sci-fi authors. Here, it is not only fun and poetic, but also builds a prison of alienation around the protagonists. 

A Clockwork Orange

By Anthony Burgess,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Anthony Burgess's influential nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, a teen who talks in a fantastically inventive slang that evocatively renders his and his friends' intense reaction against their society. Dazzling and transgressive, A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil and the meaning of human freedom. This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition, and Burgess's introduction, "A Clockwork Orange Resucked."


Slaughterhouse-Five

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

I can’t think of another book that bends and blends competing realities as well as Slaughterhouse-5. Vonnegut shows us the mundanity of a 9 to 5 optometrist, the horrors of war (in this case, the fire-bombing of Dresden), time-traveling sci-fi, and mental breakdown – each of these realities plays off the others until I can’t be sure where one ends and the next begins. It’s a high-wire act, in that respect, one that could easily fall flat. I think Vonnegut makes it work, not only because of his skill but also because, after trying for ages to write a book about his experiences in WW2, he found a story and structure that lets him capture all the madness and horror (and bleak, deadpan, absurdist humour) of everything he saw.

Slaughterhouse-Five

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Slaughterhouse-Five as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Atonement

By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Atonement

Set in WW1 this novel stirred up many emotions and I even shed some tears. There is so much in this storyline that appeals to me, the futility of war, one’s ability to forgive, and how just one lie can change a person’s life forever. The first few chapters might seem a bit slow but life was at a slower pace before 1914 and this is where you become well-acquainted with the characters. The vivid portrayal of the chaos and trauma of war shows that the author really did his research. Long after I finished reading this book my mind went back to it, wondering how I would have reacted in the shoes of each person. 

Atonement

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

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