100 books like Crime and Punishment

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

Here are 100 books that Crime and Punishment fans have personally recommended if you like Crime and Punishment. 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 Magus

Gregg Dunnett Author Of Little Ghosts: My sister's name was Layla. I know who killed her. She told me.

From my list on blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

Who am I?

I’m not an expert on very much. Certainly not the biggest questions of all, such as are we really here, and if not, what’s this all about? But I’ve always enjoyed books that touch upon these questions and find a way to connect them to our everyday reality (I find them easier than actual philosophy). If I am well placed to curate this list, that’s why. I hope it reminds you how we all grapple with these same universal questions. How we all share our doubts and face the same fears. How we’re all whittled away by the same relentless flow of time. 

Gregg's book list on blurring the line between fantasy and reality

Gregg Dunnett Why did Gregg love this book?

A young man takes a job as an English teacher on a Greek island, and is quickly drawn into a bewildering mystery involving the island mythological roots, and an impossibly beautiful woman who seems to want him as much as he wants her.

This mix proved irresistible to me when I read it as a young man, teaching English abroad. The novel ultimately weaves a web of psychological intrigue so powerful there can be no answer to the riddles it sets. Which is perhaps why the ending blurs reality so that I still don’t really know the why for what happens.

It’s a credit to the strength of Fowle’s characters that I’d still pick this as my favourite ever read. If I had to pick just one.   

By John Fowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Magus is the story of Nicholas Urfe, a young Englishman who accepts a teaching assignment on a remote Greek island. There his friendship with a local millionaire evolves into a deadly game, one in which reality and fantasy are deliberately manipulated, and Nicholas must fight for his sanity and his very survival.


Book cover of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

David L. Robbins Author Of War of the Rats

From my list on love and war and describing both battlefields.

Who am I?

I’ve penned (so far) seventeen novels, most set during some historical conflict or other, all of them revolving around intense personal relationships (loyalty, love, betrayal, those sorts of profound truths). I tend to read the sorts of books I wish to write. I also teach creative writing at a university (VCU); I tell my students that if they want to really know what a character is made of, shoot at them or have them fall in love. In my own work, I do both.

David's book list on love and war and describing both battlefields

David L. Robbins Why did David love this book?

The Cold War is the war I was born into. No writer has chronicled the competition between superpowers better than LeCarre.

When Alec Leamas falls for Liz, he’s not aware of the depth of his feelings until she’s murdered as a pawn in the great game between Russia and the West. The revenge he seeks and the resolution he acquires are among LeCarre’s best efforts.

I was riveted to every scene. 

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

13 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…


Book cover of Les Miserables

Stephen Jackley Author Of Just Time: A Journey Through Britain's Fractured Justice System

From my list on the power of redemption.

Who am I?

Having spent a total of 7 years in 12 UK prisons (and 6 in the USA), I encountered so many people from all walks of life who found themselves in custody. What they all generally had in common was a desire to seek betterment – redemption – for even the repeat offenders never hoped to see the inside of another jail again. It can be a soul-destroying, depressing place, often ruthless, but also serves as a forge to draw out the perseverance and will to keep going. After leaving prison, I went on to set up a social enterprise, received a commendation from then Prince Charles, and support the daily operations of a charity (Arkbound). 

Stephen's book list on the power of redemption

Stephen Jackley Why did Stephen love this book?

Another classic, and quite possibly my favorite. It has been dramatised many times, though nothing beats the full novel.

Admittedly with a slow-paced start, the narrative soon grips you with the intensity of its plot and unforgettable characters – most prominent, of course, being the protagonist (Jean Valjean). After serving a long sentence, he then must contend with the prospect of a lifetime of prejudice and discrimination by being an ex-con, but he escapes this and, with the help of a kind bishop, sets himself up under a different name.

Here he transforms into Monseiur Madeleine, a philanthropic businessman who later becomes mayor, before being hunted down by the stern and relentless Javert. If I could name any literary ‘role model’, it would be Jean Valjean.

This dramatic tale has redemption at its very heart, resonating deeply with me, and what makes it even more fascinating is the fact it’s…

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

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A SIX-PART MINISERIES ON MASTERPIECE ON PBS

The only completely unabridged paperback edition of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece—a sweeping tale of love, loss, valor, and passion.

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story…


Book cover of The Stranger

Angel Dionne Author Of Sardines

From my list on Books that depict the existential pains of human existance.

Who am I?

I like to believe that my own characters struggle with being human. They struggle with their bitterness, their relations to others (or lack thereof), and their unresolved guilt. What happens when guilt is left unresolved? What happens when someone enters into a state of self-imposed isolation? These are topics I enjoy exploring in my work. I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child. My mother deserves all the credit. At bedtime, rather than reading bedtime stories to me from a book, she would make up a story and then ask me to do the same. This helped me to develop a lifelong love for reading and writing.

Angel's book list on Books that depict the existential pains of human existance

Angel Dionne Why did Angel love this book?

I first read the English translation of this book during my undergraduate studies. The first time I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. Something about it disturbed me, made me feel sick, and made me question what it means to be human.

I felt myself called to read it again years later and, just recently, I picked it up a third time. Mersault’s indifference in relation to his experiences and to society forced me to question my own views concerning the meaning of life.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With the intrigue of a psychological thriller, The Stranger—Camus's masterpiece—gives us the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach. With an Introduction by Peter Dunwoodie; translated by Matthew Ward.

Behind the subterfuge, Camus explores what he termed "the nakedness of man faced with the absurd" and describes the condition of reckless alienation and spiritual exhaustion that characterized so much of twentieth-century life. 

“The Stranger is a strikingly modern text and Matthew Ward’s translation will enable readers to appreciate why Camus’s stoical anti-hero and ­devious narrator remains one of the key expressions of…


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 Executioner's Song

Rick R. Reed Author Of The Man from Milwaukee

From my list on true crime that would be criminal not to read.

Who am I?

I chose this list for two reasons—one, true crime has always held great fascination for me. I have a real hunger to understand the motivations behind the darkest sides of human nature, which I believe exists in us all. My own book, The Man from Milwaukee, dives deep into this obsession by sympathetically portraying a closeted young gay man in 1991 Chicago, who sees the cannibal killer as a victim himself of his own irresistible murderous impulses, likening them to our main character’s own self-loathing toward his same-sex desires. 

Rick's book list on true crime that would be criminal not to read

Rick R. Reed Why did Rick love this book?

Mailer’s opus dramatizes the cursed life of Gary Gilmore. In 1976, he robbed and killed two strangers. After being tried and sentenced to death, Gilmore insisted on being executed, to the disagreement of the justice system, who wanted him to remain alive. Written simply and with great compassion, the novel is disturbing, yet ultimately thought-provoking and redemptive.

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.


Book cover of Fatal Vision: A True Crime Classic

Stephen Singular Author Of Unholy Messenger: The Life and Crimes of the BTK Serial Killer

From my list on the psychology and emotions behind human violence.

Who am I?

I’m deeply interested in the psychology and emotions behind human violence. I’ve been exploring this subject for the past 35 years in 13 non-fiction books about crime, many of them high-profile cases. I have a passion to understand more about this phenomenon.

Stephen's book list on the psychology and emotions behind human violence

Stephen Singular Why did Stephen love this book?

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.

By Joe McGinniss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The electrifying true crime story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children—murders he vehemently denies committing...

Bestselling author Joe McGinniss chronicles every aspect of this horrifying and intricate crime and probes the life and psyche of the magnetic, all-American Jeffrey MacDonald—a golden boy who seemed destined to have it all. The result is a penetration to the heart of darkness that enshrouded one of the most complex criminal cases ever to capture the attention of the American public. It is a haunting, stunningly suspenseful work that no…


Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ginger Pinholster Author Of Snakes of St. Augustine

From my list on featuring Florida in a big way.

Who am I?

My second novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, describes an unconventional love story served up with a large side of Florida weirdness. My first novel, City in a Forest, received a Gold Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. My short fiction and essays have appeared in Pangyrus, Eckerd Review, Northern Virginia Review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. I earned my bachelor’s degree in English from Eckerd College and the M.F.A. in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Currently, I’m a writer for a university in Daytona Beach, Florida. A resident of Ponce Inlet, I began volunteering with the Volusia-Flagler Sea Turtle Patrol in 2018.

Ginger's book list on featuring Florida in a big way

Ginger Pinholster Why did Ginger love this book?

Anyone interested in literature featuring Florida must read Hurston’s enduring master work.

The novel describes Janie Crawford’s coming-of-age journey, especially in Eatonville, Florida, which became one of the nation’s first all-black cities, incorporated in 1887. Janie, a child of slavery and rape, flees an oppressive arranged marriage, and later, she survives abusive lovers. Originally published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God challenged gender stereotypes and presented a strong black female protagonist.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the novel is Hurston’s use of the Florida setting to both set the mood and drive plot choices. When protagonist Janie escapes violence, she flees the Panhandle for the more secluded, dense wilderness of Central Florida. There, complex waterways follow the characters’ various movements.

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cover design by Harlem renaissance artist Lois Mailou Jones

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece…


Book cover of A Clockwork Orange

AK Nevermore Author Of Grimdarke

From my list on motorcycles, shifters, and mayhem, oh my!.

Who am I?

I’m a huge fan of paranormal and dark romance, and these books definitely check all my boxes. Great world-building, plots that engage, and in most cases, a heavy dollop of smut. They also explore the unexpected and take into account real-world concerns in a fashion where you can absolutely justify the decisions the main characters are making.

AK's book list on motorcycles, shifters, and mayhem, oh my!

AK Nevermore Why did AK love this book?

This book is probably the quintessential book of mayhem, in my opinion.

Yep, it’s super dated, and the dialect can be difficult to get into, but I thought it was worth it, especially if you read the European version, which has an additional chapter the US publisher cut out. Abruptly it goes from a novel of unrepentant chaos to one of redemption.

By Anthony Burgess,

Why should I read it?

14 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."


Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Leon Stevens Author Of The View from Here

From my list on for readers who don’t think they like science fiction.

Who am I?

I like science and math. I’m better at science than math. I grew up reading books from the early pioneers of sci-fi when imagination trumped hard science. Oh, the science was around, there was just a lot more leeway to make up the physics when you needed something to work. As science advanced, authors got more into the technical and theoretical aspects of what they were writing about. I usually skim over technical writing, so when I began to write, it was natural for me to limit what I found to be superfluous to the story. The recommended books are the kind of books I like to read and write.

Leon's book list on for readers who don’t think they like science fiction

Leon Stevens Why did Leon love this book?

I got hooked on Vonnegut after reading his short story, Harrison Bergeron. Most of his books straddle the genres of literary fiction and science fiction, with just enough information to make the science believable.

In Slaughterhouse Five, there’s a time travel element, but how it happens really isn’t as important as where the main character ends up. With some historical content about World War II, which is another subject I enjoy, this book will take you on an interesting ride as the character becomes unstuck in time.

I do recommend anything by Kurt Vonnegut.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A special fiftieth anniversary edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece, “a desperate, painfully honest attempt to confront the monstrous crimes of the twentieth century” (Time), featuring a new introduction by Kevin Powers, author of the National Book Award finalist The Yellow Birds
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
 
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had…


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