71 books like Great Hostesses

By Brian Masters,

Here are 71 books that Great Hostesses fans have personally recommended if you like Great Hostesses. 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 Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners

Carolyn Steel Author Of Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World

From my list on how food shapes our lives.

Who am I?

Food and architecture have been dual passions in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandparents had a hotel in Bournemouth, and I can still recall my fascination with the way everything changed as I passed through the green baize doors between the service areas and the public rooms. I became an architect, but food was always there in the background, and much later, I realised how I could bring the two together in order to describe the world in a completely new way. This led to my first book, Hungry City, and its follow-up Sitopia, both of which have changed the way I see the world. 

Carolyn's book list on how food shapes our lives

Carolyn Steel Why did Carolyn love this book?

The Rituals of Dinner opened my eyes to the power and complexity of eating with other people – something we all do throughout our lives – and the profound ways in which this affects our relationships with friends and strangers alike.

The book delves into the history of the shared meal, dissecting various rituals which, despite regional differences, nevertheless have common threads across the world, for example in the deep, often hidden power that lies in the relationship between host and guest (words that both derive from the same root, ghostis) and the strong, even life-changing implications of knowing how to behave at dinner.

This is a fascinating and beautifully written book that will have you thinking about the way we eat long after you have finished it. 

By Margaret Visser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With an acute eye and an irrepressible wit, Margaret Visser takes a fascinating look at the way we eat our meals. From the ancient Greeks to modern yuppies, from cannibalism and the taking of the Eucharist to formal dinners and picnics, she thoroughly defines the eating ritual.

"Read this book. You'll never look at a table knife the same way again."-The New York Times.


Book cover of The Interior Design Handbook

Laura Calder Author Of The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

From my list on making and running a welcoming home.

Who am I?

Laura Calder is a recognized advocate for living well at home. She is the author of four cookbooks and received a James Beard Award for her long-running television series, French Food at Home.

Laura's book list on making and running a welcoming home

Laura Calder Why did Laura love this book?

Finally, a book for regular people that spells out the golden rules of design in a way that’s easy to understand and to apply to the homes we live in, whatever they may be. Ramstedt guides us through everything from lights to flower vases to the arrangement of furniture to choosing white paint. A book to help us see the places where we live with fresh eyes and tackle the kind of tweaks that will make us feel more at home in them than ever.

By Frida Ramstedt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE BESTSELLING SWEDISH PHENOMENON

What looks good and why?

Design consultant Frida Ramstedt runs Scandinavia's leading interior design blog. In this book she distils the secrets of successful interior design and styling to help you create a home that works best for your space, taste and lifestyle. Filled with practical tips, rules-of-thumb and tricks of the trade, The Interior Design Handbook will help you to think like a professional designer.

'Frida has created this BIBLE to interior design ... such useful info that has taken me years to learn, all in one place' Rebecca Wakefield, Studio Fortnum

'Beautifully illustrated with…


Book cover of The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping: Expert Advice on Cleaning, Laundry and Home Maintenance

Laura Calder Author Of The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

From my list on making and running a welcoming home.

Who am I?

Laura Calder is a recognized advocate for living well at home. She is the author of four cookbooks and received a James Beard Award for her long-running television series, French Food at Home.

Laura's book list on making and running a welcoming home

Laura Calder Why did Laura love this book?

How to run a house is no longer part of our education system. The only way to learn this vital skill – one that helps make the whole of our lives run more smoothly - is by educating ourselves. This compact book teaches us everything from how to clean a room to how to fold socks to how to descale a shower head. It’s like having your own butler to turn to for advice whenever you need it.

By Charles MacPherson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pocket Butler's Guide to Good Housekeeping as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyone's favourite butler is back! Get your home spic and span with Charles MacPherson's expert tips and tricks for everything from polishing silverware to organizing the garage.

After over 30 years as a professional butler and household manager, Charles MacPherson knows a thing or two about keeping a home clean and organized. He has poured his vast knowledge and expertise into this pocket-sized volume, perfect for easy day-to-day reference or to guide your next marathon cleaning session.

Everything you need to know is here. With step-by-step instructions for cleaning, organizing, and maintaining every room in your home, The Pocket Butler's…


Book cover of A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

Laura Calder Author Of The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

From my list on making and running a welcoming home.

Who am I?

Laura Calder is a recognized advocate for living well at home. She is the author of four cookbooks and received a James Beard Award for her long-running television series, French Food at Home.

Laura's book list on making and running a welcoming home

Laura Calder Why did Laura love this book?

Menu cookbooks can be tricky, but Tanis has produced this and another masterpiece (The Heart of the Artichoke 2010) both of which will up the game of any dinner-party host. The recipes are varied, imaginative, and infallible (Fish Tacos with Shredded Cabbage and Lime, Chicken Tagine with Pumpkin and Chickpeas, Rum Baba with Cardamom) and the menus sheer poetry.

By David Tanis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes", David Tanis shows readers how to slow down, pay attention, and give ingredients their due. Worlds away from showy "Food Network" personalities and chefs who preach fussy techniques, Tanis serves up charming, unassuming meals for friends and family: couscous with rabbit and turnip for a special birthday fete, clam and chorizo paella to eat by the fireplace, and turkey with duck confit for Thanksgiving. Tanis has an elemental, unpretentious finesse with ingredients and a genuine gift with words."Dinner with Friends" is deliciously down-to-earth in covering such topics as 'Pretty vs. Beautiful Food,'…


Book cover of Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty

Kathleen Stone Author Of They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men

From my list on family biographies with regional history as a role.

Who am I?

I read (and write) biography as much for history as for an individual life story. It’s a way of getting a personalized look at an historical period. When the book is a family biography, the history is amplified by different family members' perspectives, almost like a kaleidoscope, and it stretches over generations, allowing the historical story to blossom over time. The genre also opens a window into the ethos that animated this unique group of individuals who are bound together by blood. Whether it's a desire for wealth or power, the zeal for a cause, or the need to survive adversity, I found it in these family stories.  

Kathleen's book list on family biographies with regional history as a role

Kathleen Stone Why did Kathleen love this book?

When Cornelius Vanderbilt died in 1877, he was the richest man in America. Two generations later, the family parlayed their wealth into social status in the city's newly defined class structure.

Anderson Cooper, CNN news anchor, and his co-author trace the city's social history, beginning with Anderson's ancestor who emigrated to the small Dutch colony at the tip of Manhattan as an indentured servant. The story ends with Anderson's mother Gloria, the last Vanderbilt to have known the family at the peak of its wealth and social clout before lavish spending took its toll.

Most affecting are Anderson’s memories of his mother that have nothing to do with money and everything to do with sharing life with someone we love.

By Anderson Cooper, Katherine Howe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author and journalist Anderson Cooper teams with New York Times bestselling historian and novelist Katherine Howe to chronicle the rise and fall of a legendary American dynasty-his mother's family, the Vanderbilts.

One of the Washington Post's Notable Works of Nonfiction of 2021

When eleven-year-old Cornelius Vanderbilt began to work on his father's small boat ferrying supplies in New York Harbor at the beginning of the nineteenth century, no one could have imagined that one day he would, through ruthlessness, cunning, and a pathological desire for money, build two empires-one in shipping and another in railroads-that would…


Book cover of Sargent's Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas

Denise Kiernan Author Of We Gather Together: A Nation Divided, a President in Turmoil, and a Historic Campaign to Embrace Gratitude and Grace

From my list on on or by maverick women.

Who am I?

Denise Kiernan is a multiple New York Times bestselling author of narrative nonfiction books including The Girls Of Atomic City, The Last Castle, and We Gather Together. Throughout her career as a journalist and an author, she has explored underrepresented stories and characters and the impact they have had on history. These stories of the unsung offer fresh perspectives on historical tales we think we already know. At the heart of many of Kiernan’s nonfiction explorations are women from a variety of different backgrounds and time periods.

Denise's book list on on or by maverick women

Denise Kiernan Why did Denise love this book?

There are many ways to approach history. Donna Lucey brilliantly chose to usher readers into the world of the Gilded Age via the captivating canvases of that era’s most sought-after portraitist, John Singer Sargent. There are always more stories lurking behind Sargent’s luxurious depictions of his subjects, and Lucey gets beneath the paint and the posing to give us her own picture of four very real women whose lives are far more nuanced than any portrait sitting can convey.

By Donna M. Lucey, Donna M. Lucey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sargent's Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With unprecedented access to newly discovered sources, Donna M. Lucey illuminates the lives of four women painted by the society portraitist John Singer Sargent. With uncanny clairvoyance, Sargent's portraits hint at the mysteries, passions and tragedies that unfolded in his subjects' lives. Elsie Palmer carried on a labyrinthine love life in a Rocky Mountain castle; Elizabeth Chanler stepped into a maze of infidelity with her best friend's husband; as the veiled image of Sally Fairchild emerged on the canvas, her sister was lured into an ill-fated life in art; and shrewd Isabella Stewart Gardner collected both art and young men.…


Book cover of Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Author Of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

From my list on American presidents who left their mark on history.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by power and how people use it. From the time I was tiny, I’ve loved reading about how people left their fingerprint on history, and boy, do presidents leave their mark. Given these interests, it’s unsurprising that I’ve been my career this far examining how early presidents crafted the executive branch. The president’s oversized role in American life is also at the heart of my podcast work (I cohost The Past, The Promise, The Presidency with the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. Each season we explore a different element of the presidency and its relationship to history). In my future scholarship, I plan to continue this exploration long after George Washington left office. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime enjoy these great reads!

Lindsay's book list on American presidents who left their mark on history

Lindsay M. Chervinsky Why did Lindsay love this book?

So much of the early presidency took place out of “office hours.” Social events where women were present were considered apolitical and non-partisan, but of course, women had just as many opinions about politics back in the Early Republic as they do today! Instead, these events served as helpful venues for brokering deals, arranging political marriages, and securing appointments for friends and family members. Wives were also essential partners in campaigns and coalition-building once politicians were in office. You can’t understand the early presidents without understanding the broader social context as well.

By Catherine Allgor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Catherine Allgor describes the various ways genteel elite women during the first decades of the 19th century used ""social events"" and the ""private sphere"" to establish the national capital and to build the extraofficial structures so sorely needed in the infant federal government.


Book cover of The Remains of the Day

Liz Amos Author Of All the Truths Between Us

From my list on helping you seize the day.

Who am I?

Growing up, no one needed to tell me that I’m a highly sensitive person – although they did. The label was confusing: was it a bad thing? I wasn’t sure. So, I tried to keep myself in check and followed my love of words into a legal career. Other people’s books became my refuge: a safe place to explore the full reach of my empathy and find connection. Reading still gives me sanctuary. Only now, since leaving law to become an author and poet myself, I also embrace the emotional rollercoaster of sharing my own creativity. It’s balm for my bittersweet soul.

Liz's book list on helping you seize the day

Liz Amos Why did Liz love this book?

I love this book so much, I don’t know where to start. I’ve pressed it into multiple people’s hands, and I know not everyone feels the same way. But, for me, this novel is perfect. Genuinely perfect.

I find the understated unfolding of gradual self-awareness completely devastating. Here is someone – a butler known as Stevens – who has lived with steadfast adherence to his particular vision of how to make a meaningful contribution to the world.

And slowly, in the space of a few days spent reflecting on his career and life choices, his certainty quietly unravels. The ache and stoicism is just exquisite.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Remains of the Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel Klara and the Sun is now available to preorder*

The Remains of the Day won the 1989 Booker Prize and cemented Kazuo Ishiguro's place as one of the world's greatest writers. David Lodge, chairman of the judges in 1989, said, it's "a cunningly structured and beautifully paced performance". This is a haunting evocation of lost causes and lost love, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change. Ishiguro's work has been translated into more than forty languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Stevens, the long-serving butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on…


Book cover of The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington

Hannah Gurman and Kaeten Mistry Author Of Whistleblowing Nation: The History of National Security Disclosures and the Cult of State Secrecy

From my list on U.S. national security culture and the exposure of secrets.

Who are we?

We are historians of U.S. foreign relations who have written extensively on the Cold War and national security. Both of us were interested in whistleblowing yet knew relatively little about its history. Turns out, we were not alone. Despite lots of popular interest in the topic, we soon discovered that, beyond individual biographies, barely anything is known about the broader history of the phenomenon. With funding from the UK’s Arts and Humanities Council, we led a collaborative research project, which involved historians, literary scholars, and political theorists, as well as whistleblowers, journalists, and lawyers. One of the fruits of the project, Whistleblowing Nation, is the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary history of U.S. national security whistleblowing.


Hannah's book list on U.S. national security culture and the exposure of secrets

Hannah Gurman and Kaeten Mistry Why did Hannah love this book?

Whistleblowers rely on the press to disseminate their disclosures. In matters of national security, however, the press has a long history of close personal and professional bonds with the government that has curbed revelations. The Georgetown Set offers a fascinating glimpse into the small circle of elite officials, journalists, publishers, and public intellectuals who gathered for cocktail and dinner parties in their high-end neighborhood of Washington, DC. In addition to giving a fly-on-the-wall sense of how Cold War policies and public opinion were made, Herken’s book illuminates the individual and cultural shifts that contributed to the rise of national security disclosures in the 1960s and 1970s. This history is essential for understanding how the evolving dynamics between elite politicians and the press continue to shape the culture of whistleblowing and accountability today.

By Gregg Herken,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the years after World War II, Georgetown’s leafy streets were home to an unlikely group of Cold Warriors who helped shape American strategy. This coterie of affluent, well-educated, and connected civilians guided the country, for better and worse, from the Marshall Plan through McCarthyism, Watergate, and Vietnam. The Georgetown set included Phil and Kay Graham, husband-and-wife publishers of The Washington Post; Joe and Stewart Alsop, odd-couple brothers who were among the country’s premier political pundits; Frank Wisner, a driven, manic-depressive lawyer in charge of CIA covert operations; and a host of other diplomats, spies, and scholars. Gregg Herken gives…


Book cover of The Rich: From Slaves to Super-Yachts: A 2,000-Year History

Guido Alfani Author Of As Gods Among Men: A History of the Rich in the West

From my list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general.

Who am I?

Since I was a student, I have been fascinated with social and economic inequality–the more so because back then, my professors seemed to disregard this subject of study. So, I made it one of my own main areas of research: I simply needed to understand more about the nature and the causes of inequality in human societies. In recent years, I have been busy researching economic inequality in different historical settings, also looking at specific socioeconomic strata. I began with the poor, and more recently, I focused on the rich. In my list of recommendations, I included books that, I believe, are particularly insightful concerning wealth and the wealthy.

Guido's book list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general

Guido Alfani Why did Guido love this book?

Among all recent non-academic books on the lives, deeds, and misdeeds of the super-rich across history, John Kampfner’s book is, in my view, the best.

Kampfner selects fascinating examples, ranging from the Classical Age until today, and does not limit himself to the West. His narrative is engaging and often witty.

This is not an academic book, but it is pretty well-researched. Although it makes some concessions to the “eat the rich” tendencies of our times, overall, the book provides a convincing and valuable picture of the sins (and less so, of the virtues) of the most affluent across history.

By John Kampfner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Orwell Prize shortlisted author of Freedom for Sale, The Rich is the fascinating history of how economic elites from ancient Egypt to the present day have gained and spent their money.

Starting with the Romans and Ancient Egypt and culminating with the oligarchies of modern Russia and China, it compares and contrasts the rich and powerful down the ages and around the world. What unites them? Have the same instincts of entrepreneurship, ambition, vanity, greed and philanthropy applied throughout?

As contemporary politicians, economists and the public wrestle with the inequities of our time - the parallel world inhabited…


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