63 books like Harlem Shuffle

By Colson Whitehead,

Here are 63 books that Harlem Shuffle fans have personally recommended if you like Harlem Shuffle. 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 Crime and Punishment

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?

A true classic with themes as equally relevant today as they were over 150 years ago.

I first read it when in HMP Dorchester, a Victorian-era prison that is now closed. Told from the perspective of a student who unintentionally becomes a murderer, it compels the reader to think deeply about how the routes into crime can be many and varied, along with the nature of power.

Whilst very little of the book covers time spent in custody, before the end it shows the main criminal protagonist, Raskalnikov, as achieving a level of redemption. The book also discusses elements of criminology theory, which are still pored over by real university students.

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

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Crime and Punishment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed by Washington Post Book World as “the best [translation] currently available" when it was first published, this second edition has been updated in honor of the 200th anniversary of Dostoevsky’s birth.

With the same suppleness, energy, and range of voices that won their translation of The Brothers Karamazov the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky offer a brilliant translation of Dostoevsky's astounding pyschological thriller, newly revised for his bicentenniel. 

When Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the tsars, commits an act of murder and theft, he sets into motion a story that is…


Book cover of The Mars Room

Andy Mozina Author Of Tandem

From my list on literary with criminal protagonists.

Who am I?

I like books in which there are moral stakes, which sometimes draws me to stories with criminals, and I like when the character at the center of the problem is complex or destabilizes things. Dark humor always helps. Average people should be able to see themselves in some way in the criminal’s bad behavior or at least in their desires. I have published two story collections and two novels. My first collection of short stories won the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award. My fiction has appeared in Tin House, Southern Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. I'm a professor of English at Kalamazoo College. 

Andy's book list on literary with criminal protagonists

Andy Mozina Why did Andy love this book?

A masterful book about a tough subject.

Separated from her young son, Romy Hall is serving two consecutive life sentences for killing a customer from the Mars Room, a strip club where she’d been dancing. Brilliantly written with compassion and dry, dark humor, the book explores Romy’s relationships with her fellow prisoners and the despair, dangers, and absurdities of life behind bars.

I loved this novel’s gritty texture, its sentences, its characters, and how it forced me to think more deeply about why and how we incarcerate people. The final sequence in Muir Woods is heart-pounding, wondrous, devastating, and strangely hopeful.

By Rachel Kushner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018**
**A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND CRITICS' TOP BOOK OF 2018**

'An unforgettable novel.' DAILY TELEGRAPH
'More knowing about prison life [than Orange Is The New Black]... so powerful.' NEW YORK TIMES
'One of America's finest writers.' VOGUE

Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences, plus six years, at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility. Outside is the world from which she has been permanently severed: the San Francisco of her youth, changed almost beyond recognition. The Mars Room strip club where she once gave lap dances for a living. And…


Book cover of Blacktop Wasteland

Tori Eldridge Author Of The Ninja Daughter

From my list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity.

Who am I?

As a multicultural author, born in Honolulu of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent, I am drawn to mainstream thrillers that feature diverse characters and explore non-mainstream cultures. Since I also hold a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and have traveled the United States teaching martial arts and empowerment, authentic fight scenes in fiction are a must! Nothing turns me off quicker than a shallow representation of culturally diverse characters or mundane and improbable action. I strive for authenticity, emotion, and page-turning action in my Lily Wong ninja thrillers, so it’s probably no surprise that I value these elements in the novels I read.

Tori's book list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity

Tori Eldridge Why did Tori love this book?

From the moment I began reading Blacktop Wasteland, I knew S.A. Cosby would become one of crime fiction's most notable authors. His protagonist, Beauregard “Bug” Montage, drew me in and still won't let me go. What I love most are the gray areas between right and wrong, good and bad. There are no easy answers or choices in this strikingly honest look at Black life in the rural South. The action sequences and fights wing as true as Cosby’s characters and dilemmas.

By S.A. Cosby,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Blacktop Wasteland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLERS OF 2020*
*LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER 2020*

'BLACKTOP WASTELAND may be the book of the year.' MICHAEL CONNELLY
'Sensationally good' LEE CHILD
'I loved BLACKTOP WASTELAND' STEPHEN KING
'Stunning. Can't remember the last time I read such a powerful crime novel' MARK BILLINGHAM

"Bug" Montage: honest mechanic, loving family man. He's no longer the criminal he was - the sharpest wheelman east of the Mississippi.

But when his respectable life crumbles, a shady associate comes calling with a one-time job promising a huge payout. Inexorably drawn to the driver's seat - and haunted by…


Book cover of The Dry

Rebecca Tope Author Of A Cotswold Killing

From my list on unexpected twist to a familiar situation.

Who am I?

I grew up on farms, and have experienced the undercurrents that exist in small villages, which is why I like crime novels with rural settings. I worked as a couple counsellor for a while, which taught me that no fictional character can quite equal the real quirks and inconsistencies of real people—but I love those books which get close. Charles Dickens probably does it best! In my own novels I try to achieve something approaching this, in characters who break away from stereotypes and behave unpredictably. I like to think I manage to be witty sometimes, tooI really love humour, especially when it’s wordplay or subtly ironic.

Rebecca's book list on unexpected twist to a familiar situation

Rebecca Tope Why did Rebecca love this book?

Set in Australia, the story opens with a dead man lying in the desert heat. The quest to discover who he is, and what happened to him provide a most satisfying read, involving family feuds and community tensions. I can’t think of another book where I was so desperate to learn what had led to the man’s death—the back story, the reasons and the truth of the various family relationships. The central character is endearing and the slow realisations that dawn on the reader are handled with great skill. I have been to Northern and Western Australia a number of times, so could visualise the setting very well. I am fascinated by the lives of those living in such a hostile environment.

By Jane Harper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'One of the most stunning debuts I've ever read...Read it!' David Baldacci

'Packed with sneaky moves and teasing possibilities that keep the reader guessing...The Dry is a breathless page-turner' Janet Maslin, New York Times

THE SIMON MAYO RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB CHOICE
AUSTRALIA INDIE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017
AUSTRALIA INDIE DEBUT OF THE YEAR 2017

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community…


Book cover of Red Bones

Carole Johnstone Author Of The Blackhouse

From my list on eerie islands.

Who am I?

I’ve been drawn to islands ever since I was a child spending summer holidays ferry-hopping around the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. In 2017 I was lucky enough to be able to live for several months in a remote settlement called Cliff on the Atlantic coast of the Outer Hebrides. It was such a life-changing experience: the isolation, storms, abandoned villages, standing stones, and shipwreck memorials; the beauty and wonder and peace, but also the fear, how vulnerable living somewhere like that can make you feel. How vulnerable you are. My latest novel, The Blackhouse, is a gothic thriller inspired by all the wonderful and eerie islands that I have ever known or read about! 

Carole's book list on eerie islands

Carole Johnstone Why did Carole love this book?

I have read and loved all of Ann Cleeves’ books about Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, set on the Scottish Shetland Islands. Red Bones is about two feuding families with generations of secrets between them, who are somehow involved in at least two murders. Islands, particularly those that are small and/or remote, foster communities that are incredibly tight-knit by necessity – often your survival entirely depends on one another. That has always made me wonder what lengths such communities might go to in order to survive; what secrets they might have to keep, what lies they might have to tell if something terrible happens that could jeopardise their whole existence. My time living on the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides very much inspired The Blackhouse, but it was in no small part also inspired by the wild Shetland Islands as described in Cleeves’ wonderful stories. 

By Ann Cleeves,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The third Shetland novel featuring detective Jimmy Perez.

Sometimes the dead won't stay buried . . .

When a young archaeologist uncovers a set of human remains, the island settlers are intrigued. Is it an ancient find - or a more contemporary mystery?

Then an elderly woman is shot in what appears to be a tragic accident in the middle of the night, Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called to investigate.

The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding…


Book cover of The First Rule of Ten

Melissa F. Miller Author Of Chosen Path

From my list on crime fiction to give you hope for humanity.

Who am I?

I’m a mystery, thriller, and suspense author who’s written dozens of books across five series. In addition to writing crime fiction, I’ve always loved reading in the genre. I’ll take a fast-paced thriller any day. I’ve noticed, over time, that my reading tastes have changed. I gravitate toward crime fiction that features flawed but ethical protagonists who believe, as I do, that light drives out darkness, love is a demonstration of courage, and kindness is a weapon. These five books share this theme in common—all against the backdrop of gripping, high-stakes plots with twists and turns aplenty. These are books that will get your heart racing and give you hope for humanity.

Melissa's book list on crime fiction to give you hope for humanity

Melissa F. Miller Why did Melissa love this book?

At first blush, Ten “Tenzing” Norbu seems to be just another jaded ex-cop turned cynical private investigator with a string of broken promises and a bitter ex. But Ten’s not your average ex-cop. For one thing, he’s also an ex-Buddhist monk. For another, his sidekick is a Persian cat named Tank. A chance encounter with a woman on the run from a cult leads to his first private case when the woman turns up dead. Ten’s reliance on his religious beliefs as he investigates her murder adds depth and meaning to this fast-paced mystery. Imperfect, but trying, Ten wormed his way into my heart over the course of the book.

By Gay Hendricks, Tinker Lindsay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Don't ignore intuitive tickles lest they reappear as sledgehammers.' That's the first rule of Ten. In The First Rule of Ten, Tenzing Norbu ('Ten' for short) - ex-Buddhist monk and soon-to-be-ex-cop - takes on his first case as a private investigator in Los Angeles. Growing up in a Tibetan Monastery, Ten dreamed of becoming a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. So when he was sent to Los Angeles to teach meditation, he joined the LAPD instead. But as the Buddha says, change is inevitable; and ten years later, everything is about to change - big-time - for Ten. One resignation from the…


Book cover of American Woman

Andy Mozina Author Of Tandem

From my list on literary with criminal protagonists.

Who am I?

I like books in which there are moral stakes, which sometimes draws me to stories with criminals, and I like when the character at the center of the problem is complex or destabilizes things. Dark humor always helps. Average people should be able to see themselves in some way in the criminal’s bad behavior or at least in their desires. I have published two story collections and two novels. My first collection of short stories won the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award. My fiction has appeared in Tin House, Southern Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. I'm a professor of English at Kalamazoo College. 

Andy's book list on literary with criminal protagonists

Andy Mozina Why did Andy love this book?

I’m fascinated by novels that treat famous real events from an insider perspective.

In this case, it’s the events following the Symbionese Liberation Army’s kidnapping of Patty Hearst in 1974. Fugitive SLA members, including a character based on Hearst, are sheltered by a former radical, Jenny Shimada (based on Wendy Yoshimura), who is also wanted by the FBI in connection with the bombing of draft offices.

Jenny is a sort of house mother to the volatile fugitives, who hope to write a book while in hiding to raise money for their cause, but inevitably she is drawn into their latest dangerous scheme. Filled with brilliant character studies, the novel astutely shows connections between the tortured personalities of individuals and the public acts they commit which end up shaping our culture. 

By Susan Choi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fictionalization of the Patty Hearst kidnapping focuses on Jenny Shimada, a Japanese-American woman who helps Pauline and her kidnappers during their stay in a New York State farmhouse.


Book cover of The Paper Wasp

Andy Mozina Author Of Tandem

From my list on literary with criminal protagonists.

Who am I?

I like books in which there are moral stakes, which sometimes draws me to stories with criminals, and I like when the character at the center of the problem is complex or destabilizes things. Dark humor always helps. Average people should be able to see themselves in some way in the criminal’s bad behavior or at least in their desires. I have published two story collections and two novels. My first collection of short stories won the Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award. My fiction has appeared in Tin House, Southern Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. I'm a professor of English at Kalamazoo College. 

Andy's book list on literary with criminal protagonists

Andy Mozina Why did Andy love this book?

This is a beautifully written psychological thriller.

At a high school reunion, a polite invitation between old friends—Elise, a successful actor, invites Abby, who is floundering, to visit her in LA—spirals into Abby’s attempt to infiltrate the star’s life. The novel fearlessly plumbs the mysteries and complications of friendship and shows how misguided impulses can gradually take over our psyches.

I’m a fan of big endings, and this novel’s final paragraphs, which cap Abby’s disturbed yet compelling emotional journey, are stunners. 

By Lauren Acampora,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Acampora is an original' Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City

An electrifying debut novel of two women's friendship, a haunting obsession and twisted ambition, set against the feverish backdrop of contemporary Hollywood.

Abby Graven is a dreamer. She dreams her way through her small, lonely life - hiding back at her parents, working at the grocery store. At night, she collects tabloid clippings that taunt her with Elise - her best friend, now Hollywood's hot new starlet.

When a school reunion throws Elise in her path, Abby seizes her chance. With feverish certainty, she boards a one-way flight…


Book cover of Tuareg Jewelry: Traditional Patterns and Symbols

Melissa Addey Author Of A String of Silver Beads

From my list on exploring Morocco’s culture.

Who am I?

On a trip to Morocco, immersed in new sounds, smells, sights, and tastes, I was hit with the idea for a novel about a woman in the 11th century, a time when a Berber ruler took over the whole of North Africa and Spain. It led to many years of research and correspondence with historians, and became not one novel, but four, telling the story of four women’s lives that interweave as a newborn empire rises. The books I have listed here were some of the ones that brought the place, the culture, and the era alive for me. I hope they can do the same for you!

Melissa's book list on exploring Morocco’s culture

Melissa Addey Why did Melissa love this book?

A beautiful record of jewelry from Morocco, exploring symbolism, craftsmanship, and culture. The very first novel I wrote was based on the idea of every chapter being a Moroccan woman receiving a piece of jewelry symbolizing a certain moment in her life and this book was my guide, I pored over the lovely photos, marveled at the intricate designs and really enjoyed learning what each piece meant and its history. 

By Helene E Hagan, Lucile Myers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"For you, it may look like a small unimportant detail, like your thumbnail. But for me, it is the whole vast world. Look at this jewel... here is the ant, here is the hyena, the jackal, the hoof of a horse, that of a gazelle, the sun, the moon, the stars, the good eye... this triangle, this is woman, and here are the eyebrows of the Malignant One, there, laughter... it is all of our lives in one piece of silver." (Translated from the French by Helene E. Hagan, from original Tuareg words of an artisan cited by J. Gabus,…


Book cover of Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830

Susan Stokes-Chapman Author Of Pandora

From my list on researching the Georgian era.

Who am I?

Ever since watching the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, I’ve been fascinated by the Georgian era. At university I always chose modules that connected with the period, which typically focused on the works of Keats, Byron and Shelley. One module introduced me to the essayist William Hazlitt, and my first novel Infelice drew on his illicit love affair with serving girl Sarah Walker. My début Pandora is vastly different, but both novels required a plethora of research. The books I’ve chosen all helped me bring my writing to life, and I hope aspiring novelists with a passion for the Georgians will find these as useful as I have.

Susan's book list on researching the Georgian era

Susan Stokes-Chapman Why did Susan love this book?

Dora Blake—the protagonist in my bookis an aspiring jewellery designer, which meant it was imperative I understood not just how jewellery looked but how it was made. This book ticks both those boxes and more. Not only is it filled with beautiful photographs to make your inner magpie tingle with excitement, it tells the reader a history of how jewellery was fashioned, what was worn in the daytime and evening, as well as the significance of certain gems for certain occasions. Learn all about cut steel, foiled backs, and harlequin jewels, the language of flowers, memento mori, cameos, and lover’s eyes, all delivered in a wonderfully accessible conversational tone. A truly fascinating book that is also a feast for the eyes!

By Ginny Redington Dawes, Olivia Collings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Georgian Jewellery is a celebration of the style and excellence of the eighteenth century, and of the ingenuity that produced such a wealth of fabulous jewellery.

Heavy academic tomes have already been written about the period, but this book examines it in a more colourful and accessible way. The book aims to show that Georgian jewellery is not only the stuff of museums and safe boxes, but that it can be worn as elegantly and fashionably today as it was 200 years ago.

Much disparate information about the jewellery has been gathered together and the period is brought alive by…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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