78 books like Holy Land

By D.J. Waldie,

Here are 78 books that Holy Land fans have personally recommended if you like Holy Land. 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 In the Country of Women

William F. Deverell Author Of Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy That Transfixed the Nation

From my list on family in California.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the American West and a professor at the University of Southern California. I also direct the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. I love the way very smart and ambitious family histories illuminate the fascinating (or sometimes mundane) lives of people in the past and, at the same time, use those stories to help us understand bigger-picture issues, eras, and all the turbulence of American life. That little-girl-in-the-well book I wrote is the first time I’ve attempted family history. It was so hard to try to get it right but, at the same time, exhilarating to think that maybe I did.

William's book list on family in California

William F. Deverell Why did William love this book?

Novelist as genealogist, genealogist as novelist. A fiercely loyal portrait of a range of amazing women whose lives feel as if they were fictional, but they were and are not. A tender portrait of several generations of smart and loving mothers, wives, and daughters whose California is not the place of wealth and glamor but rather of making do, getting by, and loving your people and landscapes.

By Susan Straight,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Country of Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year

“Straight’s memoir is a lyric social history of her multiracial clan in Riverside that explores the bonds of love and survival that bind them, with a particular emphasis on the women’s stories . . . The aftereffect of all these disparate stories juxtaposed in a single epic is remarkable. Its resonance lingers for days after reading.” —San Francisco Chronicle

In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women. In inland Southern California, near the desert and…


Book cover of The Browns of California

William F. Deverell Author Of Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy That Transfixed the Nation

From my list on family in California.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the American West and a professor at the University of Southern California. I also direct the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. I love the way very smart and ambitious family histories illuminate the fascinating (or sometimes mundane) lives of people in the past and, at the same time, use those stories to help us understand bigger-picture issues, eras, and all the turbulence of American life. That little-girl-in-the-well book I wrote is the first time I’ve attempted family history. It was so hard to try to get it right but, at the same time, exhilarating to think that maybe I did.

William's book list on family in California

William F. Deverell Why did William love this book?

A sprawling family story that, thanks to the sheer effort and skill of its author, tackles four generations of a political dynasty’s history and shapes it into a history of modern California at the same time. We see the Browns both shaping California and in turn being inexorably shaped by it, and we come away knowing them and knowing the Golden State all the better for this book’s depth and ambition.

By Miriam Pawel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Miriam Pawel's fascinating book . . . illuminates the sea change in the nation's politics in the last half of the 20th century."--New York Times Book Review

California Book Award Gold Medal Winner * Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize * A Los Angeles Times Bestseller * San Francisco Chronicle's "Best Books of the Year" List * Publishers Weekly Top Ten History Books for Fall * Berkeleyside Best Books of the Year * Shortlisted for NCIBA Golden Poppy Award

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist's panoramic history of California and its impact on the nation, from the Gold Rush to…


Book cover of On Gold Mountain: The 100-Year Odyssey of a Chinese-American Family

William F. Deverell Author Of Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy That Transfixed the Nation

From my list on family in California.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the American West and a professor at the University of Southern California. I also direct the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. I love the way very smart and ambitious family histories illuminate the fascinating (or sometimes mundane) lives of people in the past and, at the same time, use those stories to help us understand bigger-picture issues, eras, and all the turbulence of American life. That little-girl-in-the-well book I wrote is the first time I’ve attempted family history. It was so hard to try to get it right but, at the same time, exhilarating to think that maybe I did.

William's book list on family in California

William F. Deverell Why did William love this book?

Richly woven history of immigration, family, and the California Dream as refracted through Chinese newcomers and their Chinese American descendants. The author has two very powerful tools at her disposal – penetrating historical sensibility and a great novelist’s ear for language. Across time and space, family stories, and passed-down memories endure. They all come together in this wonderful book in which California alternates between background and foreground through both hope and disappointment.

By Lisa See,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Gold Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Out of the stories heard in her childhood in Los Angeles's Chinatown and years of research, See has constructed this sweeping chronicle of her Chinese-American family, a work that takes in stories of racism and romance, entrepreneurial genius and domestic heartache, secret marriages and sibling rivalries, in a powerful history of two cultures meeting in a new world. 82 photos.


Book cover of Who Killed Jane Stanford?

William F. Deverell Author Of Kathy Fiscus: A Tragedy That Transfixed the Nation

From my list on family in California.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the American West and a professor at the University of Southern California. I also direct the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. I love the way very smart and ambitious family histories illuminate the fascinating (or sometimes mundane) lives of people in the past and, at the same time, use those stories to help us understand bigger-picture issues, eras, and all the turbulence of American life. That little-girl-in-the-well book I wrote is the first time I’ve attempted family history. It was so hard to try to get it right but, at the same time, exhilarating to think that maybe I did.

William's book list on family in California

William F. Deverell Why did William love this book?

A page-turned, a Gilded Age whodunit, and a case study in how to dig and dig and dig into the historical record. This Stanford professor’s brilliant expose of the Stanford family and the university two of them founded is at its best when it reveals two things: how the public and private worlds of the rich and powerful (then and now) are utterly at odds with one another, and just how strange those private realms could (and can) be. Oh, and a murderer revealed, if but for a moment.

By Richard White,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Who Killed Jane Stanford? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1885 Jane and Leland Stanford co-founded a university to honour their recently deceased young son. After her husband's death in 1893, Jane Stanford, a devoted spiritualist who expected the university to inculcate her values, steered Stanford into eccentricity and public controversy for more than a decade. In 1905 she was murdered in Hawaii, a victim, according to the Honolulu coroner's jury, of strychnine poisoning.

With her vast fortune the university's lifeline, the Stanford president and his allies quickly sought to foreclose challenges to her bequests by constructing a story of death by natural causes. The cover-up gained traction in…


Book cover of Fritz B. Burns and the Development of Los Angeles

Chris Lukather Author Of Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

From my list on Southern California architecture history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in art and architecture. I studied Fine Arts at CalArts. I’ve written three books on Mid-century home builders and designers, William Mellenthin, Jean Vandruff, and Robert Byrd, whose life and work in Southern California had gone mostly unnoticed during their lifetimes—with very little information written about them in the press. I spent three years on each book working with the families to uncover their lives and place in local history. This is information that would have otherwise been lost. When you research the life of one person in this profession, you inevitably learn about the life and work of others—some famous, some not. 

Chris' book list on Southern California architecture history

Chris Lukather Why did Chris love this book?

I was born in Burbank, CA. This book details the early land development deals made by Fritz Burns for new single-family homes in Burbank and the surrounding area beginning in the 1930s.

Fritz Burns was an innovator, showman, and very successful businessman. His office once occupied the historic House of Tomorrow located at the corner of Highland Ave. and Wilshire Blvd. that he commissioned architects Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket to design and build.

He also helped develop the Kaiser tract homes in the San Fernando Valley, and some of the first large hotels in Hawaii in the 1950s. When driving around the neighborhoods of Southern California I’m always searching for historically important buildings and residences.

By James Thomas Keane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fritz B. Burns and the Development of Los Angeles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Keane, James Thomas


Book cover of Courtyard Housing in Los Angeles

Chris Lukather Author Of Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

From my list on Southern California architecture history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in art and architecture. I studied Fine Arts at CalArts. I’ve written three books on Mid-century home builders and designers, William Mellenthin, Jean Vandruff, and Robert Byrd, whose life and work in Southern California had gone mostly unnoticed during their lifetimes—with very little information written about them in the press. I spent three years on each book working with the families to uncover their lives and place in local history. This is information that would have otherwise been lost. When you research the life of one person in this profession, you inevitably learn about the life and work of others—some famous, some not. 

Chris' book list on Southern California architecture history

Chris Lukather Why did Chris love this book?

Having lived in West Hollywood for many years, I have always been interested in the beautiful and historically significant courtyard apartment buildings found throughout the city.

One of the more famous buildings, the Villa Primavera (seen in the Gloria Grahame, Humphrey Bogart film, In a Lonely Place) was designed and built by Arthur and Nina Zwebell in 1923. Their story is quite fascinating, since neither one was formerly trained or a licensed architect.

He designed the building’s exterior, while she designed the interior as well as the furniture.

By Stefanos Polyzoides, Roy Sherwood, J. Tice , Julius Shulman (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Courtyard Housing in Los Angeles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As cities throughout the U.S. struggle with housing shortages, valuable lessons can be learned from the principles thatunderlie the design of the courtyard house. Whether humble or sumptuous in scale, courtyards create a sense of privacyand enhance quality of life by creating the impression of green space for their residents.

Now available in its fifth printing, Courtyard Housing in Los Angeles documents the historical, technical, and cultural forces that shaped the development of this distinctive West Coast building type. The authors's in-depth research andanalysis is enhanced by the inclusion of numerous plans and technical drawings. Julius Shulman's sensuous black-and-whitephotographs document…


Book cover of Case Study Houses: 1945-1962

Chris Lukather Author Of Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

From my list on Southern California architecture history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in art and architecture. I studied Fine Arts at CalArts. I’ve written three books on Mid-century home builders and designers, William Mellenthin, Jean Vandruff, and Robert Byrd, whose life and work in Southern California had gone mostly unnoticed during their lifetimes—with very little information written about them in the press. I spent three years on each book working with the families to uncover their lives and place in local history. This is information that would have otherwise been lost. When you research the life of one person in this profession, you inevitably learn about the life and work of others—some famous, some not. 

Chris' book list on Southern California architecture history

Chris Lukather Why did Chris love this book?

Esther McCoy has long been admired for her writing on architecture in Southern California, particularly on the Case Study House program from 1945-1962.

This is a remarkable story of a once-in-a-lifetime program sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine that brought together legendary architects, hopes and dreams, and some fantastic Mid-century Modern Homes.

Many of these Case Study homes are still standing today, and some are available to tour. You can also look up the addresses of these homes and drive by yourself.

By Esther McCoy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Case Study Houses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since the popular Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit of 1989, Blueprint for Modern Living, much attention has been paid to the pioneering work done by the architects of the Case Study Program. Sponsored by John Entenza's Art & Architectue Magazine, the Case Study Houses program brought new thinking, techniques, and materials to post-war California house building. Contains the work of Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig, Richard Neutra, William Wurster, and others.


Book cover of Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture

Chris Lukather Author Of Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

From my list on Southern California architecture history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in art and architecture. I studied Fine Arts at CalArts. I’ve written three books on Mid-century home builders and designers, William Mellenthin, Jean Vandruff, and Robert Byrd, whose life and work in Southern California had gone mostly unnoticed during their lifetimes—with very little information written about them in the press. I spent three years on each book working with the families to uncover their lives and place in local history. This is information that would have otherwise been lost. When you research the life of one person in this profession, you inevitably learn about the life and work of others—some famous, some not. 

Chris' book list on Southern California architecture history

Chris Lukather Why did Chris love this book?

Alan Hess is the authority on Googie Architecture. He’s written several excellent books on the subject.

His writing style and unique perspective (he’s also an architect) bring insight and authority to everything he writes, which also includes books on Frank Lloyd Wright and John Lautner. The original Googies Coffee Shop, located at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Crescent Heights in West Hollywood, was designed by John Lautner.

If you do some research online, you can find some great old photos of the structure.

By Alan Hess,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The euphoria about the future that followed World War II permeated the outlooks of architects, who, influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and with ready access to remarkable new construction material and building techniques spawned by the war technologies, faced the intriguing prospect of redesigning the post war world. Initially the futuristic designs were outrageous, and detractors labeled these structures the Googie School of Architecture after a particularly outlandish coffee shop in Los Angeles. Googie would seem far from outlandish today as those once controversial design elements have become commonplace in both commercial and residential architecture. Author Alan Hess traces the…


Book cover of Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party

Robert L. Fleegler Author Of Brutal Campaign: How the 1988 Election Set the Stage for Twenty-First-Century American Politics

From my list on explaining today’s polarized US politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a history professor at the University of Mississippi and I've been a political junkie for a long time. I really began following politics during the 1988 presidential election and I vividly remember reading about the race in the newspaper every morning and then watching the evening news coverage each night. Thus, it seemed like the perfect topic for my second book. It was really fascinating to see the similarities and differences between my memories and the sources from the time.

Robert's book list on explaining today’s polarized US politics

Robert L. Fleegler Why did Robert love this book?

This book is engaging because it shows how the base of the Democratic party has changed since Franklin Roosevelt first assembled the New Deal political coalition in the 1930s. 

Today, it is increasingly the party of college-educated suburban voters and reflects their cultural and political priorities. From the Great Depression until the 1960s, however, working-class urban voters formed the heart of the party. Geismer uses metropolitan Boston as a template to depict this important transition, which helped produce suburban candidates such as Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, whose political career emerged from and was shaped by his life in Brookline, MA.  

By Lily Geismer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Blame Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't Blame Us traces the reorientation of modern liberalism and the Democratic Party away from their roots in labor union halls of northern cities to white-collar professionals in postindustrial high-tech suburbs, and casts new light on the importance of suburban liberalism in modern American political culture. Focusing on the suburbs along the high-tech corridor of Route 128 around Boston, Lily Geismer challenges conventional scholarly assessments of Massachusetts exceptionalism, the decline of liberalism, and suburban politics in the wake of the rise of the New Right and the Reagan Revolution in the 1970s and 1980s. Although only a small portion of…


Book cover of Revolutionary Road

Heather Hach Author Of The Trouble with Drowning

From my list on a nod to Broadway.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, forever tap-tap-tapping away on my computer, looking to create that lyrical rhythm on the page that I feel in my heart. I’m also usually singing, whether it’s made up ditties to my dogs, 80s indie pop, or Broadway showtimes. Bottom line, I’m a storyteller, and nothing thrills me as much as a great tale well told, either on the page, on the stage, or around a table. Here are a few stories I’ve loved along the way that include a nod to Broadway, another love of mine long before I was hired to write the book for Legally Blonde the Musical.

Heather's book list on a nod to Broadway

Heather Hach Why did Heather love this book?

I read that Matt Weiner wouldn’t have had the courage to write Mad Men if he’d read this before he worked on the series.

Revolutionary Road is set in the world of New York advertising during the martini lunch era, and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It doesn’t exactly have that Singin’ in the Rain optimism, but it’s darkly hilarious. The opening scene is literary perfection, set at the dress rehearsal for the Laurel Players.

Yates masterfully captures that Waiting for Guffman sincerity (and inherent comedy) of community theater, and the novel sets the stage for the deeply human tale of longing. It is deeply American and deeply perfect.

By Richard Yates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hailed as a masterpiece from its first publication, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary. With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April's decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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