91 books like House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories

By Yasunari Kawabata,

Here are 91 books that House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories fans have personally recommended if you like House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Tale of Kieu: Truyen Kieu

Patrick Holland Author Of The Darkest Little Room

From my list on prostitution and prostitutes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Prostitution is a thing one has to go looking for to get even a glimpse of in Australia. Since I first travelled, I realised how aberrant this is, and I became fascinated with the implications of making what for many of us is sacred into something transactional. Prostitution, certainly in Asia, where its relationship with ‘normal’ society is more complex than in the West, and where great economic disparity can mean it is a thing that may be both enslaving and freeing, is a fascinating subject for fiction, and one my work has often taken up.

Patrick's book list on prostitution and prostitutes

Patrick Holland Why did Patrick love this book?

The Tale of Kieu is an early 19th Century epic poem and the cornerstone of Vietnamese literature. Adapted from a 17th Century Chinese novel, it is the story of a beautiful, well-to-do young woman forced into prostitution to save her family from destitution in a time of great government corruption and civil unrest. The poem is so revered in Vietnam that there is a popular branch of fortune-telling that uses it for predictions, and Kieu’s sacrifice is seen as mirroring the sacrifices Vietnamese have made in times of war and hardship, even across the centuries before the poem was written. The poem is bejewelled with beautiful lines, and presents a unique depiction of a woman who retains her dignity despite the many who try to rob her of it.

By Nguyen Du,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Tale of Kieu is an epic poem in Vietnamese written by Nguyen Du (1766-1820), and is widely regarded as the most significant work of Vietnamese literature. In 3,254 verses, written in luc bat (6/8) meter, the poem recounts the life, trials and tribulations of Thuy Kieu, a beautiful and talented young woman, who had to sacrifice herself to save her family. To save her father and younger brother from prison, she sold herself into marriage with a middle-aged man, not knowing that he is a pimp, and was forced into prostitution.


Book cover of Boule de Suif: Maupassant

Patrick Holland Author Of The Darkest Little Room

From my list on prostitution and prostitutes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Prostitution is a thing one has to go looking for to get even a glimpse of in Australia. Since I first travelled, I realised how aberrant this is, and I became fascinated with the implications of making what for many of us is sacred into something transactional. Prostitution, certainly in Asia, where its relationship with ‘normal’ society is more complex than in the West, and where great economic disparity can mean it is a thing that may be both enslaving and freeing, is a fascinating subject for fiction, and one my work has often taken up.

Patrick's book list on prostitution and prostitutes

Patrick Holland Why did Patrick love this book?

Maupassant’s story takes its name from the chubby prostitute at its centre, nicknamed ‘Bowl of Fat’. At the time of Prussian occupation of France, a group of petty bourgeoisie, upper bourgeoisie, noble and religious people encourage her to offer herself to a Prussian officer in return for the freedom to travel through an occupied town to Le Havre. Through this short novel, Maupassant reveals the hypocrisy and moral poverty of those who sit in the layers of society above such outcasts as ‘Boule de suif’ and, by contrast, both the moral solidity and even innocence of the ‘fallen woman’ herself.

By Guy de Maupassant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Henry-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant est un écrivain et journaliste littéraire français né le 5 août 1850 au château de Miromesnil à Tourville-sur-Arques (Seine-Inférieure) et mort le 6 juillet 1893 à Paris.Lié à Gustave Flaubert et à Émile Zola, Maupassant a marqué la littérature française par ses six romans, dont Une vie en 1883, Bel-Ami en 1885, Pierre et Jean en 1887-1888, et surtout par ses nouvelles (parfois intitulées contes) comme Boule de suif en 1880, les Contes de la bécasse (1883) ou Le Horla (1887). Ces œuvres retiennent l’attention par leur force réaliste, la présence importante du fantastique et par le…


Book cover of On the City Wall

Patrick Holland Author Of The Darkest Little Room

From my list on prostitution and prostitutes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Prostitution is a thing one has to go looking for to get even a glimpse of in Australia. Since I first travelled, I realised how aberrant this is, and I became fascinated with the implications of making what for many of us is sacred into something transactional. Prostitution, certainly in Asia, where its relationship with ‘normal’ society is more complex than in the West, and where great economic disparity can mean it is a thing that may be both enslaving and freeing, is a fascinating subject for fiction, and one my work has often taken up.

Patrick's book list on prostitution and prostitutes

Patrick Holland Why did Patrick love this book?

I’m cheating a little here, as technically Kipling’s On the City Wall is a long story rather than a book itself, though I notice it’s recently been published as a standalone, and can be found in both Kipling’s Collected Stories and the original collection it appeared in, Soldiers Three. The story concerns a beautiful Punjabi courtesan called Lalun who welcomes ‘guests’ from all strata of society to her house on the ancient city wall of Lahore. Unlike the commonly depicted ‘fallen woman’, Lalun is a woman of significant wealth, great influence, and, especially, power over men. The story is full of wonderful comic ironies, lavish descriptions of a historical city, and the relationship at the heart of it, between Lalun and a fawning British official, is an enthralling study of matters romantic, spiritual and political.

By Rudyard Kipling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the City Wall is a short story by Rudyard Kipling. Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He wrote tales and poems of British soldiers in India and stories for children. He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old. Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (a collection of stories which includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"), the Just So Stories (1902), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would…


Book cover of The World of Suzie Wong

Tom Carter Author Of Unsavory Elements: Stories of Foreigners on the Loose in China

From my list on Chinese prostitution and vice.

Why am I passionate about this?

Peeking over the American fence, I found myself in China in 2004 as the nation was transitioning from its quaint 1980s/90s self into the futuristic “China 2.0” we know it today. My occupation, like many expats, was small-town English teacher. I later departed for what would become a two-year backpacking sojourn across all 33 Chinese provinces, the first foreigner on record to do so. Since then, I have published three books about China; my anthology Unsavory Elements was intended as a well-meaning tribute to the expatriate experience, however my own essay – a bawdy account of a visit to a rural brothel – was understandably demonized. The following five books expand on that illicit theme.

Tom's book list on Chinese prostitution and vice

Tom Carter Why did Tom love this book?

This story is so sweet and funny, I must have read it a dozen times since first arriving in China. That a Western male writer conceived a female Chinese character as charming and relatable as Suzie without ever straying into offensive farce really says something about the author, Richard Mason’s, craft. His prose is old-school eloquent, and deftly includes the smallest details that bring Suzie, a naughty yet affectionate hooker with a big heart, and her 1950s Hong Kong brothel settings, to vivid life. If I had only five desert-island books, The World of Suzie Wong would be one of them.

By Richard Mason,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Penguin Books reintroduces the timeless story of the love affair between a British artist and a Chinese prostitute.

Robert is t he only resident of the Nam Kok hotel not renting his room by the hour when he meets Suzie at the bar. She becomes his muse and they fall in love. But even in Hong Kong, where many white expatriates have Chinese mistresses, their romance could jeopardize the things they each hold dear. Set in the mid-1950s, The World of Suzie Wong is a beautifully written time capsule of a novel. First published more than fifty years ago, it…


Book cover of The Governesses

Olivia Gatwood Author Of Life of the Party: Poems

From my list on poets who want to write fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing poetry for most of my life and only recently began a real crash course in fiction with my first novel. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but not for the reasons I thought. In poetry, you learn to locate meaning, but you don’t learn narrative structure. Who knew being an existential genius was easier than finishing a sentence? Once I started studying literature that I felt embodied both, I was able to visualize how my poetic voice wasn’t just applicable, but useful, in the world of fiction.

Olivia's book list on poets who want to write fiction

Olivia Gatwood Why did Olivia love this book?

This French novella was written in the early ’90s but translated in 2019 to English for the first time. It lacks structure and is full of plot holes, but Serre’s writing is equal parts whimsical and erotic. It feels a bit like she wrote it in one sitting during some kind of fever dream but that’s why it feels like a poem. If you’re into chaotic women and turn of the century kink, then this is for you.

By Anne Serre, Mark Hutchinson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a large country house shut off from the world by a gated garden, three young governesses responsible for the education of a group of little boys are preparing a party. The governesses, however, seem to spend more time running around in a state of frenzied desire than attending to the children's education. One of their main activities is lying in wait for any passing stranger, and then throwing themselves on him like drunken Maenads. The rest of the time they drift about in a kind of sated, melancholy calm, spied upon by an old man in the house opposite,…


Book cover of We the Animals

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan Author Of Big Girl

From my list on LGBTQ+ folks of color getting free.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a novelist and a professor of black queer and feminist literature at Georgetown University. But the truth is, my connection to these books goes deeper than that. These books give me life. When I was a little girl, I spent more days than I can count scouring my mother’s small black feminist library in the basement of our home in Harlem, poring over the stories of girls like me: fat, black, queer girls who longed to see themselves written in literature and history. Now I get to create stories like these myself, and share them with others. It’s a dream job, and a powerful one. It thrills me every time. 

Mecca's book list on LGBTQ+ folks of color getting free

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan Why did Mecca love this book?

Justin Torres’s exquisite novel will make you want to beam and bawl and fight in all the best ways.

It tells the story of a clear-eyed, tender-hearted boy navigating a world where true safety is hard to find. As he comes of age in rural New York State in the 1980s, messages about masculinity, race, sexuality, and the expectations of family swirl around him, often violently, punctuating the world of inquisitive play he and his two older brothers create together.

We witness as Torres’s narrator fights for a vision of his own freedom, a complex fight that resists tidy endings, offering echoing truths instead. 

By Justin Torres,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked We the Animals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Three brothers tear their way through childhood - smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from rubbish, hiding when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn - he's Puerto Rican, she's white. Barely out of childhood themselves, their love is a serious, dangerous thing. Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins…


Book cover of A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories

Eliza Robertson Author Of Demi-Gods

From my list on featuring transgressive mothers.

Why am I passionate about this?

While it only simmers in the background of Demi-Gods, I find myself returning to this theme in my fiction — of mothers behaving badly. The topic fascinates me because we live in a society that idealizes the Mother. So much so that we have removed sex and desire from this archetype. We even made Mary, the “universal mother,” a virgin. As someone with a womb, society expects me to have children. (I don’t yet.) Fiction has provided a space for me to disentangle my own thoughts around motherhood — on what I might claim for myself, and what I absolutely refuse to take on. 

Eliza's book list on featuring transgressive mothers

Eliza Robertson Why did Eliza love this book?

Many of the characters in this story collection work in unappreciated, underpaid, and unseen labor: as caregivers, nurses, cleaners, switchboard operators, administrators, substitute teachers. The stories are rooted in Berlin’s own experience as a mother, worker, and alcoholic.

A lot of authors are famous for writing “working class” stories — but many of them are men. I love this collection because it centers the story on working-class women, who often happen to be mothers raising their children alone. 

Lucia Berlin didn’t receive much attention as an author in her lifetime, but she writes with a skill, shrewdness, and vulnerability that places her among the very best. While some of the stories in this collection are sorrowful, others are funny, even uplifting. Whether from laughter or sadness, I was frequently moved to tears.

By Lucia Berlin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Manual for Cleaning Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrating Fifty Years of Picador Books

The world just goes along. Nothing much matters, you know? I mean really matters. but then sometimes, just for a second, you get this grace, this belief that it does matter, a whole lot.

With an introduction from Lydia Davis

Lucia Berlin's stories in A Manual for Cleaning Women make for one of the most remarkable unsung collections in twentieth-century American fiction.

With extraordinary honesty and magnetism, Lucia Berlin invites us into her rich, itinerant life: the drink and the mess and the pain and the beauty and the moments of surprise and of…


Book cover of The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial

Blessin Adams Author Of Great and Horrible News: Murder and Mayhem in Early Modern Britain

From my list on bloody true crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an ex-police officer, I have experienced many of the things that I write about, albeit in the modern age: I’ve investigated scenes of sudden and violent death, attended post-mortems, and chased the odd suspected criminal through the streets. After a few years on the beat, I left the force and went to university as a mature student, where I received a PhD for my research into early modern law and literature. I now combine my love of all things true crime with my passion for early modern legal history in the books I write about historical crime, murder, and violent death.

Blessin's book list on bloody true crime

Blessin Adams Why did Blessin love this book?

I’ll never forget this book because it put me front and center of a murder trial from the perspective of the victim’s family.

Imagine sitting in court and looking into the eyes of the man who killed your nearest and dearest. What would that feel like? How would I even begin to process that experience?

I found this story really opened a whole new perspective in the genre of true crime writing. 

By Maggie Nelson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Selected as a Book of the Year 2017 in the Guardian

'Maggie Nelson's short, singular books feel pretty light in the hand... But in the head and the heart, they seem unfathomably vast, their cleverness and odd beauty lingering on' Observer

In 1969, Jane Mixer, a first-year law student at the University of Michigan, posted a note on a student noticeboard to share a lift back to her hometown of Muskegon for spring break. She never made it: she was brutally murdered, her body found a few miles from campus the following day.

The Red Parts is Maggie Nelson's singular…


Book cover of Hotel Iris

Wayne Johnson Author Of Don't Think Twice

From my list on exploring the hidden sides of life, while being entertained, amused, and horrified.

Why am I passionate about this?

Murder mysteries, thrillers, whodunnits, all in the context of the "Indian," or Native American, experience, that's my subject. But really I'm writing about family and friends. Love letters to a people and life. My mother's father was native, and I lived and worked near and on two reservations growing up, White Earth and Red Lake. My novel, for example, was written out of my experience of being a hunting/fishing guide for Sabaskong Bay Lodge. My current work, about the Indian Boarding School genocide, has been inspired by first-person witness to that atrocity.   

Wayne's book list on exploring the hidden sides of life, while being entertained, amused, and horrified

Wayne Johnson Why did Wayne love this book?

This book is a compelling and, at times, shockingly revealing story of a love that cannot be, should not be, but is. 

Seventeen-year-old Mari, after an altercation at the hotel where she works, becomes involved with the perpetrator of it, a much older man of, to all but Mari, unacceptable morals. Through its unsparingly graphic depiction of the lovers’ sometimes extreme but mutual intimacies, Ogawa’s novel navigates the rarely explored region between violence and impassioned love.

By Yoko Ogawa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A tale of twisted love from Yoko Ogawa―author of The Diving Pool and The Housekeeper and the Professor.

In a crumbling seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother tends to the off-season customers. When one night they are forced to expel a middle-aged man and a prostitute from their room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man's voice, in what will become the first gesture of a single long seduction. In spite of her provincial surroundings, and her cool but controlling mother, Mari is a sophisticated observer of human desire,…


Book cover of The Underworld Sewer: A Prostitute Reflects on Life in the Trade, 1871-1909

Jody Hadlock Author Of The Lives of Diamond Bessie

From my list on 19th century prostitutes.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young teenager, I lived in a small Texas town and loved touring the Victorian “gingerbread” homes full of antiques. I had an overwhelming desire to time travel back to the mid-1800s. When I learned of Diamond Bessie’s story, I was immediately intrigued because of the period, and also by the circumstances of her life. Why does a woman enter the world’s oldest profession? I discovered that I absolutely love research and “time traveled” back to that era by devouring everything I could get my hands on about life in the 19th century, especially for a marginalized woman like Bessie. 

Jody's book list on 19th century prostitutes

Jody Hadlock Why did Jody love this book?

After not being able to find a publisher in the early 1900s, Josie Washburn self-published her memoir. In The Underworld Sewer, Josie not only describes her life as a prostitute and madam, but she also debunks the notion at the time that women became prostitutes to “satisfy their own unnatural lusts.” Josie wanted to educate the public about the true horrors and plight of the unfortunate women who had to resort to prostitution to survive and, ultimately, to motivate the public to effect change. Her memoir is as much a scathing commentary on society’s double standards as it is an account of her life as a demi-mondaine.

By Josie Washburn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For twenty years Josie Washburn lived and worked in houses of prostitution. She spent the last twelve as the madam of a moderately fancy brothel in Lincoln, Nebraska. After retiring in 1907 and moving to Omaha, she turned to "throwing a searchlight on the underworld," including the "cribs" of Nebraska's largest city. The Underworld Sewer, based on her own experience in the profession, blazes with a kind of honesty unavailable to more conventional moral reformers. Originally published in 1909, The Underworld Sewer asks why "the social evil" is universally considered necessary or inevitable. Washburn minces no words in exposing the…


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