98 books like I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

By Ally Carter,

Here are 98 books that I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You fans have personally recommended if you like I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You. 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 Harriet the Spy

Annie Barrows Author Of The Best of Iggy

From my list on classic heroes with poor impulse control.

Who am I?

I am the author of The Best of Iggy, which is the first in a series of middle-grade books about nine-year-old Iggy Frangi, who never met an impulse he didn’t like, and therefore is often in trouble with cold, calculating types like, for instance, grownups. In Iggy’s opinion—and mine—he is creative, brave, resourceful, hardworking, and absolutely full to the brim of good intentions. He’s also really really sorry about the thing he did to his teacher. He thought it would be funny. But it wasn’t. He knows that now, and he’ll never do it again. Though he’ll probably do something else. Oh well. At least he has the following heroes for company.

Annie's book list on classic heroes with poor impulse control

Annie Barrows Why did Annie love this book?

Unlike the sensitive, bullied, internally or externally wounded protagonist common in today’s mid-grade novels, Harriet the Spy is tenacious and smart and fights fire with fire. What a hero! 

She sneaks into buildings to spy on unsuspecting grownups; she keeps a notebook to record her uncomfortably truth-filled observations of her schoolmates; and when she is ostracized because of it, she first retaliates with ferocity and then lies through her teeth, which effectively rehabilitates her.

Harriet the Spy is a refreshingly honest look at social hypocrisy, with an admirable hero who won’t back down and won’t stop being herself. If it were published now, it would probably be banned. 

By Louise Fitzhugh,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Harriet the Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

First published in 1974, a title in which Harriet M. Welsch, aspiring author, keeps a secret journal in which she records her thoughts about strangers and friends alike, but when her friends find the notebook with all its revelations, Harriet becomes the victim of a hate campaign.

Book cover of A Spy in the House

Kathleen Baldwin Author Of A School for Unusual Girls

From my list on secret spy schools for girls.

Who am I?

Spy stories have always captivated me. This fascination grew after I learned that throughout history, many women worked behind the scenes as key spies. How cool is that? So, I decided to write a girls' spy school set in Jane Austen's world. Junior Library Guild said this about A School for Unusual Girls, “An outstanding alternative history series entry and a must-have for teen libraries.” Scholastic licensed the series for their school book fairs. Ian Bryce, the producer of Spiderman, Transformers, Saving Private Ryan, and other blockbusters, optioned it for film. To date, more than 600,000 copies of my award-winning historical novels are in the hands of readers around the globe.

Kathleen's book list on secret spy schools for girls

Kathleen Baldwin Why did Kathleen love this book?

I absolutely loved this series! The heroine is a young woman struggling to survive the harsh streets of Victorian England. Caught stealing, Mary Quinn is convicted and sentenced to hang. However, the Agency rescues her from the noose and provides her with an education. In return, she trains to work as an investigative agent among the upper-class society of London. These books expose the realistic darker side of that world, but if you could handle Oliver Twist, you can handle these. Lee captured the mystery and intrigue so brilliantly I could not put them down.

By Y. S. Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Spy in the House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A colourful, action-packed Victorian detective novel centred around the exploits of "agent" Mary Quinn.

At a young age, Mary is rescued from the gallows by a woman masquerading as a prison warden. She is taken to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. The school, Mary learns, is a front for a private investigation agency and, at 17, she is taken on as an agent. In her new role she is catapulted into the family home of the Thorolds to investigate the shady business dealings of Mr Thorold.

Book cover of Grave Mercy

Liza Street Author Of Blood Bounty

From my list on historical fantasy with a touch of romance.

Who am I?

As an author and a lifelong lover of books, I read all genres. My favorites are set in fantastical worlds with unique settings. The mash-up of history and fantasy is endlessly compelling to me, and I always want to see a romantic subplot (or main plot!) in the books I read. I want a happily-ever-after even when the strange world and its villains are conspiring against the main characters. 

Liza's book list on historical fantasy with a touch of romance

Liza Street Why did Liza love this book?

Set in the mid-1400s in France, this series starter contains action, court intrigue, romance, and assassin nuns! I read it years ago and it remains a favorite, not only for the beautiful language, but for the strong heroine, Ismae, and her journey from following the rules and doing as she’s been told, to learning how to discern right from wrong and follow the guidance of her own moral compass. This is a book I would love to watch as a movie, not only for the action, but the costumes.

By Robin LaFevers,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Grave Mercy 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?

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
     Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high…

Book cover of Etiquette & Espionage

Susan Corso Author Of Jezebel Rising

From my list on subversive historical fiction.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading historical fiction since childhood—it’s my preferred method for learning history. I want to know who people were in an everyday way, not as broad-brush reporting. My tastes are not limited to particular eras although I do my best to skip as much battle detail as I can. I like historical fiction that has character as its throughline. Who are these people? What do/did they want? How did they get it? I think my theatre background and training are what make me ask questions like these. What did they have for dinner? What did they talk about? Their excesses, their eccentricities, their excellences.

Susan's book list on subversive historical fiction

Susan Corso Why did Susan love this book?

Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. A finishing school? Um, ye-ees. For spies. Spies? Uh-huh. On a dirigible. A—what? In a culture where vampires and werewolves are part of society. Wrapped in a huge steampunk bow. Etiquette and espionage. Curtsies and conspiracies. Waistcoats and weaponry. Manners and mutiny. What could possibly go wrong? (What can’t?) Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse is their entirely diabolically magical setting. Her writing is laugh-out-loud clever, witty as Noel Coward, deeply principled, and there are tons more. I started with the Alexia Tarabotti seven and read every single one. I’d do it again, too. Her heroines make my heart go pitter-pat. With glee.

By Gail Carriger,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Etiquette & Espionage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners-and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might…

Book cover of United We Spy

Aly Kay Tibbitts Author Of Operation Latensification: HADES

From my list on young adult for spy lovers.

Who am I?

One fateful day in 4th grade, after finishing the Chronicles of Narnia, I picked up a YA spy novel off my teacher’s bookshelf. I never went back. I was immediately drawn to the depth of the characters, the nuance of how their public persona didn’t always match their internal thoughts, and their ability to succeed when no one thought they could. Eventually, what I read became what I wrote. Now, whenever I get overwhelmed, I love to turn to the genre that helped me through High School. Whether I reread old favorites, revisit my own stories, or find new friends, these characters remind me I can do anything.

Aly's book list on young adult for spy lovers

Aly Kay Tibbitts Why did Aly love this book?

If Alex Rider introduced me to YA spy novels, Cammie Morgan solidified my love of the genre. She was a character that reminded me of myself, and I desperately wanted to attend the Gallagher Academy so I could be her friend.

As the final book in the series, United We Spy handles something that terrifies Young Adults: entering Adulthood. Somehow, reading how Cammie was able to survive the transition from child to legal adult (while defeating a terrorist organization no less), it made me believe I could survive graduating High School and beginning College.

By Ally Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked United We Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The sixth book in the Gallagher Girls series leads Cammie and her spy school friends to another wildly entertaining mission. With new assignments to tail and capture, the final book in the globally bestselling series results in an explosive finale!

Book cover of American Spy

Keith B. Richburg Author Of Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa

From my list on Africa about journalists, diplomats, and spies.

Who am I?

I’ve been a journalist since high school and I spent 33 years as a reporter for The Washington Post, mostly as a foreign correspondent based in Asia, Africa, and Paris. My book Out Of America chronicled my three years as a correspondent in Africa during some of its most tumultuous events, the Somalia intervention, and the Rwanda genocide. I’ve always thought a well-crafted novel often captures a place or a time better than nonfiction — books like The Quiet American about the Vietnam War, and The Year of Living Dangerously about Indonesia. I now teach a university course on The Role of the Journalist in Popular Fiction, Film and Comics.

Keith's book list on Africa about journalists, diplomats, and spies

Keith B. Richburg Why did Keith love this book?

This book is probably best known for making Barack Obama’s summer reading list. The story of a Black American woman working for the FBI who gets recruited by the CIA for a Cold War mission to befriend, and ultimately undermine, the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso is the type of historical fiction I love, a spy thriller based on true events and taken directly from the headlines of the 1980s. Wilkinson brilliantly weaves together a story of race, class, gender, identity, and above all patriotism and loyalty.

By Lauren Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



'A whole lot more than just a spy thriller, wrapping together the ties of family, of love and of country' BARACK OBAMA

'There has never been anything like it' MARLON JAMES (GQ)

'A compelling read' MAIL ON SUNDAY

'Pacy and very exciting' DAILY TELEGRAPH

What if your sense of duty required you to betray the man you love?

It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War. Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant and talented, but she's also…

Book cover of Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities

Jim Popkin Author Of Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America's Most Dangerous Female Spy--And the Sister She Betrayed

From my list on nonfiction spy books to read in one day.

Who am I?

I covered the FBI and CIA for years, first as a print reporter in Washington and then as the head of the NBC News investigative unit. So I have covered my fair share of spy scandals, and with my colleague Pete Williams helped NBC break the story of Robert Hanssen’s arrest. I was immediately drawn to the Ana Montes Cuba spy story when it broke and then learned that Montes had bought her condo from my close friend and college roommate, John. That meant I had spent hours inside Ana’s DC apartment, and that odd connection rooted me in her story in a deeper way.  

Jim's book list on nonfiction spy books to read in one day

Jim Popkin Why did Jim love this book?

Dan Golden is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who exposes how enemies of the United States are using our universities and graduate schools as recruitment centers for a new generation of spies.

Russian, Chinese, and of course, Cuban intelligence services are having a field day exploiting our open system to identify and turn their newest recruits (yes, our government returns the favor abroad.)

Spy Schools has an excellent chapter on Ana Montes, the Cuban agent who is the subject of my book. There’s also juicy information on the American woman who recruited Ana as a spy when they both were attending SAIS, the Johns Hopkins graduate school in Washington. 

By Daniel Golden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Grounded in extensive research and reporting, Spy Schools reveals how academia has emerged as a frontline in the global spy game. In a knowledge based economy, universities are repositories of valuable information and research, where brilliant minds of all nationalities mingle freely with few questions asked. Intelligence agencies have always recruited bright undergraduates but now, in an era when espionage increasingly requires specialized scientific ortechnological expertise, they"re wooing higher-level academics, not just as analysts but also for clandestine operations. Deterred by student protests and faculty hostility during the Vietnam era, the ClAand other security agencies are back - driven by…

Book cover of Spy School

David A. Kelly Author Of The Fenway Foul-Up

From my list on kids with a touch of mystery and adventure.

Who am I?

As the father of two boys, I know how hard it can be to get kids engaged in reading. My boys were excited about mysteries and sports, which is why I created The Ballpark Mysteries series, in which cousins Kate and Mike solve mysteries at different MLB stadiums. By including facts and history in the books I can also engage readers who like real-life stories. For me, the best mystery and adventure chapter books for kids will meet readers where they are and take them on an exciting (and perhaps even scary or thrilling) journey while keeping them safe in their chairs and coming back for more. 

David's book list on kids with a touch of mystery and adventure

David A. Kelly Why did David love this book?

A step up in reading level from some of the other books on my list, the Stuart Gibbs Spy School series gives readers looking for mystery and adventure something to sink their teeth into. Young readers will feel like secret agents as they trail Ben Ripley, a nerdy middle grade student, as he spies and sleuths his way through what turns out to be a CIA junior academy. I like the way the books move along quickly, like a Dan Brown novel, and also keep the humor flowing. 

By Stuart Gibbs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spy School as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“Combines Alex Rider’s espionage skills with a huge dose of the sarcasm of Artemis Fowl.” —School Library Journal

Can an undercover nerd become a superstar agent? In the first book in the New York Times bestselling Spy School series, Ben Ripley sure hopes so—and his life may depend on it!

Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: CIA or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness,…

Book cover of Ace of Spades

Gabriella Lepore Author Of Bad Like Us

From my list on whodunit mystery books from a huge mystery fan.

Who am I?

Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from Wales in the UK. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline or perusing a bookstore. She enjoys autumn days and cups of tea and is always searching for the next mystery!

Gabriella's book list on whodunit mystery books from a huge mystery fan

Gabriella Lepore Why did Gabriella love this book?

This book carved its place in the YA genre.

Who lurks behind the ominous alias “Aces”? With its compelling narrative and prose, this book fearlessly confronts weighty topics like racism and homophobia.

It captivates with its brisk pace and emotional impact. And the ending was a twist I did not see coming.

By Faridah Abike-Iyimide,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of The Gifted School

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Author Of Girls with Bright Futures

From my list on college admissions mania.

Who are we?

When each of our older boys were in the midst of the college admissions process, our husbands suffered life-threatening health crises. It was such a bizarre coincidence that we both experienced intense brushes with mortality during this time of high anxiety. The juxtaposition between health and college admissions gave us a unique perspective and led us to explore the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities. We had entirely plotted Girls With Bright Futures and were nearly through the first draft when the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal broke in March 2019. We felt like the headlines had been ripped from our manuscript!

Tracy's book list on college admissions mania

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Why did Tracy love this book?

Holsinger’s debut novel was published in 2019, only a few months after the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal burst into public view, capturing the attention of a horrified nation. While The Gifted School tells the story of four friends in Colorado as their children are applying (and the parents jockeying) for admission to a middle school for gifted and talented students, the parenting mania themes are cut from the same cloth. With humor and wisdom, Holsinger deftly handles the intricacies and dynamics within and across each of the four families. The twists and turns are surprising, the characters extremely well-drawn, and readers are guaranteed to cringe as the parents in the story make one bad decision after another, suffering under—and ultimately succumbing to—the weight of their anxieties. Delicious fun!

By Bruce Holsinger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


"Wise and addictive... The Gifted School is the juiciest novel I've read in ages... a suspenseful, laugh-out-loud page-turner and an incisive inspection of privilege, race and class."--J. Courtney Sullivan in The New York Times

"The summer read that predicted the college-admissions scandal." -The Wall Street Journal

Smart and juicy, a compulsively readable novel about a previously happy group of friends and parents that is nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the community

This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children…

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