100 books like In the Country of Women

By Susan Straight,

Here are 100 books that In the Country of Women fans have personally recommended if you like In the Country of Women. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Becoming Los Angeles: Myth, Memory, and a Sense of Place

Mary Camarillo Author Of The Lockhart Women

From my list on life in the real Southern California.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was transferred to Southern California from Charlotte, North Carolina when I was fourteen years old. I was excited and my friends were jealous. At that point, all I knew about California was the music of the Beach Boys and the Gidget television series. I thought everyone lived on the beach and knew movie stars. I didn’t know there were neighborhoods like Reseda and Anaheim and Fountain Valley, places where people live lives that have nothing to do with the glamour and celebrity of Hollywood. California has been my home for more than fifty years. I still find it fascinating and puzzling, and I still feel like an outsider.

Mary's book list on life in the real Southern California

Mary Camarillo Why did Mary love this book?

D.J. Waldie elegantly captures the essence of the ordinary in this beautiful collection of essays. He has lived and worked in Lakewood, California his entire life and he doesn’t drive, which is remarkable in Southern California. Instead, he walks, he observes, and he writes about the kinds of Southern California neighborhoods that I know. I wish that I could describe the sky and the light as accurately and poetically as Waldie does. He has taught me to walk slower and pay attention. His stories of the history of Los Angeles are equally compelling. Waldie says he writes “about sacred and humanizing Los Angeles because I find myself there.” How fortunate for us all!

By D.J. Waldie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Best-selling author and beloved chronicler of Los Angeles D.J. Waldie reconsiders the city in a collection of contemporary essays.

Nobody sees Los Angeles with more eloquence than D. J. Waldie.
– Susan Brenneman, Los Angeles Times Deputy Op-Ed Editor

Becoming Los Angeles, a new collection by the author of the acclaimed memoir Holy Land, blends history, memory, and critical analysis to illuminate how Angelenos have seen themselves and their city. Waldie’s particular concern is commonplace Los Angeles, whose rhythms of daily life are set against the gaudy backdrop of historical myth and Hollywood illusion. It’s through sacred ordinariness that Waldie…


Book cover of Flower Grand First

Mary Camarillo Author Of The Lockhart Women

From my list on life in the real Southern California.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was transferred to Southern California from Charlotte, North Carolina when I was fourteen years old. I was excited and my friends were jealous. At that point, all I knew about California was the music of the Beach Boys and the Gidget television series. I thought everyone lived on the beach and knew movie stars. I didn’t know there were neighborhoods like Reseda and Anaheim and Fountain Valley, places where people live lives that have nothing to do with the glamour and celebrity of Hollywood. California has been my home for more than fifty years. I still find it fascinating and puzzling, and I still feel like an outsider.

Mary's book list on life in the real Southern California

Mary Camarillo Why did Mary love this book?

Flower, Grand, First is a collection of poems about Santa Ana, California and Jalisco, Mexico. The title comes from three streets in Santa Ana, where my husband’s family has lived for more than one hundred years. Hernandez’s poems are about place and displacement and examine what it feels like to be an outsider trying to make sense of life in a strange land, always searching for home. In the wonderful poem “My Father Shows Me Catalina” Hernandez writes: “Smile so you both know it’s okay that you are different. But once-in-a-while, the division is so clean it’ll cut into you.”

By Gustavo Hernandez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gustavo Hernandez’s debut poetry collection, Flower Grand First, moves through the complex roads of immigration, sexuality, and loss. These poems are points plotted on maps both physical and emotional—the rural landscapes of Jalisco, the glimmering plains of memory, the busy cities of California, and the circular paths of grief. Hernandez’s stunning elegies float along a timeline spanning three decades, honoring family, recording a personal history, and revealing a vulnerable but resilient voice preoccupied with time, place, and what is left behind out of necessity.


Book cover of Your House Will Pay

Danielle M. Wong Author Of Last Liar Standing

From my list on psychological suspense and thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

While I appreciate a variety of genres, my love of psychological suspense and thriller novels has only intensified over time. I often devour these books in one sitting—eyes darting across each page as my mind tries to guess the next pivotal twist! As an author, I aspire to create the same electrifying rush for my readers that my favorite stories give me. My debut novel, Swearing Off Stars, was inspired by my travels and received an Independent Press Award, a Benjamin Franklin Award, and an International Book Award. My writing has appeared in Harper’s BazaarHuffPostPopSugar, and Writer’s Digest. I hope you enjoy the recommendations on this list!

Danielle's book list on psychological suspense and thrillers

Danielle M. Wong Why did Danielle love this book?

While this novel is a suspenseful psychological thriller in its own right, the story also tackles racial tensions and contemporary family dynamics. I admire the way Steph Cha explores grief, revenge, violence, racism, and justice over the course of Your House Will Pay’s fast-paced plot. This is absolutely a must-read.

By Steph Cha,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Your House Will Pay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two families. One desperate to remember, the other to forget.

Winner of the LA Times Book Prize, Best Mystery/Thriller
Winner of the California Book Awards' Gold Medal for Fiction
Shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger
Shortlisted for the Macavity Awards, Best Mystery Novel
Shortlisted for the Anthony Awards, Best Novel
Finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award

'Masterful.' Ruth Ware

'A searing examination of racial and family politics that is also an immaculately constructed whodunit.' Daily Telegraph, Summer Reads

'Writing a page-turner about racial politics in the U.S. is a delicate enterprise fraught with pitfalls, but Cha…


Book cover of Stella Peabody's Wild Librarian Bakery and Bookstore: A Novel-in-Stories

Mary Camarillo Author Of The Lockhart Women

From my list on life in the real Southern California.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was transferred to Southern California from Charlotte, North Carolina when I was fourteen years old. I was excited and my friends were jealous. At that point, all I knew about California was the music of the Beach Boys and the Gidget television series. I thought everyone lived on the beach and knew movie stars. I didn’t know there were neighborhoods like Reseda and Anaheim and Fountain Valley, places where people live lives that have nothing to do with the glamour and celebrity of Hollywood. California has been my home for more than fifty years. I still find it fascinating and puzzling, and I still feel like an outsider.

Mary's book list on life in the real Southern California

Mary Camarillo Why did Mary love this book?

Stacy Russo is a librarian, professor, artist, poet, novelist, children’s book writer, vegan baker, punk rock historian, dog whisperer, and a friend. Her novel told in stories is a close observation of modern life in Santa Ana, California where her protagonist, Stella Peabody runs a bakery and bookstore. The lives of her customers intertwine and create an enviably close community. The sense of place is vivid, and the characters are finely drawn. I wish this bookstore was real and in my neighborhood. Recipes included. 

By Stacy Russo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stella Peabody's Wild Librarian Bakery and Bookstore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to the magical world of Stella Peabody's Wild Librarian Bakery and Bookstore!

Stella Peabody, an independent and free-spirited "Wild Librarian," follows her dream and opens a vegan bakery/bookstore where she and her literary-inspired baked goods form the heart of a diverse community full of beloved characters, including Robert Gonzales, a romance novel devotee and loving husband, who finds solace in Stella's "Poet's Beer Bread" when his wife goes missing under mysterious circumstances; solitary psychologist Mary Chin who leans upon her experiences with Stella's "Women Who Run With the Wolves" Book Club to find comfort and meaning following a life-changing…


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 Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir

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?

D.J. Waldie’s writing reminds me of a Raymond Carver short story. His short, deliberate style draws the reader in immediately. You are hooked.

He walks to work. He lives in his parent’s original tract home, part of a planned development built in the 1950s in Lakewood, CA. It was the first one on the west coast. Waldie observes his friends and neighbors, the neighborhood, and its unique place in Southern California history.

After my parent’s divorce, my father lived in Lakewood and Long Beach, so I spent a lot of time down there when I was a kid. Does anyone remember Buffums department store?

By D.J. Waldie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its publication in 1996, Holy Land has become an American classic. In "quick, translucent prose" (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) that is at once lyrical and unsentimental, D. J. Waldie recounts growing up in Lakewood, California, a prototypical post-World War II suburb. Laid out in 316 sections as carefully measured as a grid of tract houses, Holy Land is by turns touching, eerie, funny, and encyclopedic in its handling of what was gained and lost when thousands of blue-collar families were thrown together in the suburbs of the 1950s. An intensely realized and wholly original memoir about the way…


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 Edge of Eternity

Daniela Tully Author Of Hotel on Shadow Lake: A Spellbinding Mystery Unravelling a Century of Family Secrets

From my list on East Germany from an insider's point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Germany and have been living all over the globe since I was 18, including the US. I married a New Yorker 15 years ago. I am drawn to stories that combine both the German and American cultures — two worlds I feel at home in — and as reflected in my debut novel. The next one will take place between the US and East Germany - we had relatives on the other side of the Iron Curtain whom we visited frequently. I will never forget surprising my 17-year-old cousin sitting alone in the garden, crying… over a can of Coke that we had smuggled over the border to him.

Daniela's book list on East Germany from an insider's point of view

Daniela Tully Why did Daniela love this book?

Not a hidden gem, for sure — for me, Follett is always the usual suspect to revert to whenever I need to do historical research and find myself too lazy to read a non-fiction book about the period. I’ve read a lot of books about the Stasi, but nothing beats being reminded, through one individual’s account - even if fictional, still based on true events - of how ruthless the Stasi was. Imagine finding out that you’ve been spied on for years by the Stasi - and then to top this off, finding out that the one spying on you was no less than your own husband? Sounds like the German version of the film Sleeping with the Enemy with Julia Roberts playing the abused wife, right? This role in Follett’s novel is played by Rebecca Hofmann, who flees when the Wall goes up in 1961 — causing insurmountable troubles…

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ken Follett's extraordinary historical epic, the Century Trilogy, reaches its sweeping, passionate conclusion.

In Fall of Giants and Winter of the World, Ken Follett followed the fortunes of five international families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they made their way through the twentieth century. Now they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements, and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution-and rock and roll.

East German teacher Rebecca Hoffmann discovers she's been spied on by the Stasi for years and…


Book cover of Well, That Was Unexpected

Sarah Dass Author Of When the Vibe Is Right

From my list on YA rom-com to make you laugh.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rom-coms have always been my favorite type of escapism. Give me all the witty banter, romantic tension, quirky characters, and – of course – the well-earned happily-ever-afters. Yes, humor is subjective, so there is a chance these YA books won’t have you roll-on-the-floor laughing like me, but I’m pretty sure they’ll inspire at least a chuckle from even the stoniest reader. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Sarah's book list on YA rom-com to make you laugh

Sarah Dass Why did Sarah love this book?

Speaking of meddlesome families, this book has another set-up.

This time we have Sharlot and George Clooney (no, not that George Clooney) whose parents decide to trick them into dating. There’s a little bit of catfishing, a few misunderstandings, and fake dating in Indonesia.

It’s a side-splitting rom-com told through Jesse Q. Sutanto’s signature brand of outlandish humor.

By Jesse Q. Sutanto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Well, That Was Unexpected 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 delightful, hilarious, captivating love letter to Indonesia, and coming of age in a large meddlesome family, and the thrill of finding your person where you least expect it!"--Ali Hazelwood, New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis

A laugh-out-loud YA rom-com about a girl who's whisked from LA to her mother's native Indonesia to get back to her roots and finds herself fake-dating the son of one of the wealthiest families there, from the bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties and The Obsession

After Sharlot Citra's mother catches her in a compromising position, she finds herself whisked…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in multiracial people, genealogy, and family?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about multiracial people, genealogy, and family.

Multiracial People Explore 71 books about multiracial people
Genealogy Explore 33 books about genealogy
Family Explore 3,774 books about family