100 books like Joe Gould's Teeth

By Jill Lepore,

Here are 100 books that Joe Gould's Teeth fans have personally recommended if you like Joe Gould's Teeth. 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 The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade

Barry Keith Grant Author Of Voyages of Discovery: The Cinema of Frederick Wiseman

From my list on appreciating the films of Fredrick Wiseman.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved cinema since I was 9 years old growing up in New York City and my grandmother took me to see The Ten Commandments at the Paradise Theater, Loew’s magnificent flagship theater in the Bronx. The theater’s famous canopy of twinkling stars on the ceiling was the perfect magical venue, and I was thunderstruck not only by the epic sweep of the movie but also by the opulence of the theater, which mirrored the monumental pyramids that Ramses constructs in the film. Ever since, my passion for movies has been as all-consuming as DeMille’s jello sea was for the infidel Egyptians who doubted the power of special effects and cinematic illusion.

Barry's book list on appreciating the films of Fredrick Wiseman

Barry Keith Grant Why did Barry love this book?

Another book with an episodic structure, The Confidence-Man concerns an assorted group of Mississippi steamboat passengers whose individual hypocrisies are confronted by the mysterious character of the title.

Melville’s ship of fools features a variety of types, some of whom are caricatures of American literary figures including Emerson, Hawthorne, and Poe. The book was published in 1857 on April Fool’s Day, an irony equal to the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on Valentine’s Day, and a gesture that Wiseman, himself a great ironist, surely would appreciate.

Certainly, it is no surprise that Wiseman has referred to The Confidence-Man as his favorite novel. One might even find Melville’s elaborate prose style analogous to Wiseman’s careful editing and his ability to confront spectators with their own biases and preconceptions, as the eponymous confidence-man does in the book.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On April Fool's Day in 1856, a shape-shifting grifter boards a Mississippi riverboat to expose the pretenses, hypocrisies, and self-delusions of his fellow passengers. The con artist assumes numerous identities — a disabled beggar, a charity fundraiser, a successful businessman, an urbane gentleman — to win over his not-entirely-innocent dupes. The central character's shifting identities, as fluid as the river itself, reflect broader aspects of human identity even as his impudent hoaxes form a meditation on illusion and trust.
This comic allegory addresses themes of sincerity, character, and morality in its challenge to the optimism and materialism of mid-19th-century America.…


Book cover of The Return of Martin Guerre

Stuart Carroll Author Of Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe

From my list on getting started with early modern history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of early modern Europe. I have a particular interest in the history of violence and social relations and how and why ordinary people came into conflict with each other and how they made peace, that’s the subject of my most recent book Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe, which compares the entanglement of everyday animosities and how these were resolved in Italy, Germany, France and England. I’m also passionate about understanding Europe’s contribution to world history. As editor of The Cambridge World History of Violence, I explored the dark side of this. But my next book, The Invention of Civil Society, will demonstrate Europe’s more positive achievements.

Stuart's book list on getting started with early modern history

Stuart Carroll Why did Stuart love this book?

I love this book because it’s a story about ordinary people. But it’s a true story.

It reads like a fairytale: a peasant, Arnaud du Tilh, is accused of impersonating another man who had abandoned his wife several years before. Arnaud seems to have outwitted the judges until the errant husband returns condemning the impostor to death.

I like this story because it helps to identify with men and women in the past, who in many respects, are just like us. It’s also a piece of great history reconstructed from original trial records. Davis is a great writer.

By Natalie Zemon Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The clever peasant Arnaud du Tilh had almost persuaded the learned judges at the Parlement of Toulouse when, on a summer's day in 1560, a man swaggered into the court on a wooden leg, denounced Arnaud, and reestablished his claim to the identity, property, and wife of Martin Guerre. The astonishing case captured the imagination of the continent. Told and retold over the centuries, the story of Martin Guerre became a legend, still remembered in the Pyrenean village where the impostor was executed more than 400 years ago.

Now a noted historian, who served as consultant for a new French…


Book cover of Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier

Linda Collison Author Of Star-Crossed

From my list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The custom of Masquerade, of dressing as Other, has long fascinated me. In writing Star-Crossed, I set out to investigate how and why one girl might pass as a boy in an era when gender roles were sharply differentiated. I once crossed an ocean working aboard a wooden, three-masted ship – a 20th-century replica of the Bark Endeavour, circumnavigating in 1999. Sleeping in hammocks and working aloft in the rigging, I discovered this life required teamwork, stamina – and a sturdy, practical costume. Trousers, not petticoats! I have worked as a registered nurse and I earned a degree in History; these experiences combine in Star-Crossed. 

Linda's book list on 18th and 19th century crossdressers

Linda Collison Why did Linda love this book?

It took Americans a very long time to honor the ordinary foot soldiers and seamen of the Revolution. It took even longer to recover the women of the Revolution, historian Alfred F. Young tells us. The author parses through various historical records to present a realistic picture of the female soldier Deborah Sampson. Deborah was not the only woman to volunteer as a soldier – dressed as a man. Her record was exemplary. Sampson became known only after the war was over, and then only to a few people. This biography is among the most thorough of crossdressing fighting women, and it gives a good picture of colonial life at the time of the American Revolution. 

By Alfred F. Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Masquerade, Alfred F. Young scrapes through layers of fiction and myth to uncover the story of Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts woman who passed as a man and fought as a soldier for seventeen months toward the end of the American Revolution.

Deborah Sampson was not the only woman to pose as a male and fight in the war, but she was certainly one of the most successful and celebrated. She managed to fight in combat and earn the respect of her officers and peers, and in later years she toured the country lecturing about her experiences and was partially…


Book cover of The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin

Timothy J. Shannon Author Of Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson in America and Britain

From my list on con artists and imposters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where I teach Early American, Native American, and British history. My books include Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 and Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier. As a historian, I've long been fascinated by stories of imposters, charlatans, and con artists. I like fictional and factual picaresque tales about people set adrift in strange lands and I have a soft spot for unreliable narrators. Historians are a skeptical breed, so slippery characters like those featured in the books listed here represent a welcome challenge: can you trust them as far as you can throw them? 

Timothy's book list on con artists and imposters

Timothy J. Shannon Why did Timothy love this book?

It may seem unfair to group Benjamin Franklin among con artists and impersonators, but he certainly had a talent for self-invention. Most biographies of Franklin take it as a given that he was the “first American,” who set the mold for what we call the American dream. In this highly readable and comparatively brief biography of the great man, Wood breaks from that tradition and tells the story of a provincial striver whose many public personas were motivated by a desire to fit in among aristocratic Europeans. If you think you know what made Franklin tick, this biography will make you think again.

By Gordon S. Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I cannot remember ever reading a work of history and biography that is quite so fluent, so perfectly composed and balanced . . ." -The New York Sun

"Exceptionally rich perspective on one of the most accomplished, complex, and unpredictable Americans of his own time or any other." -The Washington Post Book World

From the most respected chronicler of the early days of the Republic-and winner of both the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes-comes a landmark work that rescues Benjamin Franklin from a mythology that has blinded generations of Americans to the man he really was and makes sense of aspects…


Book cover of A Brief History of Seven Killings

Jonathan Howland Author Of Native Air

From my list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers).

Why am I passionate about this?

During a lonely stretch of primary school, I recall discussing my predicament with my mother. “You only need one friend,” she said by way of encouragement. Some part of me agreed. I’ve been fortunate to have had (and to have) several friends in my life, never more than a few at a time, more men than women, and each has prompted me to be and become more vital and spacious than I was prior to knowing them. The books I’m recommending—and the one I wrote—feature these types of catalyzing, life-changing relationships. Each involves some kind of adventure. Each evokes male friendship that is gravitational, not merely influential, but life-defining.

Jonathan's book list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers)

Jonathan Howland Why did Jonathan love this book?

You think your life is complicated. Alliances in this mammoth, magnificent novel turn on a dime (or a brick), but several deep connections are life-altering.

For one: the Jamaican dealer Weeper defies category; he’s both violent and tender, both gay and appalled by his homosexuality. When he falls for another man post-prison, he has both to confront and to conceal his panoply of contradictions—which becomes excruciating and finally impossible when boss (and friend) Josey Wales flies in to inspect the Bushwick operation.

I love the intrigue, disclosure, and virtuosity. Nothing simple, nothing easy, nothing dull.

By Marlon James,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Brief History of Seven Killings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2015* JAMAICA, 1976 Seven gunmen storm Bob Marley's house, machine guns blazing. The reggae superstar survives, but the gunmen are never caught. From the acclaimed author of The Book of Night Women comes a dazzling display of masterful storytelling exploring this near-mythic event. Spanning three decades and crossing continents, A Brief History of Seven Killings chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters - slum kids, drug lords, journalists, prostitutes, gunmen, and even the CIA. Gripping and inventive, ambitious and mesmerising, A Brief History of Seven Killings is one of the most remarkable…


Book cover of Some Places More Than Others

Sally Engelfried Author Of Learning to Fall

From my list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

Father-daughter relationships have always fascinated me. I wrote my first book to explore what it might be like for a girl to have a father with whom communication is, if not easy, possible. Although my own father was around when I was growing up, he was a distant figure. A mechanical engineer, he lost himself in ruminations on machines and mathematics and was made still more distant by his alcoholism. As a kid, I tried to glean from books what having a “regular” father might be like. I still haven’t figured it out, but I love seeing other authors capture the formative effects of this particular parental relationship. 

Sally's book list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships

Sally Engelfried Why did Sally love this book?

It can be difficult for kids to see their parents as real people, and that’s why I love Some Places More Than Others. When Amara finally convinces her parents she should get to go on a trip with her dad to New York City’s Harlem to meet the grandfather she’s only spoken to on the phone, she uncovers the fact that her dad and her grandfather haven’t spoken in twelve years. I love the depiction of Amara’s father as a person in his own right, someone with a history and his own problems and how, as Amara slowly unravels the mysteries of her father’s past, she begins to understand herself better too.

By Renée Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Some Places More Than Others as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Newbery Honor- and Coretta Scott King Author Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Renée Watson comes a heartwarming and inspiring novel for middle schoolers about finding deep roots and exploring the past, the present, and the places that make us who we are.

All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father's family in New York City--Harlem, to be exact. She can't wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family--and herself--in new way.

But New…


Book cover of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Pamela Carter Joern Author Of Toby's Last Resort

From my list on mature, smart, resilient, and life-embracing women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not as old as some of the characters in the books I’ve mentioned, but I’m getting there. With age, one learns to hold grief in one hand and gratitude in the other. The importance of friendship and community can hardly be overstated. I love reading books that represent older characters, especially women, as complex, life-embracing individuals without resorting to condescension. I strove to write such a book with Toby’s Last Resort. I’m not always writing about older characters, but in all my work, I want to dive below the surface, discover meaning in the ordinary, and treat my characters with respect. 

Pamela's book list on mature, smart, resilient, and life-embracing women

Pamela Carter Joern Why did Pamela love this book?

Lillian is an 84-years old woman walking around New York City on New Year’s Eve.

She loves the city, made her way there as a young woman in advertising in the 30s, became well-known as a poet of light verse. She alternately reminisces about her life and encounters people you would not expect.

She remembers her life in pieces, the way one does, so the reader puts together the mystery.

I found her to be a delightful and refreshing character. The book is a beautiful lacing of the past with the promise of unexpected things to come. 

By Kathleen Rooney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER

A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

“In my reckless and undiscouraged youth,” Lillian Boxfish writes, “I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street…”

She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid…


Book cover of The New York Trilogy

Peter Guttridge Author Of City of Dreadful Night

From my list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by long stories where things aren’t exactly as they seem. Most crime fiction is secrets and lies and their eventual uncovering but most ‘literary’ fiction is too. For what it’s worth, I was a book reviewer for all the posh UK papers for about 15 years, including crime fiction critic for The Observer for twelve (so I’ve read far more crime novels than is healthy for anyone!). I’m a voracious reader and writer and I love making things more complicated for myself (and the reader) by coming up with stuff that I’ve then somehow got to fit together.  

Peter's book list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators

Peter Guttridge Why did Peter love this book?

This is post-modern crime fiction thematically linked and all with increasingly unreliable characters—because they’re each going insane.

In City of Glass private investigator, Daniel Quinn, goes mad sinking deeper into an investigation about identity. Who is telling his story and can they be relied on? Is it any of these characters who appear: ‘the author,’ ‘Paul Auster the writer,’ ‘Paul Auster the detective’?  Whoosh.

I love this stuff but understand it’s an acquired taste!

By Paul Auster,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Paul Auster's signature work, "The New York Trilogy," consists of three interlocking novels: "City of Glass," "Ghosts," and "The Locked Room" - haunting and mysterious tales that move at the breathless pace of a thriller."City of Glass" - As a result of a strange phone call in the middle of the night, Quinn, a writer of detective stories, becomes enmeshed in a case more puzzling than any he might hace written"Ghosts"Blue, a student of Brown, has been hired to spy on Black. From a window of a rented house on Orange street, Blue stalks his subject, who is staring out…


Book cover of Franny and Zooey

Farah Ali Author Of The River, the Town

From my list on growing up in unusual ways.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved reading about individuals and the ways they behave in extraordinary or unusual circumstances. Stories that are about a person growing up and coming to an understanding that the world around them is deeply flawed, and that they themselves are patched-up, imperfect creatures, fascinate me. I find myself observing people and the words they say. Those are the kinds of stories I write, about regular people stumbling along and discovering some truths about themselves.

Farah's book list on growing up in unusual ways

Farah Ali Why did Farah love this book?

Franny and Zooey are the two youngest siblings in the Glass family. Originally, “Franny” was published as a short story and “Zooey” as a novella, both of them being published later in one book.

In “Franny”, the protagonist visits her college boyfriend who speaks about his experiences in great detail. But Franny increasingly becomes disenchanted with the ideals of accomplishment he speaks about.

The way “Zooey” opens is memorable: he is reading a letter from his brother Buddy who has written about their eldest brother Seymour’s suicide many years ago. Meanwhile, Franny has entered a state of distress. The book then focuses on Zooey trying to help her.

I love that the story centers around these siblings, living and dead and away, and that despite past tragedies there is hope. 

By J.D. Salinger,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Franny and Zooey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Perhaps the best book by the foremost stylist of his generation" (New York Times), J. D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey collects two works of fiction about the Glass family originally published in The New Yorker.

"Everything everybody does is so--I don't know--not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and--sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you're conforming just as much only in a different way."

A novel in two halves, Franny and Zooey brilliantly captures the emotional strains and traumas of entering adulthood. It…


Book cover of Mallory's Oracle

Christa Loughlin Author Of The Pallbearer

From my list on mystery thrillers that keep you glued to the pages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always had a passion for anything crime fiction—books, movies, podcasts, or TV shows. It didn’t matter. I loved it all. It was probably because I grew up in a family with six police officers that seldom talked about anything unrelated to policing. I was like a sponge and picked up some terminology and learned about different police procedures they would discuss. There was rarely a family gathering that didn’t have some type of story or anecdote being shared by each of them and I always found myself being drawn right in. For those reasons, I fell in love with trying to figure out the who’s, how’s and why’s of any story. 

Christa's book list on mystery thrillers that keep you glued to the pages

Christa Loughlin Why did Christa love this book?

Kathy Mallory is a character unlike any other. Kathy was a child of the streets who had the good fortune of being adopted into the loving home of a police officer who saw her brilliance and resourcefulness even at a young age. Years later, Kathy has become an NYPD officer who brings justice to victims through her own sense of right and wrong. She is a street-hardened, lone wolf who doesn’t stop until she gets what she wants. I love the complexity of this tough-as-nails female officer who bends all the rules in her pursuit of justice. This book is so well written I immediately read every book I could find by this author.

By Carol O'Connell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mallory's Oracle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jonathan Kellerman says Mallory's Oracle is "a joy." Nelson DeMille and other advance readers have called it "truly amazing, " "a classic" with "immense appeal." It is all of that, and more: a stunning debut novel about a web of unsolved murders in New York's Gramercy Park and the singular woman who makes them her obsession.

At its center is Kathleen Mallory, an extraordinary wild child turned New York City policewoman. Adopted off the streets as a little girl by a police inspector and his wife, she is still not altogether civilized now that she is a sergeant in the…


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