100 books like Last Call at the Hotel Imperial

By Deborah Cohen,

Here are 100 books that Last Call at the Hotel Imperial fans have personally recommended if you like Last Call at the Hotel Imperial. 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 House of Fragile Things: Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France

Susan Blumberg-Kason Author Of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

From my list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Susan Blumberg-Kason and I write books about strong women who have a strong sense of place. I think we are all partly defined by where we live and I enjoy examining how our environment informs our choices. My first book centers around someone I know very well—me! My memoir, Good Chinese Wife, takes place in my favorite city—Hong Kong—the place where I came of age and married for the first time, as well as China and a few cities in the US. I’m also a sucker for a good cover and I absolutely love my Good Chinese Wife cover!

Susan's book list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers

Susan Blumberg-Kason Why did Susan love this book?

There’s so much texture on this cover, and the Renoir painting stands out because it’s probably the most recognizable part. The story involves Irene Cahen d’Anvers, the woman who sat for Renoir as a young girl, and how she came from a prominent Jewish family in France. Irene made some pivotal decisions that would forever change the lives of her ex-husband and daughter.

By James McAuley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A powerful history of Jewish art collectors in France, and how an embrace of art and beauty was met with hatred and destruction

"The depths of French anti-Semitism is the stunning subject that Mr. McAuley lays bare. . . . [He] tells this haunting saga in eloquent detail. As French anti-Semitism rises once again today, the effect is nothing less than chilling."-Diane Cole, Wall Street Journal

"Elegantly written and deeply moving. . . . [A] haunting book."-David Bell, New York Review of Books

In the dramatic years between 1870 and the end of World War II, a number of prominent…


Book cover of Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt's Roaring '20s

Susan Blumberg-Kason Author Of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

From my list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Susan Blumberg-Kason and I write books about strong women who have a strong sense of place. I think we are all partly defined by where we live and I enjoy examining how our environment informs our choices. My first book centers around someone I know very well—me! My memoir, Good Chinese Wife, takes place in my favorite city—Hong Kong—the place where I came of age and married for the first time, as well as China and a few cities in the US. I’m also a sucker for a good cover and I absolutely love my Good Chinese Wife cover!

Susan's book list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers

Susan Blumberg-Kason Why did Susan love this book?

I have to say that I do sometimes judge a book by its cover and this one blew me away. I could already tell it would be a fun account of women in 1920s Cairo. I loved learning about the positions in society these divas held at a time when women around the world were just starting to get some rights—maybe. 

By Raphael Cormack,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the world's most multicultural cities, twentieth-century Cairo was a magnet for the ambitious and talented. During the 1920s and '30s, a vibrant music, theater, film, and cabaret scene flourished, defining what it meant to be a "modern" Egyptian. Women came to dominate the Egyptian entertainment industry-as stars of the stage and screen but also as impresarias, entrepreneurs, owners, and promoters of a new and strikingly modern entertainment industry.

Raphael Cormack unveils the rich histories of independent, enterprising women like vaudeville star Rose al-Youssef (who launched one of Cairo's most important newspapers); nightclub singer Mounira al-Mahdiyya (the first woman…


Book cover of The Bridal Chair: A Novel of Love and Art in WWII Paris

Susan Blumberg-Kason Author Of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

From my list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Susan Blumberg-Kason and I write books about strong women who have a strong sense of place. I think we are all partly defined by where we live and I enjoy examining how our environment informs our choices. My first book centers around someone I know very well—me! My memoir, Good Chinese Wife, takes place in my favorite city—Hong Kong—the place where I came of age and married for the first time, as well as China and a few cities in the US. I’m also a sucker for a good cover and I absolutely love my Good Chinese Wife cover!

Susan's book list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers

Susan Blumberg-Kason Why did Susan love this book?

Marc Chagall is a household name to arts aficionados, but his daughter Ida was also renowned in the Paris art world before World War II. This lovely novel tells of the overbearing way Chagall treated Ida and how he viewed her more as an assistant than a daughter. And when she married, he painted “The Wedding Chair” as a gift to her, which represented his anger at her leaving. This novel helped bring about a new trend to recount the untold stories of women alongside—or even in front of—famous men.

By Gloria Goldreich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"In prose as painterly and evocative as Chagall's own dazzling brushstrokes, Gloria Goldreich finely evokes one of the most significant masters of modern art through the discerning eyes of [his] loyally protective daughter."—Cynthia Ozick, award-winning author of Foreign Bodies

An exquisite, haunting exploration of the complex mind of Marc Chagall, and the artist's famous chair, through the eyes of his daughter during World War II—perfect for fans of Mrs. Poe and The Paris Wife

Beautiful Ida Chagall, the only daughter of Marc Chagall, is blossoming in the Paris art world beyond her father's controlling gaze. But, her newfound independence is…


Book cover of Empire's Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper

Susan Blumberg-Kason Author Of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

From my list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Susan Blumberg-Kason and I write books about strong women who have a strong sense of place. I think we are all partly defined by where we live and I enjoy examining how our environment informs our choices. My first book centers around someone I know very well—me! My memoir, Good Chinese Wife, takes place in my favorite city—Hong Kong—the place where I came of age and married for the first time, as well as China and a few cities in the US. I’m also a sucker for a good cover and I absolutely love my Good Chinese Wife cover!

Susan's book list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers

Susan Blumberg-Kason Why did Susan love this book?

Isabel Rosario Cooper was not just a movie starlet during the golden age of Hollywood; she was also preyed on by General MacArthur. The book shows just how difficult it was for Asian American actors to make it in Hollywood and leads one to wonder if things have really changed that much today.

By Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Empire's Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Empire's Mistress Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez follows the life of Filipina vaudeville and film actress Isabel Rosario Cooper, who was the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur. If mentioned at all, their relationship exists only as a salacious footnote in MacArthur's biography-a failed love affair between a venerated war hero and a young woman of Filipino and American heritage. Following Cooper from the Philippines to Washington, D.C. to Hollywood, where she died penniless, Gonzalez frames her not as a tragic heroine, but as someone caught within the violent histories of U.S. imperialism. In this way, Gonzalez uses Cooper's life as a…


Book cover of The Newspaper Axis: Six Press Barons Who Enabled Hitler

Brooke L. Blower Author Of Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper

From my list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Boston University, where I teach and write about modern American popular thought, political culture, trade, travel, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts. I enjoy histories that are based on deep and creative bodies of research and that push past timeworn myths and clichés about the American past.

Brooke's book list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII

Brooke L. Blower Why did Brooke love this book?

The efforts of antifascist foreign correspondents to bring the United States into the war on the side of the Allies are well known. 

Olmsted shines a light on the less-recognized but equally consequential collaboration between American and British rightwing journalists who did not want their nations to war against Hitler. Olmsted’s account brims with hilarious passages about the eccentric lifestyles of media moguls such as William Randolph Hearst and Lord Beaverbrook, as well as jaw-dropping quotes from the editorial pages of their newspapers.

By Kathryn S. Olmsted,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How six conservative media moguls hindered America and Britain from entering World War II

"A damning indictment. . . . The parallels with today's right-wing media, on both sides of the Atlantic, are unavoidable."-Matthew Pressman, Washington Post

"A first-rate work of history."-Ben Yagoda, Wall Street Journal

As World War II approached, the six most powerful media moguls in America and Britain tried to pressure their countries to ignore the fascist threat. The media empires of Robert McCormick, Joseph and Eleanor Patterson, and William Randolph Hearst spanned the United States, reaching tens of millions of Americans in print and over the…


Book cover of Light a Penny Candle

Ann O’Loughlin Author Of Escape to the Irish Village

From my list on strong women and female friendship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the extraordinary things ordinary people do, particularly women. Women show such strength; they juggle so many things every day, and they can draw on huge reserves of power in a crisis. Time and time again, I see how when women pull together, they can conquer anything. A woman on her own can do many things, but when we band together, nothing can stop us. So often, others concentrate on the negative aspects of a group of women together, but I have seen the power of female friendship and how we can reach the stars when we hold each other up. 

Ann's book list on strong women and female friendship

Ann O’Loughlin Why did Ann love this book?

I read this book when I was just out of journalism school and finding my way in the world of journalism and writing. For me, Maeve Binchy was already an icon because she managed to juggle journalism and writing. All these years later, I am doing the same, but the seeds were grown back then with this book.

I love this novel's depiction of a three-decade-long friendship between two women. The strength of the female characters shines through, and I remember thinking when I was reading it that was Maeve Binchy’s secret weapon; she made her characters so human. 

This is a story of endurance, love, and the power of friendship. I loved it when it first came out in the '80s, and it gave me heart that books about strong women and the bonds of friendship didn’t necessarily have to have a bright pink cover.

By Maeve Binchy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Light a Penny Candle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beloved author Maeve Binchy's first published novel, an engrossing coming of age tale about the incredible bond of friendship.

To escape the chaos of London during World War II, young Elizabeth White is sent to live a safer life in the small Irish town of Kilgarret. It is there, in the crowded, chaotic O’Connor household, that she meet Aisling—a girl who soon becomes her very best friend, sharing her pet kitten and secretly teaching her the intricacies of Catholicism.

Aisling’s boldness brings Elizabeth out of her proper shell; later, her support carries Elizabeth through the painful end of her parents’…


Book cover of The Great American Magazine: An Inside History of LIFE

Robert W. Merry Author Of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

From my list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my early teens I aspired to a career in journalism and publishing, manifest in my being editor of my junior high newspaper, my high school paper, and my college paper. After the army and grad school, I pursued my dream, covering Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal for a dozen years and becoming an executive at Congressional Quarterly for 22 years, including 12 years as CEO. The great triumphs and struggles of the news business as it grew and evolved have stirred my consciousness throughout my life, and these five books provide some of the best narrative treatments on the topic that I have encountered throughout a lifetime in the publishing business.

Robert's book list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

Robert W. Merry Why did Robert love this book?

No other magazine ever burst upon the national scene with as much financial and editorial force as Life, founded by Henry Luce in 1936 to exploit the new technology of high-shutter-speed cameras that could capture events and activities like never before. Luce’s vision (actually, it came initially from his future wife, Clare Boothe Luce) was to stir the human spirit with photos of sports stars in action, the magnitude of huge structures such as the Grand Coulee Dam, a baby being born, the agony of war. With such photography mixed with probing and discursive long-form journalism, Luce transformed American magazine journalism--and got very, very rich in the process.

By Loudon Wainwright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The well-known columnist blends personal reminiscence, historical reportage, interviews, and social analysis in an authoritative history of "Life" magazine and its unique thirty-six-year history


Book cover of Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media

Norman Baker Author Of ...And What Do You Do?: What the Royal Family Don't Want You to Know

From my list on how the world works.

Why am I passionate about this?

We all need to understand more about how the world ticks, who is in control, and why they act as they do. And we need to salute those of courage who refuse to go along with the flow in a craven or unthinking way. I was an MP for 18 years and a government minister at the Department for Transport with a portfolio that included rail, bus, active travel, and then at the Home Office as Crime Prevention minister. After leaving Parliament, I became managing director of The Big Lemon, an environmentally friendly bus and coach company in Brighton. I now act as an advisor to the Campaign for Better Transport, am a regular columnist and broadcaster, and undertake consultancy and lecturing work.

Norman's book list on how the world works

Norman Baker Why did Norman love this book?

A highly perceptive if rather depressing examination of how the British media works, how expensive investigative journalism has largely given way to opinion columns and trivia about so-called celebrities, how stories are often not stories, how papers dress up partisan opinion as fact. In short, an exposure of the falsehoods, distortion, and propaganda that have corrupted the media. Nick Davies was a journalist at the Guardian.

By Nick Davies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Does 'fake news' really exist? Find out from the ultimate insider.

After years of working as a respected journalist, Nick Davies, in this shocking expose, reveals what really goes on behind the scenes of this contentious industry.

From a prestigious newspaper that allowed intelligence agencies to plant fiction in its columns, to the newsroom that routinely rejected stories due to racial bias, to the number of papers that accepted cash bribes. Gripping, thought-provoking and revelatory, this is an insider's look at one of the most tainted professions.

'Meticulous, fair-minded and utterly gripping' Telegraph

'Powerful and timely...his analysis is fair, meticulously…


Book cover of The View from the Ground

Sara Wheeler Author Of Glowing Still: A Woman's Life on the Road

From my list on travel by women to inspire a journey of your own.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the course of my so-called career as a travel writer, the ‘I’ve-Got-A Big-One’ school favoured by the male of the species has ceded ground. Women, less interested in ‘conquering,’ have pioneered a kind of creative non-fiction that suits the travel genre. I prefer it to the blokeish business of seeing how dead you can get. It notices more. As the decades unfurled – Pole to Pole, via Poland – I realised, more and more, the debt I owe to the other women who not only set sail but also unsparingly observed the world that turns within each self. 

Sara's book list on travel by women to inspire a journey of your own

Sara Wheeler Why did Sara love this book?

Martha Gellhorn’s blend of reportage and imagination ensnared me when I was barely out of my teens, and her preferred form has come of age in my working life.

Not only do I think Gellhorn is a marvellous writer – at her best, one of the best – but I also identify with Gellhorn the woman. "The open road," she wrote, was "my first, oldest and strongest love." She lived from 1908 to 1998 and was writing the fighting for six decades, and although each conflict was different, her message remained the same: ‘There is neither victory nor defeat; there is only catastrophe." 

Book cover of True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

J.T. Hunter Author Of Devil in the Darkness: The True Story of Serial Killer Israel Keyes

From my list on true crime and the dark side of human nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the dark side of human nature and the socio-psychological aspects of criminal behavior, especially those of serial killers, and my legal training and experience afforded me apt tools for exploring and writing about true crime. I have been interviewed and appeared on a wide range of podcasts, radio, and TV shows about true crime for nearly a decade.

J.T.'s book list on true crime and the dark side of human nature

J.T. Hunter Why did J.T. love this book?

This book explores the relationship between writer and subject and provides a lesson on the lengths one should go in exercising one’s craft. An ironic twist comes in the form of Finkel himself being a victim of a crime, which gives rise to the thrust of this story. As a fan of memoirs and true crime, this book kept my interest all of the way through.

By Michael Finkel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michael Finkel was a top New York Times Magazine journalist publicly fired and disgraced for making up a composite character for a big investigative news piece about Africa. This book is about how this brilliant, high achieving journalist found himself at that point in his life. But in parallel it's also about Christian Longo, a man accused of the multiple murder of his own wife and three children.

After the deaths, Longo fled to Mexico, where he passed himself off as Michael Finkel, New York Times journalist. These two weird stories come together as Finkel in turn becomes fascinated (perhaps…


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