100 books like Made in America

By Bill Bryson,

Here are 100 books that Made in America fans have personally recommended if you like Made in America. 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 Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Jake S. Friedman Author Of The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age

From my list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an expert in animation history, having written three books on it, dozens of articles, and appeared on TV documentaries about it. I've also been a college professor for about 13 years, so I know what a story needs to maintain interest. These books have that. They're about different chunks of American history, some political, some artistic, all cultural. But they're also focused on the people who made the history, and showing how they got to where they were, and why they matter. These books let me walk in the shoes of subjects, and whisk me back to their time and place. If a book passes the empathy/time-machine test, it has won me over.

Jake's book list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching

Jake S. Friedman Why did Jake love this book?

I never leaned toward crime stories, but this true telling of America’s first serial killer, while simultaneously recounting one of the grandest expositions in American history, was too good to put down.

I was shocked by how quickly I devoured this book. It’s the closest you can get to time-traveling to 1890s Chicago. It’s the near-impossible feat of building the greatest World’s Fair of all, and also the gruesome story of a killer building a “murder house” and luring single women into it.

This is the book that inspired Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio to almost make it a series on Hulu, just saying.

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Devil in the White City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chicago World Fair was the greatest fair in American history. This is the story of the men and women whose lives it irrevocably changed and of two men in particular- an architect and a serial killer. The architect is Daniel Burnham, a man of great integrity and depth. It was his vision of the fair that attracted the best minds and talents of the day. The killer is Henry H. Holmes. Intelligent as well as handsome and charming, Holmes opened a boarding house which he advertised as 'The World's Fair Hotel' Here in the neighbourhood where he was once…


Book cover of The Library Book

ACF Bookens Author Of Publishable By Death

From my list on mysteries about books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a book lover from in utero. My mom was an avid and very fast reader, and I grew up finding respite, insight, and understanding in the pages of books. When I went to college, I studied English, and then got a Masters in literature before going on to learn more about writing the books I loved in an MFA program. This formal education just built on what I already knew – books are my first love, my guide through life, and often, the things that save me from the darkest moments of this world.

ACF's book list on mysteries about books

ACF Bookens Why did ACF love this book?

I am a great lover of literary nonfiction, stories of truth that use the elements of fiction to draw us in. Orlean’s book is a brilliant model of the genre as well as an absolute page-turner. The book begins with a massive fire in the Los Angeles Public Library. Orlean begins to look into the fire and discovers, in the process, the depth of her own affection for libraries as well as some serious questions about the person long-believed to have been responsible. A must-read for library lovers.  

By Susan Orlean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Susan Orlean’s bestseller and New York Times Notable Book is “a sheer delight…as rich in insight and as varied as the treasures contained on the shelves in any local library” (USA TODAY)—a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries. “Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book” (The Washington Post).

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. The fire was disastrous: it reached two thousand degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished,…


Book cover of The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem

T.M. Blanchet Author Of Herrick's End

From my list on truth that is stranger than fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about magic, witches, and weirdness—and all of it is inspired by the strange and startlingly true stories that hide just below the simmering surface of America’s melting pot. As a former journalist, I learned that everyone has an interesting tale to tell. And as a fiction writer, I’ve learned that all of that truth can be spun into something even more fun and fantastical. Reality, after all, is relative. 

T.M.'s book list on truth that is stranger than fiction

T.M. Blanchet Why did T.M. love this book?

For me, Stacy Schiff’s masterpiece is the end-all, be-all resource when it comes to the history of early America’s witchcraft trials—which, it turns out, extended far beyond the village of Salem. The seed for my own novel came from one tiny line in the book’s “Cast of Characters” index: “Herrick, George, well-born, handsome Salem deputy sheriff in his thirties…Spends 1692 rounding up and transporting witches.”

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is written specifically for family or primary care physicians who encounter substance abuse in their daily practice. A Clinical Guide to Drug and Alcohol Problems provides a comprehensive overview to help diagnose and treat these problems. The first five chapters provide basic information on historical and cultural issues, plus the pharmacology of all abused drugs the physician is likely to come into contact with and the epidemiology and etiology of substance abuse problems. The author then addresses the clinical manifestions and course of addiction; diagnostic techniques; principles of clinical management, treatment, and rehabilitation of addictive and other associated…


From Cells to Ourselves: The Story of Evolution

By Gill Arbuthnott, Chris Nielsen (illustrator),

Book cover of From Cells to Ourselves: The Story of Evolution

Gill Arbuthnott Author Of The Keepers' Daughter

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author History nut Science nerd Mystery lover Feminist

Gill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

4.5 billion years ago, Earth was forming - but nothing could have survived there…

From Cells to Ourselves is the incredible story of how life on earth started and how it gradually evolved from the first simple cells to the abundance of life around us today. Walk with dinosaurs, analyse fossils, and join Charles Darwin on the voyages that inspired his Theory of Evolution.

Written by Gill Arbuthnott and beautifully illustrated by Christopher Nielsen, From Cells to Ourselves is the story of life itself and the extraordinary creatures that have inhabited our planet.

From Cells to Ourselves: The Story of Evolution

By Gill Arbuthnott, Chris Nielsen (illustrator),

What is this book about?

From the Big Bang to the abundance of life that surrounds us today, this beautiful book - the third by the award-winning duo Gill Arbuthnott and Chris Nielsen - is the story of evolution, from the very first cells to ourselves.

How old exactly is the Earth? How do we know what was here before us? Are we still evolving? From Cells to Ourselves is the story of the beginnings of life around 3.8 billion years ago, to the millions of species alive today, including humans.

Learn about mythology giants who formed the Earth, analyse fossils, walk with the dinosaurs,…


Book cover of Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims

T.M. Blanchet Author Of Herrick's End

From my list on truth that is stranger than fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about magic, witches, and weirdness—and all of it is inspired by the strange and startlingly true stories that hide just below the simmering surface of America’s melting pot. As a former journalist, I learned that everyone has an interesting tale to tell. And as a fiction writer, I’ve learned that all of that truth can be spun into something even more fun and fantastical. Reality, after all, is relative. 

T.M.'s book list on truth that is stranger than fiction

T.M. Blanchet Why did T.M. love this book?

Subtitled A Stranger Among the Pilgrims, this little gem details the unlikely story of Richard More, who arrived on our shores as a child on The Mayflower…then grew up, moved north to Salem Village, and watched one of his best friends die in the infamous witch trials. The author also happens to be More’s descendant, which brings an extra passion to the telling.

By David Lindsay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When David Lindsay started researching old records for details of the life of his ancestor, Richard More, what he found illuminated more than just More's own life. The tale that emerged painted a clear and satisfying picture of the way the first comers, saints and strangers alike, set off for the new land, suffered the voyage in the Mayflower, and put down their roots to thrive on our continent's north-eastern shore. From the story emerges the individual, Richard, a man of questionable morals, much enterprise, and a good deal of old-fashioned pluck - a combination that could get him into…


Book cover of A Dark and Deadly Deception

Michelle Corbier Author Of Murder is Revealing

From my list on mystery for mature Black women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like myself, each of these novels involved older professional Black women protagonists. Each of these authors presented multidimensional women experiencing circumstances that surpass culture and ethnicity. As women age, not only do we take on new roles, but we physically and emotionally change. I appreciate books with relatable characters coping with issues I experience—menopause, aging parents, an empty nest. Reading mysteries with fictional characters dealing with situations I experience makes me feel less isolated. 

Michelle's book list on mystery for mature Black women

Michelle Corbier Why did Michelle love this book?

A heterogeneous blend of class and culture collide in Suburban Chicago as detectives Marti MacAlister and her partner Vik Jessenovik rely on experience and their connection with the neighborhood to solve a 60-year-old mystery. I was born outside of Chicago and have family that moved there during the great migration of Black Americans from the South. Both Marti and her partner juggle complex jobs while caring for loved ones—an issue relevant to my present circumstances.

By Eleanor Taylor Bland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dark and Deadly Deception as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chicago detective Marti MacAlister has her work cut out for her these days. First, during the filming of a big Hollywood movie on location in Lincoln Prairie, the body of one of the film's stars turns up dead, along the shores of the Des Plaines River. Then, the skeletal remains of another gunshot victim turn up in a hundred year old building that is being renovated. The closer Marti comes to piecing the clues of each case, the closer they come to understanding how the two cases are connected. But the longer it takes, the more dangerous the killer becomes.…


Book cover of In a Far-Off Land

Rhonda Ortiz Author Of In Pieces

From my list on historical romances for armchair Theologians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer married to a theologian. My husband and I often discuss Augustine and Aquinas, Austen and Tolstoy, Christie and Sayers, and trends in popular fiction—when we’re not discussing Frog and Toad, Elephant and Piggie, baby diapers, and what to make for dinner. Love stories have long been my favorite stories, and I’ve always enjoyed historical settings. My award-winning novel In Pieces, a 1793 Boston-set historical romance with elements of family drama, society drama, and political suspense, combines all these interests. I even managed to sneak in a diaper-changing scene.

Rhonda's book list on historical romances for armchair Theologians

Rhonda Ortiz Why did Rhonda love this book?

Biblical allegory is hard to do well. Bible stories themselves have infinite depths, but their allegories are often didactic, especially when author parallels the original story too closely. Stephanie Landem’s In a Far-Off Land is anything but didactic. Set in 1930s Hollywood, the novel is equal parts Prodigal Son retelling, romance, and murder mystery. By allowing the story to take on a life of its own, Landsem avoids the Sunday School vibe, and in the end, I understood the Prodigal Son archetypal characters better.

By Stephanie Landsem,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In a Far-Off Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Immersive, enchanting, and gripping, In A Far-Off Land is do-not-miss historical fiction.” —Patti Callahan, NYT Bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis

It’s 1931 in Hollywood, and Minerva Sinclaire is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.

As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don’t pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she’s caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she’s about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she…


Book cover of Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939

Thomas S. Hischak Author Of 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

From my list on 1939 Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing books about film, theatre, and popular music since 1991 but my love of old movies goes back much further. Before VCRs, DVDs, and streaming, one could only catch these old films on television (often cut to allow for commercial time) or revival houses. Today even the more obscure movies from 1939 are attainable. Writing 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year gave me the opportunity to revisit dozens of old favorites and to see the many also-rans of that remarkable year.

Thomas' book list on 1939 Hollywood

Thomas S. Hischak Why did Thomas love this book?

It might seem presumptuous to call 50 films from 1939 "classics" but I agree with Vieira that these 50 movies deserve that distinction. This book is filled with all the pertinent information, fun facts, and great visuals. Movie stills, behind-the-scenes candid photos, portraits, and poster art make this a memorable volume to treasure. I particularly like the attention Vieira gives to the many outstanding movie directors working in 1939.

By Mark A. Vieira,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1939 was a watershed year. The Great Depression was barely over economics, politics, and culture braced for war. There was a lull before the storm and Hollywood, as if expecting to be judged by posterity, produced a portfolio of masterpieces. No year before or since has yielded so many beloved works of cinematic art: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gunga Din, Only Angels Have Wings, Destry Rides Again, Beau Geste, Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Ninotchka, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Dark Victory, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Women , and of course, Gone With the Wind . Majestic…


Book cover of Woodstock Goes to Hollywood

Tom McCaffrey Author Of The Wise Ass

From my list on bringing magic into your daily life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a Walter Mitty view of the world. If I were a movie character, I would be Edward Bloom, in Big Fish. I have been a lawyer in the entertainment industry for almost four decades. As a result of my personality and profession, my books mix fantasy, science fiction, and the mystical into our everyday world, and I do it in a way that makes you wonder if what I’m telling you is true, causes you to hope it is true and compels you to wish you could join in the adventures.    

Tom's book list on bringing magic into your daily life

Tom McCaffrey Why did Tom love this book?

Woodstock Goes To Hollywood is a charming and wonderful book.

It can be read by any age group and shared among generations of readers. It is Winnie the Pooh for this generation. The main character is adorable and has that good-hearted naivete that causes you to instantly bond with him and root for his success. 

The story has lots of funny twists and turns and lots of interesting characters. It will most likely become one of those literary legacies that are handed down from one generation to another and is primed to be a successful series. 

Book cover of Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories

Alistair Owen Author Of The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft

From my list on writing for the big screen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of four books of interviews with filmmakers: Smoking in Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson (a Guardian Book of the Year), Story and Character: Interviews with British Screenwriters, Hampton on Hampton (an Observer Book of the Year), and The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft. I have written original and adapted screenplays and stageplays, on spec and to commission; contributed film interviews and reviews to UK magazines and newspapers; chaired Q&A events at book and screenwriting festivals; and recently published my first novel, The Vetting Officer. My next nonfiction project is a book of conversations with bestselling author and screenwriter William Boyd, for Penguin.

Alistair's book list on writing for the big screen

Alistair Owen Why did Alistair love this book?

“You never really succeed,” Andrew W. Marlowe tells the editors of Tales from the Script, “You always fail at a higher level.” So: first you can’t finish your script, then you can’t get it read, then you can’t sell it, then you can’t get it made, then it’s made – but badly. Or, in Marlowe’s case, it’s made into Air Force One and you’re asked to repeat the trick. “Even when you get to the top there’s this realization: ‘Okay, the view is great, but tomorrow I gotta get up and start climbing the mountain again.’” If you find that depressing, don’t be a screenwriter. If you see it as a challenge, read on…

By Peter Hanson, Paul Robert Herman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales from the Script as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few modern art forms are as misunderstood as the craft of creating movie scripts, but "Tales from the Script" puts readers in the trenches of the Hollywood development process. Readers will revel in the exploits of Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon"), John Carpenter ("Halloween'), Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption"), Nora Ephron ("When Harry Met Sally"), William Goldman ("The Princess Bride"), David Hayter ("Watchmen"), Bruce Joel Rubin ("Ghost"), Paul Schrader ("Taxi Driver"), Ron Shelton ("Bull Durham"), and dozens of others. They'll learn how these writers surmounted the incredible odds against breaking into Hollywood, transformed their ideas into films that topped the box…


Book cover of Hollywood's Golden Year, 1939: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration

Thomas S. Hischak Author Of 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

From my list on 1939 Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing books about film, theatre, and popular music since 1991 but my love of old movies goes back much further. Before VCRs, DVDs, and streaming, one could only catch these old films on television (often cut to allow for commercial time) or revival houses. Today even the more obscure movies from 1939 are attainable. Writing 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year gave me the opportunity to revisit dozens of old favorites and to see the many also-rans of that remarkable year.

Thomas' book list on 1939 Hollywood

Thomas S. Hischak Why did Thomas love this book?

Ted Sennett is one of the most prolific and widely-read writers about Hollywood and this book on 1939 is one of his very best works. It is filled (one might even say, stuffed) with behind-the-scenes stories. The writing is sometimes critical and analytical rather than gushing as in some of Sennett's many coffee table books. He concentrates on only seventeen 1939 movies so one doesn't get a full picture of that amazing year of movies. It's good to see some lesser-known classics like Midnight and Angels Have Wings included in the seventeen.

By Ted Sennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hollywood's Golden Year, 1939 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book on the famous year 1939 an epic year for great classic films.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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