100 books like Mary Jane

By Jessica Anya Blau,

Here are 100 books that Mary Jane fans have personally recommended if you like Mary Jane. 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 Second Life of Mirielle West

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

Amanda Skenandore’s beautiful and insightful novel about a silent film star who was sent to live in a Louisiana Leper Colony in the 1920s. The book is rich and full of surprising historical details. While it might seem like a downer – it is funny and heartwarming, with a beautiful coming-of-age story and romance at its heart.  Absolutely fascinating.

By Amanda Skenandore,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Second Life of Mirielle West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.
 
Based on the true story of America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout…


Book cover of Such a Pretty Girl

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

NYC in the ’70s gets the spotlight with all of its grit and glitter in this extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking novel about a mother and daughter. It’s not just rich in fascinating detail about the time and setting, it’s a nuanced look at women’s sexuality and the price of fame and family obligations.

By T. Greenwood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Such a Pretty Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jodi Picoult, and Emma Cline, this vividly lyrical, evocative novel from the award-winning author transports readers to the gritty atmosphere of 1970s New York City as the precarious lines between girl and woman, art and obscenity, fetish and fame flicker and ignite for a young girl on the brink of stardom and a mother on the verge of collapse.

“A gorgeously written, emotionally resonant novel about mothers and daughters.” —Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author

In 1970s New York, her innocence is seductive.
Four decades later, it’s a crime...

Living peacefully in Vermont,…


Book cover of When We Lost Our Heads

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

Heather O’Neill is one of my favorite authors. She lives in the nuanced and gritty places in relationships. She also sets her novels in really exciting and different time periods. I could pick any of her books, but her latest is so delicious. When We Lost our Heads is set during the turn of the 19th century in Montreal. It’s about two women from different economic realities and families – who forge a very unlikely, volatile, destructive, and important relationship. It is funny and dark and the time and setting are vital and exciting. 

By Heather O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When We Lost Our Heads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Every decent friendship comes with a drop of hatred. But that hatred is like honey in the tea. It makes it addictive.”

Charismatic Marie Antoine is the daughter of the richest man in 19th century Montreal. She has everything she wants, except for a best friend—until clever, scheming Sadie Arnett moves to the neighborhood. Immediately united by their passion and intensity, Marie and Sadie attract and repel each other in ways that thrill them both. Their games soon become tinged with risk, even violence. Forced to separate by the adults around them, they spend years engaged in acts of alternating…


Book cover of The Thread Collectors

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

This novel set in 1863 during the Civil War, about two women – one enslaved in New Orleans, the other Jewish and living in New York City who risk everything for the soldiers they love. There is so much fascinating historical detail in this book - the war, the experience of Black men as soldiers, the brutal life of enslaved women in the deep south, the community they created because of and despite of the brutality. Northern free women and their domestic roles and limitations – the communities they built. It’s about bravery and needlepoint. Seriously.

By Shaunna J. Edwards, Alyson Richman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“An unforgettable story of female strength, hope and friendship. This collaborative work is magnificent—a true revelation!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star

“A brilliant story brimming with unexpected friendships and family ties. Historically sound and beautifully stitched, The Thread Collectors will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of Yellow Wife  

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound…


Book cover of Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music

Jon Burlingame Author Of Music for Prime Time: A History of American Television Themes and Scoring

From my list on film and television composers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a working journalist for 50 years, and as a child of TV, especially in the 1960s, I grew up with some of the most memorable TV themes ever written. I started writing about TV in the 1980s, and since moving to Los Angeles in 1986, have used every opportunity to meet and interview all of my favorite composers of movie and TV music. The result is this book, which looks at the history of TV themes and, in a larger sense, music written for TV generally. Every genre of TV, from crime to sitcoms, westerns to adventure, has had fun, often compelling, and truly memorable music, and I've tried to celebrate it here.

Jon's book list on film and television composers

Jon Burlingame Why did Jon love this book?

Mancini wrote "Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses," the Pink Panther theme and, for TV, music for Peter Gunn, Newhart, and The Thorn Birds.

He was the first film composer to become a household name in the 1960s and '70s. His cool jazz for Peter Gunn was so popular and influential that every cop and detective for the next 20 years was accompanied by "crime jazz," as it became known.

This is less about Mancini's personal life than about his career (the composer covered that already in his autobiography, Did They Mention the Music?), but I was captivated, particularly with Caps' ability to convey the essence of Mancini's music in descriptive words and phrases.

And it's a thorough chronicle of the work.

By John Caps,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through film composer Henry Mancini, mere background music in movies became part of pop culture--an expression of sophistication and wit with a modern sense of cool and a lasting lyricism that has not dated. The first comprehensive study of Mancini's music, Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music describes how the composer served as a bridge between the Big Band period of World War II and the impatient eclecticism of the Baby Boomer generation, between the grand formal orchestral film scores of the past and a modern American minimalist approach. Mancini's sound seemed to capture the bright, confident, welcoming voice of the…


Book cover of The Takeaway Men

Rose Ross Author Of Lila

From my list on post-Holocaust coming of age fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the only child of Holocaust survivors, I wanted to know everything, and my parents would tell me nothing. "It is to spare you" would be my mother's words of comfort to me. Sadly they were not. Growing up is at best complex; growing up as children of Holocaust survivors is even more so. Some second-generation children could escape the shadow of their parents' suffering; for others, their parents' experiences led them, as I did, into early maturity.

Rose's book list on post-Holocaust coming of age fiction

Rose Ross Why did Rose love this book?

Takeaway Men is a novel that proves once again that you can never forget. Aron and Judy Lubinski and their twin daughters, Bronka and Johanna, leave a Displaced Person Camp in Poland and immigrate to America, hoping to build a new life and escape the horrors of the Holocaust behind them. Through the kindness of Izzy, a cousin that immigrated earlier to America, they settle in Izzy and his wife, Faye's home in Queens, NY. In their neighborhood, we meet other immigrants, survivors, all working hard to build a better life for themselves and their children. Each of the other characters has a different story. They bring another perception of how people try to deal with the experiences of loss, trauma, doubt, and everyday complexities of life. We see this most clearly in the inner thoughts of Aron and Judy. Their struggle is, at times, painful and sorrowful and affects…

By Meryl Ain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents' pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories…


Book cover of Lessons

Jane Hamilton Author Of The Excellent Lombards

From my list on sad but funny bummer literature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m no particular expert on anything, but I know what I love in a book, and I’ve read approximately a million books, plus or minus. I’ve written novels with the hope that they will be funny and poignant in about equal measure, I value humor in books more than just about anything, and here I have listed books that I cherish.  

Jane's book list on sad but funny bummer literature

Jane Hamilton Why did Jane love this book?

I fell off the Ewan McEwan wagon for several years. 

Why? His sentences are gorgeous and impeccable but sometimes his plots seemed glitchy to me or his research was too in your face. But, Lessons! It’s one of those books that has so much of the world in it, while at the same time the characters are deep, vivid, flawed (yes, indeed), and the scenes intense and unforgettable. 

The clarity of his thinking and his understanding of politics, the eras we’ve lived through, the confusion of emotions we suffer from, and the way people fail each other as well as show up—I clutch this book to my heart.  

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover the Sunday Times bestselling new novel from Ian McEwan.

Lessons is an intimate yet universal story of love, regret and a restless search for answers.

When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has descended, young Roland Baines's life is turned upside down. Stranded at boarding school, his vulnerability attracts his piano teacher, Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Twenty-five years later Roland's wife mysteriously vanishes, and he is left alone with their baby son. Her disappearance sparks of journey of…


Book cover of Dear Mrs. Bird

Annie Lyons Author Of The Air Raid Book Club

From my list on WW1 and 2 fiction featuring brilliant female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved history. When I wrote The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett in 2019, I particularly enjoyed writing Eudora’s flashback scenes set during the Second World War and decided, in my wisdom, to write a novel entirely set during that time. After a lot of research (disappearing down the occasional rabbit hole), I began to write The Air Raid Book Club, creating a cast of female characters who show quiet courage and incredible resilience as they support their community by forming a book club during the course of the war. It was a joy to write and I hope readers derive similar joy from reading it and the books I’ve recommended!

Annie's book list on WW1 and 2 fiction featuring brilliant female characters

Annie Lyons Why did Annie love this book?

For a woman brought up on a diet of PG Wodehouse, the character of Mrs. Bird felt like an old friend.

She is larger than life in the best sense of the word and this story of Emmy Lake and her wartime experience of working for the formidable woman is a joy from beginning to end. You are rooting for Emmy at every step first in her bid for journalistic stardom and then when she decides to play agony aunt to the women who desperately need her help.

A gorgeous, uplifting treat of a read.

By AJ Pearce,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Richard & Judy Book Club Pick and Sunday Times Bestseller

'Funny, fresh, and touching, Dear Mrs Bird is a treat of a read.' Annie Barrows, author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

'The sweetest, most uplifting, lovely book about courage, friendship, love . . . It'll be huge; it deserves to be' Marian Keyes

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she…


Book cover of Abigail

Ennie Smith Author Of School of Ladies: The Debutantes

From my list on set in boarding schools for girls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an archaeologist and addicted to reading and writing historical fictions. My first big love is history and I prefer Victorian Era. I’m interested in women’s lives and their habits and relationships in the old times. I was born and raised in Hungary, I’m often stay in London. I was working for years in museums in different cities while I was writing historical short stories and my first novel. School of Ladies – The Debutantes is a historical romance which has won an Audience Award in my country.

Ennie's book list on set in boarding schools for girls

Ennie Smith Why did Ennie love this book?

I can’t forget my very talented compatriot, Magda Szabó’s great writing. I am very proud of her and her success. It was hard work and lasted a lifetime for her to reach as Hungarian her books became popular worldwide. I hope one day I can follow her… This book is set in a religious school in the middle of World War II. The protagonist is young Gina, the daughter of a Hungarian General. The novel analyzes important social problems, teenager problems. At first, Gina is an outcast then we can see how she tries to fit in the class, and she makes friends. Friendship and togetherness are in the spotlight in this novel.

By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A teenage girl's difficult journey towards adulthood in a time of war.

"A school story for grownups that is also about our inability or refusal to protect children from history" SARAH MOSS

"Of all Szabo's novels, Abigail deserves the widest readership. It's an adventure story, brilliantly written" TIBOR FISCHER

Of all her novels, Magda Szabo's Abigail is indeed the most widely read in her native Hungary. Now, fifty years after it was written, it appears for the first time in English, joining Katalin Street and The Door in a loose trilogy about the impact of war on those who have…


Book cover of You May Plow Here: The Narrative of Sara Brooks

Melissa Walker Author Of Southern Farmers and Their Stories: Memory and Meaning in Oral History

From my list on first-person accounts of twentieth century South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised on a dairy farm in Tennessee, and I grew up steeped in my grandparents’ stories about the “hard times before the War” and the challenges of making a living on the land as the southern farm economy was transformed by industrialization and modernization. I learned to appreciate the deep insights found in the stories of so-called ordinary people. As a historian, I became committed to using oral history to explore the way people understood their lives, in my own research and writing and in my teaching. I assigned all five of these books to my own students at Converse University who always found them to be powerful reading.

Melissa's book list on first-person accounts of twentieth century South

Melissa Walker Why did Melissa love this book?

Sara Brooks was one of seventeen children raised by landowning African American farmers in Alabama. Hers is a lively and evocative account of growing up on the land in a loving family and a harsh coming of age at the hands of an abusive man. Like many southern black women of the era, Brooks is able to escape the bleak conditions of her life by moving first to Mobile and then to Cleveland where she worked as a domestic, eventually acquiring her own home and reuniting with the children she had been forced to leave behind. Hers is a hopeful and richly textured story of resistance and resilience.

By Sara Brooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You May Plow Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The daughter of a freeholder, Sara Brooks was born in 1911 on her parents' subsistence farm in west Alabama. Here in her own words, she makes us understand what it felt like to be young, black, innocent, and steeped in the ways of a black rural world that has largely been lost to us.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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