100 books like Mary Lincoln's Insanity Case

By Jason Emerson,

Here are 100 books that Mary Lincoln's Insanity Case fans have personally recommended if you like Mary Lincoln's Insanity Case. 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 Mrs. Lincoln: A Life

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

While Mary Lincoln (although we often call her "Mary Todd Lincoln," she preferred "Mary Lincoln," "Mrs. Abraham Lincoln," or the unassuming "Mrs. A. Lincoln") has been the subject of several biographies, this is my favorite, and one which I always used as my first resource when checking a fact or looking for a reference about Mary Lincoln. It's readable, well-sourced, and sympathetic toward its subject without veering into hagiography or being overly indulgent of Mary's foibles.

By Catherine Clinton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“This engaging, wonderfully written narrative provides fresh insight into this complex woman. It is a triumph.” —Doris Kearns Goodwin

Catherine Clinton, author of the award-winning Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, returns with Mrs. Lincoln, the first new biography in almost 20 years of Mary Todd Lincoln, one of the most enigmatic First Ladies in American history. Called “fascinating” by Ken Burns and “spirited and fast-paced” by the Boston Globe, Mrs. Lincoln is a meticulously researched and long overdue addition to the historical record. In the words of Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Joseph Ellis, Mrs. Lincoln “is distinctive for its abiding…


Book cover of The Mary Lincoln Enigma: Historians on America's Most Controversial First Lady

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

This collection of essays focuses on a variety of topics, including Mary's relationships, her siblings, her life at the only home she and her husband owned together, her travels, her fashion sense, her psyche, her depiction in photographs and illustrations, and her portrayal in fiction. Although these essays are relatively short, they're crammed full of interesting details. You can read the book straight through or (as I prefer) dip in and out of it at your leisure.

By Frank J. Williams (editor), Michael Burkhimer (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mary Lincoln is a lightning rod for controversy. Stories reveal widely different interpretations, and it is impossible to write a definitive version of her life that will suit everyone. The thirteen engaging essays in this collection introduce Mary Lincoln's complex nature and show how she is viewed today. The authors' explanations of her personal and private image stem from a variety of backgrounds, and through these lenses-history, theater, graphic arts, and psychiatry-they present their latest research and assessments. Here they reveal the effects of familial culture and society on her life and give a broader assessment of Mary Lincoln as…


Book cover of House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, a Family Divided by War

Susan Higginbotham Author Of The First Lady and the Rebel

From my list on First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical fiction about real-life characters, some relatively obscure, some very well known. One of my main goals is to avoid the stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions that have gathered around historical figures. At the same time, I strive to remain true to known historical facts and to the mores of the times in which my characters lived. I use both primary sources—letters, newspapers, diaries, wills, and so forth—and modern historical research to bring my characters to life.

Susan's book list on First Lady Mary Lincoln

Susan Higginbotham Why did Susan love this book?

When Abraham Lincoln came to Washington to assume the presidency, he was surrounded not by members of his own family, but by his wife's. Some of the Todds would remain loyal to the Union; others would fight for (and die for) the Confederacy; a few would find themselves hopelessly pulled between the two sides. I found this to be an absorbing story of the sprawling, quarrelsome Kentucky clan who helped shape Mary and whose division mirrored that of the nation.

By Stephen Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Addressing the personal costs of a family divided by the Civil War, a historian focuses on Mary Todd Lincoln's family, whose loyalties were split between the Union and Confederacy, examining the influence of the Todd family saga on how Lincoln approached the war and his humanistic dealings with the shared tragedy on both sides of the Civil War.


Book cover of Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters

Charles B. Strozier Author Of Lincoln's Quest for Union

From my list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got my first job as a professor of history in 1972 in Springfield, Illinois, at a new university there. What can you do in Springfield except work on Lincoln? The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Lincoln draws you in. His lively mind and always well-written letters, along with his brilliant and memorable speeches, are endlessly fascinating. He also had genuine integrity as a human being and as a leader in our greatest crisis as a country. It is hard not to be inspired by Abraham Lincoln.

Charles' book list on Abraham Lincoln from a historian and psychoanalyst

Charles B. Strozier Why did Charles love this book?

Mary Todd Lincoln has been seriously misunderstood by most observers (including her most recent biographer). She was in fact a smart, lively, well-educated woman whom Lincoln loved and to whom he was emotionally drawn. Her troubled personality led to some distance between her and her husband in the 1850s, and her post-assassination despair grew in large part from the unrelenting criticism she endured. This definitive collection of her letters, interspersed with excellent biographical information, contextualizes the documents in a highly readable volume. Mary Todd Lincoln deserves our close and sympathetic attention.

By Justin G. Turner, Linda Levitt Turner, Mary Todd Lincoln

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The personal correspondences of Mary Todd Lincoln create an intimate portrait of her life and marriage to Lincoln as well as her struggles after his death


Book cover of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

Lisa Ard Author Of Brighter Than Her Fears

From my list on historical fiction with a strong female lead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a well-written historical fiction novel that immerses me in the time period and introduces a female character I can relate to. We may live in different times, but women in all eras feel love, attempt and fail, find strength, perform heroic deeds,  suffer mishaps, and experience life. Escaping into their stories makes me question what I would have done in their shoes as well as think about how my own story is still being written. As a historical fiction author, I seek to create those relationships between my characters and readers.

Lisa's book list on historical fiction with a strong female lead

Lisa Ard Why did Lisa love this book?

Imagine a former slave working in the White House before and after Emancipation. What conversations were heard? How was she treated? Did she feel safe or threatened?

Chiaverini dives into the interiority of Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker's story, the conflicts, the battles, the personal dreams and aspirations, the friendship and falling out around a historical figure few know.

A riveting story.

By Jennifer Chiaverini,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters and Canary Girls unveils the private lives of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, through the eyes of the First Lady's most trusted confidante and friend in this compelling historical novel.

In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion.

A sweeping historical novel,…


Book cover of It's Kind of a Funny Story

Nash Jenkins Author Of Foster Dade Explores the Cosmos

From my list on teenage sentimentality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do not remember a time when I wasn’t captivated by stories about adolescence. This was the case when I myself was a teenager—when I sought in these overwrought sagas the sort of sentimental melodrama that eluded the banality of my own life—but curiously it’s no less true at thirty, for reasons that are fundamentally the same but somehow more urgent. Becoming an adult is an exercise in hardening; to grow up is to forget what it’s like to be beholden to one’s own autobiographical romance. The following titles offer a respite from the cynicism that is adulthood; as a writer and a human, I'm forever in their debt.

Nash's book list on teenage sentimentality

Nash Jenkins Why did Nash love this book?

This is another novel written expressly for teenagers, and all the better for it.

Inflected by the author’s own autobiographical experiences—like Craig, the novel’s narrator, Vizzini spent a week in a psychiatric hospital as a teenager—It’s Kind of a Funny Story was the first work of fiction I’d read that articulated the adolescent experience through the language of mental health. It was here that I learned “depression” isn’t an abstracted emotion but the very real neurochemical imbalance that impels Craig to call the suicide hotline after abandoning his SSRIs.

There’s an uncanny familiarity to the circumstances of Craig’s breakdown—namely in how he struggles to remain above water at a famously rigorous college preparatory high school—and a fundamental earnestness to his story’s confessions that gilds even its grimmest moments with a fifteen-year-old's sense of impressionable wonder.

By Ned Vizzini,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked It's Kind of a Funny Story 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?


Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life—which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job—Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does.  That’s when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and…


Book cover of Moby-Dick

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?

It centers on and celebrates becoming—molting from one skin to another. For Ishmael this is a transition from a tired and limiting worldview to something fresh and alive.

The “bosom buddies” at the heart of the novel, Ishmael and Queequeg, seem comprised of opposites, but Ishmael’s etherealizing is grounded by Queequeg’s pragmatic ingenuity in ways that quiet and expand the young pagan-Presbyterian’s buzzing, anxious mind. Theirs is a friendship of succor, probably sex, and survival—all of it shadowed by the delusional obsessions of their mad captain.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.


Book cover of The Alienist

R.H. Emmers Author Of Lynerkim's Dance and Other Stories

From my list on stories you should read (but probably haven’t).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been attracted to the overlooked, the obscure, the forbidden. Maybe it’s as simple as the fact I grew up in a time when it seemed natural to rebel against norms. Or maybe it’s that I inherited an oddball gene from some ancient ancestor. Anyway, it led me to interesting adventures—hanging out with a crew of gun runners in eastern Turkey—and interesting career choices—strike organizer, private detective, etc. It also shaped my reading and my writing. I read everything, but I’m particularly drawn to the quirkyGrendel, the fiction of Christine Rivera Garza for instance. And in my writing too: Lynerkim, the protagonist of my novella, is undoubtedly an odd duck.

R.H.'s book list on stories you should read (but probably haven’t)

R.H. Emmers Why did R.H. love this book?

If you need inspiration to write strange stories, then read the Brazilian Machado de Assis. In his photos he looks like a prim and proper gentleman, giving no hint he wrote some of the whackiest fiction you’ll ever encounter—for example, one story is told from the perspective of a needle. The Alienist is a favorite. Bacamarte, a man devoted to science, opens an insane asylum in the town of Itaguaí, taking in the mentally ill. But his scientific mind leads him to the inevitable conclusion that he must also include healthy people who, according to his diagnosis, are about to go crazy. Soon, his asylum, Casa Verdi, accommodates the entire town. Then, in the ending of the story… Well, you’ll have to read it yourself to find out. 

By Machado De Assis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic work of literature by “the greatest author ever produced in Latin America.” (Susan Sontag)
 
Brilliant physician Simão Bacamarte sacrifices a prestigious career to return home and dedicate himself to the budding field of psychology. Bacamarte opens the first asylum in Brazil hoping to crown himself and his hometown with “imperishable laurels.” But the doctor begins to see signs of insanity in more and more of his neighbors. . . .

With dark humor and sparse prose, The Alienist lets the reader ponder who is really crazy.

***

This is a Hybrid Book.

Melville House HybridBooks combine print and…


Book cover of Breathless

Brandi Reeds Author Of Trespassing

From my list on starring empowered women.

Why am I passionate about this?

My life, in particular, has been a series of challenges to overcome, from an attempted kidnapping at age eight to surviving breast cancer (twice!) before the age of forty-five. I believe in a world of equal opportunity, but I know the pursuit of happiness takes hard work. As a general contractor in the male-dominated construction industry, I’m well aware of gender biases in our world and the dedication it takes to overcome them. However, the struggle empowers us all, and even small victories inspire us to overcome adversity. Life is a survival story, and art imitates life. So I crave, read, and write novels starring empowered women.

Brandi's book list on starring empowered women

Brandi Reeds Why did Brandi love this book?

Breathless is Warman’s first full-length novel, perhaps lesser known than some of her others, and it’s a brilliant example of coming to age. Warman’s style is propulsive and character-driven. Katie, often overlooked due to the attention her older brother requires, is forced to make her own way in the world. She attends boarding school and finds family among people to whom she has no biological relation.

I first met Warman while earning a master’s degree in writing alongside her.  Needless to say, I learned as much from her as from our instructors. Her ability to throw a reader into immediate conflict, as well as her talent to put one at ease, is notable—especially here, where her young protagonist navigates a crooked path to the promise of happiness.

By Jessica Warman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Breathless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

When Katie Kitrell is shipped off to boarding school, it doesn't take her long to become part of the It Crowd. She's smart, she's cute, and she's a swimming prodigy who has a first-class ticket to any Ivy League school of her choice. But what her new friends, roommate, and boyfriend don't know is that Katie is swimming away from the secrets of her past, and from the schizophrenic older brother, Will, who won't let her go. As Katie's star rises, Will descends deeper into insanity. And when he does the unthinkable, it's all Katie can do to keep her…


Book cover of Ten Days in a Mad-House

Jerry Mitchell Author Of Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era

From my list on learning about investigative reporting.

Why am I passionate about this?

The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped get two people off Death Row. The author of Race Against Time, Mitchell is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit that exposes corruption and injustices, investigates cold cases, gives voice to the voiceless, and raises up the next generation of investigative reporters.

Jerry's book list on learning about investigative reporting

Jerry Mitchell Why did Jerry love this book?

Nellie Bly was one of the great muckraking reporters in American history. She pretends to be insane and is admitted to the “mad house.” Along the way, she exposes the horrible treatment of those suffering from mental illness, but of her treatment in a boarding home, where spoiled beef was served.

Many at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Roosevelt Island suffered no mental illness; they simply didn’t know how to speak English, she wrote. “I left the insane ward with pleasure and regret—pleasure that I was once more able to enjoy the free breath of heaven; regret that I could not have brought with me some of the unfortunate women who lived and suffered with me, and who, I am convinced, are just as sane as I was and am now myself.”

Her reporting led to a grand jury investigation and reforms inside the asylum.

By Nellie Bly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ten Days in a Mad-House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ten Days in a Mad-House (1887) is a book by American investigative journalist Nellie Bly. For her first assignment for Joseph Pulitzer's famed New York World newspaper, Bly went undercover as a patient at a notorious insane asylum on Blackwell's Island. Spending ten days there, she recorded the abuses and neglect she witnessed, turning her research into a sensational two-part story for the New York World later published as Ten Days in a Mad-House.

Checking into a New York boardinghouse under a false identity, Bly began acting in a disturbed, unsettling manner, prompting the police to be summoned. In a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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