100 books like Merde in Europe

By Stephen Clarke,

Here are 100 books that Merde in Europe fans have personally recommended if you like Merde in Europe. 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 Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kayla Anderson Author Of Moon Northern California Road Trip: Drives along the Coast, Redwoods, and Mountains with the Best Stops along the Way

From my list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Northern California, right on the banks of the Sacramento River. While I didn’t realize it growing up, it was an epicenter for outdoor adventures. Along with skiing, snowboarding, hiking, wakeboarding, and camping, I always read a lot. My dad was worried that I would have no sense of direction because I was always in the back of our van or RV reading a book. That led to writing…and I had my first article published in a wakeboarding magazine when I was 15 years old. Traveling always took a backburner to reading, but now it’s front and center of my writing. 

Kayla's book list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair

Kayla Anderson Why did Kayla love this book?

Anyone who has ever worked in the food or hospitality industry—as a cook, a waitress, a hostess, a barista, or otherwisecan identify with this book.

The restaurant business is a different beast, and Anthony Bourdain took a huge risk in writing this and burning bridges with his bosses and coworkers. But in doing so, he unlocked the universal hidden language that food and hospitality workers share.

As a former hostess/waitress myself who spent most of her college years with a part-time job at IHOP and the Golden Waffle, I could relate to a lot of what Bourdain experienced working in NYC, especially with minority groups and how they were treated during that time. He was a huge inspiration to a lot of people, including me. 

By Anthony Bourdain,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Kitchen Confidential as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC BESTSELLER: 'The greatest book about food ever written' 'A compelling book with its intriguing mix of clever writing and kitchen patois ... more horrifically gripping than a Stephen King novel' Sunday Times 'Extraordinary ... written with a clarity and a clear-eyed wit to put the professional food-writing fraternity to shame' Observer _____________________________ After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decided to tell all - and he meant all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown;…


Book cover of Me Talk Pretty One Day

Abraham Chang Author Of 888 Love and the Divine Burden of Numbers

From my list on incorporating pop culture in unexpected ways.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a publishing professional for over 20 years, I’ve worked in a variety of jobs and positions with some of the biggest pop culture creators and brands. Just before the pandemic, I finally took time to invest in myself as a writer and set out to combine my lifelong passions for film, TV, music, video games, and books–with my skills as an award-winning poet–to write my debut novel, from my “certain point of view” as a first-generation Asian American. The books on my list here are from some of the authors that I admire–who are also “one of us”: the bookworms, the pop culture geeks, the hopeless romantics. 

Abraham's book list on incorporating pop culture in unexpected ways

Abraham Chang Why did Abraham love this book?

No one else can make me laugh through all the cringe-y, absurd, awkward pain like David Sedaris. His pop culture touch points are a bit more esoteric than (and a generation or two above) mine–but his Billie Holiday impression is impressive and absolutely pristine. Unexpected and revelatory, his essays and memoirs brought me to tears of laughter but also of compassion and empathy.

I started with this book and quickly devoured more. By the time I was a full-fledged David Sedaris reader, I was already a huge fan of Amy Sedaris–his equally talented sister–a skilled actress and comedian. Amy, matching the same level of genius as her brother, has been a mainstay of TV and film. She also appears in her brother’s writing, and the duo often collaborate creatively–notably in the respective audiobooks. I love the Sedaris family (including all the other, less Hollywood types) and always enjoy reading about…

By David Sedaris,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Me Talk Pretty One Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new collection from David Sedaris is cause for jubilation. His recent move to Paris has inspired hilarious pieces, including Me Talk Pretty One Day, about his attempts to learn French. His family is another inspiration. You Cant Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers and cashiers with 6-inch fingernails. Compared by The New Yorker to Twain and Hawthorne, Sedaris has become one of our best-loved authors. Sedaris is…


Book cover of The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

Nolan Yuma Author Of Living with the In-Laws

From my list on nonfiction for travelers to make you laugh and cry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, took my first steps in Antwerp, Belgium, and grew up in British Columbia, Canada. In other words, I was a third culture child with an identity crisis that carried on into my twenties. These books have helped me turn my past mistakes into a craft others can enjoy. Like many of the authors on my list, I’ve said yes to just about anything and lived with people from every walk of life. I’m an expert in making mistakes, but I have done one thing well, and that’s learning from people who think differently than I do. 

Nolan's book list on nonfiction for travelers to make you laugh and cry

Nolan Yuma Why did Nolan love this book?

Shah, a self-proclaimed “broke writer,” somehow affords a Moroccan mansion with maids, gardeners, and endless renovations. He doesn’t bother to develop his wife and kids as characters—they get even less attention than an extra in a movie. But at least you get to see Morocco through his self-obsessed eyes, which, fortunately, pay a lot of attention to detail. His immaculate use of sensory details will give you a traveling experience for even less than a Ryan Air flight. The book is a prime choice for anyone who wants to dive into Moroccan culture with all its superstitions. 

By Tahir Shah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he…


Book cover of Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses

Nolan Yuma Author Of Living with the In-Laws

From my list on nonfiction for travelers to make you laugh and cry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, took my first steps in Antwerp, Belgium, and grew up in British Columbia, Canada. In other words, I was a third culture child with an identity crisis that carried on into my twenties. These books have helped me turn my past mistakes into a craft others can enjoy. Like many of the authors on my list, I’ve said yes to just about anything and lived with people from every walk of life. I’m an expert in making mistakes, but I have done one thing well, and that’s learning from people who think differently than I do. 

Nolan's book list on nonfiction for travelers to make you laugh and cry

Nolan Yuma Why did Nolan love this book?

No puedo escribir una lista de libros para viajeros solo en inglés. Margaret Sayers Peden es una traductora maravillosa, pero los libros de Allende siempre son mejores en español, en particular un libro sobre comida y sexo. El “sabor” de inglés no es lo mismo que el “sabor” de español. Leí este libro en inglés cuando tenía la edad del pavo y en español durante mi veintitantos. No cuestioné las decisiones de la vida de Allende, pero este libro me hizo reflexionar por mi cuenta. Todo hombre que quiera entender a las mujeres y la comida debe leer este libro.

By Isabel Allende,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From an internationally acclaimed author, this is a magical, fascinating book exploring the intimate relationship between food and sex.

This book of recipes, sensuous stories, aphrodisiacs and lovers' spells is an irresistible fusion of Allende's favourite things. Lavishly illustrated, this fascinating, personal guide to all things erotic encompasses a multicultural history of seduction through food, ancient and modern stories and poems about sex and eating, titillating recipes and advice. Chapter titles include: Cooking in the Nude; The Spell of Smell; Death by Perfume; Table Manners; With the Tip of the Tongue; The Orgy; Sins of the Flesh; Love Potions, and…


Book cover of As Above, So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel

Elisabeth M. Lee Author Of Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

From my list on artists by non-artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a history major and artist I noticed a style of illustrations and paintings that popped up in history books, novels, and poetry collections. I found that the paintings and drawings were just scratching the surface. The lives and struggles of the artists known as Pre-Raphaelites were just as intriguing as the art. I have traveled to the many locations that the Pre-Raphaelites frequented to follow in their footsteps. I've even tried to copy their wet white painting style and was awed by the patience they must have had. I appreciate many art styles and enjoy being transported into the lives of the artists by authors as interested in art and history as I am. 

Elisabeth's book list on artists by non-artists

Elisabeth M. Lee Why did Elisabeth love this book?

As Peter Bruegel stands in the Sistine Chapel admiring Michelangelo’s work he realizes he could never compete with one who works in the heavens – above. He will confine himself to the below the common man. We follow Bruegel and his friends on his journeys, his daily life, and the inspiration he finds in the everyday world around him. His peasants are peasants. Their daily toil is not romanticized. Their feasts consist of rural fare.  Even his religious art is not idealized. It is wonderful to imagine that the author has walked in Bruegel's shoes. Rudy Rucker is a professor of math and computer science but his extensive research has brought to life an artist who left very little of his own life to history.  

By Rudy Rucker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As Above, So Below as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Bruegel's paintings - a peasant wedding in a barn, hunters in the snow, a rollicking street festival, and many others - have long defined our idea of everyday life in 16th Century Europe. In sixteen chapters Rucker brings Bruegel's painter's progress and his colourful world to vibrant life doing for Bruegel what GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING did for Vermeer. We follow the artist from the winding streets of Antwerp and Brussels to the glowing skies and decaying monuments of Rome.


Book cover of In the Prison City: Brussels, 1914-1918: A Personal Narrative

Kate Breslin Author Of High as the Heavens

From my list on World War One and the hidden world of espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American novelist and Anglophile who enjoys writing about British history, I never planned to venture into world war fiction, but once a story led me there I was hooked. I love doing deep-dive research and learning about real men and women of the past who faced high stakes: life and death situations and having to make impossible decisions, both on the battlefield and in the hidden world of espionage. Their courage and resourcefulness inspire me, and I realize that even when we’re at our most vulnerable, we can still rise to become our best and bravest when it counts. 

Kate's book list on World War One and the hidden world of espionage

Kate Breslin Why did Kate love this book?

Whenever I research for a novel, I love discovering those little-known nuggets of history. This 1918 action memoir is chocked full of them, revealing life in enemy-occupied Brussels during WWI. I was immediately drawn into this world and imagined the Belgian people’s shock and fear at the rumbling wheels of mitrailleuse guns and thundering horse’s hooves that announced the German army rolling into town. I sympathized with their hardships in being prisoners in their own city and I cheered them as they began to retaliate against their oppressors in subtle and sometimes humorous ways. Their fighting spirit became my inspiration for the story setting of my book.  

By J. H. Twells, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Prison City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1919.

Personal narrative.

World War I.


Book cover of Fatal Decision: Edith Cavell, World War I Nurse

Joanna Higgins Author Of In the Fall They Leave

From my list on WWI Angels of Mercy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I’m neither a healthcare professional nor a historian, my passions are reading great fiction and continually striving to write it. Degrees in literature led to college teaching and then full-time writing. And that, to the publication of six works of fiction, including four historical novels. So, add to the mix, then, the years spent studying and teaching literature as well as those spent writing and rewriting—and, too, being an inveterate reader—and you have, in brief, the sum of my expertise. Each of the works listed below, I feel, has super qualities. I certainly enjoyed reading such masterful work and hope you will as well.   

Joanna's book list on WWI Angels of Mercy

Joanna Higgins Why did Joanna love this book?

Terri Arthur, a retired registered nurse, obviously wrote Fatal Decision: Edith Cavell, World War I Nurse, as an homage to a British nurse whose heroism not only saved hundreds of Allied lives when the penalty for doing so was death by execution but also inspired thousands to join the Allied war effort. I appreciated the numerous historical photographs throughout this prize-winning biographical novel. The narrative and incorporated historical context beautifully dramatize the courageous actions and inner life of a great WWI hero. In an Author’s Note, Terri Arthur states that her intention in telling the story of Edith Cavell in fictional form was so that readers could fully experience Cavell’s “amazing journey.” For me, Arthur achieved her objective. This is history richly conveyed,  

By Terri Arthur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An inspiring story everyone should know…and will never forget!

Based on historical fact, this captivating novel tells the story of the legendary Edith Cavell, a British nurse whose duties as a healer clashed with the demands of a ruthless occupying regime during World War I. At the request of a brilliant,
hot-headed surgeon, Edith went from London to Brussels to create Belgium's first school of nursing. At the height of her success, the German army marched into neutral Belgium and took over her hospital and school.

Knowing the dangers of working against the repressive and brutal control of the German…


Book cover of The Ventriloquists

Reese Hogan Author Of Shrouded Loyalties

From my list on cross-dressing women in wartime.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a nonbinary trans guy, I grew up obsessed with novels about women disguising themselves as men. I loved everything about the trope, and always felt disappointed when they had to go back to living as women. It is a trope I eagerly embraced when I wrote Shrouded Loyalties, and though I didn’t yet know the term “transgender,” I was already exploring my own gender identity through my reading and writing of this theme. The books I’ve chosen to highlight here are ones that became some of my very favorites, and also feature action-packed wartime settings like the one used in Shrouded Loyalties.

Reese's book list on cross-dressing women in wartime

Reese Hogan Why did Reese love this book?

Based on a true story, this book was a treasure of a find, detailing the rebellion of artists in Nazi-occupied Belgium in 1943. Helene, a girl disguised as a male newspaper hawker, is only a side character – a cog in the machine of the farce newspaper being published by the rebels – but her incredible voice brings the movement to life, while expertly weaving in her own questions about gender and sexuality in a world she’s not sure has a place for her. The author later came out on the nonbinary spectrum as well, which really brought home for me how many of us explore our identities through our writing before coming to terms with significant truths about ourselves.

By E. R. Ramzipoor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“[A] remarkable saga.... Engrossing.” —Booklist, starred review

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.

The Nazis stole their voices. But they would not be silenced.

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network that publishes dissident underground newspapers.

The Nazis track down Aubrion’s…


Book cover of The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991

Caner Tekin Author Of Debating Turkey in Europe: Identities and Concepts

From my list on European identity for history readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a postdoctoral researcher, I'm fascinated by the notions of cultural belonging to Europe and European nation-states, as they have evolved throughout history in relation to what the holders of these notions call their "others". I know of few cases in the field of identity and memory politics that are as controversial, as curious, as fragile, and yet as fascinating as the idea of a Europe, a social and political construct that emerges from past events but is shaped for political purposes. Debates about a common European history and memory are intertwined with those about the geographical and cultural definitions of Europe, and my book list often includes the most recent examples of these interactions.

Caner's book list on European identity for history readers

Caner Tekin Why did Caner love this book?

Especially in the 20th century, the development and recognition of the ideas of Europeanism depended on developments beyond Europe in a global context.

It is impossible to understand the development of European integration and its pan-Europeanist rationale without understanding the history of colonialism, nationalism, the international socialist movement, and, of course, war. Against this background, Hobsbawm discusses, among other things, how the European project was promoted as an alternative to, and in turn threatened by, extremisms, particularly nationalism.

I am captivated by this powerful analysis done on a very large scale. Perhaps this is why the founders of the House of European History in Brussels acknowledge the influence of Hobsbawm and this book in their narrative.

By Eric Hobsbawm,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dividing the century into the Age of Catastrophe, 1914–1950, the Golden Age, 1950–1973, and the Landslide, 1973–1991, Hobsbawm marshals a vast array of data into a volume of unparalleled inclusiveness, vibrancy, and insight, a work that ranks with his classics The Age of Empire and The Age of Revolution.

In the short century between 1914 and 1991, the world has been convulsed by two global wars that swept away millions of lives and entire systems of government. Communism became a messianic faith and then collapsed ignominiously.  Peasants became city dwellers, housewives became workers—and, increasingly leaders.  Populations became literate even as…


Book cover of Wellington's Dearest Georgy: The Life and Loves of Lady Georgiana Lennox

Joanne Major Author Of A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages That Changed History

From my list on the untold lives of women throughout history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I often feel as if I live with one foot in the present, and one in the past. It’s always been the little-known stories that fascinate me the most, especially women’s history. Their lives can be harder to research, but more rewarding for that. As a writer and historian, it has been wonderful to discover the histories of intriguing but ‘overlooked’ women, and to share their tales. I hope you enjoy reading the books I have selected as much as I did!

Joanne's book list on the untold lives of women throughout history

Joanne Major Why did Joanne love this book?

A romantic attachment between Lady Georgina ‘Georgy’ Lennox, later Baroness de Ros, and the Duke of Wellington matured into a long-lasting friendship. Georgy was present at the Duchess of Richmond’s famous ball, held before the Battle of Waterloo. Through Georgy’s eyes, we gain a different perspective on events—and people—that we thought we knew all about. This is a fascinating look at the life of a little-known woman who was a first-hand witness to some of the most important events of her era.

By Alice Marie Crossland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wellington's Dearest Georgy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using largely unpublished sources, this book tells the story of Lady Georgiana Lennox and the unique friendship she cherished with the Duke of Wellington. She first met the Duke on his return from India when he was serving under Georgy's father as Chief Secretary. The Lennox family moved to Brussels in 1813 and Georgy's mother the Duchess of Richmond threw the now legendary ball the night before the Battle of Waterloo. Georgy was a young, beautiful and immensely popular young lady at the time with many suitors. She and the Duke enjoyed a flirtatious early friendship, which blossomed into a…


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