10 books like Middlemarch

By George Eliot,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Middlemarch. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë,

Book cover of Jane Eyre

Deborah Kasdan Author Of Roll Back the World: A Sister's Memoir

From the list on startling encounters with mental illness.

Who am I?

When my older sister died, I felt a pressing need to tell her story. Rachel was a strong, courageous woman, who endured decades in a psychiatric system that failed her. She was a survivor, but the stigma of severe mental illness made her an outcast from most of society. Even so, her enduring passion for poetry inspired me to write about her. I sought out other people’s stories. I enrolled in workshops and therapy. I devoured books and blogs by survivors, advocates, and family members. Everything I read pointed to a troubling rift between the dominant medical model and more humane, less damaging ones. This list represents a slice of my learning.

Deborah's book list on startling encounters with mental illness

Discover why each book is one of Deborah's favorite books.

Why did Deborah love this book?

I first read this novel when I was ten. Pages had fallen out and even though I later found intact copies, I read it over and over to fill the gaps in my understanding.

How I loved the way Jane took charge of her fate with such intelligence, the way she captured Rochester’s heart without demeaning herself. But oh that madwoman she encountered in the attic. What did Jane make of Bertha, this “clothed hyena?”

Unlike Rochester, she didn’t blame Bertha for her violence. And while she understood Rochester’s dilemma she couldn’t agree to stay with him. In an intolerable situation, I learned, you can love a person and still leave them. Then Bertha dies in a fire she sets, allowing the couple to marry. But I never took that tacked-on ending very seriously.

By Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…

The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of The Transformational Path: How Healing, Unlearning, and Tuning into Source Helped Me Manifest My Most Abundant Life

From the list on completely transforming your life.

Who am I?

I’ve known I was “special” since I was a child. I saw, felt, and heard things that others did not. Eventually I embraced my clairaudient mediumship gifts and turned it into a thriving business, allowing me to live a life of purpose: helping others find their passions and live their most joyful lives. But the journey never ends; I am always on a mission to transform. Consistently, literature has been where I turn when I am seeking wisdom on becoming the best version of myself. I also pursued certification as a Book Therapist - the first thing I’ll recommend to friends, family, or clients is the best book for their dilemma!

Claudia's book list on completely transforming your life

Discover why each book is one of Claudia's favorite books.

Why did Claudia love this book?

J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful storytelling is unmatched, and The Lord of the Rings weaves together moral dilemmas and profound philosophical ideas seamlessly, encouraging me to contemplate the nature of power, the importance of preserving the natural world, and the significance of individual choices.

The book's themes of heroism, friendship, sacrifice, and the struggle between good and evil resonate deeply. In addition, each of his characters feels like an aspect of oneself; the introspection it inspires is brilliant!

The Lord of the Rings instills a sense of wonder, ignites the imagination, and imparts timeless wisdom, which heavily transformed my perspective on life, my values, and my understanding of the human condition.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…

Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ginger Pinholster Author Of Snakes of St. Augustine

From the list on featuring Florida in a big way.

Who am I?

My second novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, describes an unconventional love story served up with a large side of Florida weirdness. My first novel, City in a Forest, received a Gold Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. My short fiction and essays have appeared in Pangyrus, Eckerd Review, Northern Virginia Review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. I earned my bachelor’s degree in English from Eckerd College and the M.F.A. in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Currently, I’m a writer for a university in Daytona Beach, Florida. A resident of Ponce Inlet, I began volunteering with the Volusia-Flagler Sea Turtle Patrol in 2018.

Ginger's book list on featuring Florida in a big way

Discover why each book is one of Ginger's favorite books.

Why did Ginger love this book?

Anyone interested in literature featuring Florida must read Hurston’s enduring master work.

The novel describes Janie Crawford’s coming-of-age journey, especially in Eatonville, Florida, which became one of the nation’s first all-black cities, incorporated in 1887. Janie, a child of slavery and rape, flees an oppressive arranged marriage, and later, she survives abusive lovers. Originally published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God challenged gender stereotypes and presented a strong black female protagonist.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the novel is Hurston’s use of the Florida setting to both set the mood and drive plot choices. When protagonist Janie escapes violence, she flees the Panhandle for the more secluded, dense wilderness of Central Florida. There, complex waterways follow the characters’ various movements.

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Their Eyes Were Watching God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cover design by Harlem renaissance artist Lois Mailou Jones

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece…


By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of Beloved

Jodi Lynn Anderson Author Of Tiger Lily

From the list on walking the line between real and imaginary.

Who am I?

As a kid I felt the unseen magic in the things around me: it seemed as obvious as breathing, particularly when I was out in nature. These are books that brought me back to that… reminding me that being ‘realistic’ doesn’t mean ignoring what’s unseen. These stories have inspired me so deeply and driven my passion as a writer: which is basically to try to reach out to readers and say, hey, we are surrounded. There is more. This is not all there is. 

Jodi's book list on walking the line between real and imaginary

Discover why each book is one of Jodi's favorite books.

Why did Jodi love this book?

It feels presumptuous to even try to describe this novel…I can only say that to me, it is a story about a truth so painful that it can only be viewed indirectly and magically, from all the many vantage points its characters (and ghosts) offer.

A spiraling, heartbreaking explosion of a book, brilliantly structured, beautifully written, with a secret at its center. 

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…

Past Tense

By Lee Child,

Book cover of Past Tense

George Scialabba Author Of How to Be Depressed

From the list on making you temporarily forget you’re depressed.

Who am I?

My mental life has been divided between arguing and imagining. I’m a freelance book critic: when I’m healthy, I read and write about politics and philosophy most of the time and relax with literature and history the rest of the time. When I’m badly depressed, the former activities go by the board: I can’t make or summarize an argument to save my life. Mostly I’m good for nothing but streaming, if even that. But a few times when depressed I’ve laid my hands on books that have allowed me to forget about the crushing pain for a few hours. I wanted to give the same chance to others in that unhappy predicament.

George's book list on making you temporarily forget you’re depressed

Discover why each book is one of George's favorite books.

Why did George love this book?

I can’t pick just one, and they’re really all the same. The burly, idiosyncratic title character, an Army veteran, is like a knight-errant, stumbling into colossal evildoings and coolly saving America, the Army, or (occasionally) a pretty woman. The books are popcorn, potato chips, cotton candy – once you pick them up, you’ll rarely read less than a hundred pages. Is it art? Most definitely not. But will it get you through a very bad afternoon? Quite possibly.

By Lee Child,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


The most hotly anticipated thriller of the year follows our hero Jack Reacher on a quest into his father's past, and climaxes in the most blood-curdling ticking time bomb of an adventure yet.

The present can be tense . . .

A young couple trying to get to New York City are stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. Before long they're trapped in an ominous game of life and death.

But the past can be worse . . .

Meanwhile, Jack Reacher sets out on an…

Red Mars

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Book cover of Red Mars

Tony Benson Author Of Galactic Alliance: Betrayal

From the list on exploring the dangers of discovering new worlds.

Who am I?

I’ve loved all kinds of science fiction since I was a child, and always enjoy discovering new worlds, and the frisson of danger that inevitably accompanies the discovery. After a successful career in science and engineering, spanning more than three decades, I left the corporate world to make stringed instruments and to write fiction and non-fiction. My two novels are An Accident of Birth, and the space opera, Galactic Alliance: Betrayal, and I’ve written a non-fiction reference book Brass and Glass: Optical Instruments and Their Makers. I live in Kent, England with my wife, Margo, and our cat.

Tony's book list on exploring the dangers of discovering new worlds

Discover why each book is one of Tony's favorite books.

Why did Tony love this book?

When great science fiction strives for scientific credibility, and hits the nail on the head, you end up with a story like this. A hundred people arrive on Mars as the first colonisers, to begin the process of terraforming it for human habitation. The natural environment presents its own dangers, from low atmospheric pressure and unbreathable atmosphere to low gravity and destructive sandstorms. But the challenges don’t stop there. Not everyone has the same vision of the future Martian world, and the resulting conflicts threaten the whole project. The first book of a trilogy, this epic novel is a must-read for anyone who plans to make a new life on Mars.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Red Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel in Kim Stanley Robinson's massively successful and lavishly praised Mars trilogy. 'The ultimate in future history' Daily Mail

Mars - the barren, forbidding planet that epitomises mankind's dreams of space conquest.

From the first pioneers who looked back at Earth and saw a small blue star, to the first colonists - hand-picked scientists with the skills necessary to create life from cold desert - Red Mars is the story of a new genesis.

It is also the story of how Man must struggle against his own self-destructive mechanisms to achieve his dreams: before he even sets foot…


By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Persuasion

Judith Cutler Author Of The Wages of Sin

From the list on where the past is another country.

Who am I?

I always wanted to be an archaeologist and literally dig up the past, touching objects telling me about people I could never know. Why did Shetland Celts make spherical stone balls? Whose hand held that bone needle? Was that a natural or a sacrificial death? In a different way, using the great gifts of words and imagination, reading historical fiction satisfies the same desire. Yes, that was what it felt like to work for William I, known in his time as William the Bastard; yes, that was how it felt to fear for your partner’s life every time he went to sea or into battle. Please, let these books open your eyes, your mind, too.

Judith's book list on where the past is another country

Discover why each book is one of Judith's favorite books.

Why did Judith love this book?

This is the odd one out in my selection, because it was actually written at the time it was set.

It’s Austen’s only novel featuring more mature people, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth, the man she was forced to jilt when she was a girl. The slow, measured reunion of two people you would like as your friends has to my mind never been better.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'In Persuasion, Jane Austen is beginning to discover that the world is larger, more mysterious, and more romantic than she had supposed' Virginia Woolf

Jane Austen's moving late novel of missed opportunities and second chances centres on Anne Elliot, no longer young and with few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she was persuaded by others to break off her engagement to poor, handsome naval captain Frederick Wentworth. What happens when they meet again is movingly told in Austen's last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension,…

A Perfect Spy

By John le Carré,

Book cover of A Perfect Spy

Louise Burfitt-Dons Author Of The Missing Activist

From the list on spilling the beans on the political system.

Who am I?

If a book is based on personal experience it has an edge to it. So when I write my thrillers, even though they contain ample doses of make-believe, I try to anchor them to something which has happened to me. When I stook as a parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives in the 2015 UK General Election, a young supporter took his own life because of excessive bullying from within the party itself. This inspired me to write my first political thriller. It's important to me as a writer to make my stories as believable as possible.

Louise's book list on spilling the beans on the political system

Discover why each book is one of Louise's favorite books.

Why did Louise love this book?

This twisty tale of a British spy and double agent Magnus Pym is also a thinly disguised portrayal of his early life. Before turning to writing, John Le Carre worked as an intelligence officer for both MI5 and MI6. Unlike Fleming's glamorous portrayal of spies, his heroes were often depicted as lonely, tragic figures. The fact he knew the inside of the system gives his books extra gravitas.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Perfect Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The best English novel since the war." -- Philip Roth

Over the course of his seemingly irreproachable life, Magnus Pym has been all things to all people: a devoted family man, a trusted colleague, a loyal friend-and the perfect spy. But in the wake of his estranged father's death, Magnus vanishes, and the British Secret Service is up in arms. Is it grief, or is the reason for his disappearance more sinister? And who is the mysterious man with the sad moustache who also seems to be looking for Magnus?

In A Perfect Spy, John le Carre has crafted one…

Book cover of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Ed Protzel Author Of The Lies That Bind

From the list on defying stereotypes to reveal powerful themes.

Who am I?

Being a member of two historically oppressed minority groups, Jewish and Cherokee, I like to explore themes of prejudice and injustice in all my writing, even using humor, irony, or satire to tell the tale. I love guiding the reader along on a character’s journey, the joys and pains inflicted by an often unjust world. There’s nothing more satisfying than to hear a reader say: “I learned something new.” No wonder I chose to study English literature and creative writing as my undergraduate and graduate school majors. I live in St. Louis, Missouri, and am working on my fifth novel.

Ed's book list on defying stereotypes to reveal powerful themes

Discover why each book is one of Ed's favorite books.

Why did Ed love this book?

I’ve enjoyed Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as much as any adult-focused novel. Considered the first truly American novel because of its narrator and use of language, the adventures entertain with humor and drama, while offering insights into humanity. The novel is narrated by an uneducated 19th Century rascal who flees "sivilization" on a raft down the Mississippi River with a runaway slave. Like our narrator, we see his Black companion as a human being, not as a stereotypical slave of the period. Also, Huck's language, and the many characters' vernacular, while "improper," is creative and effective. For example, what would be a more perfect description than "fishbelly white"? I’ve read this novel many times, and it's invariably entertaining and illuminating. 

The State of Affairs

By Esther Perel,

Book cover of The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

Julie Metz Author Of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal

From the list on for women recovering from betrayal or divorce.

Who am I?

Though I’ve been a great reader since childhood, I sometimes describe myself as an accidental writer—I came to this work later in my life, following the events that I write about in my first memoir Perfection. Before I became a writer, I did spend many years in the publishing business designing book covers, so I appreciate all sides of the work of bringing books to readers. My favorite books help me enter new worlds for a time and re-reading favorites is like visiting a faithful friend. My recommendations here are a mix of both memoir and fiction and include some of my “desert island” favorites. I hope you enjoy them!

Julie's book list on for women recovering from betrayal or divorce

Discover why each book is one of Julie's favorite books.

Why did Julie love this book?

This book was published years after mine, but I wish it had been around when I was going through my life upheaval. The author writes about relationships and has an intelligent and thoughtful take on marriage. You might not agree with her philosophy, but her book is eye-opening, will challenge your assumptions, and shares information that might help people as they rebuild their lives after widowhood, infidelity, and divorce.

By Esther Perel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Is there such a thing as an affair-proof marriage? Is it possible to love more than one person at once? Why do people cheat? Can an affair ever help a marriage?

Infidelity is the ultimate betrayal. But does it have to be? Relationship therapist Esther Perel examines why people cheat, and unpacks why affairs are so traumatic; because they threaten our emotional security. In infidelity, she sees something unexpected - an expression of longing and loss.

A must-read for anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on, or who simply wants a new framework for…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in coming of age, bildungsroman, and the Iliad?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about coming of age, bildungsroman, and the Iliad.

Coming Of Age Explore 1,012 books about coming of age
Bildungsroman Explore 253 books about bildungsroman
The Iliad Explore 29 books about the Iliad