100 books like Mrs. Dalloway

By Virginia Woolf,

Here are 100 books that Mrs. Dalloway fans have personally recommended if you like Mrs. Dalloway. 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 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 Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year

Helene Stapinski Author Of Murder In Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy

From my list on why your family left Southern Italy a century ago.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent a decade researching my own dramatic family story in Southern Italy – a story of murder and passion – so I took a deep dive to learn about a hidden culture my relatives left behind when they came here to America in steerage. As a fellow at the New York Public Library, I literally read hundreds of books, articles, and papers over those ten years to try and educate myself about the world I was entering for my own search. These are the books that touched me the most deeply – and continue to – not just with their own intense research but with their emotion and gorgeous prose.

Helene's book list on why your family left Southern Italy a century ago

Helene Stapinski Why did Helene love this book?

This was the first book I read about Basilicata, and it is essential for anyone interested in Southern Italian roots. Written in staggeringly poetic language, it offers a sad but beautiful introduction to the culture and history of the region, which is hardly ever written about and barely even visited, even by Italians.

During WWII, Levi was sent as a prisoner to Basilicata as punishment, to work as a doctor among the peasants there. The book taught me about the feudal farm system still in place there well into the 20th century, about its inhospitable landscape, and its isolated, poverty-stricken population – my ancestors.

It set the bar high for me to write my own memoir and continues to inspire me. The title refers to the fact that the train line only went as far as Eboli – that Christianity and civilization stopped short of Basilicata.

By Carlo Levi, Frances Frenaye (translator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Christ Stopped at Eboli as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'There should be a history of this Italy, a history outside the framework of time, confining itself to that which is changeless and eternal, in other words, a mythology. This Italy has gone its way in darkness and silence, like the earth, in a sequence of recurrent seasons and recurrent misadventures. Every outside influence has broken over it like a wave, without leaving a trace.'

So wrote Carlo Levi - doctor, painter, philosopher, and man of conscience - in describing the land and the people of Lucania, where he was banished in 1935, at the start of the Ethiopian war,…

Book cover of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families

Roland Merullo Author Of Dessert with Buddha

From my list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twenty novels tend to focus on characters who face great challenges, and I have a particular appreciation for beautiful prose. I don’t read for distraction or entertainment, but to be enlightened, moved, and made more compassionate about different kinds of people in different environments.

Roland's book list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction

Roland Merullo Why did Roland love this book?

This is the story of a highly educated writer living with the poorest of the poor in the U.S. Agee was sent to live with Alabama sharecroppers during the Depression. His assignment was to write about them for a magazine, but he ended up making it into a magnificent memoir (Jimmy Carter’s favorite memoir) that is often paired with Walker Evans’ photos. They lived and worked as a team.

Agee is a well-educated, well-off writer, but manages to describe the lives of the poorest of the poor with great respect, artistic originality, and sincerity, and to give us a full, if painful, understanding of the lives of people who could not afford shoes and were worked to the bone by the landowners.

It’s a deeply spiritual work, artistically original in structure and language, a long, slow, magnificent read that has touched me deeply each time I’ve read it.

By James Agee, Walker Evans,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1936, Agee and Evans set out on assignement for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration and a watershed literary event when in 1941 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was first published to enourmous critical acclaim. This unspairing record of place, of the people who shaped the land, and of the rhythm of their lives today stands as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century.

Book cover of The Persian Boy

Ruth Vanita Author Of Memory of Light

From my list on lesbian and gay literary fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to my mother, I grew up immersed in English literature. I was educated in Delhi and co-founded the first nationwide feminist magazine, but same-sex love was never mentioned either in the classroom or in the women’s movement. I educated myself in Indian literature and discovered that same-sex sexuality had been practiced and written about until the British criminalized it. I wrote several books about same-sex unions in Indian literature and history and translated poetry and fiction from Hindi and Urdu to English. My first novel, Memory of Light, is a love story between two courtesans, based in pre-colonial India, where poets freely wrote about same-sex, as well as cross-sex love. 

Ruth's book list on lesbian and gay literary fiction

Ruth Vanita Why did Ruth love this book?

This is one of the first books I found when I was scrounging around for gay literature in Indian bookshops in the early 1980s. I re-read it every few years; as one of Oscar Wilde’s characters remarks, “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

Renault brings the ancient Greek world to life as no other novelist has. She delineates the wonderfully erotic and moving relationship between Alexander the Great and his Persian lover, Bagoas, who narrates the story.

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Persian Boy traces the last years of Alexander's life through the eyes of his lover, Bagoas. Abducted and gelded as a boy, Bagoas is sold as a courtesan to King Darius of Persia, but finds freedom with Alexander the Great after the Macedon army conquers his homeland. Their relationship sustains Alexander as he weathers assassination plots, the demands of two foreign wives, a sometimes mutinous army, and his own ferocious temper. After Alexander's mysterious death, we are left wondering if this Persian boy understood the great warrior and his ambitions better than anyone.

Book cover of The Great Gatsby

David Nicholson Author Of The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration

From my list on race in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Though I was born in the U.S., I didn’t wind up living here full-time till I was almost 10. The result? I have always been curious about what it means to be an American. In one way or another, the books on my list explore that question. More than that, all (well, nearly all) insist that black history is inextricably intertwined with American history and that American culture is a mulatto culture, a fusion of black and white. After years of making my living as a journalist, editor, and book reviewer, I left newspapers to write fiction and non-fiction, exploring these and other questions.

David's book list on race in America

David Nicholson Why did David love this book?

Was the hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic African-American?

A couple of academics have advanced that theory. I’m not sure I buy it. The notion (and supporting “evidence”) seems little more than a literary parlor game, not to mention the fact that nothing in Fitzgerald’s work or his letters shows a particular engagement with, or sympathy for, black Americans.

Still, it’s an interesting metaphor and the reason this seminal American novel appears in a list of what’s otherwise non-fiction. Gatsby’s yearning for his lost love could be an African-American yearning for a beloved country that does not always love them in return.

I first read this book in high school. It wasn’t until my second, third, and fourth re-reading that I began to appreciate Fitzgerald’s gift for story-telling and his evocative, poignant language. And to identify with Gatsby, the outsider craving to become an insider.

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Great Gatsby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the summer unfolds, Nick is drawn into Gatsby's world of luxury cars, speedboats and extravagant parties. But the more he hears about Gatsby - even from what Gatsby himself tells him - the less he seems to believe. Did he really go to Oxford University? Was Gatsby a hero in the war? Did he once kill a man? Nick recalls how he comes to know Gatsby and how he also enters the world of his cousin Daisy and her wealthy husband Tom. Does their money make them any happier? Do the stories all connect? Shall we come to know…

Book cover of Atonement

Victor Lodato Author Of Honey

From my list on packing an emotional punch.

Why am I passionate about this?

In addition to writing novels, I’m also a playwright. Whatever form I work in, I’m drawn to character, drama, and emotion. I aspire to write literary page-turners that feel as rich and complicated as real life.  Also, I want the endings of my books to slay readers and break their hearts. Of course, when I say that, I’m not necessarily speaking of sorrow; sometimes your heart breaks from expanding, from a surfeit of feeling. Your heart breaks only to grow larger.

Victor's book list on packing an emotional punch

Victor Lodato Why did Victor love this book?

This novel is a shattering tale of how a child’s error in judgment changes the lives of everyone around her. When I finished reading it, I was so shocked I started trembling.

The novel is a magic trick—it inspires you with its art, while at the same time making you weep for the fate of its characters.

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a…

Book cover of The Rings of Saturn

Stephen Downes Author Of The Hands of Pianists

From my list on to challenge hardcore readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved challenging books. They work your brain and confront your ideas. They’re written in a foreign tongue that somehow or other we understand. In my 2019 PhD, I examined how W. G. Sebald used nostalgia and the uncanny in his four great prose fictions. My own The Hands of Pianists is greatly influenced by Sebaldian techniques. It received a rave review from arguably Australia’s best literary critic and was among five novels shortlisted for the 2022 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Five of my short stories have been longlisted and shortlisted in recent UK competitions. Last Meal won the UK’s 2020 Fiction Factory prize.

Stephen's book list on to challenge hardcore readers

Stephen Downes Why did Stephen love this book?

What makes a great novel? One that will be read forever? Top critics and commentators such as Harold Bloom and Nicholas Royle say the greatest fiction is written in a foreign language that somehow or other we understand. It is strange, unusual, uncanny, yet tells us profound truths about the human condition. The Rings of Saturn did even more for me; I thought it was miraculous. On the face of it, the narrator simply hikes through East Anglia. But he blends reportage, history, philosophy, mental ruminations, and much else in a melancholic commentary on life. Even translated from German, Sebald’s writing is mesmeric. Rings is a text that shapes your thinking in new ways. Sebald and his four peculiar ‘prose fictions’ would surely have won a Nobel prize had he not died in a car accident in 2001.

By W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Rings of Saturn-with its curious archive of photographs-records a walking tour of the eastern coast of England. A few of the things which cross the path and mind of its narrator (who both is and is not Sebald) are lonely eccentrics, Sir Thomas Browne's skull, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, recession-hit seaside towns, wooded hills, Joseph Conrad, Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, the massive bombings of WWII, the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, and the silk industry in Norwich. W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants (New Directions, 1996) was hailed by Susan Sontag as an…

Book cover of Bridget Jones's Diary

Patricia Marcantonio Author Of Misbehaving at Cactus Lanes

From my list on taking on a second chance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to tell stories, a love I discovered ever since I was a kid listening to my family who love to tell stories. Mine defy genres because the voice and characters guide me into how their tales should be told. I've written mysteries, YA and middle-grade books, a graphic novel, and courtroom drama. My newest book is driven by the character of Margaret Adams, who's seeking a new life after years of being buried alive with sometimes hilarious results. I just had to listen...

Patricia's book list on taking on a second chance

Patricia Marcantonio Why did Patricia love this book?

How can you not love Bridget? How she stumbles through life, all the while trying so hard to be cool. Searching for a second chance at love despite betrayals and humiliations.

Meanwhile, she notes her days and nights in her diary–the fluctuating weight, cigarette and cocktail counts, and the worry about ending up alone and being eaten by wild dogs. The result is a character so human and funny that it hurts. Write on, Bridget. 

By Helen Fielding,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Bridget Jones's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million copy number one Bestseller

A dazzlingly urban satire on modern relationships?
An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family?
Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

Welcome to Bridget's first diary: mercilessly funny, endlessly touching and utterly addictive.

Helen Fielding's first Bridget Jones novel, Bridget Jones's Diary, sparked a phenomenon that has seen…

Book cover of Twilight

Vicki-Ann Bush Author Of Alex McKenna and the Geranium Deaths

From my list on paranormal books for talking with the dead.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was very young, I’ve had experiences with the paranormal. Whether it be a soft graze along my cheek or a spirit standing in front of me, I’ve always been drawn to things behind the veil. Joining the world of the living with the dead comes natural for me, and reading the genres of paranormal and fantasy is like a cup of hot tea on a chilly winter afternoon.

Vicki-Ann's book list on paranormal books for talking with the dead

Vicki-Ann Bush Why did Vicki-Ann love this book?

I fell in love with the characters. Even the ones I didn’t necessarily like, I wanted to read more about.

More importantly, for me, this book came out at a time when I was having difficulties in my own relationship. The idea of being apart from the one person I thought would be forever shattered me. Reading Bella’s emotions for Edward and the crushing heartbreak she felt, was like reading about my feelings on the pages of the book.

Of course there’s vampires and I love all things vampire.

By Stephenie Meyer,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Twilight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

When 17 year old Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father she expects that her new life will be as dull as the town.

But in spite of her awkward manner and low expectations, she finds that her new classmates are drawn to this pale, dark-haired new girl in town. But not, it seems, the Cullen family. These five adopted brothers and sisters obviously prefer their own company and will make no exception for Bella.

Bella is convinced that Edward Cullen in particular hates her, but she feels a strange attraction to him, although his hostility…

Book cover of Outlander

Teresa M. Schulz Author Of Barbed Wire and Daisies

From my list on thriller/suspense escapism with strong female protagonists, full of grit, sass, and humour.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always had a wicked imagination and loved to tell stories. Unfortunately, this had me naively believing in fairy tales and happy endings. Cinderella has a lot to answer for. My kind heart and trusting nature were a magnet for bad men, and boy, did I suffer because of it. The term “Viking Berserker” comes to mind. This is why I have a passion for reading about strong women. I’ve learned (through reading books – such as those on my recommended list) that to survive, you have to have hope for a better future, and inspiring people – within inspiring stories – can often give you that hope.

Teresa's book list on thriller/suspense escapism with strong female protagonists, full of grit, sass, and humour

Teresa M. Schulz Why did Teresa love this book?

The Author’s style is totally immersive. It begins with time travel through standing stones, and the genres multiply from there. The story has a good pace, plenty of action and adventure, humour, and a hunky scotsman… what else could you ask for?

In all seriousness, the main character is a feisty WW2 nurse who, when challenged, is ready to voice her opinions with plenty of sass. She is also strong, skilled, kind-hearted, and downright funny at times. She reminds me a lot of myself.

By Diana Gabaldon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The first book in Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed Outlander saga, the basis for the Starz original series.

One of the top ten best-loved novels in America, as seen on PBS’s The Great American Read!
Unrivaled storytelling. Unforgettable characters. Rich historical detail. These are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured the hearts of millions of fans. Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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