100 books like My Beautiful Death

By Eben Venter,

Here are 100 books that My Beautiful Death fans have personally recommended if you like My Beautiful Death. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Book cover of In a Strange Room

Michiel Heyns Author Of A Poor Season for Whales

From my list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an African author, I find that my books end up on the ‘African fiction’ shelf in the bookstore, which can be a disadvantage if my novel is, say, about Henry James or the Trojan War, both of which I've written novels about. As a lecturer in English literature, I've become acquainted with a vast and varied array of literature. So, whereas of course there are many wonderful African novels that deal with specifically African themes, I think the label African novel can be constricting and commercially disadvantageous. Many African novelists see themselves as part of a larger community, and their novels reflect that perspective, even though they are nominally set in Africa.

Michiel's book list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa

Michiel Heyns Why did Michiel love this book?

Damon Galgut recently won the Booker Prize for his riveting, satirical The Promise, but, much as I admire that novel, Galgut’s earlier (also Booker-nominated) semi-autobiographical novel, In a Strange Room, remains my favourite. It comprises three long short stories, all centred on a character called Damon, alerting us to the autobiographical element of the stories. And yet Galgut resists the total identification of autobiography, partly by his device of switching disconcertingly between first and third-person narration (sometimes ‘Damon,’ sometimes ‘I’), and present and past tenses. But the novel is more than technical trickery: the shifting perspectives allow us different angles on the complex relationships depicted in the different sections, rather as a cubist painting affords us a multifarious perspective on its subject. And like other books on this list, this one features a protagonist who travels: something of a trope in South African writing.  

By Damon Galgut,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In a Strange Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2010 MAN BOOKER PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2010 ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE ONDAATJE PRIZE

A young man takes three journeys, through Greece, India and Africa. He travels lightly, simply. To those who travel with him and those whom he meets on the way - including a handsome, enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers and a woman on the edge - he is the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian. Yet, despite the man's best intentions, each journey ends in disaster. Together, these three journeys will change his whole life.

A novel of longing and thwarted desire,…


Book cover of The Third Reel

Michiel Heyns Author Of A Poor Season for Whales

From my list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an African author, I find that my books end up on the ‘African fiction’ shelf in the bookstore, which can be a disadvantage if my novel is, say, about Henry James or the Trojan War, both of which I've written novels about. As a lecturer in English literature, I've become acquainted with a vast and varied array of literature. So, whereas of course there are many wonderful African novels that deal with specifically African themes, I think the label African novel can be constricting and commercially disadvantageous. Many African novelists see themselves as part of a larger community, and their novels reflect that perspective, even though they are nominally set in Africa.

Michiel's book list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa

Michiel Heyns Why did Michiel love this book?

The ex-pat novel has become something of a South African genre, what with many young people searching for new opportunities overseas, in flight from the old repressive racist regime or, latterly, the corrupt, inefficient new regime. In his debut collection of short stories, The Alphabet of Birds, Naudé referred to "the diaspora of fearful, grim, white children from South Africa," and this novel is another variation on that theme. It’s easy to fall into stereotype and cliché, and part of Naudé’s achievement is to remake the familiar scenario into something wholly original, in an account of his main character’s search for the missing reel of a film made by a Jewish filmmaker in Hitler’s Germany.

The novel contains vivid accounts of life in a ‘squat’ in London, as well as the grim atmosphere of an East German film school under Russian occupation – contrasting with the hedonistic excess of…

By S. J. Naudé,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Scott Pack: Books of the Year 2018

Shortlisted for The Sunday Times Literary Awards (South Africa)

Twenty-two-year-old Etienne is studying film in London, having fled conscription in his native South Africa. It is 1986, the time of Thatcher, anti-apartheid campaigns and Aids, but also of postmodern art, post-punk rock, and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Adrift in a city cast in shadow, he falls in love with a German artist while living in derelict artists' communes.

When Etienne finds the first of three reels of a German film from the 1930s, he begins searching for the missing reels, a project that…


Book cover of False River

Michiel Heyns Author Of A Poor Season for Whales

From my list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an African author, I find that my books end up on the ‘African fiction’ shelf in the bookstore, which can be a disadvantage if my novel is, say, about Henry James or the Trojan War, both of which I've written novels about. As a lecturer in English literature, I've become acquainted with a vast and varied array of literature. So, whereas of course there are many wonderful African novels that deal with specifically African themes, I think the label African novel can be constricting and commercially disadvantageous. Many African novelists see themselves as part of a larger community, and their novels reflect that perspective, even though they are nominally set in Africa.

Michiel's book list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa

Michiel Heyns Why did Michiel love this book?

This is at heart a coming-of-age novel, unshrinkingly autobiographical in its depiction of what is clearly the author’s own family and background: the privileged upbringing on a prosperous farm in the centre of South Africa, the elite schools she and her beloved brother, Paul, attend, the tensions between her stern father and the rebellious brother. All recounted in a deadpan faux-naïve voice, which is often hilarious but also needle-sharp in its puncturing of the posturings and pretensions of upper-middle-class white South Africans. But at the centre of the largely satirical account is the tragic story of the decline and fall of the beautiful, talented, hyper-sensitive Paul and his early death from a drug overdose. A masterpiece of controlled perspective and flexible tone. 

By Dominique Botha,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“You are too close to the water,” Paul whispered. “There are barbels in the mud. They will wake up if you step on them.”
When Paul and Dominique are sent to boarding schools in Natal, their idyllic childhood on a Free State farm is over. Their parents’ leftist politics has made life impossible in the local dorp school. Angry schoolboy Paul is a promising poet, his sister his confidant. But his literary awakening turns into a descent. He flees the oppression of South Africa, only to meet his death in London.
Dominique Botha’s poignant debut is an elegy to a…


Book cover of The Distance

Michiel Heyns Author Of A Poor Season for Whales

From my list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an African author, I find that my books end up on the ‘African fiction’ shelf in the bookstore, which can be a disadvantage if my novel is, say, about Henry James or the Trojan War, both of which I've written novels about. As a lecturer in English literature, I've become acquainted with a vast and varied array of literature. So, whereas of course there are many wonderful African novels that deal with specifically African themes, I think the label African novel can be constricting and commercially disadvantageous. Many African novelists see themselves as part of a larger community, and their novels reflect that perspective, even though they are nominally set in Africa.

Michiel's book list on by Africans that don’t have much to say about Africa

Michiel Heyns Why did Michiel love this book?

Taking stock of my selections, I realise that they are all to some degree autobiographical or semi-autobiographical. Just why I am attracted to this genre I don’t know: perhaps I am fascinated by the technical challenge of finding a narrative voice that is both personal and detached, of impersonalising emotions that could easily just be self-indulgent. Humour is often useful here, and Vladislavics’s novel is richly humorous, in its (lightly fictionalised) account of a culturally challenging boyhood in Pretoria, at the time the whitest and most conservative city in South Africa (interestingly, also the setting for Galgut’s The Promise). Young Joe, the stand-in for the author has, apart from an addiction to reading, a consuming interest in Muhammed Ali, and has kept a scrapbook of every newspaper item he could find relating to the great boxer. The bookworm-boxing addict is entirely engaging, as brought to life by a master…

By Ivan Vladislavic,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1970, a Pretoria schoolboy, Joe, becomes obsessed with Muhammad Ali. He begins collecting daily newspaper clippings about him, a passion that grows into an archive of scrapbooks. Forty years later, when Joe has become a writer, these scrapbooks become the foundation for a memoir of his childhood. When he calls upon his brother, Branko, for help uncovering their shared past, meaning comes into view in the spaces between then and now, growing up and growing old, speaking out and keeping silent.


Book cover of The Dying Trade

Katherine Kovacic Author Of The Shifting Landscape

From my list on Australian crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian crime writer and I love reading crime with a real sense of place and/or time. Growing up in Australia, most of the time I read international authors, so finding fabulous books by local authors was a thrill every time, and that excitement has never left me. This list crosses the genre from cosy to hard-boiled crime, which hopefully means something for everyone. If nothing here grabs you, there’s a lot more fantastic Australian crime fiction to discover (did you know Australian author Charlotte Jay won the first ever Edgar Award in 1954?) and I can passion-talk about it anytime!

Katherine's book list on Australian crime fiction

Katherine Kovacic Why did Katherine love this book?

Corris and his protagonist, the hard-scrabble private detective Cliff Hardy, are quintessentially Australian. The Dying Trade introduces Cliff (smoker, drinker, ex-boxer) and sets the standard for all the books that follow in this series. It’s dry and laconic, with a wonderful sense of place (a very gritty 1980s Sydney). There’s a definite nod to the greats— Chandler and Hammett in this series; you know Cliff Hardy probably shouldn’t take this job, it’s odds-on he’ll cop a beating along the way, possible he’ll find love and lose it again. I enjoy the author’s economy with words and the moral complexity of his characters. If you like hard-boiled crime, this series is worth a look!

*Note: Sydney is much nicer than it may seem when you walk in Corris’s shoes!

By Peter Corris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Meet Cliff Hardy. Smoker, drinker, ex-boxer. And private investigator.

The Dying Trade not only introduces a sleuth who has become an enduring Australian literary legend—the antihero of thirty-seven thrillers—but it is also a long love letter to the seamy side of Sydney itself.


Book cover of Seven Little Australians

Karin Cox Author Of What the Sea Wants

From my list on understanding the Australian spirit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author, poet, and editor who works in natural history and social history publishing by day, explaining the unique flora and fauna, culture, and spirit of this ancient continent. By night, I moonlight as a fiction author, writing whatever takes my fancy. Seeing Australia and understanding Australia aren’t always the same thing in a country with unforgiving stony desert at its heart, more venomous creepy-crawlies than you can ‘poke a stick at’ (but please don’t!), the oldest living culture in the world, and a complex history. So, here are my recommendations for novels that travel deep into the Australian spirit.

Karin's book list on understanding the Australian spirit

Karin Cox Why did Karin love this book?

First published in 1894, this is definitely a nostalgic choice; however, there’s a good reason why it became the first Australian novel to be continuously in print for 100 years in 1994. Esther Turner’s classic novel is Australia’s answer to Little Women, and if you don’t fall in love with the seven boisterous Woolcot children and end up in tears over the tragic events at Yarrahappini, I’m afraid you’re even harder-hearted than Captain Woolcot himself!

By Ethel Turner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection of literature attempts to compile many of the classic, timeless works that have stood the test of time and offer them at a reduced, affordable price, in an attractive volume so that everyone can enjoy them.


Book cover of The Timeless Land

Patsy Trench Author Of The Worst Country in the World

From my list on the beginnings of colonial Australia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Pom, as Aussies would say, born and bred in England to an Australian mother and British father. I emigrated to Australia as a ten-pound Pom way back when and though I eventually came home again I’ve always retained an affection and a curiosity about the country, which in time led me to write three books about my own family history there. The early days of colonial Australia, when around 1400 people, half of whom were convicts, ventured across the world to found a penal colony in a country they knew almost nothing about, is one of the most fascinating and frankly unlikely stories you could ever hope to come across. 

Patsy's book list on the beginnings of colonial Australia

Patsy Trench Why did Patsy love this book?

A bold and broad-sweeping book, written in the 1940s, described as a novel but featuring a mix of real and fictional characters, The Timeless Land is a beautifully imaginative telling of the arrival of the First Fleet in what became Sydney in 1788, as seen through the eyes of the Aboriginal people, the Governor and his officers, convicts and the odd settler. The depiction of the part-real, part-invented Aboriginal people may cause raised eyebrows nowadays, but the book is based on thorough research and written with great imagination and sensitivity. I love the mix of the real and the imaginary, while never distorting the facts. It’s a brilliant way to paint a vivid portrait of a subject, I’ve done it myself (if I may be presumptuous enough to bracket myself with Ms. Dark).

By Eleanor Dark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An outstanding literary achievement, meticulously researched and deeply felt, this portrait of the earliest days of the European settlement of Australia remains unrivalled. the year 1788: the very beginning of European settlement. these were times of hardship, cruelty and danger. Above all, they were times of conflict between the Aborigines and the white settlers. Eleanor Dark brings alive those bitter years with moments of tenderness and conciliation amid the brutality and hostility. the cast of characters includes figures historical and fictional, black and white, convict and settler. All the while, beneath the veneer of British civilisation, lies the baffling presence…


Book cover of Tirra Lirra by the River

Alison Jean Lester Author Of Lillian on Life

From my list on keeping it real about older women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Literary agents often say they are looking for books about ‘quirky’ female protagonists. I’m more entertained by female characters who feel real to me. When I write, I make myself uncomfortable a lot of the time, trying to express the many ways people both disguise and reveal the truth. I blame my devotion to my parents for this because when I left home in Massachusetts for college in the foreign land of Indiana, studied for a year in China, then studied in Italy, then worked in Taiwan, then moved to Japan, and later to Singapore, I wrote them copious descriptive, emotional letters. My parents are gone now, but in a way, I’m still doing that.

Alison's book list on keeping it real about older women

Alison Jean Lester Why did Alison love this book?

I don’t often read books more than once, but this one I have, and I know I will read it again. The woman whose life is revealed this time is 70-year-old Nora Porteous. She has returned to her native Brisbane, Australia after having escaped it by marriage to Sydney, and having escaped that marriage to London. She now reflects wryly on how she developed throughout those years of hardship and joy as she also experiences the changes in the neighbourhood she ran from decades before. As we move through both her memories of the past and her experience of the present, the details that help us to understand her are extraordinary: ‘The man is unlocking the door. I have had to talk and smile too much in his car, and as I wait I consciously rest my face.’

By Jessica Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tirra Lirra by the River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Australia’s most celebrated novels: one woman’s journey from Australia to London

Nora Porteous, a witty, ambitious woman from Brisbane, returns to her childhood home at age seventy. Her life has taken her from a failed marriage in Sydney to freedom in London; she forged a modest career as a seamstress and lived with two dear friends through the happiest years of her adult life.

At home, the neighborhood children she remembers have grown into compassionate adults. They help to nurse her back from pneumonia, and slowly let her in on the dark secrets of the neighborhood in the…


Book cover of The Long Ride Home

Jacqui Furneaux Author Of Hit the Road, Jac! Seven Years, Twenty Countries, No Plan

From my list on travel proving you don’t need the latest motorbike.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most motorcycle travellers spend months planning their trips but I took off on a whim having been lured by romance and tales of the open road. When my conventional life fell apart, I surprised even myself by flying to India and buying a brand new 500cc Enfield Bullet motorcycle and began my haphazard global wanderings learning to trust that the world I had been told was a dangerous place, wasn't at all (except for a couple of occasions at sea!) I liked the meandering life so much, it became a way of life.

Jacqui's book list on travel proving you don’t need the latest motorbike

Jacqui Furneaux Why did Jacqui love this book?

Any book that starts with an impulsive decision is bound to engage someone like me who doesn’t like to plan much before a journey. With his Australian visa shortly to expire and his relationship going the same way, Nathan, aged twenty-nine doesn’t do the sensible thing and fly back home to the UK. Instead, he buys a potentially unsuitable decommissioned postal delivery 105cc Honda "Postie" motorbike. He names it Dorothy and starts the homeward journey from Sydney to London. I found his story riveting as, like me, he finds delight in the simpleness of life on the road and in meeting local people and other travellers.

I bet he’s glad he didn’t get that flight home!

By Nathan Millward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the story of my 35,000 kilometres ride from Sydney to London on a 105cc Honda called Dorothy. It was journey of nine months, through eighteen countries, with barely any planning, hardly equipment, just setting off one day and hoping that somehow I'd make it to the other side of the world.

The book was originally released by HarperCollins in Australia where it is known as Going Postal. This is the international release, with a few changes to the text and a list of images and videos at the end. Hope you enjoy.


Book cover of Shots

Lo Carmen Author Of Lovers Dreamers Fighters

From my list on being in love with music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a singer/songwriter and I grew up in a rock’n’roll household. My family has always traded great books about music between us, memoirs, biographies, scientific studies, deep dives into subcultures, industry exposes – I love them all and find a good music book impossible to resist. I always get excited when I find books written by other obsessive music-loving kindred spirits––if I can feel the love I’m right in there with them. I especially love the behind-the-scenes stories and insights into the work and fascinations that helped forge an artist’s career.

Lo's book list on being in love with music

Lo Carmen Why did Lo love this book?

Written by the revered god-daddy of Australian songcraft, Shots is a beat peek behind the curtain of what it is to be a young band on the road and on the rise, all lens flare vignettes; dry, brutal, and perfect, as cool as The Don himself. His uncanny way with words lets us bear witness to the country hall dances, Kings Cross streets, and back of the van like a poetic spy cam.

By Don Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This remarkable memoir begins with Don Walker's early life in rural Australia and goes up to the late ’80s. In mesmerising prose, Walker evokes childhood and youth, wild times in the ’70s, life on the road and in Kings Cross, music-making and much more. Shots is a stunningly original book, a set of word pictures – shots – that conjure up the lowlife and backroads of Australia.

‘Singular, strong and beguiling’ —The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Better than good. Most of the time it is brilliant.’ —Australian Book Review

‘The book shines with its descriptive sense of place. Shots carries the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Sydney Australia, Africa, and HIV/AIDS?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Sydney Australia, Africa, and HIV/AIDS.

Sydney Australia Explore 51 books about Sydney Australia
Africa Explore 254 books about Africa
HIV/AIDS Explore 62 books about HIV/AIDS