92 books like My Life in Middlemarch

By Rebecca Mead,

Here are 92 books that My Life in Middlemarch fans have personally recommended if you like My Life in Middlemarch. 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 Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence

Emma Darwin Author Of This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin: a writer’s journey through my family

From my list on failing to write a book.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alongside writing, I’ve been running workshops, teaching and mentoring writers for nearly twenty years, helping people get unstuck and keep going. So I spend most of my working life thinking about creativity and writing—then suddenly I, too, couldn’t write the book I needed to write. Every book in this list is about not-writing for different reasons, in different circumstances, but between them they tell us so much about how we write, why we write, how we get writing to happen—and what’s happening when we can’t. These very different stories resonate with each other, and I hope some of them resonate with you.

Emma's book list on failing to write a book

Emma Darwin Why did Emma love this book?

First, because it’s incredibly funny. Geoff Dyer set out—he says—to write a sober, serious study of D. H. Lawrence, but life, travel arrangements, random people and his own inertia kept getting in the way. The story of his odyssey doesn’t just evoke all the things about writing that we’ve always suspected (that it’s hard; that it’s easy; that we often wonder why on earth we do it; that we never question that we want to do it). It also, by stealth, evokes and explains an amazing amount about Lawrence, and why he’s a writer that so many people love—or hate—so passionately. 

By Geoff Dyer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Out of Sheer Rage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recounts the author's experiences visiting the places D.H. Lawrence lived while actively not working on a book about Lawrence and not writing his own novel.


Book cover of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

Katharine Smyth Author Of All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf

From my list on about books (and the authors who write them).

Why am I passionate about this?

In the wake of her father’s death, Katharine Smyth turned to her favorite novel, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief. Her book about the experience, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, was published by Crown in 2019 and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Smyth’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Elle, The New York Times, Literary Hub, Poets & Writers, and The Point.

Katharine's book list on about books (and the authors who write them)

Katharine Smyth Why did Katharine love this book?

This is a compilation of essays about Batuman’s experience of studying Russian literature at Stanford. Wondering about “possible methods for bringing one’s life closer to one’s favorite books,” Batuman traces the literal and figurative path of writers such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Babel, finding answers in their life and work while at the same time exploring their influence upon a motley group of Slavic scholars and readers.

By Elif Batuman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The true story of one woman's intellectual and sentimental education and her strange encounters with others devoted - absurdly, melancholically, ecstatically - to the Russian classics

Roaming from Tashkent to San Francisco, this is the true story of one budding writer's strange encounters with the fanatics who are devoted - absurdly! melancholically! ecstatically! - to the Russian classics. Combining fresh readings of the great Russians from Gogol to Goncharov with the sad and funny stories of the lives they continue to influence, The Possessed introduces a brilliant and distinctive new voice: comic, humane, charming, poignant and completely, and unpretentiously, full…


Book cover of U and I: A True Story

Katharine Smyth Author Of All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf

From my list on about books (and the authors who write them).

Why am I passionate about this?

In the wake of her father’s death, Katharine Smyth turned to her favorite novel, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief. Her book about the experience, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, was published by Crown in 2019 and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Smyth’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Elle, The New York Times, Literary Hub, Poets & Writers, and The Point.

Katharine's book list on about books (and the authors who write them)

Katharine Smyth Why did Katharine love this book?

In U and I: A True Story, the death of Donald Barthelme inspires Nicholson Baker to write a book about his obsession with John Updike while his muse is still alive. Coining the term “memory criticism,” which he defines as “a form of commentary that relies entirely on what has survived in a reader’s mind from a particular writer over at least ten years of spotty perusal,” Baker embarks upon a wildly entertaining meditation that reveals as much about the writing process as it does about Updike (and Baker) himself.

By Nicholson Baker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Baker muses on the creative process via his obsession with John Updike.


Book cover of Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels

Katharine Smyth Author Of All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf

From my list on about books (and the authors who write them).

Why am I passionate about this?

In the wake of her father’s death, Katharine Smyth turned to her favorite novel, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief. Her book about the experience, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, was published by Crown in 2019 and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Smyth’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Elle, The New York Times, Literary Hub, Poets & Writers, and The Point.

Katharine's book list on about books (and the authors who write them)

Katharine Smyth Why did Katharine love this book?

“About seven years ago,” Rachel Cohen writes at the beginning of Austen Years, “not too long before our daughter was born, and a year before my father died, Jane Austen became my only author.” Weaving together memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism, Cohen draws upon five of Austen’s novels to make sense of her own life and work as she raises young children, moves across the country, and grapples with her father’s death. The result is a brilliant and beautiful reflection upon family and loss, isolation and transcendence, and reading and rereading.

By Rachel Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of The Globe and Mail's Best Books of 2020

"A thoroughly authentic, smart and consoling account of one writer’s commitment to another." --The New York Times Book Review (editors' choice)

"An absolutely fascinating book: I will never read Austen the same way again." ―Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

An astonishingly nuanced reading of Jane Austen that yields a rare understanding of how to live

"About seven years ago, not too long before our daughter was born, and a year before my father died, Jane Austen became my only author."

In the turbulent period around the birth…


Book cover of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Elissa L. Perry Author Of Human Resources for the Non-HR Manager

From my list on less businessy business that can help managers.

Why am I passionate about this?

In a world in which we are faced with increasing amounts of information that we have to parse (from social media, cable news channels, newspapers), it often feels hard to separate fact from fiction, and evidence-based research from junk science. In my own work, I have given a great deal of thought to how to get research-based evidence into the hands of practitioners (managers, employees) who can put it to good use. An important piece of the puzzle is helping practitioners understand the research evidence and how to apply it. The books on this list are great examples of authors who translate research into language that people can understand and use.

Elissa's book list on less businessy business that can help managers

Elissa L. Perry Why did Elissa love this book?

This book starts with an interesting premise, that the U.S. is a society that favors Extroverts over Introverts. 

The author cites academic research and data from her own experiences to demonstrate how we moved from a society that valued character over personality, to one that lauds the Extroversion Ideal…at school, at work, and other public venues. This book made me think hard about how my perceptions of others might be influenced by my assumptions about what Extroverts and Introverts bring to the table.

By Susan Cain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SUSAN CAIN'S NEW BOOK, BITTERSWEET, IS AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW

A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE HOW YOU SEE INTROVERTS - AND YOURSELF - FOREVER.

Our lives are driven by a fact that most of us can't name and don't understand. It defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we're embarrassed.

That fact is whether we're an introvert or an extrovert.

The most fundamental dimension of personality, at least a third of us are introverts, and yet shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as…


Book cover of Kafka in Love

Diane Charney Author Of Letters to Men of Letters

From my list on offbeat memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught at Yale for 33 years and I hold advanced degrees from the Sorbonne. I am interested in literature as lessons for life, but I am mostly a passionate letter writer, especially to the great authors who have marked me. They are never really dead. I carry them around with me. I selected the category of Offbeat Memoirs because I have written one. I also have an Italian alter-ego, Donatella de Poitiers, who authors a blog in which she muses about how a lifelong Francophile could have forsaken la Belle France for la dolce vita in the Umbrian countryside, where the food and fresh air are way better than the roads.

Diane's book list on offbeat memoirs

Diane Charney Why did Diane love this book?

I consider the author my French Writing Partner; I have been her translator. Our mutual love for Franz Kafka brought us together. Her book draws on Kafka’s letters to the women he could never bring himself to marry. Jacqueline and I feel that, in our shared devotion to Kafka, we perhaps understand him better than the women he left behind. He may have had a hard time finding his own soulmate, but in our case, he turned out to be quite the matchmaker.

By Jacqueline Raoul-Duval,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kafka was an attractive, slender, and elegant man--something of a dandy, who captivated his friends and knew how to charm women. He seemed to have had four important love affairs: Felice, Julie, Milena, and Dora. All of them lived far away, in Berlin or Vienna, and perhaps that's one of the reasons that he loved them: he chose long-distance relationships so he could have the pleasure of writing to them, without the burden of having to live with them. He was engaged to all four women, and four times he avoided marriage. At the end of each love affair, he…


Book cover of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Tammi Miller Author Of Paperback Therapy: Therapist-approved tools and advice for mastering your mental health

From my list on books to know yourself better.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m passionate about connecting with people through therapy and helping them to better understand themselves. There’s no better way to do that than through reading. I’ve always been interested in the human condition, reading psychology magazines and books about love, mental health, and self-identity from a young age. They helped me to navigate tougher times when I was experiencing my own adversity. I believe in the power of health literacy, and with lived experience in mental health as both a psychotherapist and a client, I manage my own mental health using the same techniques I share with readers in my book and those found through reading books such as these.

Tammi's book list on books to know yourself better

Tammi Miller Why did Tammi love this book?

I believe one of the best ways to get to know yourself is by learning about other people’s similar experiences – after all, we can’t be it if we can’t see it.

That’s why I love Maybe You Should Talk To Someone; it explores how different people can better understand themselves through the lens of the therapist, who is also going through her own adversities.

I saw myself in this book as both a therapist and a client. An easy read that blurs fiction and nonfiction, I recommend it to anyone who might not like dense academic reads but is looking to understand how therapy works and their mental health.

By Lori Gottlieb,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Maybe You Should Talk to Someone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TIME magazine Must-Read Book of the Year

Ever wonder what your therapist is thinking? Now you can find out, as therapist and New York Times bestselling author Lori Gottlieb takes us behind the scenes of her practice - where her patients are looking for answers (and so is she).

When a personal crisis causes her world to come crashing down, Lori Gottlieb - an experienced therapist with a thriving practice in Los Angeles - is suddenly adrift. Enter Wendell, himself a veteran therapist with an unconventional style, whose sessions with Gottlieb will prove transformative for her.

As Gottlieb explores…


Book cover of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

Kristin Ohlson Author Of Sweet in Tooth and Claw: Stories of Generosity and Cooperation in the Natural World

From my list on interconnection in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small agricultural town in California’s Sacramento Valley, and my parents didn’t even consider worrying if I was bored or lonely when I wasn’t at school. Consequently, I spent hours in a nearby vacant lot riddled with anthills watching the ants hustle back and forth and, occasionally, inserting myself in their lives with handfuls of sugar or sticks to block their paths. Pretty sure this is where my interest in science and nature began—and maybe even my interest in cooperation.

Kristin's book list on interconnection in nature

Kristin Ohlson Why did Kristin love this book?

This book made my heart both soar and ache.

I follow Renkl’s wonderful writing in the New York Times about the nature in her own neighborhood (and occasionally Southern politics), and Late Migrations is a collection of essays in which she ties together the loss of family with the losses of beloved wildlife.

She wrote such a gorgeous last paragraph about living with grief. “And that’s how I learned the world would go on. An irreplaceable life had winked out in an instant, but outside my window the world was flaring up in celebration. Someone was hearing, ‘It’s benign.’ Someone was saying, ‘It’s a boy.’ Someone was throwing out her arms and crying, ‘Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you!’ I tear up every time I read those lines.

By Margaret Renkl,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Late Migrations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a "Best Book of the Year" by New Statesman, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Washington Independent Review of Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

From New York Times contributing opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family-and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world.

Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents-her exuberant, creative mother; her steady,…


Book cover of Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process

Beth Kephart Author Of We Are the Words: The Master Memoir Class

From my list on for truth wranglers.

Why am I passionate about this?

The first memoir I ever read—Road Song by Natalie Kusz—pierced me in ways I did not know were possible. Kusz had written, in this elegantly crafted book, of an Alaskan childhood, a life-changing accident, early motherhood, and family love. She had written, I mean to say, of transcending truths. I have spent much of my life ever since deconstructing the ways in which true stories get told, and writing them myself. I’ve taught memoir to five-year-olds, Ivy League students, master’s level writers, and retirees. I co-founded Juncture Workshops, write a monthly newsletter on the form, and today create blank books into which other writers might begin to tell their stories.

Beth's book list on for truth wranglers

Beth Kephart Why did Beth love this book?

Sometimes we just want to know how it feels to be someone else living the writer’s life. In this collection, forty-six writers ranging from Roxane Gay and Billy Collins to Edwidge Danticat and Amy Tan answer one single question: What inspires you? My favorite response comes from Marilynne Robinson, who writes “I’m drawn to that movement toward essentials, away from all secondary definitions, all extraneous props, and ornaments.” What about you? What inspires you? Why are you writing in the first place? You’ll ponder that question while you read these short pieces by writers who shine a light in dark places.

By Joe Fassler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A stunning masterclass on the creative process, the craft of writing, and the art of finding inspiration from Stephen King, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Roxane Gay, Neil Gaiman, and more of the most acclaimed writers at work today

"For artists in need of a creative fix, Light the Dark is as good as a visit from the divine muse." -Bookpage

What inspires you? That's the simple, but profound question posed to forty-six renowned authors in LIGHT THE DARK. Each writer begins with a favorite passage from a novel, a song, a poem—something that gets them started and keeps…


Book cover of Essential Art Therapy Exercises: Effective Techniques to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD

C. Becker Author Of Saving Euphoria

From my list on that have a connection with trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a B.S. degree in Medical Technology and connect my stories with science. The more I began researching problematic issues in our society for the subject matter of my trilogy, the more I began to empathize with the different kinds of suffering that people endure. I’ve incorporated traumas in all of my Euphoria trilogy stories, from illicit drugs, illnesses, loss, burns, skin regeneration, and human trafficking. Societal awareness is my passion; presenting issues to people who don’t realize these problems are as widespread as they actually are. 

C.'s book list on that have a connection with trauma

C. Becker Why did C. love this book?

I really like how Essential Art Therapy Exercises focuses on creativity through art, photography, and writing, helping people work through their traumas, anxieties, or concerns. The creative projects in this book are so entertaining that it’s easy to forget there is more to therapy than just sharing the artwork. I enjoyed doing some of the paintings and drawings, and also trying one of the collage projects.

By Leah Guzman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Essential Art Therapy Exercises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Creating art is a wonderful way to reconnect with yourself while cultivating new skills for navigating life. Author Leah Guzman, a board-certified art therapist and mixed media artist, has put together simple yet powerful art therapy exercises drawn from cognitive behavioral therapy methods. You’ll express your thoughts and emotions by creating art pieces using a variety of mediums, including drawing, painting, and sculpting.You don’t need to be an artist to create art, and no experience is necessary. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or PTSD, Essential Art Therapy Exercises will inspire you to practice mindfulness and self-compassion using:Healing art therapy exercises—Making…


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