100 books like Never Caught

By Erica Strong Dunbar,

Here are 100 books that Never Caught fans have personally recommended if you like Never Caught. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812

Nora Jaffary Author Of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905

From my list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began gathering stories about pregnancy and its avoidance in Mexican archives twenty-five years ago when I was working on my dissertation on religious history. This topic fascinated me because it was central to the preoccupations of so many women I knew, and it seemed to present a link to past generations. But as I researched, I also realized that radical differences existed between the experiences and attitudes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexican women and the concerns, practices, and understandings of my own period that I had assumed were timeless and unchanging. For me, this was a liberating discovery. 

Nora's book list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history

Nora Jaffary Why did Nora love this book?

This book is one of the reasons why I became a historian.

Ulrich uncovered the nearly illegible diary of an eighteenth-century midwife in Maine and included excerpts of the original at the start of each chapter. When I read the excerpts, I thought: How could these possibly be significant and what do they mean, anyway?

And then, like a detective, a gifted mind-reader, and a learned botanist all rolled into one, Ulrich unpacked each entry, weaving each snippet into the fabric of a wide textile of social history that includes reproductive history, gender and marital relations, local economies, political conflicts, and religion.

Abortion and abortifacients play a marginal role in the story Ulrich tells, but the history of midwifery and reproductive health are central to it. 

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked A Midwife's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • Drawing on the diaries of one woman in eighteenth-century Maine, "A truly talented historian unravels the fascinating life of a community that is so foreign, and yet so similar to our own" (The New York Times Book Review).

Between 1785 and 1812 a midwife and healer named Martha Ballard kept a diary that recorded her arduous work (in 27 years she attended 816 births) as well as her domestic life in Hallowell, Maine. On the basis of that diary, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gives us an intimate and densely imagined portrait, not only of the industrious and…


Book cover of Zelda: A Biography

Libby Sternberg Author Of Daisy

From my list on the tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories ever since I read The Great Gatsby as a teenager. After that, I devoured all of his works, thanks to a membership in one of those book subscription services where you have to send back monthly book selections if you don’t want them. I read almost all his short stories, all his novels, including the unfinished The Last Tycoon, and everything I could find on him and his wife Zelda. When The Great Gatsby entered the public domain a couple years ago, I started daydreaming of how I'd love to revisit the story from a fresh perspective, which led me to penning Daisy.

Libby's book list on the tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Libby Sternberg Why did Libby love this book?

Probably the biggest tragedy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life was his wife Zelda’s descent into mental illness.

This magnificent biography chronicles their tumultuous relationship as well as Zelda’s upbringing, and how she became the perfect flapper, independent and even a little wild. While the story is drenched in sadness as we all know its ending, this book reveals the struggles of creative women to be respected and seen as individuals, not just appendages to their famous husbands.

It also illuminates Scott’s enduring love for Zelda. Even as he had an affair at the end of his life, he never abandoned his wife to public institutions, insisting she have the best care, no matter the expense, at private ones.

By Nancy Milford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Profound, overwhelmingly moving . . . a richly complex love story.” — New York Times

Acclaimed biographer Nancy Milford brings to life the tormented, elusive personality of Zelda Sayre and clarifies as never before Zelda’s relationship with her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald—tracing the inner disintegration of a gifted, despairing woman, torn by the clash between her husband’s career and her own talent.

Zelda Sayre’s stormy life spanned from notoriety as a spirited Southern beauty to success as a gifted novelist and international celebrity at the side of her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda and Fitzgerald were one of the most…


Book cover of Anne Sexton: A Biography

Nancy K. Miller Author Of My Brilliant Friends: Our Lives in Feminism

From my list on how women's friendships shape their lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a memoirist living in New York and my women friends have saved my life many times. I didn’t fully understand how important they were to me until the three I write about died within a few years of each other in the early aughts. I also teach memoir as an academic. I’ve learned from my favorite writers how crucial it is to push past shame and embarrassment to try and reach emotional truth—whatever that is for each of us. Only readers can decide whether one succeeds, but for me, the most important gift memoir can bestow is the writer’s willingness to risk intimate self-disclosure.  

Nancy's book list on how women's friendships shape their lives

Nancy K. Miller Why did Nancy love this book?

This poignant narrative of Anne Sexton’s life takes you inside the complicated emotions of a prize winning poet who began her career as a suburban housewife and mother. I especially loved but also envied the portrait of Sexton’s long friendship with poet Maxine Kumin with whom Sexton took her first steps in the writing of poetry. Famously, the two women kept a separate phone line open between their houses so that they could share and craft lines between domestic chores. Sadly, despite the pulls of friendship, the biography shows, even the most talented writer has demons that can’t be vanquished. Middlebrook reveals the psychic cost of creativity, especially for women artists in the years before feminism. 

By Diane Wood Middlebrook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the time of her suicide in October 1974, Anne Sexton, 45, occupied a central position on the American poetry scene. Today, her reputation is tangled up with that of Sylvia Plath, whom she knew, and tainted with images of monster or victim. This biography, written with the full co-operation of Sexton's family and her principal psychiatrist who released three years of audiotaped therapy sessions, reveals and pivots around the creative relationship Anne Sexton struck with an incurable illness. Suffering from a mental disorder that eluded diagnosis, Anne Sexton underwent intensive psychotherapy and repeated bouts in mental institutions for nearly…


Book cover of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy

Ann Little Author Of The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright

From my list on biographies of American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by American women’s lives my whole life, reading and writing women’s biographies from high school through graduate school and into my career as a professional historian. I was raised in the Great Lakes region of the United States, and was educated at Bryn Mawr College and the University of Pennsylvania. I teach early American history, women’s history, and the history of sexuality at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and am at work on a book about women’s lives in the generation after the American Revolution.

Ann's book list on biographies of American women

Ann Little Why did Ann love this book?

Not a biography in the strict sense, this book is an investigation into “an American controversy” by a legal scholar that demonstrates the value of historical research and analysis by showing how Jefferson’s grandchildren, and white scholars and biographers following their lead, effectively conspired to hide the truth of Jefferson’s 30+ relationship with a woman he owned. And Gordon-Reed published this book a full year before the DNA-based analysis showed that Jefferson was overwhelmingly likely to have been the only father to Hemings’s four children.

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Annette Gordon-Reed's groundbreaking study was first published, rumors of Thomas Jefferson's sexual involvement with his slave Sally Hemings had circulated for two centuries. Among all aspects of Jefferson's renowned life, it was perhaps the most hotly contested topic. The publication of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings intensified this debate by identifying glaring inconsistencies in many noted scholars' evaluations of the existing evidence. In this study, Gordon-Reed assembles a fascinating and convincing argument: not that the alleged thirty-eight-year liaison necessarily took place but rather that the evidence for its taking place has been denied a fair hearing.

Friends of Jefferson…


Book cover of Jefferson's Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America

Cassandra Good Author Of First Family: George Washington's Heirs and the Making of America

From my list on the fascinating families of America’s founders.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I loved reading books about time travel, and now as a historian, I do a sort of time travel for my job. I have always been especially drawn to reading women’s correspondence, particularly when the women involved were pushing against gender roles and finding ways to access political power. I approach doing history as if it’s an ethnography of a group of people with entirely different beliefs, norms, and even emotions from us today; after all, the past is a foreign country. I’m especially intrigued by uncovering how personal relationships worked in the past and how relationships with political figures allowed family and friends to access power.

Cassandra's book list on the fascinating families of America’s founders

Cassandra Good Why did Cassandra love this book?

Kerrison brings careful scholarly research and even detective work to this fluidly-written story of Jefferson’s two white daughters, Martha and Maria Jefferson, and one Black daughter, Harriet Hemings. The book offers a more detailed chronicle of Martha and Maria, but Kerrison reveals for the reader her search for what happened to Harriet after she left Monticello and why that story ultimately remains a mystery.

By Catherine Kerrison,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jefferson's Daughters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The remarkable untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters—two white and free, one black and enslaved—and the divergent paths they forged in a newly independent America
 
FINALIST FOR THE GEORGE WASHINGTON PRIZE • “Beautifully written . . . To a nuanced study of Jefferson’s two white daughters, Martha and Maria, [Kerrison] innovatively adds a discussion of his only enslaved daughter, Harriet Hemings.”—The New York Times Book Review

Thomas Jefferson had three daughters: Martha and Maria by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson, and Harriet by his slave Sally Hemings. Although the three women shared a father, the similarities end there. Martha…


Book cover of Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

Gregg Hecimovich Author Of The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of the Bondwoman's Narrative

From my list on recovering lost histories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a biographer and literary scholar who loves to resurrect stories otherwise lost to history. I first felt this calling on football Saturdays at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, when I would sneak into the Rare Book Room to pore over old records, while my friends all went to the game. There I checked out manuscript boxes that told stories of the communities I inhabited. On these Saturdays, I started to see the invisible forces that created my physical world and marked my presence. Every book I picked below does the same precise work—they make visible a past that shapes our present.

Gregg's book list on recovering lost histories

Gregg Hecimovich Why did Gregg love this book?

Everyone knows the life and times of Benjamin Franklin, but what about the extraordinary experiences and opinions of his beloved sister, Jane Franklin?

“Gabby, frank, and vexed,” Jane’s life story demonstrates a smart, witty, and hardworking woman who birthed 12 children and survived the death of all of them but one. The hidden history of women in early America comes alive through Lepore’s sleuthing arts in this compelling nugget of forgotten history.

By Jill Lepore,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Book of Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
NPR • Time Magazine • The Washington Post • Entertainment Weekly • The Boston Globe

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

From one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians—a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister, Jane, whose obscurity and poverty were matched only by her brother’s fame and wealth but who, like him, was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator.

Making use of an astonishing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore…


Book cover of Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole

LaTonya M. Summers Author Of Black Again: Losing and Reclaiming My Racial Identity

From my list on restoring black women’s mental wellness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Black women's mental wellness is important to me because my racial identity was interrupted by racial assimilation. There was a period of time where I thought passing for white would lead me to the success I sought. I learned that adopting white norms and values as my own was psychologically harmful, and these books led to racial restoration and mental well-being. I am an associate professor of clinical mental health, and I teach my students to assess, identify, and promote healthy racial identity development. I hope readers who are on their journeys will find these books helpful. 

LaTonya's book list on restoring black women’s mental wellness

LaTonya M. Summers Why did LaTonya love this book?

Much of my financial nonsense was taught, indirectly and directly, by my parents, family, and community members. Coming from a low-income and blue-collar working-class family, I am armed with a mentality toward poverty.

This book was written in plain language about saving, budgeting, investing, and wealth building. The steps were practical and easy enough for me to implement. Because of this book, I have a plan for my money; I know exactly where it goes, and I am an investor. These are no longer things I thought were reserved for white people.  

By Tiffany Aliche,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Get Good with Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER • A ten-step plan for finding peace, safety, and harmony with your money—no matter how big or small your goals and no matter how rocky the market might be—by the inspiring and savvy “Budgetnista.”

“No matter where you stand in your money journey, Get Good with Money has a lesson or two for you!”—Erin Lowry, bestselling author of the Broke Millennial series

Tiffany Aliche was a successful pre-school teacher with a healthy nest egg when a recession and advice from a shady advisor put her out of a job and…


Book cover of Erasure

LaTonya M. Summers Author Of Black Again: Losing and Reclaiming My Racial Identity

From my list on restoring black women’s mental wellness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Black women's mental wellness is important to me because my racial identity was interrupted by racial assimilation. There was a period of time where I thought passing for white would lead me to the success I sought. I learned that adopting white norms and values as my own was psychologically harmful, and these books led to racial restoration and mental well-being. I am an associate professor of clinical mental health, and I teach my students to assess, identify, and promote healthy racial identity development. I hope readers who are on their journeys will find these books helpful. 

LaTonya's book list on restoring black women’s mental wellness

LaTonya M. Summers Why did LaTonya love this book?

I loved this book most because my late father recommended that we read it together when it first came out in the early 2000s. To me, it demonstrates Everett’s brilliance with a pen, and he captures the Black experience in America well, especially identity negotiation.

He was speaking about racial assimilation before I even knew the word for it. I love how he narrows the gap between the Black and the Black who prescribes to white norms. The voice actor who read the book was so entertaining that I have listened to it almost daily for the past five months!

By Percival L. Everett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Percival Everett's Erasure is a blistering satire about race and writing

Thelonious "Monk" Ellison's writing career has bottomed out: his latest manuscript has been rejected by seventeen publishers, which stings all the more because his previous novels have been "critically acclaimed." He seethes on the sidelines of the literary establishment as he watches the meteoric success of We's Lives in Da Ghetto, a first novel by a woman who once visited "some relatives in Harlem for a couple of days." Meanwhile, Monk struggles with real family tragedies—his aged mother is fast succumbing to Alzheimer's, and he still grapples with the…


Book cover of Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

John Wood Sweet Author Of The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America

From my list on Revolutionary America focus on the lives of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an American historian and former director of UNC-Chapel Hill's Program in Sexuality Studies—and former pizza maker, gas pumper, park ranger, and tour guide at the house in which Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. As a historian, I've spent my career trying to understand the lives of people in early American history who weren't well known at the time. In writing the Sewing Girl's Tale, which focuses on a survivor of a sexual assault, it was especially important to keep her at the center of the story. Ultimately, I wanted to know: What was life in the aftermath of the American Revolution like—not for some Founding Father—but for an ordinary young woman.

John's book list on Revolutionary America focus on the lives of women

John Wood Sweet Why did John love this book?

This book brings the format of a graphic novel to the subject of women's resistance during enslavement and the trans-Altantic slave trade—and the result is fresh and compelling. As a historian myself, I appreciated the interwtined narratives of Hall's own research quest as a historian following the documentary record—and her reconstruction of the extraordinary revolt of the women held captive in 1772 on the slave-ship Unity. Both the search for truth and the dramatic uprising are conveyed with great skill and emotional power. The account of the Unity revolt calls attention to what we know, how we know it, and what we don't know. But Hall refuses to stop there. Instead, carefully marking speculation as such, Hall offers a fascinating, well-informed, effort to imagine a fuller account of what might have actually happened. We are left with a powerful sense of why this history matters two and a half…

By Rebecca Hall, Hugo Martínez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A must-read graphic history. . . an inspired and inspiring defence of heroic women whose struggles could be fuel for a more just future' Guardian

'Not only a riveting tale of Black women's leadership of slave revolts but an equally dramatic story of the engaged scholarship that enabled its discovery' Angela Y. Davis

Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on slave ships during the passage across the Atlantic. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history.

In Wake Rebecca Hall, a historian, a granddaughter of slaves, and a woman haunted by the legacy…


Book cover of Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton

John Wood Sweet Author Of The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America

From my list on Revolutionary America focus on the lives of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an American historian and former director of UNC-Chapel Hill's Program in Sexuality Studies—and former pizza maker, gas pumper, park ranger, and tour guide at the house in which Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. As a historian, I've spent my career trying to understand the lives of people in early American history who weren't well known at the time. In writing the Sewing Girl's Tale, which focuses on a survivor of a sexual assault, it was especially important to keep her at the center of the story. Ultimately, I wanted to know: What was life in the aftermath of the American Revolution like—not for some Founding Father—but for an ordinary young woman.

John's book list on Revolutionary America focus on the lives of women

John Wood Sweet Why did John love this book?

This book is compelling because Mazzeo is such a skillful writer of creative nonfiction (I also loved her Great Courses lectures on that subject)—and because the focus on Eliza Hamilton shifts what we thought we knew about her vaunted husband. Mazzeo is terrific at keeping Eliza at the center of her own story. And Mazzeo is not afraid to offer informed speculation when the documentary record, as it often does for underrepresented voices from this period, falters. As a professional historian, I learned a lot about centering women's experiences in stories that men keep threatening to take over—and about what kinds of speculation I am and am not comfortable with. I also found her approach to the Reynolds Affair—carefully documented, well reasoned, and centered on Eliza's perspective—to be bold, refreshing, and pretty persuasive. Why should we (as most recent Hamilton scholars have done) simply take Alexander Hamilton at his word…

By Tilar J. Mazzeo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Irena's Children comes a "vivid, compelling, and unputdownable new biography" (Christopher Andersen, #1 New York Times bestselling author) about the extraordinary life and times of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and a powerful, unsung hero in America's early days.

Fans fell in love with Eliza Hamilton-Alexander Hamilton's devoted wife-in Lin-Manuel Miranda's phenomenal musical Hamilton. But they don't know her full story. A strong pioneer woman, a loving sister, a caring mother, and in her later years, a generous philanthropist, Eliza had many sides-and this fascinating biography brings her…


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