100 books like North and South

By Elizabeth Gaskell,

Here are 100 books that North and South fans have personally recommended if you like North and South. 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 Jane Eyre

Lynn Shurr Author Of Lady Flora's Rescue

From my list on historical novels picked by a librarian.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reference librarian, I love doing research for myself and others. By reading a well-written historical novel, we can learn about the past and compare and contrast it to our present. All but the last of my choices have strong female characters who must overcome the customs of their time. The struggle goes on today. Let these books remind you of how far we have come and how far we have to go.

Lynn's book list on historical novels picked by a librarian

Lynn Shurr Why did Lynn love this book?

When I was fifteen, I stayed up reading the end of this book under the covers with a flashlight because I could not put it down.

A scandalous bestseller in 1847, this was the first romance to feature an antihero. Mr. Rochester is far from pure and kind. He mocks Jane, who describes herself as small and plain and stands up to him. He has an immoral secret and when Jane learns of it, she leaves him. I doubt I would have.

By Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

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

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

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

However, there is great kindness and warmth…


Book cover of The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers

Alex Wright Author Of Informatica: Mastering Information through the Ages

From my list on forgotten pioneers of the Internet.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a researcher, writer, and designer who has spent most of the past twenty-five years working in the technology industry, following an earlier career as a journalist and academic librarian. I've developed an abiding interest in the history of knowledge networks. I've written two books on the history of the information age, as well as a number of newspaper and magazine articles on new and emerging technologies. While the technology industry often seems to have little use for its own history, I have found the history of networked systems to be a rich source of inspiration, full of sources of inspiration that can help us start to envision a wide range of possible futures.

Alex's book list on forgotten pioneers of the Internet

Alex Wright Why did Alex love this book?

Engelbart’s seminal 1962 book on the possibilities of networked computers builds directly on Bush’s ideas, laying out a groundbreaking new vision for how computers might work.

In collaboration with a team of brilliant collaborators at the Stanford Research Institute, Englelbart began to outline a revolutionary vision for a new kind of collaboration between people and computers. He argued for a new class of technology that would enable computers to augment—rather than supplant—human intelligence. Engelbart’s work led directly to the invention of the graphical user interface, hyperlinking, and pointing devices like the mouse (another Engelbart invention).

Though little read today, Augmenting Human Intellect has exerted a lasting impact on contemporary computing, and many computer scientists now acknowledge it as one of the intellectual foundations of the modern Internet.

By Tom Standage,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Victorian Internet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new paperback edition of the book the Wall Street Journal dubbed “a Dot-Com cult classic,” by the bestselling author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses-the fascinating story of the telegraph, the world's first “Internet.”

The Victorian Internet tells the colorful story of the telegraph's creation and remarkable impact, and of the visionaries, oddballs, and eccentrics who pioneered it, from the eighteenth-century French scientist Jean-Antoine Nollet to Samuel F. B. Morse and Thomas Edison. The electric telegraph nullified distance and shrank the world quicker and further than ever before or since, and its story mirrors and predicts…


Book cover of Emma

Charisse Cooke Author Of The Attachment Solution: How to develop secure, strong and lasting relationships

From my list on how to create a great relationship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was fortunate enough to meet my husband over 17 years ago, and we have packed a lot of life in since then. Along with two kids and a dog, we’ve had our fair share of tough moments: financial challenges, bereavement, family issues, marital disagreement, and traumatic life events that taught me just as much as my two decades-long career as a relationship psychotherapist has. This, combined with working with individuals, couples, and partners in search of what love means and how to practically go about achieving it, has clarified for me just how much we all need tools and teachings when it comes to matters of the heart.

Charisse's book list on how to create a great relationship

Charisse Cooke Why did Charisse love this book?

Jane Austen would have made such a great therapist! Her razor-sharp observations, combined with profound insights into people and relationships, make this book an all-time favorite of mine. I love her descriptions of falling in (and out of) love and how fallible each of her characters is, reminding us of our humanity–especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

What also strikes me is how true it is that pride, image, and status can still play out in our more modern relationships today. This book feels very old-fashioned in places, but it warns us how easily we can hurt other people and damage relationships, sometimes irrevocably. There’s a lot to learn from Emma, and I enjoy seeing relationships depicted in fiction, where so much can be explored through a fascinating and absorbing story, too.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Her masterpiece, mixing the sparkle of her early books with a deep sensibility' Robert McCrum, Observer

Although described by Jane Austen as a character 'whom no one but myself will much like', the irrepressible Emma Woodhouse is one of her most beloved heroines. Clever, rich and beautiful, she sees no need for marriage, but loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen's novel of youthful exuberance and gradual self-knowledge is a brilliant, sparkling comic masterpiece.

Edited with an Introduction by FIONA STAFFORD


Book cover of Great Expectations

Richard Vetere Author Of She's Not There

From my list on classic coming-of-age set within the last century.

Why am I passionate about this?

Richard Vetere’s teleplay adaptation of his published stage play The Marriage Fool, starring Walter Matthau, Carol Burnet, and John Stamos, now streaming on Amazon. He co-wrote the movie The Third Miracle, which is a screenplay adaptation of his own novel. It was produced by Francis Ford Coppola, directed by Agnieszka Holand, and stars Ed Harris and Anne Heche released by Sony Picture Classics. His screenplay Caravaggio, an adaptation of his own published stage play, won the Golden Palm Award for Best Screenplay at the Beverly Hills International Film Festival in 2021. In 2005, the Frank Melville Library at Stony Brook University created the Richard Vetere Collection, an archive of his work.  

Richard's book list on classic coming-of-age set within the last century

Richard Vetere Why did Richard love this book?

You cannot mention a coming-of-age novel without mentioning this classic.

Pip is an orphan who meets an escaped prisoner in a graveyard, does him a good deed, then is made a gentleman from an inheritance he knows nothing about. All of us enter our youth with great expectations and some of us are lucky enough, or unlucky, to meet our own beautiful Estella or the damaged and doomed Miss Havisham or the worldly and wise attorney Mister Jaggers.

Set in London where the worlds of extreme poverty and privilege co-exist side by side, we experience this world firsthand as Pip does wondering, all the time, if we can survive it unscathed. Ignore all other movie adaptations since they will only disappoint. Screen the 1946 version directed by David Lean. It is a great film.

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Great Expectations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'His novels will endure as long as the language itself' Peter Ackroyd

Dickens's haunting late novel depicts the education and development of a young man, Pip, as his life is changed by a series of events - a terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor - and he discovers the true nature of his 'great expectations'. This definitive edition includes appendices on Dickens's original ending, giving an illuminating glimpse into a…


Book cover of Far from the Madding Crowd

Kate Wells Author Of Murder on the Farm

From my list on taking you into the world of farming.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved the Malvern Hills my whole life, first living on a sheep farm at their foot and then in my great-grandparents’ old house at the very top. As a teenager I fell for a farmer’s son (now my husband) and spent all my time on his Herefordshire farm. My upbringing firmly engrained a deep love of rural life into me, so it was natural it became integral to my writing. To write with authenticity about a way of life I am so passionate about, I immerse myself in farming research and keep my hand in on a local farm when it comes to busy times such as lambing.

Kate's book list on taking you into the world of farming

Kate Wells Why did Kate love this book?

I first read this classic story in my teens and was instantly besotted by Hardy’s farming world and the characters he filled it with. It is still the one I would take with me to my desert island if I was only allowed a single book to keep me company.

And what company I’d be in. Bathsheba Everdene is the ultimate in strong female protagonists and she was carving her path as a farmer in a man’s world long before she inspired me to write about my own feisty heroine, Jude Gray. 

As a student I fell in love with Bathsheba’s steady shepherd, Gabriel Oak, and their pitted, frustrating but ultimately wonderful relationship is still one of the best love stories I’ve lost myself in.

By Thomas Hardy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Far from the Madding Crowd as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its new range of best-loved, essential classics. Here is one of Thomas Hardy's most popular novels, soon to be released as a major motion picture in May 2015.

'I shall do one thing in this life - one thing certain - that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die'

Independent and spirited, Bathsheba Everdene owns the hearts of three men. Striving to win her love in different ways, their relationships with Bathsheba complicate her life in bucolic Wessex - and cast shadows over their own. With the morals…


Book cover of O Pioneers!

Eleanor Wilton Author Of Agnes Merriweather

From my list on classics featuring exceptional female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first read and fell in love with Jane Austen's novels at the age of thirteen, and thus began a lifelong enthusiasm for nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century literature. Though I studied English Literature and Art History at university, I embarked on a professional career working in an entirely unrelated field. I never lost my childhood desire to write fiction. Inspiration came, as it will, unexpectedly. I sat down one day in the grand Reading Room of the New York Public Library, pad and pen in hand, and began to write. I happened to be suffering a spell of insomnia at the time, and before I knew it, I had a draft of my first novel.

Eleanor's book list on classics featuring exceptional female protagonists

Eleanor Wilton Why did Eleanor love this book?

It is impossible to separate Cather’s heroine Alexandra Bergson from the Nebraska prairie she farms.

Alexandra’s character mirrors the land she, as the eldest child, inherited from her father and which she devotes her life to working. When other families give up, sell off, and move on, she doggedly remains through harsh winters and, against all likelihood, prospers as an unmarried woman managing a vast expanse of land.

Like the land, she remains both knowable and unknowable, at once harsh and majestic.

Possessing an external manner that is reticent, internally hers is an indomitable spirit. She is among the most inimitable of women to have ever appeared in print.

By Willa Sibert Cather,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the turn of the twentieth century. When their father dies young, exhausted by the failure of his attempts at agriculture, it is left to the visionary Alexandra to guide the family to prosperity and safeguard the fortune of her brothers. Strong-willed and fiercely independent, she succeeds against all odds, but only at the cost of her own fulfilment as a woman. Central to the novel's action is the Nebraskan landscape it describes, by turns unyielding and fruitful, bitter and ecstatic.O Pioneers! joins Cather's My Antonia in Everyman's Library.


Book cover of The Custom of the Country

Eleanor Wilton Author Of Agnes Merriweather

From my list on classics featuring exceptional female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first read and fell in love with Jane Austen's novels at the age of thirteen, and thus began a lifelong enthusiasm for nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century literature. Though I studied English Literature and Art History at university, I embarked on a professional career working in an entirely unrelated field. I never lost my childhood desire to write fiction. Inspiration came, as it will, unexpectedly. I sat down one day in the grand Reading Room of the New York Public Library, pad and pen in hand, and began to write. I happened to be suffering a spell of insomnia at the time, and before I knew it, I had a draft of my first novel.

Eleanor's book list on classics featuring exceptional female protagonists

Eleanor Wilton Why did Eleanor love this book?

Is Undine Spragg Edith Wharton’s least admiral protagonist? Perhaps. But as well, she is her most beguiling.

With her modest mid-western roots and her hunger for something more, she personifies the American dream, only she incarnates its less noble form. Cunning and beautiful, she uses her every charm exclusively in service to her ambition.

There is something thoroughly modern about her self-belief, her perpetual reinvention. It’s impossible to look away as she ruthlessly forges her own future, defying expectations and conventions time and again. 

They say what goes around comes around; but when it comes to Undine Spragg we are constantly left wondering if the truism can hold.

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Custom of the Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edith Wharton’s classic story of one woman’s quest for wealth and status after the turn of the twentieth century

Beautiful, selfish, and driven, Undine Spragg arrives in New York with all of the ambition and naiveté that her midwestern, nouveau riche upbringing afforded her. As cunning as she is lovely, Undine has but one goal in life: to ascend to the upper echelons of high society. And so with a single-minded tenacity, Undine continues to maneuver through life, finding all the while that true satisfaction remains just beyond her grasp.

Hailed by Elizabeth Hardwick as “Edith Wharton’s finest achievement,” The…


Book cover of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Karen Swallow Prior Author Of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

From my list on Victorian stories that have lessons for today.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a little girl who fell in love with stories who grew up to be an English professor--which is another way of saying that it's my job to help others fall in love with great stories, too! I especially love novels from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries because so much new was happening in the world then that continues to shape how we understand ourselves today. So much has changed and yet the human condition--with all its challenges, disappointments, and dreams--hasn't changed.

Karen's book list on Victorian stories that have lessons for today

Karen Swallow Prior Why did Karen love this book?

This literary masterpiece employs some of the most common tropes of early novels: letters, a diary, an old mansion, forbidden love, rumors, gossip, and an overall air of foreboding mystery.

These are the ingredients that make for a gripping story. Yet, Anne Bronte does so much more in this remarkably pioneering work.

In fact, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of the earliest novels address head on alcoholism and domestic violence. It is at once a feminist novel and one that celebrates love that endures—but, most importantly, love based on equality.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall resists the age-old myth that a woman can change a man (or vice-versa).

By Anne Brontë,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'

A beautiful edition of Anne Bronte's most enduring novel, to accompany her sisters' greatest books in Penguin Clothbound Classics.

Gilbert Markham is deeply intrigued by Helen Graham, a beautiful and secretive young woman who has moved into nearby Wildfell Hall with her young son. He is quick to offer Helen his friendship, but when her reclusive behaviour becomes the subject of local gossip and speculation, Gilbert begins to wonder whether his trust in her has been misplaced. It is only when she allows Gilbert to read her diary that the…


Book cover of Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Essie Fox Author Of The Fascination

From my list on inspirational and eerie Gothic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of dark historical novels, I'm always drawn to other books that reflect my gothic themes. I think this interest first began when I read Wuthering Heights, soon afterwards studying the Victorian Sensation novels at university. These vividly described and densely plot-driven stories, often with shocking twists and vivid casts of characters, would thrill and entrance me. Afterwards I'd look out for any newly published books by contemporary writers dealing with similar ideas. I can't describe how it felt when I wrote one myself and saw it on the bookshop shelves. 

Essie's book list on inspirational and eerie Gothic

Essie Fox Why did Essie love this book?

Coming from Herefordshire on the border with Wales, my own novels are often steeped in the natural reflections of eerie rural isolation, with the folklore and pagan customs of those places existing hand in hand with the newer forms of Christianity. Perhaps this is why I connect so passionately with the novels that are set in Thomas Hardy's Wessex.

And what a spell beautiful Tess was to weave around my heart. This profoundly moving novel will never be forgotten.

By Thomas Hardy, Simon Gatrell (editor), Juliet Grindle (editor)

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tess of the D'Urbervilles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'She looked absolutely pure. Nature, in her fantastic trickery, had set such a seal of maidenhood upon Tess's countenance that he gazed at her with a stupefied air: "Tess- say it is not true! No, it is not true!"'

Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable. When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her and she faces an agonizing moral choice.

Hardy's indictment of…


Book cover of Victorian London: The Life of a City 1840-1870

Jennifer Delamere Author Of Line by Line

From my list on unique insights on the Victorians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the sort of person who reads history books for fun. It’s perhaps odd to be a novelist who prefers nonfiction for my personal reading, but then again, I’ve managed to utilize those traits for writing 9 historical novels. The Victorian era has fascinated me since childhood. (The first play I ever saw was Oliver!, inspired by Dickens’ Oliver Twist. I still remember it vividly.) The Victorian era was a time of momentous change, becoming more like the world we know today and yet still within living memory of a very different way of life. The books I’ve chosen here reflect that time of upheaval and how, for better or worse, people dealt with it.

Jennifer's book list on unique insights on the Victorians

Jennifer Delamere Why did Jennifer love this book?

This is the first detailed history I ever read about the Victorians, and it’s still my favorite.

Picard brings mid-Victorian London to life—the sights, smells, and sounds of the city, the lifestyles of the rich and the poor, the changing attitudes in politics, romance, and religion.

She covers the decades when London was making strides in things we think of as “modern,” from running water and better sanitation to the railways, education, and the rising middle class.

Her chapter notes and references provide endless fodder for anyone interested in learning more about this period. Picard’s writing is lively, fluid, and fascinating.

Anyone who thinks history must be dry and dusty need only to read this book to discover otherwise.

By Liza Picard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Like her previous books, this book is the product of the author's passionate interest in the realities of everyday life - and the conditions in which most people lived - so often left out of history books. This period of mid Victorian London covers a huge span: Victoria's wedding and the place of the royals in popular esteem; how the very poor lived, the underworld, prostitution, crime, prisons and transportation; the public utilities - Bazalgette on sewers and road design, Chadwick on pollution and sanitation; private charities - Peabody, Burdett Coutts - and workhouses; new terraced housing and transport, trains,…


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