90 books like Offshore

By Penelope Fitzgerald,

Here are 90 books that Offshore fans have personally recommended if you like Offshore. 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 Rivers of London

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

I love a mix of fantasy and reality. This book (and the following series) has changed the way I look at almost everywhere in London.

Unbeknownst to most policemen and nearly all members of the ordinary public, the Metropolitan Police have a unit that deals with magic in the city. Seemingly-innocent events are often caused by vampires, magicians, or the rivalries between the gods and goddesses of the River Thames’ tributaries.

Here, it is not just the Thames that is important; all the little, often overlooked, waterways have a role to play. Peter, the Detective Constable at the heart of the story, is also a trainee wizard; the plot moves at breakneck speed, and I found it funny, exciting, and surprising all at once. 

By Ben Aaronovitch,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Rivers of London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book 1 in the Rivers of London series, from Sunday Times Number One bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch.

My name is Peter Grant, and I used to be a probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth.

My story really begins when I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead...

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London's Metropolitan Police. After taking a statement from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost, Peter comes…


Book cover of Original Sin

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

I need crime novels to have a good backstory–characters that grip me beyond the murder, burglary, or kidnapping. The setting of this story, in the world of publishing in a building on the bank of the River Thames, fulfills everything I could want.

As a detective, Adam Dalgliesh is intriguing; he is highly respected but intensely private, a published poet who lives alone in a flat overlooking the river, all of which made me want to know more about the man, as well as the crime he has to solve. 

By P. D. James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a major Channel 5 series

'The Queen of Crime.' New York Times

The Peverell Press, a two-hundred-year-old publishing firm housed in a dramatic mock-Venetian palace on the Thames, is certainly ripe for change. But the proposals of its ruthlessly ambitious new managing director, Gerard Etienne, have made him dangerous enemies - a discarded mistress, a neglected and humiliated author, and rebellious colleagues and staff. When Gerard's body is discovered bizarrely desecrated, there is no shortage of suspects and Adam Dalgliesh and his team are confronted with a puzzle of extraordinary complexity and a murderer who is prepared to strike…


Book cover of Ordinary Thunderstorms

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

As with all the books I have chosen, the River Thames is a central part of this story.

From the affluence of Chelsea, it moves through the varied moods of the river, from crime in Rotherhithe through the Thames Barrier Park (one of my favourite London parks) to the point where it becomes the North Sea. At each twist and turn in the tale, the river matches the events perfectly.

The story is centred round a crime, but what I found fascinating was how a single error of judgement on the part of an innocent academic leaves him homeless, jobless, and in danger, with nowhere to run but a tiny patch of grass by the river. 

By William Boyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One May evening in London, as a result of a chance encounter and a split-second decision, the young climatologist Adam Kindred loses everything - home, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, money - never to get them back. With the police and a hit man in merciless pursuit, Adam has no choice but to go underground, joining the ranks of the disappeared, struggling to understand how his life has unravelled so spectacularly. His journey of discovery will take him along the Thames from Chelsea to the sink estates of the East End. On the way he encounters aristocrats, priests, prostitutes and…


Book cover of The Miraculous Sweetmakers #1: The Frost Fair

Jane McMorland Hunter Author Of Urban Nature Every Day: Discover the natural world on your doorstep

From my list on novels set by the River Thames in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived in London most of my life, and what I love most about it are the wild places, the spots where the city and nature rub shoulders. When reading fiction, ‘place’ matters a lot to me, and if I am familiar with the setting, I like it to be accurate. That said, I love a little fantasy to stretch the boundaries. As well as being a writer and editor, I have worked part-time in bookshops for over forty years, and during that time, I must have read hundreds of novels set in and around London. These are five of my absolute favourites.

Jane's book list on novels set by the River Thames in London

Jane McMorland Hunter Why did Jane love this book?

As a bookseller as well as a writer and editor, I believe strongly that good children’s books should also be read by adults.

The setting here is 1683, and the River Thames is frozen. I studied history, and I often stand on London Bridge and try to imagine the flowing water as a field of ice with stalls and side shows on the frozen surface. Embankments and new bridges mean the river no longer freezes, but this story brings historical London to life and allows us to feel what it would have been like.

A magic nocturnal Frost Fair, a lost boy, and a determined twin sister are at the heart of this bewitching story, which is dark yet uplifting–a perfect combination that had me gripped throughout. 

By Natasha Hastings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Miraculous Sweetmakers #1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

'Absolutely stunning... Real emotional depth alongside a fast-paced plot. Fantastic' A F Steadman

An amazing and captivating, curl-up-on-the-sofa debut about a magical frost fair and the lasting power of friendship, perfect for fans of Tamzin Merchant, Abi Elphinstone and Anna James.

The Great Frost of 1683 has London in its icy grip.

Thomasina and her best friend Anne sell sweets on the frozen Thames, amid rumours of the magical Frost Fair that awakens there at night. They say if you can find the fair, Father Winter himself will grant you any wish.

And Thomasina has an impossible wish: the return…


Book cover of Citadel of the Saxons: The Rise of Early London

Marc Morris Author Of The Anglo-Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England

From my list on medieval Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into medieval history from the moment I arrived at university, when I looked at a lecture list that included the Norman Conquest, King John and Magna Carta, Edward I – in short, the subjects of the books I have gone on to write. The attraction for me was that the medieval centuries were formative ones, shaping the countries of the British Isles and the identities of the people within them. After completing my doctorate on the thirteenth-century earls of Norfolk I was keen to broaden my horizons, and presented a TV series about castles, which was a great way to reconnect with the reality of the medieval past.

Marc's book list on medieval Britain

Marc Morris Why did Marc love this book?

In my own writing I’ve recently ventured into the Anglo-Saxon period, so I know how hard it is to conjure the history of these early medieval centuries from the meagre source material that survives. Rory Naismith manages this brilliantly in his highly engaging history of London in the centuries between the end of Roman Britain and the Norman Conquest. Naismith’s earlier books are on coins and coinage, but he does not allow his specialism to pull the book off balance. It’s a comparatively short volume, but it provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging capital, and it wears its considerable learning lightly.

By Rory Naismith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With a past as deep and sinewy as the famous River Thames that twists like an eel around the jutting peninsula of Mudchute and the Isle of Dogs, London is one of the world's greatest and most resilient cities. Born beside the sludge and the silt of the meandering waterway that has always been its lifeblood, it has weathered invasion, flood, abandonment, fire and bombing. The modern story of London is well known. Much has been written about the later history of this megalopolis which, like a seductive dark star, has drawn incomers perpetually into its orbit. Yet, as Rory…


Book cover of Visco

Denise Baden Author Of Habitat Man

From my list on climate fiction to give you hope for our lovely planet.

Why am I passionate about this?

My day job is as a sustainability academic, so it’s hard to escape concern for our future and what we’re doing to our wonderful planet. I seek refuge in writing fiction. For me, if I can write the solutions, then maybe people will adopt them. But first and foremost, I love fiction as an escape, so I write and seek out books that make me happy and are filled with love and hope and exciting ideas to keep you turning the page. I also run the Green Stories project which hosts free writing competitions to help us imagine positive visions of a sustainable society.

Denise's book list on climate fiction to give you hope for our lovely planet

Denise Baden Why did Denise love this book?

We may have visions of what a sustainable society might look like, but how could we possibly get there?

This story imagines a giant music festival which allows free access to those who need care and their carers and designs a care-based mini-society. But they love it so much, no one wants to go home when the music stops. So they don’t!

David Fell brings to this novel all the knowledge he has gained in his years working as a sustainability consultant, and packages it with engaging characters and an exciting plot.

By David Fell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jo Castle, Londoner and thirty-something firefighter, wants to save the world by being the opposite of Jack Reacher. She starts with care – care for her friends and family, care for community, care for the planet. Together with best friend Miranda, step-brother Mike and ex-boyfriend Robert, Jo turns a giant music festival on an island in the River Thames into the living city of Visco. Visco is a ‘carnival of care’, a radical experiment that challenges the very bedrock of capitalism. The story of its emergence, and how it overcomes the Establishment, is a ray of hope in dark times.


Book cover of Sweet Thames Run Softly

Richard Mayon-White Author Of Discovering London's Canals: On foot, by bike or by boat

From my list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love rivers. The flow of water gives a sense of timelessness, the reflection of light from the surface brightens the colours on the banks and the wider stretches make a feeling of space. I have messed about in boats all my life and I am happiest on inland waterways. What I enjoyed as recreation alongside a medical career has grown into a vocation in my retirement. The more people who know about our beautiful rivers, the better the chances that we can protect them from exploitation and carelessness. 

Richard's book list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways

Richard Mayon-White Why did Richard love this book?

Sweet Thames Run Softly is a classic of natural history literature. 

It is reputed to have been read by British servicemen during World War II to remind them of home and peace. It is just as evocative today.  It describes a journey down the River Thames in a punt, and it meanders in the same way as the river does. 

The beauty lies in the text and the charm is in the author’s etchings. This is a book that I read time and again, whenever I want inspiration or solace.

By Robert Gibbings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sweet Thames Run Softly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, Robert Gibbings launched his home-made punt on the River Thames and began a slow journey downstream, armed with a sketchpad and a microscope. From the river's source at the edge of the Cotswold Hills to the bustle of London's docks, Sweet Thames Run Softly is a charming, often eccentric, account of an artist-naturalist adrift in English waters. First published as the Battle of Britain raged overhead, this gentle boating tale was an antidote to the anxieties of wartime and became an immediate best-seller. Our new edition includes the original engravings…


Book cover of Dark Earth

Warner Blake Author Of J. S. White, Our First Architect: His Surviving Structures from 19th-Century Snohomish

From my list on covering the first draft of history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Warner is a multi-disciplinary artist who began with object theatre – writing, designing and building characters, and performing. Now, history writing is his primary focus, having written two books for 14 years, and still counting, writes a monthly blog, combining words and images to tell stories of early Snohomish. 

Warner's book list on covering the first draft of history

Warner Blake Why did Warner love this book?

Rebecca Stott sets her adventure story in the Roman ruins of early London around 500 AD, and is included in this collection because Stott is, in a sense, creating the first draft of history where none exists with this admirable tale.

It’s of two sisters, Isla and Blue, whose father dies and they must deliver the Sword he forged to the client, King Osric. Listening to the story transported me to the sister’s side as they overcome one obstacle after another. Found myself listening in a dream state — an extraordinary listen that called me to make the exception to include this book in my list.

On the author's website I wanted to learn more about the title and clicked on the tab "Mysterious Black Soil". Reading the entry, I was entranced all over again by this amazing tale. Briefly, when the Romans abandoned Londinium, around 420 AD, the mile-wide…

By Rebecca Stott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “superb” (The Guardian) novel about two sisters fighting for survival in Dark Ages Britain that weaves “a dazzling blend of history and fantasy” (BuzzFeed)
 
“Rich in history and folklore . . . Stott is astute on the use of stories to control others and maintain power. . . . Female defiance blazes through as her women reclaim this brutal period from the men.”—The Telegraph

The year is 500 AD. Sisters Isla and Blue live in the shadows of the Ghost City, the abandoned ruins of the once-glorious mile-wide Roman settlement Londinium on the bank of the River Thames. But…


Book cover of The History of the Port of London: A Vast Emporium of All Nations

Margarette Lincoln Author Of Trading in War: London's Maritime World in the Age of Cook and Nelson

From my list on maritime London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was formerly Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and am now a visiting fellow at the University of Portsmouth. I can safely say that I have spent some years of my life walking along the River Thames. The fascinating thing about maritime London is that our understanding of it is always advancing and changing – much like the riverscape itself.

Margarette's book list on maritime London

Margarette Lincoln Why did Margarette love this book?

Stone looks specifically at the evolution of the Port of London from Roman times to the present day. His enthusiasm for London’s history is evident on every page. The book is well-paced, accessible, and combines a broad chronological sweep with interesting side-stories which help to bring the pages to life. Clear maps showing trade routes and the growth of London’s dock complex greatly help the reader.

By Peter Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The River Thames has been integral to the prosperity of London since Roman times. Explorers sailed away on voyages of discovery to distant lands. Colonies were established and a great empire grew. Funding their ships and cargoes helped make the City of London into the world's leading financial centre. In the 19th century a vast network of docks was created for ever-larger ships, behind high, prison-like walls that kept them secret from all those who did not toil within. Sail made way for steam as goods were dispatched to every corner of the world. In the 19th century London was…


Book cover of The Unlimited Dream Company

Martin B. Reed Author Of The Hammond Conjecture: The Third Reich meets the Swinging Sixties, cyberpunk meets neuroscience, in a comic meta-thriller

From my list on neurotic misfits conjures dream and reality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a student in 1968-71 (see photo) and the memories of that vanished world still haunt me. When I was supposed to be studying relativity and topology I was reading Blake and Jung, Marcuse and Mao—all misfits in their own way. After a long and undistinguished career as a mathematics lecturer in far-flung locations—Lesotho, New Guinea, Uxbridge—I retired in 2019 to write speculative comic fiction which would bring the Swinging Sixties back to life. Something of a misfit myself, I look at today's world and ask despairingly, “Is this really happening?” The books on my list provide me some solace.

Martin's book list on neurotic misfits conjures dream and reality

Martin B. Reed Why did Martin love this book?

Published in 1979, but it reads like 1960s psychedelia. The hero, Blake, descends—literally—on the sleepy riverside town of Shepperton (where Ballard himself lived), and conjures it and its inhabitants into a sensual Amazonian Eden. I imagine Ballard walking the streets each day and seeing visions: flamingos perched atop the filling station, orchids overrunning the hardware store, his neighbours throwing off their business suits and coupling naked in their front gardens. Seeing, like his hero’s namesake, "a world in a grain of sand, or heaven in a wildflower." The rich prose, evocative but never repetitive, works the same magic on the reader.  

By J.G. Ballard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With a new introduction by John Gray and striking new cover from the artist Stanley Donwood, the author of 'Cocaine Nights' brings you the story of suburban London transformed into an exotic dreamworld.

When a light aircraft crashes into the Thames at Shepperton, the young pilot who struggles to the surface minutes later seems to have come back from the dead. Within hours everything in the dormitory suburb is surreally transformed. Vultures invade the rooftops, luxuriant tropical vegetation overruns the quiet avenues, and the local inhabitants are propelled by the young man's urgent visions through ecstatic sexual celebrations towards an…


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