100 books like On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon

By Kaye Gibbons,

Here are 100 books that On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon fans have personally recommended if you like On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon. 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 Morality Play

Rosemary Poole-Carter Author Of Only Charlotte

From my list on readers who act out novels in their heads.

Why am I passionate about this?

Make-believe is my vocation, calling to me since earliest childhood. Not too surprising, for I was raised in a Southern Gothic household, simmering with mendacity and thwarted desires. Back then, I plotted stories for my dolls and scribbled plays of love and murder for backyard productions with the neighbor girls. Living and schooling were necessary preparation for the next story or play. To this day, while truly embracing my lived-life with passion and wonder, I still make sense of it, in part, through make-believe—an act that is both solitary and collaborative—writing dialogue for actors to interpret and novels for readers to perform in their own active imaginations.

Rosemary's book list on readers who act out novels in their heads

Rosemary Poole-Carter Why did Rosemary love this book?

In the plague years of 14th century England, a young runaway priest, Nicholas Barber, hides himself by joining a troupe of traveling players and thereby finds himself a new role in a wider world. Nicholas’s story begins at an inflection point, when the residents in a particular town are more interested in an actual crime of murder than in seeing yet another iteration of the traditional religious Morality play. To captivate and keep their audience, the actors—with Nicholas now one of them—create a play of real life about the town’s murder. Their drama evolves in a series of performances as they discover more details of the mystery, at last leading them to its resolution. A fascinating interplay of history, mystery, theater, and human nature! I love this book.

By Barry Unsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book

In medieval England, a runaway scholar-priest named Nicholas Barber has joined a traveling theater troupe as they make their way toward their liege lord’s castle. In need of money, they decide to perform at a village en route. When their traditional morality plays fail to garner them an audience, they begin to stage the “the play of Thomas Wells”—their own depiction of the real-life drama unfolding within the village around the murder of a young boy. The villagers believe they have already identified the killer, and the troupe believes their play will be a…


Book cover of Playing to the Gods: Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, and the Rivalry That Changed Acting Forever

Rosemary Poole-Carter Author Of Only Charlotte

From my list on readers who act out novels in their heads.

Why am I passionate about this?

Make-believe is my vocation, calling to me since earliest childhood. Not too surprising, for I was raised in a Southern Gothic household, simmering with mendacity and thwarted desires. Back then, I plotted stories for my dolls and scribbled plays of love and murder for backyard productions with the neighbor girls. Living and schooling were necessary preparation for the next story or play. To this day, while truly embracing my lived-life with passion and wonder, I still make sense of it, in part, through make-believe—an act that is both solitary and collaborative—writing dialogue for actors to interpret and novels for readers to perform in their own active imaginations.

Rosemary's book list on readers who act out novels in their heads

Rosemary Poole-Carter Why did Rosemary love this book?

Biography is one of my favorite ways to explore history, and this double-biography is a doozy. The feud between Sarah Bernhardt and rival actress Eleonora Duse comes to dramatic life on the page as these remarkable women thrill theater audiences across the globe with their on-stage performances and off-stage scandals. Bernhardt created her public persona as the first superstar, and her name and fame certainly endure. But Duse intrigues me even more in contrast with the Divine Sarah. Unlike Bernhardt playing herself while playing a role, Duse disappeared into her roles with her natural, believable style of acting. Her technique revolutionized the theater from the late 19th century onward. And Duse’s style is the one that I find plays best in my head each time I read a novel.

By Peter Rader,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The riveting story of the rivalry between the two most renowned actresses of the nineteenth century: legendary Sarah Bernhardt, whose eccentricity on and off the stage made her the original diva, and mystical Eleonora Duse, who broke all the rules to popularize the natural style of acting we celebrate today.

Audiences across Europe and the Americas clamored to see the divine Sarah Bernhardt swoon-and she gave them their money's worth. The world's first superstar, she traveled with a chimpanzee named Darwin and a pet alligator that drank champagne, shamelessly supplementing her income by endorsing everything from aperitifs to beef bouillon,…


Book cover of The Mystery of Charles Dickens

Rosemary Poole-Carter Author Of Only Charlotte

From my list on readers who act out novels in their heads.

Why am I passionate about this?

Make-believe is my vocation, calling to me since earliest childhood. Not too surprising, for I was raised in a Southern Gothic household, simmering with mendacity and thwarted desires. Back then, I plotted stories for my dolls and scribbled plays of love and murder for backyard productions with the neighbor girls. Living and schooling were necessary preparation for the next story or play. To this day, while truly embracing my lived-life with passion and wonder, I still make sense of it, in part, through make-believe—an act that is both solitary and collaborative—writing dialogue for actors to interpret and novels for readers to perform in their own active imaginations.

Rosemary's book list on readers who act out novels in their heads

Rosemary Poole-Carter Why did Rosemary love this book?

Dickens created a panoply of over-the-top characters scripted for dramatic and comedic acting out in readers’ heads and in Victorian parlors where parents read his books aloud to their families. Dickens, too, could not resist acting his part as the famous author portraying his characters. With his vast talent and imagination and his theatrical inclinations, he toured himself to exhaustion performing his works before crowds of transfixed fans. This page-turner of a biography delves into a series of mysteries in the novelist’s life, including that of his public readings, which may have contributed to the curious circumstances of his death—all the while, revealing Dickens as a visionary artist as intriguing as any of his literary creations.

By A. N. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Book of the Year in The Times & Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Spectator, Irish Times and TLS.

'Superb' Daily Mail, 'Book of the Week'

'Brilliant' The Times, 'Book of the Week'

'[A] vivid, detailed account' Guardian, 'Book of the Week'

'Hugely enjoyable' Daily Telegraph

'Fascinating' Spectator

Charles Dickens was a superb public performer, a great orator and one of the most famous of the Eminent Victorians. Slight of build, with a frenzied, hyper-energetic personality, Dickens looked much older than his fifty-eight years when he died. Although he specified an unpretentious funeral, it was inevitable that crowds flocked to his…


Book cover of Once Upon a River

Maureen McQuerry Author Of Between Before and After

From my list on family secrets with a literary voice and a touch of wonder.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always believed in magic, the kind that’s just around the corner, out of view. I loved books and libraries. So, it was no surprise that I became a teacher, and later, a poet and novelist. Now, as the author of four novels, I want my books to capture what I love best from poetry and teaching: beautiful, unexpected language, a touch of wonder, and themes that probe the big questions of life. A library shows up in most of my novels along with a bit of the fantastic.

Maureen's book list on family secrets with a literary voice and a touch of wonder

Maureen McQuerry Why did Maureen love this book?

Everything about this literary novel captures my imagination, from the beautiful language to the quirky characters and atmospheric setting. It feels as if I’ve stepped into a fairytale with a mystery at the heart of it: a mysterious child has shown up at the local pub, and as the book unspools, we discover the secrets of the town and eventually the secret of the missing girl. 

The Armstrongs, Daunt, and Rita are characters as real as any people I know. Part of me still stays in the village of Radcot and wants to share stories at the local pub, The Swan.

By Diane Setterfield,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Once Upon a River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the instant #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “eerie and fascinating” (USA TODAY) The Thirteenth Tale comes a “swift and entrancing, profound and beautiful” (Madeline Miller, internationally bestselling author of Circe) novel about how we explain the world to ourselves, ourselves to others, and the meaning of our lives in a universe that remains impenetrably mysterious.

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his…


Book cover of Women's Life and Work in the Southern Colonies

Ida Flowers Author Of Jessie's Passion

From my list on everyday life in the Southern colonies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I started reading the Little House series at the age of ten, I’ve been in love with women’s history. In college I had the opportunity to write a paper on the topic of my choice and I chose women of the American colonial period. I found that while our daily life is now very different, our feelings as women are much the same. The more primary sources I discovered, the more I could feel the fears, sorrows, and joys of the determined women who came before us, unwittingly creating records of their experiences in their correspondence and journals as they built homes and businesses from the raw, wild land.

Ida's book list on everyday life in the Southern colonies

Ida Flowers Why did Ida love this book?

Julia Cherry Spruill is herself a fascinating character, one who worked in her husband’s shadow most of her life, an academic wife, as it were, creating research methods for the decade-long project of examining women’s experiences in the New World. The book, after being published, was largely ignored for thirty years, until it was published in paperback at a time when women’s history was attaining status as an academic field. Women’s Life and Work is overflowing with details concerning women’s activities, clothing, food and drink, childbearing, and death, with personal anecdotes of their feelings about it all. 

By Julia Cherry Spruill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Women's Life and Work in the Southern Colonies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Out of a wealth of documentation, and often from the words of the people themselves, Spruill's account brings these women's lives out of the shadows-opening a usable past that was not there before.

In the words of Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., it is "an important contribution to social history to which students will constantly turn."

Book cover of Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From my list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

William Barney Why did William love this book?

A great book for teaching me how much the wartime experiences and political resistance of the soldiers’ wives and the slaves impacted the fate of the Confederacy and pushed it in directions never imagined by the planters who created the Confederacy to serve their interests and not the majority of the population they expected to do their bidding. 

By Stephanie McCurry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize Finalist
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Winner of the Merle Curti Award

"McCurry strips the Confederacy of myth and romance to reveal its doomed essence. Dedicated to the proposition that men were not created equal, the Confederacy had to fight a two-front war. Not only against Union armies, but also slaves and poor white women who rose in revolt across the South. Richly detailed and lucidly told, Confederate Reckoning is a fresh, bold take on the Civil War that every student of the conflict should read."
-Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic

"McCurry challenges…


Book cover of Gendered Strife and Confusion: The Political Culture of Reconstruction

Lee Ann Timreck Author Of Pieces of Freedom: The Emancipation Sculptures of Edmonia Lewis and Meta Warrick Fuller

From my list on the activism of African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm fascinated with material culture – studying the things we make and use – and what they tell us about our history. My particular passion is for nineteenth-century Black material culture, often the only tangible history of enslaved and newly-emancipated Black lives. The books on my list educated me of the historical realities for African Americans, from emancipation to Jim Crow – providing critical context for deciphering the stories embedded in historical artifacts. Overall, the gendered (and harrowing) history these books provide on the contributions of African-American women to civil rights and social justice should be required reading for everyone. 

Lee's book list on the activism of African American women

Lee Ann Timreck Why did Lee love this book?

The period after the Civil War known as Reconstruction has long been overlooked by historians and educators; even less has been written about this period from a gendered perspective.

Laura Edwards provides an excellent analysis of the experiences of newly-emancipated women in shaping and surviving the political, social, and economic landscape of Reconstruction. She studies their history through first-hand narratives of how they established households, pursued their legal rights, and claimed their new roles as free women.

The book is not only a fascinating read about Reconstruction, it helped contextualize Edmonia Lewis’s and Meta Fuller’s emancipation sculptures, and their message about the freedwoman’s new identity.

By Laura F. Edwards,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Exploring the gendered dimension of political conflicts, Laura Edwards links transformations in private and public life in the era following the Civil War. Ideas about men's and women's roles within households shaped the ways groups of southerners-elite and poor, whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans-envisioned the public arena and their own places in it. By using those on the margins to define the center, Edwards demonstrates that Reconstruction was a complicated process of conflict and negotiation that lasted long beyond 1877 and involved all southerners and every aspect of life.


Book cover of Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South

Lindsay Allason-Jones Author Of Roman Woman: Everyday Life in Hadrian's Britain

From my list on how people in different periods or cultures lived their lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an archaeologist, mostly working in the Roman period. Until I retired in 2011, I was the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies and Reader in Roman Material Culture at Newcastle University, having previously been the Director of Archaeological Museums for the University. My working life started by specialising in identifying those small items which come out of every excavation, but more and more I became interested in what those artefacts told us about the people who lived on the site. Reading books about peoples’ lives in other cultures and periods provides insight into those people of the past for whom we have little documentary evidence.

Lindsay's book list on how people in different periods or cultures lived their lives

Lindsay Allason-Jones Why did Lindsay love this book?

A wittily written, powerful evocation of women’s lives in Arkansas from the 1930s to the 1980s, the history of how they got there and what made them such strong women. This is a revelation of family myth and tradition told fondly, yet with piercing pragmatism, in a way that provides insights into how we can understand women’s lives at all periods and in all places.

By Shirley Abbott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reflects on the experience of growing up female in the South, explaining the meaning of the southern heritage, the southern notion of the feminine ideal, and the reasons why southern women leave their roots.


Book cover of Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady

Mary Glickman Author Of An Undisturbed Peace

From my list on southern themes you’ve never heard of (maybe).

Why am I passionate about this?

My heart has been Southern for 35 years although I was raised in Boston and never knew the South until well into my adulthood. I loved it as soon as I saw it but I needed to learn it before I could call it home. These books and others helped shape me as a Southerner and as an author of historical Southern Jewish novels. Cormac McCarthy doesn’t describe 19th-century North Carolina so much as immerse his voice and his reader in it. Dara Horn captures her era seamlessly. Steve Stern is so wedded to place he elevates it to mythic. I don’t know if these five are much read anymore but they should be.

Mary's book list on southern themes you’ve never heard of (maybe)

Mary Glickman Why did Mary love this book?

There is one very excellent reason to read this book: It’s hilarious. Ms. King delivers her memoir of a 1950s-60s Southern childhood with searing, laugh-til-you-cry wit as she turns classic Southern tropes on their eccentric heads. Everything from the ubiquitous obsession with lineage (“Who are your people?”) to a mother’s nickname for a wayward child (“Mama Tried”) receives its due. It’s a must-read if you want to understand Southern culture or if only to make acquaintance with Ms. King’s most famous one-liner, an admission of the indelible effects of Southern training even in failed ladies: “No matter what sex I slept with, I never smoked on the street.” 

By Florence King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disappointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never be quite fulfilled. But after all, as Florence reminds us, "no matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street."


Book cover of Behind the Rifle: Women Soldiers in Civil War Mississippi

DeAnne Blanton Author Of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War

From my list on women in the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

DeAnne Blanton retired from the National Archives in Washington, DC after 31 years of service as a reference archivist specializing in 18th and 19th century U.S. Army records. She was recognized within the National Archives as well as in the historical and genealogical communities as a leading authority on the American Civil War; 19th century women’s history; and the history of American women in the military.

DeAnne's book list on women in the Civil War

DeAnne Blanton Why did DeAnne love this book?

When Lauren Cook and I published They Fought Like Demons, we knew that our book, although groundbreaking, was only the tip of the iceberg in the story of women soldiers in the Civil War, and we always hoped that another scholar would pick up the torch and move the story forward.  Shelby Harriel has done just that.  Behind the Rifle is a meticulously researched and ably written account of the distaff soldiers who hailed from Mississippi, or found themselves there.  Citing previously unknown sources along with revealing newly-located photographs, Harriel’s contribution to the history of women soldiers is remarkable.

By Shelby Harriel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the Civil War, Mississippi's strategic location bordering the Mississippi River and the state's system of railroads drew the attention of opposing forces who clashed in major battles for control over these resources. The names of these engagements-Vicksburg, Jackson, Port Gibson, Corinth, Iuka, Tupelo, and Brice's Crossroads-along with the narratives of the men who fought there resonate in Civil War literature. However, Mississippi's chronicle of military involvement in the Civil War is not one of men alone. Surprisingly, there were a number of female soldiers disguised as males who stood shoulder to shoulder with them on the firing lines across…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in women, the South, and the American Civil War?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about women, the South, and the American Civil War.

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