90 books like Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen

By Deborah Hopkinson, Qin Leng (illustrator),

Here are 90 books that Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen fans have personally recommended if you like Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of 16 Words: William Carlos Williams and the Red Wheelbarrow

Elizabeth Brown Author Of Like a Diamond in the Sky: Jane Taylor's Beloved Poem of Wonder and the Stars

From my list on children’s books about writers.

Who am I?

I’m an author and a college writing professor with an MFA in Creative Writing. Additionally, I am involved in and teach other art forms and the humanities including music, film, and literature. I enjoy researching and writing about literary figures, musicians, and other creatives, all of which have been a focus in my children’s books.

Elizabeth's book list on children’s books about writers

Elizabeth Brown Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Every poem has a story about how it came to be, and readers will enjoy the story of “The Red Wheelbarrow,” one of William Carlos Williams’ most beloved poems. The text is engaging and fun, and the colorful illustrations highlight the story well. This a must-read for children and adults alike!

By Lisa Rogers, Chuck Groenink (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 16 Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This simple nonfiction picture book about the beloved American poet William Carlos Williams is also about how being mindful can result in the creation of a great poem like "The Red Wheelbarrow"--which is only sixteen words long.

"Look out the window. What do you see? If you are Dr. William Carlos Williams, you see a wheelbarrow. A drizzle of rain. Chickens scratching in the damp earth." The wheelbarrow belongs to Thaddeus Marshall, a street vendor, who every day goes to work selling vegetables on the streets of Rutherford, New Jersey. That simple action inspires poet and doctor Williams to pick…


Book cover of Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

Jasmine A. Stirling Author Of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

From my list on women writers and artists.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning author who grew up in a family of painters, poets, sculptors, and novelists; people who designed their lives around, and dedicated their lives to, artistic expression. I knew I wanted to be a writer at age three when I began dictating a poem every day to my mom. I first fell in love with Jane Austen as a student at Oxford, where I read my favorite of her novels, Persuasion.

Jasmine's book list on women writers and artists

Jasmine A. Stirling Why did Jasmine love this book?

This book inspired my family to start reading poetry together, to create playlists of poets of the Harlem Renaissance, and even to have a Calico Critters poetry reading with tiny dollhouse books (the elephants and hedgehogs are especially good poets). 

Exquisite’s extraordinary illustrations and playful prose, which honors Gwendolyn’s rhythms, take us through the poet’s childhood love of poetry—she begins writing as early as 7. Poetry is Gwendolyn’s world. Eventually, her poems are published—first in her neighborhood, then in her city and beyond—but they don’t pay the bills. Then one day a phone call delivers the news: She is the first Black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize! I adored this book, about how art can elevate and bring joy to everyday life—with all its limitations—and gifted it to several families this year.

By Suzanne Slade, Cozbi A. Cabrera (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Exquisite as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

A picture-book biography of celebrated poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) is known for her poems about "real life." She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty-showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression-all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to…


Book cover of Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou

Nina Nolan Author Of Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens

From my list on women who shaped history.

Who am I?

I’m a picture-book author who wrote about Mahalia Jackson so more people would feel the sense of awe about her that I do. When I first read how she was treated by our own country, I was furious. But her amazing grace allowed me to focus on the positive aspects of her life, like she did.

Nina's book list on women who shaped history

Nina Nolan Why did Nina love this book?

Soaring words honor the phenomenal wordsmith, Maya Angelou. Tough topics are tackled with compassion. The broad range of colors in the illustrations echo the broad range of emotions in this beautiful tribute to a national treasure. A forward by Ms. Angelou’s grandson and helpful backmatter cradle the text (like the cover art cradles).

By Bethany Hegedus, Tonya Engel (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, this beautiful biography of Maya Angelou describes how she rose above a childhood of trauma and emotional pain to become one of the most inspiring voices of our lifetime.

Writer, activist, trolley car conductor, dancer, mother, and humanitarianMaya Angelou's life was marked by transformation and perseverance. In this comprehensive picture-book biography geared towards older readers, Bethany Hegedus lyrically traces Maya's life from her early days in Stamps, Arkansas through her work as a freedom fighter to her triumphant rise as a poet of…


Book cover of Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

Elizabeth Brown Author Of Like a Diamond in the Sky: Jane Taylor's Beloved Poem of Wonder and the Stars

From my list on children’s books about writers.

Who am I?

I’m an author and a college writing professor with an MFA in Creative Writing. Additionally, I am involved in and teach other art forms and the humanities including music, film, and literature. I enjoy researching and writing about literary figures, musicians, and other creatives, all of which have been a focus in my children’s books.

Elizabeth's book list on children’s books about writers

Elizabeth Brown Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Monica Brown’s picture book biography of Pablo Neruda is a wonderfully written account of his life and the creation of his beautiful writing and poems that sing, even under the weight of tremendous struggles. The lyrical text soars on the page while Julie Paschkis’ colorful illustrations capture the heart and soul of the poet of the people. This is a must-read!

By Monica Brown, Julie Paschkis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pablo Neruda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

A stunning picture book biography from Monica Brown and illustrator Julie Paschkis about one of the world's most enduring and popular poets, Pablo Neruda

Once there was a little boy named Neftalí who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly. From the moment he could talk, he surrounded himself with words. Neftalí discovered the magic between the pages of books. When he was sixteen, he began publishing his poems as Pablo Neruda.

Pablo wrote poems about the things he loved―things made by his friends in the café, things found at the marketplace, and things he saw in nature. He…


Book cover of The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things

Esther M. Sternberg Author Of The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions

From my list on dealing with stress through strong characters and stories.

Who am I?

Internationally recognized mind-body science and design and health pioneer, Esther Sternberg M.D. is Research Director, Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, Inaugural Andrew Weil Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine, Professor of Medicine, Psychology, Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture, Founding Director, University of Arizona Institute on Place, Wellbeing & Performance, and Associate Director (Research), Innovations in Healthy Aging. Formerly a National Institutes of Health Senior Scientist and Section Chief, she received the U.S. Federal Government’s highest awards, authored over 235 scholarly articles, and two engaging and popular science-for-the-lay-public books: The Balance Within chronicling mind-body science underpinning stress and illness and belief and wellness, and Healing Spaces, which helped ignite the 21st-century design and health movement.

Esther's book list on dealing with stress through strong characters and stories

Esther M. Sternberg Why did Esther love this book?

I love Jane Austen’s novels – the fine detail with which she paints characters based on everyday life, as she described it in a letter to her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh: “… the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour...” Sadly, Austen died at age 41, in the prime of her life, and the peak of her writing skills. Her last novel was unfinished. Most biographers surmise that she died of Addison’s disease – an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the patient’s adrenal glands, slowly sapping their energy for lack of the stress hormone cortisol. Ironically, the illness can be brought on or exacerbated by chronic stress, which certainly towards the end of her life Jane Austen experienced in spades.

When her father died, Jane Austen, being a woman, did not…

By Paula Byrne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne's landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books.

In this new biography, bestselling author Paula Byrne (author of Perdita, Mad World) explores the forces that shaped the interior life of Britain's most beloved novelist: her father's religious faith, her mother's aristocratic pedigree, her eldest brother's adoption, her other brothers' naval and military experiences, her relatives in the East and West Indies, her cousin who lived through the trauma of the French Revolution, the family's amateur theatricals, the female novelists…


Book cover of Jane Austen's Letters

Roy Adkins Author Of Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England: How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago

From my list on Jane Austen.

Who am I?

I was brought up in Maidenhead in Berkshire, a town on the River Thames to the west of London. After studying archaeology at University College, Cardiff, I worked for many years as a field archaeologist. I met my wife, Lesley, on an excavation at Milton Keynes, and we have worked together ever since, both in archaeology and as authors of archaeology and history books. It was only after studying the Napoleonic period, which was when Jane Austen lived and wrote, that I understood the context of her novels and came to a much deeper appreciation of them.

Roy's book list on Jane Austen

Roy Adkins Why did Roy love this book?

Jane Austen is known mainly from her novels, but her surviving letters provide a wonderful insight into her life and character. Most of them were written to her sister, Cassandra, whenever they were separated. This edition, by Deirdre Le Faye, is the most complete and accurate collection of the known letters, and it also includes invaluable notes on what she wrote and the people who were mentioned.

By Deirdre Le Faye,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jane Austen's letters afford a unique insight into the daily life of the novelist: intimate and gossipy, observant and informative, they bring alive her family and friends, her surroundings and contemporary events with a freshness unparalleled in biography. Above all we recognize the unmistakable voice of the author of Pride and Prejudice, witty and amusing as she describes the social life of town and country, thoughtful and constructive when writing about
the business of literary composition.

R. W. Chapman's ground-breaking edition of the collected Letters first appeared in 1932, and a second edition followed twenty years later. A third edition,…


Book cover of Jane Austen: A Life

Sue Wilkes Author Of A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England

From my list on understanding Jane Austen’s England.

Who am I?

When I was a little girl, my parents bought me a children’s edition of Pride and Prejudice. Ever since, I have loved Jane Austen’s works. As I grew older, I really enjoyed learning about her, and researching the history of her times. I hope you will enjoy reading these books as much as I did!

Sue's book list on understanding Jane Austen’s England

Sue Wilkes Why did Sue love this book?

Hundreds (possibly thousands) of biographies of Austen have been written, but Tomalin’s work has long been a favourite of mine.

Her sympathetic portrait of Jane digs deep into her early family life, schooldays, literary influences, and early authorship. Jane’s relationship with her mother; her family’s encouragement of her writings; the fear of poverty after her father’s death; the disastrous (rejected) marriage proposal, and her literary legacy are all detailed with warmth and energy. 

By Claire Tomalin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The novels of Jane Austen depict a world of civility, reassuring stability and continuity, which generations of readers have supposed was the world she herself inhabited. Claire Tomalin's biography paints a surprisingly different picture of the Austen family and their Hampshire neighbours, and of Jane's progress through a difficult childhood, an unhappy love affair, her experiences as a poor relation and her decision to reject a marriage that would solve all her problems - except that of continuing as a writer. Both the woman and the novels are radically reassessed in this biography.


Book cover of The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination

Mary DeForest Author Of Jane Austen: Closet Classicist

From my list on lovers of Jane Austen.

Who am I?

All my life I loved her novels and often reread them, but in secret. My friends—in the 1960s—scoffed at her plots. When I began my career as a classicist, I went on rereading her novels when I should've been reading academic articles. Then by a stroke of luck, I ran across a sentence in one of her letters that alluded to an obscure area of classical literature. This changed reading her novels from a guilty pleasure to scholarly research. I questioned why she and members of her family concealed her learning. The reason shocked me. The people of her day believed that women who knew Latin and Greek were sexually frigid, sexually promiscuous, man-crazy lesbians.

Mary's book list on lovers of Jane Austen

Mary DeForest Why did Mary love this book?

Gilbert and Gubar take the reader on an exhilarating ride through women’s literature from Jane Austen to Emily Dickinson. Women writers freed female characters from their stereotypes in novels written by men—angels and monsters, dull virgins, and evil temptresses—to become friends, or people I would choose for friends if only they were real. The book’s title alludes to the first Mrs. Rochester in Jane Eyre, a haunting specter of the thwarted woman author raging at her bars.

By Sandra M. Gilbert, Susan Gubar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A feminist classic."-Judith Shulevitz, New York Times Book Review

"A pivotal book, one of those after which we will never think the same again."-Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Washington Post Book World

A pathbreaking book of literary criticism is now reissued with a new introduction by Lisa Appignanesi that speaks to how The Madwoman in the Attic set the groundwork for subsequent generations of scholars writing about women writers, and why the book still feels fresh some four decades later.


Book cover of The Phantom of Pemberley

Amanda Kai Author Of Not In Want of a Wife: A Pride and Prejudice Variation

From my list on Jane Austen fanfiction.

Who am I?

I've been hooked on Jane Austen ever since my mom took me to see the movie Pride and Prejudice in theaters. After watching the movie, I bought all of her books and devoured them. I still wanted more, but what do you do when your favorite author has been dead for over 200 years? Well, you turn to fanfiction! After reading numerous sequels, twists, and retellings of my favorite novels, I began writing my own stories. As a stay-at-home mom of three kids, I've been blessed to be able to pursue my passion for storytelling while raising a family. Jane Austen continues to be my primary source of inspiration for my historical and contemporary romances.

Amanda's book list on Jane Austen fanfiction

Amanda Kai Why did Amanda love this book?

This book also falls into the mystery subgenre of Jane Austen variations. The story takes place as a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, with Elizabeth and Darcy at the center of it. I found this story to be completely chilling, with a surprise twist at the end that I did not see coming. Ms. Jeffers delivered a page-turner that I couldn’t put down!

By Regina Jeffers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

HAPPILY MARRIED for over a year and more in love than ever, Darcy and Elizabeth can’t imagine anything interrupting their bliss-filled days. Then an intense snowstorm strands a group of travelers at Pemberley, and terrifying accidents and mysterious deaths begin to plague the manor. Everyone seems convinced that it is the work of a phantom—a Shadow Man who is haunting the Darcy family’s grand estate.

Darcy and Elizabeth believe the truth is much more menacing and that someone is attempting to murder them. But Pemberley is filled with family guests as well as the unexpected travelers—any one of whom could…


Book cover of Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity

Roy Adkins Author Of Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England: How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago

From my list on Jane Austen.

Who am I?

I was brought up in Maidenhead in Berkshire, a town on the River Thames to the west of London. After studying archaeology at University College, Cardiff, I worked for many years as a field archaeologist. I met my wife, Lesley, on an excavation at Milton Keynes, and we have worked together ever since, both in archaeology and as authors of archaeology and history books. It was only after studying the Napoleonic period, which was when Jane Austen lived and wrote, that I understood the context of her novels and came to a much deeper appreciation of them.

Roy's book list on Jane Austen

Roy Adkins Why did Roy love this book?

Nowadays, Jane Austen’s novels look superficially like historical romances, but she actually wrote contemporary novels for a contemporary audience, and they are much more complicated and subtle than they first appear. This book explains many of the mentions of people, places, and events in her novels that were obvious to her readers, but which are far from obvious now.

By Janine Barchas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity, Janine Barchas makes the bold assertion that Jane Austen's novels allude to actual high-profile politicians and contemporary celebrities as well as to famous historical figures and landed estates. Barchas is the first scholar to conduct extensive research into the names and locations in Austen's fiction by taking full advantage of the explosion of archival materials now available online. According to Barchas, Austen plays confidently with the tension between truth and invention that characterizes the realist novel. Of course, the argument that Austen deployed famous names presupposes an active celebrity…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Jane Austen, authors, and homeschooling?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Jane Austen, authors, and homeschooling.

Jane Austen Explore 84 books about Jane Austen
Authors Explore 181 books about authors
Homeschooling Explore 19 books about homeschooling