100 books like Palaces of Pleasure

By Lee Jackson,

Here are 100 books that Palaces of Pleasure fans have personally recommended if you like Palaces of Pleasure. 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 How to Be a Victorian

Patrice McDonough Author Of Murder by Lamplight

From my list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a reading and history-loving family. My parents read all the time, and their books of choice combined historical fiction and nonfiction. It’s no wonder I ended up teaching high school history for over three decades. The first books I read were my older brother’s hand-me-down Hardy Boys. Then, I went on to Agatha Christie. Books written in the 1920s and 30s were historical mysteries by the time I read them decades later, so the historical mystery genre is a natural fit. As for the Victorian age, all that gaslight and fog makes it the perfect milieu for murder.

Patrice's book list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era

Patrice McDonough Why did Patrice love this book?

I adore immersive, hands-on history. Gordan took me on an intimate, hour-by-hour tour of a Victorian day, from the morning wash routine to the five-minute hair-brushing ritual at bedtime. She tested the power of the natural bristle brush; I’ll take it on faith that one can go weeks without shampooing.

Ever wonder how Victorians cleaned their teeth before Colgate? Coal soot is the surprising answer.  From what they ate to how they dressed, worked, and played, Gordon charts differences across social classes and down the century. 

By Ruth Goodman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Be a Victorian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ruth Goodman believes in getting her hands dirty. Drawing on her own adventures living in re-created Victorian conditions, Goodman serves as our bustling and fanciful guide to nineteenth-century life. Proceeding from daybreak to bedtime, this charming, illustrative work celebrates the ordinary lives of the most perennially fascinating era of British history. From waking up to the rapping of a "knocker-upper man" on the window pane to lacing into a corset after a round of calisthenics, from slipping opium to the little ones to finally retiring to the bedroom for the ideal combination of "love, consideration, control and pleasure," the weird,…


Book cover of Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy

Patrice McDonough Author Of Murder by Lamplight

From my list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a reading and history-loving family. My parents read all the time, and their books of choice combined historical fiction and nonfiction. It’s no wonder I ended up teaching high school history for over three decades. The first books I read were my older brother’s hand-me-down Hardy Boys. Then, I went on to Agatha Christie. Books written in the 1920s and 30s were historical mysteries by the time I read them decades later, so the historical mystery genre is a natural fit. As for the Victorian age, all that gaslight and fog makes it the perfect milieu for murder.

Patrice's book list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era

Patrice McDonough Why did Patrice love this book?

The author’s unusual lens made this a captivating history. Murphy examines Victoria’s reign through the multiple attempts on the queen’s life. While the title isn’t entirely accurate (one would-be assassin used a walking stick rather than a gun), Murphy makes a persuasive case for the monarchy’s “rebirth.”

Defying death helped the queen survive some rough patches in her reign. Through eight attempts to kill her, the queen modeled “keep calm and carry on” in the best British tradition, and the public adored her pluck. After the final gunman failed to murder the queen, the aging Victoria said, “It is worth being shot at to see how much one is loved.”

By Paul Thomas Murphy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'It is worth being shot at to see how much one is loved.' - Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria was attacked an astonishing eight times during her sixty-three year reign.

Victoria's would-be assassins succeeded in changing the course of British history; whose penal system, legal system and policing would never be the same again. Taking the queen's mad, marginalized attackers as his starting point for an investigation of the entire era, Paul Thomas Murphy weaves elegantly through all layers of nineteenth century society and culture. A rollicking, riveting history, Shooting Victoria is the most multi-faceted story of Victorian Britain to date.


Book cover of The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England's Most Eminent Surgeon

Patrice McDonough Author Of Murder by Lamplight

From my list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a reading and history-loving family. My parents read all the time, and their books of choice combined historical fiction and nonfiction. It’s no wonder I ended up teaching high school history for over three decades. The first books I read were my older brother’s hand-me-down Hardy Boys. Then, I went on to Agatha Christie. Books written in the 1920s and 30s were historical mysteries by the time I read them decades later, so the historical mystery genre is a natural fit. As for the Victorian age, all that gaslight and fog makes it the perfect milieu for murder.

Patrice's book list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era

Patrice McDonough Why did Patrice love this book?

This superb biography is an engrossing account of the mysterious title surgeon and the doctor’s fascinating world. James Miranda Barry joined the British Army in 1813 as a regimental surgeon and served in colonial posts for the next fifty years. But Barry had been born Margaret Bulkley, an anatomical female—a surprise revealed after the doctor’s death.

Was Barry’s masquerade strategic, the doctor’s only route to a medical career? Was Barry a transgender person? I wondered if the “truth” would remain a mystery. Rachel Holmes persuaded me that the probable answer lies in a document “gathering dust” in Edinburgh’s medical school archives, a revelation she saves for the last chapter. 

By Rachel Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Dr James Barry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A reissue of Rachel Holmes's landmark biography of Dr James Barry, one of the most enigmatic figures of the Victorian age. James Barry was one of the nineteenth century's most exceptional doctors, and one of its great unsung heroes. Famed for his brilliant innovations, Dr Barry influenced the birth of modern medical practice in places as far apart as South Africa, Jamaica and Canada. Barry's skills attracted admirers across the globe, but there were also many detractors of the ostentatious dandy, who caused controversy everywhere he went. Yet unbeknownst to all, the military surgeon concealed a lifelong secret at the…


Book cover of The Corset: A Cultural History

Patrice McDonough Author Of Murder by Lamplight

From my list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a reading and history-loving family. My parents read all the time, and their books of choice combined historical fiction and nonfiction. It’s no wonder I ended up teaching high school history for over three decades. The first books I read were my older brother’s hand-me-down Hardy Boys. Then, I went on to Agatha Christie. Books written in the 1920s and 30s were historical mysteries by the time I read them decades later, so the historical mystery genre is a natural fit. As for the Victorian age, all that gaslight and fog makes it the perfect milieu for murder.

Patrice's book list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era

Patrice McDonough Why did Patrice love this book?

I love a book that upends my assumptions. Valerie Steele applies science and common sense to “history’s most controversial garment.” In her hands, long-standing Victorian myths unravel. Gone are fainting, wasp-waisted women whose corsets cut their livers in two and fairy tales about the cosmetic removal of ribs to produce a trimmer waistline.

The book is a visual delight, richly illustrated with period advertisements and humorous, anti-corset cartoons from popular journals. Steele traces the garment’s history across the centuries and explores what finally killed the “lethal” corset; it wasn’t its deadly health effects. 

By Valerie Steele,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The corset is probably the most controversial garment in the history of fashion. Although regarded as an essential element of fashionable dress from the Renaissance into the twentieth century, the corset was also frequently condemned as an instrument of torture and the cause of ill health. Why did women continue to don steel and whalebone corsets for four hundred years? And why did they finally stop? This lavishly illustrated book offers fascinating and often surprising answers to these questions. Valerie Steele, one of the world's most respected fashion historians, explores the cultural history of the corset, demolishing myths about this…


Book cover of Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency

Frederick Levy Author Of Hollywood 101: The Film Industry

From my list on Hollywood insiders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of seven published books about Hollywood. I’m also actively involved in the entertainment industry day to day. Presently, I am the owner of Management 101, a firm that guides the careers of actors and writers. I’m also a producer of feature films and television shows including the GLAAD award-winning feature film Geography Club, Sins of our Youth, and Nickelodeon’s Dance On Sunset. I have taught at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and have appeared as a guest on Entertainment Tonight, CNN, Fox News, and CBS.

Frederick's book list on Hollywood insiders

Frederick Levy Why did Frederick love this book?

Since I work in talent representation, I’m always curious how my colleagues and competitors conduct business. CAA is, and has been, the top agency in Hollywood since I first started in this industry. I was anxious to read about the history of the company and how it has managed to not only survive, but thrive, throughout the decades. Filled with tantalizing stories of insider secrets, this is an eye opening account of one of Hollywood’s most powerful companies and the uber successful men and women who have worked there.

By James Andrew Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller, now updated with an afterword and exclusive new material From the #1 bestselling author behind acclaimed oral histories of Saturday Night Live and ESPN comes "the most hotly anticipated book [in decades]" (Variety): James Andrew Miller's irresistible insider chronicle of the modern entertainment industry, told through the epic story of Creative Artists Agency (CAA)-the ultimate power player that has represented the world's biggest stars and shaped the landscape of film, television, comedy, music, and sports. Started in 1975, when five bright and brash upstarts left creaky William Morris to form their own innovative talent agency,…


Book cover of The Weight of Feathers

E.G. Radcliff Author Of The Wild Court: A Celtic Fae-Inspired Fantasy Novel

From my list on not-exactly-young-adult fantasy for worldbuilding.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a part-time pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. I collect acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside my house know me as She Who Has Bread. My fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities. You can reach me by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on social media. If I can’t describe myself in fantastical terms, why take me seriously as a fantasy author and recommender?

E.G.'s book list on not-exactly-young-adult fantasy for worldbuilding

E.G. Radcliff Why did E.G. love this book?

Another book remarkable for its descriptions, The Weight of Feathers combines the real world with enough distance and faint magic to make everything in it shimmer. Not everything makes perfect sense, and not everything needs to, because in Anne-Marie McLemore’s rewriting of the classic Romeo and Juliet love story, the taste of aguas frescas and the clinking of wind chimes make the otherworldly seem perfectly plausible. The Weight of Feathers is the sort of book that made me want to live in its world, to be privy to the hidden magic. The love story unfolds gradually as the deep cultures and subtle, colorful fantasy steal away the senses.

By Anna-Marie McLemore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows. The Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find. Lace Paloma may be new to her family's show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small…


Book cover of Fleabag: The Scriptures

Damien Owens Author Of Duffy and Son

From my list on funny but, y'know, good.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Irish novelist and occasional screenwriter. My latest book, Duffy and Son, is my sixth. I can be drawn in by any well-told tale, of course, but I’ve always had the strongest reaction to stories with at least some element of comedy. I don’t know, I just find books in which no one says anything funny to be deeply unrealistic. It infuriates me when any piece of fiction is viewed as ‘lesser’ because there’s a chance it might make you smile. The books listed here will definitely make you smile. If you give them a chance, I hope you find them as worthy of your time as I did.

Damien's book list on funny but, y'know, good

Damien Owens Why did Damien love this book?

You can read a good screenplay with as much ease and pleasure as you read a novel, and the Fleabag scripts aren’t just good—they’re immaculate.

I pore over this book again and again, hoping that maybe this time I will see the trick, the moment of misdirection or sleight of hand that enables a story of profound personal pain—grief, loneliness, fear, they’re all here, all the big ones—to be so bloody funny. There is no trick, of course. There’s just flawless writing.

You should of course watch the TV show these scripts underpin, but do yourself a favour and read them too. Phoebe Waller-Bridge really did something here.

By Phoebe Waller-Bridge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Go deeper into the groundbreaking, Golden Globe and Emmy-winning series with this must-have collection—“a completist’s dream of a book, including the show’s full scripts and Waller-Bridge’s commentary” (Vogue).
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY EVENING STANDARD

“Her coat falls open. She only has her bra on underneath. She pulls out the little sculpture of the woman with no arms. It sits on her lap. Two women. One real. One not. Both with their innate femininity out.”
 
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s critically acclaimed, utterly unique series Fleabag took the world by storm with its piercing dialogue, ruthlessly dry wit,…


Book cover of Theatre and Disorder in Late Georgian London

Carol M. Cram Author Of The Muse of Fire

From my list on when you’re in the mood for a spot of Shakespeare.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved the theater ever since I first stepped on stage in a high school production of You Can’t Take It With You. I had one line and was hooked! And as for Shakespeare–I fell in love with the Bard when I was 13 and saw Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. My best friend and I spent hours reciting the lines (I still remember whole speeches). So, when I was looking for an artsy subject (I love the arts) for my third novel, I naturally turned to the theater. I have a Master of Arts in Drama from the University of Toronto and when I’m not writing, I run Art In Fiction, a website showcasing 1700+ novels inspired by the arts.

Carol's book list on when you’re in the mood for a spot of Shakespeare

Carol M. Cram Why did Carol love this book?

This academic work rarely left my side when I was writing The Muse of Fire. It provides an in-depth and well-researched overview for readers who want to know more about the Old Price Riots of 1809—the central historical event in the novel. For me, a huge bonus was that the author, Marc Baer, very graciously consented to read and provide feedback on my book before it was published to ensure I got my facts right about the longest-running and most disruptive riot in British theatrical history.

By Marc Baer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Theatre and Disorder in Late Georgian London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In September 1809, during the opening night of Macbeth at the newly rebuilt Covent Garden theatre, the audience rioted over the rise in ticket prices. Disturbances took place on a further sixty-six nights that autumn and the Old Price riots became the longest running theatre riots in English history. This book describes the events in detail, sets them in their wider context, and uses them to examine the interpenetration of theatre and disorder. Previous
understandings of the riots are substantially revised by stressing populist rather than class politics and the book concentrates on the theatricality of audiences, the role of…


Book cover of Generation Misfits

Kit Rosewater Author Of The Derby Daredevils

From my list on middle grade with radical and epic friend groups.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I had a lot of experience having a close group of friends… and a lot of experience looking into other groups from the outside. I waded from circle to circle, trying on friendships like some people try on hats. The books I’m recommending represent the best of fictional friend groups—the groups that topped any clique I saw in real life. Reading these books made me feel like an in-kid in the best possible way. Many of the characters remain the absolute coolest people I know, and serve as inspiration for the friend group dynamics I get to explore in my own stories. 

Kit's book list on middle grade with radical and epic friend groups

Kit Rosewater Why did Kit love this book?

My Spice Girl-loving heart would have died to be in an SG fan club at my school. Back in my day, we had to settle for quick half-memorized dance routines under the monkey bars during recess. But in Akemi Dawn Bowman’s sweet story of niche interests and building a community person by person, the characters’ shared love of a music group is only the tip of a huge and fulfilling friendship iceberg. 

By Akemi Dawn Bowman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Generation Misfits 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?

Eleven-year-old Millie Nakakura is starting sixth grade at a real school for the first time in her life. Previously homeschooled, Millie dreams of finally making friends and having a little bit of freedom-though this proves tricker than she expected.

Then she spots a flyer for an after-school club for fans of Japanese pop music, which she loves more than anything else in the world. Millie makes true friends with this crew of misfits, and when of their members starts to bend under the strain of a troubled home life, the friends band together to help her get through these tough…


Book cover of Domestic Bliss and Other Disasters

Sue Clark Author Of A Novel Solution

From my list on funny things that make you stop and think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved writing comedy, since my first attempt at a joke in the school magazine. I never thought I’d get to do it professionally but somehow, through cheek and luck, I found myself as a comedy scriptwriter for the BBC, penning lines for the likes of Lenny Henry and Tracey Ullman. I’ve since gone on to have a career writing more grown-up things but nothing gave me as much pleasure as creating those lines. So I’ve returned to my comedic roots, writing comic novels. And it’s still a thrill to know I’ve written words that make people laugh.

Sue's book list on funny things that make you stop and think

Sue Clark Why did Sue love this book?

Believe me; I know how hard it is to write humour. To produce a successful comedic novel with laugh-out-loud lines as a debut novelist is no mean feat, but for me, Jane Ions has pulled it off with this book. 

I found the voice of Sally Forth (I know!) engaging and hilarious from the off. There was so much for me to enjoy, from the wayward teenage son living in a lean-to in the garden to Sally’s long-suffering and respectable husband, who just happens to be an MP.

I love this kind of well-observed comedy that treats its characters, no matter how misguided, with kindness and compassion. 

By Jane Ions,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Domestic Bliss and Other Disasters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sally's son Dan has come back home from college after completing
his performing arts degree. He needs rent-free accommodation, friends,
a love life, and somewhere to perform his arts. Sally
herself is taking a career break from teaching English. She's
tired of teaching year eleven pupils about the Mockingbird. She
wants to kill the bird and stuff it with all the redundant
apostrophe's' she's ever seen in twenty years of marking
essays. She needs a rest. She does not need her adult son Dan, his
current girlfriend, his previous girlfriend and his old school friend
to move in and share…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Victorian, London, and murder?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Victorian, London, and murder.

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