10 books like Reading Chekhov

By Janet Malcolm,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Reading Chekhov. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Nocturnes

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Book cover of Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

In these five stories music is the catalyst that shapes the narrators’ encounters with regret, failure, and loss. Through seemingly straightforward but complex dialogue, surprising plot twists, and individual revelations, Ishiguro mixes whimsy and melancholy with moments of connection and revelation—a cocktail that is oddly comforting.   

Nocturnes

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Kazuo Ishiguro's new novel Klara and the Sun is now available*

In Nocturnes, Kazuo Ishiguro explores ideas of love, music and the passing of time. From the piazzas of Italy to the 'hush-hush floor' of an exclusive Hollywood Hotel, the characters we encounter range from young dreamers to cafe musicians to faded stars, all of them at some moment of reckoning.

Gentle, intimate and witty, this quintet is marked by a haunting theme - the struggle to keep alive a sense of life's romance, even as one gets older, relationships founder and youthful hopes recede.

'Each of these stories is…


The Emigrants

By W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse (translator),

Book cover of The Emigrants

One of the most original books I have ever read, and as such impossible to classify by genrea dizzying mix of memoir, history, and travel writing. As the separate stories of four apparently unrelated individuals unfold, Sebald exposes a common theme: the loss of identity through trauma and displacement. The stories are devastating and yet there is something hopeful in Sebald’s melancholic and vivid writing, the powerful case he makes for these stories being heard.

The Emigrants

By W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The four long narratives in The Emigrants appear at first to be the straightforward biographies of four Germans in exile. Sebald reconstructs the lives of a painter, a doctor, an elementary-school teacher, and Great Uncle Ambrose. Following (literally) in their footsteps, the narrator retraces routes of exile which lead from Lithuania to London, from Munich to Manchester, from the South German provinces to Switzerland, France, New York, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Along with memories, documents, and diaries of the Holocaust, he collects photographs-the enigmatic snapshots which stud The Emigrants and bring to mind family photo albums. Sebald combines precise documentary with…


A Month in Siena

By Hisham Matar,

Book cover of A Month in Siena

I am always grateful for guidance on how to look at paintings: Matar’s exploration of Siena and the paintings of the Sienese school offers that and much more. Color reproductions of the paintings are accompanied by Matar’s insights into the works and the companionship they have provided in the years that have elapsed since his father, an opponent of the Gaddafi regime, was kidnapped. The author’s recognition that he will never see his father again underlies this beautiful meditation on art and loss.

A Month in Siena

By Hisham Matar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Month in Siena as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AND MAN BOOKER-SHORTLISTED AUTHOR

'Sparkles with brilliant observations on art and architecture, friendship and loss' Guardian

'Everybody should get to spend a month with Mr. Matar, looking at paintings' Zadie Smith, Wall Street Journal, Books of the Year
_______________________________________________

Matar was nineteen years old when his father was kidnapped. In the year following he found himself turning to art, particularly the great paintings of the Sienese School. They became a refuge and a way to think about the world outside the urgencies of the present.

A quarter of a century later, having found no trace of…


Last Orders

By Graham Swift,

Book cover of Last Orders

The adopted son and three friends of Jack Dodds set off on a day trip by car to the seaside to honor his last wish by disposing of his ashes. The story unfolds from the points of view of all the main characters: the reader learns of their ambitions, disappointments, secrets, and betrayals. Swift exposes the tensions inherent in grief that is both individual and shared. It is as if Jack’s death grants the mourners the clarity to understand their own lives as they fulfill his last order.

Last Orders

By Graham Swift,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 1996

The classic edition of one of the 20th Century's finest novels

Four men once close to Jack Dodds, a London butcher, meet to carry out his peculiar last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea at Margate. For reasons best known to herself, Jack's widow, Amy, declines to join them . . . On the surface a simple tale of an increasingly bizarre day's outing, this Booker-prize winning, internationally acclaimed novel is a resonant and classic exploration of the complexity and courage of ordinary lives. Intensely local but overwhelmingly universal, faithful to…


Putin's People

By Catherine Belton,

Book cover of Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West

This is a meticulously researched book by a former Moscow-based business journalist that documents Putin’s rise to power and how the siloviki (“security men and spies”) took over Russia’s economy as well as its political and legal system. “Parts of the KGB, Putin among them,” writes Belton, “embraced capitalism as a tool for getting even with the West.” She explains how laundering “black” money in the West began under the Soviets and became widespread and sophisticated during Putin’s rule. That laundered money was used to enrich powerful Russians but also for ideological purposes and for financing the 2014 takeover of Donbas and Crimea in Ukraine. Belton, who interviewed key players, has the skills and expertise necessary for understanding dealings in this murky business and political world.

Putin's People

By Catherine Belton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller | A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Named a best book of the year by The Economist | Financial Times | New Statesman | The Telegraph

"[Putin's People] will surely now become the definitive account of the rise of Putin and Putinism." —Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic

"This riveting, immaculately researched book is arguably the best single volume written about Putin, the people around him and perhaps even about contemporary Russia itself in the past three decades." —Peter Frankopan, Financial Times

Interference in American elections. The sponsorship of extremist politics in…


The Rise of the Polish Monarchy

By Paul W Knoll,

Book cover of The Rise of the Polish Monarchy: Piast Poland in East Central Europe, 1320-1370

The history of the Baltic Crusade cannot be understood in isolation from the Polish kingdom. This is the era when Poland recovers from the disasters begun by the Mongol invasions of the 1240s and begins its own eastward expansion.

As the title indicates, this is really the story of Casimir III, whose father arranged a Lithuanian marriage that brought peace on the eastern frontiers and later allowed him to expand toward Rus’ (especially Ukraine) when the minor states there collapsed. Casimir succeeded in everything except siring a legitimate male heir, even though that was the one task expected of every monarch in this era. He did leave behind a flourishing state, a powerful church, and a national goal of driving back those Germans (especially the Teutonic Knights) who had made great inroads into areas claimed as the national patrimony.

The Rise of the Polish Monarchy

By Paul W Knoll,

Why should I read it?

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


The Gates of Europe

By Serhii Plokhy,

Book cover of The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine

Plokhy’s engaging and well-documented study provides an excellent overview of the entire history of Ukraine and the repeated story of invasion, war, and occupation by its neighbors Poland and especially Russia. In particular, it provides sharp analyses of the complex relations between Ukraine and Russia from the time of its Czars through Stalin, the post-Stalinist Kremlin leadership, and Putin, providing contemporary readers penetrating insights into the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The book depicts in dramatic detail and narrative the century-long struggles of Ukraine for sovereignty, its century-long oppression by its neighbors, the terrible mass starvation and murder it suffered from both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in World War II, and its eventual independence—threatened by Russia in the 21st century through the present. In the contemporary context, Plotky’s text provides an illuminating understanding of Ukraine and its conflicted and often tragic history.

The Gates of Europe

By Serhii Plokhy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ukraine is currently embroiled in a tense fight with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence. But today's conflict is only the latest in a long history of battles over Ukraine's territory and its existence as a sovereign nation. As the award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues in The Gates of Europe , we must examine Ukraine's past in order to understand its present and future.Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine was shaped by the empires that used it as a strategic gateway between East and West,from the Roman and Ottoman empires to the Third…


Borderland

By Anna Reid,

Book cover of Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine

I loved this highly readable history of Ukraine. Written in the early 1990s, when I too worked in Ukraine, Borderland begins with the newly independent nation’s struggle to build itself a national identity. Reid captures this time and its people so well – the peasant women in the covered market, the old men playing chess in Independent Square. Ukraine is literally translated as, ‘on the edge’ or ‘borderland’ and Reid explores the toll of its history – pograms, famine, purges, war, Holocaust, and Chernobyl… She travels through villages of whitewashed cottages, bringing their hardy inhabitants to life with her often quirky observations. She meets old folk who were alive during the famine of 1932/33, others who survived the gas chambers. At every turn, the magnificent Ukrainian spirit is in vibrant evidence. 

Borderland

By Anna Reid,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Borderland tells the story of Ukraine. A thousand years ago it was the center of the first great Slav civilization, Kievan Rus. In 1240, the Mongols invaded from the east, and for the next seven centureies, Ukraine was split between warring neighbors: Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Austrians, and Tatars. Again and again, borderland turned into battlefield: during the Cossack risings of the seventeenth century, Russia's wars with Sweden in the eighteenth, the Civil War of 1918--1920, and under Nazi occupation. Ukraine finally won independence in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bigger than France and a populous as Britain,…


Ukraine

By Marta Dyczok,

Book cover of Ukraine: Movement without Change, Change without Movement

What strikes me most about this book is how prescient it is. Published in 2000, this assessment of the first few years of Ukrainian independence accurately flags that Russia never fully accepted it and explains why an independent Ukraine threatens Russia. The introduction provides an excellent, brief history of Ukraine. Later chapters focus on politics, economics, social and cultural issues, and foreign policy up to 1998. Dyczok, an academic, was an eyewitness to key historical events, reporting from Ukraine during its 1991 declaration of independence and after. I particularly recommend the chapter on Ukrainian-Russian relations. Although written long before Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent invasion of Ukraine, much in that chapter foreshadows these critical events and helps account for why what happened did.

Ukraine

By Marta Dyczok,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ukraine has surprised many international observers. Few anticipated its declaration of independence in 1991 or its determination to move out of Russia's shadow. Dyczok redresses the continuing dearth of information on the country. Aimed at nonspecialists and specialists alike, it presents an overview of the main government policies, and the social and cultural issues facing the new state. These are placed within their historical, regional and global framework. In contrast with the generally bleak picture that international media reports present, the book suggests that Ukraine has actually accomplished a great deal in a short time. In seven years, from 1991…


The Holocaust by Bullets

By Patrick Desbois,

Book cover of The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews

In deeply personal terms, Father Desbois describes how his curiosity about his grandfather’s incarceration in Ukraine led him to study the atrocities committed there against the Jews. The book is written in an almost conversational style, creating a sense of intimacy between Father Desbois and the reader. Desbois is able to persuade those who witnessed atrocities to open up and confess what they have seen and what they remember. Together with a team of ballistic experts, interpreters, historians, and archaeologists, he identified numerous sites of mass graves. Desbois, who popularized the term “The Holocaust by Bullets,” has been instrumental in expanding our understanding of the Holocaust beyond the death camps and the ghettos to the more intimate killings that took place in Ukraine and elsewhere in the Soviet Union.

The Holocaust by Bullets

By Patrick Desbois,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Holocaust by Bullets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this heart-wrenching book, Father Patrick Desbois documents the daunting task of identifying and examining all the sites where Jews were exterminated by Nazi mobile units in the Ukraine in WWII. Using innovative methodology, interviews, and ballistic evidence, he has determined the location of many mass gravesites with the goal of providing proper burials for the victims of the forgotten Ukrainian Holocaust. Compiling new archival material and many eye-witness accounts, Desbois has put together the first definitive account of one of history's bloodiest chapters.Published with the support of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


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