100 books like Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates,

Here are 100 books that Revolutionary Road fans have personally recommended if you like Revolutionary Road. 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 The Nightingale

Mel Laytner Author Of What They Didn't Burn: Uncovering My Father's Holocaust Secrets

From my list on resilience and surviving the horrors of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was a foreign correspondent seven time zones from home when my father died of a sudden heart attack. My grief mixed with guilt for never having sat down with him to unravel his vague vignettes about life and loss in the Holocaust. I wondered, how did he survive when so many perished? How much depended on resilience, smarts, or dumb luck? As reporters do, I started digging. I uncovered a Nazi paper trial that tracked his life from home, through ghettos, slave labor, concentration camps, death marches, and more. The tattered documents revealed a man very different from the quiet, quintessential Type-B Dad I knew…or thought I knew. 

Mel's book list on resilience and surviving the horrors of World War II

Mel Laytner Why did Mel love this book?

This novel left me feeling both teary-eyed and ennobled. Superficially, it is about two French sisters living through the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. At its root, however, Hannah deconstructs the essence of survival.

I loved how her characters frame the book’s cosmic questions: What would you do to survive? What compromises would you make? Is it better to fight back aggressively or resist passively? The sisters are of different temperaments and personalities. Each answers these questions differently, painfully. I found myself haunted by these themes long after I put The Nightingale back on the shelf. You will, too.

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture, The Nightingale is a multi-million copy bestseller across the world. It is a heart-breakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women.

This story is about what it was like to be a woman during World War II when women's stories were all too often forgotten or overlooked . . . Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals and passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love and freedom in war-torn France.

Kristin Hannah's…


Book cover of Small Island

Eleanor Shearer Author Of River Sing Me Home

From my list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I fell in love with History as an academic subject, I fell in love with stories. And as the granddaughter of Caribbean immigrants, true stories of my grandparents’ early lives could transport me to another place as vividly as fiction. So although I have studied History to Master’s level, where I specialized in the legacy of slavery, it is always to fiction that I turn to breathe life into the past. My favourite books are those that are unsettling in the unfamiliarity of the world they create, and yet deeply moving because, at heart, the characters are motivated by timeless and human things like grief, ambition, or love. 

Eleanor's book list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory

Eleanor Shearer Why did Eleanor love this book?

This novel is about the experience of the Windrush generation – the Caribbean people who moved to Britain after the Second World War.

Andrea Levy so perfectly captures the experiences of these people that I feel like I can see my own grandparents on the page.

But what I love most about this book is that it sees itself as telling a part of British history – showing how the Caribbean and Britain were connected, but also exploring with equal empathy the experiences of white British characters during and after the War.

As someone mixed race, it is so rare to find books that speak to both sides of my heritage, and this is one of them. 

By Andrea Levy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hortense shared Gilbert's dream of leaving Jamaica and coming to England to start a better life. But when she at last joins her husband, she is shocked by London's shabbiness and horrified at the way the English live. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was. Queenie's neighbours do not approve of her choice of tenants, and neither would her husband, were he there. Through the stories of these people, Small Island explores a point in England's past when the country began to change.


Book cover of The Jungle

David Amadio Author Of Rug Man

From my list on working life.

Why am I passionate about this?

The blue-collar everyman lives on the periphery, coming and going with little fanfare. But what does he think and feel? How does he view the world? I became interested in these questions while working for my father’s rug business. I started as a part-timer in the early 90s, straddling the line between academe and the homes of the rich. He employed me for the next twenty years, supplementing my income as I found my way as a university professor. The books listed led me to a deeper appreciation of my father’s vocation, but only in writing Rug Man did I come to understand the true meaning of work. 

David's book list on working life

David Amadio Why did David love this book?

Jurgis Rudkus, the protagonist of Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle, is a Lithuanian immigrant who comes to Chicago at the turn of the 20th century to work in the city’s notorious meat-packing industry.

Described as a “very steady man” who “does not easily lose his temper,” Jurgis reminds me of my father, Jerry. Like Jurgis, my father’s solution to most of life’s problems is to just work harder, regardless of the personal consequences.

In the novel, Jurgis injures himself on the job and Sinclair captures not only his physical agony but the more formidable dread of not being able to provide for his family, the working-man’s greatest fear.

Often panned for over-politicizing Jurgis’s plight, The Jungle elevates an anonymous member of the laboring class and presents him as a symbol of virtue, valor, and hope.

By Upton Sinclair,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First serialized in a newspaper in 1905, The Jungle is a classic of American literature that led to the creation of food-safety standards.

While investigating the meatpacking industry in Chicago, author and novelist Upton Sinclair discovered the brutal conditions that immigrant families faced. While his original intention was to bring this to the attention of the American public, his book was instead hailed for bringing food safety to the forefront of people's consciousness.

With its inspired plot and vivid descriptions, Upton Sinclair's classic tale of immigrant woe is now available as an elegantly designed clothbound edition with an elastic closure…


Book cover of Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear

Bethany Ball Author Of The Pessimists

From my list on surviving or being obliterated by domestic life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I was raised without a religion, for more than half my life I’ve been involved in meditation and yogic communities. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly 

Bethany's book list on surviving or being obliterated by domestic life

Bethany Ball Why did Bethany love this book?

If you are a Gen Xer like me and you wax nostalgia about the freedom of the mothers of your childhood vs. the shackles of parenting in the early twenty-first century as I have, Kim Brooks’ book is for you. Kim made the most grievous error a parent can make today: she left her four-year-old in her minivan in the parking lot of a rural Target so she could quickly grab an item. Though her child was fine, someone called the police. This event sent Kim down a rabbit hole to find out: is the American childhood as dangerous as people think? Her remarkable, thought-provoking book argues that childhood is remarkably safe, children should be exploring their environs, and some form of free-range parenting for many parents and kids should be the norm rather than the exception. This has been my philosophy since having children, and I was happy to…

By Kim Brooks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One cool spring morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and ultimately motivated her to begin writing about the broader subject of parenthood and fear. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? To be a parent is to be afraid. And yet, the objects and intensity of our fear vary based on culture, temperament, and the historical moment in which we…


Book cover of The Light Between Oceans

Kendra Broekhuis Author Of Between You and Us

From my list on impossible choices that will rip your heart out.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and author for the past decade, and during that time, I went through the stillbirth of my second baby. Grief taught me a lot about compassion, including the importance of being able to see the nuance of difficult subject matters. I learned it’s easy to theorize what to do in a situation until you're in that situation. For that reason, I love books in all sorts of genres that are layered with characters’ past griefs, impossible scenarios, and tensions regarding the choices they make. I picked five of my favorite books with a heart-ripping plot that sparks interesting discussion and leaves readers pondering, "What would I have done?"

Kendra's book list on impossible choices that will rip your heart out

Kendra Broekhuis Why did Kendra love this book?

This is one of those books that can set off a fire of controversy because of the choices made by its characters, and I love that about it.

The main couple’s marriage lies on a foundation of grief that includes war, extreme isolation, and multiple pregnancy losses. The story dives into the way grief shapes us, as well as the morality of how much we should let our grief shape our choices.

I loved the characters, the moving plot, and the moral conundrum of this book.

By M.L. Stedman,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Light Between Oceans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The years-long New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Best Historical Novel that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine)—soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks starring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young,…


Book cover of Stoner

Terence M. Green Author Of Shadow of Ashland

From my list on searching for answers in the past and present.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are things expressed only in writing, never spoken aloud in our culture. We can find them in books, in the honesty and insights of those willing to take the time and make the effort to say what they feel and think. Another reason to read is for the sheer joy of a story well told, one that can open both the mind and the heart. I have published 7 novels and a collection of short stories, have just retired from teaching creative writing at the university level. My life has been spent among books. Simply, I am in awe of the ones recommended here.

Terence's book list on searching for answers in the past and present

Terence M. Green Why did Terence love this book?

This novel is the story of William Stoner, raised on a US midwestern farm, who becomes an English professor at the University of Missouri. It follows his life throughout, in simple prose, becoming both moving and profound. It was introduced to me by a knowledgeable NY city book dealer back in the 90s. I pick it up every few years for another reading experience. It’s become a bit of an obscure classic.

By John Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013

'It's the most marvellous discovery for everyone who loves literature' Ian McEwan, BBC Radio 4

Colum McCann once called Stoner one of the great forgotten novels of the past century, but it seems it is forgotten no longer - in 2013 translations of Stoner began appearing on bestseller lists across Europe. Forty-eight years after its first, quiet publication in the US, Stoner is finally finding the wide and devoted readership it deserves. Have you read it yet?

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature…


Book cover of An American Marriage

James Hannaham Author Of Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta

From my list on books for and about convicts and ex-convicts.

Why am I passionate about this?

Incarceration is a gigantic problem in the US, especially because of its connection to racial injustice. I have no firsthand experience with prison or the system, and yet it looms large in my imagination and my deepest fears. That should not be the case merely because I’m a Black gay American, but here we are. I feel that with the help of my mother and others, I have managed to sidestep a lot of the potential pitfalls of people’s misguided perception of my identity, but I have an active, paranoid imagination and profound survivor guilt, so I gravitate toward stories about people at who are odds with our society in ways that reflect that precarious status which allows me to explore a wide range of human experiences.

James' book list on books for and about convicts and ex-convicts

James Hannaham Why did James love this book?

Tayari is one of the best writers in America—no qualifiers!—and she also has the advantage of a razor-sharp, accessible style.

This heartbreaking book about a couple torn apart and remade by the husband’s incarceration is gripping and sharply observed, and the characters, Celestial and Roy, are unforgettable. But don’t take my word for it—ask Oprah!

By Tayari Jones,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked An American Marriage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK

A 2018 BEST OF THE YEAR SELECTION OF NPR  * TIME  * BUSTLE  * O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE  * THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS  * AMAZON.COM

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB 2018 SELECTION

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION

“A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” —Barack Obama

“Haunting . . . Beautifully written.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“Brilliant and heartbreaking . . . Unforgettable.” —USA Today
 
“A tense and timely love story . . . Packed with brave questions about…


Book cover of City of Girls

Michael Bronte Author Of Long Haul

From my list on everyday people who refuse to be victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by stories where everyday people are thrust into dangerous situations through no fault of their own. I’ve often wondered how I would react in such a situation. To me, it’s like going off to war. How would I react? Would I shrink away from danger or stand up like a man and do what I could to save myself and others around me? I’ve always found it interesting to write about everyday people who rise to the occasion and rely on their wits to extricate themselves from danger. I find myself rooting for them, urging them to find some inner strength they didn’t even know they had.

Michael's book list on everyday people who refuse to be victims

Michael Bronte Why did Michael love this book?

The first thing that drew me in was the format. The entire book, which is 466 pages long, is a response to a letter written on page one by the main character, Vivian. What a neat way to write a book.

In her letter to Vivian, Angela asks, “Vivian, what were you to my father?” It wasn’t the same old “telling” of a story, but Vivian’s detailed response from a historical perspective involving her experiences over the years in love, lust, glamour, and promiscuity and how these affected her life.

Vivian is in her 90s as she responds, and the story is told from her perspective as an old woman looking back on her life. I found myself rooting for her as she described her many struggles in her attempt to answer Angela’s question.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked City of Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!

From the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and The Signature of All Things, a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don't have to be a good girl to be a good person.

"A spellbinding novel about love, freedom, and finding your own happiness." - PopSugar

"Intimate and richly sensual, razzle-dazzle with a hint of danger." -USA Today

"Pairs well with a cocktail...or two." -TheSkimm

"Life is both fleeting and dangerous, and there is no point in denying yourself pleasure, or…


Book cover of Luster

Theodore Carter Author Of Stealing the Scream

From my list on tortured artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the descendant of three generations of visual artists, a gene I thought had skipped me. However, art popped up in many of my stories when I started writing fiction. In 2012, I published The Life Story of a Chilean Sea Blob, and to promote it, I launched a street art campaign that included putting plaster blobs on the streets of Washington, D.C. This blossomed into several other street art projects and earned attention from The Washington Post and several D.C. TV news stations. My next two books centered around Frida Kahlo and Edvard Munch.

Theodore's book list on tortured artists

Theodore Carter Why did Theodore love this book?

At the beginning of this book, I recognized the ingredients that make up popular erotic novels. The main character, Edie, a Black woman and struggling artist, is beginning a relationship with an older, wealthy, successful white man in an open marriage. There’s a power imbalance. To a certain extent, this excites Edie, and in this way, the book fits neatly into the parameters of the genre.

However, the relationship becomes messy, and Edie’s life, both with and away from Eric, is fraught with bad decisions. Race, wealth, and gender intersect with sex in a complex and uncomfortable milieu. Through all of this, and with the guidance of Eric’s wife, Edie begins to make progressive, less destructive choices, and as she does, her art progresses.

By Raven Leilani,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

WINNER of the NBCC John Leonard Prize, the Kirkus Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2020
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, The New York Times Book Review, O Magazine, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Shondaland, Boston Globe, and many more!

"So delicious that it feels illicit . . . Raven Leilani’s first novel reads like summer: sentences like ice that crackle or…


Book cover of Karolina's Twins

Tetyana Denford Author Of The Child of Ukraine

From my list on showing how people navigate loss and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been a natural storyteller, and as an only child of Ukrainian immigrants, I carry all the stories with me. I realized as an adult that if I didn't write them down, they would dissipate and vanish. So, I wanted to write stories not only for myself, but in order to connect to others and inspire them to learn about their own family stories. We're all connected on this planet like a giant village, and I've always loved talking to people and learning about who they are. The core of my work centers around humans and loss and hope, and seeing how each of those things are affected by the environment around them.

Tetyana's book list on showing how people navigate loss and hope

Tetyana Denford Why did Tetyana love this book?

My mother gave me this book to read when I first started writing my novel (in order to write, you have to read all the time), and it profoundly affected me and gave me so much inspiration for my book. It had so many similar stories in it that my own family had gone through during the war, so it was the perfect story for me to sink my teeth into, to find a voice for my characters. This book is so so good, for anyone who loves historical fiction.

By Ronald H. Balson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She made a promise in desperation Now it's time to keep it Lena Woodward, elegant and poised, has lived a comfortable life among Chicago Society since she immigrated to the US and began a new life at the end of World War II. But now something has resurfaced that Lena cannot ignore: an unfulfilled promise she made long ago that can no longer stay buried. Driven to renew the quest that still keeps her awake at night, Lena enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart. Behind Lena's stoic facade are memories that will no longer…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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