100 books like Romantic Outlaws

By Charlotte Gordon,

Here are 100 books that Romantic Outlaws fans have personally recommended if you like Romantic Outlaws. 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 Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence

Emma Darwin Author Of This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin: a writer’s journey through my family

From my list on failing to write a book.

Who am I?

Alongside writing, I’ve been running workshops, teaching and mentoring writers for nearly twenty years, helping people get unstuck and keep going. So I spend most of my working life thinking about creativity and writing—then suddenly I, too, couldn’t write the book I needed to write. Every book in this list is about not-writing for different reasons, in different circumstances, but between them they tell us so much about how we write, why we write, how we get writing to happen—and what’s happening when we can’t. These very different stories resonate with each other, and I hope some of them resonate with you.

Emma's book list on failing to write a book

Emma Darwin Why did Emma love this book?

First, because it’s incredibly funny. Geoff Dyer set out—he says—to write a sober, serious study of D. H. Lawrence, but life, travel arrangements, random people and his own inertia kept getting in the way. The story of his odyssey doesn’t just evoke all the things about writing that we’ve always suspected (that it’s hard; that it’s easy; that we often wonder why on earth we do it; that we never question that we want to do it). It also, by stealth, evokes and explains an amazing amount about Lawrence, and why he’s a writer that so many people love—or hate—so passionately. 

By Geoff Dyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Recounts the author's experiences visiting the places D.H. Lawrence lived while actively not working on a book about Lawrence and not writing his own novel.


Book cover of Lincoln in the Bardo

Alison L. McLennan Author Of The Secret Story of a Mormon Turned Madam

From my list on existential and experimental historical fiction.

Who am I?

My imagination opened a portal into the past. And then I found myself spending years researching, reading, and traveling to historical sites across the western United States. Upon visiting historical places, I sometimes become overwhelmed by a visceral sense that is difficult to describe but has compelled me to write about people and places whose stories and spirits are lost and forgotten. An anecdote about a madam in a local museum stirred around in my consciousness for many years before I started writing Ophelia’s War as my MFA thesis. 

Alison's book list on existential and experimental historical fiction

Alison L. McLennan Why did Alison love this book?

I loved this novel because it was haunting, historical, and existential with an experimental format that blew my mind almost like an intense meditation session.

While some people may find the experimental format jarring, it transported me to a surreal disorienting dimension similar to a dream or bardo state. If you’re not familiar with the Bardo, it’s worth researching.

The word Bardo in the title is what originally attracted me to the novel because of my interest in Buddhism. Yet the bardo in this novel reminded me more of Dante’s Inferno!

The technique used at the beginning to establish the time and setting was ingenious, yet I did wonder if it was entirely fiction or pulled from the historical record. It seems people either really love this novel or have some synapses blown. In my case, it was both. 

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Lincoln in the Bardo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017 A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH 'A masterpiece' Zadie Smith 'Extraordinary' Daily Mail 'Breathtaking' Observer 'A tour de force' The Sunday Times The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns…


Book cover of Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family

Rosemary Sullivan Author Of Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille

From my list on courage and putting your life on the line.

Who am I?

In Villa Air-Bel, I wrote about an extraordinary man, Varian Fry. A journalist sent to France in 1940 with a list of 200 artists to save, he expected to stay 2 weeks. He stayed 15 months, establishing the Emergency Rescue Committee. By the time the Vichy police expelled him, he’d saved 2,000 people. Who has the courage to put their lives on the line for strangers? In The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, I recorded how five people risked their lives to hide the Frank family until they were finally betrayed. Two of the helpers were sent to concentration camps.  It takes courage to resist Fascism. Would I/ we have that courage?

Rosemary's book list on courage and putting your life on the line

Rosemary Sullivan Why did Rosemary love this book?

Miep Gies was one of the people who hid Anne Frank, her family, and four friends in the Secret Annex in Amsterdam in 1942.

At great risk, four of Otto Frank’s employees secured food stamps from the underground and took care of the hiders for an astonishing two years and one month before they were betrayed. Gies’s book gives a real sense of what it was like to live under enemy occupation when it was impossible to trust anyone.

“We were no longer keeping silent. We had lost the habit of speech. Do you understand the difference?” she once said. She didn’t consider herself heroic for helping the Franks. “It was simple. You were asked. You said yes.”

By Miep Gies, Alison Leslie Gold,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Anne Frank Remembered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the millions moved by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, here is Miep Gies's own astonishing story. For more than two years, Miep and her husband helped hide the Franks from the Nazis. Like thousands of unsung heroes of the Holocaust, they risked their lives every day to bring food, news, and emotional support to its victims. From her remarkable childhood as a World War I refugee to the moment she places a small, red-orange-checkered diary -- Anne's legacy -- into Otto Frank's hands, Miep Gies remembers her days with simple honesty and shattering clarity. Each page…


Book cover of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Food of Love: Cooking Up a Life Across Gender, Class and Race

From my list on memoirs which help us understand the world.

Who am I?

For The Oxford Times, I wrote the lives of 120 inspirational people from five continents. My 3 novels are inspired by real lives including the charity founder Nancy Mudenyo Hunt and the artist Qu Leilei, the hero of Andy Cohen’s film Beijing Spring. Stories of 30 not-famous choir members in I Love you All show that we are each unique. My memoir has a particular purpose. I dug deep into my life and my husband Atam’s to reveal the intersection of gender class and race—the barriers that shaped my life and how Atam and I tried to transcend them.

Sylvia's book list on memoirs which help us understand the world

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

In 1966, I bought a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book which sold all over the world but, like almost everyone in the West, I had no idea of the brutal reality of the Cultural Revolution. In 1991, Jung Chang’s memoir took the world by storm and we could feel that reality. It is not just her story but also that of her grandmother and mother. That is the joy of memoir in all its variety. I later got to know an artist friend of Chang’s called Qu Leilei. Unlike her, Leilei and his family were at the heart of events in Beijing. Similarly, it was Leilei’s untold story that made me want to write a novel inspired by him.

By Jung Chang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few books have had such an impact as Wild Swans: a popular bestseller which has sold more than 13 million copies and a critically acclaimed history of China; a tragic tale of nightmarish cruelty and an uplifting story of bravery and survival.

Through the story of three generations of women in her own family - the grandmother given to the warlord as a concubine, the Communist mother and the daughter herself - Jung Chang reveals the epic history of China's twentieth century.

Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its descriptions, this is a masterpiece which is extraordinary in every way.


Book cover of Educated: A Memoir

Penny Lane Author Of Redeemed: A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood

From my list on people breaking from their pasts to claim their lives back.

Who am I?

I am an adult child of an alcoholic father and an abusive and dysfunctional stepmother who ran away from home at sixteen and fell into the wrong crowd in my search for love and family. Yet after years of hard personal work, I have overcome and triumphed over these obstacles to become stable, happy, and successful, in a good marriage, raising a great son in a loving, stable home. I’ve gone on to help and inspire others to do the same, including writing the book Redeemed, A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood.

Penny's book list on people breaking from their pasts to claim their lives back

Penny Lane Why did Penny love this book?

I identified with Tara Westover while reading her memoir because of her secluded and restrictive upbringing. Like her, my upbringing made me feel left out, “other,” different from normal kids, not allowed the usual activities that other kids could do and kept from learning and growing in my own way.

I didn’t understand how these rules affected me until I saw my angst in her own words of isolation, yearning, and rebellion. It gave me hope that our desire for self-fulfillment and actualization is universal and stronger than the people who try, for good reasons or bad, to keep us down.

It is an amazing book. I could barely put it down. 

By Tara Westover,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLER

Selected as a book of the year by AMAZON, THE TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, GUARDIAN, NEW YORK TIMES, ECONOMIST, NEW STATESMAN, VOGUE, IRISH TIMES, IRISH EXAMINER and RED MAGAZINE

'One of the best books I have ever read . . . unbelievably moving' Elizabeth Day
'An extraordinary story, beautifully told' Louise O'Neill
'A memoir to stand alongside the classics . . . compelling and joyous' Sunday Times

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the end of the world. She was never put in school, never taken to the doctor. She did not even have a birth certificate…


Book cover of Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

From my list on by women about outdoor adventure.

Who am I?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

Marianne C. Bohr Why did Marianne love this book?

I read Tracks when I was in a travel book club 35 years ago and the author’s adventure has stuck with me.

It’s the story of a young woman who crosses the Australian desert from Alice Springs to Hamelin Pool on Australia’s western coast. She undertakes the journey with her dog, and four camels and as happens on such quests, Davidson encounters myriad setbacks: extreme heat, no water, wild animals, and poisonous snakes.

The author does a great job of describing the beauty and harshness of the infinite desert and her surprise at the generosity of those she met. As a young woman, Tracks inspired me to undertake my own adventures and I continue them today in my sixties. Hiking across England with my dog is on the calendar for next year.

By Robyn Davidson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A revised, reissued fortieth anniversary edition of this prize-winning, bestselling account of one woman's solo journey across 1,700 miles of Australian Outback 'I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there's no going back.' So begins Robyn Davidson's perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company. Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous…


Book cover of A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Memoirs of the Author of the Rights of Women

Samantha Silva Author Of Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft

From my list on Wollstonecraft.

Who am I?

After 15 years as a screenwriter (and some heartbreaking near misses with the big screen), I turned my pen to novel writing, with an adaptation of a script I’d sold four times. My new book, Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft, is hot off the press this year and tells the story of one of the great writers and thinkers of the late 18th century, mother of Mary Shelley, and widely regarded as the mother of feminism. I’m drawn to larger-than-life, brilliant, charismatic, complicated figures whose own trajectories have altered our own. I’m now at work on a collection of short stories and an adaptation of Mr. Dickens and His Carol for the stage.

Samantha's book list on Wollstonecraft

Samantha Silva Why did Samantha love this book?

I’m often asked by Americans who aren’t familiar with Wollstonecraft (or confuse mother and daughter), which of her books to read first. Vindication of the Rights of Woman is her most famous, but I always answer that if you only read one, this book is it. It’s her most modern and personal work, and the last thing she wrote before dying of puerperal fever at age 38, after giving birth to the future Mary Shelley. It’s part travelogue, love letter, philosophical treatise, cultural history, and (I would argue) suicide note, bookended by her two attempts after a shattering affair with American speculator Gilbert Imlay. It’s short and accessible, beautifully written, and a glimpse into a magnificent mind.

By Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Memoirs of the Author of the Rights of Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In these two closely linked works - a travel book and a biography of its author - we witness a moving encounter between two of the most daring and original minds of the late eighteenth century: A Short Residence in Sweden is the record of Wollstonecraft's last journey in search of happiness, into the remote and beautiful backwoods of Scandinavia. The quest for a lost treasure ship, the pain of a wrecked love affair, memories of the French Revolution, and the longing for some Golden Age, all shape this vivid narrative, which Richard Holmes argues is one of the neglected…


Book cover of A Writer's Diary: Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf

Samantha Silva Author Of Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft

From my list on Wollstonecraft.

Who am I?

After 15 years as a screenwriter (and some heartbreaking near misses with the big screen), I turned my pen to novel writing, with an adaptation of a script I’d sold four times. My new book, Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft, is hot off the press this year and tells the story of one of the great writers and thinkers of the late 18th century, mother of Mary Shelley, and widely regarded as the mother of feminism. I’m drawn to larger-than-life, brilliant, charismatic, complicated figures whose own trajectories have altered our own. I’m now at work on a collection of short stories and an adaptation of Mr. Dickens and His Carol for the stage.

Samantha's book list on Wollstonecraft

Samantha Silva Why did Samantha love this book?

This book became a kind of hymnal for me during the writing of Love and Fury. It was Virginia Woolf who in 1929 resurrected Mary Wollstonecraft’s reputation and legacy, buried for a century because a tell-all memoir written by her widower, William Godwin, scandalized the world. It seemed natural to turn to Woolf, who found inspiration in Wollstonecraft’s “experiments in living”. I read a section of the diary every day before I started to write. Woolf’s profound creative visions, her anguish, and passions, her voice, helped me locate Wollstonecraft and my own voice in hers. 

By Virginia Woolf,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Writer's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An invaluable guide to the art and mind of Virginia Woolf, drawn from the personal record she kept over a period of twenty-seven years.

Included are entries that refer to her own writing, and those that are relevant to the raw material of her work, and, finally, comments on the books she was reading. The first entry included here is dated 1918 and the last, three weeks before her death in 1941. Between these points of time unfolds the private world—the anguish, the triumph, the creative vision—of one of the great writers of the twentieth century.

“A Writer’s Diary .…


Book cover of A Vindication of the Rights of Men

Sylvana Tomaselli Author Of Wollstonecraft: Philosophy, Passion, and Politics

From my list on the eighteenth-century you should read for yourself.

Who am I?

I have had the privilege to teach the history of political theory from Plato to today for decades and to discuss texts such as the five I mentioned with very gifted students. No matter how often I return to such works, I always find something new in them and it is a pleasure to see how students learn to love reading for themselves what can be daunting works, once they overcome the fear of opening the great works and the initial challenge of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century prose.

Sylvana's book list on the eighteenth-century you should read for yourself

Sylvana Tomaselli Why did Sylvana love this book?

Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Men, was a vigorous attack, probably the first, on Burke and his Reflections. Short and merciless, it is a spirited diatribe and displays her strong argumentative skills. It is the foundation for her far better-known Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She may not be fair to him, but she thought he hadn’t been fair to anyone either. Both Burke and she are engaging in some of the great issues of modern politics.

By Mary Wollstonecraft,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Vindication of the Rights of Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Less known than Mary Wollstonecraft's later work, A Vindication of the Rights of Men was her first work as a feminist philosopher and commentator. Compared to A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, this work is more focused on the specific political environment of the time. However, it covers many of the same themes, including the importance of liberty and equality.

When it was initially published anonymously, it was both successful and and influential. Later, when Wollstonecraft revealed herself as the author, critics focused on her identity as a woman, rather than the political ideals, leading to her rejection by…


Book cover of She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein

Lori Mortensen Author Of Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

From my list on children’s books about people who made a difference.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books, including many biographies. I first fell in love with biographies when I was a child and read about young blind and deaf Helen Keller. Blind and deaf? I couldn’t imagine. Yet, page by page, as I stepped into little Helen’s world, I felt as if I experienced her struggles, triumphs, and tragedies right along with her. I discovered that in spite of her great challenges, she succeeded. That’s why I love biographies and why I write them. I hope my biographies open a door into someone else’s world that can remind readers that they can succeed too, in spite of obstacles in front of them. I try to write the sort of picture books I love—funny, whimsical, captivating, and unforgettable.

Lori's book list on children’s books about people who made a difference

Lori Mortensen Why did Lori love this book?

Everyone’s heard of Frankenstein, but a lot of people may not know that this legendary monster was created by a woman named Mary Shelley. In this fascinating picture book biography, Fulton doesn’t cover Mary Shelley’s entire life from beginning to end. Instead, she hones in on the most fascinating part—Lake Geneva, a stormy night, and a ghost-story challenge—that prompted Shelley to explore her imagination and write what has become one of the most famous monster stories of all time-- Frankenstein.

By Lynn Fulton, Felicita Sala (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Made a Monster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books

On the bicentennial of Frankenstein, join Mary Shelley on the night she created the most frightening monster the world has ever seen.

On a stormy night two hundred years ago, a young woman sat in a dark house and dreamed of her life as a writer. She longed to follow the path her own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, had started down, but young Mary Shelley had yet to be inspired.

As the night wore on, Mary grew more anxious. The next day was the deadline that her friend, the…


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