100 books like Rosewater

By Liv Little,

Here are 100 books that Rosewater fans have personally recommended if you like Rosewater. 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 Small Worlds

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From my list on introducing you to Black London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Jendella Benson Why did Jendella love this book?

This is a gorgeous book to be savoured slowly.

It is suffused with music throughout (and the nerd within me loves the reoccurring literary motifs and phrases that definitely lend a musical quality to the book) and took me back to lazy summer days as a teenager when I first moved to London and the city felt wide open with excitement and possibility.

This is another love story, but one about community, family and the first loves that we learn from our parents.

By Caleb Azumah Nelson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exhilarating and expansive new novel about fathers and sons, faith and friendship from National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and Costa First Novel Award winning author Caleb Azumah Nelson

One of the most acclaimed and internationally bestselling “unforgettable” (New York Times) debuts of the 2021, Caleb Azumah Nelson’s London-set love story Open Water took the US by storm and introduced the world to a salient and insightful new voice in fiction. Now, with his second novel Small Worlds, the prodigious Azumah Nelson brings another set of enduring characters to brilliant life in his signature rhythmic, melodic prose.

Set…


Book cover of Settlers: Journeys Through the Food, Faith and Culture of Black African London

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From my list on introducing you to Black London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Jendella Benson Why did Jendella love this book?

This book fills a gap that I didn’t know was missing until I read it.

Not much has been written documenting the history of Black Africans in 20th/21st Century London, but Jimi Famurewa covers the migration, the cultural contributions, the food, the music, the community…ah, it really covers a lot.

Non-fiction is never really my go-to but is immensely readable and the research is thorough and sharp. It filled in some the gaps in the word-of-mouth anecdotes you hear from the older generation, as well as introduced me to corners of our history that I wasn’t as familiar with.

By Jimi Famurewa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A journey into the extraordinary, vibrant world of Black African London which is shaping modern Britain. What makes a Londoner? What is it to be Black, African and British? And how can we understand the many tangled roots of our modern nation without knowing the story of how it came to be? This is a story that begins not with the 'Windrush Generation' of Caribbean immigrants to Britain, but with post-1960s arrivals from African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Somalia. Some came from former British colonies in the wake of newfound independence; others arrived seeking prosperity and an English…


Book cover of East of Acre Lane

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From my list on introducing you to Black London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Jendella Benson Why did Jendella love this book?

This is a modern classic – one that provides a slice of a very pivotal time in Black British history.

The 1980s saw a lot of civil unrest in Britain, from workers’ strikes to uprisings fuelled by racial tensions and police brutality. East of Acre Lane is set in Brixton – a neighbourhood in London that saw its fair share of uprisings – amongst the young Black Caribbean community.

It is such an authentic portrait, down to the musicality of the slang and dialects used. It’s immersive, it’s got action, it’s moving, it’s everything!

By Alex Wheatle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Alex Wheatle writes from a place of honesty and passion' Steve McQueen, director of Small Axe

East of Acre Lane is the fast-paced and razor sharp story of a young man trying to do the right thing from celebrated author Alex Wheatle, one of the figures who inspired Steve McQueen's Small Axe

It is 1981, and Brixton is on the verge of exploding. Biscuit lives with his mother, brother and sister, trapped hustling on the frontline for the South London badman Nunchucks. As the patience of the community breaks and the riots erupt, Biscuit must make a choice that could…


Book cover of The Lonely Londoners

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From my list on introducing you to Black London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Jendella Benson Why did Jendella love this book?

Another classic, but this time set a generation before East of Acre Lane.

This follows members of the Windrush generation as they try and make their way in a city that is hostile in weather and temperament. There is a lot of humour here amongst the occasional bleakness, but either way it’s a revelatory read. Again, language is really important here to really hear the voices of the characters.

Admittedly, I read this quite late in the game, but could instantly see why it’s one of the classics.

By Sam Selvon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Lonely Londoners, an unforgettable account of immigrant experience and one of the great twentieth-century London novels, now in in a stunning Clothbound Classics edition.

At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry 'Sir Galahad' Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo? But the irrepressible…


Book cover of Just Kids

John Glynn Author Of Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer

From my list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi! I'm John Glynn, and I'm excited to share some book recommendations inspired by one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs, "Cruel Summer."  To me, this song perfectly encapsulates the heightened emotions of summer love—a theme at the heart of my memoir Out East. I chose books that capture the "fever dream highs" of the season. But at the same time, as Taylor sings, "Summer's a knife," filled with longing and heartache, primed for nostalgia. All of these books carry the kind of moonlit shimmer I crave in a smart beach read. As a Swiftie, a beach lover, an avid reader, and a hopeless romantic, I hope you enjoy.

John's book list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”

John Glynn Why did John love this book?

This might be my all-time favorite memoir. Every time I sit down to write, I tend to read a few pages of it to absorb the rhythm of Patti Smith’s unadorned, lyrical writing.

Like Taylor Swift, Patti Smith is a music icon, a poet, and a genius wordsmith. For me, this book totally captured the radiant nostalgia of a bygone era and a romantic love that evolves into something more permanent and transcendent.

By Patti Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

“Reading rocker Smith’s account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it’s hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding.” -- People

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence…


Book cover of The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s

Heather Clark Author Of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

From my list on group biographies of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Heather Clark is the author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath which was a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography, and a Book of the Year at The Guardian, O the Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Times (London), Lit Hub, Good Morning America Book Club, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a new group biography about the Boston years of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, and Maxine Kumin, under contract with Knopf. She is a professor of Contemporary Poetry at the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England.

Heather's book list on group biographies of women

Heather Clark Why did Heather love this book?

Maggie Doherty tells the story of five women artists—Anne Sexton, Maxine Kumin, Barbara Swan, Tillie Olsen, and Marianna Pineda—who were among the first fellows at Radcliffe’s new Institute for Independent Study. The fellowship was originally designed for women who needed a room (and a paycheck) of their own to resume work interrupted by marriage and motherhood. Doherty weaves a history of Radcliffe’s pioneering venture with moving stories of the first fellows, whose friendships strengthened their resolve to pursue art in the face of male skepticism.

By Maggie Doherty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

In 1960, Harvard’s sister college, Radcliffe, announced the founding of an Institute for Independent Study, a “messy experiment” in women’s education that offered paid fellowships to those with a PhD or “the equivalent” in artistic achievement. Five of the women who received fellowships—poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, painter Barbara Swan, sculptor Marianna Pineda, and writer Tillie Olsen—quickly formed deep bonds with one another that would inspire and sustain their most ambitious work. They called themselves “the Equivalents.” Drawing from notebooks, letters, recordings, journals, poetry, and prose, Maggie Doherty weaves a moving…


Book cover of Babel-17/ Empire Star

Mike Cooley Author Of Crystal Warrior

From my list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing fantasy and science fiction, I enjoy writing about strong female characters and strong female leads. I also like exploring fundamental questions such as what it means to be human. I grew up reading all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on, and that vast landscape of stories has influenced my writing in many ways. I love to explore the limits of consciousness and darkness. I hope the books on this list inspire you and make you think. They have all influenced me in one way or another and made me a better writer.    

Mike's book list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes

Mike Cooley Why did Mike love this book?

From the strong female protagonist—who is telepathic and a poet—to the use of language as a kind of mind weapon, to the non-traditional exploration of sexuality, I found this novel to be original and interesting. It also explores the nature of perception, which is something I have always been interested in. Samuel is a genius, and I very much enjoy the way he writes. 

By Samuel R. Delany,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Babel-17/ Empire Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Nebula Award Winner: “By looking at a typical space opera adventure from a different angle, Delany . . . give[s] us a weird, welcoming book” (Tor.com).

 At twenty-six, Rydra Wong is the most popular poet in the five settled galaxies. Almost telepathically perceptive, she has written poems that capture the mood of mankind after two decades of savage war. Since the invasion, Earth has endured famine, plague, and cannibalism—but its greatest catastrophe will be Babel-17.
 
Sabotage threatens to undermine the war effort, and the military calls in Rydra. Random attacks lay waste to warships, weapons factories, and munitions dumps,…


Book cover of The Prince of Tides

David Michael Dunaway Author Of Angry Heavens: Struggles of a Confederate Surgeon

From my list on celebrating an author’s literary style.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifetime, passionate reader. During the summer vacations, my brother and I would often ride with our father to his job in downtown Mobile and walk to Mobile Public Library, where we would spend all day exploring and reading. Well-written novels with remarkable but believable characters—such as those I've noted here are my passion. I have included novels in my list where I can identify personally with the protagonist. My list of books is varied. They have one thing in common: believable characters who struggle with life—authored by legitimate wordsmiths. When I wrote Angry Heavens as a first-time novelist, it was my history as a reader that I used as a writer.

David's book list on celebrating an author’s literary style

David Michael Dunaway Why did David love this book?

When Pat Conroy died in 2016, I knew what the late Southern gentleman-writer, Lewis Grizzard, meant when he wrote, Elvis Is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself.

Pat Conroy understood the Southern male in ways that only fellow Southerners can know in all its fullness. I felt less Southern at his passing than I had felt in a long time. Pat Conroy was my better self as a Southern male. He understood me without knowing me.

The Prince of Tides protagonist, Tom Wingo, is undoubtedly filled with the simplicity and complexity, goodness and evil, connection to history that describe the southern male who often will define being Southern as a fundamental personal value.

Want some insight into the Southern male, and who wouldn't? The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy is where one should start.

By Pat Conroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pat Conroy's inspired masterpiece relates the dark and violent chronicle of an astounding family: the Wingos of Colleton, South Carolina. No reader will forget them. And no reader can remain untouched by their story.

All Wingos share one heritage ... shrimp fishing, poverty and the searing memory of a single terrifying event - the source of Tom Wingo's self-hatred and of his sister Savannah's suicidal despair.

To save himself and Savannah, Tom confronts the past with the help of New York psychologist Susan Lowenstein.

As Tom and Susan unravel the bitter history of his troubled childhood, in episodes of grotesque…


Book cover of The Summer Without Men

Gail Crowther Author Of Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton

From my list on rebellious women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who loves writing about women. All sorts of women. Strong, witty, complicated, unlikeable, and intelligent. It is important for me to understand the lived experience of women both inside and outside my own time and cultural context. So many women live with intersecting social characteristics, norms, expectations, nearly all of which hinder or harm. Yet so many women resist and rebel to change life for others. It is this sense of solidarity through history, one group of women paving the way for others, that I find especially fascinating and hopeful. And it is why rebellious women are so crucial. They cannot, and will not, be ignored.   

Gail's book list on rebellious women

Gail Crowther Why did Gail love this book?

The protagonist of this novel, Mia Fredricksen, experiences love, loss, and emotional breakdown. But what I love about this book is when Mia starts to rebuild herself and her sense of identity (her doctor tells her “tolerating cracks is part of being alive”) we move into a joyful narrative of female strength, power, and the solidarity of female friendship. And, as the title suggests, a summer without men. What I love about this novel is the message that even if you are badly betrayed, healing is possible. 

By Siri Hustvedt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Summer Without Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Out of the blue, your husband of thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage to indulge his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman. Do you:

a) assume it's a passing affair and play along
b) angrily declare the marriage over
c) crack up
d) retreat to a safe haven and regroup?
Mia Fredricksen cracks up first, then decamps for the summer to the prairie town of her childhood, where she rages, fumes, and bemoans her sorry fate as abandoned spouse. But little by little, she is drawn into the lives of those around her: her mother and her…


Book cover of The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics

A. L. Brooks Author Of Dare to Love

From my list on coming out later in life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I knew in my early teens that I wasn’t straight, but back then, the thought of coming out was too scary. I waited until I was twenty-three to do so, and it was still scary even being ten years older! So I can relate to stories of women of all ages discovering their less-than-straight sexuality. It’s rarely easy, no matter how many years you’ve lived already. It still requires good support from the people who love you, and one thing in common in all of the books I’ve recommended is that family, or often found family, plays a crucial role in the newly-out woman feeling comfortable being themselves.

A. L.'s book list on coming out later in life

A. L. Brooks Why did A. L. love this book?

This historical romance is so much more than a romance. It’s also a commentary on the place women had in society for much of the 19th century, and how hard it was for them to break out of the mold of being nothing but a pretty thing to entertain the men in their lives. The story of Lucy, a young astronomer, and her relationship with her older benefactress, Catherine, is beautifully written. Catherine’s journey from an abusive marriage to the incredible love she finds with Lucy is poignant and passionate all at the same time, and the depth of characterization of both women is wonderful.

By Olivia Waite,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.

Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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