100 books like The Alexandria Quartet

By Lawrence Durrell,

Here are 100 books that The Alexandria Quartet fans have personally recommended if you like The Alexandria Quartet. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow

Daniel J. Barrett Author Of Efficient Linux at the Command Line: Boost Your Command-Line Skills

From my list on quirky people and their adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a nonfiction author, I’ve always been mystified by fictional character development. What qualities make one character fascinating and another a dud? How do great writers make us fall in love with their creations? If I had one wish as an author, it would be to create one truly beloved character. I particularly like quirky nonconformists who forge their own paths, making mistakes along the way, yet they remain sympathetic. When I finish reading the story, I miss their company. My five recommended books include some of my favorite characters in modern literature.

Daniel's book list on quirky people and their adventures

Daniel J. Barrett Why did Daniel love this book?

I found Count Alexander Rostov to be a fascinating character with real depth. Sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life, he outwits his opponents at every turn. I love how he changes the lives of everyone around him, whether they are his friends or his jailers, and ultimately how he is changed by them.

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

34 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


Book cover of Rites of Passage

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by "sea stories" since I could read, maybe before. I was born in Liverpool, my dad was in the navy, my family ran an 18th-century inn named the Turk’s Head after a nautical knot, and I’ve directed or written more than twenty films, plays, and novels with the sea as their setting. But they’re not really about the sea. For me, the sea is a mirror to reflect the human condition, a theatre for all the human dramas I can imagine. More importantly, I’ve read over a hundred sea stories for research and pleasure, and those I’ve chosen for you are the five I liked best.

Seth's book list on books about the sea that aren’t just about sailing on it, or fighting on it, or drowning in it, but are really about the human condition

Seth Hunter Why did Seth love this book?

Golding will forever be remembered for Lord of the Flies, but I think this is better (and so did he, apparently, a lot better).

It’s the story of people on a seemingly endless voyage from England to Australia in the 19th century, but for me, it’s like a spaceship on a voyage to another planet, like the spaceship in Alien with its own monsters aboard, the social mores, the injustices, the class privileges and prejudices, the sexual hangups, and the guilty secrets they carry with them. Pity poor Australia!

For me, it demonstrates that the sea can be a metaphor for reading (and writing). You embark on a journey, and you want to get to the end, but in a way, you want it to last forever.

By William Golding,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rites of Passage 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?

Sailing to Australia in the early years of the nineteenth century, Edmund Talbot keeps a journal to amuse his godfather back in England. Full of wit and disdain, he records the mounting tensions on the ancient, stinking warship, where officers, sailors, soldiers and emigrants jostle in the crammed spaces below decks.Then a single passenger, the obsequious Reverend Colley, attracts the animosity of the sailors, and in the seclusion of the fo'castle something happens to bring him into a 'hell of self-degradation', where shame is a force deadlier than the sea itself.


Book cover of What Belongs to You

Shastri Akella Author Of The Sea Elephants

From my list on international queer heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first wrote The Sea Elephants, my protagonist (Shagun) and I were both asexual. My writing professor read the novel and said it’s dying to be a gay love story. Eventually, when I came out and rewrote the book from my newfound identity of queerness, I searched for queer stories that, like mine, were set outside the US or had non-American leads. And I realized that this is a significant gap that needs to be bridged. I felt a tremendous sense of solidarity with the books I did find. They made me feel less alone. Later, as an assistant professor of English, I’ve taught all of these books.

Shastri's book list on international queer heroes

Shastri Akella Why did Shastri love this book?

There are very few books that capture the particular suffering of loving someone and not being loved back.

Greenwell’s powerful debut novel is one of them. Set in the capital city of Bulgaria, the novel begins with an encounter that the narrator, an American teacher working abroad, has with Mitko, a sex worker. It is written in prose whose beauty, beat by beat, is as achingly beautiful as the unrequited love the narrator has for Mitko. This is one to savor slowly.

My copy is heavily underlined. Garth, a trained opera singer, reads like a dream. Accompany your reading with his readings from the work (they’re on YouTube). 

By Garth Greenwell,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked What Belongs to You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Startlingly erotic and immensely powerful, Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You tells an unforgettable story about the ways our pasts and cultures, our scars and shames can shape who we are and determine how we love.

Winner of the Debut of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.
Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize.

'A searching and compassionate meditation on the slipperiness of desire . . . as beautiful and vivid as poetry' - Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia's National Palace…


Book cover of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Joseph P. Macolino Author Of The Birth of Death

From my list on ferrying you to a fantastic world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve never really felt like I belonged in this world. From early childhood independent play to building out entire backstories for my Lego creations, I dreamt of other worlds. As I grew, that developed into a love of history, mythology, philosophy, and the other components of worldbuilding. And being naturally inclined to ask, “What if,” there’s nothing I love more than exploring these alien worlds. What if there was a world with a dozen sentient species? What if humans didn’t even exist in that world? What if that world was overflowing with magic? It’s these sorts of questions I most enjoy pondering.

Joseph's book list on ferrying you to a fantastic world

Joseph P. Macolino Why did Joseph love this book?

As a proud Ravenclaw, I would be remiss if I didn’t include Harry Potter in this list. But why The Goblet of Fire? Honestly, because that was my favorite book in the series. Well, Order of the Phoenix could have had that title, but someone had to go and kill Sirius Black. 

By J.K. Rowling,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

When the Quidditch World Cup is disrupted by Voldemort's rampaging supporters alongside the resurrection of the terrifying Dark Mark, it is obvious to Harry Potter that, far from weakening, Voldemort is getting stronger. Back at Hogwarts for his fourth year, Harry is astonished to be chosen by the Goblet of Fire to represent the school in the Triwizard Tournament. The competition is dangerous, the tasks terrifying, and true courage is no guarantee of survival - especially when the darkest forces are on the rise.

These adult editions with glorious jacket art by Andrew Davidson are now available in hardback for…


Book cover of An Artist of the Floating World

Richard C. Morais Author Of The Man with No Borders

From my list on thinking deeper about the human condition.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist and a novelist. I was both Forbes Magazine’s longest serving foreign correspondent – having served 18 years in London as their European Bureau Chief – and wrote the feel-good international best-seller The Hundred-Foot Journey, a novel that Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey made into a much-loved 2014 film starring Helen Mirren. These twin careers have shaped my approach to writing in that I believe a good micro-story (fiction) should also make astute macro points (journalism). So, the journeys my characters undertake in my novels are also trying to address points about the world or life or humanity at large.

Richard's book list on thinking deeper about the human condition

Richard C. Morais Why did Richard love this book?

The Nobel-prize winning laureate has written many more famous books dealing with the human condition, most notably The Remains of the Day and Never Let me Go, but this is, to my mind, his best rumination on humanity's familiar ache. Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day is a flawless book and similarly themed, but there is something about the post-war regrets, delusions, and self-justifications of the aging Japanese artist Masuji Ono that just slay me and make me want to weep. Ishiguro is of course the king of unreliable narrators, so I don't want to give away the big reveal here, but how denial of the truth and self-delusion can misdirect us in life, is at the core of this masterful insight into the human condition.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked An Artist of the Floating World 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*

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE WHITBREAD (NOW COSTA) BOOK OF THE YEAR

1948: Japan is rebuilding her cities after the calamity of World War II, her people putting defeat behind them and looking to the future. The celebrated painter Masuji Ono fills his days attending to his garden, his two grown daughters and his grandson, and his evenings drinking with old associates in quiet lantern-lit bars. His should be a tranquil retirement. But as his memories continually return to the past - to a life and…


Book cover of The Magic Mountain

Mahala Yates Stripling Author Of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

From my list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent scholar who read Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer’s book of essays about our common human condition - mortality. I began writing the biography of this Yale surgeon who influenced the literature-and-medicine movement, ushering in patient-centered care. I read everything by and about him, gaining a background in the medical humanities. In the middle of this project, I was asked to write Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature. The first edition came out in 2005; subsequently I updated and published a second paperback edition in 2013, accessible by the general public and used as a complete curriculum. Clearly, reading literature helps us explore what makes us human.

Mahala's book list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human

Mahala Yates Stripling Why did Mahala love this book?

Noble Laureate Thomas Mann is known for his densely intellectual work. I enjoyed The Magic Mountain in a simpler way, though.

It’s pre-World War I, and I went along with German engineering student Hans Castorp to a tuberculosis sanitarium in the Swiss Alps. He’s there to visit his cousin but stays for seven years. There are crude medical treatments—with no magic bullets (antibiotics) to treat this contagious disease. In forced isolation, institutional order reduces chaos, and normal life goes on for most.

It’s ingenious how Mann creates a microcosm of the outside world through characters of different nationalities who engage in ideological conflicts! When Castorp leaves, having experienced romance and survived disease, I felt a spiritual transcendence; then, at last, Mann satisfies us with an ironic ending.   

By Thomas Mann, John E. Woods (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Thomas Mann rose to the front ranks of the great modern novelists, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. The Magic Mountain takes place in an exclusive tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps-a community devoted to sickness that serves as a fictional microcosm for Europe in the days before the First World War. To this hermetic and otherworldly realm comes Hans Castorp, an "ordinary young man" who arrives for a short visit and ends up staying for seven years, during which he succumbs both to the lure of eros and to the…


Book cover of 1666: Plague, War, and Hellfire

Esther M. Sternberg Author Of The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions

From my list on dealing with stress through strong characters and stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Internationally recognized mind-body science and design and health pioneer, Esther Sternberg M.D. is Research Director, Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, Inaugural Andrew Weil Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine, Professor of Medicine, Psychology, Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture, Founding Director, University of Arizona Institute on Place, Wellbeing & Performance, and Associate Director (Research), Innovations in Healthy Aging. Formerly a National Institutes of Health Senior Scientist and Section Chief, she received the U.S. Federal Government’s highest awards, authored over 235 scholarly articles, and two engaging and popular science-for-the-lay-public books: The Balance Within chronicling mind-body science underpinning stress and illness and belief and wellness, and Healing Spaces, which helped ignite the 21st-century design and health movement.

Esther's book list on dealing with stress through strong characters and stories

Esther M. Sternberg Why did Esther love this book?

This book is a gripping story of the year 1666 in which three calamities befell London: the Black Plague, the Anglo-Dutch War, and the Great Fire of London. When I read the book in 2021, I found that we were re-living practically the same events in modern times. I live in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona, and in the spring of 2020, shortly after the COVID shutdowns, fires ignited by lighting swept through the canyons just north of my home. I found myself in a “get ready” zone of the region’s “Get Ready, Get Set, Go” emergency evacuation plan.

1666 shows the range of people’s responses to extreme and immediate danger: from Samuel Pepys’ quick thinking to get the critical government documents out of harm’s way, all the way to the panic and inability to act of others. All animals show a range of reactions…

By Rebecca Rideal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1666 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1666 was a watershed year for England. The outbreak of the Great Plague, the eruption of the second Dutch War and the Great Fire of London all struck the country in rapid succession and with devastating repercussions.

Shedding light on these dramatic events, historian Rebecca Rideal reveals an unprecedented period of terror and triumph. Based on original archival research and drawing on little-known sources, 1666: Plague, War and Hellfire takes readers on a thrilling journey through a crucial turning point in English history, as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary cast of historical characters.

While the central events of…


Book cover of The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things

Esther M. Sternberg Author Of The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions

From my list on dealing with stress through strong characters and stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Internationally recognized mind-body science and design and health pioneer, Esther Sternberg M.D. is Research Director, Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, Inaugural Andrew Weil Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine, Professor of Medicine, Psychology, Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture, Founding Director, University of Arizona Institute on Place, Wellbeing & Performance, and Associate Director (Research), Innovations in Healthy Aging. Formerly a National Institutes of Health Senior Scientist and Section Chief, she received the U.S. Federal Government’s highest awards, authored over 235 scholarly articles, and two engaging and popular science-for-the-lay-public books: The Balance Within chronicling mind-body science underpinning stress and illness and belief and wellness, and Healing Spaces, which helped ignite the 21st-century design and health movement.

Esther's book list on dealing with stress through strong characters and stories

Esther M. Sternberg Why did Esther love this book?

I love Jane Austen’s novels – the fine detail with which she paints characters based on everyday life, as she described it in a letter to her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh: “… the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labour...” Sadly, Austen died at age 41, in the prime of her life, and the peak of her writing skills. Her last novel was unfinished. Most biographers surmise that she died of Addison’s disease – an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the patient’s adrenal glands, slowly sapping their energy for lack of the stress hormone cortisol. Ironically, the illness can be brought on or exacerbated by chronic stress, which certainly towards the end of her life Jane Austen experienced in spades.

When her father died, Jane Austen, being a woman, did not…

By Paula Byrne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne's landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books.

In this new biography, bestselling author Paula Byrne (author of Perdita, Mad World) explores the forces that shaped the interior life of Britain's most beloved novelist: her father's religious faith, her mother's aristocratic pedigree, her eldest brother's adoption, her other brothers' naval and military experiences, her relatives in the East and West Indies, her cousin who lived through the trauma of the French Revolution, the family's amateur theatricals, the female novelists…


Book cover of Independent People

Bill Murray Author Of Out in the Cold: Travels North: Adventures in Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Canada

From my list on to understand the high north.

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s nothing like personal experience. You have to read the literature, it’s true. That’s how we’ve all met here at Shepherd. But you have to roll up your sleeves and get down to visiting, too, if you want to write about travel. I first approached the Arctic in 1991 and I return above sixty degrees north every year, although I must confess to a secret advantage; I married a Finn. We spend summers at a little cabin north of Helsinki. I know the region personally, I keep coming back, and I invite you, whenever you can, to come up and join us!

Bill's book list on to understand the high north

Bill Murray Why did Bill love this book?

Iceland is one of the first off-the-beaten-track places I visited as an aspiring young travel writer and I arrived with the onset of the first Gulf War - the one against Saddam Hussein.

I visited with three other people. We immediately met a man in Reykjavik who introduced us to his diplomat friend, and before it was all said and done we spent most of that trip with the Icelander and the Frenchman in front of a much more rudimentary CNN, watching the war.

While I’ve been back to Iceland a number of times since, that first trip, the instant friendships, and the very odd experience of watching war in the desert from up at the Arctic Circle, sealed the deal for me about visiting the far north, and indirectly led to my own later book.

Halldor Laxness is the greatest of Icelandic authors and Independent People is very nearly…

By Halldor Laxness,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in Iceland, this story is imbued with the lyrical force of medieval ballads and Nordic myth.


Book cover of The New York Trilogy

Peter Guttridge Author Of City of Dreadful Night

From my list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by long stories where things aren’t exactly as they seem. Most crime fiction is secrets and lies and their eventual uncovering but most ‘literary’ fiction is too. For what it’s worth, I was a book reviewer for all the posh UK papers for about 15 years, including crime fiction critic for The Observer for twelve (so I’ve read far more crime novels than is healthy for anyone!). I’m a voracious reader and writer and I love making things more complicated for myself (and the reader) by coming up with stuff that I’ve then somehow got to fit together.  

Peter's book list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators

Peter Guttridge Why did Peter love this book?

This is post-modern crime fiction thematically linked and all with increasingly unreliable characters—because they’re each going insane.

In City of Glass private investigator, Daniel Quinn, goes mad sinking deeper into an investigation about identity. Who is telling his story and can they be relied on? Is it any of these characters who appear: ‘the author,’ ‘Paul Auster the writer,’ ‘Paul Auster the detective’?  Whoosh.

I love this stuff but understand it’s an acquired taste!

By Paul Auster,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Paul Auster's signature work, "The New York Trilogy," consists of three interlocking novels: "City of Glass," "Ghosts," and "The Locked Room" - haunting and mysterious tales that move at the breathless pace of a thriller."City of Glass" - As a result of a strange phone call in the middle of the night, Quinn, a writer of detective stories, becomes enmeshed in a case more puzzling than any he might hace written"Ghosts"Blue, a student of Brown, has been hired to spy on Black. From a window of a rented house on Orange street, Blue stalks his subject, who is staring out…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Egypt, Crete, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Egypt, Crete, and presidential biography.

Egypt Explore 213 books about Egypt
Crete Explore 18 books about Crete
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography