100 books like The Cat's Table

By Michael Ondaatje,

Here are 100 books that The Cat's Table fans have personally recommended if you like The Cat's Table. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Austerlitz

Amanda Addison Author Of Boundless Sky

From my list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land.

Who am I?

Stories of migration journeys and their knock-on impact through the generations are part of my family history. Like Jacques, the key protagonist in Austerlitz, I too wasn’t told the whole story of my family’s past. Stumbling on stories of colonialism, migration, and racism as an adult has opened up an understanding of a very different world to that of my childhood. The books I have recommended are all excellent examples of migration stories and through the use of beautiful prose pack a punch in a ‘velvet glove’.

Amanda's book list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land

Amanda Addison Why did Amanda love this book?

I picked up a paperback copy of this book at an airport store around twenty years ago. I was flying out to southern Germany and read the story of five-year-old Jacques Austerlitz who is sent to England on a Kindertransport and placed with foster parents in Wales. There, as was often the case in those days, the parents felt it best to erase his difficult past. But the past can’t be erased and later in life Austerlitz sets off on an odyssey across Europe and finds the past revisiting him. In many ways this book tells the story of twentieth-century Europe and is epic in its reach. Reading it during my stay in central Europe was an incredibly moving and haunting experience.

By W.G. Sebald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he…


Book cover of The Arrival

Barbara Lehman Author Of The Red Book

From my list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements.

Who am I?

I love wordless books immoderately, and I also love books that have meta, surreal, or magical realism elements. This list combines these two features! I was personally so happy that The Red Book was described in a review as “a wordless mind trip for tots,” and I think all the books on this list would perfectly fit that description (and much, much more!) too.

Barbara's book list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements

Barbara Lehman Why did Barbara love this book?

I will remain forever astonished at the epic feat of world-building in The Arrival. It thoroughly pulls me into an immersive experience where I am learning along with the main character how to navigate the new world into which he has immigrated. As he learns, we learn. I find myself so emotionally involved with his success in his hopeful new reality. The art is amazingly detailed and conveys the complex and richly visual world, yet also sets a strong emotional tone that brings us into the action.

By Shaun Tan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Arrival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown. This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.

THE ARRIVAL has become one of the most critically acclaimed books of recent years, a wordless masterpiece that describes a world beyond any familiar time or place.

Sited as No 35 in The Times 100 Best Books of all time. It has sold over…


Book cover of The Sun Is Also a Star

Amanda Addison Author Of Boundless Sky

From my list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land.

Who am I?

Stories of migration journeys and their knock-on impact through the generations are part of my family history. Like Jacques, the key protagonist in Austerlitz, I too wasn’t told the whole story of my family’s past. Stumbling on stories of colonialism, migration, and racism as an adult has opened up an understanding of a very different world to that of my childhood. The books I have recommended are all excellent examples of migration stories and through the use of beautiful prose pack a punch in a ‘velvet glove’.

Amanda's book list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land

Amanda Addison Why did Amanda love this book?

This is a book I have been recommending to teenagers and adults alike.

This is no ordinary romantic tale of girl meets boy; it is a very much contemporary take on the notion. Two very different protagonists, from two very different backgrounds are brought together in the immigrant ‘melting pot’ of New York City. In what could be seen as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, the characters are much more self-aware than in Shakespeare’s original and thankfully this leads to a more enlightened outcome, for them, and the people they meet on their journey.

Using deceptively simple short chapters which chart the course of one day, it cleverly deals with so many of life's big issues (including migration) primarily through the two teenage narrators.

By Nicola Yoon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sun Is Also a Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything - coming as a major film starring Yara Shahidi in 2019.

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything. Now a major film starring Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton!

Natasha-
I'm a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny.

Or dreams that will never come true. I'm definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him.

Not when my family is twelve hours away from…


Book cover of Exit West

Irfan Shah Author Of Sigh For A Strange Land

From my list on displaced people.

Who am I?

A combination of things led me to this topic: My father was forced to leave his home in northern India during partition and was therefore a child refugee. In 2016, I was filming in Ukraine and became hugely interested in what was happening there. I have looked for a way to help ever since then. Discovering Monica Stirling’s novel about refugees from East Europe, I realised that here was an opportunity to help give voice to the refugee experience; to help raise funds for Ukraine, and to help bring back to life an incredible story written by an author who deserves to be rediscovered.

Irfan's book list on displaced people

Irfan Shah Why did Irfan love this book?

The book is a dizzying mix: the grim realities of displacement are intertwined with speculative fiction – fantasy even.

A love story of two migrants, Saeed and Nadia, who traverse the globe to escape conflict and try and find a way to be together. Oftentimes, they find their way across borders through a series of ‘doors’ – a device reminiscent of CS Lewis (in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) and one which takes the protagonists across the world. Elegant, spare prose; brutal realities, and electrifying flights of fancy – Exit West has it all.

One reason I like the book is that the author, Mohsin Hamid, has found a way to bring the desperate, timely topic of refugees out to a wider audience. His previous book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was made into a film and Exit West is being adapted for Netflix.

I feel it’s important for…

By Mohsin Hamid,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A BBC 2 Between the Covers Book Club Pick - Booker Gems

THE NEW YORK TIMES AND SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
WINNER OF THE ASPEN WORDS LITERARY PRIZE

'Astonishing' Zadie Smith
'Stunning' Spectator
'Extraordinary' TLS

An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

All over the world, doors are appearing.
They lead to other cities, other countries, other lives.

And in a city gripped by war, Nadia and Saeed are newly in love.
Hardly more than strangers, desperate to survive, they open a door and step through.…


Book cover of The Golden Rendezvous

Carmen Radtke Author Of The Case of the Missing Bride

From my list on mysteries set on ships and trains.

Who am I?

After years dedicated to the hard facts of a newspaper reporter’s life, including a sting covering the police beat, Carmen Radtke has changed her focus to fiction. She’s been fascinated by both history and mystery as long as she can remember and stays dedicated to the truth behind the lie, and the joys of in-depth research. As a repeated emigrant, she is enthralled by voyages into the unknown and the courage (or madness) that takes.

Carmen's book list on mysteries set on ships and trains

Carmen Radtke Why did Carmen love this book?

Fast-paced, exciting, with enough twists to keep me reading without a single break – this is one of my all-time favourites by prolific author Alistair MacLean. I found myself chuckling and, in the next instant, holding my breath as the First Officer has to outwit terrorists who have taken over the tramp carrier cum cruise ship “Campari.” But what I enjoy most is the mix of humour and lightheartedness that balance the high octane thrills which are grounded in meticulous research.

By Alistair MacLean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A timeless classic of modern-day piracy from the acclaimed master of action and suspense.

Aboard the SS Campari, all is not well.

For Johnny Carter, the Chief Officer, the voyage has already begun badly; but it's only when the Campari sails that evening, after a succession of delays that he realises something is seriously wrong.

A member of the crew is suddenly missing and the stern-to-stern search only serves to increase tension. Then violence erupts and suddenly the whole ship is in danger. Is the Campari a victim of modern day piracy? And what of the strange cargo hidden below…


Book cover of A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World

Cian T. McMahon Author Of The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea During the Great Irish Famine

From my list on maritime social history.

Who am I?

As an emigrant myself (I left Ireland in the late 1980s), I’ve always been interested in understanding the process of moving from one place to another; of existing in that liminal space between “being here” and “being there.” I spent several years researching the letters and diaries of nineteenth-century Irish migrants for my book, The Coffin Ship, but found the answers led to new questions on how other peoples, in other places, have managed being somewhere between “here” and “there.” These are some of the books that have helped me along that long, emotional journey.

Cian's book list on maritime social history

Cian T. McMahon Why did Cian love this book?

Washington Irving once famously described a long sea voyage as a “blank page in existence.” Stephen Berry’s analysis of James Oglethorpe’s Georgia Expedition, which sailed from England to colonial Georgia in 1735, shows that the opposite was true. Rather than merely serve as the stage on which the human drama of migration played out, the sea voyage was a dynamic actor in the experience itself. Far from land, migrants had time and space to reconsider their views on society, religion, and identity in ways that shaped their new lives in America.

By Stephen R. Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Path in the Mighty Waters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A vivid and revealing portrait of shipboard life as experienced by eighteenth-century migrants from Europe to the New World

In October 1735, James Oglethorpe's Georgia Expedition set sail from London, bound for Georgia. Two hundred and twenty-seven passengers boarded two merchant ships accompanied by a British naval vessel and began a transformative voyage across the Atlantic that would last nearly five months. Chronicling their passage in journals, letters, and other accounts, the migrants described the challenges of physical confinement, the experiences of living closely with people from different regions, religions, and classes, and the multi-faceted character of the ocean itself.…


Book cover of The Only Way to Cross

John G. Sayers Author Of Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners

From my list on ocean liners and cruises.

Who am I?

I am a passionate, long-time collector of Ocean Liner material. I am recognized as a Member of the Board of The Ephemera Society of America, the Board of The Friends of Fort George, the Council of the British Ephemera Society and other historical and collector organizations. I was thrilled to be Recipient of the 2017 Award of Merit by The Ephemera Society of America, I was engaged by The Bodleian Library at Oxford University to author a book which captured some of the highlights of my extensive 60-year collection of Ocean Liner material which has been donated to the University. This book, sold globally, is the result of that work. 

John's book list on ocean liners and cruises

John G. Sayers Why did John love this book?

This book focuses on the golden era of Transatlantic travel in the Twentieth Century when engines made sail no longer a variable. Ships were larger and accommodation more spacious and opulent. The author is particularly good at describing the details of little-appreciated shipboard life such as gambling and the professional gamblers who fleeced wealthy participants.

A confession—this book was the cornerstone in my appreciation of the history of Transatlantic passenger shipping. First published in 1972, it has been reprinted in both hardcover and softcover many times since. My hardcover edition has a good section of relevant pictures with captions to tie them into the text, and a chart spreadsheet inside the front cover of the lines and their ships through the decades of the century.

Lots of interesting narrative and useful pictures. What’s more to want in a book to be read for pleasure?

By John Maxtone-Graham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sketches the history of transatlantic liners since the turn of the century, examining their design and innovations as well as their memorable passengers


Book cover of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Stoney Compton Author Of Treadwell: A Novel of Alaska Territory

From my list on accurate immersion in a past time and place.

Who am I?

As a child I read and experienced history books as adventures. Adventure drew me to Alaska after a hitch in the Navy. I wanted to write an accurate historical novel about Juneau and the Treadwell Mine and began my research. I knew the Alaska Historical Library was the perfect place to begin. When I discovered the extensive photo collections, I flashed back to my admiration of the historical novels that impressed me. I borrowed technique and structure from all and incorporated imagery in my manuscript. My main goal was to successfully immerse the reader in a good novel about 1915 in Alaska Territory.

Stoney's book list on accurate immersion in a past time and place

Stoney Compton Why did Stoney love this book?

Dead Wake is fact that reads like fiction. Not often do I choose a book already knowing how it ends. His artistic rendering of the world in 1915 is alone worth the read. He introduces us to the passengers of the SS Lusitania, who they are, why they are on the ship, and he makes us care.

Larson limns Captains Turner of the Lusitania, and Schweiger of the U-20, the Imperial German submarine. The author carefully choreographs the final voyage of the doomed ship. The sinking is not the end of the story. 

The last third of the book is devoted to what happened after the torpedo hit. Captain Turner survives the attack as well as many of the passengers. This is a beautifully researched, but heartrending read. 

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover,…


Book cover of Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula

Robert Vitalis Author Of Oilcraft: The Myths of Scarcity and Security That Haunt U.S. Energy Policy

From my list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated with the relationship between the United States and the Middle East since my freshman year at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where I began as a commuter, stuck in gasoline lines, during the “energy crisis” in the fall of 1973, and where I was among the first SUNY students to study abroad in Egypt after the United States resumed diplomatic relations. I wrote my dissertation on Egypt’s economic development (When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt, 1995) and have been teaching and writing about U.S. involvement in the region for 35 years.

Robert's book list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics

Robert Vitalis Why did Robert love this book?

Professor Laleh Khalili provides an absolutely riveting account of the transformation of the Gulf region, where the U.S. fifth fleet has operated since the 1990s, into a hub of world commerce in oil and arms. She argues that the lines between civilian and military logistics have grown increasingly blurred. To prove it, she takes us aboard the container ships, detours back to the time when British firms and government agencies ruled, explores the ports and free zones, follows the rails and roads, and uncovers the complex labor relations that make war and trade possible. 

By Laleh Khalili,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the map of global trade, China is now the factory of the world. A parade of ships full of raw commodities-iron ore, coal, oil-arrive in its ports, and fleets of container ships leave with manufactured goods in all directions. The oil that fuels China's manufacturing comes primarily from the Arabian peninsula. Much of the material shipped from China are transported through the ports of Arabian peninsula, Dubai's Jabal Ali port foremost among them. China's 'maritime silk road' flanks the peninsula on all sides.

Sinews of War and Trade is the story of what the making of new ports and…


Book cover of Set Sail for Murder

Carmen Radtke Author Of The Case of the Missing Bride

From my list on mysteries set on ships and trains.

Who am I?

After years dedicated to the hard facts of a newspaper reporter’s life, including a sting covering the police beat, Carmen Radtke has changed her focus to fiction. She’s been fascinated by both history and mystery as long as she can remember and stays dedicated to the truth behind the lie, and the joys of in-depth research. As a repeated emigrant, she is enthralled by voyages into the unknown and the courage (or madness) that takes.

Carmen's book list on mysteries set on ships and trains

Carmen Radtke Why did Carmen love this book?

Carolyn Hart is one of those cozy mystery writers who effortlessly reel me into their world. Set Sail for Murder satisfies my longing for travel with its itinerary and the lush vivid descriptions, as well as having an enjoyable mystery at its core. As a former journalist, I’m also a sucker for retired reporters turned sleuth. I read this first on a train, and it made the hours fly by. As soothing as the sound of waves gently lapping a boat. 

By Carolyn G. Hart, Carolyn G. Hart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Set Sail for Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Though retired newspaper reporter Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins, Henrie O to her friends, once turned down a marriage proposal from Jimmy Lennox, he's still one of her most cherished friends. So when he asks for her help on behalf of his wife, world-famous documentary filmmaker Sophia Montgomery, Henrie O reluctantly agrees to join them on a Baltic cruise. Sophia is the stepmother to the now-grown heirs of a great fortune, who are none too happy that she controls their inheritance. But do they really want her dead? Jimmy thinks so, and he wants Henrie O to prove it.

On the cruise,…


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