91 books like The Cocktail Waitress

By James M. Cain,

Here are 91 books that The Cocktail Waitress fans have personally recommended if you like The Cocktail Waitress. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Notes on a Scandal

S.P. Miskowski Author Of The Worst is Yet to Come

From my list on women doing terrible things.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, my mother offered daycare at our house. The kids, the regulars, had moms who worked outside their homes. I’ve been listening to the personal, social, and economic worries of adult women since I was in kindergarten. I hope my stories portray their vulnerability, resilience, kindness, and capacity for violence. I set women centerstage as a sign of respect and to make the full range of women as people—our personhood—visible and undeniable. I’m drawn to stories of women who lash out and commit terrible acts. To be counted, I think we must be perceived as human and therefore fallible, potentially dangerous, capable of anything.

S.P.'s book list on women doing terrible things

S.P. Miskowski Why did S.P. love this book?

I recommend this book as often as I can. Edgier and more disturbing than the film adaptation, Heller’s novel offers not one but two women doing terrible things.

Sheba is the art instructor hiding her illicit meetings with a student and running around like a teenager in what must be one of recent literature’s more reprehensible midlife crises. Barbara is the cynical older woman, the veteran teacher with a busy schedule and a barren personal life.

Sheba appeals to Barbara as a friend, to keep her secret. Barbara responds with feigned concern, then with affection, desire, jealousy, and a malicious desire to control Sheba, to jerk her chain and watch her dance. For sheer emotional power dynamics between two women, this book is hard to beat.

By Zoe Heller,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Notes on a Scandal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Film tie-in edition of Zoe Heller's darkly compelling Booker shortlisted novel. The film of Notes on a Scandal received four Oscar nominations and stars Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.

From the first day that the beguiling Sheba Hart joins the staff of St George's history teacher Barbara Covett is convinced she has found a kindred spirit. Barbara's loyalty to her new friend is passionate and unstinting and when Sheba is discovered having an illicit affair with one of her pupils, Barbara quickly elects herself as Sheba's chief defender. But all is not as it first seems in this dark story…

Book cover of Alias Grace

Emily Matchar Author Of In The Shadow Of The Greenbrier

From my list on historical fiction with mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical settings and detail – I love coming away from a novel feeling like I’ve also learned something about the world. But I also like lots and lots of plot and intensity. Historical fiction slash mystery novels hit the spot just right. Though my own work thus far is more on the historical fiction side, I do try to plot it like a mystery, with lots of questions, revelations, and discoveries to be made as you go along.  

Emily's book list on historical fiction with mysteries

Emily Matchar Why did Emily love this book?

Grace Marks was a real Irish-Canadian maid who, in 1840s Ontario, was convicted of murdering her employer. Did she do it? If so, why?

Margaret Atwood uses the lens of interviews with a (fictional) doctor to unpeel Grace’s many layers (or is she only adding lies?). Dreamy, Gothic, and tragic; I loved it. I also loved the miniseries adaptation from Sarah Polley. 

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

By the author of The Handmaid's Tale

Now a major NETFLIX series

Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.' Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim? Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery.

'Brilliant... Atwood's prose is searching. So intimate it seems to be written on the skin' Hilary Mantel

'The outstanding novelist of our age' Sunday Times

'A sensuous, perplexing book, at…

Book cover of Grown

Marie Hoy-Kenny Author Of The Girls from Hush Cabin

From my list on YA thrillers you’ll stay up way too late reading.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a teacher who has mainly taught the eighth grade. When I read short stories and books aloud to my students, I pay attention to when I feel their interest waning and when they’re completely enthralled. Books are so much more action-driven than they used to be and there is often not a lot of description of setting and appearances. I can tell that my students lose interest in scenes that describe a room, for example, in careful detail. They want to hear about what the characters are saying and doing. They also like to feel like they’re being let in on secrets. 

Marie's book list on YA thrillers you’ll stay up way too late reading

Marie Hoy-Kenny Why did Marie love this book?

This. Book. 


I felt changed after I read it and talked about it with everyone who would listen. Not only is this book a riveting, fast-paced read, but it’s an important novel about assault, grooming, and the abuse of power.

The protagonist is an aspiring teenaged singer who gets discovered and then manipulated and abused by a much older celebrity R&B artist. When she wakes up with her hands covered in his blood and finds him dead, she realizes she has no memory of what occurred the night before. This novel was enticing as much as it was heartbreaking.

By Tiffany D. Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times bestseller! "Grown exposes the underbelly of a tough conversation, providing a searing examination of misogynoir, rape culture, and the vulnerability of young black girls. Groundbreaking, heart-wrenching, and essential reading for all in the #MeToo era." -Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles

Award-winning author Tiffany D. Jackson delivers another riveting, ripped-from-the-headlines mystery that exposes horrific secrets hiding behind the limelight and embraces the power of a young woman's voice.

When legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots Enchanted Jones at an audition, her dreams of being a famous singer take flight. Until Enchanted…

Book cover of Manson in His Own Words

Lily Sparks Author Of Teen Killers Club

From my list on with narrators that may or may not be psychopaths.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my mom pressed an Agatha Christie into my hands at age eight, I’ve been fascinated by mystery novels; when I got older that bled into true crime, and from there psychological non-fiction about psychopathy. What evolutionary purpose do psychopaths serve, is this a label we can confidently assign people or is the spectrum of human behavior a gray horizon we’re still approaching? These are questions I’m always happy to spend an hour or six debating, and this interest in psychopaths was definitely heightened by learning I’m closely related to one. 

Lily's book list on with narrators that may or may not be psychopaths

Lily Sparks Why did Lily love this book?

I’m fascinated by the Manson family; my big bad in my book is essentially doing a Charlie impression, so I’ve read a lot about America’s Boogeyman. This autobiography stands out from the crowd because of its absolutely bonkers voice. Every trigger warning in the world applies, but there are two worthwhile aspects to this lurid tale: one, how much institutional violence created Manson, who spent his adolescence and young adult life in the penal system (when they released him at 32 he begged to stay in jail.) And two, how the charismatic “family” could easily pass for some carefree Instagram influencers these days.  

By Charles Manson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manson in His Own Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The myth of Charles Manson is not likely to survive the impact of his own words," Nuel Emmons writes in the introduction to Manson In His Own Words, the shocking true confessions that lay bare the life and mind of the cult leader and notorious criminal. His story provides an enormous amount of new information about his life and how it led to the Tate-LaBianca murders, and reminds us of the complexity of the human condition. Born in the middle of the Great Depression to an unmarried fifteen-year-old, Manson lived through a succession of changing homes and substitute parents, until…

Book cover of Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind

Susie Black Author Of Death by Surfboard

From my list on humorous mysteries in the south by female authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

Prior to my becoming a cozy mystery author, I was a ladies’ apparel sales rep traveling a territory in the deep southern states. During my four-year stint I spent a great deal of time in a variety of southern cities and small towns. I interacted with progressive as well as traditional, conservative people. My experiences gave me a unique perspective with respect to the social mores and hierarchy of Southern society. 

Susie's book list on humorous mysteries in the south by female authors

Susie Black Why did Susie love this book?

Newly widowed Miss Julia, a pillar of her small southern community, is the poster child for my wise Nana’s theory that things never turn out the way you think they will when she finds herself smack dab in the center of a smarmy love triangle scandal involving her late husband.

I adore Miss Julia’s razer-sharp wit as she morphs from a clueless stuffed shirt into an endearingly strong southern woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone.

I am a big fan of a fast-paced tale that deftly weaves comic characters through a plot wrought with hand-wringing angst. Miss Julia and her cast of crazy characters does not disappoint.   

By Ann B. Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Miss Julia, a recently bereaved and newly wealthy widow, is only slightly bemused when one Hazel Marie Puckett appears at her door with a youngster in tow and unceremoniously announces that the child is the bastard son of Miss Julia's late husband. Suddenly, this longtime church member and pillar of her small Southern community finds herself in the center of an unseemly scandal-and the guardian of a wan nine-year-old whose mere presence turns her life upside down.

With razor-sharp wit and perfect "Steel Magnolia" poise, Miss Julia speaks her mind indeed-about a robbery, a kidnapping, and the other disgraceful events…

Book cover of Matched

Marie-Hélène Lebeault Author Of The Ancestors' Key

From my list on YA SFF about utopian societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader turned author. I’m a Canadian YA Speculative Fiction author who takes books along as I hike, cycle, and go to the beach. I love audiobooks! In the years leading up to writing my first novel, I must have read over three hundred books. My favorites were Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction. When I ran out of happy, positive, and wholesome books, I started writing them. I feel like I'm often called back to my favorites, and hope more authors will jump on the happy train! Now that the world has literally turned into a Dystopian Society, perhaps more authors will start writing about hope and change.

Marie-Hélène's book list on YA SFF about utopian societies

Marie-Hélène Lebeault Why did Marie-Hélène love this book?

In this society where people are matched with their jobs, but also with their future mates, arts and culture are carefully selected and limited by leadership. People take mandatory medications.

The most horrifying part, for me, is that they can no longer write without a keypad. Whatever they write on a computer is censured. Can you imagine better ways to control the population? Does it sound familiar?

By Ally Condie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Matched 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?

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in…

Book cover of Once Upon a Marigold

Liz Montague Author Of The Equinox Test (School for Unusual Magic #1)

From my list on Magical worlds for young readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I struggled a lot with reading as a kid, I would not call myself a natural reader at all. When I was young, fantasy and magic stories were one of the few genres that could grip me enough to make me actually focus and attempt to read but I always hated the ones that took themselves too seriously (they always felt impossibly long to get through). Now, as a children’s author, myself, it’s my hope and passion to serve fellow young-readers-who-don’t-consider-themselves-readers with fun accessible stories. I hope you enjoy!

Liz's book list on Magical worlds for young readers

Liz Montague Why did Liz love this book?

Another childhood favorite of mine and such a fun take on the princess happily-every-after trope!

This was the first book that ever made me laugh out loud (prior to this, I had not known books were allowed to be that funny).

Just seeing the title makes me smile.

By Jean Ferris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once Upon a Marigold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Christian was clueless when he started spying on the royal family through his telescope. He lives in a cave with a troll for a dad, after all. If his dad had only warned him about all that mind-boggling love stuff, maybe things wouldn't be such a mess. Although then, maybe, Princess Marigold would be dead. But Christian wasn't warned. And now that he's fallen for the princess, it's up to him to untwist an odd love triangle - er, rectangle - and foil a scheming queen who wants to take over the kingdom, even if it means bumping off her…

Book cover of Unmissing: A Thriller

Regina Buttner Author Of Down a Bad Road

From my list on love triangles that turn deadly.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a close girlfriend who was once involved with a man she wanted to marry. The trouble was, the guy was always hanging out with this other woman who he’d known since childhood. Just friends, he said. Nothing going on. Ha! The shenanigans they got up to were unbelievable, and extremely upsetting to my girlfriend, who eventually broke up with the cad. Her unlucky experience got me interested in the psychology of the love triangle, and why some people remain mired in these dead-end relationships. My reading jam is anything twisty and suspenseful, and what’s more fraught than a three-way competition for someone’s affections.

Regina's book list on love triangles that turn deadly

Regina Buttner Why did Regina love this book?

Picture it: you’re a woman married to a man whose first wife went missing, presumed dead. Then: knock, knock, who’s there? It’s the missing wife.

I loved the freaky premise, the mystery, and the scheming among the members of this shockingly unexpected and awkward ménage à trois. I can relate to Merritt, the caring second wife who feels a moral obligation to help the now-unmissing Lydia. I’d want to help too, and like Merritt, I’d probably feel guilty for enjoying a dreamy new life with another woman’s husband.

I enjoyed pondering the thorny legalities of the situation, but as the parties involved dig deeper into the circumstances of Lydia’s disappearance, it turns out that who’s legally married to whom is the least of their worries.

By Minka Kent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A return from the past knocks a family dangerously off-balance in a novel of spiraling suspense by Washington Post and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Minka Kent.

Merritt Coletto and her husband, Luca, have the life they dreamed of: a coastal home, a promising future, and a growing family. That dream ends with a late-night knock on the door.

Weak, broken, and emaciated, it's Luca's first wife, Lydia. Missing for ten years, presumed dead, and very much alive, she has quite a story. Her kidnapping. A torturous confinement that should've ended with her dead. And finally, escape. Racked with guilt…

Book cover of American Queen

Susan Corso Author Of Ascending Apparition

From my list on chosen family romances.

Why am I passionate about this?

Wondering why I’m such a fan of chosen families? I have a family of origin, but when I think of true family, it’s not my siblings. It’s the people of my heart. My husband, my longtime editor, who I finally got smart enough to marry. A spiritual daughter in Boston; another in Kenya. A favorite ex-husband in Santa Fe. Another man who should've been my brother, and his beloved husband in Manhattan. For me, a real friend is someone who’d raze the State Department if I were stuck in a prison in Lima, Peru. Any one of these mentioned would. I always wanted a pseudonym so I write Boots & Boas under Vivienne Hartt Quinn.

Susan's book list on chosen family romances

Susan Corso Why did Susan love this book?

Best for last. Sierra Simone is a kick-ass writer. Steamy like nobody else is steamy. Fanciful. Well-read—she used to be a librarian. Smart, smart, smart, and not a show-off about it. The threesome who make the chosen family in these novels of the New Camelot eventuate in startling public roles. The first three tell the stories of the ménage; the last two are novellas, adjunct to the main story. The parallels between the original Arthurian legend and these are break-taking. Her storytelling is exemplary. Timing. Pacing. Convincing dialogue, and the sex is off the page. Not for the faint of heart, Sierra Simone is for the hard-core sexy and worth every second of reading time. When enough time has gone by, I’ll reread these. I know it.

By Sierra Simone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

My name is Greer Galloway, and I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.

When I was a girl, I received a warning: Keep your kisses to yourself.

Twice I ignored it, and twice my heart was utterly, miserably broken. I didn’t need to learn my lesson a third time. Instead, I swore off love forever.

But President Colchester hasn't sworn me off—not by a long shot.

I knew him as Ash, the soldier I once kissed in a circle of broken glass. I haven’t forgotten his broken promises and forbidden desires. But the country knows…

Book cover of The Floating Opera and The End of the Road

Barry Keith Grant Author Of Voyages of Discovery: The Cinema of Frederick Wiseman

From my list on appreciating the films of Fredrick Wiseman.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved cinema since I was 9 years old growing up in New York City and my grandmother took me to see The Ten Commandments at the Paradise Theater, Loew’s magnificent flagship theater in the Bronx. The theater’s famous canopy of twinkling stars on the ceiling was the perfect magical venue, and I was thunderstruck not only by the epic sweep of the movie but also by the opulence of the theater, which mirrored the monumental pyramids that Ramses constructs in the film. Ever since, my passion for movies has been as all-consuming as DeMille’s jello sea was for the infidel Egyptians who doubted the power of special effects and cinematic illusion.

Barry's book list on appreciating the films of Fredrick Wiseman

Barry Keith Grant Why did Barry love this book?

John Barth’s first novel, originally published in 1956 and later significantly revised, is a darkly comic philosophical novel whose main character, Todd Andrews, is contemplating suicide.

The novel, along with Barth’s second, The End of the Road, is written in a relatively realistic style, different from the metafictional turn that the author would later take in his subsequent fiction. Nevertheless, these two early books are in some ways consistent with later works like Giles Boat Boy and Lost in the Funhouse, particularly in the passages about metaphor in life and art.

Barth’s musings about metaphors in the real world are relevant to Wiseman’s ability to wrest metaphoric implications from real-world events and objects. Indeed, Wiseman’s films are a veritable floating opera of signifiers.

By John Barth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Floating Opera and The End of the Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Floating Opera and The End Of The Road are John Barth's first two novels.  Their relationship to each other is evident not only in their ribald subject matter but in the eccentric characters and bitterly humorous tone of the narratives. Both concern strange, consuming love triangles and the destructive effect of an overactive intellect on the emotions. Separately they give two very different views of a universal human drama. Together they illustrate the beginnings of an illustrious career.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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