100 books like The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

By Henry James, Leon Edel, Lyall H. Powers

Here are 100 books that The Complete Notebooks of Henry James fans have personally recommended if you like The Complete Notebooks of Henry James. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ 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 Understanding Fiction

William H. Coles Author Of The Art of Creating Story

From my list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author of literary fiction and nonfiction on the creative writing process. My passion is to provide resources for writers who want to create stories as artful literature that will last. A few years ago, I created a website that contains all my fiction and non-fiction, a newsletter, a workshop, and a blog. The website has received over five million visits. I've published six novels, thirty-seven short stories, thirty essays, twenty-six interviews, and dozens of literary quizzes. My fiction has received over fifty+ awards. I’ve written and presented an online video course: Creating Literary Story with Thinkific. I continue to serve writers who are eager to improve.

William's book list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story

William H. Coles Why did William love this book?

Well-chosen stories with commentary that makes sense. A classic. Both authors were founders with others of The Fugitives, who published for a short time a literary magazine at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee. Both were giants in the expanding popularity of fiction writing. As a teacher of creative writing and creating great fiction stories, I have found the wisdom of these writers essential in nurturing writers to elevate their work and careers.

By Cleanth Brooks (editor), Robert Penn Warren (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ample collection of short stories, with essays, notes and questions for each.


Book cover of Creative Mythology

William H. Coles Author Of The Art of Creating Story

From my list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author of literary fiction and nonfiction on the creative writing process. My passion is to provide resources for writers who want to create stories as artful literature that will last. A few years ago, I created a website that contains all my fiction and non-fiction, a newsletter, a workshop, and a blog. The website has received over five million visits. I've published six novels, thirty-seven short stories, thirty essays, twenty-six interviews, and dozens of literary quizzes. My fiction has received over fifty+ awards. I’ve written and presented an online video course: Creating Literary Story with Thinkific. I continue to serve writers who are eager to improve.

William's book list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story

William H. Coles Why did William love this book?

This book, and others by Campbell, has valuable ideas about humanity and mythology that are endlessly useful to fiction writers. Not about craft. About stories. And you’ll get a sense of how stories shape our world. And it has the effects of myth on human existence, fascinating from both a historic and cultural perspective.

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume explores the whole inner story of modern culture since the Dark Ages, treating modern man's unique position as the creator of his own mythology.


Book cover of The Rhetoric of Fiction

William H. Coles Author Of The Art of Creating Story

From my list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author of literary fiction and nonfiction on the creative writing process. My passion is to provide resources for writers who want to create stories as artful literature that will last. A few years ago, I created a website that contains all my fiction and non-fiction, a newsletter, a workshop, and a blog. The website has received over five million visits. I've published six novels, thirty-seven short stories, thirty essays, twenty-six interviews, and dozens of literary quizzes. My fiction has received over fifty+ awards. I’ve written and presented an online video course: Creating Literary Story with Thinkific. I continue to serve writers who are eager to improve.

William's book list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story

William H. Coles Why did William love this book?

Almost without argument, the most in-depth and illuminating text on narration in fiction writing. This book is essential to the library of any serious author of fiction. Written from the perception of a successful academic career, it has credible detail explained with creative insights into the writing process. A worthy addition to a library for reference throughout a writing career.

By Wayne C. Booth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first edition of The Rhetoric of Fiction transformed the criticism of fiction and soon became a classic in the field. One of the most widely used texts in fiction courses, it is a standard reference point in advanced discussions of how fictional form works, how authors make novels accessible, and how readers recreate texts, and its concepts and terms-such as "the implied author," "the postulated reader," and "the unreliable narrator"-have become part of the standard critical lexicon.

For this new edition, Wayne C. Booth has written an extensive Afterword in which he clarifies misunderstandings, corrects what he now views…


Book cover of Writers at Work, Second Series: the Paris Review Interviews, Second Series (Writers at Work)

William H. Coles Author Of The Art of Creating Story

From my list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author of literary fiction and nonfiction on the creative writing process. My passion is to provide resources for writers who want to create stories as artful literature that will last. A few years ago, I created a website that contains all my fiction and non-fiction, a newsletter, a workshop, and a blog. The website has received over five million visits. I've published six novels, thirty-seven short stories, thirty essays, twenty-six interviews, and dozens of literary quizzes. My fiction has received over fifty+ awards. I’ve written and presented an online video course: Creating Literary Story with Thinkific. I continue to serve writers who are eager to improve.

William's book list on improving your prose writing and creation of fiction story

William H. Coles Why did William love this book?

This is the second of four books of the collected interviews of famous authors from the Paris Review. Hemingway, Moore, Porter, Ellison, and Huxley are among the fourteen included in this book. Other books in the series include Forster, Faulkner, Warren, Bellow, Welty, Dinesen, Steinbeck, and many others. You may be amazed at how different successful writers are in their thinking about writing and success in their careers. In my studies in over a hundred workshops and many lectures and seminars, I was fortunate to meet and know teachers and students who knew, or studied, with many of these authors. Experiences that make me think you’d value most of Plimpton’s work in this series.

By George Plimpton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writers at Work, Second Series as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

TWO BOOK OFFER. "Writers at Work -- The Paris Review Interviews: First Series and Second Series". Viking Press Paperbacks, copyrights 1957 and 1963; Compass Books Editions issued in1961 and 1965. First Series (Compass No. C52) 3rd printing Nov 1961, 309 pp. Second Series (Compass No. C175) 3rd printing July 1966, 368 pp. Both books size 7 3/4" by 5" by about 3/4". Bindings intact; no loose or missing pages; spines not creased. First Series volume is in only GOOD condition: covers and pages are clean and unmarked EXCEPT the covers show moderate shelf wear, the front cover opens wide, and…


Book cover of Célestine: Voices from a French Village

Catherine Hewitt Author Of The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret

From my list on France and women since the Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for 19th-century French art, literature, and social history was enkindled in academia, but when my doctoral research uncovered the remarkable story of a forgotten 19th-century courtesan, I set out on a career in biography. During the 19th century, the ‘woman question’ was marked by both radical change and fierce dispute. Based on careful research, my writing seeks to lift this history out of the dusty annals of academia and bring its characters and events vividly to life for the 21st-century reader. My books introduce real women, piecing their stories back together in intimate detail so that readers can really share their successes and frustrations.

Catherine's book list on France and women since the Revolution

Catherine Hewitt Why did Catherine love this book?

A dusty bundle of 150-year-old letters found in a deserted house in rural France forms the premise of this intriguing literary hybrid. Author Gillian Tindall beckons us to follow her on an enthralling, real-life detective story, as she uncovers the life and loves of the letters’ addressee, an obscure provincial innkeeper’s daughter named Célestine Chaumettte. As she pieces Célestine’s story together, Tindall breathes life back into a whole slice of history and a community now vanished. A rich cast of forgotten characters springs from the pages as we see, taste, and smell the many textures of rural society in 19th-century France, along with the seasons and cycles that governed it. This evocative, haunting account of a country girl’s experience and place within this world really is social history at its best.

By Gillian Tindall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seven marriage proposals written to Celestine in the early 1860s, and carefully preserved by her, offer a glimpse of rural nineteenth century French life


Book cover of The Wandering Earth

John Elkington Author Of Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism

From my list on green sci-fi books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been fascinated by history – and by the future. As a Boomer, born in 1949, I have surfed successive environmental, green, and sustainability waves. Since 1978, I have co-founded four businesses in the field, all of which still exist. I am now Chief Pollinator at Volans. I have served on some 80 boards and advisory boards and spoken at nearly 2000 major events worldwide. And I have authored or co-authored 20 books, including the million-selling Green Consumer Guide series from 1988. Science fiction has been a constant inspiration. The books I have picked are generally optimistic, in contrast to dystopias like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Finally, given the richness of this area of fiction, we can be sure that there are many many other green sci-fi shortlists out there waiting to be published, including ones featuring women like Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.

John's book list on green sci-fi books

John Elkington Why did John love this book?

Countries tend to produce great science fiction when they are developing fast  like Britain and France did in Victorian times — think HG Wells and Jules Verne—and the US did in the post-WWII era (from Asimov to Zubrin). Given how fast China has been developing, it should come as no surprise that sci-fi has been booming there. And given how central a role China will play in the rest of the 21st century, we should be reading more of it. Like many people, I came across Liu Cixin through his novel, The Three-Body Problem. The Wandering Earth, by contrast, started out as a novella and was turned into a smash-hit film of the same name.

By Cixin Liu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A #1 BLOCKBUSTING FILM.

The Sun is dying. Earth will perish too, consumed by the star in its final death throes. But rather than abandon their planet, humanity builds 12,000 mountainous fusion engines to propel the Earth out of orbit and onto a centuries-long voyage to Proxima Centaurai...

Cixin Liu is one of the most important voices in world Science Fiction. A bestseller in China, his novel, The Three-Body Problem, was the first translated work of SF ever to win the Hugo Award.

Here is the first collection of his short fiction: ten stories, including five Chinese Galaxy Award-winners.…


Book cover of Birdsong

Victoria Browne Author Of Gut Feeling

From my list on vacation reads about love and friendship.

Why am I passionate about this?

Romance and chick-lit books hooked me as a young adult. It was this genre that inspired me to write. Since publishing my first book Gut Feeling in 2012 I’ve since written three chick-lit novels and a holiday rom-com screenplay. The fiction world of perfectly unperfect romance never fails.   

Victoria's book list on vacation reads about love and friendship

Victoria Browne Why did Victoria love this book?

This is the most touching love story I have ever read. I do not tend to read period dramas, and so I was hesitant to read a book set during the first world war. However, this book had me in tears so many times. I read this book over ten years ago, yet it is still my favorite love story of all time to date. Beautiful, just beautiful.

By Sebastian Faulks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set before and during the Great War, Birdsong captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. His life goes through a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experience of the war itself.


Book cover of Midnight in Europe

Alan Cook Author Of East of the Wall

From my list on fiction and nonfiction about spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been intrigued by history, fictional and nonfictional. Unfortunately, warfare is a large part of history and spying is an important part of warfare, and is as old as warfare itself. If you want to win the war you need to know as much as possible about what your enemy is planning to do. I am also a puzzle solver, and making and breaking codes play a large part in spying. I have traveled widely and been to most of the places I write about. However, I am a pacifist at heart, and I keep looking for the key to world peace.

Alan's book list on fiction and nonfiction about spies

Alan Cook Why did Alan love this book?

This is a good book to read if you want to know what it felt like to be in France or other European countries in 1938 before the start of World War II when my father was saying how bad Hitler was but people didn’t believe it. Bad things were already happening and much worse things were to come. In some places you couldn't trust anybody because everybody could be a spy. People who lived in France and didn't want to leave had to face the fact that if they didn't they might lose their freedom and their lives. Franco was leading a revolution to take over Spain, and he had help from the Axis powers. This is an excellent spy novel with an accurate historical setting.

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Paris, 1938. Democratic forces are locked in struggle as the shadow of war edges over Europe.

Cristian Ferrar, a handsome Spanish lawyer in Paris, is approached to help a clandestine agency supply weapons to beleaguered Republican forces. He agrees, putting his life on the line.

Joining Ferrar in his mission is an unlikely group of allies: idealists and gangsters, arms dealers, aristocrats and spies. From libertine nightclubs in Paris to shady bars by the docks in Gdansk, Furst paints a spell-binding portrait of a continent marching into a nightmare - and the heroes and heroines who fought back.


Book cover of The Vanished Collection

Lilianne Milgrom Author Of L'Origine: The Secret Life of the World's Most Erotic Masterpiece

From my list on France that go beyond the rom com.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Paris-born, award-winning artist and author. Although I have lived on four continents, France is in my blood and draws me back time and again. It’s no surprise that countless novels are set in France – and Paris in particular. My debut historical fiction L’Origine: The secret life of the world’s most erotic masterpiece marries my three passions – History (I majored in French history), Art, and Literature. I'm the recipient of six literary honors and my freelance articles and blog posts can be found on platforms such as HuffPost, France Magazine, DailyArt Magazine, Bonjour Paris, The Book Commentary, and BookBrunch. I hope you enjoy the eclectic range of books on my recommended list!

Lilianne's book list on France that go beyond the rom com

Lilianne Milgrom Why did Lilianne love this book?

Pauline Baer de Perignon doesn’t hold anything back – she puts her ego aside as she shares her secret ambitions, doubts and insecurities, triumphs and frustrations on her mission to uncover a distressing chapter in her family’s history. The rhythm and pace are indicative of a book translated from the French - a slow-moving train rather than a speeding locomotive, but that just enhanced the feeling of accompanying the author on her passionate yet painful quest in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

By Pauline Baer de Perignon, Natasha Lehrer (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A charming and heartfelt story about war, art, and the lengths a woman will go to find the truth about her family.

'As devourable as a thriller... Incredibly moving' Elle
'Pauline Baer de Perignon is a natural storyteller - refreshingly honest, curious and open' Menachem Kaiser
'A terrific book' Le Point

It all started with a list of paintings. There, scribbled by a cousin she hadn't seen for years, were the names of the masters whose works once belonged to her great-grandfather, Jules Strauss: Renoir, Monet, Degas, Tiepolo and more. Pauline Baer de Perignon knew little to nothing about Strauss,…


Book cover of The Autumn of the Middle Ages

Robert Bartlett Author Of Blood Royal: Dynastic Politics in Medieval Europe

From my list on a look at medieval Europe as a whole.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had an interest in the Middle Ages as long as I can remember. In boyhood, this took the form of model knights, trips to castles, and a huge body of writing about an imaginary medieval country called Rulasia. Later it was disciplined by the study of the real medieval world, in particular by finding an ideal subject for my doctoral dissertation in Gerald of Wales, a prolific and cantankerous twelfth-century cleric, whose writings on Ireland and Wales, on saints and miracles, and on the Angevin kings (Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and John), were the ultimate inspiration for my own books on medieval colonialism, the cult of the saints and medieval dynasties.

Robert's book list on a look at medieval Europe as a whole

Robert Bartlett Why did Robert love this book?

Huizinga’s book was first published more than 100 years ago, in 1919, but it retains its value as a sparkling and original evocation of the world of late medieval Europe: its values, its thought, its violence, and – one of its great strengths - its visual arts. This last is not surprising, since the author’s main focus is on the Netherlands and northern France, where oil painting, the realistic portrait, and the landscape began in European art. The book has been translated into English more than once, with significantly different titles: in 1924 as The Waning of the Middle Ages, then – 72 years later! - as The Autumn of the Middle Ages. In 2020 there appeared yet another version - Autumntide of the Middle Ages. The book is ever young.

By Johan Huizinga, Rodney J. Payton (translator), Ulrich Mammitzsch (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a portrait of life, thought and art in 14th- and 15th-century France and the Netherlands. Regarded as an historical classic by many scholars, it has also been criticized and incorrectly translated. This edition corrects changes made by other translators to the original Dutch text of 1919. For Huizinga, the 14th and 15th centuries marked not the birth of a dramatically new era in history - the Renaissance - but the fullest, ripest phase of medieval life and thought. However, his work was criticized at home and in Europe for being "old-fashioned" and "too literary". Franz Hopman adapted, reduced,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, Victorian, and Paris?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, Victorian, and Paris.

France Explore 884 books about France
Victorian Explore 151 books about Victorian
Paris Explore 353 books about Paris