91 books like The Custom of the Country

By Edith Wharton,

Here are 91 books that The Custom of the Country fans have personally recommended if you like The Custom of the Country. 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 Emma

Charisse Cooke Author Of The Attachment Solution: How to develop secure, strong and lasting relationships

From my list on how to create a great relationship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was fortunate enough to meet my husband over 17 years ago, and we have packed a lot of life in since then. Along with two kids and a dog, we’ve had our fair share of tough moments: financial challenges, bereavement, family issues, marital disagreement, and traumatic life events that taught me just as much as my two decades-long career as a relationship psychotherapist has. This, combined with working with individuals, couples, and partners in search of what love means and how to practically go about achieving it, has clarified for me just how much we all need tools and teachings when it comes to matters of the heart.

Charisse's book list on how to create a great relationship

Charisse Cooke Why did Charisse love this book?

Jane Austen would have made such a great therapist! Her razor-sharp observations, combined with profound insights into people and relationships, make this book an all-time favorite of mine. I love her descriptions of falling in (and out of) love and how fallible each of her characters is, reminding us of our humanity–especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

What also strikes me is how true it is that pride, image, and status can still play out in our more modern relationships today. This book feels very old-fashioned in places, but it warns us how easily we can hurt other people and damage relationships, sometimes irrevocably. There’s a lot to learn from Emma, and I enjoy seeing relationships depicted in fiction, where so much can be explored through a fascinating and absorbing story, too.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Her masterpiece, mixing the sparkle of her early books with a deep sensibility' Robert McCrum, Observer

Although described by Jane Austen as a character 'whom no one but myself will much like', the irrepressible Emma Woodhouse is one of her most beloved heroines. Clever, rich and beautiful, she sees no need for marriage, but loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen's novel of youthful exuberance and gradual self-knowledge is a brilliant, sparkling comic masterpiece.

Edited with an Introduction by FIONA STAFFORD


Book cover of Gone Girl

Heidi Matonis Author Of Imagining Monticello

From my list on smart thrillers for women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the ultimate dilettante. I consume huge amounts of history, literature, and current events. I am not interested in dumbing down what I write. I am endlessly curious and assume my readers are also. I started writing during the pandemic and have not quit. I have completed three novels and have been an avid reader my entire life. Join me!

Heidi's book list on smart thrillers for women

Heidi Matonis Why did Heidi love this book?

This book is a smart pop culture thriller. I’ve read it twice to examine how Gillian Flynn crafts her suspenseful-filled sequences.

What I enjoyed most about this book was how unpredictable it was. I find it very rare for a thriller to be so well-written and believable. Amy, the protagonist, is so incredibly cunning, always one step ahead of Nick and the reader

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


Book cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Laura Giebfried Author Of None Shall Sleep

From my list on mystery that takes you into the characters head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been intrigued with the mind for as long as I can remember. As a child, I imagined shrinking myself down and worming my way into other people’s brains to discover how their thoughts differed from mine. When I realized that was impossible, I started creating characters and imagining how they would think, react, and feel. This led to writing novels and motivated me to get my bachelor’s in abnormal psychology and my master’s in forensic psychology. Now, with an innate curiosity for the mind and a background in how it works, I find myself drawn to reading and writing books that take me into characters’ heads.

Laura's book list on mystery that takes you into the characters head

Laura Giebfried Why did Laura love this book?

I didn’t get pulled into one character’s head in this book, but two. What I enjoyed most about this book is that the balance between the mystery and the characters’ struggles is equal throughout. I cared about both protagonists and was routing for them to achieve their goals (and defeat their enemies) while anxiously awaiting the resolution to the mystery.

While reading, I often had to stop ruminating about the kinds of people in the world. This book is dark, exhilarating, and sometimes horrifying–and I loved every page of it.

By Stieg Larsson,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly-knit but dysfunctional family.

He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history.

But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and…


Book cover of Vanity Fair

Cinda Gault Author Of A Small Compass

From my list on going on the road.

Why am I passionate about this?

Historical fiction meets the picaresque in many novels about going on the road. As a fiction writer, my narrative tools are not forged in a vacuum. I stand on the shoulders of centuries of writers who invented the novel form and developed it through its beginnings in romance and all its permutations since. In my new book, I am following innovations in two genres. In historical romance, romance “fell” into history. What was lost in the historical world could be made up in the romance of heroic characters. In the picaresque, characters belonging to the lower echelons of society “go on the road” for all sorts of reasons, mostly to survive.

Cinda's book list on going on the road

Cinda Gault Why did Cinda love this book?

Becky Sharpe is a character impossible to forget.

Through all the twists and turns of this plot, Becky shows herself to be both conniving and resilient in her quest to use those around her for her own gain. While not an attractive rendition of human nature, she forever has a wolf at her door and does what she thinks she must to stay one step ahead.

One gets whiplash from sympathizing with her one minute and being appalled by her lack of scruples the next, but, like all the characters she hoodwinks, we are captivated by her as someone who is never boring. She hops from one doomed circumstance to the next, and we are along for the ride.

By William Makepeace Thackeray,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Vanity Fair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair depicts the anarchic anti-heroine Beky Sharpe cutting a swathe through the eligible young men of Europe, set against a lucid backdrop of war and international chaos. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by John Carey.

No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia Sedley, however, longs only for the caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour…


Book cover of Far from the Madding Crowd

Kate Wells Author Of Murder on the Farm

From my list on taking you into the world of farming.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved the Malvern Hills my whole life, first living on a sheep farm at their foot and then in my great-grandparents’ old house at the very top. As a teenager I fell for a farmer’s son (now my husband) and spent all my time on his Herefordshire farm. My upbringing firmly engrained a deep love of rural life into me, so it was natural it became integral to my writing. To write with authenticity about a way of life I am so passionate about, I immerse myself in farming research and keep my hand in on a local farm when it comes to busy times such as lambing.

Kate's book list on taking you into the world of farming

Kate Wells Why did Kate love this book?

I first read this classic story in my teens and was instantly besotted by Hardy’s farming world and the characters he filled it with. It is still the one I would take with me to my desert island if I was only allowed a single book to keep me company.

And what company I’d be in. Bathsheba Everdene is the ultimate in strong female protagonists and she was carving her path as a farmer in a man’s world long before she inspired me to write about my own feisty heroine, Jude Gray. 

As a student I fell in love with Bathsheba’s steady shepherd, Gabriel Oak, and their pitted, frustrating but ultimately wonderful relationship is still one of the best love stories I’ve lost myself in.

By Thomas Hardy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Far from the Madding Crowd as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its new range of best-loved, essential classics. Here is one of Thomas Hardy's most popular novels, soon to be released as a major motion picture in May 2015.

'I shall do one thing in this life - one thing certain - that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die'

Independent and spirited, Bathsheba Everdene owns the hearts of three men. Striving to win her love in different ways, their relationships with Bathsheba complicate her life in bucolic Wessex - and cast shadows over their own. With the morals…


Book cover of O Pioneers!

Eleanor Wilton Author Of Agnes Merriweather

From my list on classics featuring exceptional female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first read and fell in love with Jane Austen's novels at the age of thirteen, and thus began a lifelong enthusiasm for nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century literature. Though I studied English Literature and Art History at university, I embarked on a professional career working in an entirely unrelated field. I never lost my childhood desire to write fiction. Inspiration came, as it will, unexpectedly. I sat down one day in the grand Reading Room of the New York Public Library, pad and pen in hand, and began to write. I happened to be suffering a spell of insomnia at the time, and before I knew it, I had a draft of my first novel.

Eleanor's book list on classics featuring exceptional female protagonists

Eleanor Wilton Why did Eleanor love this book?

It is impossible to separate Cather’s heroine Alexandra Bergson from the Nebraska prairie she farms.

Alexandra’s character mirrors the land she, as the eldest child, inherited from her father and which she devotes her life to working. When other families give up, sell off, and move on, she doggedly remains through harsh winters and, against all likelihood, prospers as an unmarried woman managing a vast expanse of land.

Like the land, she remains both knowable and unknowable, at once harsh and majestic.

Possessing an external manner that is reticent, internally hers is an indomitable spirit. She is among the most inimitable of women to have ever appeared in print.

By Willa Sibert Cather,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the turn of the twentieth century. When their father dies young, exhausted by the failure of his attempts at agriculture, it is left to the visionary Alexandra to guide the family to prosperity and safeguard the fortune of her brothers. Strong-willed and fiercely independent, she succeeds against all odds, but only at the cost of her own fulfilment as a woman. Central to the novel's action is the Nebraskan landscape it describes, by turns unyielding and fruitful, bitter and ecstatic.O Pioneers! joins Cather's My Antonia in Everyman's Library.


Book cover of Ivanhoe

Gina Detwiler Author Of The Hammer of God

From my list on the Middle Ages with medieval warrior heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for the Middle Ages began with castles. I lived in Germany for a time, where there are a lot of castles, and I got sucked into the whole romantic notion of living a castle life, though I’d probably have been more of a scullery maid than a princess. When I decided to try writing a novel, I figured castles had to be involved somehow. I started doing research on medieval subjects that would make a good book. Unfortunately, the time period I ended up choosing for my novel was the early 8th century—no castles. I spent over twenty years researching and writing my novel, so I hope I learned something. 

Gina's book list on the Middle Ages with medieval warrior heroes

Gina Detwiler Why did Gina love this book?

The prose of this classic novel can be a little sticky to our 21st-century sensibilities, but in all other ways, Scott is a modern writer, addressing the issues of anti-Semitism and the corruption of the Church at a time when those things weren’t cool. Plus, we have another awesome warrior-hero in Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe and jousting to boot. Who doesn’t love a good tourney? My daughter and I hit the Renaissance Faires every year just to see men pretend to stab each other from horseback with long sticks. The plotting of this book is simply perfection—they just don’t write them like this anymore. It’s a hero’s tale with a big dollop of romance—my favorite.

By Walter Scott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ivanhoe is set in England in the 1190s, over a century after the Norman Conquest which saw William the Conqueror seize the English throne. A wealthy nobleman named Cedric, who is intent on restoring a Saxon to the throne, plans to wed Rowena, a beautiful young woman who is his ward, to the Saxon Athelstane of Coningsburgh. There’s just one small problem: Rowena has fallen in love with Cedric’s son, Wilfred of Ivanhoe. To get him out of the way so Rowena will marry Athelstane, Cedric banishes his own son from the kingdom. Ivanhoe (as Wilfred is known, by his…


Book cover of Mildred Pierce

Glenn Kaplan Author Of Angel of Ambition

From my list on fearless females in fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Maybe because I was raised by strong, independent women. Maybe because I went to an all-women’s college for a bit. Or maybe because I worked with so many powerful women in advertising. All those things combined to create my interest in fearless females in fiction. Women with natural ambition and power needs have many more obstacles put in their way than men do. For me, the character of Angela, the “angel” in Angel of Ambition, emerged naturally. She is part and parcel of the best and worst traits of the fearless females I’ve known in life and the fearless females in fiction that I’ve sometimes loathed and, in the end, always loved.

Glenn's book list on fearless females in fiction

Glenn Kaplan Why did Glenn love this book?

Mildred starts out trying to fulfill all the traditional roles society expects of women as a wife and mother.  But she discovers, through travails, that she is too smart, too talented, and too natively ambitious to settle for those limitations. As Mildred gains success in the “man’s world,” she becomes the provider for everyone around her. She learns the bitterest lessons imaginable as her men and her daughter, first use her, then betray her. Against her will, Mildred Pierce becomes a fearless female in a cold cruel world. She triumphs in the end as a woman of courage, relying not on the unreliable love of others, but on her own independent spirit.

By James M. Cain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Mildred Pierce, noir master James M. Cain creates a novel of acute social observation and devasting emotional violence, with a heroine whose ambitions and sufferings are never less than recognizable.

Mildred Pierce had gorgeous legs, a way with a skillet, and a bone-deep core of toughness. She used those attributes to survive a divorce and poverty and to claw her way out of the lower middle class. But Mildred also had two weaknesses: a yen for shiftless men, and an unreasoning devotion to a monstrous daughter.


Book cover of The Shield of Three Lions

Christina Dudley Author Of The Naturalist

From my list on when you dream of waking up in a period drama.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of traditional Regency romances who would be happy to let everyone fight over Mr. Darcy while I sneak off with Captain Wentworth. If period dramas are dress-up for grown-ups, the best historical fiction is nothing less than a trip in a time machine, no Dramamine required. So if you’ve ever dreamed of being knocked over the head and waking up in a Jane Austen novel, you’re not alone. Come join me in one of my Regencies. I’ll save you a glass of ratafia.

Christina's book list on when you dream of waking up in a period drama

Christina Dudley Why did Christina love this book?

I still remember the day I bought Kaufman’s book in a London bookstore near Westminster Abbey—a girl disguises herself as a boy in medieval England and goes in search of the king, so her estate can be restored. Sign me up! It was my first encounter with the magic of historical fiction, the best of which is immersive and alive, without dull data dumps or jarring anachronisms. This wonderful (and, for me, life-changing) story ticks all my boxes: smart heroine; rich, real characters; scenery that doesn’t creak; and a thumping good romance. Last, but absolutely not least, The Shield of Three Lions is stuffed with hilarious lines and scenes. An author who can make me laugh? Her price is far above rubies.

By Pamela Kaufman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first novel in the Alix of Wanthwaite series, by bestselling author Pamela Kaufman.

Eleven-year-old Alix is the daughter of the baron of Wanthwaite, whose lands along the Scottish border are among the best in England. But when her family is killed and her lands seized, Alix is forced to flee from the only home she’s ever known. Her one hope of restoring her inheritance is to plead her case to King Richard the Lion Heart, who is far away in France, preparing to go on his Crusade. Alix resolves to follow him. She cuts her hair, dresses as a…


Book cover of Hornblower and the Hotspur

Christina Dudley Author Of The Naturalist

From my list on when you dream of waking up in a period drama.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer of traditional Regency romances who would be happy to let everyone fight over Mr. Darcy while I sneak off with Captain Wentworth. If period dramas are dress-up for grown-ups, the best historical fiction is nothing less than a trip in a time machine, no Dramamine required. So if you’ve ever dreamed of being knocked over the head and waking up in a Jane Austen novel, you’re not alone. Come join me in one of my Regencies. I’ll save you a glass of ratafia.

Christina's book list on when you dream of waking up in a period drama

Christina Dudley Why did Christina love this book?

As an author of Regency romances, I think of Forester’s Hornblower novels as the guy-friendly equivalents, and I tried and tried to get my son to read these. Sigh. The series follows a Royal Navy man during the Napoleonic Wars, from his days as a lowly midshipman to his zenith as an admiral, and every last book in the series is so stinking good. Forester writes the most bang-up action scenes and has researched the heck out of everything, without ever bludgeoning you over the head with it. His characters are alive—flawed and fascinating and funny. In short, if this man weren’t dead for the last sixty years, I would marry him.

By C. S. Forester,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An important contribution to the economic literature, this book provides a systematic analysis of the problems of economic growth and stability presented by the changing role of energy in modern economics. The result of a massive study by the author of the effects of energy and energy shocks on the world economy, the volume is organized around the theme that energy is an integral feature of the economy and that any interpretation of short-term movements in economic activity is likely to be seriously at fault if it neglects energy supply changes and their repercussions. The author takes both an historical…


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