10 books like The Emperor's Children

By Claire Messud,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Emperor's Children. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Bonfire of the Vanities

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of The Bonfire of the Vanities

A social satire that perfectly captured the greed and arrogance of the 1980s. Sherman Helmsly is a master of the universe, a rich bond trader with a penthouse in New York, and a randy mistress—until he accidentally runs over a black boy in the Bronx. The result is a political scandal that reaches from the mayor’s office to the tabloids, with many memorable characters and acute parodies of the era. Those who lived in or followed the scandals of the city at the time—from Tawana Brawley to Ivan Boesky—will recognize several real people and stories in this fiction.

The Bonfire of the Vanities

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Bonfire of the Vanities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exhilarating satire of Eighties excess that captures the effervescent spirit of New York, from one of the greatest writers of modern American prose

Sherman McCoy is a WASP, bond trader and self-appointed 'Master of the Universe'. He has a fashionable wife, a Park Avenue apartment and a Southern mistress. His spectacular fall begins the moment he is involved in a hit-and-run accident in the Bronx. Prosecutors, newspaper hacks, politicians and clergy close in on him, determined to bring him down.

Exuberant, scandalous and exceptionally discerning, The Bonfire of the Vanities was Tom Wolfe's first venture into fiction and cemented…


The Snakes

By Sadie Jones,

Book cover of The Snakes

A dark psychological thriller, The Snakes is a study of greed, and how feelings of deprivation and jealousy can infect a family and destroy each of its members slowly and painfully, from the inside out. The novel is a slow-burn character portrait (versus, say, plot-driven adventure), but Sadie Jones does a terrific job of pulling you into the story and ratcheting up the tension. In the novel, a recently married couple rents out their London apartment to escape for a few months. Driving through France, they visit the wife’s brother at a hotel he runs. When their parents make a surprise visit, the story—and the family—unravels brilliantly until the final delicious, electrifying ending.

The Snakes

By Sadie Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Read the all-consuming story of a family whose worst sins come back to bite them from the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Outcast

'A menacing beautifully written novel' Guardian

'Unsettling, thought-provoking' Heat

Bea and Dan, recently married, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea's dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.

When Alex and Bea's parents make a surprise visit, Dan can't understand…


The Darlings

By Cristina Alger,

Book cover of The Darlings

From the first scene of The Darlings, Christina Alger plunges you into the lives of the fabulously wealthy. The daughter of a Wall Street financier, Alger grew up in this world, and her experience and insight make the book sing. The Darlings is fast-paced and compulsively readable, and the characters are well-drawn and authentic. This novel includes everything I love: financial crimes, shocking scandals, lots of details, and terrific storytelling. 

The Darlings

By Cristina Alger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Cristina Alger's debut novel offers a fresh and modern glimpse into New York's high society. I was hooked from page one' Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada

From the author of The Banker's Wife and Girls Like Us comes an explosive drama about family, greed and high society scandal.

The Darlings of New York are untouchable. But no one is safe from a scandal this big.

When Carter Darling's business partner commits suicide, it triggers a huge financial investigation.

The allegations are serious. The danger of it exposing their private lives is equally threatening.

In times of crisis,…


Very Cold People

By Sarah Manguso,

Book cover of Very Cold People

Very Cold People is an atmospheric, sharply observed coming-of-age novel set in an old money town called Waitsfield, outside Boston. Ruthie, the narrator, is not wealthy at all, and her story is one of slights, deprivation, and wanting. Everyone is hiding something, including Ruthie and her family, and Sarah Manguso ratchets up the tension as the book unfolds, and their secrets are revealed. 

Very Cold People

By Sarah Manguso,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The masterly debut novel from “an exquisitely astute writer” (The Boston Globe), about growing up in—and out of—the suffocating constraints of small-town America.
 
“Compact and beautiful . . . This novel bordering on a novella punches above its weight.”—The New York Times

“Very Cold People reminded me of My Brilliant Friend.”—The New Yorker

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, NPR, Good Housekeeping

“My parents didn’t belong in Waitsfield, but they moved there anyway.”

For Ruthie, the frozen town of Waitsfield, Massachusetts, is all she has ever known.

Once home to the country’s oldest and most…


Monster Island

By David Wellington,

Book cover of Monster Island: A Zombie Novel

I recommend this series because it was the first that I read where there were intelligent zombies. I also found it fascinating that this series realized that humans could be the monsters, even in a zombie outbreak. There are a lot of people who continue to get excited at the thought of a zombie outbreak, but I am not excited because I worry that the human monsters will be more frightening. 

Monster Island

By David Wellington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's one month after a global disaster. The most "developed" nations of the world have fallen to the shambling zombie masses. Only a few pockets of humanity survive -- in places rife with high-powered weaponry, such as Somalia. In New York City, the dead walk the streets, driven by an insatiable hunger for all things living. One amongst them is different; though he shares their appetites he has retained his human intelligence. Alone among the mindless zombies, Gary Fleck is an eyewitness to the end of the world -- and perhaps the evil genius behind it all. From the other…


This Beautiful Life

By Helen Schulman,

Book cover of This Beautiful Life

A painful examination of all that’s at stake when kids make bad decisions, This Beautiful Life made me reflect on the pressure contemporary kids feel to be beyond reproach while growing up amid the instant connectivity and permanent consequences of the internet age. Like Testimony, Schulman’s novel begins with a video, this time one whose ramifications are amplified and complicated as it goes viral in a matter of hours.

A gripping early scene dramatizes the split second when fifteen-year-old Jake Bergamot makes the fateful choice to forward a video he’s received to a friend. The scandal that ensues threatens not only Jake, but his entire family’s “beautiful life.” Rather than a boarding school, this novel is set at an elite Manhattan private school where the social strata among parents are even more painfully felt. As the story unfolds, this book takes readers even deeper into the mom’s head—a delightful place…

This Beautiful Life

By Helen Schulman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"ThisBeautiful Life is a gripping, potent and blisteringly well-written story offamily, dilemma, and consequence. . . . I read this book with white-knuckledurgency, and I finished it in tears. Helen Schulman is an absolutely brilliantnovelist." —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
 

Theevents of a single night shatter one family’s sense of security and identity inthis provocative and deeply affecting domestic drama from Helen Schulman, theacclaimed author of A Day at the Beach and Out of Time. In thetradition of Lionel Shriver, Sue Miller, and Laura Moriarty, Schulman crafts abrilliantly observed portrait of parenting and modern life, cunningly exploringour most…


Low Life

By Luc Sante,

Book cover of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

Another classic—albeit of a far different type—Lucy Sante uncovers the underbelly of 19th- and early 20th-century New York, a world filled with pimps, madams, gamblers, con men, and crooked cops. But this book is more than just a collection of stories about colorful characters. It’s also a meditation on the city’s secrets and the allure of danger and darkness. I dealt with some of the same themes in my own book and had no better model to emulate than this groundbreaking work.

Low Life

By Luc Sante,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lucy Sante's Low Life is a portrait of America's greatest city, the riotous and anarchic breeding ground of modernity.

This is not the familiar saga of mansions, avenues, and robber barons, but the messy, turbulent, often murderous story of the city's slums; the teeming streets--scene of innumerable cons and crimes whose cramped and overcrowded housing is still a prominent feature of the cityscape.

Low Life voyages through Manhattan from four different directions. Part One examines the actual topography of Manhattan from 1840 to 1919; Part Two, the era's opportunities for vice and entertainment--theaters and saloons, opium and cocaine dens, gambling…


The Downtown Book

By Marvin J. Taylor (editor),

Book cover of The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene 1974-1984

This is the primer for everything Downtown during arguably Downtown’s greatest era. The contributions are first-rate, by people who were on the scene, and it’s a handsome book to hold. If you’re interested in anything from Punk and Patti Smith to Haring, Basquiat, and Afrika Bambaataa, this is the place to start, without nostalgia, agenda, or hype.

The Downtown Book

By Marvin J. Taylor (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Downtown is more than just a location, it's an attitude--and in the 1970s and '80s, that attitude forever changed the face of America. This book charts the intricate web of influences that shaped the generation of experimental and outsider artists working in Downtown New York during the crucial decade from 1974 to 1984. Published in conjunction with the first major exhibition of downtown art (organized by New York University's Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library), The Downtown Book brings the Downtown art scene to life, exploring everything from Punk rock to performance art. The book probes trends that arose in…


Manhattan, When I Was Young

By Mary Cantwell,

Book cover of Manhattan, When I Was Young

This is an elegant, finely written memoir by a former writer and editor at Vogue, Mademoiselle and the New York Times that offers an interesting hook: her story is set in five different apartments in Manhattan as her life progresses from single working girl to professional and personal success and hardships including motherhood and divorce. If you’ve ever dreamed of working at a magazine in New York City - particularly during this golden period, then this is the book for you.

Manhattan, When I Was Young

By Mary Cantwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manhattan, When I Was Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mary Cantwell arrived in Manhattan one summer in the early 1950s with $80, a portable typewriter, a wardrobe of unsuitable clothes, a copy of The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a boyfriend she was worried might be involved with the Communists and no idea how to live on her own. She moved to the Village because she had heard of it and worked at Mademoiselle because that was where the employment agency sent her.

In this evocative unflinching book Cantwell recalls the city she knew then by revisiting five apartments in which she lived. Her memoir vividly recreates both a…


Taming Manhattan

By Catherine McNeur,

Book cover of Taming Manhattan: Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City

This book revealed a pastoral Manhattan few of us could imagine, including feral pigs that roamed the streets, and horses that transported everything and everyone around town. Set in the transformative 1800s when New York City underwent unprecedented urbanization, this book shows how farmers and other New Yorkers who worked the land were ultimately squeezed from Manhattan for more profitable tenants, and how Central Park, and other open spaces, sought to replicate all that recently displaced nature.   

Taming Manhattan

By Catherine McNeur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

George Perkins Marsh Prize, American Society for Environmental History
VSNY Book Award, New York Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America
Hornblower Award for a First Book, New York Society Library
James Broussard Best First Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic

With pigs roaming the streets and cows foraging in the Battery, antebellum Manhattan would have been unrecognizable to inhabitants of today's sprawling metropolis. Fruits and vegetables came from small market gardens in the city, and manure piled high on streets and docks was gold to nearby farmers. But as Catherine McNeur reveals in this…


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