100 books like The Englishman's Boy

By Guy Vanderhaeghe,

Here are 100 books that The Englishman's Boy fans have personally recommended if you like The Englishman's Boy. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Stone Angel

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

Who would have thought that a novel about a ninety-year-old woman determined to avoid being put into a nursing home would become required reading for high school and university students? And yet this novel has been listed by several sources as one of the greatest Canadian novels ever written. Laurence’s writing style inspired me and gave me the assurance to write about Western Canadian history. It demonstrates one of the reasons why Laurence was named posthumously as “A Person of National Historic Significance” by the Canadian government in 2018.

By Margaret Laurence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. I wonder if she stands there yet...

Hagar Shipley - an irascible, independent nonagenarian - has lived a quiet life full of rage. As she approaches her death, she retreats from the squabbling of her son and his wife to reflect on her past - her ill-advised marriage, her two sons, the harshness of farm life on the prairie, her own failures and the betrayals and failures of others.


Book cover of The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

A mule-drawn wagon train moves precariously along a narrow road carved out of a steep rock wall—this book lives up to the promise of its cover. The book jacket blurb entices lovers of history like me: “British Columbia is regularly described in superlatives both positive and negative—the most spectacular scenery, the strangest political campaigns, the mildest winters, the most rain, the most aggressive resource developers, the biggest peace and environmental movements, the closest Canadian ties to Japan and China, and the richest native culture.” The author, Jean Barman, is one of my mentors and an inspiration to everyone who is interested in British Columbia history.

By Jean Barman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

British Columbia is regularly described in superlatives both positive and negative - most spectacular scenery, strangest politics, greatest environmental sensitivity, richest Aboriginal cultures, most aggressive resource exploitation, closest ties to Asia. Jean Barman's The West beyond the West presents the history of the province in all its diversity and apparent contradictions. This critically acclaimed work is the premiere book on British Columbian history, with a narrative beginning at the point of contact between Native peoples and Europeans and continuing into the twenty-first century. Barman tells the story by focusing not only on the history made by leaders in government but…


Book cover of Broken Ground

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

Jack Hodgins, Western Canada’s literary wunderkind, put Vancouver Island on the literary map with his short stories and novels which demonstrate the truth in the adage “write about what you know”. As a writer I learned this from Jack and I also learned that if I find a subject fascinating my readers will too. In Broken Ground, his seventh novel, Jack writes about World War One veterans, still haunted by the horror of the trenches, as they struggle to farm amid the massive stumps of a former old growth forest.

By Jack Hodgins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Broken Ground is a riveting exploration of the dark, brooding presence of the First World War in the lives of the inhabitants of a “soldier’s settlement” on Vancouver Island. From out of a stubborn, desolate landscape studded with tree stumps, the settlers of Portuguese Creek have built a new life for themselves. But when an encroaching forest fire threatens this fledgling settlement, it also intensifies the remembered horrors of war. The story of Portuguese Creek is told by several of its citizens, including a boy trying to recover from the sudden loss of his father, and a former teacher haunted…


Book cover of The Dunsmuir Saga

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

The late Terry Reksten, a researcher par excellence, spent much of her career writing about Robert Dunsmuir, a former indentured coal miner who became the richest man in British Columbia, and his descendants. Terry devoted most of this book to the building of Craigdarroch Castle and to the way Dunsmuir’s children and grandchildren spent his fortune, but it complements the coal mining books I have written that tell the stories of the men who dug the coal that built that fortune.

By Terry Reksten,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Dunsmuir Saga brings to life three generations of the legendary Dunsmuir family of Vancouver Island.

Robert Dunsmuir -- canny, acquisitive and imaginative -- became the richest man in British Columbia; his sons struggled to consolidate the family fortune; his grandchildren spent it. Award-winning author Terry Reksten brings the members of the Dunsmuir family and their colourful saga to life with her lively writing, vivid anecdotes and careful research. A selection of 50 historical photographs depicts the Dunsmuirs and their grand style of life.


Book cover of Play It as It Lays

Ava Barry Author Of Double Exposure

From my list on cool, culty Los Angeles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to stories of miserable rich people, especially tales of how old money contorts lineage into something rotten. I grew up in Northern California, and while my family was comfortable, we weren’t part of the tennis club and yachting elite. During my childhood, we spent a lot of time exploring abandoned properties. It was a passion that I kept when I moved to Los Angeles as an adult and started to explore forgotten parts of Hollywood’s past. Los Angeles has always fascinated me because it embodies extreme wealth and extreme poverty: like the American dream itself, it straddles both extremes and promises everything while guaranteeing nothing.

Ava's book list on cool, culty Los Angeles

Ava Barry Why did Ava love this book?

I read this book for the first time when I was in high school, and it made me realize that main characters aren’t always good people. Maria Wyeth is a selfish, broken actress who stumbles through a series of bad decisions. She cares about nothing, not even herself, but the language is so beautiful and evocative of a 1960s Los Angeles that you can’t help wondering what happens.

If nothing else, pick it up for the laissez-faire attitude of the extremely wealthy and beautiful before the age of social media.

By Joan Didion,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A profoundly disturbing novel that ruthlessly dissects American life in the late 1960s, from the author of The White Album and The Year of Magical Thinking.

Benny called for a round of Cuba Libres and I gave him some chips to play for me and went to the ladies' room and never came back.

Somewhere out beyond Hollywood, hollowed-out actress Maria Wyeth's life plays out in a numbing routine of perpetual freeway driving. In her early thirties, divorced from her husband, dislocated from friends, anesthetized to pain and please, Wheth is a woman who has run out of both desires…


Book cover of Valley of the Dolls

Stephen Rebello Author Of Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!: Deep Inside Valley of the Dolls, the Most Beloved Bad Book and Movie of All Time

From my list on the down-and-dirtiest showbusiness Romans à clef.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Southern California-based author and screenwriter whose adventures in and around the film business have led to hundreds of feature stories for such magazines as Vibe, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, American Film, Smithsonian, and Movieline. My books include three dedicated to Disney animated classics and a volume on the art of American movie posters. The lovingly satirical book Bad Movies We Love, co-written with Edward Margulies, inspired a Turner Network movie marathon series. My next non-fiction book will be published in 2024.

Stephen's book list on the down-and-dirtiest showbusiness Romans à clef

Stephen Rebello Why did Stephen love this book?

Newbie novelist Jacqueline Susann created an iconic all-time bestseller with her tale of three young glamazons who vault to the show business heights, only to tumble into a pit of addictions, poor choices in men, and delightfully overripe dialogue. Susann made her sweeping, sexy soap opera shenanigans even more irresistible by patterning her characters on such 20th-century headline-makers as Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Grace Kelly, Ethel Merman, and the Kennedys. Said publicity-savvy Susann, “They can keep calling it that ‘roman à clef'. It’ll only make my books sell.” They did. It did. Although the sanitized and critically bashed 1967 movie version toned down the à clef elements, it became a box-office smash that has gone on to become enshrined as a kitsch classic.

By Jacqueline Susann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell and Lena Dunham, Jacqueline Susann held the world rapt with her tales of the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists and the jet-set.

Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often sited as the bestselling novel of all time.

Dolls - red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn't matter, as long as the pill bottle is…


Book cover of The Day of the Locust

Ava Barry Author Of Double Exposure

From my list on cool, culty Los Angeles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to stories of miserable rich people, especially tales of how old money contorts lineage into something rotten. I grew up in Northern California, and while my family was comfortable, we weren’t part of the tennis club and yachting elite. During my childhood, we spent a lot of time exploring abandoned properties. It was a passion that I kept when I moved to Los Angeles as an adult and started to explore forgotten parts of Hollywood’s past. Los Angeles has always fascinated me because it embodies extreme wealth and extreme poverty: like the American dream itself, it straddles both extremes and promises everything while guaranteeing nothing.

Ava's book list on cool, culty Los Angeles

Ava Barry Why did Ava love this book?

I’ve read this book a few times, and I honestly can’t tell if it’s a praise or a damning critique of Los Angeles. I think that West–like myself and so many others–is addicted to Los Angeles and is still a bit critical of it.

Tod Hackett is a trained artist who comes to Hollywood to work in set and costume design. Like most outsiders, he sees the city as a projection of all his dreams and nightmares. Set in the 1930s, this book is a moving carnival of outsized stereotypes and winning caricatures. The entire thing feels like a carnival. Read this if you love the Golden Age of Hollywood.

By Nathanael West,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Day of the Locust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Admired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Dashiell Hammett, and hailed as one of the "Best 100 English-language novels" by Time magazine, The Day of the Locust continues to influence American writers, artists, and culture. Bob Dylan wrote the classic song "Day of the Locusts" in homage and Matt Groening's Homer Simpson is named after one of its characters. No novel more perfectly captures the nuttier side of Hollywood. Here the lens is turned on its fringes - actors out of work, film extras with big dreams, and parents lining their children up for small roles. But it's the…


Book cover of Hollywood

Steve Saroff Author Of Paper Targets: Art Can Be Murder

From my list on literary that mix old noir with modern themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

20 years ago a software company I founded had been acquired and my life should have been good. Instead, it was a Herculean mess. I had just been fired by a billionaire whom I had accused of crimes, and now I was out of work and broke. It would still be four more years before Bernie Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison (where he became blind and demented and died) for the world’s largest fraud. But when I was writing the first words of Paper Targets, the executives who had pulled me into their world of the “Lie” were freely strutting on the World Stage of Greed. 

Steve's book list on literary that mix old noir with modern themes

Steve Saroff Why did Steve love this book?

Bukowski didn't thieve, solve crimes, or use high-tech. In fact, he worked hard and was poor and isolated most of his life. But he lived in the fringe of the noir world, and beat on his machines—manual typewriters, then an IBM Selectric, and finally, with some fame and money, a computer. He was South of his No North, real and genuine for so long that when Hollywood knocked, he was ready for them. This book is his first-hand account of the dumb ego and stupid money that goes into making a movie. Hilarious and dark at the same time. A poet's novel.

By Charles Bukowski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'What will you do?'
'Oh, hell, I'll write a novel about writing the screenplay and making the movie.'
'What are you going to call it?'
'Hollywood.'

Henry Chinaski has a penchant for booze, women and horse-racing. On his precarious journey from poet to screenwriter he encounters a host of well-known stars and lays bare the absurdity and egotism of the film industry. Poetic, sharp and dangerous, Hollywood - Bukowski's fictionalisation of his experiences making the film Barfly - explores the many dark shadows to be found in the neon-soaked glare of Hollywood's limelight.


Book cover of What Makes Sammy Run?

Carleton Eastlake Author Of Monkey Business

From my list on what Hollywood is really like.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been a Hollywood writer for thirty years, and now written a novel that although satirical still accurately describes the creation of a TV series, I’ve long been amazed at how many Hollywood stories – including films made in Hollywood – offer fantasies that have even less to do with the reality of love and work in film and television than Game of Thrones does with the real Middle Ages. I’ve written fantasy myself, but for people fascinated by Hollywood, or who want to work in film and TV, there’s a reason too to read books that capture the reality, especially when like the books listed here, they do so astonishingly well.

Carleton's book list on what Hollywood is really like

Carleton Eastlake Why did Carleton love this book?

Despite wars, plagues, and technological revolutions, the psychology of Hollywood endures and Schulberg’s novel about screenwriters in pre-World War Two Hollywood remains an obligatory read for anyone contemplating a life in showbusiness or wanting, as a member of the audience, to have a deeper understanding of the business. The book still so accurately describes the challenges of a writer’s life and work, that when I served on the Writers Guild of America West’s board, I’d sometimes read passages from the book to the rest of the board members during our discussions of potential strike issues or matters affecting Guild unity. Schulberg’s eloquent yet plain-spoken insights were simply still that valuable, convincing – and entertaining.

By Budd Schulberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Makes Sammy Run? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What Makes Sammy Run?

Everyone of us knows someone who runs. He is one of the symp-toms of our times—from the little man who shoves you out of the way on the street to the go-getter who shoves you out of a job in the office to the Fuehrer who shoves you out of the world. And all of us have stopped to wonder, at some time or another, what it is that makes these people tick. What makes them run?

This is the question Schulberg has asked himself, and the answer is the first novel written with the indignation…


Book cover of The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-60

Brian Neve Author Of Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition

From my list on Hollywood blacklist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Years ago, as part of my research, I interviewed Elia Kazan and Abraham Polonsky, two key figures in the blacklist story, and two men who were on different sides in terms of how they responded to the postwar Congressional investigations. These personal encounters – in New York and Los Angeles – fed a fascination with the anti-Communist purge in Hollywood, its dramaturgy, and the way filmmakers of that generation were caught up in it in different ways. There are more specialized works but the books recommended provide a substantive introduction to this still globally resonant topic, calling attention to the problematic and still difficult relationships between citizenship and cultural identity.

Brian's book list on Hollywood blacklist

Brian Neve Why did Brian love this book?

When I was growing up there was, amongst enthusiasts of American film, much excited if not always well-informed discussion of the Hollywood Blacklist. This was the book that first provided chapter and verse, documenting the phenomenon and placing it in the context of American history, the politics of Hollywood, the industry unions, and the role of the studios from the 1930s onward. There is important research on key organizations such as the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, and the Committee for the First Amendment. This is still the best, most empirically grounded, and most comprehensive treatment – the classic history.

By Larry Ceplair, Steven Englund,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Inquisition in Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of political struggle in Hollywood back to the formation of the Screen Writers Guild in 1933 with the culmination of the blacklists of the House Un-American Activites Commmitee. The definitive work on the blacklist ear.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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