10 books like The Executioner's Song

By Norman Mailer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Executioner's Song. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Crime and Punishment

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Book cover of Crime and Punishment

This nineteenth-century novel paved the way for the modern crime novel. While the plot revolves around a murder, the book also explores the psychological workings of a loner who’s a frustrated and opinionated young man with a Napoleon-like complex, and is undone by a clever police detective. The narrative can be overwritten at times and a slog to read through, but the story remains compelling and insightful after all these years.

Crime and Punishment

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Crime and Punishment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Stranger

By Albert Camus,

Book cover of The Stranger

The 1942 in-depth examination of a man accused of murder or was it self-defense? The book shows how complex and entangled the truth around crime can be and how quickly society turns on those charged with homicide. It raises timeless questions that we struggle with today with the media and talk shows playing such a large role in current high-profile criminal cases.

The Stranger

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

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


In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote,

Book cover of In Cold Blood

Always on the Top 100 Lists of Best Books Ever, Capote's masterpiece tells the story of the senseless, brutal killing of a rural Kansas farming family in 1959. It is beautifully written from start to finish, and in a somewhat understated way. He defines his book as a “nonfiction novel,” employing fictional storytelling devices based on actual facts of the murder investigation and the various colorful town characters. Gripping and unrelentingly emotional, this book will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked In Cold Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The chilling true crime 'non-fiction novel' that made Truman Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly…


Fatal Vision

By Joe McGinniss,

Book cover of Fatal Vision: A True Crime Classic

A highly controversial 1983 book about Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald who was accused of murdering his wife and two children in their home in 1970. Initially, MacDonald hired McGuiniss to prove his innocence, but the author eventually changed his mind about the physician’s guilt. He was convicted and the book underscored the perils of writers getting too close to their subjects, especially when they're criminals.

Fatal Vision

By Joe McGinniss,

Why should I read it?

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


Helter Skelter

By Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry,

Book cover of Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Joan Didion famously wrote that the 1960s ended at the precise moment the news of the Manson family murders began circulating around Los Angeles on August 9, 1969. To get a sense of the vertiginous horror wrought by the Tate-LaBianca killings, two books need to be read in tandem: the strait-laced, official account by LA county deputy district attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who investigated the case and prosecuted the perpetrators, and the tie-dyed street-level account by Ed Sanders, the underground journalist and founding member of the Fugs. One drops LSD, the other doesn’t, but both walk away from their excursions into the dark recesses of the SoCal counter-culture seriously freaked out.  

Helter Skelter

By Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Helter Skelter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1969, in Los Angeles, a series of brutal, seemingly random murders captured headlines across America. A famous actress (and her unborn child), an heiress to a coffee fortune, a supermarket owner and his wife were among the seven victims. A thin trail of circumstances eventually tied the Tate-LeBianca murders to Charles Manson, a would-be pop singer of small talent living in the desert with his "family" of devoted young women and men. What was his hold over them? And what was the motivation behind such savagery? In the public imagination, over time, the case assumed the…


Autobiography of Henry VIII

By Margaret George,

Book cover of Autobiography of Henry VIII

I can not express how moved I was by this book. I have read extensively on Henry VIII but this book truly brought him to life. We see him not as the obese king with a fondness for the axeman, but as a smart, emotional, however somewhat egotistical, young king. We watch Henry age, fall in and out of love, and become an old man with many health problems. The characters in this book are so very real and George did a tremendous job bringing the court of Henry VIII alive for her readers.

Autobiography of Henry VIII

By Margaret George,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Autobiography of Henry VIII as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A paperback edition of the fictitious memoirs of King Henry VIII, published to coincide with publication of the author's new novel, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS AND THE ISLES.

The Fight

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of The Fight

One of the best sports books ever written? Judge for yourself, but I think it is certainly among the best. Even if you don’t like boxing or martial arts, you’ll enjoy this eminently readable book about “the rumble in the jungle” in Zaire between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, two heroic athletes in conflict. Although there are moments of self-deprecating humor and Mailer’s usual philosophical concerns, Mailer focuses squarely on the two athletes, their training camps and trainers, the people around them, and the experience of being in Africa. And then of course there is the fight itself, described in vivid and inventive detail that I found is as riveting to other readers as it is to me. The philosophical/metaphysical concerns here are part and parcel of those Mailer developed through his sixty years as a writer, but they are introduced in an easily digestible style and seem to me…

The Fight

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From one of the major innovators of New Journalism, Norman Mailer's The Fight is the real-life story of a clash between two of the world's greatest boxers, both in and out of the ring, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Norman Mailer's The Fight focuses on the 1974 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire. Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the ring. Foreman's genius employed silence, serenity and cunning. He had never been defeated. His hands were his instrument, and 'he kept them in his pockets the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case'. Together the…


Then the Fish Swallowed Him

By Amir Ahmadi Arian,

Book cover of Then the Fish Swallowed Him

Set during the 2005 bus-driver strikes in Iran, this book explores imprisonment at nearly every level—from the confinement of a totalitarian regime to the physical and psychological torture of a political prisoner, to the locked doors of one’s own mind, to the escape sought (and sometimes found) in heroine. What sticks with me most, however, is the interior exploration of the main character, Yunus, and the way seemingly small decisions lead to enormous consequences. 

Then the Fish Swallowed Him

By Amir Ahmadi Arian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Then the Fish Swallowed Him as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An critically-acclaimed Iranian author makes his American literary debut with this powerful and harrowing psychological portrait of modern Iran-an unprecedented and urgent work of fiction with echoes of The Stranger, 1984, and The Orphan Master's Son-that exposes the oppressive and corrosive power of the state to bend individual lives.

Yunus Turabi, a bus driver in Tehran, leads an unremarkable life. A solitary man since the unexpected deaths of his father and mother years ago, he is decidedly apolitical-even during the driver's strike and its bloody end. But everyone has their breaking point, and Yunus has reached his.

Handcuffed and blindfolded,…


Jack

By Marilynne Robinson,

Book cover of Jack

I don’t think I’ve made a list of books that doesn’t include something by Marilynne Robinson. Though linked to her other Gilead books, Jack can easily be read on its own, and it does an incredible job exploring the after-effects of prison time against the backdrop of racial (and societal) inequality. Both a love story and a rumination on regret, this novel takes an unflinching look at the prisons we build around ourselves and the difficulties we face when we try to escape.

Jack

By Marilynne Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Grace and intelligence . . . [her work] defines universal truths about what it means to be human' BARACK OBAMA

'Radiant and visionary' SARAH PERRY, GUARDIAN

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A BARACK OBAMA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020

AN OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK

Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the American National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with Jack, the final in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction.

Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the loved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard…


Katalin Street

By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (translator),

Book cover of Katalin Street

Szabó is another of my all-time favorite authors, and I return to her books again and again. Katalin Street explores the devastating effects of Germany’s occupation of Budapest upon three different, neighboring families. Characters are imprisoned in a variety of ways: Bálint serves time in a prison camp; the Elekes family serves time in the small apartment to which they’re moved during the occupation; everyone serves time in the prison of their memories, including the ghost of sweet Henriette, who haunts the narrative. 

Katalin Street

By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

BY THE AUTHOR OF THE DOOR, ONE OF NYTBR'S TEN BEST BOOKS OF 2015

** WINNER OF THE 2018 PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE **

** SHORTLISTED FOR THE WARWICK WOMEN IN TRANSLATION PRIZE 2019 **

"Extraordinary" New York Times

"Quite unforgettable" Daily Telegraph

"Unusual, piercing . . . oddly percipient" Irish Times

"A gorgeous elegy" Publishers Weekly

"A brightly shining star in the Szabo universe" World Literature Today

In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. A game is played by the four children in which Balint, the promising son of the…


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