100 books like The Five

By Hallie Rubenhold,

Here are 100 books that The Five fans have personally recommended if you like The Five. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Who am I?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

Who knew that an account of a disappeared medieval world could be so gripping?

I’ve always regarded history as a literary and intellectual exercise, and Pulitzer-winning Barbara Tuchman has been my model ever since I picked up this absorbing history of a Europe riven by war, climate catastrophes, plague, and religious schisms.

Academic historians might denigrate Tuchman’s approach, but through pen-portraits and narrative momentum, Tuchman immersed me in a world that had subtle echoes of today.

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Distant Mirror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fourteenth century was a time of fabled crusades and chivalry, glittering cathedrals and grand castles. It was also a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

Here, Barbara Tuchman masterfully reveals the two contradictory images of the age, examining the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes and war dominated the lives of serf, noble and clergy alike.

Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries and guilty passions, Tuchman recreates the lives of proud cardinals,…


Book cover of The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Jake S. Friedman Author Of The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age

From my list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching.

Who am I?

I'm an expert in animation history, having written three books on it, dozens of articles, and appeared on TV documentaries about it. I've also been a college professor for about 13 years, so I know what a story needs to maintain interest. These books have that. They're about different chunks of American history, some political, some artistic, all cultural. But they're also focused on the people who made the history, and showing how they got to where they were, and why they matter. These books let me walk in the shoes of subjects, and whisk me back to their time and place. If a book passes the empathy/time-machine test, it has won me over.

Jake's book list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching

Jake S. Friedman Why did Jake love this book?

I never leaned toward crime stories, but this true telling of America’s first serial killer, while simultaneously recounting one of the grandest expositions in American history, was too good to put down.

I was shocked by how quickly I devoured this book. It’s the closest you can get to time-traveling to 1890s Chicago. It’s the near-impossible feat of building the greatest World’s Fair of all, and also the gruesome story of a killer building a “murder house” and luring single women into it.

This is the book that inspired Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio to almost make it a series on Hulu, just saying.

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Devil in the White City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chicago World Fair was the greatest fair in American history. This is the story of the men and women whose lives it irrevocably changed and of two men in particular- an architect and a serial killer. The architect is Daniel Burnham, a man of great integrity and depth. It was his vision of the fair that attracted the best minds and talents of the day. The killer is Henry H. Holmes. Intelligent as well as handsome and charming, Holmes opened a boarding house which he advertised as 'The World's Fair Hotel' Here in the neighbourhood where he was once…


Book cover of Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Who am I?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

Until I read this book, I had thought of the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference in yawn-inducing terms of maps and endless documents. But MacMillan gave me a new angle of vision, with her brilliant descriptions of the statesmen’s personalities, the corridor conspiracies, the exotic characters on the conference’s fringes, and the high-handed manner in which a tiny clique of national leaders imposed unrealistic solutions.

I finally understood why World War I was not the “war to end all wars,” as the peacemakers hoped, but only a prelude to World War II and many of the conflicts still raging today.

By Margaret MacMillan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Paris 1919 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National Bestseller

New York Times Editors’ Choice

Winner of the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize

Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize

Silver Medalist for the Arthur Ross Book Award
of the Council on Foreign Relations

Finalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award

For six months in 1919, after the end of “the war to end all wars,” the Big Three—President Woodrow Wilson, British prime minister David Lloyd George, and French premier Georges Clemenceau—met in Paris to shape a lasting peace. In this landmark work of narrative history, Margaret MacMillan gives a dramatic and intimate view of those fateful days, which…


Book cover of In Cold Blood

Katherine Ramsland Author Of The Serial Killer's Apprentice: The True Story of How Houston’s Deadliest Murderer Turned a Kid into a Killing Machine

From my list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with true crime since a serial killer operated in my hometown when I was a kid. I’m now an expert on criminal psychology, which I teach at DeSales University. I’ve appeared in more than 200 crime documentaries and was an executive producer on Murder House Flip (my idea) and A&E’s Confession of a Serial Killer: BTK. I’ve published more than 72 books, and over the past 12 years, I’ve penned a blog on the dark side of the human psyche for Psychology Today. Currently, I’m writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist who runs a PI agency and consults on unique death investigations. 

Katherine's book list on true crime books that teach you about the minds of murderers

Katherine Ramsland Why did Katherine love this book?

I think this book is the classic true crime to show the power of using fictional devices for fact-based narratives.

Truman Capote explored the psyches of a killing team, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, as he reported on the 1959 quadruple homicide of the Herb Clutter family in Holcombe, Kansas. He wasn’t a journalist, but he adopted the role, hedging his work as “narrative nonfiction.” I learned a lot about this technique for my own work.

With him was his childhood companion, Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), and she helped Capote gain access to the inside story. He extensively interviewed Perry Smith, giving readers a sense of how and why this convict got involved in the terrible mass murder of a family. 

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

16 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…


Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This contemporary, quirky tale centers around the life of Keiko, a young woman who has never done anything in a conventional way and has her mother very worried that her daughter will never find a man and settle down into a conventional life. No, Keiko’s ways of thinking are startling and odd in ways that are both amusing and somewhat horrifying, as she really does fall outside the realm of conventional thinking and socially rewarded behavior. The reader comes to love her as she grows into womanhood (and personhood) as a worker in a fast-paced convenience store, where she memorizes hundreds of products and practices behaving more “normally” by mimicking the actions and words of her co-workers. Then a man named Shiraha enters the picture, for a new twist.

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Convenience Store Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store...


Book cover of Wolf Hall

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Who am I?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

Yes, I know this is a novel, but Mantel’s historical research is impeccable and no one has done more to bring to light the shadowy, intrigue-filled court of Henry VIII. Mantel explores the intersection of political power and personal ambition as she traces the career of Thomas Cromwell, a rags-to-riches courtier.

I could almost taste the food, smell the decay, and touch the damp walls of the buildings. She took me deep into the consciousness of the unlikeable yet sympathetic and lonely main character, as he serves his monarch and defeats his enemies.

The drama is gripping.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Wolf Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the the Orange Prize Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award

`Dizzyingly, dazzlingly good' Daily Mail

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with…


Book cover of These Truths: A History of the United States

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Who am I?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

I seize any issue of the New Yorker that includes an article by the brilliant Harvard historian Jill Lepore, so I was eager to read Lepore’s unconventional history of her country.

Too many national histories leap from one "great man" to the next, focusing on political, economic, and military achievements (and, more rarely, losses.) Lepore’s narrative foregrounds diverse points of view, and points out the contradictions and ironies in American history, particularly the dependence of some Founding Fathers on slave labour, even as they proclaimed their egalitarian idealism.

By Jill Lepore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The American experiment rests on three ideas-"these truths", Jefferson called them-political equality, natural rights and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, "on a dedication to inquiry, fearless and unflinching", writes Jill Lepore in a ground-breaking investigation into the American past that places truth at the centre of the nation's history.

Telling the story of America, beginning in 1492, These Truths asks whether the course of events has proven the nation's founding truths or belied them. Finding meaning in contradiction, Lepore weaves American history into a tapestry of faith and hope, of peril and prosperity, of technological progress…


Book cover of I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

Kathryn Canavan Author Of Lincoln's Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America's Greatest President

From my list on true crime stories written by insiders and experts.

Who am I?

One of my first newspaper jobs was as a crime writer, covering and discovering crime stories in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There's a lot of chaff among the wheat in the true crime genre. Some books are padded with the author's personal lives. Some have paper-thin plots. The books I've recommended are well-told, well-researched stories that are hard to put down.

Kathryn's book list on true crime stories written by insiders and experts

Kathryn Canavan Why did Kathryn love this book?

Michelle McNamara waded into a new area of criminal investigation—hive investigation.

McNamara, a crime writer, got crime buffs together online, each using specific talents to search for the burglar-kidnapper-murderer who terrorized Californians for 12 years. With their help and DNA from an ancestry website, police were able to arrest ex-cop Joseph DeAngelo.

He pled guilty to 13 counts of murder and kidnapping in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table. Prosecutors called DeAngelo a poster boy for the death penalty.

Mc Namara's dogged detective work helped nab him and she is credited with the appellation Golden State Killer.

By Michelle McNamara,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked I'll Be Gone in the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BASIS FOR THE MAJOR 6-PART HBO® DOCUMENTARY SERIES

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR:

Washington Post | Maureen Corrigan, NPR | Paste | Seattle Times | Entertainment Weekly | Esquire | Slate | Buzzfeed | Jezebel | Philadelphia Inquirer | Publishers Weekly | Kirkus Reviews | Library Journal | Bustle 

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards for Nonfiction | Anthony Award Winner | SCIBA Book Award Winner | Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime | Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence

The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist…


Book cover of Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells

Frances McNamara Author Of Molasses Murder in a Nutshell: A Nutshell Murder Mystery

From my list on real women in criminology.

Who am I?

I was frustrated by stories of gilded-age women who floundered around and were pitied because of the limitations society put on them. I thought the heroine of House of Mirth was not heroine but a loser. It seemed to me there must be other women out there who weren’t just sitting around bemoaning their predicament. Since I’m a mystery writer I was especially pleased to find some women who were out there doing things, even in criminology. Finding Frances Glessner Lee was the icing on the cake when I learned that she is known as the Mother of Forensic Science. Had to be great stories there.

Frances' book list on real women in criminology

Frances McNamara Why did Frances love this book?

Ida B. Wells was a journalist. She was also an organizer of an anti-lynching campaign.

She’s a wonderful example of a woman who ignored the limitations the world of the time set on her to do what she felt was needed. She and others collected accounts of lynchings, many of them from white newspapers and published them to force society to confront the fact that they were happening.

As a young woman she sued a railroad for physically ejecting her from a carriage because she was African American. She won.

She’s just a great example of a young woman bucking the system. I’m so glad my feminine forebearers did!

By Ida B. Wells,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"She fought a lonely and almost single-handed fight, with the single-mindedness of a crusader, long before men or women of any race entered the arena; and the measure of success she achieved goes far beyond the credit she has been given in the history of the country."-Alfreda M. Duster

Ida B. Wells is an American icon of truth telling. Born to slaves, she was a pioneer of investigative journalism, a crusader against lynching, and a tireless advocate for suffrage, both for women and for African Americans. She co-founded the NAACP, started the Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago, and was a…


Book cover of My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir

Stephen Holgate Author Of To Live and Die in the Floating World

From my list on neglected mysteries.

Who am I?

From Poe to Conan Doyle and Christie to the hard-boiled school of Hammett and Chandler and modern practitioners such as Louise Penny and Walter Mosely, I can gobble up mysteries like candy. Their appeal lies not only in compelling storylines but in their promise to restore order to our chaotic world, assure us that justice will triumph and evil geniuses will lose to intrepid paladins. As with wines, art, and sex, tastes vary. While reading various lists of great mysteries to jog my memory to make this list, I realized that few of my favorites were even listed, much less among the top ranks. Like a good detective, I’m determined that justice prevails.

Stephen's book list on neglected mysteries

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

Memoirs don’t often feature mysteries, but Elroy, known for tough, cynical crime novels such as L.A. Confidential, centers his around his obsession with the unsolved murder of his mother in 1958 when Elroy was ten. With allusions to the famous Blue Dahlia case, Elroy writes with brutal frankness about his own pathologies and his weirdly loving relationship with his neglectful, alcoholic father. If nothing else, this absorbing book—hard to read and equally hard to put down—solves the mystery of why Elroy and his novels come off as so creepy.

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 22 June 1958, Geneva "Jean" Hilliker Ellroy was found strangled. Her murderer was never found, but her death had a lasting effect on her ten-year-old son who wasted his early adulthood as a wino, petty burglar and derelict. In this book he tells of his determination to solve his mother's murder.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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