88 books like The Foundling

By Stacey Halls, Patrick Knowles (illustrator), Lucy Rose Cartwright (illustrator)

Here are 88 books that The Foundling fans have personally recommended if you like The Foundling. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Medieval Bodies: Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages

Hana Videen Author Of The Deorhord: An Old English Bestiary

From my list on books with a unique perspective of the medieval past.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in medieval history comes from a love of language. My favourite Old English word is wordhord, which refers to a poet’s mental stockpile of words and phrases. My word hoarding (and sharing) started with tweeting the Old English word of the day in 2013. This spread to other social media platforms, a blog, an app, and now two books. I have a PhD in English from King’s College London (my thesis was on blood in Old English, even though blood actually makes me squeamish). I enjoy histories that make me think about the past from a different perspective.

Hana's book list on books with a unique perspective of the medieval past

Hana Videen Why did Hana love this book?

This book is filled with fascinating facts about medieval medicine, surgery, humoural theory, disease, and diagnosis. But what is surprising is how many other aspects of the Middle Ages are covered through the theme of bodies.

We learn about strange creatures like blemmyae (who have no heads and faces in their chests) and cynocephali (dog-headed people), saints and relics, race relations and politics, manuscript manufacture, religion, literature, travel, eating habits, love, sexuality, and gender identity.

I love how the chapters are organized by body part, from head to feet, a clever approach I have never seen in a history book before. Hartnell demonstrates how the medieval past is "an uncanny place at once startlingly different from and strangely familiar to our own."

By Jack Hartnell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Just like us, medieval men and women worried about growing old, got blisters and indigestion, fell in love, and had children. And yet their lives were full of miraculous and richly metaphorical experiences radically different from our own, unfolding in a world where deadly wounds might be healed overnight by divine intervention, or where the heart of a king, plucked from his corpse, could be held aloft as a powerful symbol of political rule.

In this richly illustrated and unusual history, Jack Hartnell uncovers the fascinating ways in which people thought about, explored, and experienced their physical selves in the…


Book cover of The Architect's Apprentice

Coirle Mooney Author Of My Lady's Shadow: Power and intrigue in Medieval France

From my list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the Spring of 2006, I went to the south of France searching for troubadours. It was my MA year and my thesis was looking at the influence of the courtly love tradition on Chaucer’s writing. Troubadours (and the female, trobairitz) were nowhere to be found. The closest I came was a café named Le Troubadour. However, evidence of their lyrics was there in the beauty and lushness of Languedoc in spring. I'm always drawn to the poetry, landscapes, and love stories of the past and have experienced how these connections enrich my life. I've completed a PhD in seventeenth-century literature and become an historical fiction novelist and a devotee of history and historical fiction. 

Coirle's book list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes

Coirle Mooney Why did Coirle love this book?

A mammoth of an historical novel set in the time of the Ottoman Empire.

A unique love story between the elephant keeper (and royal architect) Jahan, his special white elephant, Chota, and the interesting princess Mihrimah. As funny as it is heartbreaking, with characters so compelling they felt like cherished friends mourned and missed at parting, but whom I’ll always remember with deep fondness.   

By Elif Shafak,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Architect's Apprentice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dazzling and intricate tale from Elif Shafak, Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World - chosen for the Duchess of Cornwall's online book club The Reading Room

'There were six of us: the master, the apprentices and the white elephant. We built everything together...'

Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare white elephant destined for the palace menagerie.

So begins an epic adventure that will see…


Book cover of The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi

Julie Brooks Author Of The Keepsake

From my list on whisking you from one time period to another.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the girl who loved school excursions to historical parks and the middle-aged author who cannot keep away from a house museum. Like most Australians, I love to travel (you’ll meet us everywhere), gravitating towards historical sites and weighing down my luggage with museum-shop trophies from Beijing to Bath and Cusco to Athens. All novels are mysteries the reader wants to solve, but stories with multiple timelines add an extra layer of puzzle to the mystery. As a writer I get to craft those puzzle pieces. And as a reader, I love solving them!

Julie's book list on whisking you from one time period to another

Julie Brooks Why did Julie love this book?

Of course, the title leapt out at me from the bookshop shelf! And on reading the first page I fell in love with Shafak’s lyrical writing.

As I read further, I was drawn into the stories of love in many guises within its pages. I was intrigued by the way the author wove a modern narrative of a deeply unhappy American housewife with a story about the historical character, thirteenth-century Sufi poet, Rumi, and his friendship with wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz.

The story took me to a place and time far from mine and I learned about a very different culture—yet in its philosophical concerns and themes, not so different after all. And I really loved that both Shams and Rumi were storytellers so that the novel had layers of nested stories.

By Elif Shafak,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Forty Rules of Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international bestseller from the author of the Booker-shortlisted novel, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, The Forty Rules of Love is part of our Penguin Essentials series which spotlights the very best of our modern classics

*One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped the World'*

"Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven't loved enough..."

Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is…


Book cover of The Marriage Portrait

Gill Paul Author Of A Beautiful Rival: A Novel Of Helena Rubinstein And Elizabeth Arden

From my list on historical novels based on real people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written fourteen historical novels now and most of them include real historical characters. I particularly like writing about women I feel have been misjudged or ignored by historians, and trying to reassess them in the modern age. Fiction allows me to imagine what they were thinking and feeling as they lived through dramatic, life-changing experiences, giving more insight than facts alone could do. Sitting at my desk in the morning and pretending to be someone else is a strange way to earn a living but it’s terrific fun! 

Gill's book list on historical novels based on real people

Gill Paul Why did Gill love this book?

I was delighted when Maggie O’Farrell started writing historical fiction, and this one is a masterclass in novel writing.

It opens as teenaged Lucrezia is taken to a remote hunting lodge by her husband Alfonso, the Duke of Ferrara. He has ordered all her personal servants to remain behind and as they eat dinner, she realizes he is planning to kill her. What a beginning! The writing is lush and colorful, the characterizations subtle, and the story utterly gripping.

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Marriage Portrait as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION FINALIST • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • The author of award-winning Hamnet brings the world of Renaissance Italy to jewel-bright life in this unforgettable fictional portrait of the captivating young duchess Lucrezia de' Medici as she makes her way in a troubled court.

“I could not stop reading this incredible true story.” —Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club Pick)

"O’Farrell pulls out little threads of historical detail to weave this story of a precocious girl sensitive to the contradictions of her station...You may know the history, and you may think you…


Book cover of Threadneedle

Taylor Munsell Author Of Touch of Death

From my list on embracing the dark.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by stories that use darkness in plot and character growth. As a former funeral director, I find stories with death—whether it’s the power of death, the death of a loved one, or something similar—to be really poignant. I always write books that embrace the darkness, and I love to see how characters come out on the other side. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do!

Taylor's book list on embracing the dark

Taylor Munsell Why did Taylor love this book?

When I tell you I gasped at the end of this book, I am not exaggerating. I am not one to be surprised by books, but this one kept me guessing the entire time.

I was surprised multiple times throughout the book, and the complicated relationship between Anna and her aunt is fascinating from the very first page. I also really loved the worldbuilding and magic system as it is expertly woven into the story.

I find that many fantasy books have a magic system that is just there, but this one drives the plot.

By Cari Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The International Bestseller Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

'Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end ...'

Anna's Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.

Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.

Until she meets Effie and Attis.

They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose…


Book cover of Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth

Lilith Saintcrow Author Of A Flame in the North

From my list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like any writer, I’m fascinated with what makes people tick and why they act the way they do. Naturally, this means I read a lot of history. I love reference reading; I love researching arcane questions for a tiny detail that will bring a character or their world to life. Creating epic fantasy is an extension of both my drives as a reader and a writer. Pouring myself into characters who inhabit different settings is a deeply satisfying exercise in both craft and empathy, and each history book has some small bit I can use to make my settings more compelling, more enjoyable for readers, and more real.

Lilith's book list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy

Lilith Saintcrow Why did Lilith love this book?

I hadn’t thought seriously about the problem of rubbish, sewage, and waste disposal before reading Jackson’s work.

I think it’s important, even crucial, for a fantasy writer to know where the poop and detritus go in the societies they’ve built; it’s part of the worldbuilding that gives an imaginary culture enough weight and heft to convince a reader.

Plus, Jackson’s prose is always marvelously clean, concise, and dryly funny.

By Lee Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Victorian London, filth was everywhere: horse traffic filled the streets with dung, household rubbish went uncollected, cesspools brimmed with "night soil," graveyards teemed with rotting corpses, the air itself was choked with smoke. In this intimately visceral book, Lee Jackson guides us through the underbelly of the Victorian metropolis, introducing us to the men and women who struggled to stem a rising tide of pollution and dirt, and the forces that opposed them.

Through thematic chapters, Jackson describes how Victorian reformers met with both triumph and disaster. Full of individual stories and overlooked details-from the dustmen who grew rich…


Book cover of Slocum 376: Slocum and the Second Horse

Jack Nevada Author Of A Man Called Bone

From my list on the Wild West from London and Playboy.

Why am I passionate about this?

It would be fair to say that the deconstruction has firmly taken hold of the Western genre in movies. But while an appreciation of Sergio Leone is omnipresent to the point of cliché for cinema buffs, in literature, Louis L’Amor, Zane Grey, and William W. Johnstone reign supreme. Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic Western horrors being the exception that makes the rule.

But Western books have their own subversion, and I wanted to spotlight those. The men’s adventure, the pulp fiction, the outright smut. These are the books that inspired my own novel, A Man Called Bone, and I hope it does right by its muses.


Jack's book list on the Wild West from London and Playboy

Jack Nevada Why did Jack love this book?

Leaving Piccadilly for the moment, we have the adult western. As if the name of the genre and the name that starts every book title isn’t enough, it’s published by Playboy. And as you might have guessed from there being four hundred of these books, put out damn near monthly since the seventies, it’s a bit of a fool’s errand to single out any one book. They’re somewhere between the formulaic nature of needing to be a Western with literally obligatory sex and violence, and the author being a house name that’ll change with any given volume, who by necessity will have his own idiosyncratic take on the material. 

One book, you might get a writer that’s really into delivering the sex appeal promised by the cover. Another time, you’ll get someone who just wants to write a Western (if that: people weren’t writing these things for their health,…

By Jake Logan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slocum 376 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Slocum’s on the trail of a mad dog killer…

While pursuing the cold-blooded killer Rafe Masterson, Slocum narrowly escapes the outlaw’s  quick draw with his life. Unfortunately, his trusty horse wasn’t so lucky. Slocum’s steed was just the latest victim to fall afoul of Masterson, who has two notches in his belt representing the two deputies he’s already gunned down. Wanted in several states, Masterson is increasing both his death toll and reward value—and he’s not about to let Slocum bring him in…dead or alive.


Book cover of Small Worlds

Jendella Benson Author Of Hope and Glory

From my list on introducing you to Black London.

Why am I passionate about this?

Much of the Britain that's exported to the world is fed by the monochromatic myth of nobility and royalty, but the heart of Britain is multifaceted and multicultural. I didn’t grow up in London, but grew up visiting family here and ‘The Big Smoke’ had an allure for me. The people were all different colours and ethnicities and it truly felt like the most exciting place in the world. I moved here the week I turned 18, and I haven’t left. It's a harsh, expensive city, and it's much too busy to provide anyone with any lasting sanity, but here I found a version of Black Britain that I was missing in my hometown.

Jendella's book list on introducing you to Black London

Jendella Benson Why did Jendella love this book?

This is a gorgeous book to be savoured slowly.

It is suffused with music throughout (and the nerd within me loves the reoccurring literary motifs and phrases that definitely lend a musical quality to the book) and took me back to lazy summer days as a teenager when I first moved to London and the city felt wide open with excitement and possibility.

This is another love story, but one about community, family and the first loves that we learn from our parents.

By Caleb Azumah Nelson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exhilarating and expansive new novel about fathers and sons, faith and friendship from National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and Costa First Novel Award winning author Caleb Azumah Nelson

One of the most acclaimed and internationally bestselling “unforgettable” (New York Times) debuts of the 2021, Caleb Azumah Nelson’s London-set love story Open Water took the US by storm and introduced the world to a salient and insightful new voice in fiction. Now, with his second novel Small Worlds, the prodigious Azumah Nelson brings another set of enduring characters to brilliant life in his signature rhythmic, melodic prose.

Set…


Book cover of One Night In London

Morgan Lennox Author Of Stack the Deck: A Billionaire Romance

From my list on steamy billionaires in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are so many billionaire romances out there based in America, but as a Brit, there’s nothing quite like reading a contemporary romance based in London. The capital city of Great Britain, there are a great number of reasons why books here are simply to die for. The history, the culture, the mixture of communities, and the potential for passion – in my opinion, there’s no better place to escape to in a book. Even better if there are delicious characters to lose yourself with…

Morgan's book list on steamy billionaires in London

Morgan Lennox Why did Morgan love this book?

Only one night with a handsome stranger in London? This has been my dream forever, and once I read this blurb, I immediately one clicked.

Sandi Lynn made me feel like I was literally living this, and I found it almost impossible to drag my eyes away. I wanted this book to continue forever, and if you haven't read it already, you need to.

By Sandi Lynn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Night In London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have sex with a stranger in a foreign country. It was on my list. It was something I’d never done before and I wasn’t sure if I could go through with it. But I did. Don’t tell him anything about yourself. No names. No personal information. Nothing. It’s all about the thrill. The mystery man. Keep him a stranger. That one night was the best night of my entire life. He was sexy, intense, and made me feel things I had never felt before. The next morning, the thrill was over and he was gone before I woke up. What…


Book cover of The Seeker

Douglas Watt Author Of The Unnatural Death of a Jacobite

From my list on crime which evoke an historical period.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical fiction which brings the past to life and allows us to experience other historical periods. For me, historical crime fiction combines this with dynamic plots and interesting characters. My love of history was first kindled by the books of John Prebble which introduced me to the fascinating world of 17th-century Scotland. I went on to study Scottish History at university and research a PhD in the subject. I have gone on to write a history of the Darien Disaster, The Price of Scotland, and a series of historical crime novels set in the late 17th century featuring investigative advocate John MacKenzie and his sidekick Davie Scougall. 

Douglas' book list on crime which evoke an historical period

Douglas Watt Why did Douglas love this book?

The Seeker takes us through the streets of Cromwellian London in the 1650s, a period rarely considered by historical crime novelists, but one of paranoia as Cromwell’s regime struggles to crush the enemies seeking to overthrow it. The novel introduces the character of Captain Damian Seeker, Cromwell’s mysterious agent who is a force to be reckoned with.

By S.G. MacLean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2015 CWA Endeavour Dagger for Historical Fiction

London, 1654. Oliver Cromwell is at the height of his power and has declared himself Lord Protector. Yet he has many enemies, at home and abroad.

London is a complex web of spies and merchants, priests and soldiers, exiles and assassins. One of the web's most fearsome spiders is Damian Seeker, agent of the Lord Protector. No one knows where Seeker comes from, who his family is, or even his real name. All that is known of him for certain is that he is utterly loyal to Cromwell, and that…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in London, worldbuilding, and presidential biography?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about London, worldbuilding, and presidential biography.

London Explore 817 books about London
Worldbuilding Explore 145 books about worldbuilding
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography