100 books like The Genius Under the Table

By Eugene Yelchin,

Here are 100 books that The Genius Under the Table fans have personally recommended if you like The Genius Under the Table. 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 Catherine, Called Birdy

Madina Papadopoulos Author Of The Step-Spinsters

From my list on transporting you to medieval life.

Who am I?

Madina Papadopoulos is a New Orleans-born, New York-based freelance writer and author. She is currently working on the sequel to The Step-Spinsters, the first in the Unspun Fairytale series, which retells classic princess stories set in the late Middle Ages. She studied French and Italian at Tulane University and received her MFA in screenwriting at UCLA. After teaching foreign languages at the university level, as well as in childhood and elementary school programs, she developed and illustrated foreign language coloring workbooks for preschoolers. As a freelance writer, she focuses on food, drinks, and entertainment.

Madina's book list on transporting you to medieval life

Madina Papadopoulos Why did Madina love this book?

Much of the fiction set in the Middle Ages follows landmark historical moments and infamous individuals. But just as today, nothing is more complex than the inner life of a teenage girl, so it was in 1290. Written as a personal diary, this book follows Catherine, nicknamed ‘Birdy,’ as she trudges through her lessons on becoming a lady (sewing, spinning, soap making), her fears of an arranged marriage to a gnarly old nobleman, the importance of friendship and the heartbreak of unrequited love. Universal truths, all comically relatable and sprinkled with amusing details of picking off fleas and using the privy. As a preteen and teen, I read, re-read, and re-re-read Catherine's diary, escaping into her daily life as I easily imagined myself in it. This book was a friend I knew I could always return to for comfort and understanding.

By Karen Cushman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Catherine, Called Birdy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOVIE STREAMING ON AMAZON PRIME.

A funny coming-of-age novel about a fourteen-year-old girl's fight for freedom and right to self-determination in medieval England.

Catherine's in trouble. Caught between a mother who is determined to turn her into the perfect medieval lady and a father who wants her to marry her off to much older and utterly repulsive suitor.

Luckily, Catherine has a plan. She has experience outwitting suitors and is ready to take matters into her own hands . . .

Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy is the inspiration for Prime Video's medieval comedy film directed by…


Book cover of A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir

Frieda Wishinsky Author Of Avis Dolphin

From my list on bringing real events and real kids alive.

Who am I?

From the time I was a kid, I loved books about real people who lived through difficult and colorful times.  As a writer, I’ve written about people whose lives fascinated and inspired me like Franklin Law Olmsted (The Man Who Made Parks) I believe that a riveting story or memoir gives the reader a strong sense of a person and the times in which they lived. And after reading one of these books, I wanted to know more about the person and the period in which they lived.

Frieda's book list on bringing real events and real kids alive

Frieda Wishinsky Why did Frieda love this book?

Beverly Cleary's kid's books have been enjoyed by many generations of readers. I loved her true to life, tinged with humor books as a reader, teacher, and writer.

Like me, many readers wonder about the lives of people we admire and luckily Cleary has written a riveting, direct, and insightful memoir that helps us connect her fiction with her real-life experiences. Throughout Cleary comes across as someone we wish we knew.

By Beverly Cleary,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Girl from Yamhill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Told in her own words, A Girl from Yamhill is Newbery Medal-winning author Beverly Cleary's heartfelt and relatable memoir-now with a beautifully redesigned cover! Generations of children have read Beverly Cleary's books. From Ramona Quimby to Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse to Ellen Tebbits, she has created an evergreen body of work based on the humorous tales and heartfelt anxieties of middle graders. But in A Girl from Yamhill, Beverly Cleary tells a more personal story-her story-of what adolescence was like. In warm but honest detail, Beverly describes life in Oregon during the Great Depression, including her difficulties in learning…


Book cover of A Year Without Mom

Frieda Wishinsky Author Of Avis Dolphin

From my list on bringing real events and real kids alive.

Who am I?

From the time I was a kid, I loved books about real people who lived through difficult and colorful times.  As a writer, I’ve written about people whose lives fascinated and inspired me like Franklin Law Olmsted (The Man Who Made Parks) I believe that a riveting story or memoir gives the reader a strong sense of a person and the times in which they lived. And after reading one of these books, I wanted to know more about the person and the period in which they lived.

Frieda's book list on bringing real events and real kids alive

Frieda Wishinsky Why did Frieda love this book?

This engaging graphic novel follows twelve-year-old Dasha as she is forced to separate from her mom who leaves for America to make a better life for the two of them. The spare yet touching text brings us into Dasha’s world in Russia and her fears and hopes for a new life. Based on Tolstikova’s own experiences, the book draws the reader into Dasha’s fears and joys.

By Dasha Tolstikova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Year Without Mom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

It is the early 1990s in Moscow, and political change is in the air. But Dasha is more worried about her own challenges as she negotiates family, friendships and school without her mother. Just as she begins to find her own feet, she gets word that she is to join her mother in America - a place that seems impossibly far from everything and everyone she loves.

Dasha Tolstikova's major talent is on full display in this gorgeous and subtly illustrated graphic novel.


Book cover of Stitches

Frieda Wishinsky Author Of Avis Dolphin

From my list on bringing real events and real kids alive.

Who am I?

From the time I was a kid, I loved books about real people who lived through difficult and colorful times.  As a writer, I’ve written about people whose lives fascinated and inspired me like Franklin Law Olmsted (The Man Who Made Parks) I believe that a riveting story or memoir gives the reader a strong sense of a person and the times in which they lived. And after reading one of these books, I wanted to know more about the person and the period in which they lived.

Frieda's book list on bringing real events and real kids alive

Frieda Wishinsky Why did Frieda love this book?

In this riveting memoir told through minimum text and vivid black and white graphic art, we learn of the hardships, sorrow, and choices Small dealt with as a young man. Although heartbreaking, this is ultimately a story of courage despite a painful upbringing. The reader senses how art helped Small cope with sadness, disappointment, and confusion growing up in a difficult family.

By David Small,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David Small, a best-selling and highly regarded children's book illustrator, comes forward with this unflinching graphic memoir. Remarkable and intensely dramatic, Stitches tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute-a vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot. From horror to hope, Small proceeds to graphically portray an almost unbelievable descent into adolescent hell and the difficult road to physical, emotional, and artistic recovery.

A National Book Award finalist; winner of the ALA's Alex Award; a…


Book cover of KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev

Taylor Downing Author Of 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink

From my list on Cold War mysteries.

Who am I?

Taylor Downing is a historian, writer, and television producer. He has written several best-selling books and has produced more than 200 television documentaries many of which have won awards. Taylor is currently researching and writing a new book on a little-known crisis in World War Two, due for publication in 2022.

Taylor's book list on Cold War mysteries

Taylor Downing Why did Taylor love this book?

A deeply revealing insight into the mysterious world of the Soviet secret service written as a collaboration between a top Cambridge historian and a senior KGB officer who was a double agent working for the British MI6. It tells us not only what the KGB got up to but, equally important, how the senior KGB leaders thought. It opens up the paranoia at the top of the Soviet system.

By Oleg Gordievsky, Christopher Andrew,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This history of the world's largest and most powerful intelligence service, the KGB, from its origin after the Russian revolution to the present day, analyzes its operations against subjects as diverse as the EEC, Margaret Thatcher, Solidarity and Libya. This study also provides an insight into Gorbachev's relations with the KGB and examines the disintegration of the Soviet bloc. Christopher Andrew has also written "Secret Service". Gordievsky was a KGB colonel who worked for British intelligence as a penetration agent in the KGB from 1974. He escaped to the West in 1985.


Book cover of The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

Jack Barsky Author Of Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America

From my list on real espionage stories from ex undercover KGB.

Who am I?

I am one of ten undercover illegal agents the Soviet Union sent to the United States during the height of the Cold War. We were admired and lionized as the elite of the elite. I spent altogether 10 years spying for the KGB in the US before cutting my ties to the espionage world for personal reasons. When the FBI introduced themselves nine years later, I had become what the KGB wanted me to become, a true blue American, and that is who I am today.  

Jack's book list on real espionage stories from ex undercover KGB

Jack Barsky Why did Jack love this book?

This is the most brilliant nonfiction spy book I have ever read. 

It is a juxtaposition of oxymoronic proportion: CIA agent Aldrich Ames, who became a KGB mole and betrayed his country for money, and KGB agent Oleg Gordievsky who became disillusioned with the Soviet regime and risked his life by working closely with MI6, in the process very likely preventing the outbreak of a nuclear war.

Where both spies crossed paths without knowing it when Ames betrayed Gordievsky, who was recalled to Moscow. He barely escaped death and prison but was closely watched. The story of his escape from the USSR is better than any scene in a James Bond movie. This is a page-turner.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with a thrilling Americans-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.

“The best true spy story I have ever read.”—JOHN LE CARRÉ

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Economist • Shortlisted for the Bailie Giffords Prize in Nonfiction

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the…


Book cover of Russia and the Idea of Europe: A Study in Identity and International Relations

Andrei P. Tsygankov Author Of Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity

From my list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War.

Who am I?

I am a Russian academic living in the West and a contributor to both Western and Russian academia. I move between the two and try to build bridges by explaining the two sides’ differences and areas of potential cooperation. I do it in my teaching and research on international politics, which I understand through the lens of culture and politics. Most of my books analyze Russian and Western patterns of thinking formed through history and interaction with each other. I love reading good books about these topics and hope you enjoy my selected list!

Andrei's book list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War

Andrei P. Tsygankov Why did Andrei love this book?

Russia has historically connected to Europe as its significant other. This book describes the nature of the country’s identity development through the love-hate relations with European nations and search for recognition by Western other. Sometimes, Russia has sought to borrow Europe’s institutions and values. Other times, it has positioned itself as a great power and a superior system of internal values relative to “corrupt” Europe. 

By Iver B. Neumann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The end of the Soviet system and the transition to the market in Russia, coupled with the inexorable rise of nationalism, brought to the fore the centuries-old debate about Russia's relationship with Europe. In this revised and updated second edition of Russia and the Idea of Europe, Iver Neumann discusses whether the tensions between self-referencing nationalist views and Europe-orientated liberal views can ever be resolved.

Drawing on a wide range of Russian sources, this book retains the broad historical focus of the previous edition and picks up from where the it off in the early 1990s, bringing the discussion fully…


Book cover of Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past

Andrei P. Tsygankov Author Of Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity

From my list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War.

Who am I?

I am a Russian academic living in the West and a contributor to both Western and Russian academia. I move between the two and try to build bridges by explaining the two sides’ differences and areas of potential cooperation. I do it in my teaching and research on international politics, which I understand through the lens of culture and politics. Most of my books analyze Russian and Western patterns of thinking formed through history and interaction with each other. I love reading good books about these topics and hope you enjoy my selected list!

Andrei's book list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War

Andrei P. Tsygankov Why did Andrei love this book?

Russia’s foreign policy has followed different historical trajectories and relations with the outside world. This excellent collection of works by historians and social scientists focuses on the long “shadows of the past” as a lens through which to assess the country’s international behavior and moments of transformation. The explored themes include the impact of Russian foreign policy on domestic political structures, imperial identity, geographic settings, position within the global economy, and others. 

By Robert Legvold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russian Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century and the Shadow of the Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Because the turbulent trajectory of Russia's foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union echoes previous moments of social and political transformation, history offers a special vantage point from which to judge the current course of events. In this book, a mix of leading historians and political scientists examines the foreign policy of contemporary Russia over four centuries of history. The authors explain the impact of empire and its loss, the interweaving of domestic and foreign impulses, long-standing approaches to national security, and the effect of globalization over time. Contributors focus on the underlying patterns that have marked Russian…


Book cover of Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development

John Philipp Baesler Author Of Clearer Than Truth: The Polygraph and the American Cold War

From my list on Russia in Western eyes.

Who am I?

Growing up in West Germany, surrounded by American soldiers and with a father who had escaped communist East Germany, the Cold War always fascinated me. What was it about? Would it ever end? When it did, it took everybody by surprise. This lesson, that nothing is certain and that history can always make a turn when you least expect it, stayed with me as I pursued my degrees in history, first in Heidelberg and then at Indiana University Bloomington. As an immigrant to the United States, I study the United States from the outside and the inside. How Americans see themselves, and how they see others, is my main interest that I keep exploring from different angles.

John's book list on Russia in Western eyes

John Philipp Baesler Why did John love this book?

American observers were endlessly fascinated by Russia long before the Cold War began and before supposed Russian election interference became a news item. However, they could never make up their minds about what made the Russian people tick. In this eye-opening book, David Engerman shows how American journalists, diplomats, and social scientists romanticized and ridiculed Russian peasants, praised or condemned the attempts by the Tsar and the Bolsheviks to modernize Russia by force, and marbled at the Russian “national character.” Engerman in a masterly fashion reveals how prejudices have shaped American views of Russia.

By David C. Engerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modernization from the Other Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the late nineteenth century to the eve of World War II, America's experts on Russia watched as Russia and the Soviet Union embarked on a course of rapid industrialization. Captivated by the idea of modernization, diplomats, journalists, and scholars across the political spectrum rationalized the enormous human cost of this path to progress. In a fascinating examination of this crucial era, David Engerman underscores the key role economic development played in America's understanding of Russia and explores its profound effects on U.S. policy.

American intellectuals from George Kennan to Samuel Harper to Calvin Hoover understood Russian events in terms…


Book cover of Kolymsky Heights

Robert Craven Author Of A Kind of Drowning

From my list on spies, spying and cold war thrillers.

Who am I?

I am the author of six espionage books, 5 featuring allied spy, Eva Molenaar operating at the highest levels of Hitler’s Reich. The 6th The Road of a Thousand Tigers, is my homage to le Carre and Ian Fleming. I have loved the spy genre since I first read The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers and grew up seeing every Bond movie since The Man with the Golden Gun at the cinema.

Robert's book list on spies, spying and cold war thrillers

Robert Craven Why did Robert love this book?

Written in 1994 after the collapse of the USSR, it is a spy story, but much more than that, a Homeric quest. A letter is smuggled out of Siberia, addressed to Jonny Porter, a Canadian of indigenous extract and who is then recruited by the CIA to go into Russia, posing as a Korean sailor to undertake a rescue mission. Porter’s journey into Russia is layered with unremitting tension as near his final destination, his identity is discovered, and he is hunted across the frozen tundra by Soviet forces.

Kolymsky Heights is my first port of call when I’m preparing to write my novels. It is a masterclass in plotting and immersing the reader into a world and country we still know so little about. Davidson is a very underrated writer and deserves a wider audience, this is the perfect introduction to his work.

By Lionel Davidson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kolymsky Heights. A Siberian permafrost hell lost in endless night, the perfect setting for an underground Russian research station. One so secret it doesn't officially exist. Once there, scientists cannot leave. But someone has got a message out to the West - a message summoning the only man alive capable of achieving the impossible.'One of the most powerful thrillers I have ever read'Michael James, The Times'A breathless story of fear and courage' Daily Telegraph'A tremendous thriller' Observer


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and the KGB?

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