10 books like The Glass Room

By Simon Mawer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Glass Room. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Suite Française

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Book cover of Suite Française

I’ve chosen this book not just for the incredible picture it paints of German occupation, but for the story of its survival. Irène Némirovsky was a Ukrainian-Jewish author living in Paris with her young family until she was denied French citizenship and forced to flee to the French countryside. In July 1942 she was arrested during a period of vicious roundups by the Germans and transported to Auschwitz, where she died a month later from typhus. Irène’s two daughters were amongst the crowd that gathered daily outside the Hotel Lutetia in Paris, where returnees from concentration camps were processed after the liberation of France. Her daughter Denise kept the notebook containing Suite Française for fifty years before realising what it contained, and Irène’s masterpiece was finally published in 2004.

Suite Française

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Suite Française as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through, not in terms of battles and politicians, but by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. She did not live to see her ambition fulfilled, or to know that sixty-five years later, "Suite Francaise" would be published for the first time, and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during a year that begins with France's fall to the Nazis in June 1940 and ends with Germany turning its attention to Russia, "Suite Francaise" falls…


Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Brontë,

Book cover of Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is a book I read and teach at least once a year. Its early section about childhood is, for me, the archetype of all impossible childhoods. Jane is orphaned, misunderstood, oppressed by the awful relatives who take her in, and abused by officials of Lowood School, the institution they palm her off on. Deprivation and hunger are the daily facts of her life. Humiliation, physical “punishment,” and the threat of hell are used to control her fellow wards. She is not so easily controlled. She watches while some of her fellow children, including her beloved friend Helen Burns, die because of infections caused by unhygienic conditions and malnutrition.

Despite it all, she retains an authenticity, a sense of herself that she refuses to violate to curry favor or reduce the harshness of her treatment. She remains a truth-teller, a natural detector of the pompous and hypocritical. She questions…

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…


All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr,

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

My father was a teenager when he fought in World War II. All my life I have tried to reconcile the dichotomy of my gentle father with the boy who joined the German military when he was 15. Werner Pfennig, the novel’s teenaged German protagonist, illustrates simply and powerfully that, even in a war, our moral compass allows us to make decisions to preserve our humanity.   

In one of the book’s final chapters, Marie-Laure, the blind French protagonist, admits to Werner she is not brave: “I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” Werner implies that we all have a choice when he replies, “Not in years. But today. Today maybe I did.” 

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR FICTION

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…


We Were the Lucky Ones

By Georgia Hunter,

Book cover of We Were the Lucky Ones

What I appreciate about Hunter's novel is that it takes a new approach to the subject of the Holocaust. With the outbreak of WWII, the Kurcs, a Polish-Jewish family, find themselves driven into another diaspora, with their family members cast to the four corners of the globe. Hunter touches on the plight of Poland during the early years of the war when the country was torn asunder by Germany from the west and the Soviet Union from the east. The plot follows the various family members as they struggle to survive the Holocaust in Poland, in Stalin's Gulag, and as one member tries to flee to South America. A big, sprawling, family epic filled with tragedy and humanity, brutality and heroism.

We Were the Lucky Ones

By Georgia Hunter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Were the Lucky Ones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller with more than 1 million copies sold worldwide

Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive-and to reunite-We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.

"Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn't be more timely." -Glamour

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family…


City of Thieves

By David Benioff,

Book cover of City of Thieves

Can there be any bleaker setting than Leningrad during the German siege in 1942, when starving citizens lick glue from the spines of books for food? Yet, despite the bleakness, this novel brims with humor and insight. It is structured as a quest undertaken by two prisoners: 17-year-old Lev, arrested for looting, and Kolya, a Russian soldier accused of desertion. A Russian colonel promises them freedom if they can breach the siege lines and return in two weeks with a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake. Along the way the pair encounters, among others, cannibals, German soldiers, Russian partisans, young women kept as sex slaves, and a hen who turns out to be a rooster. In the end, it is a moving story of friendship, bravery, and coming of age in a time of terror and chaos. The episodic telling of the tale draws me in as does the…

City of Thieves

By David Benioff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival - and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime.

During the Nazis' brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in…


The Leopard

By Giuseppe Di Lampedusa,

Book cover of The Leopard

E. M. Forster famously described Lampedusa’s solitary work as “one of the great lonely books.” It is a masterpiece that simultaneously captures both the peculiarity of Sicily within the experience of the wars of Italian Unification while brilliantly portraying characters confronting universal human emotions of love, loss, and struggle in times of momentous change. Lampedusa based the book’s protagonist, the Prince of Salina, on his own grandfather. The story, told in a series of episodes across half a century, while fictionalized, captures the essential elements of the birth of the modern Italian state, the rise of a new class of elites at the expense of the old, landed aristocracy, and the often-fraught attempt to create a unified Italian identity. There is a well-known film with Burt Lancaster in the starring role along with Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale that really evokes the visual power of the subject, but the book…

The Leopard

By Giuseppe Di Lampedusa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Leopard is a modern classic which tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution.

'There is a great feeling of opulence, decay, love and death about it' Rick Stein

In the spring of 1860, Fabrizio, the charismatic Prince of Salina, still rules over thousands of acres and hundreds of people, including his own numerous family, in mingled splendour and squalor. Then comes Garibaldi's landing in Sicily and the Prince must decide whether to resist the forces of change or come to terms with them.

'Every once in a…


Le Grand Meaulnes

By Alain Fournier,

Book cover of Le Grand Meaulnes

Clumsy peasant schoolboy, Meaulnes, and his friend – the narrator of this haunting story – get lost, and happen upon a great house, deep in the woods, where a phantasmagorical fancy dress party is underway. Everything at ‘the lost domain’ is topsy-turvy. Children are in charge. The passage of time is suspended. Social inequality has been erased.   The time the boys spend there is dream-like, disconcerting, life-spoiling because nothing can ever be so strange and marvelous again.  

Later, after much searching, Meaulnes make his way back, but the domain is like youth itself. If you return, it will be to find everything drabber than you remembered,  and the people you adored merely human. 

This book is even greater than its reputation.  Generally thought of as one of the last works of romanticism, a celebration of illusion, it is actually clear-eyed, tough-minded, bracingly truthful about the inevitably of disillusion. Alain-Fournier was…

Le Grand Meaulnes

By Alain Fournier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Le Grand Meaulnes est le seul roman de l'auteur français Alain-Fournier qui a été tué dans le premier mois de la Première Guerre mondiale. Il est un peu biographique - en particulier le nom de l'héroïne Yvonne, avec qui il a eu un engouement condamné à Paris. François Seurel, 15 ans, raconte l'histoire de son amitié avec Augustin Meaulnes, dix-sept ans, alors que Meaulnes cherche son amour perdu. Impulsif, imprudent et héroïque, Meaulnes incarne l'idéal romantique, la recherche de l'inaccessible, et le monde mystérieux entre l'enfance et l'âge adulte.


Ulverton

By Adam Thorpe,

Book cover of Ulverton

Not just one house, this time, but houses - a whole village in fact.  Adam Thorpe’s dazzlingly inventive novel is the story of a rural community over three and half centuries, narrated by a chorus of different voices.  Human dramas proliferate: love affairs, murders, executions, violent uprisings. But as people come and go, things stay put, outlasting them. An adulterous eighteenth-century lady is confined to her shuttered bed-chamber, forbidden to go down the creaky old stairs. Fifty years later a garrulous carpenter, reminiscing in the pub, describes the cutting of the wooden scroll that finished the banister of the new staircase he and his mates have built in the Hall, once that lady’s home. Two generations later a consumptive young lawyer, taking down the testimony of dozens of Luddite machine-breakers, visits the Hall, notices the stairs, judges them dark and old-fashioned. Time passes again and a 20th-century television cameraman leans…

Ulverton

By Adam Thorpe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Immerse yourself in the stories of Ulverton, as heard on BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime

'Sometimes you forget that it is a novel, and believe for a moment that you are really hearing the voice of the dead' Hilary Mantel

At the heart of this novel lies the fictional village of Ulverton. It is the fixed point in a book that spans three hundred years. Different voices tell the story of Ulverton: one of Cromwell's soldiers staggers home to find his wife remarried and promptly disappears, an eighteenth century farmer carries on an affair with a maid under his…


A Boy's Journey

By Peter J. Stein,

Book cover of A Boy's Journey: From Nazi-Occupied Prague to Freedom in America

I first met Peter here in Chapel Hill, and we became fast friends. A Holocaust survivor from Prague, Peter often spoke to my classes about his experiences. What made his talks so powerful was his ability to remember what it was like to be an eight-year-old boy living in a city under Nazi occupation, and to tell a story that is humbling, moving, and real. Never have I seen a speaker connect better with young people. Peter first became inspired to begin telling his story to students and others after confronting a Holocaust denier, and his many presentations laid the foundation for this book. Part history, part memoir, A Boy’s Journey is also a story about family and the need for tolerance and empathy in our world today. 

A Boy's Journey

By Peter J. Stein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Boy's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter J. Stein was a witness to history, a keeper of Holocaust memories and teller of its stories. He grew up the child of a Catholic mother and a Jewish father who was forced into slave labor and later disappeared. Nazi-occupied Prague was full of German soldiers everywhere and Peter’s loved ones vanished in mystery and secret. As a 12-year-old immigrant in America, he searched for a new identity that left his past behind.
But as Faulkner tells us, the past is never past. When, as a college professor, a group of students sought his help to challenge a Holocaust…


Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House

By Mark Girouard,

Book cover of Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House

Alas, now out of print, this book is part biography, part architectural history, and part social history. The mason-architect Robert Smythson comes to life, as do the houses he designed and the eccentric patrons who employed him. The book's (mainly black-and-white) illustrations inevitably look a bit dated now. But the text is, to my mind, hard to beat: utterly engrossing, particularly when dealing with Hardwick Hall, a house Girouard knows intimately, having lived there as a small child. I remember stumbling across this book many years ago, as a student, while looking for something else at the library. I ended up spending the better part of the day reading Robert Smythson from cover to cover: it was a revelation that a work of scholarship could be so beautifully written.

Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House

By Mark Girouard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Describes the career of the seventeenth-century British architect, looks at his designs for rural mansions and castles, and discusses his contributions to their interior decoration


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