100 books like The Hospital

By Ahmed Bouanani, Lara Vergnaud (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Hospital fans have personally recommended if you like The Hospital. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times

Frazer Lee Author Of Greyfriars Reformatory

From my list on making you the inmate of a sinister institution.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong horror fan, I have always been fascinated by haunted landscapes and creepy buildings. My childhood in the Midlands of England prepared me for my career as a horror writer and filmmaker with its abundance of spooky ruins and foggy canal paths. I have since explored ancient sites all across the U.K. and Europe and my novels are inspired by these field trips into the uncanny, where the contemporary every day rubs shoulders with the ancient and occult. Places become characters in their own right in my work and I think this list of books celebrates that. I hope you find them as disturbing and thought-provoking as I have.

Frazer's book list on making you the inmate of a sinister institution

Frazer Lee Why did Frazer love this book?

I once worked on a film shoot at the infamous Friern Barnet Asylum in London, an imposing building that boasts the longest corridor in Europe at over a third of a mile long. It was my job to lock up after filming was over each night, and to do so, I had to walk the long corridor with just a flashlight for company… and the ghosts rumoured to haunt the building! I have never forgotten the feeling of dread and despair in that place, and my heart went out to the patients who were isolated in the creepy basement wards. Barbara Taylor gives an inside perspective on this fearsome institution in her book, which is both an achingly honest account of mental illness and addiction, and a critique of community care.

By Barbara Taylor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Last Asylum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Last Asylum is Barbara Taylor's haunting memoir of her journey through the UK mental health system.

A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

SHORTLISTED FOR THE RBC TAYLOR PRIZE

In July 1988, Barbara Taylor, then an acclaimed young historian, was admitted to what had once been England's largest psychiatric institution: Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, later known as Friern Hospital.

This searingly honest, thought-provoking and beautifully written memoir is the story of the author's madness years, set inside the wider story of the death of the asylum system in the twentieth century. It is a meditation on her own experience…


Book cover of The Chocolate War

Frazer Lee Author Of Greyfriars Reformatory

From my list on making you the inmate of a sinister institution.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong horror fan, I have always been fascinated by haunted landscapes and creepy buildings. My childhood in the Midlands of England prepared me for my career as a horror writer and filmmaker with its abundance of spooky ruins and foggy canal paths. I have since explored ancient sites all across the U.K. and Europe and my novels are inspired by these field trips into the uncanny, where the contemporary every day rubs shoulders with the ancient and occult. Places become characters in their own right in my work and I think this list of books celebrates that. I hope you find them as disturbing and thought-provoking as I have.

Frazer's book list on making you the inmate of a sinister institution

Frazer Lee Why did Frazer love this book?

I read this book during my school days, which we are often told are the best of our lives. I enjoyed school, overall, but did encounter more than my fair share of bullies and vindictive teachers. Reading in the school library became my favourite escape, and I devoured this book in one lengthy sitting. I was fascinated and appalled in equal measure by secret society The Vandals, who made the kids at my school look like rank amateurs! After reading this book, the reader is left shell-shocked and wondering if it’s better to comply or to ‘disturb the universe’ as Cormier provocatively puts it.

By Robert Cormier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Chocolate War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The bestselling controversial novel about corruption and misuse of power in an American boys' school.
The headmaster of Trinity College asks Archie Costello, the leader of the Vigils, a secret society that rules the school, to help with the selling of 20,000 boxes of chocolates in the annual fund-raising effort. Archie sees the chance of adding to his power - he is the Assigner, handing out to the boys tasks to be performed if they are to survive in the school. Freshman, Jerry Renault, a newcomer to the corrupt regime, refuses to sell chocolates. Enormous mental and physical pressure is…


Book cover of Asylum

Frazer Lee Author Of Greyfriars Reformatory

From my list on making you the inmate of a sinister institution.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong horror fan, I have always been fascinated by haunted landscapes and creepy buildings. My childhood in the Midlands of England prepared me for my career as a horror writer and filmmaker with its abundance of spooky ruins and foggy canal paths. I have since explored ancient sites all across the U.K. and Europe and my novels are inspired by these field trips into the uncanny, where the contemporary every day rubs shoulders with the ancient and occult. Places become characters in their own right in my work and I think this list of books celebrates that. I hope you find them as disturbing and thought-provoking as I have.

Frazer's book list on making you the inmate of a sinister institution

Frazer Lee Why did Frazer love this book?

This book stayed with me long after I made it my Summer read that year during a blisteringly hot July. It details a darkly destructive love affair between Stella, the wife of a man running an asylum, and Edgar, a murderer who is incarcerated there. McGrath’s vivid descriptions of the asylum and its grounds reframe the gothic tradition through an unflinching, contemporary lens. The doomed obsession of the novel’s star cross’d lovers reminds us that our own hearts can become institutionalised if we do not balance passion with compromise.

By Patrick McGrath,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A story of self-obsession narrated by the point of view of a psychiatrist, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

As a psychiatrist in a top-security mental hospital in the 1950s, Peter Cleave has made a study of what he calls 'the catastrophic love affair characterized by sexual obsession.' His experience is extensive, and he is never surprised. Until, that is, he comes reluctantly to accept that the wife of one of his colleagues has embarked on such an affair...


Book cover of The Devil in Silver

Michele W. Miller Author Of The Lower Power

From my list on supernatural terror with real-world adversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write horror and crime thrillers grounded in my unusual lived experience as an author and attorney who has also overcome poverty, incarceration, and violent crime. I feel most fulfilled when I read a book that both entertains and expands me in meaningful ways, immersing me in lives, cultures, and history I might not otherwise know. So I love Social Horror novels, which feature characters who face significant human adversity beyond my own experience and leave me questioning what was worse, the human or the supernatural.

Michele's book list on supernatural terror with real-world adversity

Michele W. Miller Why did Michele love this book?

A man called “Pepper,” who may or may not suffer from mental illness, ends up in a locked mental ward in Queens, New York, where the entire novel takes place.

A beast, who the patients believe is the devil, comes out at night, assaulting and sometimes killing patients. Patient deaths are chalked up to suicide. The engaging, quirky characters—drugged to the gills while warehoused and essentially untreated in a public hospital—share the defining feature of being low-income and unprotected from both the supernatural and human forces that would destroy them. They must take matters into their own hands to protect themselves.

I appreciated the theme of how marginalization and isolation presented as much terror here as the supernatural. Yet, the hope and humor of the characters also kept me engaged and frequently smiling.

By Victor LaValle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Devil in Silver as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • Publishers Weekly

New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.
 
Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He’s not mentally ill, but that doesn’t seem to matter. He is accused of a crime he can’t quite square with his memory. In the darkness of his room on his first…


Book cover of The Sultan's Communists: Moroccan Jews and the Politics of Belonging

Alan Verskin Author Of A Vision of Yemen: The Travels of a European Orientalist and His Native Guide, A Translation of Hayyim Habshush's Travelogue

From my list on the life stories of modern Middle Eastern Jews.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor who is drawn to history out of a love of recovering and making accessible otherwise forgotten voices and stories of the past. I’m especially interested in relationships between Jews and Muslims and how they’ve dealt with minorityhood, displacement, colonialism, and modernization. I’ve written four books, two focusing on Muslims and two on Jews, as well as numerous articles. Among my greatest pleasures as a scholar is seeing my readers begin with an interest in the stories of one religious group (either Muslims or Jews) and then become so curious about the drama, joy, and conflicts of the era that they become interested in the stories of the other as well.

Alan's book list on the life stories of modern Middle Eastern Jews

Alan Verskin Why did Alan love this book?

Alma Heckman’s The Sultan’s Communists uses the life stories of five prominent Moroccan Jewish communists to paint a complex picture of Jewish identity in twentieth-century Morocco. By documenting their struggles, Heckman details the often surprising ways in which Moroccan Jews negotiated their political environment and mediated between Moroccan patriotism, French colonialism, radical politics, Arab and Jewish identity, and Zionism. She also describes the ways in which the Moroccan sultan reimagined his relationship with the country’s Jews and the surprising history of how and why he ultimately came to embrace Jewish communists, who, to begin with, had been the subject of severe repression, including imprisonment and exile. 

By Alma Rachel Heckman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Sultan's Communists uncovers the history of Jewish radical involvement in Morocco's national liberation project and examines how Moroccan Jews envisioned themselves participating as citizens in a newly-independent Morocco. Closely following the lives of five prominent Moroccan Jewish Communists (Leon Rene Sultan, Edmond Amran El Maleh, Abraham Serfaty, Simon Levy, and Sion Assidon), Alma Rachel Heckman describes how Moroccan Communist Jews fit within the story of mass Jewish exodus from Morocco in the 1950s and '60s, and how they survived oppressive post-independence authoritarian rule under the Moroccan monarchy to ultimately become heroic emblems of state-sponsored Muslim-Jewish tolerance.

The figures at…


Book cover of The Sultan's Wife

Tahir Shah Author Of Travels with Nasrudin

From my list on or set within Morocco.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tahir Shah has spent his professional life searching for the hidden underbelly of lands through which he travels. In doing so he often uncovers layers of life that most other writers hardly even realise exist. With a world-wide following, Tahir’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages, in hundreds of editions. His documentaries have been screened on National Geographic TV, The History Channel, Channel 4, and in cinemas the world over. The son of the writer and thinker Idries Shah, Tahir was born into a prominent Anglo-Afghan family, and seeks to bridge East with West through his work.

Tahir's book list on or set within Morocco

Tahir Shah Why did Tahir love this book?

Good writers of historical fiction blend layers of fact and fantasy together into an irresistible kaleidoscope. The very best of them are time travellers. And, that’s what Jane Johnson certain is… for her magical novel, set in the days of Sultan Moulay Ismail, sucks the reader back through centuries to a time when the Barbary Coast was a wild rumpus of a place – peppered with palaces and pirates, treasure, secrets, intrigue, and danger. I love this book because it’s not a dry historical read, so much as an intricate observation on the relationship between people, both elegant and deeply touching.

By Jane Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The author of The Salt Road and The Tenth Gift Jane Johnson returns with a captivating historical novel set in Morocco, The Sultan's Wife.

The year is 1677. Behind the magnificent walls and towering arches of the Palace of Meknes, captive chieftain's son and now a lowly scribe, Nus Nus is framed for murder. As he attempts to evade punishment for the bloody crime, Nus Nus finds himself trapped in a vicious plot, caught between the three most powerful figures in the court: the cruel and arbitrary Sultan Moulay Ismail, one of the most tyrannical rulers in history; his monstrous…


Book cover of Dreams Of Trespass: Tales Of A Harem Girlhood

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Author Of In Defense of Universal Human Rights

From my list on readable stories on human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of international human rights and comparative genocide studies. My father was a refugee from the Holocaust. So I was always interested in genocide, but I did not want to be another Holocaust scholar. Instead, I introduced one of the first university courses in Canada on comparative genocide studies. From a very young age, I was also very interested in social justice: I was seven when Emmett Till was murdered in the US. So when I became a professor, I decided to specialize in international human rights. I read a lot of “world literature” fiction that helps me to empathize with people in places I’ve never been.

Rhoda's book list on readable stories on human rights

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Why did Rhoda love this book?

Fatima Mernissi was a Moroccan feminist. This book is her memoir of growing up in a harem (an enclosed all-female space) in Morocco in the 1940s and 50s.

It dispels many of the stereotypes and prejudices that many Westerners hold about how Islamic society treats women. The harem Mernissi grew up in was a warm and loving space. One of the elderly women living in it had been a slave, but was now cared for by the family. It was also a space where women could talk about their condition and consider ways of rebelling against it.

I assigned this book to a class on women’s human rights in the 1990s. It was very popular among the students, including the one man, whose background on his father’s side was Palestinian.

By Fatima Mernissi, Ruth V. Ward (photographer),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dreams Of Trespass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I was born in a harem in 1940 in Fez, Morocco..." So begins Fatima Mernissi in this exotic and rich narrative of a childhood behind the iron gates of a domestic harem. In Dreams of Trespass , Mernissi weaves her own memories with the dreams and memories of the women who surrounded her in the courtyard of her youth,women who, deprived of access to the world outside, recreated it from sheer imagination. Dreams of Trespass is the provocative story of a girl confronting the mysteries of time and place, gender and sex in the recent Muslim world.


Book cover of This Blinding Absence of Light

Rebecca Kingston Author Of Plutarch's Prism: Classical Reception and Public Humanism in France and England, 1500-1800

From my list on why politics matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a student of the history of ideas, with a particular interest in political thought, for over forty years. I have read countless books, both ancient and modern, and in several languages, that explore themes related to public life. I am a dedicated citizen of a contemporary liberal democracy, but today, I live in fear of a growing backlash against liberal democracy. The risk of democratic backsliding in the contemporary US is real as citizens become more disillusioned with politics. In other liberal democracies, some party leaders are adopting populist rhetoric to enhance their electoral appeal, but in doing so, they are undermining some of the established norms of public life. 

Rebecca's book list on why politics matter

Rebecca Kingston Why did Rebecca love this book?

This is an amazing book!

Ben Jelloun was a political prisoner in Morocco for several years and was imprisoned in a dark cell in the ground in unimaginably horrific conditions. This book demonstrates politics gone wrong and the extent of the brutality that can be ravaged on other human beings in a system lacking justice or any sense of human rights and dignity.

Despite the intensely inhumane conditions of imprisonment, Ben Jelloun carries us along his journey and offers his readers an inspiring account of endurance and courage.

This book needs to be read by people in an era of democratic backsliding because it helps to demonstrate some of the things that are at stake when electorates become tempted by authoritarian leaders.

By Tahar Ben Jelloun, Linda Coverdale (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Blinding Absence of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An immediate and critically acclaimed bestseller in France and winner of the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, This Blinding Absence of Light is the latest work by Tahar Ben Jelloun, the first North African winner of the Prix Goncourt and winner of the 1994 Prix Mahgreb. Ben Jelloun crafts a horrific real-life narrative into fiction to tell the appalling story of the desert concentration camps in which King Hassan II of Morocco held his political enemies under the most harrowing conditions. Not until September 1991, under international pressure, was Hassan's regime forced to open these desert hellholes. A handful…


Book cover of Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

Tahir Shah Author Of Travels with Nasrudin

From my list on or set within Morocco.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tahir Shah has spent his professional life searching for the hidden underbelly of lands through which he travels. In doing so he often uncovers layers of life that most other writers hardly even realise exist. With a world-wide following, Tahir’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages, in hundreds of editions. His documentaries have been screened on National Geographic TV, The History Channel, Channel 4, and in cinemas the world over. The son of the writer and thinker Idries Shah, Tahir was born into a prominent Anglo-Afghan family, and seeks to bridge East with West through his work.

Tahir's book list on or set within Morocco

Tahir Shah Why did Tahir love this book?

This book haunts me in a way that almost no other published work does. It’s like one of those movies we all have on a secret list – that we adore but can’t bear to ever watch again (like the Killing Fields or Fight Club). A memoir of almost unparalleled beauty and horror, it tells the true-life tale of the daughter of General Oufkir, who was put to death for attempted regicide. Malika and her five siblings were imprisoned for fifteen years in a penal colony, from where they mounted a daring escape.

By Michele Fitoussi, Malika Oufkir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The daughter of a former aide to the king of Morocco, who was executed after a failed assassination attempt on the ruler, describes how she, her five siblings, and her mother were imprisoned in a desert penal colony for twenty years.


Book cover of The Sheltering Sky

Stephen McCauley Author Of The Easy Way out

From my list on for readers to travel who hate to leave the house.

Why am I passionate about this?

For much of the 1980s, I worked at a travel agency in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The travel benefits back then were amazing. Like most of my hippie-ish colleagues, I’d return from one trip and immediately plan the next. I was on a tour of Egypt (ten days for $300!) when I acknowledged I liked the idea of travel more than the reality. I was reading Flaubert’s letters to his mother from Egypt, and his descriptions seemed more real than the landscape in front of me. I still like getting on airplanes, but traveling through literature is the cheaper and, for me, more broadening experience.  

Stephen's book list on for readers to travel who hate to leave the house

Stephen McCauley Why did Stephen love this book?

I first read The Sheltering Sky on a train to New York. I was so caught up in the book, I hated to get off at Penn Station.

It feels as if the novel sprang directly from the author’s subconscious,  and it has an eerie way of burrowing into the reader’s thoughts and dreams. An American couple (modeled on Bowles and his wife Jane) embark on a journey deep into the North African desert. To say they have a complicated marriage is an understatement.

The murky sexuality of the characters, the astonishing descriptions of the landscape and the sky, and the truly shocking events make this a journey no reader can ever forget, even if you’d like to.  

By Paul Bowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Sheltering Sky is a book about people on the edge of an alien space; somewhere where, curiously, they are never alone' Michael Hoffman.

Port and Kit Moresbury, a sophisticated American couple, are finding it more than a little difficult to live with each other. Endeavouring to escape this predicament, they set off for North Africa intending to travel through Algeria - uncertain of exactly where they are heading, but determined to leave the modern world behind. The results of this casually taken decision are both tragic and compelling.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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