10 books like The Last Man

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Last Man. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Vanity Fair

By William Makepeace Thackeray,

Book cover of Vanity Fair

Katy Darby Author Of The Unpierced Heart

From the list on historical fiction with wanton & wilful women.

Who am I?

I’m a historical fiction author (one novel published by Penguin, plus several Sherlock Holmes stories with Belanger Books) – and I read it avidly too, although many of the Victorian novels I love were considered frighteningly modern in their day. I’m fascinated by the 19th century as both reader and writer because of the incredible changes (social and technological) it saw, and the resulting dramas and tensions that emerged. Literacy and literary culture exploded during Victoria’s reign, but it was also a time of astonishing contrast: poverty versus huge wealth, outward virtue versus secret vice, prejudice and injustice (especially regarding women’s rights) versus struggles for social progress… sound familiar?

Katy's book list on historical fiction with wanton & wilful women

Discover why each book is one of Katy's favorite books.

Why did Katy love this book?

Famously, Thackeray subtitled his most celebrated work “a novel without a hero” – and frankly, that’s a major reason readers love it and it’s lasted so long. His anti-heroine Becky Sharp is even more notable for her wit, keen intelligence, and moral flexibility than for her personal attractions, and despite lacking both wealth and high birth, claws her way up the Georgian social ladder with scant regard for convention or other people’s feelings. Becky’s that rarity of (male-authored) nineteenth-century fiction: a female protagonist who’s fully-realised, three-dimensional, fascinating, and flawed – about as far from Dickens’s simpering tweens and caricatured crones as it’s possible to get. Through the Napoleonic wars, scandal, and ruin, we root for Becky even as we judge her: will she survive, even thrive? Read on!

Vanity Fair

By William Makepeace Thackeray,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Vanity Fair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair depicts the anarchic anti-heroine Beky Sharpe cutting a swathe through the eligible young men of Europe, set against a lucid backdrop of war and international chaos. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by John Carey.

No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia Sedley, however, longs only for the caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour…


The Night Before Christmas

By Clement C. Moore, Christine Brallier (illustrator),

Book cover of The Night Before Christmas

Susan Grossey Author Of The Man in the Canary Waistcoat

From the list on the 1820s (officially the best decade ever).

Who am I?

If you ask people to name a book set in the Regency period, your money is safe if you bet on them picking a Jane Austen. But the Regency was about much more than manners and matrimony. In my own areas of interest – justice, money, and financial crime – everything was changing, with the widespread introduction of paper money and cheques, the recognition that those on trial should have a defence as well as a prosecution, and the creation of modern police in the form of the Metropolitan Police. Dickens made the Victorian era famous, but the decades before good Queen V ascended the throne are equally fascinating.

Susan's book list on the 1820s (officially the best decade ever)

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

This poem was published anonymously in 1823. It’s such a Christmas staple that it’s hard to imagine how ground-breaking it was, but the simple plot – a family sleeps on Christmas Eve while the father hears a noise outside and sees Santa Claus in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer – was the first to set that quintessential Christmas scene. A friend of the author was charmed by the poem and sent it anonymously to a New York newspaper. The author finally owned up to it in 1837, confessing that as a Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, he had been uneasy about being associated with “unscholarly verse” that he had written only to amuse his children. But this “unscholarly verse” made his name and charms us still.

The Night Before Christmas

By Clement C. Moore, Christine Brallier (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's late night visit has a man and his curious kitty investigating. Did you know that Santa can play the guitar? Well, he can! Each page is filled with thoughtful details, luscious color, and a joyful whimsy. Mosaic artist Christine Brallier has created fifteen stained glass mosaic illustrations in her unique rendition of the classic The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. Reading the book with her family nearly five years ago, Christine was inspired to create her own version of the story and to put her family and their cat in it.…


The Pickwick Papers

By Charles Dickens,

Book cover of The Pickwick Papers

Noel Anenberg Author Of The Karma Kaper

From the list on majestic stories that lift our spirits.

Who am I?

I enjoyed writing The Karma Kaper. Just as there's tragedy and comedy in every aspect of our lives there's humor in crime. It's fun bringing that humor to my audience. I also believe in justice for all. Sadly, as American courts are currently more concerned with criminals' rights than victims' rights there are no guarantees victims will receive the justice they deserve. No one can predict if a jury of 12 will find a defendant who has committed a crime guilty. Then, there's the highest court of appeal - fiction! Between the covers of a novel, a crafty writer can ensure just verdicts and devise macabre punishments for the bad guys! It doesn't get any better! 

Noel's book list on majestic stories that lift our spirits

Discover why each book is one of Noel's favorite books.

Why did Noel love this book?

Samuel Pickwick Esq., G.C.M.P.C., is just one of Charles Dicken's delightful retinue of characters.

He was a portly little man shaped like a bowling pin with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge who was nominated to lead three bumbling Pickwickians (members of Pickwick's eponymous Pickwick Club in London) on a tour of the English countryside to learn about life outside of London then report back to a full meeting of the Club post haste.

Through their ineptitude, Pickwick and his retinue manage to tumble into a series of unimaginable yet hilarious intrigues.

No matter their travails, Dickens through his alter-ego Samuel Pickwick always sides with what is just and fair. If you believe in Providence you'll find all of Dickens' novels a joy to read. 

The Pickwick Papers

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Pickwick Papers we are introduced not just to one of the greatest writers in the English language, but to some of fiction's most endearing and memorable characters, starting with the 'illustrious, immortal and colossal-minded' Samuel Pickwick himself. It is a rollicking tour de force through an England on the brink of the Victorian era. Reform of government, justice and commercial life are imminent, as are rail travel, social convulsion and the death of deference, but Pickwick sails through on a tide of delirious adventure, fortifying us for the future - whatever it might throw at us.

This Macmillan…


Book cover of The Red and the Black

Susan Grossey Author Of The Man in the Canary Waistcoat

From the list on the 1820s (officially the best decade ever).

Who am I?

If you ask people to name a book set in the Regency period, your money is safe if you bet on them picking a Jane Austen. But the Regency was about much more than manners and matrimony. In my own areas of interest – justice, money, and financial crime – everything was changing, with the widespread introduction of paper money and cheques, the recognition that those on trial should have a defence as well as a prosecution, and the creation of modern police in the form of the Metropolitan Police. Dickens made the Victorian era famous, but the decades before good Queen V ascended the throne are equally fascinating.

Susan's book list on the 1820s (officially the best decade ever)

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

The Red and the Black (or Le Rouge et le Noir) was published by French author Stendhal in 1830. The action across the two volumes takes place from 1814 to 1830, so the 1820s are included. The title refers to the two competing ambitions of the hero, Julien Sorel, who can’t decide whether he wants the glamour and excitement of a military career (red uniform) or the moral calm of life as a priest (black cassock). I was forced to read this in French at school and hated it, but when I returned to it in English years later I was completely absorbed by Julien’s struggles – although, to be honest, he’s a ghastly fellow and rather deserves his fate. It’s an epic, sweeping read and guaranteed to impress anyone French if you mention you’ve read it.

The Red and the Black

By Stendhal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Traces the ascent and descent of a young, aspirational social climber in a harsh, monarchical country.

Julien Sorel, a handsome and aspirational man, is determined to overcome his lowly provincial upbringing. He soon realises that the only way to succeed is to follow the sophisticated code of hypocrisy that governs society, so he starts to progress by lying and self-interest. His successful job leads him into the centre of glitzy Parisian society, where he triumphs over the proud Mathilde and the kind, married Madame de Rênal. Then, though, Julien commits a shocking, terrible crime—leading to his own demise. In The…


Frederica

By Georgette Heyer,

Book cover of Frederica

Victoria Chatham Author Of His Unexpected Muse

From the list on endings with happy everafters for any era.

Who am I?

I was born in Clifton, in the city of Bristol, England. Clifton is known for its elegant Georgian and Regency architecture. Growing up in these surroundings gave me an impression of what life might have been like for the people who lived there, the families upstairs and servants belowstairs. In front of a few houses on some streets, there are still stone blocks at the curb, worn smooth from countless feet entering and exiting their carriages. I have used Clifton as a setting in some of the books I have written, hoping to make those scenes more realistic and bring history alive for my readers. 

Victoria's book list on endings with happy everafters for any era

Discover why each book is one of Victoria's favorite books.

Why did Victoria love this book?

Anyone who reads Regency romance is sure to have heard of, if not read, Georgette Heyer. She authored twenty-six books in this genre and I have read all of them many times, but Frederica is by far my favorite. It is full of wit and charm, and Frederica’s younger siblings come across as fresh and funny as the first time I read the book.

Frederica

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Georgette Heyer's beloved tale of an entertaining heroine stumbling on happiness when her marital machinations for her sister go awry.

Determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, Frederica seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke. Lovely, competent, and refreshingly straightforward, Frederica makes such a strong impression on him that to his own amazement, the Marquis agrees to help launch them all into society.

Normally Lord Alverstoke keeps his distance from his family, which includes two overbearing sisters and innumerable favor-seekers. But with his enterprising—and altogether entertaining—country cousins chasing wishes and…


The Ink War

By Willy Hendriks,

Book cover of The Ink War: Romanticism versus Modernity in Chess

Matthew Sadler Author Of The Silicon Road To Chess Improvement: Chess Engine Training Methods, Opening Strategies & Middlegame Techniques

From the list on (in)famous chess players.

Who am I?

I first saw a chessboard at the age of 7 and became a professional chess player at 16, achieving the grandmaster title after just 3 years. Many years later – and no longer a professional – that childhood love for a beautiful game still burns brightly. My particular passions are chess engines – which offer a glimpse into the chess of the future – and the lives and games of historical chess players. I’ve reviewed hundreds of books for New in Chess magazine and I particularly love books that challenge my understanding of chess and show me new facets to old knowledge. I hope you love these books too! 

Matthew's book list on (in)famous chess players

Discover why each book is one of Matthew's favorite books.

Why did Matthew love this book?

As a child fascinated by chess, I devoured chess books about the old masters – colourful, eccentric geniuses who drew me into a world that I’ve never since wanted to leave!

Chess in those days was not just about who was the strongest, but also on a philosophical level about who was playing the “chess of the future”.

Hendriks examines the long rivalry between the first World Champion Steinitz and his challenger Zukertort through their writings – often conducted via fierce polemics in their respective newspaper columns – and their 1886 World Championship match.

It’s a moving human story which highlights that the winner’s narrative (“Steinitz won, and defeated an old-fashioned player with modern chess”) is not always the correct one! 

The Ink War

By Willy Hendriks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The rivalry between William Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, the world's strongest chess players in the late nineteenth century, became so fierce that it was eventually named The Ink War. They fought their battle on the chessboard and in various chess magazines and columns. It was not only about who was the strongest player but also about who had the best ideas on how to play the game.In 1872, Johannes Zukertort moved from Berlin to London to continue his chess career. Ten years earlier, William Steinitz had moved from Vienna to London for the same purpose; meanwhile, he had become the…


Forever Amber

By Kathleen Winsor,

Book cover of Forever Amber

Joy Lanzendorfer Author Of Right Back Where We Started From

From the list on ruthless social climbers.

Who am I?

My novel, Right Back Where We Started From, is about greed. I wanted to see what it would look like if women in history pursued their goals with the same relentless intensity as the men who came to the California Gold Rush. I love reading about social climbing because ambition is so baked into the fabric of the United States, and is such a big part of our lives. The books on this list are unafraid to show you the ugly, unpleasant side of ambition—and the exciting, captivating side as well. 

Joy's book list on ruthless social climbers

Discover why each book is one of Joy's favorite books.

Why did Joy love this book?

My grandfather went to elementary school with Kathleen Winsor, whose bestselling historical romance, Forever Amber, was banned in some places for being too sexy. I haven't read the novel since I was a teenager, but I loved it at the time and would probably still enjoy it for the sheer romanticism today. Amber starts as a peasant and works her way up through the ranks of lords and ladies of restoration England, becoming the mistress of King Charles IIbut she does it with way more bodice ripping than Becky Sharp ever dreamed. Amber navigates the Great Plague and Fire of England while, all along, she yearns for a man she can't have. Think Gone With The Wind, but without the racism. 

Forever Amber

By Kathleen Winsor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A book to read and reread, this reissue brings back to print an unforgettable romance and a timeless masterpiece.

Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, sixteen-year-old Amber St. Clare uses her wits, beauty and courage to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England - that of favourite mistress of the Merry Monarch himself, Charles II.

From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from the Great Plague and the Fire of London to the intimate passions of ordinary - and extraordinary - men and women, Amber experiences it all. But throughout…


Romanticism

By David Blayney Brown,

Book cover of Romanticism

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From the list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Who am I?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

Art history also knows a Romantic movement, as does music history. Brown’s book has 250 color plates, mostly of painting from Constable, Turner, Blake, Friedrich, Delacroix, Goya, and many others, but also of some architectural wonders. Brown makes continual connections to the poetry and philosophy of the time, and to political events, as he organizes his chapters by theme: the cult of the artist, the religion of nature, the sense of the past, orientalism, and the exotic, and so on. There are several fine books on Romantic painting, but this is probably the best place to begin.

Romanticism

By David Blayney Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Romanticism was a way of feeling rather than a style in art. In the period c.1775-1830 - against the background of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars - European artists, poets and composers initiated their own rebellion against the dominant political, religious and social ethos of the day. Their quest was for personal expression and individual liberation and, in the process, the Romantics transformed the idea of art, seeing it as an instrument of social and psychological change.

In this comprehensive volume, David Blayney Brown takes a thematic approach to Romanticism, relating it to the concurrent, more stylistic movements…


Natural Supernaturalism

By M. H. Abrams,

Book cover of Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From the list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Who am I?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

When I was a student I found this book an inspiration. Beautifully written, it brings out deep affinities between the poetry and ideas of Wordsworth, Shelley, and other poets in England and the idealist philosophers in Germany, and the ways both groups rewrote the cosmic ideas of Christianity and ancient esoteric systems. It continually sets off sparks with its surprising comparisons. In the fifty years since it appeared, scholars have complained about how many writers the book leaves out, but given that its theme is “The High Romantic Argument” and not all of Romanticism, I am still impressed by how much it takes in.

Natural Supernaturalism

By M. H. Abrams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this remarkable new book, M. H. Abrams definitively studies the Romantic Age (1789-1835)-the age in which Shelley claimed that "the literature of England has arisen as it were from a new birth." Abrams shows that the major poets of the age had in common important themes, modes of expression, and ways of feeling and imagining; that the writings of these poets were an integral part of a comprehensive intellectual tendency which manifested itself in philosophy as well as poetry, in England and in Germany; and that this tendency was causally related to drastic political and social changes of the…


The Spirit of the Age

By William Hazlitt,

Book cover of The Spirit of the Age

Virginia Crow Author Of Beneath Black Clouds and White

From the list on inspirational stories of the romantics.

Who am I?

I fell in love with Romantic poetry when I was young. Then, after a gap of several years, I began to write historical fiction, and it was at this time that I found myself being drawn once more to the Romantic poets, this time as people as much as for their work. I discovered their place in the world, contested and controversial, and their influence became a driving light to me and my characters. In Beneath Black Clouds and White, Delphi explains: “It has a pulse, you see, like any other living thing. You must treat each poem as though it were alive.” I feel the same way!

Virginia's book list on inspirational stories of the romantics

Discover why each book is one of Virginia's favorite books.

Why did Virginia love this book?

I’m a sucker for a good primary source, but I’m even more of a fan of the 1.5 sources. I love the sources which are of the time but are influenced as much by rumour as fact. This collection of essays does its best to be objective, but there are people amongst these pages who have been so strongly immortalised in popular opinion, but sometimes facts have been discarded in favour of Hazlitt’s own opinion. But, from the point of view of a historical fiction writer, this is priceless, because it unearths a contemporary viewpoint and opens a window onto the thoughts of a people about The Spirit of the Age!

The Spirit of the Age

By William Hazlitt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


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