83 books like The Man from the Train

By Bill James, Rachel McCarthy James,

Here are 83 books that The Man from the Train fans have personally recommended if you like The Man from the Train. 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 I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

Kathryn Canavan Author Of Lincoln's Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America's Greatest President

From my list on true crime stories written by insiders and experts.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of my first newspaper jobs was as a crime writer, covering and discovering crime stories in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. There's a lot of chaff among the wheat in the true crime genre. Some books are padded with the author's personal lives. Some have paper-thin plots. The books I've recommended are well-told, well-researched stories that are hard to put down.

Kathryn's book list on true crime stories written by insiders and experts

Kathryn Canavan Why did Kathryn love this book?

Michelle McNamara waded into a new area of criminal investigation—hive investigation.

McNamara, a crime writer, got crime buffs together online, each using specific talents to search for the burglar-kidnapper-murderer who terrorized Californians for 12 years. With their help and DNA from an ancestry website, police were able to arrest ex-cop Joseph DeAngelo.

He pled guilty to 13 counts of murder and kidnapping in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table. Prosecutors called DeAngelo a poster boy for the death penalty.

Mc Namara's dogged detective work helped nab him and she is credited with the appellation Golden State Killer.

By Michelle McNamara,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked I'll Be Gone in the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?




Washington Post | Maureen Corrigan, NPR | Paste | Seattle Times | Entertainment Weekly | Esquire | Slate | Buzzfeed | Jezebel | Philadelphia Inquirer | Publishers Weekly | Kirkus Reviews | Library Journal | Bustle 

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards for Nonfiction | Anthony Award Winner | SCIBA Book Award Winner | Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime | Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence

The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist…

Book cover of My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir

Stephen Holgate Author Of To Live and Die in the Floating World

From my list on neglected mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

From Poe to Conan Doyle and Christie to the hard-boiled school of Hammett and Chandler and modern practitioners such as Louise Penny and Walter Mosely, I can gobble up mysteries like candy. Their appeal lies not only in compelling storylines but in their promise to restore order to our chaotic world, assure us that justice will triumph and evil geniuses will lose to intrepid paladins. As with wines, art, and sex, tastes vary. While reading various lists of great mysteries to jog my memory to make this list, I realized that few of my favorites were even listed, much less among the top ranks. Like a good detective, I’m determined that justice prevails.

Stephen's book list on neglected mysteries

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

Memoirs don’t often feature mysteries, but Elroy, known for tough, cynical crime novels such as L.A. Confidential, centers his around his obsession with the unsolved murder of his mother in 1958 when Elroy was ten. With allusions to the famous Blue Dahlia case, Elroy writes with brutal frankness about his own pathologies and his weirdly loving relationship with his neglectful, alcoholic father. If nothing else, this absorbing book—hard to read and equally hard to put down—solves the mystery of why Elroy and his novels come off as so creepy.

By James Ellroy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked My Dark Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On 22 June 1958, Geneva "Jean" Hilliker Ellroy was found strangled. Her murderer was never found, but her death had a lasting effect on her ten-year-old son who wasted his early adulthood as a wino, petty burglar and derelict. In this book he tells of his determination to solve his mother's murder.

Book cover of The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

Sarah Horowitz Author Of The Red Widow: The Scandal that Shook Paris and the Woman Behind it All

From my list on scandalous women you’ve never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved reading about women who lived in earlier eras, whether that was through nonfiction or historical fiction. Books gave me access to worlds beyond my own and I loved thinking about what I would do in a particular situation, whether I would have made the same choices as the women I was reading about. I suppose it’s no surprise that I have a Ph.D. in history and teach European history. I love sharing my passion for the past and I hope you love the books I recommended as much as I do!

Sarah's book list on scandalous women you’ve never heard of

Sarah Horowitz Why did Sarah love this book?

Ok, so I’m cheating a little bit here. A lot of people have heard of the women Rubenhold writes about because they’re famous for being Jack the Ripper’s victims.

And for many of the women, what they did was not particularly scandalous, since Rubenhold goes a long way to show that not all of them were streetwalkers. But this book is such a beautiful and heartbreaking read. It’s a meticulous and gripping reconstruction of the lives of women we thought we knew but don’t. She brings nineteenth-century London alive in a way that few authors have – when I read the book, I felt like I was there.

By Hallie Rubenhold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'An angry and important work of historical detection, calling time on the misogyny that has fed the Ripper myth. Powerful and shaming' GUARDIAN

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but…

Book cover of Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: The Uncensored Story of the JonBenet Murder and the Grand Jury's Search for the Truth

Rick Geary Author Of A Treasury Of Victorian Murder Compendium: Including: Jack The Ripper, The Beast Of Chicago, Fatal Bullet

From my list on unsolved murders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I trace my interest in true crime back to the early 1970s when I worked as a staff cartoonist for a weekly newspaper in Wichita, Kansas. A former cop lent me his vast collection of mugshots. Looking into the literal face of crime awakened in me a lasting interest. He also gave me a copy of the complete police file of an unsolved murder from years earlier. Scrutinizing it gave birth to my passion for real-life mysteries like Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, Mary Rogers, and the Black Dahlia. To my mind, questions are always more fascinating than answers.  

Rick's book list on unsolved murders

Rick Geary Why did Rick love this book?

This is the most detailed account we’re likely to get of what remains an enduring mystery: the 1996 murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in her home in the affluent town of Boulder, Colorado. From the beginning, police and all other observers were baffled, although the victim’s parents remained under a cloud of suspicion. An added bizarre element was the mother’s grooming of her daughter to compete in child beauty pageants.

By Lawrence Schiller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, Lawrence Schiller thoroughly recreates every aspect of the complex case of the death of JonBenét Ramsey. A brilliant portrait of an inscrutable family thrust under the spotlight of public suspicion and an affluent, tranquil city torn apart by a crime it couldn't handle, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town uncovers the mysteries that have bewildered the nation.

Why were the Ramseys, the targets of the investigation, able to control the direction of the police inquiry?

Can the key to the murder be found in the pen and writing pad used for the ransom note?

Was it possible…

Book cover of Ten Beautiful Things

Kaitlyn Odom Fiedler Author Of What Now? Finding Renewed Life in Christ After Loss

From my list on a biblical view of death and grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

Navigating life with grief has been a lifelong journey for me ever since I was a young child. At 8 years old, I was in a car accident which took the lives of my parents and four of my siblings. Since then, I’ve faced a huge mountain in front of me – How do you move forward in life when you have lost everything? This journey led me to now share my story of childhood loss and healing in hopes of helping others. As a counselor, I’m a huge mental health advocate and love books which tackle hard emotions that help readers of all ages feel more understood and equipped for their journey ahead.

Kaitlyn's book list on a biblical view of death and grief

Kaitlyn Odom Fiedler Why did Kaitlyn love this book?

Griffin does a wonderful job in this beautiful children’s book.

She guides the reader through a heartfelt tale of a little girl moving to live with her grandmother. On the car ride, they both search for 10 beautiful things. This book will pull at the heartstrings as, together, they find beauty in little things around them on their car ride, and it ends with the pair naming the sweetest, most beautiful thing of all.

As someone who has experienced childhood loss (loss as a child), I highly recommend this beautiful story for any child going through a loss or big change in their life that might have them feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or closed off.

By Molly Griffin, Maribel Lechuga (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A heartfelt story of changing perspectives, set in the Midwest. Ten Beautiful Things gently explores loss, a new home, and finding beauty wherever you are.

Lily and her grandmother search for ten beautiful things as they take a long car ride to Iowa and Lily's new home with Gran. At first, Lily sees nothing beautiful in the April slush and cloudy sky. Soon though, Lily can see beauty in unexpected places, from the smell of spring mud to a cloud shaped like a swan to a dilapidated barn. A furious rainstorm mirrors Lily's anxiety, but as it clears Lily discovers…

Book cover of An Old Settler's Story: Pioneer Life in Iowa: The Story of John Blake Jolliffe and his Wife Jane Etta Metcalf Jolliffe

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of Leora's Early Years: Guthrie County Roots

From my list on family history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the fourth “oldest daughter” in my motherline, and my interest in genealogy and family history, my trajectory was set decades ago to become the keeper of the family letters, telegrams, photos, pilot logbooks, and stories. After researching what happened to the three brothers lost during WWII, I also have casualty, missions reports, and more. Before publishing the first book, I had bylines in newspapers and magazines, and I’ve blogged regularly for several years. Because of the wealth of historic photos and stories, I began history Facebook pages for three Iowa counties, as well as one for cousins to share memories and photos. If you enjoy family stories, you’ll enjoy the books on this list.

Joy's book list on family history

Joy Neal Kidney Why did Joy love this book?

For their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1917, a couple gathered their family for a celebration. During the day, they share their Iowa pioneering stories. What wonderful details about living arrangements, hardships in travel, hard-to-believe hordes of grasshoppers, blizzards, even a probable encounter with Jesse James. Written as a novel but based on historical events, his dear slim book also includes several photographs.

By Larry Dean Reese,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Old Settler's Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1917 the John Blake and Jane Etta Jolliffe family had gathered together at the couple's home in Rolfe, Iowa to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. During the course of the day's events, the couple shares their experiences as one of the first pioneering families in this part of Iowa. Although written as fiction, the stories are based upon historical information and stories written down as told by the couple themselves. This book provides valuable insight into the difficulties and struggles of early pioneer life in Iowa and the Midwest.

Book cover of What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Samuel W. Gailey Author Of Deep Winter: A Novel

From my list on marginalized and outsider characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised—not born—in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania (population 379), which serves as the setting for two of my novels. Since I was not born in this community, I always felt like a bit of an outsider. Misunderstood and often overlooked. There is great isolation when growing up in a small community that’s barely on the map. But despite all this, I am drawn to rural life and its sometimes deceiving bucolic atmosphere. I believe that is why I both read and write suspenseful stories about not only small towns, but marginalized and outsider characters as well.

Samuel's book list on marginalized and outsider characters

Samuel W. Gailey Why did Samuel love this book?

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is the story of a young man trapped in a dying small town, stuck in a menial job, and tethered by obligations to his dysfunctional family. The biggest event on Gilbert’s horizon is the eighteenth birthday of Artie, his mentally impaired brother, who is lucky to still be alive. Then Gilbert’s world gets turned on its head when a free-spirited girl arrives in town.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape blends poignancy, the bonds and challenges of family responsibilities, and the struggles of dealing with mental health, all told through the unique lens of the titular Gilbert Grape.

By Peter Hedges,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What's Eating Gilbert Grape as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gilbert Grape, a resident of provincial Endora, Iowa, endures the eccentricities of his family and neighbors--including his mother, who is eating herself to death; his Elvis-fanatic sister; his retarded brother; and his married lover.

Book cover of The WPA Guide to 1930s Iowa

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of Leora's Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression

From my list on surprising stories about the Great Depression.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of two books (the first book was Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II), a blogger, an Iowa historian, and a regular contributor to Our American Stories. I’ve woven letters and newspaper clippings, along with memoirs and family stories, into the narratives of the lives of Clabe and Leora Wilson. As their oldest granddaughter, I also enjoy giving programs, as well as TV and radio interviews, about the Wilson family.

Joy's book list on surprising stories about the Great Depression

Joy Neal Kidney Why did Joy love this book?

The Federal Writers’ Project was one of many projects undertaken by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. The American Guide Series was a subset of works produced by the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). The books, created through a cooperative effort of both Federal and State organizations, are part travel guide, part almanac. Each includes illustrations and photographs and offers a fascinating snapshot of the 48 United States in the Union, and Alaska, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The project employed over 6,000 writers. Many of these books have been reprinted.

By Federal Writers Project,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The WPA Guide to 1930s Iowa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published during the Great Depression, The WPA Guide nevertheless finds much to celebrate in the heartland of America. Nearly three dozen essays highlight Iowa's demography, economy, and culture but the heart of the book is a detailed traveler's guide, organized as seventeen different tours, that directs the reader to communities of particual social and historical interest.

Book cover of Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

Reding’s book on the methamphetamine epidemic in small-town Ohio is distressing but essential. He is exceptional in showing rather than telling how meth is in so many ways the Great American Drug. It makes you work even more maniacally, for one. And the hollowing out of Middle America makes the drug’s proactive nature even more attractive in these forgotten towns and cities. It is painful that the meth scourge might have eased but, as is so often the case, other destructive substances have quickly replaced it. 

By Nick Reding,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize
Winner of the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism

Named a best book of the year by:
the Los Angeles Times
the San Francisco Chronicle
the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch
the Chicago Tribune
the Seattle Times

"A stunning look at a problem that has dire consequences for our country.”-New York Post

The dramatic story of Methamphetamine as it comes to the American Heartland-a timely, moving, account of one community's attempt to confront the epidemic and see their way to a brighter future.

The bestselling book that launched meth back into…

Book cover of A Song of Years

Laura Frantz Author Of A Heart Adrift

From my list on about home.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having moved almost twenty times in my life, I have a passion for home – finding home, creating home, and enjoying home no matter where you land. My personal space is filled with books, my favorites being about homecomings and safe places of peace and restoration. Home fills me with joy and is a theme in each of the historical novels I write. Everyone should have the haven of a home, both here and now and eternally. 

Laura's book list on about home

Laura Frantz Why did Laura love this book?

Song of Years captures all of the struggle and angst of carving out a home from pure, unspoiled Iowa prairie by those bold pioneers who risked everything to do so. While reading, I became the heroine, Abby Deal, as she sacrificed and struggled to wrest a life and create a home from the frontier that challenged her and her family at every turn. Realistic, even epic, this 1939 novel is on my keeper shelf. 

By Bess Streeter Aldrich, Anne Reeve Aldrich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The state of Iowa was still young and wild when Wayne Lockwood came to it from New England in 1851. He claimed a quarter-section about a hundred miles west of Dubuque and quickly came to appreciate widely scattered neighbors like Jeremiah Martin, whose seven daughters would have chased the gloom from any bachelor's heart. Sabina, Emily, Celia, Melinda, Phoebe Lou, Jeanie, and Suzanne are timeless in their appeal-too spirited to be preoccupied with sermons, sickness, and sudden death. However, the feasts, weddings, and holiday celebrations in Song of Years are shadowed by all the rigors and perils of frontier living.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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