100 books like The Merchant of Venice

By William Shakespeare,

Here are 100 books that The Merchant of Venice fans have personally recommended if you like The Merchant of Venice. 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 Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Why am I passionate about this?

As a hospital clinical lab director, I have a mission to promote the value of my profession. Are we more important than our soldiers protecting our country? Politicians who make laws? Judges who help maintain law and order? I argue that the health of our families is near or at the top of our priorities. While we ask our doctors to achieve this goal, they ask us every day to help them. The lab is not about boiling tubes and colored flasks. The 8 books I have written and the 5 that I have selected illustrate, in an entertaining manner, who we really are and why we matter.  

Alan's book list on learning how clinical labs really work and why this is important to you and your family

Alan H.B. Wu Why did Alan love this book?

Mr. Carreyrou was the Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story that eventually led to the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos. At its peak, this company was worth over $9 billion. Today, Holmes and her former COO have been convicted of fraud and are serving time.

I like this book because it serves as a curriculum for how NOT to operate a biotech company. It shows that while belief in your vision is essential for all successful entrepreneurs, there is no place for secrecy and arrogance in the business world.

Unfortunately, the “Theranos” effect has led to a decline in investment in new medical technology and has had a negative effect on the value of clinical laboratories.

By John Carreyrou,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Bad Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking true story behind The Dropout, starring the Emmy award-winning Amanda Seyfried, Naveen Andrews and Stephen Fry.

'I couldn't put down this thriller . . . a book so compelling that I couldn't turn away' - Bill Gates

Winner of the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2018

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers.

In 2014,…


Book cover of The Trial

Jasna Koteska Author Of Communist Intimacy

From my list on understanding trauma and how to heal it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 14 years old when my dad was imprisoned by the communist police of ex-Yugoslavia. My dad spent his childhood working as a shepherd in a small Macedonian village with 11 inhabitants. Later, he became a poet, and he belonged to the last group of political prisoners in the former Yugoslavia. When my dad was sent to prison, my family and I dealt with great trauma. 

Jasna's book list on understanding trauma and how to heal it

Jasna Koteska Why did Jasna love this book?

Yes, I know. Anyone like me who has taken on to teach Kafka in the university classroom knows that Kafka is not an easy read. However, here is my approach. I accept Kafka as a meditative humorist who can heal trauma.

The listeners laughed unbridled when Kafka read excerpts of his novel at Max Brod’s book club in Prague. If I search for cheap sentimentalism and resentment, I can go elsewhere. I always come back to this book for the heroic quality of humor, which is the best weapon against trauma.

By Franz Kafka,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested." From its gripping first sentence onward, this novel exemplifies the term ""Kafkaesque." Its darkly humorous narrative recounts a bank clerk's entrapment — based on an undisclosed charge — in a maze of nonsensical rules and bureaucratic roadblocks.
Written in 1914 and published posthumously in 1925, Kafka's engrossing parable about the human condition plunges an isolated individual into an impersonal, illogical system. Josef K.'s ordeals raise provocative, ever-relevant issues related to the role of government and the nature of…


Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Emerald Dodge Author Of Battlecry

From my list on take place in America’s deep South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in Virginia, so I am very familiar with America’s southern lands and culture. The South—also known as the Deep South—is a unique part of America’s tapestry of identities, and I love books set in this locale. Southern literature tends to focus on themes such as racial politics, one’s personal identity, and rebellion. When I wrote my book, I knew the story would have to take place in the southern states. 

Emerald's book list on take place in America’s deep South

Emerald Dodge Why did Emerald love this book?

Perhaps the most famous Southern novel of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, is the pinnacle of American literature. Covering heavy themes such as racial bigotry, death in families, and the loss of childhood innocence, Lee spins a tale of Tom Robinson, a black man who is accused of rape by a local white woman and her father.

The conclusion of the trial and the events following it stand as a terrible warning to this day, reminding readers of the dangers of prejudice. It’s truly a must-read novel.

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…


HellWard

By James Sale,

Book cover of HellWard

James Sale Author Of StairWell

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Poet Entrepreneur Consultant Innovator

James' 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Dante’s Inferno in the Twenty-First Century...

A psychological and metaphysical thriller in epic poetic form about nearly dying of cancer and descending into a Dantean-type of Hell where both the dead and the soul-dead are each in their separate wards. Meet awful family members, dire friends, a dreadful boss, a perverted pupil, and a murdering neighbour; plus, some infamous (and some contemporary) politicians, poets, and philosophers all contributing to human misery in their self-righteous and mad words, actions, and productions.

Let Dante take you through an odyssey in Hell just as he leads James, and meet not just real people…

HellWard

By James Sale,

What is this book about?

Dante’s Inferno in the Twenty-First Century...

A psychological and metaphysical thriller in epic poetic form about nearly dying of cancer and descending into a Dantean-type of Hell where both the dead and the soul-dead are each in their separate wards. Meet awful family members, dire friends, a dreadful boss, a perverted pupil and a murdering neighbour; plus, some infamous (and some contemporary) politicians, poets and philosophers all contributing to human misery in their self-righteous and mad words, actions, and productions.

Let Dante take you through an odyssey in Hell just as he leads James, and meet not just real people…


Book cover of The Eumenides

Austin Ratner Author Of The Jump Artist

From my list on realist criminal trials.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in stories about misplaced guilt, probably because my father died when I was very young and I grew up with a strong sense of survivor guilt. Miscarriages of justice for me dramatize the unjust verdicts passed against us in our hearts when we lose a loved one. Whether writing nonfiction for The New York Times Magazine and The Wall Street Journal or fiction for Penguin and Little Brown, this theme influences all my work.

Austin's book list on realist criminal trials

Austin Ratner Why did Austin love this book?

If you want to know what Kafka’s The Trial would have been like without a sense of humor, try reading Aeschylus. Though this ancient Greek tragedian does not aim for laughs (and does not get any!) his depiction of the furies of conscience has an elemental power and purity like a Beethoven motif or a Picasso masterpiece. The Eumenides may well be the first-ever courtroom drama, with Orestes on trial for killing his mother Clytemnestra. Aeschylus goes straight at the most difficult of human emotions—guilt—and like Sophocles, he explores it specifically in a family context. Who, after all, makes us more guilty than our parents? 

By Aeschylus, E.D.A. Morshead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Professor Sommerstein here presents a freshly constituted text, with introduction and commentary, of Eumenides, the climactic play of the only surviving complete Greek tragic trilogy, the Oresteia of Aeschylus. Eumenides is of all Athenian tragic dramas the one most consciously designed to be relevant to the situation of the Athenian state at the time of its performance (458 BC), and seems to have contained daring innovations both in technique and in ideas. The introduction and commentary to this edition seek to bring out how Aeschylus shaped to his purpose the legends he inherited, and ended the tragic story of Agamemnon's…


Book cover of The Brothers Karamazov

K.K. Edin Author Of The Measurements of Decay

From my list on exploring philosophy through fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a lawyer and novelist with a Master’s degree in philosophy. I read philosophy and its history to seek wisdom, knowledge, morality, meaning, and the means by which to think well. That is also why I read fiction. And a great philosophical novel can do what a treatise cannot: it can enlighten by style, perspective, the elicitation of empathy, by poignancy and aesthetic awe, and other qualities unique to good fiction. Although I could not possibly represent all the great philosophical novels in this short list, I’ve tried to present a meaningful cross-section. I hope you find these novels as enjoyable and meaningful as I have.

K.K.'s book list on exploring philosophy through fiction

K.K. Edin Why did K.K. love this book?

It feels like a bit of a shame to include such a ubiquitously known philosophical novel when I have the chance to recommend others, but I feel compelled to include this novel because of the profound effect it had on me. There are endless things that can be said about the various philosophical, existentialist, and theological themes of this novel, so I will limit myself to praising one which was affecting to me. No other novel I have read so profoundly and deeply explores the notion of forgiveness. The reader is asked to consider forgiveness, its limits, its demands, its place in morality and religion, the hypocrisies and duties associated with it, and who might deserve it. It’s a life-changing book in many ways, in large part because it succeeds at making issues of philosophy very personal for the characters, and ultimately the reader.

By Fyodor Dostoevsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pen/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize

The award-winning translation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's classic novel of psychological realism.

The Brothers Karamasov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons―the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha. Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, is social and spiritual striving, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in…


Book cover of Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco

Brad Schaeffer Author Of Life in the Pits: My Time as a Trader on the Rough-and-Tumble Exchange Floors

From my list on what makes commodities traders tick.

Why am I passionate about this?

After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1989 with an LAS degree in communications and a knack for artwork, I had no idea what I wanted to do. That was until my brother pulled me from my low-paid art job in Chicago to work as a clerk on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I eventually became a trader on that same floor, as well as an oil and gas dealer in New York. Screaming and yelling in the trading pits while money moved back and forth with a shout and a hand signal I learned more about investing, trading, and human nature through osmosis than I ever could in an MBA course.

Brad's book list on what makes commodities traders tick

Brad Schaeffer Why did Brad love this book?

Though not a book about trading per se, this chronicle of the craziness surrounding the 1986 leveraged buyout of RJR-Nabisco is certainly worth a read.

It centers around the machinations of RJR-Nabisco’s breezy CEO, F. Ross Johnson, and how, apparently, being the head of one of America’s great companies wasn’t enough. The book really is as much a study of greed and ego as it is about what was, at the time, the most expensive LBO in history.

One gets the feeling the company in play, and its employees wondering what would be the impact on their lives once the negotiations way up in the New York corporate high rises were completed, were ancillary concerns to the players involved—Ross Johnson, American Express CEO and power publicist Jim and Linda Robinson, Shearson-Lehman head Peter Cohen, buyout specialist and anti-junk bond crusader Ted Forstmann, and the coldly menacing Henry Kravis and…

By Bryan Burrough, John Helyar,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Barbarians at the Gate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One of the finest, most compelling accounts of what happened to corporate America and Wall Street in the 1980’s.”
—New York Times Book Review

A #1 New York Times bestseller and arguably the best business narrative ever written, Barbarians at the Gate is the classic account of the fall of RJR Nabisco. An enduring masterpiece of investigative journalism by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, it includes a new afterword by the authors that brings this remarkable story of greed and double-dealings up to date twenty years after the famed deal. The Los Angeles Times calls Barbarians at the Gate, “Superlative.”…


Book cover of Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed--and What to Do about It

Cyril Demaria Author Of Introduction to Private Equity, Debt and Real Assets: From Venture Capital to LBO, Senior to Distressed Debt, Immaterial to Fixed Assets

From my list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

The financing of private firms is fascinating and a bit mysterious. It remains misunderstood and regularly gives birth to hype and excesses. I started my career working for a venture capital fund at the top of the Internet financial bubble, in 2000. This experience has imprinted my career and derailed my ambitions. It also fueled my thirst for knowledge. I started from essentially a virgin theoretical and academic land. I developed a body of practical and academic knowledge. Writing and publishing my books seemed to be the next logical step. I enjoy reading books on the sector and recommending them.

Cyril's book list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes

Cyril Demaria Why did Cyril love this book?

There is only one Silicon Valley – and there can only be one.

Harvard Professor Josh Lerner debunks enduring myths about replicating the success of this unique cluster dedicated to information technologies. He describes the different unsuccessful attempts of doing so by various public authorities and governments, and draws the lessons of such attempts.

He also identifies what are the conditions of successful local attempts to develop industrial clusters. In this context, this book provides a solid background to readers eager to understand the background of the emergence and development of private companies thanks to a complex web of interactions between public and private initiatives.

By Josh Lerner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Silicon Valley, Singapore, and Tel Aviv - the global hubs of entrepreneurial activity all bear the marks of government investment. Yet, for every public intervention that spurs entrepreneurial activity, there are many failed efforts that waste untold billions in taxpayer dollars. When has governmental sponsorship succeeded in boosting growth, and when has it fallen terribly short? Should the government be involved in such undertakings at all? "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" is the first extensive look at the ways governments have supported entrepreneurs and venture capitalists across decades and continents. Josh Lerner, one of the foremost experts in the field, provides…


Book cover of The Key Man: The True Story of How the Global Elite Was Duped by a Capitalist Fairy Tale

Cyril Demaria Author Of Introduction to Private Equity, Debt and Real Assets: From Venture Capital to LBO, Senior to Distressed Debt, Immaterial to Fixed Assets

From my list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

The financing of private firms is fascinating and a bit mysterious. It remains misunderstood and regularly gives birth to hype and excesses. I started my career working for a venture capital fund at the top of the Internet financial bubble, in 2000. This experience has imprinted my career and derailed my ambitions. It also fueled my thirst for knowledge. I started from essentially a virgin theoretical and academic land. I developed a body of practical and academic knowledge. Writing and publishing my books seemed to be the next logical step. I enjoy reading books on the sector and recommending them.

Cyril's book list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes

Cyril Demaria Why did Cyril love this book?

Private market fund managers are, along with hedge fund managers, the magnates of the 21st century.

Although many come from a privileged background, quite a few are self-made men such as the founder of what was once the largest private equity fund management firm in the Middle East: Abraaj Capital. The rags-to-riches story of Arif Naqvi, his drive from his childhood in Pakistan to high international society is simultaneously mesmerizing and frightening.

A headlong rush starts as his ambition outpaces his already high success. The fall is crushing, not only for him, but also for his partners, his employees, and everyone who trusted him. The book is a perfect combination of factual analyses and storytelling.

By Simon Clark, Will Louch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

AS FEATURED IN BBC TWO'S BILLION DOLLAR DOWNFALL: THE DEALMAKER DOCUMENTARY

Two Wall Street reporters investigate the man entrusted with millions to make profits and end poverty but now stands accused of masterminding one of the biggest, most brazen frauds in history.

'Gripping' Guardian

***

Arif Naqvi was a man with an immeasurable dream: to end world suffering, poverty and disease. His vision? Capitalism used for good, progress and profit.

He persuaded politicians he could help stabilize the Middle East after 9/11 by providing jobs. He got Bill Gates to help him start a billion-dollar fund to improve health care…


Book cover of Sarra Copia Sulam: A Jewish Salonnière and the Press in Counter-Reformation Venice

Meredith K. Ray Author Of Twenty-Five Women Who Shaped the Italian Renaissance

From my list on women’s lives in the Renaissance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the lives of women in the Renaissance for as long as I can remember – growing up I devoured biographies of Lucrezia Borgia, Mary Stuart, and Elizabeth Tudor. Now, as a professor, author, and researcher, I feel lucky to have turned my passion into my profession! Along with writing about Renaissance women, I edit a series dedicated to women’s global history. I love books that explore the richness and complexity of the female experience, and which help us to understand how women in other historical eras dealt with questions of autonomy, power and gender inequality – issues that are still with us today. 

Meredith's book list on women’s lives in the Renaissance

Meredith K. Ray Why did Meredith love this book?

I wanted to include this book because it focuses not only on women in the Renaissance but on the particular experience of a Jewish woman living and writing in seventeenth-century Venice.

Even though the Venetian republic proclaimed justice and equality, those ideals did not extend to women nor to the thousands of Jews and other non-Christians who made their home in the city. As a Jewish woman, Sarra Copia Sulam had to navigate prejudice and suspicion on two fronts, yet she courageously defended herself and her faith in print.

The book does a wonderful job of showing how Sulam used her dexterous pen to take on her critics, and Westwater’s account reveals new biographical information about Sulam, her family, and Jewish life in the Renaissance.

By Lynn Lara Westwater,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For nearly a decade at the height of the Counter-Reformation in Italy, the Jewish poet and polemicist Sarra Copia Sulam (ca. 1592-1641) hosted a literary salon at her house in the Venetian ghetto, providing one of the most public and enduring forums for Jewish-Christian interaction in early modern Venice. Though Copia Sulam built a powerful intellectual network, published a popular work on the immortality of the soul, and gained fame for her erudition, her literary career foundered under the weight of slanderous charges against her sexual, professional, and religious integrity.

This first biography of Copia Sulam examines the explosive relationship…


Book cover of Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From my list on women in Renaissance Venice.

Why am I passionate about this?

My goal as a writer is to revive lost women’s stories through historical fiction. After co-authoring several historical novels, our last mystery set in Renaissance Rome, we decided to set the sequel in Venice. When we decided to split amicably before finishing that novel, I had spent so much time researching Renaissance Venice that I instantly knew I wanted to set my first solo novel there and focus on girls and women whose stories are so frequently lost to history. So began a quest to learn everything I could about the females of 15th and 16th-century Venice, leading me toward both academic and fictional works of the era.

Gina's book list on women in Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

This accessible academic work brings to life the inner workings – and breakdowns – of marriages at a time when annulment was the only option. Through court and ecclesiastical proceedings and petitions written by both sexes, the lives of ordinary women – including sexual relations, domestic abuse, cheating, and financial problems are made even more real by the voices of friends, neighbors, and in-laws.

By Joanne M. Ferraro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on a fascinating body of previously unexamined archival material, this book brings to life the lost voices of ordinary Venetians during the age of Catholic revival. Looking at scripts that were brought to the city's ecclesiastical courts by spouses seeking to annul their marriage vows, this book opens up the emotional world of intimacy and conflict, sexuality, and living arrangments that did not fit normative models of marriage.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Italy, Venice, and Jewish history?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Italy, Venice, and Jewish history.

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