100 books like The Painted Veil

By W. Somerset Maugham,

Here are 100 books that The Painted Veil fans have personally recommended if you like The Painted Veil. 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 A Gentleman in Moscow

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Author Of Legacy of the Third Way

From my list on books to take you to the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been captivated by evolution and its implications for the future. I immersed myself in classical works of philosophy and literature that explored human emotions and our relentless drive to succeed against all odds, advancing human knowledge and shaping society. This fascination with understanding the future led me to write op-ed pieces on foreign policy and geopolitics for prominent newspapers in South Asia. My desire to contribute to a better future inspired me to author three nonfiction books covering topics such as the Islamic Social Contract, Lessons from the Quran, and Reflections on God,  Science, and Human Nature. 

Abdul's book list on books to take you to the future

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Why did Abdul love this book?

Russia is once again in the headlines, sparking a geopolitical contest between her and the West.

The period immediately following the Second World War can be viewed as a romantic era, marked by new hope for peace and the rebuilding of the world. The establishment of the UN aimed to resolve power struggles at the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield. 

These elements are all found in this novel, which delves into the past to shed light on Russia's psyche and how it might shape the future. It effectively connects the past with the near future. House arrest is common in oppressive regimes across the developing world.

What intrigued me was that the protagonist was placed under hotel arrest and restricted, punished for a crime he didn't commit. It was a captivating read, especially given the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for…

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


Book cover of Hamnet

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

From my list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

Ana Veciana-Suarez Why did Ana love this book?

I love O’Farrell’s use of language–the depth and the poetry—and have read most of her books. I especially liked this book because I read it shortly after my daughter died in 2020, and the maternal and complicated feelings of Hamnet’s mother (Shakespeare’s wife) are so well rendered.

O’Farrell also has a magical way of recreating a time and a place. I think she’s one of the best writers when it comes to getting into a character’s head, too.

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2020 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION - THE NO. 1 BESTSELLER 2021
'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.

Neither…


Book cover of Guernica

Diana Rosie Author Of Pippo and Clara

From my list on that happen to be set in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author of Pippo & Clara and Alberto’s Lost Birthday, Diana Rosie writes historical fiction that tells a story first and foremost, while gently uncovering the history of a time and place. In the vast spectrum of the genre, where historians like Hilary Mantel and James A Michener sit at one end, the novels that inspire her most can be found at the other. The books she recommends here are stories to make your heart ache and your soul sing. And they just happen to be set in the past.

Diana's book list on that happen to be set in history

Diana Rosie Why did Diana love this book?

You don’t have to know much about the Spanish civil war to have heard of Guernica. If you’ve ever seen Picasso’s work depicting the bombing, this book creates the story of the people of the town going about their everyday lives just before the painting’s horror. As a reader, you know what is coming but are helpless to do anything but care for characters who are oblivious to the destruction coming their way. 

As an author, I found inspiration in this novel for my own portrayal of the civil war in Spain. The trick is to let ordinary people tell the story for you.

By Dave Boling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An extraordinary epic of love, family, and war set in the Basque town of Guernica before, during, and after its destruction by the German Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War.

In 1935, Miguel Navarro finds himself in conflict with the Spanish Civil Guard and flees the Basque fishing village of Lekeitio to make a new start in Guernica, the centre of Basque culture and tradition. Once there, he finds more than just a new life - he finds someone to live for. Miren Ansotegui is the charismatic and graceful dancer he meets and the two discover a love they believe…


Book cover of The Power and the Glory

Scott Turow Author Of Suspect

From my list on thrillers powered by an eccentric hero.

Why am I passionate about this?

The key to a great contemporary thriller—as opposed to older novels about say, Sherlock Holmes or James Bond—is that solving the mystery reveals something essential about the protagonist. In other words these are character investigations as well as whodunits, where the same action provides revelations in both arenas. It’s what I discovered I wanted to do, when I veered from “serious fiction” to the books I began to write, starting with Presumed Innocent.

Scott's book list on thrillers powered by an eccentric hero

Scott Turow Why did Scott love this book?

Set in Mexico in the 1930s when the revolutionary government engaged in an active campaign against the Catholic Church, Greene’s hero, the so-called Whiskey Priest, is a drunk who has also failed to adhere to his vow of chastity, but his kindness and commitment to worshippers make him an intensely sympathetic figure, as he is hunted by the local police chief determined to put him behind bars.

The book was a revelation to me when I first read it in college. I did not realize that the Mexican government had engaged in this war against the Church so recently. Nor did I realize that a novel so gripping could be told with such literary grace. 

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During an anti-clerical purge in Mexico, a priest is hunted like a hare. Too human for heroism, too humble for martyrdom, the little worldly priest is nevertheless impelled towards his squalid Calvary as much by his own compassion for humanity as by the efforts of his pursuers.


Book cover of Outlander

Patricia D'Arcy Laughlin Author Of Sacrifices for Kingdoms

From my list on women who confront societal norms.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived a long, richly varied, well-traveled, international life, and I can truly say my education has been worldly. Despite advancements in science and technology, two millennia of patriarchal religious brainwashing have prevented humanity from achieving gender balance in power and peace on earth. Today, more than ever, women who confront societal norms are essential to humanity’s progression and the preservation of our planet. People often open up to me about their most daring and dangerous experiences because they know I won’t judge. Their most intimate and romantic revelations have particularly inspired me, and I have namelessly infused many of them into my books, alongside my own. Empowerment begins with education.

Patricia's book list on women who confront societal norms

Patricia D'Arcy Laughlin Why did Patricia love this book?

I am in awe of Diana Gabaldon’s achievements as I relate to her writing while raising three children.

At first daunted by the 850-page length, once I started reading, I became enthralled with the fantasy of Claire’s time-traveling into the past and meeting the love of her life. I fell in love with the beautiful boy-man, Jamie. He reminded me of the love of my life. Gabaldon’s handling of the attraction between Claire and the Scottish highlander is beguiling, especially in the sexual scenes.

Weaving their love story into real history, her descriptions, plots, and prose are exquisitely compelling. I am committed to reading the entire series. In a word, Outlander is un-put-downable! 

By Diana Gabaldon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The first book in Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed Outlander saga, the basis for the Starz original series.

One of the top ten best-loved novels in America, as seen on PBS’s The Great American Read!
 
Unrivaled storytelling. Unforgettable characters. Rich historical detail. These are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured the hearts of millions of fans. Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and…


Book cover of The North Water

Nanine Case Author Of Cannibal King

From my list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some look through the glass and admire what lies beyond. I look beyond the glass and imagine what's ahead. What is an adventure? It's an encounter with the unexpected, an exquisite moment in time that can never be repeated, those memorable chapters in our personal story that cause us to go to the attic and lift the lid of the trunk. I've lived the experiences in my books because I walked the beaten paths where those stories were born and embraced the culture that colors the pages. I'm an intrepid traveler and adventurer with still a few personal chapters to write. As I look beyond the glass, I wonder… Will my trunk ever be full?

Nanine's book list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown

Nanine Case Why did Nanine love this book?

I am particularly drawn to stories about early adventures at sea. 

Life on a whaling ship was difficult and bred all manner of contemptible acts by the crew. When the journey was ill-fated, like the one in this book, it pointed the spotlight directly on the tainted core of ship life. 

This book introduced the greedy side of the 1800s whaling industry and told the story surrounding the doomed whaling ship and the ship’s drug-addicted surgeon. It presented the raw side of humanity and what lengths desperate men resort to in order to survive. It was shades of whaling seamen Herman Melville and John Rumell’s experiences surviving with savages. 

The story was riveting and begged the question: Who are the real savages?

By Ian McGuire,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN NOTABLE BOOK 2016

A ship sets sail with a killer on board . . .
1859. A man joins a whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. Having left the British Army with his reputation in tatters, Patrick Sumner has little option but to accept the position of ship's surgeon on this ill-fated voyage. But when, deep into the journey, a cabin boy is discovered brutally killed, Sumner finds himself forced to act. Soon he will face an evil even greater than he had encountered at the…


Book cover of Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life

Nanine Case Author Of Cannibal King

From my list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some look through the glass and admire what lies beyond. I look beyond the glass and imagine what's ahead. What is an adventure? It's an encounter with the unexpected, an exquisite moment in time that can never be repeated, those memorable chapters in our personal story that cause us to go to the attic and lift the lid of the trunk. I've lived the experiences in my books because I walked the beaten paths where those stories were born and embraced the culture that colors the pages. I'm an intrepid traveler and adventurer with still a few personal chapters to write. As I look beyond the glass, I wonder… Will my trunk ever be full?

Nanine's book list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown

Nanine Case Why did Nanine love this book?

Typee is Herman Melville’s account of his sojourn on the Marquesan Island of Nuku Hiva in the 1800s. It nearly replicated my distant relative’s story, making it a must-read.

Melville was a young sailor with an adventurous spirit. Disenchanted with his hard life on a whaling ship he deserted and escaped to Nuku Hiva’s Bay of Taipaivi where he was captured by a cannibal tribe. For four months, he lived and survived among savages. 

After Melville returned to civilization he later wrote Typee – the story that forever changed how I view savages. A century-plus later, I stepped freely off a boat onto Nuku Hiva’s distant shore. Visions of the impetuous and foolhardy sailor relative whose footprints I was about to trace made my scalp tighten with anticipation.  

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Melville, Herman, Typee


Book cover of Fatu Hiva

Nanine Case Author Of Cannibal King

From my list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some look through the glass and admire what lies beyond. I look beyond the glass and imagine what's ahead. What is an adventure? It's an encounter with the unexpected, an exquisite moment in time that can never be repeated, those memorable chapters in our personal story that cause us to go to the attic and lift the lid of the trunk. I've lived the experiences in my books because I walked the beaten paths where those stories were born and embraced the culture that colors the pages. I'm an intrepid traveler and adventurer with still a few personal chapters to write. As I look beyond the glass, I wonder… Will my trunk ever be full?

Nanine's book list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown

Nanine Case Why did Nanine love this book?

Norwegian-born Thor Hyerdahl was disenchanted with the civilized world and desired a more primitive lifestyle. In 1938, he took a bride and set out for the wild and remote Marquesan Island of Fatu Hiva—minus all worldly possessions. 

The couple stepped headlong into the unknown—most notably the natives. But the once-hostile natives had abandoned their savage ways, allowing for a peaceful co-existence. A year later, the extreme hazards of island living won out over idealism, forcing the Hyerdahls to return to civilization.

Hyerdahl’s notion that he could shed his civilized cloak to live bare-skinned in paradise was foolhardy. Like Herman Melville, Hyerdahl survived to tell his amazing story. Other daring adventurers, like my branded relative, were less fortunate.

By Thor Heyerdahl,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849 and 1866

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From my list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Andrew M. Wehrman Why did Andrew love this book?

Charles E. Rosenberg published his book, The Cholera Years, in 1962, and it has remained the classic book on the history of medicine in the 19th century United States. Rosenberg has had a singular impact on the field and has written on many public health topics, but his first book remains my favorite. Cleverly integrating the histories of social change, religion, and the contentious politics of New York City into a richly detailed chronicle of three separate epidemics of cholera, Rosenberg provides a gripping account of how Americans’ responses to public health crises have changed over time.

By Charles E. Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cholera was the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century, as the plague had been for the fourteenth. Its defeat was a reflection not only of progress in medical knowledge but of enduring changes in American social thought. Rosenberg has focused his study on New York City, the most highly developed center of this new society. Carefully documented, full of descriptive detail, yet written with an urgent sense of the drama of the epidemic years, this narrative is as absorbing for general audiences as it is for the medical historian. In a new Afterword, Rosenberg discusses changes in historical method…


Book cover of The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic—And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

Hannah Wunsch Author Of The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionized Modern Medical Care

From my list on medical history that reads like fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a critical care doctor, I love pausing when taking care of patients in a modern ICU to reflect on how far we’ve come in the care we can provide. I want to be entertained while learning about the past, and so I seek out books on medical history that find the wonder and the beauty (and the bizarre and chilling) and make it come alive. I get excited when medical history can be shared in a way that isn’t dry, or academic. These books all do that for me and capture some part of that crazy journey through time. 

Hannah's book list on medical history that reads like fiction

Hannah Wunsch Why did Hannah love this book?

The Ghost Map is the fantastic story of an important Cholera epidemic in London in 1854.

The book swept me along with its narrative, plunging straight into the fetid world of Victorian London. Johnson weaves together the stories of the people affected, and the desperate hunt by Dr. John Snow to understand the cause of the disease. He also provides fascinating descriptions of the dangers to life in a time before sewers, and the evolution of such systems that ultimately transformed city life.

I definitely look at toilets, pipes, and sewer grates differently after reading this book.

By Steven Johnson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Ghost Map as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A National Bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year

It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time.

In a triumph of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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