68 books like The Paying Guests

By Sarah Waters,

Here are 68 books that The Paying Guests fans have personally recommended if you like The Paying Guests. 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 The Talented Mr. Ripley

Annette Joseph Author Of The Killer Menu: A Delicious Tale of Food, Family and Murder

From my list on mystery books with a beautiful aesthetic.

Who am I?

I am Annette Joseph, a writer and food stylist. I spend most of the year at our twelfth-century fortress in northern Tuscany. I have written six books, three cookbooks, and two memoirs about life in Italy. We run private retreats on the grounds. My book My Italian Guestbook is based on these retreats. Writing about everything around me in Italy gives me great pleasure.

Annette's book list on mystery books with a beautiful aesthetic

Annette Joseph Why did Annette love this book?

A Classic. I have read it three times. I would read it a fourth time. It's a beautifully crafted book. The writing is masterful. As a writer, I can’t get enough.

Set in the most beautiful places in Italy. This book transports you to another time. It’s a delicious read. If you have not read it, you must. If you have read it,  you must reread it; like a fine wine, it only becomes better. 

By Patricia Highsmith,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Talented Mr. Ripley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's here, in the first volume of Patricia Highsmith's five-book Ripley series, that we are introduced to the suave Tom Ripley, a young striver seeking to leave behind his past as an orphan bullied for being a "sissy." Newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan, Ripley meets a wealthy industrialist who hires him to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley's fascination with Dickie's debonair lifestyle turns obsessive as he finds himself enraged by Dickie's ambivalent affections for Marge, a charming American dilettante, and Ripley begins a deadly game. "Sinister and strangely alluring"…


Book cover of A Beautiful Crime

John Copenhaver Author Of The Savage Kind

From my list on slow burn psychological suspense.

Who am I?

I’m a historical mystery writer, English teacher, and book reviewer for Lambda Literary. I love to write and explore buried and forgotten histories, particularly those of the LGBTQ+ community. Equally, I’m fascinated by the ways in which self-understanding eludes us and is a life-long pursuit. For that reason, as a reader, I’m attracted to slow burn psychological suspense in which underlying, even subconscious, motivations play a role. I also love it when I fall for a character who, in life, I’d find corrupt or repulsive.


John's book list on slow burn psychological suspense

John Copenhaver Why did John love this book?

In Bollen’s fourth novel, the boyishly handsome, 25-year-old Nick Brink meets the older and more remote Clay Guillory at the funeral of Clay’s boyfriend/benefactor, Freddy Van der Haar. Freddy, whose name is synonymous with American royalty, was one of the few remaining vestiges of the old New York gay scene. House poor, Freddy bequeathed Clay his shambling Venetian palazzo and a collection of counterfeit antiques. Nick falls for Clay, and they escape to Venice. To fund their new Continental lifestyle, they cook up a plan to con Richard West, a wealthy American retiree who has a sentimental affection for the Van der Haar name and fondness for acquiring antiques. Even as their criminal behavior begins to accrue a body count, we’re seduced by that all-too-recognizable outsider’s desire to belong to a place. For these men, Venice isn’t just a city but a way of seeing themselves, of imagining their futures.

By Christopher Bollen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An L.A. Times Book Prize Finalist | An O Magazine Best Book of the Year

“Stylish… a compelling take on the eternal question of how good people morph into criminals. Terrific.”—People, Book of the Week

From the author of The Destroyers comes an "intricately plotted and elegantly structured" (Newsday) story of intrigue and deception, set in contemporary Venice and featuring a young American couple who have set their sights on a risky con.

When Nick Brink and his boyfriend Clay Guillory meet up on the Grand Canal in Venice, they have a plan in mind—and it doesn’t involve a vacation.…


Book cover of Carved in Bone

John Copenhaver Author Of The Savage Kind

From my list on slow burn psychological suspense.

Who am I?

I’m a historical mystery writer, English teacher, and book reviewer for Lambda Literary. I love to write and explore buried and forgotten histories, particularly those of the LGBTQ+ community. Equally, I’m fascinated by the ways in which self-understanding eludes us and is a life-long pursuit. For that reason, as a reader, I’m attracted to slow burn psychological suspense in which underlying, even subconscious, motivations play a role. I also love it when I fall for a character who, in life, I’d find corrupt or repulsive.


John's book list on slow burn psychological suspense

John Copenhaver Why did John love this book?

One of the qualities of mystery fiction that continues to draw me to the genre is the complex interplay between past and present. Nava’s 8th Rios novel utilizes separate narrative lines that resonate and then, like a parallel perspective drawing, converge in a powerful emotional twist. The first line is the story of Bill Ryan, a young gay man who, after being cast out of his home in Illinois, flees to 1970s San Francisco to discover himself and the gay community. The second line is Rios’s recovery from alcoholism and his investigation of Ryan’s suspicious death during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Ryan and Rios serve as foils: Ryan is a man losing the war with his self-loathing. Rios, in contrast, is winning his war.

By Michael Nava,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

November, 1984. Criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios, fresh out of rehab and picking up the pieces of his life, reluctantly accepts work as an insurance claims investigator and is immediately is assigned to investigate the apparently accidental death of Bill Ryan. Ryan, part of the great gay migration into San Francisco in the 1970s, has died in his flat of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas line, his young lover barely surviving. Rios’s investigation into Ryan’s death–which Rios becomes convinced was no accident–tracks Ryan’s life from his arrival in San Francisco as a terrified 18-year-old to his transformation into…


Book cover of Eileen

Ellen Pall Author Of Must Read Well

From my list on characters you do not want for friends.

Who am I?

Okay, I’m just going to say this: I’m a notoriously likable person. I try to be kind. I try to do good. But in fiction, unlikeable characters fascinate me—their secretiveness, their single-minded energy, their shameless lies and utter selfishness. I’ve written Regency Romances featuring dark antagonists. I’ve written murder mysteries featuring—you know, murderers. (I’ve also written some literary novels about ordinary mortals.) I wouldn’t want to have a villain for a pal. But I sure like the freedom fiction gives me to get to know a few.

Ellen's book list on characters you do not want for friends

Ellen Pall Why did Ellen love this book?

Getting a reader engaged with an unlikeable protagonist is a challenge to any novelist.

Moshfegh succeeds brilliantly here. Eileen is as unlikeable as they come, an angry, friendless young woman who hates herself and everyone else. She works in a reprehensible, small-town prison for juvenile offenders and shares a squalid house with her nasty father.

Suddenly, though, a lovely young woman joins the prison staff. To Eileen’s amazement, she befriends her. Within days, she also involves her in a violent crime. Does this sound grim? Repellant? It’s not.

Granted, Eileen isn’t a book to be read over lunch. But the protagonist is like no woman I’ve ever met in fiction (or, thankfully, anywhere else). Her voice is fresh, her anger invigorating, and the book gripping from top to tail.

By Ottessa Moshfegh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize and chosen by David Sedaris as his recommended book for his Fall 2016 tour.

So here we are. My name was Eileen Dunlop. Now you know me. I was twenty-four years old then, and had a job that paid fifty-seven dollars a week as a kind of secretary at a private juvenile correctional facility for teenage boys. I think of it now as what it really was for all intents and purposes-a prison for boys. I will call it Moorehead. Delvin Moorehead was a terrible landlord I had years later, and so to…


Book cover of Misery

J.J. Cagney Author Of A Pilgrimage to Death

From my list on mystery for Agatha Christie readers.

Who am I?

I started reading mysteries in elementary school: Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Stephen King fed my thirst for story, puzzles, and the “super-psychological.” There’s so much about the mind we don’t understand—including our relationships with animals (like an octopus detective)—or the bond between twins (like the one in my Cici series). When I worked with Irene Webb as an associate literary agent in the 2000s, my fascination with the written word and “super-psychological” blossomed. I enjoy connecting motivations, secrets, and passions into a tapestry of humanity. At their core, stories teach us how to be more human, and I want to be part of that lesson. Please enjoy this book list I’ve curated for you.

J.J.'s book list on mystery for Agatha Christie readers

J.J. Cagney Why did J.J. love this book?

I realize this book isn’t one of King’s supernatural thrillers like Kujo or The Shining, both of which petrified my middle-school self into turning the pages late, late into the night. But Misery is the best of King’s work because this “super-psychological” thriller pits two antithetical forces against one another.

The police interview setup seems a straightforward approach to story-telling, but it turns into a deeply emotion, personal journey for Paul, the book’s hero. We learn in subsequent pages that Paul’s “number one fan,” Annie Wilkes, refuses to allow Paul to continue on a journey of self-aggrandizement...to the point she’s willing to brutalize and imprison him…all while claiming to love his mind. Paul’s imagination becomes his only viable tool to escape Annie’s machinations.

Misery is powerful, brilliant work and the reason I now write mysteries and thrillers.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the exciting build-up to publication of Stephen King's new mainstream novel, LISEY'S STORY, enjoy this world-famous classic novel on audio.


Book cover of Rosemary's Baby

Sylvie Perry Author Of The Hawthorne School

From my list on psychological manipulation.

Who am I?

Psychological manipulation is a special interest of mine. In my “day job,” I am a psychotherapist with a focus on survivors of narcissistic abuse. I understand this dynamic well; I seek to understand it better; and I continue to be fascinated by it, both in my therapy practice and in my writing.

Sylvie's book list on psychological manipulation

Sylvie Perry Why did Sylvie love this book?

Written in 1967, this short book packs a psychological wallop. It also influenced so many thrillers to come. I love to laugh, and this is a little bit of comedy, and a little bit of social commentary, all wrapped up in a horror story. It’s not gory in a physical sense. But we recognize the universal experience: the murderous betrayal of trust, which is central to so much psychological suspense. People are not what they seem, it seems.

By Ira Levin,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Rosemary's Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel' Stephen King

Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband, Guy, move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and only elderly residents. Neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome them; despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband starts spending time with them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare.

As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to…


Book cover of I Capture the Castle

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Author Of Ark

From my list on living big in small spaces.

Who am I?

I’m an American author who lived three years in a backyard tiny house with my family: husband, two young children, and a part-time dog. We wanted to live a bigger life, focused on our favorite activities and most important relationships. I wrote this book during the first spring of COVID-19, partly as a way to record my family’s experience weathering a pandemic in under 300 square feet, and partly as a way to explore the ways that children can be resourceful when life gives them a pinch. I've been a writer for most of my life, and I love to teach writing. Ark is my first middle-grade novel, and my lucky thirteenth book to publish!

Elisabeth's book list on living big in small spaces

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did Elisabeth love this book?

Granted, nobody would call a castle a small space, but the world of 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain—the narrator of this full-of-life novel-in-journal-form—is hemmed in by her father’s writer’s block and his innate dislike of neighbors, resulting in their family’s life of dwindling gentile poverty in a dilapidated rented castle.

Much of the novel’s long-lasting enchantment is how Cassandra makes the best of the stone walls that contain and border her life. Cassandra has a wonderful imagination and a knack for seeing her life as a story. A very funny and wise coming-of-age story about how our homes shape our world-views.

By Dodie Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked I Capture the Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

One of BBC's 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

A wonderfully quirky coming-of-age story, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, author of The Hundred and One Dalmatians is an affectionately drawn portrait of one of the funniest families in literature.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition is illustrated by Ruth Steed, and features an afterword by publisher Anna South.

The eccentric Mortmain family have been rattling around in a…


Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

Linda Griffin Author Of Stonebridge

From my list on good old-fashioned haunted house.

Who am I?

Maybe because I grew up in San Diego, a city that boasts what ghost hunter Hans Holzer called the most haunted house in America, I’ve always loved ghost stories. I never encountered a ghost when I visited the Whaley House Museum, as Regis Philbin did when he spent the night, but I once took a photograph there that had an unexplained light streak on it. Although I conceived a passion for the printed word with my first Dick and Jane reader and wrote my first story at the age of six, it took me a few decades to fulfill my long-held desire to write a ghost story of my own.

Linda's book list on good old-fashioned haunted house

Linda Griffin Why did Linda love this book?

I was late in coming to this and was glad to find its popularity richly deserved.

The characters are quirky enough to be entertaining on their own, and the house is a formidable opponent. I found the climactic scene where the ghost is banging on all the doors genuinely frightening, and then the plot took a completely unexpected turn. I was the one who succumbed to the haunting in the end.

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Haunting of Hill House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part of a new six-volume series of the best in classic horror, selected by Academy Award-winning director of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker and longtime horror literature fan Guillermo del Toro serves as the curator for the Penguin Horror series, a new collection of classic tales and poems by masters of the genre. Included here are some of del Toro's favorites, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ray Russell's short story "Sardonicus," considered by Stephen King to be "perhaps the finest example of the modern Gothic ever written," to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and stories…


Book cover of The Town House

Catriona McPherson Author Of Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains

From my list on where the house is a character.

Who am I?

When I started writing historical mysteries, I made my sleuth posh so she would have the spare time and the spare money to go racketing about solving crimes. But I’m not posh (at all) and so, when I’m thinking about earlier times, I never imagine I’d be in the fringed flapper dress, or on the fainting couch. I always assume I’d be down in the basement, grating a block of lye soap to scrub the soot off something. I think that’s why I’m so endlessly interested in how the grunt work gets done.

Catriona's book list on where the house is a character

Catriona McPherson Why did Catriona love this book?

There was no such thing as YA when I was the right age for it. I went straight from the school stories of Enid Blyton to bonkbusters, bodice-rippers, and sweeping historical sagas the size of building bricks. The Suffolk trilogy was always my favourite of those, because its sweep was so stupendous. (Book one opens in the 1300s and Book three ends well into the twentieth century.) The Town House world is so physical, so brutal, so strange to modern eyes. The food, the clothes – my God, the plumbing! – the relentless scrabble to survive for all but the very rich, make this novel and, to some extent, its two sequels a completely immersive read. I particularly love that Lofts pays as much attention to the lowly folk who keep the place going as to the owners of the manor house. 

By Norah Lofts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first volume of a trilogy set in Suffolk and spanning five centuries of a family's history. In 1391 Martin Reed was bound to the soil by the feudal system, but his resentment flared in open defiance and, encouraged by the woman he loved, he broke free to begin a new life.


Book cover of Greengates

Catriona McPherson Author Of Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains

From my list on where the house is a character.

Who am I?

When I started writing historical mysteries, I made my sleuth posh so she would have the spare time and the spare money to go racketing about solving crimes. But I’m not posh (at all) and so, when I’m thinking about earlier times, I never imagine I’d be in the fringed flapper dress, or on the fainting couch. I always assume I’d be down in the basement, grating a block of lye soap to scrub the soot off something. I think that’s why I’m so endlessly interested in how the grunt work gets done.

Catriona's book list on where the house is a character

Catriona McPherson Why did Catriona love this book?

The Baldwins live a small but happy life in London, until the bombshell day when Mr. Baldwin retires. He loses his raison d’etre, but his wife too has her life upended by his constant presence. Slowly their domestic bliss begins to unravel. Until they decide to do something beyond radical: they move to the county – to Greengates, a spanking new 1930s villa – and a thrilling fresh start together. I really mean “thrilling” too. This quiet and affectionate exploration of a couple remaking their humdrum life moves me to tears, even while the fascinating details of equipping and running a “new” house charms my socks off. 

By Robert Cedric Sherriff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Greengates


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