100 books like The Persian Boy

By Mary Renault,

Here are 100 books that The Persian Boy fans have personally recommended if you like The Persian Boy. 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 Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora

Dora Levy Mossanen Author Of Love and War in the Jewish Quarter

From my list on captivating World War II love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a novelist, whose Persian family is comprised of a colorful cast of characters, who supply me with invaluable fodder for my historical novels. Years ago, my grandfather, Dr. Habib Levy, recounted how, when he was the dentist of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the King of Iran, the king commanded him to convert to Islam. Aware he might be uttering his last words, my grandfather had replied, Your Majesty, a man who turns his back to his faith is a traitor, and his Majesty will not want a traitor for a dentist. Now, after decades, this long past scene became the inspiration for my fifth historical novel, Love and War in the Jewish Quarter.

Dora's book list on captivating World War II love stories

Dora Levy Mossanen Why did Dora love this book?

Dr. Habib Levy, the author of this book, is my grandfather, who spent half a century researching and writing the first comprehensive source on the history of the Jews of Iran. 

I have often referred to this wealth of information for my historical novels. But never has it been a more important source and inspiration than for my most recent novel.

By Habib Levy, Hooshang Ebrami, George W. Maschke (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora


Book cover of The Stationery Shop

Betty Bolte Author Of Becoming Lady Washington

From my list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I “discovered” historical fiction when a teen and have devoured it ever since. When my parents took me to the Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina in 9th grade, I realized just how much I enjoyed learning about history in real life. I found that reading historical fiction breathed life into what can be a very dull read, so I wanted to bring history to life with my own words. Visiting historical properties has become a big passion of mine! Every trip I take includes a visit to some historical site or another. I’ve been writing historical fiction/romance/fantasy since the late 1990s.

Betty's book list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women

Betty Bolte Why did Betty love this book?

This highly recommended story is a love story between two people who should have been together all along but obstacles prevented them from sharing a life. Those obstacles include political and personal forces, but I won’t elaborate as that would count as giving away the story. I was intrigued by life in Iran back in the 1950s and how girls/women were treated then. How they were expected to behave even as those expectations began to shift to be more Western in nature. Dealing with change is never easy, especially for those who resist new ideas. I haven’t studied this time period nor this country so experiencing Kamali’s story gave me a level of awareness of the culture and the politics of the time in an easy-to-understand form.

By Marjan Kamali,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A poignant, heartfelt new novel by the award-nominated author of Together Tea—extolled by the Wall Street Journal as a “moving tale of lost love” and by Shelf Awareness as “a powerful, heartbreaking story”—explores loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.

Roya, a dreamy, idealistic teenager living amid the political upheaval of 1953 Tehran, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood stationery shop, stocked with books and pens and bottles of jewel-colored ink.

Then Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice…


Book cover of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

Dora Levy Mossanen Author Of Harem

From my list on Persian history and its people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Israel, but spent my formative years in Iran, a country rich in culture, superstition, and a history that is nothing short of an author’s dream. I also joined a large, colorful family, whose members possessed their own quirks and habits, which my future fictional characters inherited in one or another of my novels. Although the Iran I knew during the reign of the Shah was quite different than the Iran I had to flee at the onset of the Islamic revolution and the arrival of Ayatollah Khomeini, her history remains ever timely, and never ceases to captivate me.

Dora's book list on Persian history and its people

Dora Levy Mossanen Why did Dora love this book?

The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, Hooman Majd offers perspective on Iran's complex and misunderstood culture through an insightful tour of Iranian culture, introducing fascinating characters from all walks of life, including zealous government officials, tough female cab drivers, and open-minded, reformist ayatollahs. It's an Iran that will surprise readers and challenge Western stereotypes.

By Hooman Majd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hooman Majd, acclaimed journalist and New York-residing grandson of an Ayatollah, has a unique perspective on his Iranian homeland. In this vivid, warm and humorous insider's account, he opens our eyes to an Iran that few people see, meeting opium-smoking clerics, women cab drivers and sartorially challenged presidential officials, among others.

Revealing a country where both t-shirt wearing teenagers and religious martyrs express pride in their Persian origins, that is deeply religious yet highly cosmopolitan, authoritarian yet reformist, this is the one book you should read to understand Iran and Iranians today.


Book cover of The Color Purple

Hari Ziyad Author Of Black Boy Out of Time

From my list on loss and grief from a certified death doula.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist, author and screenwriter, my work has always pondered loss and grief. I think this has something to do with the fact that of my mother’s religion; she was a convert to Hinduism and started conversations about the inevitability of death and how the soul and the body aren’t the same when us children were at a very young age. It probably also has something to do with the constant presence of death within my family and communities as a Black and queer person in a violently anti-Black and queerantagonistic world. I currently volunteer at a hospice, and provide community-building programming to death workers from diverse communities.

Hari's book list on loss and grief from a certified death doula

Hari Ziyad Why did Hari love this book?

This novel is a soul-stirring journey of resilience and self-discovery.

Reminding us that loss of connection to a loved one shares many of the same aspects as death, The Color Purple is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, particularly in the face of adversity. Along the way, you’ll come to a deeper understanding of gendered violence, the healing power of sisterhood and the enduring nature of love.

By Alice Walker,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Color Purple as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Alice Walker's iconic modern classic is now a Penguin Book.

A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug…


Book cover of Orlando: A Biography

Donna M. Lucey Author Of Sargent's Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas

From my list on women who broke the rules—or new ground.

Why am I passionate about this?

A New York Times bestselling author, I love excavating the lives of eccentric, strong-willed women. There’s the thrill of the chase—holding handwritten letters and diaries and uncovering, bit by bit, the story of each woman—and the adventure of encountering the unexpected: Wandering through a rattlesnake-infested Montana cabin (Photographing Montana 1894-1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron); being woken by a ghost while staying at a decaying Astor mansion in the Hudson Valley (Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age); climbing 200 stone steps to reach the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle, while the recently-departed Queen Elizabeth was in the courtyard below (Victoria’s Island, in process). Such fun.

Donna's book list on women who broke the rules—or new ground

Donna M. Lucey Why did Donna love this book?

Because even its subtitle is subversive. Written as a valentine to Woolf’s lesbian lover, the book is anything but a biography. It is a gender-bending, time-traveling work of fiction that stretches from Elizabethan England to modern times—with the central character never aging, but changing sex. The book explores the fluidity of gender while poking fun at the pageantry and conventions of aristocratic English life, as well as taking to task the English tradition of male primogeniture. Fans of the book must also watch director Sally Potter’s brilliant film adaptation, Orlando, that stars a young, transcendent Tilda Swinton. 

By Virginia Woolf,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Orlando as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

HarperCollins is proud to present its new range of best-loved, essential classics.

'The flower bloomed and faded. The sun rose and sank. The lover loved and went. And what the poets said in rhyme, the young translated into practice.'

Written for her lover Vita Sackville-West, 'Orlando' is Woolf's playfully subversive take on a biography, here tracing the fantastical life of Orlando. As the novel spans centuries and continents, gender and identity, we follow Orlando's adventures in love - from being a lord in the Elizabethan court to a lady in 1920s London.

First published in 1928, this tale of unrivalled…


Book cover of Mrs. Dalloway

Roland Merullo Author Of Dessert with Buddha

From my list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twenty novels tend to focus on characters who face great challenges, and I have a particular appreciation for beautiful prose. I don’t read for distraction or entertainment, but to be enlightened, moved, and made more compassionate about different kinds of people in different environments.

Roland's book list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction

Roland Merullo Why did Roland love this book?

I sometimes enjoy novels in which the action is mainly interior. Not a lot happens here, but Virginia Woolf had a deep grasp of human psychology and a luminous prose style, and her characters just leap off the page. I could linger over sentences and pages for long minutes and have read this multiple times.

I always come away from her work with a greater appreciation for the amazing miracle of simply being alive on this earth and for the beauty of the English language.

By Virginia Woolf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The working title of Mrs. Dalloway was The Hours. The novel began as two short stories, "Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street" and the unfinished "The Prime Minister". It describes Clarissa's preparations for a party she will host in the evening, and the ensuing party. With an interior perspective, the story travels forward and back in time and in and out of the characters' minds to construct an image of Clarissa's life and of the inter-war social structure.


In October 2005, Mrs. Dalloway was included on Time's list of the 100 best English-language novels written since Time debuted in 1923.


Book cover of Affinity

Thomas H. Brand Author Of A Far Better Thing

From my list on leaving you spooked and unsettled.

Why am I passionate about this?

Horror was never something that appealed to me when I was younger. However, in adulthood, I realised the fascination of the unsettling. As I began writing, I realised that true horror is not all about monsters and gore but about breaking our everyday complacency and realising the possibility that the world is bigger than us and how we are unprepared to deal with it. This is why I write horror. Not to shock you with a jump-scare, but you leave you thinking about my words long after the lights have gone out.  

Thomas' book list on leaving you spooked and unsettled

Thomas H. Brand Why did Thomas love this book?

Looking to move past the social shame of her suicide attempt, Margaret Prior begins visiting a woman’s prison to conduct rehabilitative charity work. But when she meets the young spiritualist Selina Dawes, she finds herself pulled into a world of smouldering passion and the realisation the world may be more than she ever realised. 

In this book, Sarah Waters takes Victorian gothic romance and brings it into the modern age. Reading this book involves peeling away the layers and interpreting the unspoken. Nothing is spelt out, as none of the characters would ever deign to say such things out loud. But by looking at what isn’t said, we gradually learn the hidden truth.

By Sarah Waters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Affinity is the work of an intense and atmospheric imagination . . . Sarah Waters is such an interesting writer, a kind of feminist Dickens' Fiona Pitt-Kethley, Daily Telegraph

Set in and around the women's prison at Milbank in the 1870s, Affinity is an eerie and utterly compelling ghost story, a complex and intriguing literary mystery and a poignant love story with an unexpected twist in the tale. Following the death of her father, Margaret Prior has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady criminals of one of London's most notorious gaols. Surrounded by prisoners, murderers and common…


Book cover of Wildthorn

Rosie Garland Author Of Vixen

From my list on positive LGBTQ+ characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

It’s no surprise to hear I’m drawn to stories featuring outsiders, people who don’t / won’t conform and are fed up trying to force themselves into the narrow roles society offers. Folk who slide under the radar, and never make it into history books (which is all of us, right?). This springs from being an outsider myself, the weird kid who didn’t fit. I’ve chosen novels where the LGBTQ+ characters strive and struggle but do not die tragically. Put simply, they are real people, complete with flaws and strengths. These books are your very own Time Machines: wonderful stories to transport you into the past.

Rosie's book list on positive LGBTQ+ characters

Rosie Garland Why did Rosie love this book?

Set in 19th century England, this novel is aimed at Young Adult readers and is a reminder that a good read is simply good, whatever age bracket it’s aimed at. It resonated with my own teenage struggles to break free of restrictive expectations – even though mine were trifling compared to what the heroine Louisa has to go through! She resists the restrictions of Victorian society and the limited choices available to women, and is locked up in an asylum. It prompted me to read more about the era and discovered the shocking truth of how this really happened to women who stepped out of line…

By Jane Eagland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wildthorn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove has never enjoyed the life of the pampered, protected life girls of wealth were expected to follow in nineteenth century England. It was too confining. She would have much rather been like her older brother, allowed to play marbles, go to school, become a doctor. But little does she know how far her family would go to kill her dreams and desires. Until one day she finds herself locked away in an insane asylum and everyone--the doctors and nurses--insist on calling her Lucy Childs, not Louisa Cosgrove.
Surely this is a mistake. Surely her family will rescue…


Book cover of Call Me by Your Name

John Glynn Author Of Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer

From my list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi! I'm John Glynn, and I'm excited to share some book recommendations inspired by one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs, "Cruel Summer."  To me, this song perfectly encapsulates the heightened emotions of summer love—a theme at the heart of my memoir Out East. I chose books that capture the "fever dream highs" of the season. But at the same time, as Taylor sings, "Summer's a knife," filled with longing and heartache, primed for nostalgia. All of these books carry the kind of moonlit shimmer I crave in a smart beach read. As a Swiftie, a beach lover, an avid reader, and a hopeless romantic, I hope you enjoy.

John's book list on books that feel like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer”

John Glynn Why did John love this book?

Like pretty much every Taylor Swift song, this book made me feel big emotions.

Over the course of one summer in Italy, the main character, Elio, falls in love with a visiting scholar named Oliver. It’s a gay love story filled with all the tension, heat, and anguish that accompanies first love.

It brought me back to my own experiences of falling in love for the first time when every exchange and every gesture felt latent with meaning. 

By André Aciman,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Call Me by Your Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a Major Motion Picture from Director Luca Guadagnino, Starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, and Written by James Ivory

WINNER BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY ACADEMY AWARD
Nominated for Four Oscars

A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
A Vulture Book Club Pick

An Instant Classic and One of the Great Love Stories of Our Time

Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared…


Book cover of A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Ruth Vanita Author Of Memory of Light

From my list on lesbian and gay literary fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to my mother, I grew up immersed in English literature. I was educated in Delhi and co-founded the first nationwide feminist magazine, but same-sex love was never mentioned either in the classroom or in the women’s movement. I educated myself in Indian literature and discovered that same-sex sexuality had been practiced and written about until the British criminalized it. I wrote several books about same-sex unions in Indian literature and history and translated poetry and fiction from Hindi and Urdu to English. My first novel, Memory of Light, is a love story between two courtesans, based in pre-colonial India, where poets freely wrote about same-sex, as well as cross-sex love. 

Ruth's book list on lesbian and gay literary fiction

Ruth Vanita Why did Ruth love this book?

This intricately plotted semi-comic, semi-tragic novel, riffing off Much Ado about Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, keeps the reader guessing to the end.

Simon and Axel are the best gay male couple in fiction, for my money, quirky; adorable; absolutely believable characters whose relationship the villain tries to destroy as he does several other relationships.

I love the story of how they first met, their erotic banter, their clothes, their food and wine, and the way they move towards being more open about their relationship.

By Iris Murdoch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exploration of love and its excesses, missteps, and modest triumphs, from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea, The Sea

In a dark comedy of errors, Iris Murdoch portrays the mischief wrought by Julius, a cynical intellectual who decides to demonstrate through a Machiavellian experiment how easily loving couples, caring friends, and devoted siblings can betray their loyalties. As puppet master, Julius artfully plays on the human tendency to embrace drama and intrigue and to prefer the distraction of confrontations to the difficult effort of communicating openly and honestly.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading…


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