92 books like The Sun Down Motel

By Simone St. James,

Here are 92 books that The Sun Down Motel fans have personally recommended if you like The Sun Down Motel. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Gem Thief

Linda Shenton Matchett Author Of Spies & Sweethearts

From my list on historical female protagonists in unusual jobs.

Who am I?

As a former Human Resources executive I’m fascinated by the history of women in the workforce, especially in jobs that have traditionally been held by men. I was first drawn into the topic as a writer of WWII novels. Through memoirs, autobiographies, and oral history interviews I learned firsthand about women who entered the workforce to take the place of men who were serving in combat or the defense industry. In an effort to spotlight the women of this era as well as those who have gone before, many of my protagonists hold unusual jobs such as spy, war correspondent, pilot, doctor, restaurant owner, and gold miner. 

Linda's book list on historical female protagonists in unusual jobs

Linda Shenton Matchett Why did Linda love this book?

Having worked for a jewelry designer in the Washington, DC area, The Gem Thief caught my eye. The story took me back to my days in the shop (good memories!), and the author has obviously done her research, because her accuracy is impeccable. I liked all of the characters, but I bonded with one of the secondary characters so much that I felt we could be friends in “real life.” I’ve been to New York City often, so I also enjoyed revisiting the city. The book was both comfortable because of all the associations to “past lives,” and exciting as I turned pages wondering what would happen next.

By Sian Ann Bessey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2018 HONORABLE Mention for Romance Forward INDIES Winners Gracie Miller is a small-town girl who has landed her dream job in New York City. As jewelry designer for one of the most prestigious jewelers in the world, she completed a particularly stunning piece, a custom setting for a large pink diamond. But when her billionaire client Mrs. Katsaros comes to repair a minor issue with the setting, Gracie is horrified to realize it is not the ring she created. Someone has forged her design, and the priceless diamond is gone.

Mrs. Katsaros has no desire to bring media attention to…

Book cover of The Collected Stories

Steven Sherrill Author Of The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

From my list on short stories to send your mind into the sublime.

Who am I?

Most of my public success has been as a novelist. My MFA, from the Iowa Writers Workshop, is in poetry. When I grow up, I want to be a short story writer. The dirty truth is, though, I’ve been making trouble with stories since I was a kid. During my first attempt in 10th grade, I wrote a story that got me suspended for two weeks. No explanation. No guidance. Just a conference between my parents, teachers, and principal (I wasn’t present), and they came out and banished me. I dropped out of school shortly after. I reckon that experience, both shameful and delicious, shaped my life and love of narrative.

Steven's book list on short stories to send your mind into the sublime

Steven Sherrill Why did Steven love this book?

The complexities of the human, the whole human. That’s what Paley explores. How we think, how we act and feel, how we play and fight, how we talk. And talk. Paley is a master of nuance, and often reveals her mastery through dialogue. There is always a convincing urgency in the way her characters speak, and a delicious talking-around a thing, an idea. Her worlds richly detailed and urban. I’d like to live in the apartment building of Grace Paley’s mind. 

By Grace Paley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This reissue of Grace Paley's classic collection—a finalist for the National Book Award—demonstrates her rich use of language as well as her extraordinary insight into and compassion for her characters, moving from the hilarious to the tragic and back again.

Whether writing about the love (and conflict) between parents and children or between husband and wife, or about the struggles of aging single mothers or disheartened political organizers to make sense of the world, she brings the same unerring ear for the rhythm of life as it is actually lived.

The Collected Stories is a 1994 National Book Award Finalist…

Book cover of This Is New York

Tania de Regil Author Of A New Home

From my list on picture books about cities.

Who am I?

When I was a young girl, I was lucky to have friends from all over the world, so learning about a new country or a new city always fascinated me, and it still does. I’m always trying to learn new things, meet new people and whenever I can I like to travel the world. As a writer and illustrator, it’s always nice to experience new things, it helps to expand my imagination. I hope this list inspires you not only to read but to learn a few things here and there.  

Tania's book list on picture books about cities

Tania de Regil Why did Tania love this book?

Anyone who is curious about other cities and cultures will love the complete series of the This Is… books by Miroslav Sasek. They are filled with exciting facts and the colorful illustrations are truly delightful. From New York, to London, to Hong Kong, and many more, these books will inspire you to travel the world!

By Miroslav Sasek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Is New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the same wit and perception that distinguished his stylish books on Paris, London, and Rome, M. Sasek pictures fabulous, big-hearted New York City in This Is New York, first published in 1960 and now updated for the 21st century. The Dutchman who bought the island of Manhattan from the Native Americnas in 1626 for twenty-four dollars' worth of handy housewares little knew that his was the biggest bargain in American history. For everything about New York is big -- the buildings, the traffic jams, the cars, the stories, the Sunday papers. Here is the Staten Island Ferry, the Statute…

Book cover of Putting on the Ritz

Marc Acito Author Of How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater

From my list on what life in the theatre is really like.

Who am I?

As a brainy, bullied Queer theater kid, I was 14 before I ever saw anyone like myself onstage or onscreen. Then—Wham—in June of 1980 I saw A Chorus Line on Broadway and Fame at the movies. But there weren’t any books that showed the theater life as it was actually lived. When I published my love letter to my high school theater friends in 2004, no one had written a novel about our kind. Today, as someone who’s managed to make a living as a writer-director of musicals, I strive to share the whole truth with the young artists I mentor. 

Marc's book list on what life in the theatre is really like

Marc Acito Why did Marc love this book?

Joe Keenan’s madcap farces made me want to write my own. They’re the kind of books that make you laugh so hard you just have to read lines from it to the person sitting next to you (preferably someone you know because strangers on mass transit don’t appreciate that kind of thing). As zany as they are, his novels are rooted in the real, doing-whatever-you-can-to-make-it lives of theater people. So they’re not as far-fetched as you might think. Life in New York City really can be that wildly glamorous. And hilarious.

By Joe Keenan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Putting on the Ritz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The witty duo from Blue Heaven invade the entourage of a tasteless real estate/media magnate, attempt to turn his talentless wife into a chanteuse, and vie for the affections of a suave magazine editor, in this deftly delicious comedy of bad manners, financial skullduggery, and romantic infighting.

Book cover of Open City

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Who am I?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

By most accounts, immigrant literature deals primarily with how immigrants struggle to adapt to their adopted countries.

Its readers have come to expect stories of identity formation, of how immigrants create ethnic communities and maintain ties to countries of origin. Yet such narratives can center exceptional stories of individual success or obscure the political forces that uproot millions of people the world over.

This novel simulates the intimacy of immigrant memoir by seemingly giving readers access to his narrator’s interiority; it seems to cater to readerly expectation. And yet this is ultimately a ruse to obtain readerly investment, which Cole then redirects to the global history of forced migration and dispossession.

I love the combination of erudition and subtlety in a novel that, while ranging across three continents, allows readers to think simultaneously about dislocation across history and in our contemporary world.

By Teju Cole,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Open City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling debut novel from a writer heralded as the twenty-first-century W. G. Sebald.

A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss and surrender, Open City follows a young Nigerian doctor as he wanders aimlessly along the streets of Manhattan. For Julius the walks are a release from the tight regulations of work, from the emotional fallout of a failed relationship, from lives past and present on either side of the Atlantic.

Isolated amid crowds of bustling strangers, Julius criss-crosses not just physical landscapes but social boundaries too, encountering people whose otherness sheds light on his own remarkable journey…

Book cover of Stories of Freedom in Black New York

Anna Mae Duane Author Of Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation

From my list on Black New Yorkers you wish you had learned about in history class.

Who am I?

I am an associate professor of English at the University of Connecticut. I’ve spent most of my career thinking about the role children have played in American culture. Adults, past and present, often overlook the intelligence and resilience of children who have managed to change both their immediate circumstances, and the world around them. I seek out these children and do my best to honor their stories. I’ve written or edited four other books on race and childhood, and have a podcast on children in history.

Anna's book list on Black New Yorkers you wish you had learned about in history class

Anna Mae Duane Why did Anna love this book?

This beautifully written history focuses on another nineteenth-century Black New Yorker who defies expectations and deserves our attention. Like Educated for Freedom and Black Gotham, White’s story places us in historical moments surrounding the 1827 law ending slavery in New York State. White puts us on the vibrant, noisy, streets of the city, inviting us to see both hope and defiance in how Black people dressed, how they walked down the street, and what they did at the theater. At the center of this history emerges James Hewlett, a man whose life is worthy of at least one feature film, but has remained largely unknown outside of specialists in the field. Hewlett was a Black Shakespearean actor who insisted on his right to interpret Shakespeare for himself and for the community, even as white tastemakers sought to keep the bard’s words to themselves.

By Shane White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stories of Freedom in Black New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stories of Freedom in Black New York recreates the experience of black New Yorkers as they moved from slavery to freedom. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, New York City's black community strove to realize what freedom meant, to find a new sense of itself, and, in the process, created a vibrant urban culture. Through exhaustive research, Shane White imaginatively recovers the raucous world of the street, the elegance of the city's African American balls, and the grubbiness of the Police Office. It allows us to observe the style of black men and women, to watch their public…

Book cover of The Wise Women

Caroline Leavitt Author Of With or Without You

From my list on hidden gems that won’t stay hidden for long.

Who am I?

I’m a voracious reader, an author, and also a book critic, so hundreds of books cross my desk. What I love the most is the feeling of discovery—reading a book whose likes I haven’t seen on any bestseller list or on a front display in a bookstore. There are so many, many hidden gems—books that have stayed with me long after the publication day, and I always want others to have the same devotion to them that I do!

Caroline's book list on hidden gems that won’t stay hidden for long

Caroline Leavitt Why did Caroline love this book?

Maybe not a hidden gem (it was a Good Morning America Buzz Pick), but this one surely should be in everyone’s book bag.

New York City’s the bustling backdrop of this wildly witty novel about two adult daughters and their meddling advice columnist mother. Clementine struggles with working and bringing up her six-year-old boy, and her one comfort is the beautiful Queens home she thought she owned—right up until she discovers her husband has mortgaged their house for his failing start-up.

Sister Barb has a cheating girlfriend, and advice columnist mom has issues of her own! Can Wendy swoop in to save the day? Or does she? Smart, smart fun.

By Gina Sorell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Good Morning America Buzz Pick and one of Read With Jenna's Most Anticipated Books of 2022

"I laughed and shook my head in recognition as the three Wise women crashed through love relationships, terrible advice, and delightful moments of connection. The Wise Women is a smart and tender novel about how hard-and vital-it is to find the place where we belong." -Amanda Eyre Ward, New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters and The Lifeguards

A witty and wildly enjoyable novel, set in New York City, about two adult daughters and their meddling advice columnist mother, for readers of…

Book cover of Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion

Shastri Akella Author Of The Sea Elephants

From my list on international queer heroes.

Who am I?

When I first wrote The Sea Elephants, my protagonist (Shagun) and I were both asexual. My writing professor read the novel and said it’s dying to be a gay love story. Eventually, when I came out and rewrote the book from my newfound identity of queerness, I searched for queer stories that, like mine, were set outside the US or had non-American leads. And I realized that this is a significant gap that needs to be bridged. I felt a tremendous sense of solidarity with the books I did find. They made me feel less alone. Later, as an assistant professor of English, I’ve taught all of these books.

Shastri's book list on international queer heroes

Shastri Akella Why did Shastri love this book?

The rare South Asian diasporic novel with a queer lead, Bushra Rehman’s novel is set in the 1980s New York and follows Razia, a second generation Pakistani-American girl living in Queens as she finds strong female friendship with Taslima and eventually falls in love with Angela. But being Pakistani-American means, for Razia, making a difficult choice: home or love.

This novel will resonate deeply with anyone who loves New York or has found themselves on the fringes of their families because of who they are.

By Bushra Rehman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia's heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous music, wearing mini skirts, and cutting school to explore the city.

When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens.…

Book cover of Up in the Old Hotel

Jonathan H. Rees Author Of The Fulton Fish Market: A History

From my list on the history of New York City.

Who am I?

I’m Professor of History at Colorado State University Pueblo and have published eight books, mostly about the history of food. After encountering Up in the Old Hotel for the first time during the early 1990s, I started reading New York City history in my spare time. The Fulton Fish Market: A History is my way to blend my expertise with my hobby. Each of these books are beautifully written, informative, and fun. If you’re interested in the history of New York City and you’re looking for something else to read, I hope you’ll find my book to be the same.

Jonathan's book list on the history of New York City

Jonathan H. Rees Why did Jonathan love this book?

Joseph Mitchell was the city reporter for the New Yorker for about half a century. This is a collection of his magazine stories. Many of them involve the old Fulton Fish Market, but he also wrote about weird things like dime museums, gypsies, and stag banquets. 

To me, every story in this collection is like a time capsule. This is the book that made me want to write about New York City because it suggests there is a history on every block there worth recording. If you don’t like a chapter or two, then skip to the next one, but I’ll vouch for 80% of this book being the best non-fiction writing that I have ever read (and I practically read for a living).

By Joseph Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Up in the Old Hotel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Saloon-keepers and street preachers, gypsies and steel-walking Mohawks, a bearded lady and a 93-year-old “seafoodetarian” who believes his specialized diet will keep him alive for another two decades. These are among the people that Joseph Mitchell immortalized in his reportage for The New Yorker and in four books—McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, Old Mr. Flood, The Bottom of the Harbor, and Joe Gould's Secret—that are still renowned for their precise, respectful observation, their graveyard humor, and their offhand perfection of style.


These masterpieces (along with several previously uncollected stories) are available in one volume, which presents an indelible collective portrait of an…

Book cover of The Chosen

Matthew Arnold Stern Author Of The Remainders

From my list on Jewish families in crisis.

Who am I?

Reseda, California plays an important part in my novels. I grew up there in a middle-class Jewish family, and we experienced the turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. My parents got divorced, and my brother and I were raised by our working mom until she became paralyzed by a stroke. I found refuge in writing. I wrote The Remainders in 2016 during a tumultuous time when issues of family conflict, homelessness, and the growing cruelty of society came into focus. Still, I believe decency and compassion will prevail. The books I write and enjoy reading seek to find light in the darkest of circumstances.

Matthew's book list on Jewish families in crisis

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did Matthew love this book?

If you want to understand the struggle Jews like me face in modern America, read this classic novel.

Two Jewish boys—one secular and the other expected to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Chasidic rabbi—grow up in 1940s Brooklyn against the backdrop of World War II and the founding of Israel. It shows the conflict we face between family expectations and assimilating in a country where we don’t feel fully welcome.

By Chaim Potok,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A coming-of-age classic about two Jewish boys growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s, this “profound and universal” (The Wall Street Journal) story of faith, family, tradition, and assimilation remains deeply pertinent today.

“Works of this caliber should be occasion for singing in the streets and shouting from the rooftops.” —Chicago Tribune

It’s the spring of 1944 and fifteen-year-olds Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders have lived five blocks apart all their lives. But they’ve never met, not until the day an accident at a softball game sparks an unlikely friendship. Soon these two boys—one expected to become a Hasidic rebbe,…

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