100 books like The Wife

By Meg Wolitzer,

Here are 100 books that The Wife fans have personally recommended if you like The Wife. 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 Olive Kitteridge

Ellen Baker Author Of The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson

From my list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved reading novels about strong, quirky women since childhood (Nancy Drew, Ramona Quimby, Harriet the Spy, the heroines of Judy Blume novels, just for starting examples!). As I grew into writing my own stories, I also started studying women’s history. I merged these two interests to begin writing historical novels with strong women protagonists. I love the challenge of researching to figure out the details of women’s day-to-day lives–so many unrecorded stories!–and I love to advocate for the idea (fortunately not as revolutionary as it once was) that a woman can be the hero of her own story and that each woman’s story is important to tell.  

Ellen's book list on books with quirky, strong women at their heart

Ellen Baker Why did Ellen love this book?

I found this book absolutely riveting.

Outspoken, cantankerous, deep-hearted Olive Kitteridge is a character unlike any other, and I loved how the interconnected stories let us see her, her family, and her community at various points in time and how their decisions and ways of being affect the arcs of their lives.

I loved the complexity and uniqueness of all the characters, as well as the insights that this book offers about the intricacies, nuances, difficulties, and joys of being human. 

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
 
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Plain Dealer • The Atlantic • Rocky Mountain News • Library Journal
 
At times stern, at…


Book cover of Lolita

Charles Salzberg Author Of Man on the Run

From my list on reads for valuable lessons as a crime writer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an English major in college and my dream was to write the Great American Novel. My literary heroes were writers like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Jean Rhys, Margaret Drabble, Truman Capote, and Norman Mailer. They “taught” me how to write. About a dozen years ago, I concentrated on writing crime novels, like Swann’s Last Song and Second Story Man, both of which were nominated for Shamus Awards (Second Story Man won the Beverly Hills Book Award.) I'm a magazine journalist and write nonfiction books, screenplays, plays, and book reviews. I teach writing here in New York City, and I’m on the Board of PrisonWrites and the New York Writers Workshop.

Charles' book list on reads for valuable lessons as a crime writer

Charles Salzberg Why did Charles love this book?

Lolita isn’t usually thought of as a crime novel but it is.

Thirty-seven-year-old Humbert Humbert stalks 12-year-old Lolita, then breaks all kinds of laws, moral, ethical, and legal, as he transports her across state lines.

The first time I read Lolita, I was dazzled by Nabokov’s stunning use of language—and remember, English was not his native tongue—word-play, and his ability to create full-blooded characters that leap off the page.

Nabokov pulls off this morally compromised tale with wit and humor, while dealing with the serious topic of pedophilia.

Reading Lolita gave me license to create morally challenged characters like Francis Hoyt, one of the protagonists in my novels.

Nabokov proved you don’t have to like, admire, or even feel a kinship with a character, so long as that character is interesting and compelling enough that readers are fascinated about him or her without being turned off.

By Vladimir Nabokov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of my tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.'

Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, frustrated college professor. In love with his landlady's twelve-year-old daughter Lolita, he'll do anything to possess her. Unable and unwilling to stop himself, he is prepared to commit any crime to get what he wants.

Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all…


Book cover of Little Women

Virginia Pye Author Of The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann

From my list on a woman writer finding her own voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love novels that show female characters finding their way in life, and especially women who use writing to help themselves to grow and evolve. Finding my own voice through writing has been my way of staking my claim in the world. It hasn’t always been easy for us to tell our stories, but when we do, we’re made stronger and more complete. The protagonist of my novel The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann fights hard to tell her own story. I know something about being held back by male-dominated expectations and Victoria’s situation could easily take place today. But when women writers finally find their voices, the works they create are of great value. 

Virginia's book list on a woman writer finding her own voice

Virginia Pye Why did Virginia love this book?

The much-loved American tale Little Women tells the story of four sisters in Civil War era Concord, Massachusetts, and their quests for love and happiness.

Based on author Louisa May Alcott herself, the character of Jo March, the second daughter, is headstrong, independent, and loves to read and write. Many young female readers have taken Jo as a role model because she speaks her mind and pursues her goals—writing first among them.

Much like my own character Victoria Swann, writing helps Jo forge her independence and it becomes clear as the story progresses that it’s her voice telling the family’s tale. Many bookish girls—me included—can thank Jo for encouraging the dream of becoming a writer.  

By Louisa May Alcott,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Little Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Louisa May Alcott shares the innocence of girlhood in this classic coming of age story about four sisters-Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy are responsible for keeping a home while their father is off to war. At the same time, they must come to terms with their individual personalities-and make the transition from girlhood to womanhood. It can all be quite a challenge. But the March sisters, however different, are nurtured by their wise and beloved Marmee, bound by their love for each other and the feminine…


Book cover of The House of Mirth

Jan Eliasberg Author Of Hannah's War

From my list on exploring the world from a female point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised to believe that I could do everything a man could do, just as Ginger Rodgers did, “backwards and in high heels.” My discovery that social expectations and boundaries for women were vastly different than those for men came as an enormous shock, and struck me as deeply, tragically unfair. I take strength from women in history, as well as from fictional female characters, who passionately pursue roles in a man’s world that are considered transgressive or forbidden. As a glass-ceiling-shattering female film and television director I take inspiration from women who have the gritty determination to live on their own terms. And then tell it as they lived it.

Jan's book list on exploring the world from a female point of view

Jan Eliasberg Why did Jan love this book?

This novel’s power remains intact every time I read it, even as the nature of the tragedy seems to shift – from the perils of living by one’s looks (my teenage reading) to the cruelty of the world towards women (my young adult reading) to the struggle for personal freedom in a money-obsessed culture (my more recent readings).

Edith Wharton’s novel is a masterpiece, both electrifying and relevant, and worth re-reading as often as possible. 

Once you finish the book, watch the Terence Davies-directed film, starring the luminous Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart.

By Edith Wharton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A bestseller when it was published nearly a century ago, this literary classic established Edith Wharton as one of the most important American writers in the twentieth century-now with a new introduction from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan.

Wharton's first literary success-a devastatingly accurate portrait of New York's aristocracy at the turn of the century-is considered by many to be her most important novel, and Lily Bart, her most unforgettable character. Impoverished but well-born, the beautiful and beguiling Lily realizes a secure future depends on her acquiring a wealthy husband. But with her romantic indiscretion, gambling debts, and a maelstrom…


Book cover of Wonder Boys

Leslie Stella Author Of Permanent Record

From my list on the world of academia, prep schools, and campus life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Chicago-based writer whose novels explore the triumph of the underdog, and nobody is more underdoggy than a teenage self-loathing loner. I am proud that my novel, Permanent Record, was selected by Library Services for Youth in Custody for their 2014 “In the Margins” Book Award, a list that highlights literature with appeal for youths who are in restrictive custody and youths from street culture. I love the academic setting of the books on my list because it reminds me of when my own possibilities were limitless, when I was free to imagine who I would be outside the confines of my school.

Leslie's book list on the world of academia, prep schools, and campus life

Leslie Stella Why did Leslie love this book?

Complicated relationships often exist between teachers and students, but many novels paint one or the other as the enemy. In Wonder Boys, we have a joyous but still complicated friendship between Grady Tripp, a pot-smoking English professor who has lost his way, and his student James Leer, a budding writer who is emotionally troubled. I can relate to both the “going nowhere” middle-aged Grady and the troubled teen, James. The plot devices of the tuba, dead dog, and snake (most of it) that end up in Grady’s trunk somehow provide both gravitas and humor.

By Michael Chabon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A deft parody of the American fame factory and a piercing portrait of young and old desire, WONDER BOYS is a modern classic from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY.

Grady Tripp is an over-sexed, pot-bellied, pot-smoking, ageing wunderkind of a novelist now teaching creative writing at a Pittsburgh college while working on his 2,000-page masterpiece, WONDER BOYS. When his rumbustious editor and friend, Terry Crabtree, arrives in town, a chaotic weekend follows - involving a tuba, a dead dog, Marilyn Monroe's ermine-lined jacket and a squashed boa constrictor.

A novel of elegant imagination, bold…


Book cover of Elizabeth Is Missing

Vered Neta Author Of Things We Do For Love

From my list on the light side of Alzheimer’s.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like the Bach sisters in my novel Things We Do For Love, my sisters and I have cared for our mother, who battles Alzheimer's. Witnessing her transformation from a vibrant powerhouse to someone resembling the Walking Dead has been heart-wrenching. Despite the emotional rollercoaster, this journey has deeply connected us with our mother. Delving into the depths of her being has been a privilege, offering profound insights into her true essence. This challenging experience has unfolded as a disguised blessing. In this journey, we've discovered the beauty of unconditional love that binds our family together. It reflects the central question of my novel: What truly makes a happy family?

Vered's book list on the light side of Alzheimer’s

Vered Neta Why did Vered love this book?

This book inspired me to write my own account of dealing with my mum’s Alzheimer’s.

This darkly comic yet gripping novel reveals the humorous aspects of the disease. Maud, an eighty-year-old who grapples with forgetting even the cup of tea she just made or recognising her own daughter, surprisingly unravels a seventy-year-old mystery.

The story delicately weaves warm and uplifting moments with touches of comedy, anxiety, and sheer terror that arise when one realises the advancing years and the struggle to be heard in a society that often overlooks the elderly. The portrayal of dementia in this novel is both sympathetic and profoundly moving, capturing the emotional complexity of the experience.

Maud's character is both exasperating and compelling, embodying the kind of older protagonist I yearn to encounter more in literature.

By Emma Healey,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Elizabeth Is Missing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR BBC DRAMA
A SUNDAY TIMES TOP FIVE BESTSELLER

How do you solve a mystery when you can't remember the clues?

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn't remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable - or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.

But there's one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to…


Book cover of Writers & Lovers

Virginia Pye Author Of The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann

From my list on a woman writer finding her own voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love novels that show female characters finding their way in life, and especially women who use writing to help themselves to grow and evolve. Finding my own voice through writing has been my way of staking my claim in the world. It hasn’t always been easy for us to tell our stories, but when we do, we’re made stronger and more complete. The protagonist of my novel The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann fights hard to tell her own story. I know something about being held back by male-dominated expectations and Victoria’s situation could easily take place today. But when women writers finally find their voices, the works they create are of great value. 

Virginia's book list on a woman writer finding her own voice

Virginia Pye Why did Virginia love this book?

Lily King’s Writers & Lovers is set in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1997, where my own novel takes place a century earlier. It’s a fictional coming-of-age story of a young woman who tries to write her way into adulthood.

Casey Peabody works as a waitress in Harvard Square, spends time with her aspiring writer friends, walks along the Charles River, and sits for hours at her desk trying to write, all of which I did in those same places at her same age and often with the same sense of longing—and which, incidentally, Victoria Swann does, too, albeit while wearing a floor-length skirt and using a fountain pen.

Casey, Victoria, and I, (and I assume Lily King herself), were not alone: so many people I’ve met over the years have spent time in their twenties hanging out around Harvard Square, anxious and waiting to become the grown-ups we hoped to be.…

By Lily King,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Writers & Lovers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick as Featured on Today
Emma Roberts Belletrist Book Club Pick
A New York Times Book Review’s Group Text Selection

"I loved this book not just from the first chapter or the first page but from the first paragraph... The voice is just so honest and riveting and insightful about creativity and life." —Curtis Sittenfeld 

An extraordinary new novel of art, love, and ambition from Lily King, the New York Times bestselling author of Euphoria

Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with another instant New York Times bestseller:…


Book cover of A Happy Marriage

Joanne Serling Author Of Good Neighbors

From my list on the truth about love and marriage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a novelist, essayist, and short story writer who finds domestic life as fascinating and complex as any board room battle or historical event. I love books about marriage and family because so few people are willing to talk honestly about them. Finding a great book is like meeting a new friend who is willing to tell you their secrets and then share hard-won advice. 

Joanne's book list on the truth about love and marriage

Joanne Serling Why did Joanne love this book?

It’s been nearly ten years since I first read this book and I can still remember what the characters were wearing in the first chapter. Now that’s visceral storytelling! The author’s ability to capture his intense obsession with his future wife is familiar, poignant, and heart-warming. Yglesias’ portrayal of the couple’s long and, at times, bumpy marriage, makes this one of the most complex and honest portrayals of a marriage that I have ever read. That this is also a book about cancer and death does nothing to diminish the feelings of hope and gratitude embodied on every page. 

By Rafael Yglesias,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Happy Marriage is both intimate and expansive: It is the story of Enrique Sabas and his wife, Margaret, a novel that alternates between the romantic misadventures of the first weeks of their courtship and the final months of Margaret's life as she says good-bye to her family, friends, and children -- and to Enrique. Spanning thirty years, this achingly honest story is about what it means for two people to spend a lifetime together -- and what makes a happy marriage.

Yglesias's career as a novelist began in 1970 when he wrote an autobiographical novel at sixteen, hailed by…


Book cover of The Boys of My Youth

Deborah A. Lott Author Of Don't Go Crazy Without Me

From my list on impossible childhoods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer who’s always been obsessed with early childhood. No experience we have later in life is any more emotionally charged, resonant, intense, bewildering, or wondrous as those we have as young children. A day can feel like forever; what we imagine can be so vivid as to be indistinguishable from reality; we’re not wholly sure what’s animate and inanimate; we're still at least half-feral. My interest in childhood led me to write about children’s psychology for Psychiatric Times and for the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Recently, I designed two related university courses that I teach at Antioch University Los Angeles: Representations of Childhood in Literature and the Trauma Memoir.

Deborah's book list on impossible childhoods

Deborah A. Lott Why did Deborah love this book?

This essay collection is not strictly about Jo Jo’s childhood but the pieces like “Bulldozing the Baby,” that are, are indelible. Some might argue that her childhood is not all that impossible, nothing that horrendous happens. The most tragic event for the narrator is when she accidentally damages her doll Hal, a prized transitional object, and her aunt responds by throwing him into the trash. And yet, from the perspective of the toddler JoJo, it feels tragic. Her grief is as deep as any adult’s. If the piece shows us anything, it is that the feelings of childhood are to be taken seriously. Other than that, her father drinks too much, and there is an emotional mismatch between mother and daughter. They don’t understand each other, and not having a parent who sees who you are, even if you grow up relatively privileged – not beaten, not starved, not materially…

By Jo Ann Beard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boys of My Youth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13.

What is this book about?

The "utterly compelling, uncommonly beautiful" collection of personal essays (Newsweek) that established Jo Ann Beard as one of the leading writers of her generation.

Cousins, mothers, sisters, dolls, dogs, best friends: these are the fixed points in Jo Ann Beard's universe, the constants that remain when the boys of her youth -- and then men who replace them -- are gone. This widely praised collection of autobiographical essays summons back, with astonishing grace and power, moments of childhood epiphany as well as the cataclysms of adult life: betrayal, divorce, death.
The Boys of My Youth heralded the arrival of an…


Book cover of The Man in the Wooden Hat

Joanne Serling Author Of Good Neighbors

From my list on the truth about love and marriage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a novelist, essayist, and short story writer who finds domestic life as fascinating and complex as any board room battle or historical event. I love books about marriage and family because so few people are willing to talk honestly about them. Finding a great book is like meeting a new friend who is willing to tell you their secrets and then share hard-won advice. 

Joanne's book list on the truth about love and marriage

Joanne Serling Why did Joanne love this book?

Don’t worry that this novel is part of a trilogy; it can easily be enjoyed on its own. The Man in the Wooden Hat tells the story of the courtship and marriage of a man referred to as “Old Filth” (stands for “failed in London, try Hong Kong”) and his wife, Betty. Gardam’s hilarious look at ex-pat life in Hong Kong and elsewhere is wildly entertaining and her minor characters are as quirky and surprising as Betty and Old Filth. PS: The surprising reveal at the end makes this portrait all the more delicious. 

By Jane Gardam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Second in the Old Filth trilogy. “An astute, subtle depiction of marriage . . . absolutely wonderful” (The Washington Post).

Acclaimed as Jane Gardam’s masterpiece, Old Filth is a lyrical novel that recalls the fully lived life of Sir Edward Feathers. The Man in the Wooden Hat is the history of his marriage told from the perspective of his wife, Betty, a character as vivid and enchanting as Filth himself.

They met in Hong Kong after the war. Betty had spent the duration in a Japanese internment camp. Filth was already a successful barrister, handsome, fast becoming rich, in need…


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