10 books like The Zero

By Jess Walter,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Zero. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Quiet American

By Graham Greene,

Book cover of The Quiet American

Before the U.S. entered the war in Vietnam, Graham Greene forecast its disastrous consequences. His love triangle, set amid the escalating conflict, perfectly captures the naiveté of American interventionism overseas. I love the subtext of the tale, which is narrated by an embittered British journalist. Although it’s never spoken, we intuit that he is addicted to opium and living the life of a dissolute expatriate. Fowler watches in horror as a U.S. diplomat tries to steal both the woman and the country he has adopted. He claims impartiality and indifference until he cannot any longer.

The Quiet American

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam

"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas.

As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds it impossible to stand safely aside as an observer. But…


The Bonfire of the Vanities

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of The Bonfire of the Vanities

A social satire that perfectly captured the greed and arrogance of the 1980s. Sherman Helmsly is a master of the universe, a rich bond trader with a penthouse in New York, and a randy mistress—until he accidentally runs over a black boy in the Bronx. The result is a political scandal that reaches from the mayor’s office to the tabloids, with many memorable characters and acute parodies of the era. Those who lived in or followed the scandals of the city at the time—from Tawana Brawley to Ivan Boesky—will recognize several real people and stories in this fiction.

The Bonfire of the Vanities

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An exhilarating satire of Eighties excess that captures the effervescent spirit of New York, from one of the greatest writers of modern American prose

Sherman McCoy is a WASP, bond trader and self-appointed 'Master of the Universe'. He has a fashionable wife, a Park Avenue apartment and a Southern mistress. His spectacular fall begins the moment he is involved in a hit-and-run accident in the Bronx. Prosecutors, newspaper hacks, politicians and clergy close in on him, determined to bring him down.

Exuberant, scandalous and exceptionally discerning, The Bonfire of the Vanities was Tom Wolfe's first venture into fiction and cemented…


Lie in the Dark

By Dan Fesperman,

Book cover of Lie in the Dark

Even after reading dozens of news articles about the civil war in Bosnia, I didn’t understand it—until I read Dan Fesperman’s mystery novel Lie in the Dark, which explains the conflict in personal terms. His detective, Vlado, searches for one killer amidst a city full of them. Along the way, he learns that the war is being fought over more than just land or power. It indoctrinated me to the true aims of the war: the spoils.

Lie in the Dark

By Dan Fesperman,

Why should I read it?

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


The Secret Agent

By Joseph Conrad,

Book cover of The Secret Agent

One of the first political thrillers, and still one of the best, this tale is based on a true story about an anarchist devoted to blowing up the Greenwich observatory—if only his family will stop getting in the way. It portrays spies as not the superhumans of most thrillers but ordinary men bumbling through their private lives while trying to steer the public toward their grander schemes. A welcome antidote to the superhero model we see in James Bond and 24.

The Secret Agent

By Joseph Conrad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Secret Agent is Joseph Conrad's dark satire on English society, edited with an introduction and notes by Michael Newton in Penguin Classics.

In the only novel Conrad set in London, The Secret Agent communicates a profoundly ironic view of human affairs. The story is woven around an attack on the Greenwich Observatory in 1894 masterminded by Verloc, a Russian spy working for the police, and ostensibly a member of an anarchist group in Soho. His masters instruct him to discredit the anarchists in a humiliating fashion, and when his evil plan goes horribly awry, Verloc must deal with the…


On Treason

By Carlton F. W. Larson,

Book cover of On Treason: A Citizen's Guide to the Law

Professor Larson is America’s leading expert on treason and wrote this book for non-lawyers. He starts with treason in England, discusses the views of the Founding Fathers, and then goes through many entertaining treason cases or examples. Some involve familiar historical names like Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, and Jefferson Davis. Others involve notorious celebrities such as Tokyo Rose and Jane Fonda. A fun book on a serious subject. 

On Treason

By Carlton F. W. Larson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A concise, accessible, and engaging guide to the crime of treason, written by the nation's foremost expert on the subject

Treason-the only crime specifically defined in the United States Constitution-is routinely described by judges as more heinous than murder. Today, the term is regularly tossed around by politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle. But, as accusations of treason flood the news cycle, it is not always clear what the crime truly is, or when it should be prosecuted.

Carlton F. W. Larson, a scholar of constitutional law and legal history, takes us on a journey to understand…


Fireboat

By Maira Kalman,

Book cover of Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

During the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when I was working on my own book and the motif of demolition was suddenly inescapable, this modest children’s book was published. In lovely gouache, Maira Kalman encapsulates the story of the salvaged fireboat John J. Harvey and its heroic journey on that dark day. As I struggled to make sense of a world falling apart, this book was a breath of fresh air. Kalman shows how to meld urban history and tragedy in a tale told with supreme deftness and charm that ennobles, no matter your age. Above all, her volume stands as a hopeful tribute to the power of collective human action, against all odds, to turn the tide.

Fireboat

By Maira Kalman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboatof its time, but by 1995, the city didn't need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. In this inspiring true story, Maira Kalman brings a New York City icon to life and proves that old heroes never die.


Nine, Ten

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Book cover of Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

Nora’s book expands the story of 9/11 by going backward. Set in the days preceding the attacks, the book follows the lives of four boys and girls of varying means and ethnicities scattered around the country, as their seemingly disconnected lives are about to surprisingly intersect on this fateful day. 

I love how the book captures the innocence of that pregnant moment but also how the story focuses on what emerged from that tragedy: empathy, connection, humanity. Unfolding in the shadow of what we know is coming, the book is foreboding without being heavy, works best when kids already have a grounding in the events of 9/11, and can be a great follow-up to my book.

Nine, Ten

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a "tense...and thought-provoking" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.

Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day-until a plane struck the World Trade Center.

But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he…


Fall and Rise

By Mitchell Zuckoff,

Book cover of Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11

As with all of Mitchell Zuckoff’s books, Fall and Rise is thoroughly researched, the writing is clear and concise and the story is compelling. As Zuckoff skillfully tells the story of the September 11th terrorist attacks, he introduces the unique perspectives of everyday Americans who were profoundly affected by our national tragedy. 

Fall and Rise

By Mitchell Zuckoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'The farewell calls from the planes... the mounting terror of air traffic control... the mothers who knew they were witnessing their loved ones perish... From an author who's spent 5 years reconstructing its horror, never has the story been told with such devastating, human force' Daily Mail

This is a 9/11 book like no other. Masterfully weaving together multiple strands of the events in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Fall and Rise is a mesmerising, minute-by-minute account of that terrible day.

In the days and months after 9/11, Mitchell Zuckoff, then…


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Book cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Oskar Shell is the 9-year-old narrator living in New York City at the time of 9/11. His father has just died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th,  2001. He describes his feeling of depression at the loss of his father “as wearing heavy boots.” Shortly afterwards, in his father's closet, Oskar finds a key in an envelope inside a vase that he accidentally broke; in the key shop, he finds the name Black and thinks this has something to do with the key. He sets out to contact every person in New York City with the last name of Black in the hope of finding the lock that belongs to the key his father left behind, creating a binder with mementos of his journey.

Though it’s not clear how he manages to be so independent at this young age, along the way Oskar encounters an…

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

ADAPTED INTO A FEATURE FILM WITH TOM HANKS

From the critically acclaimed author of Here I Am, Everything is Illuminated and We are the Weather - a heartrending and unforgettable novel set in the aftermath of the 9/11

'Utterly engaging, hugely involving, tragic, funny and intensely moving... A heartbreaker' Spectator

'The most incredible fictional nine-year-old ever created... a funny, heart-rending portrayal of a child coping with disaster. It will have you biting back the tears' Glamour

'Pulsates with dazzling ideas' Times Literary Supplement

'It's a miracle... So impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving' Baltimore Sun…


Homer's Odyssey

By Gwen Cooper,

Book cover of Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

The animal is a spunky blind cat. The human is his adoptive mother who can’t resist adding the three-week-old kitten to her household of two other cats while trying to heal from a recent breakup. A memoir with a cool twist. You never know when you adopt a pet, how its personality will unfold; it was fun to read how memoirist Cooper struck paydirt with Homer.

Homer's Odyssey

By Gwen Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Homer's Odyssey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. But Homer was no ordinary cat. He was a three week old, abandoned, eyeless kitten and Gwen was unable to resist his charm. It was love at first sight.

Homer, tagged as an 'underachiever' from day one, quickly proved his doubters wrong revealing himself to be a tiny dare devil with a giant heart and a passion for adventure. The kitten they said would never be as independent or as playful as the other cats…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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